Reflections on 1 Timothy 1

On March 9th, I announced to the "world" that I was going to memorize an entire book of the bible, that of 1 Timothy.  Admittedly, I started out with a bang and then fizzled in the month of May when I got to some verses that I just couldn't get into.   Do you know that feeling?   I started trying to memorize 1 Tim 1:9-10 about who the law was really made for and the list got too long.  Consequently, I fell off the memorizing wagon.

But alas, I'm back on.  I recommitted vs 1-9 solidly to memory and now I've also gotten down 10-11 as well.  So what have I learned so far?

1) Focus on the best, not the good.  Paul gave Timothy one charge (at least this is what he saw fit to include first in his letter to Timothy).  That charge was to remain in Ephesus and protect that church from straying from sound doctrine (1 Tim 1:3).  It is so easy in our churches today to get sidetracked from our first love - the gospel and the love of God and His Word - with all of the fun and good activities and ministries that can take place.  Selecting the best, which leads to godly edifying (1 Tim 1:4), is key.

2) Be real and keep pure motives.  Of all of the verses I've memorized so far from this chapter, 1 Timothy 1:5 has meant the most to me.  If we have a pretend faith, do not love others and have ulterior motives for our actions rather than pure ones, we are not glorifying God.  We are playing church, and are probably quite miserable souls when it gets right down to it.   I don't want to "turn aside unto vain jangling", desiring to teach because it is the cool thing to do. (1 Timothy 1:5-7)

3) Be a good steward.  From v 11, my freshest memory verse, I am reminded of the good news, of the beauty of God and the responsibilities I have been given.  The verse says:

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. (1 Timothy 1:11)

Just as Timothy was charged by Paul, I am and you are, to whatever extend we were individually called, to guard ourselves and those around us from false teaching.  We have been given the glorious good news of the saving power of Jesus' blood directly from the God who loved us enough to sacrifice His son so that He could have a relationship with us.  We are entrusted with this glorious gospel.  What are we doing with it?

This is the end of my official post for today, so if anyone is tired of reading, they can rest assured that I have no more of my own wisdom (for whatever it is worth) to impart.  Now though, I'm going to see if I can't type what I've memorized so far from memory, just for practice.  Corrections will be in red or marked through. (FYI - I'm going to correct the punctuation without the strikethroughs - KJV punctuation is brutal!)

1 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;

2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, while  when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.

4 Neither give heed to fables and endless geneaologies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

5 Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience and of faith unfeigned:

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.

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, and 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.

Are You Close to the Kingdom of God?

Why do we tend to think being a good Christian is so complicated when in reality, it all centers on love? In one recorded conversation with a scribe (Mark 12:28-34), Jesus describes the two greatest commandments: 1) Love God with all your heart, mind and strength and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself. In verse 34 of the passage, Jesus commends the scribe for finally understanding that the act of loving God and others is worth more than sacrifices when He says to the scribe, "You are not far from the kingdom of God."

Without love, how would Christ’s "body" on earth function? How would His work get done without our hands to help, our hearts to care, and our words to comfort those in need? Can we truly fulfill Jesus’ commandment to bear one another’s burdens (Gal 6:2) if we don’t have love?

The simplest act of kindness toward a person in need could be the one touch of Jesus that person needs to make it through even the most trying of times. When was the last time you intentionally let God use you as His body? If we all would reach out more often, I wonder how close to God’s kingdom we could get.

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: (1 Timothy 1:5)

(For further study read I Corinthians 13)

First of all, pray

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made before all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

What an awesome time I had last night with God before my husband got home.  The house was quiet for the most part - remember, I sometimes suffer from barking dog syndrome - and I had an uninterrupted hour and a half to spend with God.  Sweet.   It was one of those times when I felt that God was speaking directly to me from the pages of my bible.  God's Word truly is a living book.

This time I read through all of 1 Timothy again as well as 2 Timothy.  As I was reading, I kept settling on the passage above and the phrase "first of all".  First of all, Paul says, that we need to pray.  Aha.  Once again, God is drawing me back to prayer.  He knows that I haven't yet "arrived" in this area of spiritual discipline - not that I've mastered any other - so He gave me a subtle reminder that I must not do things in my own strength and wisdom, but allow Him the opportunity to work.  (Note: I have a Women's Ministry planning meeting tonight.  Do you think this was coincidence?)

From 1 Timothy 2:1, God brought me to Ephesians 6:18 through my bible cross references:

Praying always with all prayers and supplication to the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for the saints.

Yes, that was great to hear about prayer again.  After I finished reading and journaling, I spent some time in prayer.  I got the lesson from God yesterday.  Now though, I'll give you the "bonus" I got from Him!

From Ephesians 6:18, my eyes turned on the page to Eph 6:10 as it says, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."  I believe that after all of my reading and the lesson learned once again about prayer, that this is what I sat down with Him for.  God spoke to me here to say that I'm not alone, that I don't have to rely on my own strength and that He is with me.  (Then I was reminded about how yesterday I received an email from an online friend that was a blessing to me).  Yesterday was a good day. 

Questions to think about:

1) Am I doing anything today in my own strength instead of relying on God?

2) Is my day, every day, fully prayed over?

3) Have I taken the time to listen to God speak to me today?  Have I been quiet long enough to hear?

1 Timothy 1:1

I mentioned a few days ago that I was going to start memorizing the book of 1 Timothy, not just for knowledge's sake, but so that I can better understand what God has for me in his Word and be able to recall it when necessary. In case I didn't say this before, I chose 1 Timothy because it is here that Paul passes on the wisdom he had learned in all of his years of ministry to his "son in the faith", Timothy.  This weekend, I came to 1 Timothy in my daily reading, and I have to admit that I am a little intimidated now at the thought of memorizing this book!  After all, the last and only attempt I've made at tackling such a feat did not end at its completion!

What I did learn last time, however, was just how much each verse means in the bible, including the salutations at the beginning of each of Paul's letters.  Usually I skim over the greeting to get to "the good stuff", but if I memorize, I can't very well do I learned something, then and now.  I've decided I'll share my gleanings from 1 Timothy 1:1 with you.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; (1 Timothy 1:1)

1. If you are in a position of influence, use it humbly for God's glory.  First of all, I noticed the way Paul gives his credentials in the letters opening.  He was an apostle of Jesus, and is writing because he is commanded by God and Jesus.  This means something personally to me because I had a lot of difficulty deciding whether or not to mention in this blog that I was the director of Women's Ministry at my church.  I didn't want to be self promoting, but at the same time was hoping to add some credibility to my thoughts.  After consulting with some wise counsel (thank you, bro) I decided to mention my position.  Leaders, God has placed you a position of influence.  Keep in mind that I'm not saying to strut around bragging about a title by any  means.  I'm just saying that if your position can help bring more glory to God's kingdom, don't be shy.

2. Remember that you have nothing to say. Paul shared his credentials, but also gave God ultimate credit. Paul did not say that he was writing because he had something to say but because he was commanded to by God. Paul was aware of who he was, a humble servant of the Saviour of his soul.  I thought it was interesting how Paul chose to say that God was our Saviour.  I usually think of God as God and Jesus as my Saviour, but I suppose that God is also my saviour because He sent Jesus to do the hard work, and after all Jesus is God too!

3.  Give credit where credit is due.  The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope.  This is huge.  When I think of how little I have to offer without God's hand on my life, it is very humbling. Jesus is our hope of godliness here on earth as well as our hope for eternal life in heaven.  Col 1:27 speaks of the mystery of Christ among the Gentiles:  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:  Without Christ in us, we would lose the battle against ourselves.

Thank you, God for being my Saviour and my authority.  Thank you Jesus, for being my Lord and my hope.  Thank you for giving me Your words of life to think on, pray back to you, and to teach others about who You are.  You are my Rock and my ever faithful Friend.