walking in the truth

2 John 4 (ESV)

4 I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.

What does it mean to be found walking in the truth?

Is it related to Psalm 1 where it says “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked”?

I dare say it is.

Interestingly, Jesus himself said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).

A bold statement excluding all other faiths and beliefs.

Therefore, to seek God through other religions is blasphemy. For to do so denies the significance and indeed requirement of Jesus’ death on the cross.

If Jesus is not the only way then it makes a mockery of His sacrifice. His crucifixion becomes little more than an interesting, albeit altruistic, footnote in history.

To me then, this is the truth: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

And to walk in this truth is to practice it daily like the psalmist (above). Listening to and meditating on and obeying God’s word.

An active, energetic, forward moving expression of faith in God’s gracious love for us.

Kim+

prayer : help me to walk in the truth day-by-day

action : continue daily quiet times

he must manage his own household well

“He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (ESV)

Following on from yesterday’s Bible verses, Paul goes on to list in detail specifically how he expects godly leaders to behave.

The one that strikes me as particularly interesting and challenging is the call to manage our own household.

It makes sense. But it’s no easy thing. Especially when our own household involves teenagers, each with a mind of their own.

But perhaps we should look first to own behaviour before we point the finger at our children. After all, they learn a lot of their behaviour from us, like it or not.

The way we talk. The way we pray. The way we read the Bible. The way we help others. The way we bear witness.

The list is endless.

But if we want them to grow up into Christians with a firm faith and a heart that is passionate for God’s Kingdom then we need to live like that first and foremost, trusting God that He will give us the strength and the humility to discipline our children (Ephesians 6:4) as He disciplines us. (Hebrews 12:11)

In love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Kim+

prayer : that I would live boldly for my Lord

action : pray with my children once a day (when possible)

therefore an overseer must be above reproach

“The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach,” 1 Timothy 3:1-2a(ESV)

It’s no small thing to be a leader. It’s a great responsibility that needs to be taken very seriously.

All too often it’s seen as an opportunity to exercise power and influence. And this is certainly an important element of the role.

But it should not be done for selfish reasons.

Instead, as we see in Philippians 2:7, our example should be like that of Christ Jesus who chose to be a “servant King”. Not what one would expect from the creator of the universe.

And like Jesus, we should aim to lead a godly life.

Why? Not because we are saved through the keeping of rules and regulations. Because we’re not. It is only the blood of Jesus that can wash us clean.

Rather, as a leader within His body, His church, we are called to set an example. Both to other members of His body as well as to those outside the church.

It is the ultimate witness. As our actions speak so much louder than mere words. (James 1:22f)

Kim+

prayer : whether in the role of a leader or a follower I would strive to act in such a way that is above reproach

action : look at setting my goals this month with this in mind

Manhood, Womanhood, and the Freedom to Minister

1Ti 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

1 Timothy 2:8-15 (ESV)

How sad that Scripture, God’s Holy Word, can cause such strife and division within the church.

It pains me every time I hear Christians arguing over the meaning of this text.

Yet listening to John Piper in his sermon, “Manhood, Womanhood, and the Freedom to Minister“, my understanding of these verses is now much, much clearer.

And interestingly, my view has not changed from what it was before but simply clarified. A testament to the sound teaching I’ve received in the past.

The message I take from the sermon, and of course God’s Word, is that men and women both have important, valuable roles to perform.

The “silence” spoken of in this chapter is not so much a complete absence of voice but rather a respectful quietness.

There is a ministry role for every believer. And there are countless opportunities available to both men and women allowing them to exercise their God-given gifts.

But what women are excluded from doing is exercising “authority” over men, especially through “teaching”.

This doesn’t mean they cannot teach. But the form that “teaching” will take may well differ to that performed by men.

We would do well to read Scripture more carefully and prayerfully rather than jumping to conclusions, taking passages out of context, or worse still, applying our own cultural biases to influence our thinking.

Because “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Kim+

prayer : that I would be mindful when reading and interpreting Scripture, asking for godly wisdom to provide me with insight and understanding

action : seek God’s will for the ministry role He would have me do within my church

for there is one God

“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” 1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV)

I am reminded of the start to the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me”. (Deuteronomy 5:7)

Yet living here in Japan, where the Shinto and Buddhist religions dominate, it’s sad to see so many putting their faith in gods that do not even exist.

They’re praying to gods who are unable to hear their prayers let alone answer them.

Silent gods. Empty gods. Man-made gods. Idols.

For there is only one way that we can connect to God: through “the man Christ Jesus”.

And, although He is the all-powerful creator of everything, He still listens attentively to our cries of anguish, weeping when we weep, and suffering when we suffer.

He understands our pain.

And whilst He doesn’t promise an immediate remedy, there is the ultimate promise of “no more death, mourning, crying, nor pain”. (Revelation 21:4)

Kim+

prayer : thank you Lord that you sent your Son to act as a mediator between us

action : pray for the people of Japan, that they would see the light

God desires all people to be saved

“This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV)

There it is again: all people.

God is not racist or sexist. His preference is not for a particular nationality or ethnic group.

His desire is for all people to be saved.

Because we are drowning in a sea of sin, often oblivious to the peril we’re in.

Yet He is a God of second chances.

Extending His hand out to each and every one of us in the hope that we will grasp His lifeline of grace.

To “know the truth” is to understand this: that Christ Jesus is the “lifeline”, dieing for our sins, “once for all”. (Romans 6:10)

To save us. All of us.

Thanks be to God.

Kim+

prayer : thank you Lord that your love and grace and mercy knows no limits

action : pray specifically for others that they would be saved

a peaceful and quiet life

“…that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” 1 Timothy 2:2b (ESV)

I’m intrigued by what Paul means by a peaceful and quiet life.

I suppose to be “at peace” suggests not being in conflict but instead being reconciled to God and fellow man.

In the context of what Paul talks about earlier in his letter about those people who are arguing and debating needlessly it could be a pointed remark at their “vain discussions” that threaten to divide the church. (1 Timothy 1:6)

Full of their own self-importance they are hardly acting “godly and dignified”.

It’s quite a chastisement for us at this time when many in the church seem intent on pushing their own agenda rather than following “sound doctrine”. (1 Timothy 1:10)

If only “love” could be our overriding desire. If only. (1 Timothy 1:5)

Kim+

prayer : help me to lead a godly life that promotes the gospel and glorifies God

action : seek ways to “love” in a real and practical way

prayers be made for all people

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” 1 Timothy 2:1 (ESV)

Reading Paul’s letters it’s abundantly clear that prayer is a priority.

But what’s astonishing here is that it’s not some selfish, self-serving, self-seeking petition for his perceived wants and needs.

Instead, his concern is “first” and foremost for others.

And not just his family and friends. But for all people.

What a challenge!

To not think of ourselves before others: friend and enemy alike.

To care about their salvation, their very real need for “the knowledge of the truth”. (1 Timothy 2:4)

Kim+

prayer : that all people may be challenged by the Holy Spirit to seek the one true God, repent of their sins and believe, so they may be saved

action : pray for others more regularly

Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners

1Ti 1:12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (ESV)

Reading the sermon by John Piper, “Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners“, I’m struck by the wonderful gift of life.

I think we all too often take for granted our health and the gracious gift of physical life God has given us.

Forgetting to thank Him who created us.

Yet we should be even more thankful for the gift of spiritual life that He offers us.

And all that comes with it.

Especially as it came at such a “price”. (1 Corinthians 6:20)

For our “ransom” (Mark 10:45) was paid for by “the blood of Christ Jesus”. (Romans 5:9)

Now, to be “born again” in Christ (John 3:3 and 1 Peter 1:23) is to enjoy all the “riches” that He has to offer. (Ephesians 1:18)

And before anyone can say that they’re beyond change, beyond saving, beyond redemption, they need only to look at the person of Paul who was “foremost amongst sinners”.

Yet he, even he, was not beyond salvation.

Wow!

Gods grace knows no bounds.

Kim+

prayer : thank you God for the gift of new life that can only come from you

action : pray that I will be given the opportunity to share this knowledge, this hope, my faith with another person today

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