1 Timothy 3-4

This verse grabbed my heart this morning:

“[An elder] must manage his own family well, having children who respect him and obey him. For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” 3:4

My commentary adds this at the bottom of the page:

“Christian workers and volunteers sometimes make the mistake of being so involved in their work that they neglect their families, and especially the firm discipline of their children. Spiritual leadership must begin at home. If a person is not willing to care for, discipline and teach their own children, they are not qualified to lead the church. Don’t allow your volunteer activities to detract from your family responsibilities.

It’s so tempting to try to find your identity in doing. I love God’s heart for families and relationships and how they take priority over Being Someone in the church. In his time on earth, Jesus never cared about his title. He humbled himself constantly and served his people. 

Over-committing to serve the church doesn’t seem like a crime. But this verse reflects so many other values that are in the Bible. God values obedience over sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22), he tells us repeatedly that we are saved by faith, not by works. He urges the importance of valuing children.

Reflect on this verse today. What are you family responsibilities? Are you over-committing and misplacing your time and energy? You don’t have to have your own family or kids to learn from Paul’s words. It’s a reminder that your place in the church or in ministry somewhere isn’t somewhere to perform, but to serve. 

This verse also makes me thankful for the spiritual leaders in my life who live this out so well. Take time today to pray for your leaders who are constantly balancing their role as parents, sons, daughters, friends, neighbors and pastors.

 

-Carly

 

1 Timothy 1-2

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1:5)

It is so easy to complicate, or get distracted, from this simple point. As Paul writes Timothy instructions for the new churches in Asia Minor, he starts out with an appeal to keep the main thing the main thing. 

The letters to Timothy and Titus are Paul’s last. You can sense his urgency as he writes. He is passing his baton, while also seeing others fall by the wayside, unable to finish the race.

Prayer must remain a priority and let’s not turn it into some weird show or contaminate it with cultural perversions. 

Timothy was in Ephesus when receiving this letter, working in a church that came out of Artemis worship. It’s important to keep this in mind when reading Paul’s charge to women. Artemis worship was focused around sex. She was a fertility goddess. It involved a lot of women dressing up, acting crazy, out of control, domineering and seductive. This was deeply ingrained in culture, and if you’ve studied religion in culture, you’ll quickly learn about sycritism: a cocktail of random Biblical half truths blended into cultural spiritualism. Paul did not want Ephesians praying to God that way. Chapter 2 is an appeal to keep the ladies in check, remaining modest and respectful to their husbands. 

The main point: remember to pray and remember that Christ is the mediator between us and the Father. (2:5)

Also, as stated previously, LOVE with a pure heart. See how it’s all connected?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! What sticks out to you?

-Bethany

2 Thessalonians 2-3

Isn’t it weird to think that we’re reading a letter from hundreds of years ago that easily applies to us today? Like us, the Thessalonians greatly anticipated Christ’s second coming. Like us, people claimed to know when this would happen.

And like us, they maybe got a little too hung up on getting the heck out of here. These chapters remind me to stay present here. Life is a weird balance of remembering where our true citizenship is and not getting swept into the distractions of this world, but also remaining engaged. I feel tempted to mentally check out sometimes and not emotionally take on the future of society. 

But Paul reminds us to stay busy, using our hands for good work and “never grow tired of doing good” (3:13). There is plenty of work to do, and although it feels daunting and sometimes meaningless, it’s not. There’s good news to share and a generation coming up behind us. I think about my son Taylor, my nephews and my friend’s kids and I feel motivated to get involved. To vote well. To volunteer. To recycle when I can. And most importantly, to pray, earnestly and profusely. 

How can you be engaging with society with a gospel-like mind? 
-Carly 

1 Thessalonians 5 – 2 Thessalonians 1

Paul closes his first letter with a reminder that Christians must live with the Day of the Lord in mind. This is not it. Don’t get wrapped up in the world’s dark vortex. Keep a clear mind and encourage each other.

5:14-22 is a very good list of “to dos”:

  • Admonish the unruly 
  • Encourage the fainthearted 
  • Help the weak
  • Be patient with everyone 
  • Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing 
  • Give thanks in everything 
  • Do not quench the Holy Spirit
  • Do not despise prophecies
  • Examine everything
  • Cling to what is good 
  • Abstain from all kinds of evil

 And 23-24 is a reminder that it is all done in His strength:

“May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be presented complete without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it.”

The occasion for Paul’s writing of the second letter has been speculated as follows: it was reported to him that all this Day of the Lord stuff had monopolized their attention. Instead of focusing on the directives to love, work, encourage, they were all on their roofs waiting for the return of Christ. This is understandable for a group also being persecuted. How many times have we looked at our current status and been tempted to sit on the roof and just wait for Jesus? Paul writes 2 Thessalonians to clear up that certain things would happen before the end of the world—it wasn’t going to be a total surprise—and not to despair from daily life and the work of building the church.

This very much applies to us. Even though stateside things are still relatively posh, the world is freaking out and on the brink of a Third World War. This could seem as cause for panic, but it’s not what we’re called to do:

“We pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you and Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:11-12)

Don’t forget our calling: the making of disciples, the loving of our neighbors, the worshipping of Jesus, the operating through the power of the Spirit. This might be 3rd quarter, maybe 4th, but halftime is over and this baby’s not ending in a tie. Run the race with endurance! “He who calls you is faithful, He will surely do it!”

-Bethany

1 Thessalonians 3-4

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” 3:11-12

I love the language here! Make it your goal. Paul is insisting, not suggesting, on the necessity of work. We are people created with purpose, and oh so easily distracted. No where in the Bible does it ever imply that we get out of work. It was the first thing Adam did after he was created in the Garden of Eden. If he didn’t get out of it, we certainly don’t.

What are things that draw you into meddling into people’s business or laziness? If we are to make it our goal, that implies creating a plan to achieve it. Here’s mine:

-Limit time on social media.

-Don’t watch the news. The media adds worry, fuels nosiness and distracts. I limit my intake to a few trusted websites and newspapers.

-Invest in hobbies. Pick something you’re good at, love doing and take it seriously. Finding a way to do what you love, bless other people by it and spend your time wisely on it is deeply fulfilling.

-Shut down gossip. Sharing other people’s stories is destructive. It destroys unity, divides community and endangers relationships.

What does your list look like?

 

-Carly

1 Thessalonians 1-2

Paul’s back story with these guys is found in Acts 17:1-9.

In about a month, I am moving to Thessaloniki, so reading this knowing I’m about to become a Thessalonian, is thrilling! I’m hoping to bring the love of Christ into the refugee camps. Today I imagine myself writing our friends there in a few years, dreaming of penning the words:

“You became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” (1:6-7)

“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” (2:8)

“For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus His coming?” (2:19)

Isn’t life exciting? We all have the opportunity to pour our lives into each other for the love and education of meeting the Creator who longs for us. I’ve read these verses before with many different people in mind: youth group kids, Martial Arts Academy middle schoolers, Discipleship Training School students, etc. I’ve also been the recipient of a LOT of discipleship from some incredible people: Parents, church family, co-workers at camp, my leadership at YWAM Salem, etc. Doesn’t this capture the heart of those investments?

I met an awesome couple (Seroj and Seda) in Armenia who run a Young Life house. They are with those kids ALL THE TIME. Those kids are constantly over, cooking in the kitchen, playing cards and eating sunflower seeds in the living room, crashing on the couch. Seroj and Seda also are their Ultimate Frisbee coaches and train them many times a week in a park. Their whole lives are for these kids and they don’t get a ton of “me” time. They’re 23 and 25 and have 30 teenage kids. They’ve become heros of mine, and I’m so glad my Armenian loves are in their care. 

The fullest life is lived for others. I know a lot of you are mothers and get this on a level I do not. Let’s encourage each other to keep running the race for our joy and crown: seeing our “investments”in the presence of Jesus when He comes.

-Bethany 

Colossians 3-4

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” 3:13

I like the way this verse is phrased in my New Living Translation. I’m more familiar with this verse reading “bear one another’s burdens”, but I prefer “make allowance for”.

This means to accept behavior that you would not normally accept because you know why someone has behaved that way. I love Paul’s letters to the churches because it gives specific ways to follow God’s highest command for us to ‘love one another’. We are trained by culture to think that love is an emotion, not an action. But today’s chapters show us how much work love is. Good, beautiful, heart-shifting work.

We can’t bear with one another if we aren’t being intentional. For example, my husband knows that I run late when we’re trying to get out the door. He really values other people’s time and hates being late, so this understandably bothers him. Instead of following me around telling me how annoying this is, he helps me get out the door. He reminds me when we need to leave earlier in the day, he asks how he can help (and sometimes resorts to tricking me with a false departure time) and overall comes alongside me. He anticipates this fault of mine, but without a “I knew you were going to ___” accusation. It’s loving, with room for forgiveness. This is a light-hearted example, but I feel known and experience God’s grace through it.

Of course, you’re bound to start figuring people out when you’re in an interpersonal relationship with them. The real work is for us to live this out in our relationships with everyone. Getting to know your coworkers, extending grace to strangers, reaching out and loving your neighbors, forgiving that family member whose mistakes you see coming a mile away etc, etc.

And not because you’re right and they’re wrong, or you have it together and they don’t. Because we are all in need of forgiveness and it is endlessly available to us. We aren’t to hoard this gift from God, but imitate it.

What verse jumped out to you?

 

-Carly