Preach the good news

“I give you a command in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, the One who will judge the living and the dead, and by his coming and his kingdom: Preach the Good News. Be ready at all times, and tell people what they need to do. Tell them when they are wrong. Encourage them with great patience and careful teaching, because the time will come when people will not listen to the true teaching but will find many more teachers who please them by saying the things they want to hear. They will stop listening to the truth and will begin to follow false stories. But you should control yourself at all times, accept troubles, do the work of telling the Good News, and complete all the duties of a servant of God.” (2 Timothy 4:1-5 NCV)

Is it getting more difficult to reach those around us with the good news of Jesus? Perhaps this is a sentiment that you have expressed as those around us seem to be less and less interested in God’s word and more intent on doing what they want. In my experience it is more difficult now to find those who want to study the Bible, both those who are not Christians and even those who are Christians. Continue reading “Preach the good news”

Who do we believe in?

Timothy is one of those people that we know a little about but not a lot. As Paul began his second letter to him we see more of who he was, but would still like to know more.

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:6-8 NIV)

We learn that through Paul Timothy had received a gift, presumably one of the gifts of the Spirit. We don’t know what this gift was but we do know that Timothy wasn’t using it. Paul told his young friend that he needed to “fan into flame the gift of God” – he needed to get it burning within him again. Continue reading “Who do we believe in?”

The last word on righteousness

It is altogether fitting that the last word on righteousness comes from the last chapter of the last book of the Bible. The old apostle John, last of his tribe, writes what are probably his last words to a cowed and persecuted church.

As he wraps up the series of apocalyptic visions showing the grand victory of Christ and his followers, he makes what at first glance appears to be a strange statement. Continue reading “The last word on righteousness”

Hold on to what you have

“Write to the messenger of the congregation in Thyatira: ‘The Son of God, with eyes like a fiery flame, and feet like glowing brass, says these things: I know your works, love, faith, service, and steadfastness, and that your last works are more than the first.’” (Revelation 2:18-19 McCord)

Jesus was aware of what the Christians in Thyatira were doing. He knew their works, their love, the faith that they had, the service they were giving and that they were steadfastness – they were continuing to be faithful in spite of what they were going through. In fact, their activity was increasing. They were growing as Christians.

This is a message that we find in each of these letters to the congregations in Asia: Jesus knew what they were doing. This should be a message to Christians today, as well: Jesus knows what we are doing. He knows what each of us is involved in, as well as what each congregation is actively doing for him. Are we growing in what we are doing? Is our love, faith and serving increasing as we remain faithful to Jesus? Continue reading “Hold on to what you have”

Prayer as the Christian’s duty

Prayer is one of the great privileges of God’s children. The Lord has an open-door policy. We may approach his throne at any time. We may ask anything of him, according to his will. We may express any sentiment from the heart. He hears and answers our prayers.

Besides being a great privilege, prayer is also a great duty of the Christian. It is required in order to maintain and strengthen our relationship with God. It is a must for advancing the gospel in the world. Brotherly love requires that we pray often for the family of faith.

One small indication of the duty of prayer comes from the Lord Jesus, as Luke introduces one of his parables. Continue reading “Prayer as the Christian’s duty”

When a blessing doesn’t look like a blessing

“Don’t be deceived,” James warns, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father … who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:16-17).

Some are indeed deceived. They mistake the temporary gratification of sin for a blessing “from above.”

After all, the pleasures of adultery are undeniable. Revenge can bring quick and cheap gratification. Crushing someone else by gossip or hurtful words can bring a kind of pleasure. Continue reading “When a blessing doesn’t look like a blessing”

Remedies for going the distance

“What’s the point?” “Is this worth the effort?” We have all heard such comments and perhaps even asked such questions in certain situations.

When such thoughts reveal a floundering faith in Christ a physician’s care may be required. Just as athletes might need some athletic tape or analgesic spay to press on, Hebrews offers remedies for going the distance in moments of doubt and discouragement.  Continue reading “Remedies for going the distance”

Grace & making effort: Are they compatible?

We know the message and it comforts our hearts. In his grace God pours out salvation upon us, the undeserving. We can be redeemed, made holy and adopted as God’s people because our salvation rests upon Christ, not our righteousness. Furthermore, the cleansing power of the Messiah’s blood is greater than any sin we might bring to him.

So, how compatible is grace with the command to make every effort to live up to God’s calling? If we feel like these are opposing ideas, we would not be alone. Continue reading “Grace & making effort: Are they compatible?”

Being an example

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV).

Wouldn’t it have been great to receive a letter from the apostle Paul? Continue reading “Being an example”

Cold feet

Unconventional. That’s a nice way of describing my garden.

What I mean is, the vegetables don’t grow in the standard long rows, with bare dirt surrounding them. More often than not, vegetables share space with ornamentals, and the ground that isn’t mulched is usually covered with other plants as a natural ground cover. Continue reading “Cold feet”