For All Men

1 Timothy 2:1

1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

I find it fascinating that Paul doesn’t just say pray for all men. Wouldn’t that suffice? Wouldn’t that be enough of a challenge all by itself? Many of us have a moderate prayer life (I am raising my hand) and have a tough enough time remembering who we are supposed to pray for day after day (I need to work on that). But here Paul exhorts us not only to pray for all men, put to give supplications, intercessions and the giving of thanks. He has just quadrupled our prayer life! What would happen if we all did that? This world would change, that’s what. Let’s take a closer look at each one of these things that Paul is exhorting us to do.

The word supplicate means to ask or beg for something earnestly or humbly.
Supplication comes from the Greek word deésis. It means to entreat, pray or supplicate for someone’s needs. When you look at the word’s origins it indicates this prayer or entreaty is for a need that is urgent and heart-felt. This is not a prayer that is done flippantly or just in passing. This is a prayer that denotes an immediate need, like money being supplied before the electricity is turned off or that a sudden intense pain would go away. These are things we typically pray for, but the word used here should give us a sense of urgency even more than normal.

How intense are we when we make supplication? I have to admit that many times when someone comes with an immediate need, I will say a quick prayer and consider it done. I have done my duty. I have prayed for my friend, or fellow worker, or whoever it is. But a supplication doesn’t stop after a simple prayer, or even a longer prayer. A supplication doesn’t stop until we have exhausted all words and are worn out from praying. We may start praying while standing, but we end up on our knees in tears as we weep before the Lord and present our supplication. I have had a few times of prayer likes this, but not near as many as I should have.

The word prayer here is the Greek word proseuché which literally means prayer or a place of prayer. This is the type of prayer we pray most often. We bring our requests to the Lord with words that flow from our lips. This can be a prayer in our human tongue of in our heavenly language. For those of you not familiar with this, Paul talks about the gift of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14. He also mentions praying with “groanings that cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). Many believe this is the gift of tongues given to the people who were in the upper room in Acts 2. I suggest you research this for yourself if you are not familiar with it.

There are many ways we can pray. There are many styles of prayer. I have done a lot of research into prayer over the years and even wrote a book about prayer. It was a book 30 years in the making. It was a study I started in 1990 and finished when I was undergoing cancer treatment. I always knew it would be a book and God gave me the time to get it all together. He has a purpose for everything. If you are interested in seeing a glimpse about the book, I have started blogging a few excerpts from the book on https://theaskprinciple.com. You can also buy a copy of “The Ask Principle” on the site or from Amazon.

Intercessions is the Greek word enteuxis which means to stand between God and someone else and seek God’s will for them so they will “hit the mark.” Isn’t that what we want for those around us? We want them to find the will of God for their lives, or for their situation. Many times, we pray for the solution we want which may not be what God wants. I would have liked my cancer to disappear before treatment and many people prayed that way. But God had a better plan and the results were amazing. I am even considering a career change because of what God has done.

When we pray for a sick person, we typically pray they will get well quickly. Perhaps we would be better to pray that God gives then strength until He is ready to heal them. When we pray for our relatives to get saved, perhaps we should pray that God sends someone to them to show them the way to salvation. When we pray for someone to be delivered, perhaps we should pray that God will keep them safe until He is ready to deliver them. If there is one thing I have learned it’s that God has His own timetable. We need to pray that God’s will be done in every situation. Not our will, God’s will.

Then Paul mentions giving of thanks. Do you find it hard to be thankful? Do you find it hard to find ways to be thankful for those people around you? Thankfulness is one of the key ways we can be at peace in our lives. There is ALWAYS something to give thanks for. If it’s sunny, give thanks for the sun. If it’s raining, thank God for the rain. If it’s heavy snow and winter, thank God that He promised spring would come. If you’re sick, thank God that He is your healer. If you are stuck and feel alone, be thankful you are not at the bottom of a sewer with the rats. If you are in the bottom of the sewer with the rats, be thankful you can still think enough to be thankful.

One fond memory I have from my younger years comes from my mom’s office. She was a church secretary at the First Congregational Church in West Boylston, a grand old church right in the center of town. On the wall in her office was a plaque that read “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes but then I met a man who had no feet.” This saying has stuck with me all my years. There is always someone in worse shape than we are. We should be thankful.

And we should give thanks for those around us. Thanks for their health, for their families, for their jobs, for their cars for anything you can think of. So many people like to go around putting people down and backbiting others. What a world this would be if we were all thankful for the people around us. If we spent our energy thanking them for the little things they might have done instead of worrying about their not so pretty points, we could change their disposition. If enough people did this, a whole shift would take place in our society. We would see a thankful people all around us, and a smile from every face.

The four points mentioned above are to be done to all men. To all women. To all children. To everyone. Therefore, we have no right to be angry with someone because we are to pray for them. We have no right to look down on someone because we are thankful for them. We will not be bothered by the little quirks in someone’s life because we know how to intercede for them. Our own disposition will be so much gentler and kinder when we follow this simple approach Paul mentions to Timothy.

So often when someone wrongs us or lashes out at us, we take it personal and just get upset with them. We do not know what they have been through that day or what has caused them to feel like that. Then we take the short time they were with us and blow it out of proportion. If we would take time to pray with them or for them, and also give thanks for them in some way, we would see the world through a better light. Instead of being upset at what they said or did to us, we would be thrilled that our attitude was not affected by that word or deed. Instead we rose above it and helped them out at the same time. Do you see how life-changing this can be?

Practice prayer. Practice supplication. Practice intercession. Practice thanksgiving. Practice it with all men, with everyone. We can make a better world!

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Have You Had A Prophesy?

1 Timothy 1:18-20

18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare;

19 Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:

20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

It is obvious from the words Paul pens here that Timothy had been prophesied over at some time previously.  The prophesy had something to do with being in the battle for the Lord, holding the faith and having a good conscience.  These are all characteristics that we will talk about in a minute.

First I want you to think for a moment.  Have you ever had a prophesy given over your life?  Has the man of God every given you a word  of the Lord that will happen in the future?  There are some in today’s church that say prophesy is not alive in the church.  They believe the phrase “when that which is perfect is come” from 1 Corinthians 13:10 means that when the New testament came to be a book for believers the spiritual gifts were not necessary any more.   There are others who believe that the spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12 were only for the early church as witnessing tools and are no longer needed.  Both of these thoughts are invalid.

There is another movement that says we must listen to the new prophets for they are bringing fresh revelation from God that supersede the Bible.  It goes above and beyond what the Bible says and gives new commands to the church and its mission.  The Latter Day Saints believe this as well as the New Apostolic Reformation.  Both of these groups are travelling down a very dangerous path and are wandering away from the truths of the Bible.  Be diligent to follow the truth of God’s word every day.

With all that being said, I truly believe in the prophetic ministry of the man of God.  I believe it is a spiritual gift that is available to everyone, but only a few are chosen to exhibit it.  Moses says he wished all would prophecy (Numbers 11:29).  I think God feels that way too.  Many of us have been given that gift but are afraid to speak out in case we might be wrong.  I am one of those so I know this sentiment exists.  I have also been used to give a word of prophecy to an individual.  It is an awesome feeling to be sued by God in this way.

I have also been prophesied over many times, but one time sticks out in my mind above all the others because the results of that prophecy are still coming to fruition today.  It was in 2010.  I had taken a sabbatical in 2008 and after that was told not to get back into ministry for at least two years or until God made it very clear to me that it was time.  I had been sitting in the back pew of the church taking care of grandkids and did not take any part in the service or teaching, a place I would typically jump at the chance.  I had given my wife the authority to tell me when it was time to get involved again.

In August of 2010 we went to a camp meeting in Olds, Iowa which we had attended for years.  On the first morning, one of the preachers asked the camp host if he could start doing a morning service for those who wanted to attend.  The host said it would be okay and I just piped up and asked if he needed music.  I looked at my wife and asked if that would be okay and if she would help and she said yes.  We helped with the morning service that day and I really enjoyed being in the worship service again as a leader.,  Tears flowed from my eyes as we sang praises to the Lord.

That night, in the evening service, that same preacher was sharing at the beginning of the service.  He had finished his time of sharing and the Lord gave him a word for me.  He walked back to me and looked right in my eyes.  He said that the Lord was going to do a new work in me, one that I would never expect.  It would come on me suddenly and would pour out of my spirit to touch many souls.  He said it was something brand new, that I had never seen before.  I was weeping as he spoke and just praised the Lord while standing there.

A few weeks after this, my wife decided I was ready to start helping in the leading of worship again.  She had heard the prophecy but she also did not know exactly what it meant.  My demeanor and pride had been drastically reduced and she felt I was ready to once again be in front of the congregation.  I approached this with hesitancy but trusted her judgment.

Then It happened.  I was driving from one small town to another in Iowa and all of a sudden I had a song in my head.  I had hummed melodies before, and I would worship in words, but never did I get words and melody together.  This time I did.  I quickly pulled over to the side of the road, wrote down the words and sang the song into my phone so I would not forget it.  I wasn’t sure what this was, but it was new and it was different.  Here is my rough recording of that song.

The next day I went to my pastors house and told him and his wife what happened.  Then I sang the song to them.  They absolutely loved it.  I asked my pastor what I should do given this new gift.  He said “Keep listening.”  I did and over the next 6 months God poured more than 150 songs and worship choruses into my spirit.  My wife didn’t understand why I was coming up with new songs day after day, and I didn’t either.  All I knew was that God was speaking and I needed to write these down.  My wife bought me a piano and showed me some chords so I could start working more with the songs.  The Lord said to start taking piano lessons so I did.  Song after song, I worked them up, sang them in church and sang them to the Lord.  The prophesy came tom pass, just as the man of God said.

 

There are now over 2,000 poems, songs and choruses God has flowed through me.  I am still getting poems almost daily.  Some are songs, some worship choruses, some just poems.  But they are what God is pouring through me.  I still don’t know why He chose this vessel, but I am thrilled to be in His service.  These writings are touching thousands each week through my Facebook page.  I started blogging them on my Psalmist page as well, as many of you have read.  The prophecy has been fulfilled to the glory of God.

 

Prophecy is still alive and well.  God still speaks to His people through His prophets.  We need to be sure they are not false prophets, as we are warned of them many times in scripture.  If they are driving us to the word of God, they are good.  If they are driving us away, walk away.  If you are strong enough in the Lord, rebuke them and show them where they are wrong.  We have a job to do to expose these false prophets and those that would turn men away from God, just as Paul tells Timothy here.

 

We must fight a good battle, and hold the faith with a good conscience. The only way we can hold the faith with a good conscience is to adhere to the Bible in all areas of our lives.   To fight the battle in a good way, put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18).   Are sure you are not listening to false prophets who would tell you that they are  bring fresh manna.  Back up every word you hear with scripture,  If you are speaking the truth in love, you will have a good conscience.  This battle is not against this world, but is fought in the spirit realm.  Through prayers and thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6-7) we will overcome and have peace.

 

Listen to the voice of God.  Perhaps someday you will change someone’s life as that preacher did mine.  Don’t ever be afraid to let people know what God is saying if you are sure you are hearing His voice.  You will be blessed for it.

The Only Wise God

1 Timothy 1:17

17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our King is eternal. He was there in the beginning. The Word tells us God was there in the beginning (Genesis 1:1). The Word tells us the Holy Spirit was there at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:2). The Word tell us that Jesus, who is the Word, was there at the beginning as God spoke the universe into existence (Genesis 1:3-27, John 1:1-14). He has always been. From the beginning of the beginning, the King was there.. He had no beginning because He always was. He preceded the sun and moon and stars. He preceded the vast expanse of space. He preceded time.

The King is eternal. He will never not be. He will never go away and leave His creation. He will reign in heaven and be there until the end of time (Revelation 22:13). He will be there after the earth is gone and a new heaven and earth appear (Revelation 21:1-2). He will wipe away all tears. There will be no more death, sorrow, pain or crying (Revelations 21:4). He will be there forever, ruling and reigning from His throne (Exodus 15:18). He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8). He was and He is and He will be. He is eternal.

The King is eternal. He is here with us right now. He will walk beside us through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). He will be there to carry us close to His heart when we stumble and fall, and He will lead us through life (Isaiah 40:11). He will give us rest when we are weary (Matthew 11:28). He will give you peace in the midst of the storm and calm the wind and the waves (Mark 5:35-41).

The King is immortal. He will never die. He died once, but rose again to live forevermore. He gained victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:55) and will never succumb to it again. All the trees, plants, wildlife, insects, fish, birds, bacteria, and people will eventually die, but He will never die. He is invincible. He will not get sick, weary or fatigued but will reign and rule forever. Death has no power over Him and neither does this world he has overcome the world (John 16:33)

The King is invisible. On this earth, while still in our flesh, we cannot see Him because He is a Spirit (John 4:24). We can only see Him through out spiritual eyes. He will reveal Himself to those whom He chooses. His Spirit can go where it wants (John 3:8), when it wants, how it wants and to whom it wants. He can be many places at one time and also be in the hours ahead of us because He is not constrained to time.

The King is invisible. He can be a shield about me (Psalm 3:3). He can incline unto me to hear my prayer (Psalm 116:2). He is my hiding place. He preserves me from trouble. He encompasses me with deliverance (Psalm 32:7). He goes before me to clear the way from trouble (Deuteronomy 31:8). He is near me when I am brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). He will never leave me or forsake me (Matthew 28:20). Even though I cannot see Him, I will trust Him (1 Peter 1:8).

The King is only wise. All wisdom comes from Him (Proverbs 2:6-8). Man’s wisdom seems is foolishness to God (1 Corinthians 2:19). God’s wisdom will protect us and watch over us (Proverbs 4:6). God’s wisdom is pure, impartial, peace-loving, considerate, submissive sincere and full of mercy and good fruit (James 3:17). His wisdom is unsearchable (Romans 11:33). His ways of wisdom are var above our ways (Isaiah 55:9).

The King is only wise. He gives His wisdom to those who please Him (Ecclesiastes 2:26). He gives wisdom to those who ask with unwavering faith (James 1:5). His wisdom gives us strength (Ecclesiastes 7:19). Wisdom will give us a future and a hope (Proverbs 24:14). Wisdom is better to attain than gold or precious jewels (Job 28:15-18). He who gets wisdom loves his own soul (Proverbs 19:8)

We should give Him honor. Honor is high esteem. We should give Him honor with our praise and worship. We should give Him honor by the way we treat one another (Matthew 25:35-40). We should give Him honor by our daily actions (Colossians 3:23-24). We should give honor to Him with the words we speak. Way to often we do not honor God in these ways and people see us as hypocrites. We should be honoring God and His word in everything we do. There are no exceptions or excuses.

We should give Him glory. We should be praising Him everywhere we go and in everything we do. We are to be a light on a hill, glorifying God with our good deeds (Matthew 5:16). Everything we say should glorify God. If we are ministering grace to those around us with our words, that glorifies God. How do you react when someone takes the Lord’s name in vain? Do we turn that around to give Him glory? He is glorious and mighty. His name is the most powerful name in the universe. His name should be glorified.

All of the above is not a one-time thing. It is not something that is true today but won’t be true tomorrow. These things are not truths you can believe today and decide not to believe tomorrow. They are forever and ever. Hey will always endure. They will always be true whether you believe them or not. He is the King who shall rule and reign for eternity. We must give Him the honor He deserves in our daily lives. We do this by being obedient and staying humble and meek.

Today give Him your all. Be that living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Don’t accept anything less for yourself. Give Him all of you and He will fill you up!

 

A Faithful Saying

1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to lifeverlasting.

A faithful saying is one that will never fail, never be proven wrong and will never change. You can depend on it from dusk to dawn, from Monday until Sunday, from January 1st until December 31st for every single year you are alive. The saying is faithful for your children, your grandchildren and all future generations. It is true for your aunts and uncles, your friends, your enemies, your coworkers and even the clerks in Walmart. A faithful saying applies to everyone, every day at any time.

Another faithful saying is that the sun will rise, and it will set. Or the stars will shine tonight, even though we may not see them because of the clouds. It is a faithful saying to say that winter, spring, summer and fall will come about this year. It is a faithful saying that we will all grow older and eventually die. There are very few faithful sayings that are of this world. But if God said it, it is a faithful saying. It will happen, or it is true, or it did happen. There is no might, maybe, probably or perhaps about it. He is the author of truth and He is faithful and His word is faithful.

This saying is faithful to the rich, poor, fat, skinny, old, young, white, black, yellow, red. It is faithful in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. It is faithful in wind, cold, warm, hot, rain, snow, hail, sleet, cloudy or clear. It is faithful in your home, at work, in your car, in your church, at play and when alone. This saying is faithful when you are tired, angry, sorrowful, impatient, lonely, happy, peaceful, sick, well, or miserable. In any situation, at any time, in any mood or trial, it is faithful. It can be trusted to do what it is intended to do.

This saying is worthy of all acceptance. You can accept it wherever you are, whenever you want and whoever you are. It is acceptable to the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame and the leper. It’s worthy of acceptance if you are sick, have cancer, downs syndrome, AIDS, lymphoma, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or any other disease. It is acceptable to all in the North, South, East or West. No matter what your situation, where you have been or where you are now, this saying is worth accepting.

What is this saying that applies in every and all situations in Life? This saying that never fails and always applies? This saying that is faithful to the end and above repute?
This saying is that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners! There is no saying that anyone can say that is more true than that. This is why Jesus came. He did not come to be made a King, or a healer, or a deliverer, or a raiser of the dead or a great teacher. He did all of those things, but that is not the main reason He came. He came to save sinners.

He came to earth from heaven’s glory and was born in a manger, meek and mild. He was raised by a carpenter and learned the value of hard work. He knew at a young age that there was something special about Him as He questioned the very teachers in the temple when He was twelve (Luke 2:41-52). But that did not go to His head because he knew why He had come. He submitted to John the Baptist even though John knew he was the greater of the two (Matthew 3:14). When the heaven’s opened and His heavenly Father said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17) Jesus did not let it go to His head and declare Himself something special because He knew why He came. When people started to be healed and follow Him, He did not get dreams of being great because He knew why He came.

He came to be cursed and beaten. He came be whipped with a Roman cat-o-nine tails. He came to receive a crown of thorns. He came to be rejected by the people. He came
to be judged by Pilate and Herod. He came to be condemned by His own followers. He came to have His disciples run away. He came to carry a cross down an old rocky street. He came to have nails put in His hands and feet. He came to drink vinegar and have a spear pushed into His side. He came to have His Father turn aside when all of our sins were laid on Him. He took all this for your sins.

He was the sinless sacrifice given by God for all of our sins. The required Lamb that was perfect. All of our scars, all of our pain, all of our hurt was laid on Him on that cross. For the first time in all of eternity He was alone. Alone, hurting with pain He had never felt before and with blood gushing out from several parts of His body All the emotion and all the suffering He went through was why He came. The sacrifice of the spotless Lamb was necessary for the remission of sins, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). His blood was shed in place of yours and mine.

On that cross, in all that pain and suffering, alone and worn, He spoke. He spoke words that come down through the annals of time and touch every single person on this earth. He spoke words that are faithful and worthy of acceptance. He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He said that about those standing around the cross looking at Him, about the soldiers that were standing guard and about those who were gambling for His garment. He also said it about you and me. Oh what grace! Oh what mercy! That He would speak out and forgive me from that cross.

Then He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). The reason He came was complete. There was no more to do for our salvation. It was done right then and there. We cannot buy it, earn it, work for it or borrow it. It is ours when we accept it. It does not just magically save you from your sin without your acceptance. It is worthy of your acceptance and must be accepted by you in order to cover your sin.

This sacrifice that He gave covers every person, no matter what they did. The murderer, the rapist, the sex offender, the violent, the thief, the deceiver, the mocker, the unbeliever. It is faithful and acceptable for all. No matter how bad, as Paul says he was the chief of sinners. He had killed Christians. He had taken them captive and delivered them to judgment. He terrorized the church. Yet it was faithful for him. It was acceptable for him. It is for you as well.

We most likely will not suffer like Paul suffered for Christ. Shipwrecks, stoning, beatings, near death experiences, mocking, rejection and many other things followed Paul everywhere he went. The pattern of suffering he went through was to let us know this walk with God will not be a bed of roses. It is not all on the mountaintop. We often go into the valley where it is much more difficult and we don’t see the mountaintop clearly. The valley can be a time of sickness or pain or depression or loneliness. The valley is a tough place to be.

The valley is also the place where life is. It is the place where waters flow and birds sing. It is the place where flowers bloom and trees sway in the breeze. The mountaintop is barren and cold. It is lifeless. When we are in the valley, it is a time of growth. It is where God is working on us whether we see it or not. It is a place where He walks with us and talks with us. The valley is a wonderful place to be.

Have you accepted the faithful saying? Have you acknowledged that Jesus Christ died for your sins? Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? If you have, I am grateful and thrilled for you. You have entered into the life that God has prepared for you and it will be a magnificent journey. There will be mountains and valleys but you will trust in God and come through every trial with joy and peace. You know He is in control and you just have to put Him in the driver’s seat and enjoy the ride. It’s a good ride!

If you have not, why not ask Him today. Simply pray and acknowledge that you are a sinner. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. Ask Him to come into your life. Ask Him to be Lord of your life. It’s that simple. After you pray that get out your Bible, or borrow one, and read John in the New Testament. Then go back and start with Matthew and read through the New Testament. Find a good church and some Christians to fellowship with. You have just entered into new life! Enjoy it!

Does God Count You Faithful?

1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I like to take credit. I like to think I did something myself. It was me who read the Bible and gained the knowledge I have. It was me who began to understand how the Old and New Testament worked together., It was me who figured out how the scripture applies to everyday life. I wrote all these poems and songs through the years. The moving of the Holy Spirit is due to my ability and expertise in putting a worship service together. All these years, I have been slaving away for God and coming up with these thoughts and ideas on how God works in our lives. I did it. Me!

That paragraph is the definition of pride. I did it. I accomplished it. I figured it out. This is where I lived for years, and truly believed the sayings in that paragraph. It caused me to start top think I could disregard all that I had learned and do what I wanted to do. After all, I had done it all for God!

But I soon fell hard, lost my job and almost my family and had to take inventory on my spiritual life. What I found out was what Paul says here. God has enabled me. I do not have the ability within myself to do the things above. It is God in me and through me. That is the only way these things can minister the way they do. That is the only way the right words can get on paper that will touch hearts and heal up wounds of the soul.

You see, I was once very much like Paul. I certainly was a blasphemer, a breaker of all the commandments, a drunkard and drug addict and a person who could care less about God. My own way was the way I would go and no one could tell me I was in the wrong. I had walked away from God in high school and had no plans on coming back to Him. I was a persecutor, maybe not of the saint, but of everyone around me. I would put down, speak badly of, and try to hurt with words anyone that wronged me. I was a smaller guy and not a physical specimen, so I relied on a quick wit. This also made me injurious, like Paul. My words could injure peoples spirits and hearts quicker than a dart being thrown at them. The bigger problem is that they could dodge a dart, but could not avoid my stinging words.

Then grace came in. Love came in. Faith came in. Somehow I found myself driving to Iowa to see my best friend. Clear out of the blue I had decided to make the 1300 mile drive from Massachusetts to Iowa. When I arrived at his house, we had a great reunion, having not seen each other for over a year. He was a Christian, and had tried to sway me a year earlier at our high school reunion. It didn’t work, but it also did not hurt our friendship. Here I was on His doorstep in Iowa. Through the last year we had sent letters back and forth and each one of his letters had a scripture address on it. I had to look it up to see what he was saying. He was a sly old fox (well, not that old. He was a week older than me).

Then he said come to church with us tonight, and I said OK. I had no problem going with him, just don’t give me any of that salvation stuff. Don’t tell me I need saving. I was doing just fine. And I was so wrong. That minister, who was a missionary home on leave, told me I was headed for a burning hell. I did not want to go there! Then he told me there was only one way to avoid it, and that was Jesus Christ, I wanted Jesus. Jesus took me into His arms later that week and saved my soul. His grace covered me completely.

Now He enables me. I do everything I can to keep my thoughts out of this blog, out of the poetry, out of the songs that fill the pages of my web sites. I seek God’s wisdom and His words for these pages, not mine. I have nothing of value to give except my life. These are His words, His thoughts, His songs. I claim no ownership.

Since He has enabled me, it is now up to me to be an open conduit. He has put me into this ministry and now I need to allow His message to flow through me out to you. Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means God gives us the ability to shut it down or make it flow. We can muzzle the message God gives us to share. We can say “God gave this to me and I’m not going to share it!” We absolutely can. But I do no want to be that person.

My heart’s desire is to be counted faithful. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The words, songs, melodies and so on come from God. He has given them, for some reason I will never understand, to me. He entrusted me with the ability to hear His voice, and I for one want to make sure He will say I did it well. I could care less if anyone on this earth says the same. I am aware that very few hear God the way I hear Him. Very few have learned to listen as He has taught me to. He holds me accountable for those things He has entrusted to me.

What about you? What gift, or gifts, has God given to you? What talents do you possess? What are you doing with them? I suggest you make a list of all the gifts and talents God has bestowed on you. Some will have just a few items they can think of, others might have many dozen. Pray about it and be thorough. Once you have compiled your list, take each item one by one and ask God if you are doing a good job with that talent. If you’re like me, there are some you are doing well with and others you need to do better.

After this is done, ask God to help you do a better job of ministering in the areas where He has gifted you. Ask Him to enable you to reach more, teach more, love more and touch more. Ask Him to make your light shine so that you might bring Him glory. Give yourself as a living sacrifice for Him so that you might prove the will of God is alive in your life. Be vigilant in your ministry and never back down. This world needs you!

Use the Law Lawfully

1 Timothy 1:8-11

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Today our cities are being torn apart by the unlawful use of the law. We have seen many riots in the streets because law enforcement officers are suspected of using unnecessary force against people of different color than they are, They are accused of paying closer attention to infractions that minorities commit than the majority commits. They are accused of playing favorites between their own race and those of a different race. It is thought that the over zealous actions of the police has resulted in a large majority of minorities in prison, not because they commit more crimes, but because the police concentrate more on catching them. This is a perfect case of using the law unlawfully. The law is not a respecter of persons. The law should be applied to everyone equally and not single out anyone of one race or one social class. The law should be pure and undefiled. The law should be used lawfully!

In this plea to Timothy, Paul is addressing the fact that many well-intentioned Jews were trying to make the Corinthians live under parts of the law after they had been converted. They were saying that circumcision must be done to truly be a child of God. It is an old case of works vs. grace. They claimed you must do something to earn your salvation. They taught that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough to receive a pardon from God and be adopted into His family.

The fallacy of the necessity of works for salvation is still alive today. There is nothing in the Gospels or the writing of Paul, Peter, James, John or anyone else in the Bible that says we must do something to earn our salvation. The gospel is a simple message. Jesus said God loved the world so much He gave His Son so whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). The key word is “Believes”. That is all it takes. Faith. Pure and simple. Paul wrote that we are saved by faith through grace (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is given to us so we can have the faith to accept Christ’s sacrifice. Paul goes on to say it is not works that saves us (Ephesians 2:9). This is because if we were saved by works we would tend to become full of pride that we were saved because we found favor with God through our works, and that pride would puff us up. Romans 10:9-10 says if we confess Jesus Christ with our mouth and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead we will be saved. Once again, no mention of works is made.

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. It is a free gift from God. If you have been trying to earn God’s favor, you will never be able to do it. All you need to do is accept it, accept His sacrifice for your sins, accept that He rose from the dead to give you eternal live. Believe it! Have faith in God and His word. Paul goes on to say here that the Jewish law is what was given to show us our sin – it is for the unsaved. It was given to teach us what sin is. The heathen nations around that area had all kinds of ungodly mannerisms and practices that God did not want His people practicing. So He gave them the law to give them an idea of what holiness was.

Now once you are saved, you have a responsibility to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Jesus says if we do not do the commands of the Father, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). You cannot just get saved ands go on your merry way. Grace covers a lot, but Paul tells us that we should stop sinning. We have no right to keep sinning so He will shed more grace on us
(Romans 6:1-2)

There is preaching out there that once you are saved, you are always saved. The Bible does not support that idea. John 10:28-30 tells us that no one can snatch you out of the Fathers hand., But that does not mean that you can’t leave on your own. You have a choice. You can decide to leave God’s safety by not following His word and walking away from repentance when you do disobey. His grace reaches a long way, and it will reach you no matter how far away you might get. But if you decide you don’t want to be reached, that is your choice. If you decide you will not follow what He has said, then you are in danger. Repent!

There are a lot of other teaching out there that say we must do something on top of our confession of faith in order to truly be saved. Paul says it is the glorious Gospel, the simple gospel that will save us, not laws. Let us never be ones to put burdens on new converts saying they must do more. Let us encourage them in the faith and show them the way to grow in their newfound faith. Faith that came by grace. Grace that saved their souls

Don’t Serve

1 Timothy 1:6-7

6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

That word “swerved” really catches my eye in these two verses. This is the only use of that particular word in the Bible. The Greek word is astacheo, and it is only used in one other place in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:18, this word is translated “err.” The Greek word means to miss the mark or go astray. The first thing that comes to my mind is a car swerving to miss a deer, or a pothole or even another car. The driver sees danger ahead and turns the wheel to avert the danger. I have done this many times and I’m sure you have as well. It’s a word that we commonly use today describing someone who has to go out of their way to accomplish a task. Another use also comes from driving, and that is the drunkard or drug-filled person who swerves all over the road because they have lost control of their perceptions. They become a danger to themselves and to others but are unaware of it because they are under the influence. Both of these examples show us the meaning of the word swerved.

The second interesting word in the KJV is jangling. This is the Greek word mataiologia, and it means vain speaking or noise. This is the only place in the Bible that this word is used. I immediately think of a large ring with keys on it, attached to the belt of a janitor or landlord. They keys clank together, or jangle, when the person walks or when they go to use one of the keys. It is a metallic sound that is non-sensical. The other reference that Webster’s dictionary gives us for jangling is that it “set on edge” which our nerves might be if certain things happen to make us skeptical or afraid.

The fact that Paul uses these two words exclusively in writing to Timothy is no small thing. Paul is obviously trying to make a strong point to Timothy and uses vivid words to get that point across. He could easily have just said “turned aside to foolish teaching” but he chose not to. We can learn a lot about what Paul is warning Timothy of because he used these two specific words only in writing to Timothy. It is a warning that still resonates today in our world.

The first point is that these teachers who Paul is talking about did not just slip into some teaching that was in error. They went their purposely. They swerved, like we do to miss something. The swerved so that they could bring forth a teaching that no one else would duplicate because they fabricated it. It was not a Holy Spirit inspired teaching. It was not based solidly on scripture. It did not line up with the hole volume of scripture, but may have chosen one verse out of all of them and then was taken out of context. I think of those who worship today by taking up snakes because Paul took up snakes. I think of those who worship by smoking marijuana because God said all of creation was good. I think of the movie that is coming out this year called “Corpus Christie” in which Jesus and the disciples are portrayed as gay men.

These things and many more are just dead wrong. The people who practice them and preach them have swerved from the truth. They try to tell us that these things are not against the law of God and they show their ignorance of the word of God. They somehow miss the scriptures that speak out against these things and only listen to that deceptive little voice in their heads saying “It’s OK. It’s OK.” They swerve into their own path and their own teaching so they can stand out as someone who knows a little more than the next person. But they too are deceived. They think their little foray into an obscure idea of what God is saying is a new revelation God has given specifically to them. The problem is that God will always confirm His word with two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15), and He will always inform His prophets of what He is going to do (Amos 3:7).

The second point is about those who get intoxicated by the world and start to think that God is all about giving them material wealth if they ask. They think they should be able to come up to God and demand things because this verse or that verse says a particular thing. They take the scripture out of context and apply it as law. “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14) is their rallying cry, They are swerving in and out of the truth. They find themselves wanting more and more and thinking that others should be able to gain wealth the same way they did. They think your lack of wealth is a lack of faith. This cannot be farther from the truth. Has God made everyone a rich man? Has God made everyone with the same capabilities? Has He made everyone with the same health?

We are not all the same When these deceptive teaching come along we must be very careful to examine the whole body of what they are saying through the lens of scripture. The whole body of scripture must be taken into account, not just a few verses. These teachers think they are wise and they think they are teaching the law but failing to back up what they say.

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement is a great example of this verse. I am not going to get into all the things this church movement is swerving toward because I want this blog to focus on Christian aspects that will help us grow. The NAR is sweeping through churches across the country and bringing in new doctrine filled with vain jangling and false teaching. I suggest you study up on it so you will be aware if it does start to creep into your church. You can learn a little about this by clicking HERE

Solomon said “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and that statement is just as true now as it was in his day. In everything we do, we need to do our best to remain true to scripture and it’s context. We need to stay away from those who are just talking with no purpose, or standing on one scripture and miss the mark even on that one. Seek the truth, the whole truth. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Don’t swerve off the path!