What is it?

Looking through my journals and email, I found out that I was wishing for a lot of good things to happen. I claimed to be “hoping,” but I did not/could not be confident the desired outcome would happen. That is not what hope is about. Hope is more than wishing. [Want to know more? Click here.]

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Seek God

I know it’s hard for some people to believe in a God but God gives us a promise that if we follow the condition in the promise, He will reveal Himself to us. My challenge for everyone who doubts there’s a God is to seek Him and see if He doesn’t reveal Himself to you.
I know some of you might be saying, why bother asking God if He exists. I say what harm can it do. If He doesn’t exist, nothing will happen to change your life or make anything different happen in your life. However, if He does exist, He will keep His promise and allow you to find Him. The promise is found in Jeremiah 29:13:
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (New International Version)
So seek Him with your whole heart and see if He doesn’t reveal Himself to you. I know that this principle works even for those of us who call ourselves Christians. When I don’t know the answer to a dilemma in my life, I seek out God and ask for His guidance. It doesn’t always happen immediately, but eventually the answer comes, usually through something written in the Word of God, the Bible.
To end this blog I just want to challenge each reader to take the challenge. Seek Him with your whole heart and see what happens. I pray right now, as I write this, that He will reveal Himself to you in ways you never expected and you will have the peace and comfort of knowing God exists. I pray you will each seek Him and find Him because you sought Him with all your heart.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

More on Prayer

Last week I wrote about praying for everyone you know and said I would pray through my address book. I did that and plan to keep doing it so I can regularly pray for everyone I know. However, the passage in 1 Timothy 2 goes on to tell us about some specific people we should pray for (1 Timothy 2:2):
“for kings and rulers in positions of responsibility, so that our common life may be lived in peace and quiet, with a proper sense of God and of our responsibility to him for what we do with our lives.” (Phillips)
As I read that I thought about the last time I prayed for those in positions of responsibility in our government. It has been a while. It’s not that I’ve never prayed for our governmental leaders, but it has been a long time. I think that during election years I tend to pray for them more and then promptly forget to pray for them in my day to day life.
So this passage prompted me to pray for our governmental leaders starting with the President of the United States and ending with the administrators in our local schools. I confess, I did it once this week and haven’t gone back to it yet. Maybe that will be my application for this coming week.
Also note that the passage tells us why we should pray for these leaders: “so that our common life may be lived in peace and quiet, with a proper sense of God and of our responsibility to him for what we do with our lives.” So I prayed that these people in positions of responsibility would make decisions that allow us to live in peaceful and quiet ways. I also prayed that the decisions they make will allow us to worship the one and only God, i.e. have a proper sense of God. I also prayed that they would make decisions that allow us to serve God as is our responsibility, living our lives in ways that are pleasing to Him.
So, this week, join me in praying for our governmental leaders. Remember to pray that the decisions they make will allow us to live lives that worship and serve God Almighty, and that the decisions those governmental leaders make will allow us to live in peace and quiet.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The First Charge

There are a lot of things I do in my Christian life that are important for a relationship with God. The apostle Paul gave many instructions to Timothy about carrying out the ministry Paul and God had commissioned Timothy to do. However I was surprised to find out that the very first thing Paul charged Timothy to do was to pray, and to pray for everyone.
In the Phillips version of the New Testament the following charge is given to Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1:
Here then is my charge: First, supplications, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings should be made on behalf of all men . . .”
That’s the first thing Paul wants Timothy to do in his ministry to the church at Ephesus. Pray. The Message version says that Timothy should “Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.” Before doing anything else, Timothy was to pray every way he knew how. That includes the things mentioned in the Phillips version: supplications, prayers, intercessions, and let’s not forget, thanksgivings. I’m not sure what the difference is between supplications, prayers, and intercessions, but Paul wanted to emphasize that we need to be praying.
Before preaching, teaching, evangelism, encouraging, correcting, straightening out the church policies, Paul wanted Timothy to pray. There are lots of things I do in any given day to serve God, but am I praying? Am I praying first and foremost? Am I praying on behalf of all men? Am I praying for everyone I know? I think I’d have to answer, “No” to each of those questions. Prayer is not the first thing I do each day. It’s not even the first thing I do when I encounter a problem in my life. It’s not the first thing I do when God brings a friend or acquaintance to mind. I’m just not very good at praying for others (or myself).
I do try to pray for my kids each day. Fortunately I have a little book to help me focus on one aspect of their lives each day (today was having respect for authorities). But, I fail to pray for everyone I know. I need to be more purposeful in my prayer life. So my goal this week is to pray for everyone in my address book, and on my Facebook friends’ list at least once. That’s a big goal, but it would be obedient to God to put prayer first in my life as Paul commanded Timothy.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Give Thanks

As I start this new year off I want to remember to give thanks to God for all the attributes He’s poured out upon me. My example is the apostle Paul who in 1 Timothy 1:12-14 summarizes several things we can give thanks for:
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”
First, I note to whom I’m giving thanks to: “Christ Jesus our Lord.” Not just any power that’s out there, but to Christ Jesus who is God, the Lord, the one and only true God. It’s important that I remember who I’m thanking and that I do so on a daily – even moment by moment – basis.
What am I thanking Him for? For giving me strength is the first thing in this passage. Not that He will give me strength, but that He already has given me strength. It’s in the past tense. It’s something I already have and will continue to have. I just have to act upon the strength He’s already given me.
I’m also thanking Him for considering me trustworthy (or faithful as it says in some other versions of the Bible). Along with that faithfulness or trustworthiness, He has given me a ministry to do. That’s something to be thankful for . . . a purpose, an appointed service. A calling for my life. His service. That’s definitely something to be thankful for. And He’s considering me faithful and trustworthy to carry out His appointed service. That encourages me to keep trying in the midst of some trying situations. He’s given me the strength and the ability to minister in the tasks He’s given me.
Paul goes on to point out how he was once a sinner of the worst sort: a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. Yet God’s mercy and grace was poured out on him and allowed him to be saved from such a life. God’s mercy and grace does the same thing for me now . . . actually He’s already done it for me and continues to show His mercy and grace toward me as I go through my days.
So as I start this new year, I take the time to give thanks for God’s giving me strength, for His giving me purpose and a ministry, for considering me trustworthy, for His mercy and grace. There is much to be thankful for and I need to practice thankfulness on a daily basis.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Titles of Jesus

In studying 1 Timothy 1, I noticed a few titles given to Jesus. The study guide I’m using directed me to other passages in Scripture that give other titles to Jesus. These titles help me get a bigger picture of Jesus and who, exactly, He is.
The first titles are found in 1 Timothy 1:1 and tell us Jesus is our Savior and our hope. Not just “the” Savior or “the” hope, but “our” Savior and “our” hope. It’s personal, intended for us to realize that Jesus is a personal Savior. In 1 Timothy 1:12, Jesus is called Lord. That equates Him with the Almighty God and with the God of the Old Testament. Looking ahead a little, in 1 Timothy 2:5, Jesus is called the “one God and one mediator between God and men.”
Other passages of Scripture gave Jesus other titles that I found encouraging. In Psalm 2:2 He’s called the Anointed One. In Isaiah 9:6 He’s called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.
In Luke 2:25, He’s called the Consolation of Israel. In John 6:48 He’s referred to as the Bread of Life. In Ephesians 2:20 He’s referenced as the Chief cornerstone. In Hebrews 3:1 Jesus is identified as Jesus the apostle and high priest. And in Hebrews 12:2 He is called the author and perfecter of our faith.
Another title for Jesus is found in 1 Peter 5:4 where He’s called the Chief Shepherd. And finishing out the New Testament in Revelation 1:8 He is called the Alpha and the Omega, who is who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
It’s clear from these passages that Jesus is equated with God the Almighty. I am encouraged as I read these passages by the greatness of the Jesus of the Bible. Throughout Scripture He is predicted and portrayed as the Almighty God and yet He came to earth in the form of a child, a human being, limiting His Almighty power so He could be our Savior and our hope. This humbles me and gives me much to be thankful for.
As I start out this new year, I want to keep in mind this Jesus and be thankful and full of praise for all the things He is and for all the things He’s already done for me.