Traits of a Godly Person: Diligence

When I began taking a look at the first chapter of 2 Peter, I briefly went over each of the Godly traits listed as I went through the passage. I came to the conclusion, that each of these traits is so important that they deserve their own day in the sun, so to speak. So, if some of these ideas seem repetitive, that is because they are. Ha, ha. But you probably already know, repetition is often the way we learn. Though memorization no longer comes easy to me, when I was younger, it was through repetition that I memorized large portions of scripture and made it through classes in college like Anatomy and Physiology. That being said, let’s review this idea of diligence.

Websters online dictionary defines diligence in the following ways:

- steady, earnest, and energetic effort : persevering application

- speed, haste

- the attention and care legally expected or required of a person (such as a party to a contract)

Image by  Martin Melicherik  from  Pixabay

In my original post regarding verse 5 of 2 Peter 1, I compared the diligence we are commanded to have in the Christian life to the diligence of things like worker bees and ants. You can see that original post here. When it comes to the insect world, ants have earned an reputation as one of the most hard working and diligent creatures. They can also be a pain if they are invading your pantry or other parts of your house or yard. Ha, ha. Even the Bible speaks highly of the little ant.

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
— Proverbs 6:6-11 (NASB)

Here is a short PBS video on the leaf cutter ant.

There are several characteristics these ants have that show diligence.

1 - Hardworking.

As you can see from this video, the ant is never sitting around watching Netflix. He is constantly working, doing his part for the survival of the community. He doesn’t take coffee breaks, go to movies or get a pedicure. He works hard, all the time.

Image by  Bruno Glätsch  from  Pixabay

Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay

If you look at the people in your circle I bet you can pick out the movers and shakers. They are the ones who work hard. They work a job, raise their families, volunteer. host gatherings at their homes, and go to their kids games. They just seem to be moving, and doing all the time. Most of these people are the ones who get things done. They organize, prepare or take the initiative to get others to do these jobs. These people make me tired! Ha, ha.

Before you panic, that I am saying we should all be that way, I am not. However, I do believe we can all be hard working like the ant. Yes, some of us need more sleep, need more alone time and cringe when we have to go to another social engagement, but there are many ways to be a hard working diligent ant. You can cook or bake for shut ins and new moms, you can clean or drive when these services are needed. Maybe you love to buy and send cards, then you do the hard work of encouragement. Everyone needs down time, but let’s make sure we are all hard working as well.

2 - Focused.

Here is that word again. Focus. The ants are all individually focused, not on themselves, but on what their job is within the community. They don’t think about the job, they just do it. They don’t question why or whether this is the right job for them, they simple focus on getting the job done.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

How focused are you on a daily basis on your work, your home, your family, and your spouse? Or are you focusing on yourself? Imagine if any one of those busy ants decided they didn’t like what they were doing? Or suppose numerous ants decided to go on strike? In the natural world, those ants would probably become ant poop and the community would keep on functioning as normal. In the human world, one person’s self focus and dysfunction can become a trial and difficulty for many other people.

Focus on the good of the community is of primary importance for the diligent ant and should be for us as well.

3 - Team players.

When we think of team players we usually think of sports. Football, basketball, baseball, and many others involve players working together to win the game. There are other team players in our society as well, such as fire fighters, police officers, soldiers and doctors. Even retail businesses work like a team to deliver products to the people who need or want them.

Pixabay - surgery

Team work in our communities is just as important as in the leaf cutter ants’ communities. Working as a team allows for the best outcome or the win, as it is in sports. Just imagine the picture above, an operating room, where the surgeon, nurses, anesthetist and other caregivers are not on the same team? The outcome would be devastating. In the same fashion, if the ants did not work together as a team, the community would not survive.

How do we take all this information and apply it to our lives as Christians and what does all of that have to do with diligence?

In my life as a Christ follower, I need to be hard working, focused and a team player in my relationship with God and with others. Things like reading God’s word and prayer are hard work, but absolutely worth while. Becoming more Godly, takes focus, and other people. We are not an island, unlike Paul Simon believed. We are meant to be part of a body. That body might include your family, the church and others who encourage you to keep growing and challenge you to not become an ant that is self-absorbed.

In addition, becoming more Godly takes a diligent approach in our relationship with the Holy One Himself. If we are diligent in our jobs, our families, our churches and other areas of life, how much more so, should we be diligent in our faith and relationship with Jesus?

Image by  Peter H  from  Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

My husband and I have been without a home church for three years now. We both know this is something we need to focus on and be diligent about finding. We know how important it is to be accountable to others and to be challenged in God’s word on a regular basis. Until that time we find a new church, I thought it would be helpful in my own life to really get back to regular Bible reading. Doing these studies for the blog does help keep me in the word, but both my hubby and I used to read through the entire Bible on a regular basis. I was told about an app I could download to my phone that does just that. I don’t get to it every day, but I like the freedom of being able to listen to the Word spoken when I am doing my make up, eating breakfast or doing the dishes. This is a way to be diligent in my relationship with Christ.

Diligence takes work, focus and it certainly helps to have others keeping you accountable. What areas of your life do you need to have more diligence? Is there a specific area that God is convicting you needs to come under His authority? How can you make this happen by being more diligent?

Here are a few verses to think over on diligence. Thanks for following along. I’d love to hear your thoughts on diligence in your own life. Leave a thought in the comments.

Have a great day.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
— 2 Peter 3:14 (ESV)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
— Colossians 3:23 (ESV)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
— Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 3:14 (ESV)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.
— Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)










Traits of a Godly Person: Faithfulness - Ours

Faithfulness is a trait we might wish more people had. Employers wish their employees were more faithful getting to work on time, or even at all. Wives with their husbands were faithful to getting work done around the house. Pastors wish their congregants were more faithful in their church attendance and in their giving. While many people are very faithful, we all probably struggle with being totally committed in all areas of our lives.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Let’s look again at the definitions of the word faithfulness:

1 - steadfast in affection or allegiance

2 - firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty

3 - given with strong assurance

4 - true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original

5 - full of faith

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. We took a brief look at God’s faithfulness last week and we learned that His faithfulness is everlasting and from generation to generation. We also learned that God’s faithfulness is great and because of that we can have hope. So what about our faithfulness? Are we as great as God that we can be steadfast in our allegiance and affection? Or are we guilty of wavering in the commitments we have made?

Image by  diapicard  from  Pixabay

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

I would like to take a look at several areas where our faithfulness is tested and often found lacking.

Our Relationships. Human relationships are not always easy. The variety of personality traits, points of view and communication skills makes for an interesting stew. Being faithful in our friendships, families and marriages is not only important to the institution of human relationships, but to our relationship with God. Our faithfulness to others is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us. That includes faithfulness when it is hard. God doesn’t give up on us, when we sin.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
— 2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB)

Faithfulness may not always mean continuing to have a relationship with a certain person. We live in a broken world where divorce, personality disorders and toxic thinking affects our relationships with other. A marriage that involves abuse or infidelity may need to be exited. A friendship that is detrimental to your health or well being should be left behind, but that does not mean that we should give up praying for these people.

Here are a few ideas for how to remain faithful in our relationships:

1 - Make contact. Not everyone is a good communicator, or outgoing enough to make the first move. I have several friends that I only see a couple times a year. However, we do make it a priority to make contact and meet up, even though infrequently. We are faithful, because we care and want to continue to a relationship.

Image by  5688709  from  Pixabay

Image by 5688709 from Pixabay

Making contact is also important in our marriages. Have a date night, or breakfast together once a week without the kids, cell phones or other technology. Actually talk to each other, not about your own hobbies, but about your relationship. Talk about the hard stuff and work through it together. Faithfulness is far easier when you make a regular effort.

2 - Invest. Investing in each other takes time and commitment. It means finding out what the other person likes and dislikes. It involves going the extra mile to encourage and uplift. In a financial situation, making investments means studying where your money is going to grow the most. The same is true in our relationships. Investing in each other, especially our friends, children and significant others will allow the Holy Spirit to produce the quality of faithfulness that God desires we have.

3 - Forgive. Relationships are not easy and remaining faithful, as you know takes effort. We live in a very self focused world, so it is not surprising that we throw away relationships with regularity. Probably the biggest factor in this throw away mentality is the inability to forgive. We all mess up. We get mad, impatient and fearful. We yell, we cry and we lash out. I am guilty of all of these things with my own family. However, I am still married to the same man and my girls still hang out with me. There are two factors that have helped, apologies and forgiveness.

When my girls were young, I blew up with some monthly regularity, but whenever I did, I tried to go back to them later and apologize. My moods were not pretty and I didn’t like my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments, but God’s Spirit was at work in me and always brought softness after the anger. Today, when the girls talk about the past, they laugh about my craziness and talk fondly of the good times revolving around family trips and holidays.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your
— Matthew 6:15 (NASB)

In addition to apologizing, we need to offer forgiveness. We have all been hurt in our relationships, especially the people that are closest to us. How many wives have noticed their husbands’ looking at another woman? How many moms have been hurt by a comment their teens have made? Who hasn’t felt the snub of a friend, when they weren’t invited to an event or included in recent news? Faithfulness will compel us to literally forgive and forget whatever offenses were done, many of which are done without thinking.

Another area where our faithfulness is often tested is:

Our Public Affiliations. When I refer to public affiliations I am talking about work, church and school if you are currently a student. This could also include things like utility providers, banks and other public institutions. You might wonder what I mean by being faithful with regards to these public entities. Think about it. Our faithfulness in the work arena, church, school, and in paying our bills on time, being kind to the clerk at the grocery store and so on, all reflect God’s faithfulness to us. It is not that we have great affection for our electric provider or our garbage man, but that we adhere to our duty to pay them in a timely manner.

Image by  rawpixel  from  Pixabay

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

In regards to work, are we getting to work on time? Do we interact with our fellow employees in a Godly way that exudes kindness and compassion? Do we attend church regularly and encourage those who sit in the pews next to us? All of these things require faithfulness and will operate better if we are faithfully committed.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
— Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

The last area I would like to look at where our faithfulness is regularly tested is:

Our Relationship with God.

I cannot begin to emphasize enough, how important faithfulness to our God is. This is the Almighty One who created us. He breathed life into our dust and made us living, breathing beings. He is the one who provides. He is the one who made a way when all was dark. He is the author of light, the repeller of darkness and the burning heart of pure, undying love. He does not cast us aside. He does not believe in a throw away society. He is the cradler of each unborn child, the arm around each forsaken wife, the hand that holds those who are ready to come home. Isn’t this One, worthy of our faithfulness? Doesn’t He deserve our allegiance, our duty, our assurance, our standing true and our faith?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Just how do we show our faithfulness to Him? We show it in our faithfulness to those He has put around us. We show it in our faithfulness to His body, the church. We show it in our attitudes towards others and towards His creation. We also show it as we spend time with Him, studying His word and getting to know Him better. Faithfulness is an investment and will not return void.

....This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
— Revelation 13:10 (NASB) last part of verse





Mulling It Over - Part 1

I wanted to get back to my Mulling It Over series, where I look at a portion of scripture, taking it apart in order to more deeply understand and think about God’s word. When we dig deeper into God’s word we learn new things. It doesn’t matter how many times we have read through the Bible. The Holy Spirit is capable of teaching us something new over and over. Searching through the scripture is often like going on a treasure hunt. My goal with this series is to discover some of the wonderful nuggets that God wants to teach us.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Beginning this month, I want to take a look at the book of 2 Peter in the New Testament, specifically verses 1 - 11. Both 1st and 2nd Peter were written by Peter, one of the original 12 apostles. If you know anything about Peter, you know that he could be rather bull headed, overly enthusiastic and thick, but Peter was the one to which Jesus posed statements such as,

And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
— Matthew 16:17 & 18 (NASB)

Scofield’s reference notes from 1917, makes clear Jesus was not intending to build the church on Peter, but on Himself. Jesus’ statement to Peter was a confirmation of the faith he had; a faith that is necessary for all believers to have. The fact that Peter was privy to this information reveals the depth of trust and love Jesus had for this man.

Pixabay

Pixabay

As a shepherd of the flock, Peter had the responsibility to teach and instruct the members of the early church. In his first letter he encourages the church through the difficulties of persecution, which Christians were facing at the time from Nero. Many followers of Christ were being used as torches, if you get my meaning. Peter speaks of hope and the grace of God.

In his second letter, Peter addresses the presence of false teachers and wrong doers within the church and suggests the need for growth in the faith and watchfulness for Christ’s return.

This week, I just want to introduce the passage and then look at the introductory verses.

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

Take it apart:

Verse 1 -

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

The author identifies himself by giving his name and then by giving his credentials. He is both a bond-servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ. These two descriptions say much about the man Peter.

Pixabay

Pixabay

I have looked at this idea of being a bond-servant on an earlier occasion, but lets review. Another word for bond-servant is slave. Typically, a bond-servant is one who works for someone else without wages. Basically a bond-servant is owned by their master. Why would a person want to identify themselves with this moniker? The Apostle Paul also used the term bond-servant to refer to himself. The common denominator for these two is the person of Jesus Christ. They had committed their lives to Him in such a way that they identified themselves as being His slaves. They were sold out to the person of Jesus and knew their lives were no longer their own.

Peter also identifies himself as an apostle. One way to define the word apostle is to list other words that have the same idea. Words like, advocate, backer, proponent, promoter, supporter and herald, all are synonymous with apostle. Peter was one of the original 12 men who followed Jesus and lived with him during his three years of earthly ministry. This fact gives Peter a huge amount of credibility to speak about Jesus’ message to the early church and to us today.

Pixabay

Pixabay

…to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours…

This letter is written specifically to those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Many people today who are not proponent’s of the Bible claim that it is no longer relevant in our world today. They claim it is outdated, yet Peter, over 2000 years ago wrote his letter to those who were of the same faith as him. In other words, his letter is as real and living to us today as it was to the early church, for the very reason that we share a common faith in Jesus Christ.

…by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

This confirms that same faith came about by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Our faith in Him is secure because of what He did and who He was. Jesus is God and his life on this earth, was not to preach a social gospel. The gospel that Christ preached was not salvation from the hardships of life, but salvation from ramifications of sin. It is His death on a cross and his rising from the dead that enables us to place our faith in Him.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Verse 2 -

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord

Who doesn’t long for grace and peace. We desire others give us grace when we are having a hard time. We desire peace from all the fears and anxieties that plague us on a daily basis. The author states that these will be multiplied to the readers in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. Knowledge of God and Jesus are essential to knowing peace and grace. This is not a head knowledge that nods absently when asked the question, “Do you know Jesus?” This knowledge is a personal, burning knowledge that can only be obtained when we call Him Lord.

The idea of Lordship takes us back to the term bond-servant. Have you chosen Jesus as your Lord? Are you sold out to Him? Do you call Him master?

Next week we will delve into verse 3. If you have any thoughts on this passage or these first two verse, I love to have your feedback. Just leave a comment.

Have a wonderful weekend.












Mulling It Over - Part 3

Once again we are walking slowly through a particular portion of scripture. I love to take a small piece, maybe a few chapters, one chapter or in this case, just a few verses and completely devour it, seeing what we can get out of His Word. I always find it fascinating that God can speak to us anew, even from a portion of scripture that we have read over and over. Just like this horse is chewing up that delectable grass, we too can enjoy the delights of God's word. 

PIxabay

PIxabay

We are looking at 2 Timothy 2:20-26:

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.
21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
— 2 Timothy 2:20-26 (NASB)

If you are just joining me today, you can go back and see the first two posts on: 2 Timothy 2:20 and 2 Timothy 2:21, by clicking on the links. Today we are chewing on verse 22.

22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
— 2 Timothy 2:22

This verse is pretty straight forward, but lets take a closer look.

Now flee...

Is there anything more able to get your adrenaline churning, than when someone yells, "Ruuuuuunnnnn"? Think about a few of the movies that have been on the big screen, Star Wars, Indian Jones. The Avengers, or how about the iconic Forrest Gump scene:

This is what Paul is telling us to do. Run as fast as you can away from those things that cause us to sin and turn away from God. We are to flee, like those monsters chasing us are going to eat us alive.

...from youthful lusts....

Paul was writing this letter to a young man, Timothy, who had become a pastor of one of the early churches. He encourages Timothy to flee those youthful lusts, or the things that so commonly grab our attention as young people: improper relationships, money, power, popularity and feeding our appetites are all things that constantly pull at us when we are young. It is sad that so many give in to these distractions, rather than waiting on God and allowing HIm to fill their every need. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

Let me draw this out a bit further. I believe as mature Christians we can also be distracted by many things that are less than God's best for us. Think about the shows you watch, the food you eat, the things you buy. How many of these are done to fulfill our lust. Lust isn't just about sex. It is anything that takes precedent over our relationship with God. Am I saying you can't watch that show you love, or eat that cake or buy that dress? No, but we do need to allow God to monitor our actions and speak truth to us, if these types of things are becoming a problem. For some, moderation is easy, for others, myself included, not so much. Sometimes God has to rip things out of our lives to bring us into line with where He wants us to be. 

...and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace...

I decided to lump all of these characteristics together. These are four things we are to pursue. Behind us are the things we are to flee. In front of us is what we are to pursue. Righteousness or godliness, faith or belief, love and peace. We need to chase after these things as if they are rare butterflies that we are wanting to add to our collection.

Pixabay

Pixabay

People who enjoy hobbies such as butterfly or bird watching, desire to see species which are rare or very rarely seen. It is their passion, just as a rock climber loves to scale mountains or an artist loves to paint or mold something out of clay. They have a passion about discovering or creating something new. In the same way we are to pursue these specific qualities We are to have a passion about pursuing God. He shouldn't be someone we occasionally think about, but a being we have a living and passionate relationship with. If we are pursuing the characteristics of righteousness, faith, love and peace we will be pursuing the author who created them.

...with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.

Not only are we to pursue those characteristics, but we are to do it with others who call on the Lord with a pure heart. This seems to encourage us to be in a fellowship with other believers. My husband and I are between churches right now, but we both feel the need to get back into a regular fellowship. It is in the corporate worship and gathering together of like minded people, that we find accountability, stability and the sort of input that encourages growth in our relationship with Christ. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

That being said, let me say, I know what it is like to feel as though the church let you down. Or, to feel like an outsider because of circumstances you had no control over. I get it, and sometimes God will draw us out of the body, to walk a path through a valley, in which we are alone, but I do not believe He intends that we stay there. We need each other, even if only to aggravate each other enough to pursue God with even more passion! Ha, ha.

I hope you are enjoying this study of 2 Timothy 2 and I hope today you will examine your own life and see what God is trying to say to you. Is there something you need to flee? Do you need to have more passion in your pursuit of God, or like us, do you need to get back into a fellowship with other believers? Seek God for wisdom and help. He is always faithful.

Have a great day. 

Mulling It Over - Part 1

Last year I did a Mulling It Over series on Ephesians 6:10-18. It took me a period of months to dig deeply into that passage on the armor of God. This year I would like to use the same format to dig into a few other passages that are worth chewing on slowly. According to Webster's online dictionary, the word ruminate means to go over in the mind repeatedly, often in a slow, casual fashion or to chew repeatedly for an extended period of time. That is what we are going to do with these passages. 

Pixabay - this little guy looks like he'll be chewing for a while!

Pixabay - this little guy looks like he'll be chewing for a while!

The books of 1st and 2nd Timothy in the New Testament were letters written by Paul to Timothy, pastor of the church at Ephesus. Timothy had journeyed with Paul on his second and third missionary journeys. The two knew each other and had spent plenty of time working and ministering side by side. Paul's purpose in these letters was to encourage and give practical advice and instruction for the pastor of a church. 

First Timothy presents the most explicit and complete instructions for church leadership and organization in the entire Bible. This includes sections on appropriate conduct in worship gatherings, the qualifications of elders and deacons, and the proper order of church discipline.
— Chuck Swindoll (from Insight for Living Ministries)

With regards to 2 Timothy:

Paul knew that Timothy’s task of keeping the church within the bounds of sound doctrine while encouraging believers to live their lives well for the sake of Christ would be an often thankless and difficult task. Though hardship would come, Paul wanted Timothy to continue in those things he had learned, drawing on the rich heritage of faith that had been passed down to the young pastor, not just from Paul but also from his mother and grandmother
— Chuck Swindoll (from Insight for Living Ministries)

Both letters written to Timothy are worth mulling over, but for the next few months, I want to look at just a few verses from 2 Timothy 2.

20 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.
21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
22 Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
23 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,
25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
— 2 Timothy 2:20-26 (NASB)

 

Let me preface the discussion with a key point:

This was written to the church leadership. This is important to remember when we look at the terminology in the passage. I would add, it is written to any mature Christian, since it is included in the Bible. I added the word mature, because part of this passage talks about teaching and I think it is important that we have Christians who know God's word and not only understand it, but live it in leadership and teaching positions.

All that being said, let's take a look at the first verse:

Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.
— 2 Timothy 2:20 (NASB)

How can we dissect this verse to squeeze as much out of it as possible? I like to take each phrase and ruminate on it. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

1. Now in a large house....

I believe the idea Paul  is trying to get across is that the church is a big institution. We are not talking the physical size of each individual church, but the body as a whole. A large house, in Paul's day would have indicated power and wealth. While this is still true today (ever watch that series Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous), there can be instances of large houses that are completely abandoned. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

2. ...there are not only gold and silver vessels...

This was another clue that Paul was making a comparison to a house of wealth and power. There were people in the church, just as today, who were wealthy. The church has always had a mix of rich, middle class and poor and it is often the rich and middle class who are giving of their surplus to aid those who go without. 

Gold and silver vessels were akin to us bringing out the good silver ware for a holiday dinner, at least that is something my mother used to do. I don't have any good silver ware. It is what it is. Ha, ha. But back in the day, this was an important thing to do when entertaining guests. Cleaning, polishing and making everything comfortable is the way we have chosen to honor the guests brought into our homes for centuries. 

Pixabay

Pixabay

3. ...but also vessels of wood and earthenware...

Not all vessels are the same. There are gold and silver, those vessels used for special occasions, but there are also vessels of wood and earthenware. Are you following the analogy? Paul is not talking about actual cups and bowls, he is talking about people! All of us are vessels. Some of us are gold and silver. We are flashy and showy. We bring in a crowd or we brighten up a room. Some us us are wood and earthenware. We are stable, consistent and incredibly functional, but we are not recognized beyond that. 

Pixabay

4. ...and some to honor and some to dishonor...

What exactly does Paul mean in this phrase? Simply put, we are all capable of honoring God, but we are also all capable of dishonoring Him.

Timothy was a young pastor and not everyone in his congregation thought he was up to the task. Rather than encouraging him and trying to work with him, a few of his congregants became obsessed with his age and felt he didn't have enough experience to properly pastor a church. He also had congregants who were involved in some less than savory things, but more on that next month. 

So what can we learn from this one verse today:

1. We are part of His body - the big house.

2. We are all vessels.

3. Not all of us are gold or silver. Some of us are wood or earthenware.

4. We are all capable of honoring or dishonoring God.

I hope and pray that as you read this post you will realize that we are all important in His body, or house - the church. I also hope you will see your worth. It doesn't matter who you are, what you look like or what you do as a job or how much money you make, you are important to the body of Christ. 

Have a great day!

 

 

 

Lessons Learned from Miracle on 34th Street

Last year I did a series on lessons that I learned from a few of my favorite Christmas movies. You can see those by clicking on the title of the posts below:

A Christmas Lesson Learned from Charlie Brown                                                                                          Christmas Lessons Learned from the Grinch                                                                                                 "Come in, --- come in! and know me better, man!                                                                                               It's a Wonderful Life...or is it?

I thought it would be fun to look at a few other movies that I enjoy watching at this time of year and talk about what I have learned from them.

Pixabay

Pixabay

If you have seen Miracle on 34th Street, either the 1947 version with Maureen O'Hara and Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle or the 1994 version with Elizabeth Perkins and Richard Attenborough, you know the basic premise of the movie deals with belief. An elderly man claims to be Kris Kringle, not a man with the same name, but the genuine article. A woman, Mrs. Walker, must be convinced that there is more to Mr. Kringle than just a nice old man. 

"....if you can't believe, if you can't accept anything on faith, then you are doomed for a life dominated by doubt." 

That line, spoken by Mr. Kringle in the video clip above is very powerful and may well sum up what is wrong with our world as a whole. How often, are we as Christians guilty of doubting the truths that God has given us? Do we really believe He is the good shepherd? Do we really have faith that He came to save the lost? Or are our lives dominated by doubt? 

We all live lives of faith. We have faith or believe the sun will rise tomorrow, when I flip a switch the light will come on and the bank I use is taking good care of my money. Whether people want to admit it or not, most of life is a walk of faith. Unfortunately, we often place our faith in people or things that don't deliver. 

When my children were small, I wanted them to know the truth about Christmas, so I told them about Jesus. However, I also told them that Santa, as a man in a sleigh with flying reindeer wan't real. I chose to teach them about Saint Nicolas, the source of the legend of Santa Claus. My motivation was well intended, but I wonder that I did damage to their ability to believe in things that were simply meant to be magical and fun. 

The beauty of putting your faith in Jesus Christ is that everything else falls into its proper place. If I would have had more faith in Him as I raised my children, I think I would have had more fun with them, rather than being obsessed that they come to know Jesus and live for Him. I think we as parents often forget that our children are watching us and the best way to show them Jesus is to live a life in the Spirit out loud. Of course, we all want our children to follow Jesus, but we must have faith in Him, and in His ability to bring it about in His timing. Hard, I know!

In this movie when Kris Kringle is sent to jail for being a menace and mentally unstable it is up to Mrs. Walker, her daughter and a lawyer friend to get him out. The case goes to trial and arguments ensue to try to prove that Santa Claus exists and Mr. Kringle is him. In the more modern version, perhaps my favorite scene takes place when Judge Henry Harper has a most helpful revelation.

I love that Judge Harper is so satisfied with himself at the end of his speech, undoubtedly because he was able to get out of a very sticky situation. Ha, ha. 

Isn't it true? We, the people of the United States of America put our trust as a collective whole in a being we do not see. Perhaps, we need to revisit why the statement, "In God We Trust" was originally put on our currency. 

I have often thought that the church has gotten too far away from the basic tenants of our faith. We don't talk about things like the virgin birth of Christ, the problem of sin or the outcome of that sin. We have a tendency to dance around the issue. The issue is, we need Jesus. Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas. We need to get back to that. 

One of the best things we can do as we walk out our journey on this planet is to be teachable. God is always bringing new lessons to be learned and drawing us deeper into His amazing layers. Sometimes He even uses movies to teach us things we need to know. 

Do you like this movie? Have you learned anything from watching a Christmas movie? I hope you'll share your ideas in the comments section. I'd love to learn something from you. 

Get Out the Gardening Tools!

This month I have been talking about the idea of growth; growth in our faith, families, friendships and our diets. As we draw near to the end of the month I'd like to look at tools that we can use to help grow the gardens that we tend called life. When I decide to do some work in my flower beds I get out my gardening tools. I put on gloves, pull out my kneeling pad and gather my pocket pruners, trowel and cultivator. For bigger jobs I might need a shovel or a full sized rake. I pick the tools according to the job I am going to do. Our faith needs to be tended in the same way and we need to seek God's wisdom for the appropriate tools to bring growth in our lives. The following are just a few of the tools I use to grow my faith.

gardening

1. Bible study. In my belief system the Bible is God's written word to humanity. I go to His word to learn about His character and to read the history of the nation of Israel and the church. Often people are intimidated by the Bible saying it is too difficult to understand. Others believe the Bible to be full of contradictions and fairy tales. Still others feel that the "religion" that is based on Biblical belief to be harsh and legalistic. I feel that in order to have a better understanding of something or someone I must do research myself. If I want to cook, I don't just watch cooking shows. I have to actually buy the ingredients, get out the tools, mix it together, turn on the stove and put it in. Growth in any area requires a genuine interest in learning and having an open mind about the subject in question. When I go to God's word, I want to learn. I want to know Him more. I want to delve into His deeper layers. If I want to know more about my azalea bushes I need to read about them. If I want to help them to grow and flourish I will learn what is best for them. If I want to grow and flourish in my Christian faith, I go to the source. He knows what is best for me and He wants to see me flourish.

2. Other authors. There are many good authors who write about topics that can help us grow. Many of these authors have educational and experiential backgrounds that have given them knowledge of life and how to live it responsibly. They also have the Holy Spirit who has given them Godly wisdom and insight.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
— 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (NASB)

Sometimes I will choose a book based on a study of the Bible such as Oswald Chambers' Our Ultimate Refuge: Job and the Problem of Suffering. Or I might choose a book based on the author's reputation for biblical teaching, like Ravi Zacharias' The Grand Weaver. I have also heard of books through my friends including One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. My other personal favorites include authors from years ago such as A.W. Tozer's The Crucified Life: How to Live Out a Deeper Christian Experience or Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray. Any of these books or other books by these authors and many others provide added wisdom and knowledge about God and the Christian life that will help us to grow.

3. Fellowship. Webster's dictionary defines fellowship as "a community of interest, activity, feeling or experience." My husband and I currently do not attend a church regularly. We had been regular attenders at a local evangelical church for many years. We enjoyed the community of people who had interests in faith like our own and we raised our girls within that community. Unfortunately last year we learned a devastating piece of news which caused us to leave that fellowship. Having been without regular interaction with others who share our faith we feel a sense of sorrow and loss that watching preachers on Youtube cannot fill. While we do intend to eventually find a fellowship again, this experience has caused me to realize just how important a community of believers is to the regular growth of our faith. We know that no fellowship where people are involved will be without difficulty, but community is what God desires for us as we walk in this world. We can learn from each other and we are also supposed to be there to help others in their pain and difficulties.

4. Circumstances. I shared with you earlier this month one of my own personal stories of growth. I believe that God uses the circumstances in our lives to mold us, teach us and help us to grow. That being said we do have a choice as to whether we do grow or not. God isn't going to force us. Part of growing is taking ownership, not only of my beliefs, but of my thoughts, actions and reactions to the circumstances I find myself in. I have found in my own life that obedience is key to growth. When I am struggling with something, say my relationship with my spouse and God shows me an area I need to bring under His authority, I pray that He will help me to make the better choice. When I do make that choice (and I don't always) then it seems as though God opens up a deeper layer of Himself to my spiritual understanding. Growth happens when the choice is made to obey what God is speaking into our lives at the moment. That doesn't mean you won't struggle with the same thing again tomorrow, but it does mean that today you made the choice to grow.

God is capable of causing us to grow in many ways and the ways I mentioned above are a few of the things He has used in my life to bring about growth in my faith. In the comments section below I would love to hear your stories of growth, or some of the tools God has used to bring growth to your garden.

A Personal Story of Growth

Between my freshman and sophomore years at college, I had an internship with my church's youth pastor. He took three of us college age adults and offered a summer of intensive training as co-leaders of our youth group. I knew I wanted to serve God, but I was not sure what that was going to look like, so I was excited about the opportunity to learn and grow under Pastor Dave. Our tasks involved working directly with the youth, planning and implementing activities, as well as speaking and leading our church's midweek prayer services. Not only that, but Dave met with us weekly as a mentor leading us in prayer and memorization of scripture. This was a time of phenomenal growth and excitement as a young person.

church

However, God has His own way of causing growth in our lives and His ways are not always pleasant. About mid way into this summer adventure I began having pain under my left armpit. After a few days large red lumps developed. Not being one to hurry to the doctor, my mother had a two volume set of medical diseases put out by Reader's Digest. In another day or two, when the red lumps painfully erupted, I knew I had a case of boils. An armpit in the heat of summer is not a pleasant place anyway, but throw in some oozing, festering lumps and you can be sure I wasn't a happy camper.

If you have never experienced boils, I can only say, I hope you never do. They are extremely painful. For the most part they can be treated with warm compresses, topical antibiotic ointment and frequent cleaning. If a fever develops see the doctor. For me, there was no fever, just three or four very painful lumps that had to be cleaned and tended several times a day.

In the midst of this difficulty, on one particularly painful day, I cried out to God as I was attempting to clean my wounds.

I asked Him, "Why is this happening? What is it that I need to learn?" 

As if He spoke audibly He said, "Your attitudes are like these boils. You try to pretend things don't bother you, but your spirit is a festering sore waiting to burst. You have a sickness inside of you that you need to let me heal."

Wow! He was right! I had found myself over the course of those weeks becoming increasingly jealous of my co-workers at the church. I was not the dominant, funny, cute personality. I was the work horse. I also found myself frustrated with the youth. They were self absorbed and only ever concerned over having fun, rather than desiring Jesus. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. There I was acting just as immature as some of the 13 year olds and being a hindrance, rather than a help to my fellow ministers. 

Right there in my bathroom at home I fell to my knees and wept. I was letting God down and I was selfish. I confessed my jealousy, my impatience and my lack of love and asked God to help me to grow.

I kid you not, when I say, within a couple days my boils were almost fully healed; the pain, redness and lumps all disappearing as if they had never been there. I realize a skeptic could say, that the boils had run their course and with proper care were at the point healing could happen. I disagree! God knows me so well. He knows my need for pictures. I am a writer. He knows that pictures will stick with me forever and indeed they have. He knew the only way I was going to "get it" was to make me "feel it."

God does not always smack us up side the head to teach us something, but He does what is needed to implement growth in our lives. I grew in three ways that summer. 

First, I grew in a very personal way. It is not easy to be brought low and told that you are really messing up, but God did that to me. It allowed me, not only to see the depth of my sin, but the heights of His love. My mind grew as it realized that God does speak outside of His word. He speaks in very real "words" to our hearts. My emotions grew as I had to let God take the dross that had floated to the surface of my spirit and skim it off. 

Photo Credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo Credit Rebecca Trumbull

I also grew in the area of my relationships. I shared my trial not only with my mom, but went to those I was working with, including Pastor Dave, and apologized for having a bad attitude. The use of "analogy" has become a way God allows me to help and understand others. Through other trials in life, God has brought me to a place where I try to think before I act and where I can have a genuine hurt for others who are in pain, physical or emotional.

And finally, God grew me in the area of ministry and community. I realized this wasn't a "one trick pony" show. We are all part of the body and we are all necessary to the body. It is always hard to watch others getting the praise and credit for their work and good deeds, but I have learned to be content (or at least I try) where God has placed me. Not everyone can be a brain or an eye. Some of us are toes and shins! Ha, ha.

God teaches us in very different ways, but He does it for our growth and benefit and for the growth and benefit of others around us. Don't be afraid of growth, even if it is unpleasant. It is just another way, an Almighty God demonstrates His great love toward us.