Archive for October, 2006

Philemon

Philemon is a letter of Paul’s while he was on house arrest. Paul met a slave named Onesimus that was on the run. Onesimus had stolen from his master (Philemon) and ran away. Paul taught Onesimus that running away wouldn’t make things better. Paul showed Onesimus forgiveness and grace like God shows us. Paul wrote to Philemon trying to show him that forgiveness and grace was what he should have for Onesimus. Onesimus was now a brother to Philemon, not only a possession (slave). While Paul was in prison he led Onesimus to The Lord.
The faith that Paul had in Onesimus strengthened Onesimus’ faith.

We should treat people with forgiveness and grace like God has done for us. Paul wanted to show both Onesimus and Philemon that no matter what use to be, they now were brother’s. Paul had so much faith in Onesimus he told Philemon that whatever Onesimus owed him he would pay (just like Christ payed for us).

We should forgive as we have been forgiven.

Titus 3

This passage is full of advice that is “excellent and profitable for everyone“. In order to put it to good use, we need to be purposeful about doing the following:

* do what the boss says (be subject to authorities),

* be ready to do good (I guess that means all the time),

* say only nice things about people (even annoying people),

* be peacable and considerate (I guess that means all the time…even with annoying people),

* show true humility toward all men (all of them),

* avoid foolish controversies/arguments/quarrels (they’re useless!),

* warn a divisive person once… twice… then walk away.

We do all this because we once were foolish, disobedient, deceived, enslaved, malicious, envious, hateful people. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us! This beautiful act of mercy changed us! In light of this, let’s be careful to devote ourselves to doing good.

Paul ends this note with a few personal instructions and “grace be with you all.”

Titus 2

If you’re convinced that all Christians can be ministered to in the same way, take a gander at Titus 2, in which Paul suggests different ministry needs for different groups.

Older men need self-control and soundness.

Older women need reverence, so they can model good behavior for younger women.

These younger women need to be self-controlled, “busy at home” (which I interpret as a cultural thing), and subject to their husbands (a theme we’ve seen before).

Young men also need self-control and soundness.

Slaves need self-control in a way – don’t talk back, don’t steal.

A common theme runs through many of these comments – these particular actions need to be modeled so that the non-Christians won’t talk badly about the Christians. Yes, I know that we are not perfect, but our imperfections can often drive people away from God. Michael Jackson’s mother is an example of someone who was driven away from Christianity (into Jehovah’s Witnesses) because of the poor behavior of some Christians.

Titus 1:1

The book of Titus is another letter of Paul’s. Paul wrote to Titus, an individual like Timothy that Paul had taken under his wing and lead to preach the Gospel. Paul referred to Titus as his true son in their common faith.
Paul and Titus traveled to an island in the Mediterranean called Crete. There Paul left Titus to help the Cretans change their ways and to appoint elders of the church. The Cretans needed to learn the importance of sound doctrine and right living and Paul thought that Titus was just the man for the job. Paul talks about the importance of leaders today having a lifestyle that speaks as loud as what they teach. In other words not only is it important for a leader in the church to be spiritually educated, but that the leaders have a life outside the church that exemplifies their faith as well.
Paul saw leadership skills in Titus and he wanted him to use his skills to assist the Cretans. The Jews taught that you had to obey all the Jewish laws before you could become a Christian. That would be false teaching…
Paul tells that the Cretans had a reputation for lying. He says,”therefore, rebuke them sharply”. , “they are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good”.

2 Timothy 4 Charge!

Pauls charge to Timothy, which started in chapter 3 continues. He reminds Timothy to be actively doing some things: preach, be prepared all the time, correct, rebuke and encourage, be patient, and be careful. I’m thinking the only way to be prepared all the time is to prepare in advance, by knowing what we believe (inside and out) and being very sensitive to the spirit’s lead. Then opportunities will present themselves. But, if others reject your message, keep your head, endure, and work hard.

Paul describes himself as, “being poured out like a drink offering.” Ever felt like that? I have. I hope at end my journey I’ll be saying, like Paul, “I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

Paul mentions some parting remarks. So and so went here or there. Paul asked for Mark. He says the Mark is helpful to him in ministry. That is good to hear after Paul refused to take him on his 2nd journey. Some reconcilation apparently took place. Good for you, Paul!

Paul cautions Timothy to be careful around Alexander the metalworker. He did Paul a great deal of harm. I suppose this is friendly advice.

Paul sends greetings to some folks and signs off with, “Grace be with you.”

Those who think that Christianity is nice and sweet and comfortable ought to look at 2 Timothy. For example, the first few verses of 2 Timothy 3 are not sweet. The verses speak of the “last days” (whatever that means) as a time of greediness, ungratefulness, unholiness, lovelessness, brutality, etc., etc., etc.

Then Paul stands the prosperity so-called “gospel” on its head with his statements about himself and the persecutions that he endured. He doesn’t say that all Christians will be blessed with wonderful health and wealth – no, he says that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Luckily, God is on our side.

This chapter ends with the verse that confounds us, a verse that we have to deal with some way or another. It doesn’t say that some scripture is God-breathed, or that we can pick and choose the scriptures that we want to honor, and discard the rest. It says that all scripture is God-breathed. And here we are.

2 Timothy 2

Paul writes to Timothy to be strong in grace. Grace is underserved favor. We have been saved by grace and we should live by grace. Trusting completely in Christ and not trying to do it on our own…

As followers, Paul says we are to be like soldiers and fight for our Commanding Officer (Christ Jesus).

Paul tells Timothy to reflect on his words and God would give him insight. When we read the word, God speaks to us. If we read and are open to what we read God will give us the understanding that we need.

v.2: 8 “Remember Christ Jesus, raised from the dead, descended from David”, Paul is stating that Jesus is fully man (descended from David) and fully God (raised from the dead).

v.2: 10 “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect”, in other words, Paul is saying he will tolerate whatever happens to him because he believes Jesus is God. Paul was placed in jail and in chains due to the fact that he preached the Gospel. Paul said,” he would endure everything so that they too (others) may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” That is the kind of faith one should have!!!

v. 2: 11 is a trustworthy saying, maybe a hymn, speaking of the faithfulness of Jesus. No matter what he will remain faithful to us, and we can always depend on him to the very end.

Paul then addresses with Timothy the telling others about not arguing over unimportant details (quarreling about words) that it is of no value and only ruins those that listen. Stand for what you believe in, but handle it appropriately, know the word so you are able to tell others and be prepared for opposition, but don’t argue about it. Again he goes on to talk about “Godless Chatter”, foolish discussions and how confusing and harmful they can be. In order to handle the truth correctly we should study the word so we can understand the word. That would be what we are doing here 

v.2: 17 goes on to talk more about the false teachers and,” that their teaching will spread like gangrene.” The false teachers believed that the resurrection was symbolic and not spiritual. False teachers can certainly do a lot of damage, but the foundation of the Lord is firm and sealed with this inscription,” The Lord knows those who are his,” and ,”Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Paul urges Timothy to be the kind of person that Christ could use for his most noble purposes. We shouldn’t settle for less than the best either. We should allow God to use us as an instrument of his will. “Useful to the Master and
prepared to do any good work”.
v.2; 22
“Believers should flee from evil and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”.

2 Timothy 1

When Paul wrote I Timothy and Titus, Paul was imprisoned in Rome, living in a rented house on ‘house arrest’ (sorta). The setting from which he wrote 2 Timothy, while it was still imprisonment under Emperor Nero, this time he was in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal.————paraghaph————-

Paul greets Timothy as a son. He wishes Timothy, “grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” A heaping measure of these will certainly level out the rough spots in our lives. Paul tells Timothy that he prays for him, night and day. Paul longs to see Timothy. He sounds lonely. ————–paraghaph————-

He reminds Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God.” Gifts are not given in full bloom, they need to grow and develop through practice. —————paragraph————–

He reminds Timothy to be vocal about Jesus – never ashamed, joining in the suffering for the gospel. Don’t be timid. You have a spirit of power, of love and self-discipline!
—————–paragraph—————-

God saved us and called us to a holy life. We didn’t do anything special to get this grace; God did it for His own purpose. Grace is revealed through Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brouth life and immortality to light.
—————–paragraph—————

Despite his current hardship, Paul states that he knows whom he has believed. He’s convinced that all he has entrusted will be kept safe. None lost. I think it’s interesting that he tells Timothy to, “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” Does this mean that we are partners with the Holy Spirit in keeping the gospel in us alive? I’ve been taught the the Holy Spirit alone is responsible for my soul, but it seems right that I have some maintenance responsibility too. What do you all think about this?
——————–paragraph————-

Paul again reveals his lonliness. He’s been deserted. Phygelus and Hermogenes left. Onesiphorus, who had been an encouragement in the past couldn’t find him. He was between a rock and a hard place. I’ve been there too. In those times faith is sometimes most precious.

(I’m putting some paragraph marks in my text to see if that helps.)

After some random comments at the end of chapter 5, Paul closes chapter 6 by talking about slaves and love of money. Believing slaves should not slack off when serving believing masters; in fact, the slaves should serve them all the more. This also applies to those of us in corporate America.

Then Paul talks about people who like to get into quarrels, which leads to the end of verse 5, which talks about people “who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” My favorite story along these lines was the Reverend Al, or some such name, that advertised in the Weekly World News decades ago. Reverend Al made today’s propserity gospel advocates look like wimps. His sole message was “God gives you money” – but you need money to make money. For example, as a demonstration of faith, Reverend Al would send you a dollar! Of course, you should send him $1.35 in shipping and handling fees to GET that dollar.

Since Paul didn’t have a Weekly World News to rail against, he talked about being content in what we have, and what we don’t have. (He expanded on this theme in one of his letters, but I can’t remember which one.) Then we get to verse 10, which is so often misquoted. Money is not the root of all kinds of evil; the LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. What do we love?

Paul urges Timothy to fight the good fight for the faith, and briefly goes over some essentials of the faith: (1) eternal life; (2) the testimony of Jesus Christ before Pontius Pilate; (3) the return of Jesus Christ in God’s own time; (4) God’s immortality; (5) God’s unapproachability. Amen.

Paul then returns to the rich, and we see that Paul and James were on the same page. Who commands the rich to “do good” and be “rich in good deeds”? It’s Paul. Again, the works proceed from the faith.

At the end, Paul tells Timothy to turn away from godless chatter. I need to work on that one.

Paul tells the Christian people to treat each other as family and keep their relationships pure.

-an older man as a father.
-younger men as brothers.
-older women as mothers.
-younger women as sisters.

Then Paul goes on to talk about the widows and that Christian families should give recognition to those widows who are REALLY in need. What pleases God is that the children and grandchildren put into practice the caring for their own family(widows) and the repaying their parents and grandparents. The widow who is REALLY in need puts her faith in God. The widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Paul tells Timothy to, “give the people these instructions” and that if anyone does not provide for his relatives especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. WOW that is heavy. There was a list that the widows could go on if they had the qualifications, such as being older and being faithful to their husbands, but the younger widows weren’t to be included on this list, the list was a vow committing themselves to work for the church in exchange for financial support. I guess things were this way so that people didn’t take advantage of the church and it’s resources. Younger widows usually remarry and instead of them committing themselves to the church and breaking a vow, they should prepare to remarry…Thus they are not burdening the church and the church can help those REALLY in need.

Paul then writes about being good to the faithful leaders/teachers in the church. How are we treating our faithful church leaders/teachers? Are we showing them appreciation or are we criticising them because we have unrealistic expectations? Also, the church should be supporting those faithful church leaders/teachers financially so there is no need for worry and they are able to provide for their families needs. This is very important for the church. Also, church leaders and teachers should be carefully picked. These positions are very important. Although, leaders and teachers are not above sin, confrontational encounters are to be done in love.