how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news

Isaiah 52:7 (NIV)

4 How beautiful on the mountains
 are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
 who bring good tidings,
 who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
 “Your God reigns!”

Indeed. It’s great to hear good news.

The announcement of a wedding. The birth of a child. The safe return of a loved one.

But imagine the news is “proclaiming peace”.

The “tidings” are that there is “salvation”.

The Israelites had suffered greatly and this would have been very welcome news. But I wonder if they understood the significance of what was about to be explained to them.

That the “salvation” was not just their imminent rescue but an ultimate restoration between God and man.

And that the precursor to God’s arrival in human form on earth was John the Baptist preaching this good news (John1:15ff).

If one’s message is that “God reigns” in the person of “Christ the Lord” then yes, it really is “good news of great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Kim+

prayer : help me to be bold in sharing this good news

action : “tell of his salvation from day to day” (1 Chronicles 16:23)

shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?

“Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” Job 2:10b (ESV)

It’s a very good question. And one not easily answered.

Job discovers he has just lost all that he owns together with his children in a series of catastrophes. The extent of his suffering is beyond comprehension.

Interestingly, the devastation is probably not unlike that caused by the tornados tearing through Oklahama these past few weeks.

But to then to top it all off, poor Job suffers a horribly painful skin disease.

I wonder how I would react if I was faced with devastating loss and debilitating sickness? Would I curse God as Satan predicts? (Job 1:11, 2:5)

I think we often take our lives, and each other, for granted. Forgetting how truly blessed we are.

Each day is so precious. Each moment worth savouring. Especially when it’s shared with loved ones.

As Job quite rightly points out, God is sovereign over everything: the good and the bad.

Whilst we may not understand why, we should not think of Him as only providing prosperity and abundance.

Just because we are Christians does not mean life is a “bed of roses” (attributed to Christopher Marlowe: The Passionate Shepherd To His Love, 1599).

We are naive to expect that evil will be cursed and goodness blessed.

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

Armed with this knowledge, how will we respond no matter what our circumstances?

Kim+

prayer : “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

action : read a Psalm every night before bed

a good conscience

“…that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” 1 Timothy 1:18b, 19a (ESV)

What does Paul mean by a good conscience?

I suppose, in the context of what has been entrusted to Timothy, it would involve him “holding faith”.

Not departing from the original doctrine taught to him by Paul.

And having that assurance deep inside that he had “kept the faith”. (2 Timothy 4:7)

It’s obviously important as Paul used the same phrase, “a good conscience“, earlier in verse 5.

But holding firm is not an easy thing to do when we’re constantly assailed by forces trying to distract us, sway us, even break us.

But with God’s help, with God’s grace, we can remain steadfast and true.

Kim+

prayer : help me Lord to be honest with myself and with you, confessing my sins with a truly repentant heart

action : seek to understand God’s will and purpose for my life

wage the good warfare

“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare,” 1 Timothy 1:18 (ESV)

Even though Paul is addressing Timothy directly, and referring to matters clearly in a specific context, I see no reason why this call to action should not apply to all Christians.

We all need to wage the good warfare because it’s a spiritual battle we’re in.

Not “against flesh and blood” but “against the spiritual forces of evil”, says Paul. (Ephesians 6:12)

And, as I understand it, all believers are called to “put on” and “take up the whole armour of God”. (Ephesians 6:11, 13)

Thankfully, God is our mighty defender: “our rock and our fortress”. (Psalm 144:1-2)

On Him and Him alone we can rely.

Kim+

prayer : thank you God that you provide us with the armour to “fight the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:11)

action : help me to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11)

the law is good

“Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully,” 1 Timothy 1:8 (ESV)

That’s the crux of it: if the law is used lawfully. Thus it’s first necessary to know what it means to use the law “lawfully”.

John Piper, in his sermon “How to Use the Law Lawfully to Bear Fruit for God“, does an excellent job of explaining this.

It’s well worth listening to or reading.

What I took away from his talk is that rules and regulations help us to know and understand what sin is.

But, having been transformed by the grace of God, it’s love that should dictate our every thought, word, and deed.

Love for God. Love for our neighbour. Love for His creation.

As believers, we’re called to “meditate on the law in order to know the justice and mercy of God in Christ, our righteousness and our life.”

What a great privilege it is to be able to “meditate on His word day and night”. (Psalm 1:2)

Kim+

prayer : thank you God that we have the law to point us towards Jesus

action : live as a child of God, forgiven and “set free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2)

a pure heart

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

What a challenge. To be so changed by Christ that we love others the way He loves us.

It’s important to note that love does not come from performing good works or observing the law.

It comes from an internal transformation brought about by the gospel of Christ.

It is a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith that that produces love.

Kim+

prayer : that God will purify my heart, convict and forgive me of my sin, and strengthen my faith so that my “love may abound more and more” (Philippians 1:9)

action : confess my self-centredness and seek God’s forgiveness