Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

Tag Archives: worship

Pray for kings and pray for paupers

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This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the second chapter of First Timothy.

Pray for All People

1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Paul categorizes this point in order of importance to what Paul wished to tell Timothy, the first chapter was a general greeting and a charge to Timothy personally to stay in Ephesus. Now we get into what is of top of mind in the mind of Paul and what he wished to share with Timothy and the greater church at large.

How should we worship?

Paul deals with the way we should worship, that when we pray we should not forget anyone, that no man is too lowly to not be prayed for. Paul lists four ways of communication to God, these are:

Supplications – asking for something, let’s be honest we all do it! We shouldn’t make it all about asking but we should know that God will supply our needs, perhaps not on our timescale but God is faithful.

Prayers – is a catch all term for all of our requests and dialogue with God, both individual and on a corporate basis.

Intercessions – We are told in Galatians 6 to “bear one another’s burdens” so it is just that we should pray for others, we should always make times to intercede for others, often times non-Christians who know that I am a Christian will make request of me to pray on their behalf, it is a humbling experience and can be done either in the persons presence or far away. When we pray for our mission’s people we are interceding and partnering in prayer with them to help them in the mission God has placed them in.

Thanksgiving – Not just a day where we eat too much in North America! This is vital in our Christian walk; we have been saved of so much, it is only right that we give thanks and praise. We have been plucked out of the bowels of eternal damnation and on many occasions, when I have not been thankful; I don’t fully give gratitude and don’t attribute what I should to God.

I have never met someone I could not pray for, however how many of us do? Yes I get it, we are busy and we prioritize our prayer life but as Paul states we should be praying for “all men”, that’s right, even the ones who despise us and hate us! We have to pray for them in the same way we pray for our kids, our spouses, our family, our friends and even our pastors. I would encourage you to pray for them more!

Pray for them all in the same way

V2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

In Paul’s day Christians were often persecuted under the charge that they claimed there was someone higher than Caesar. In many cases this is the charge they would levy against Christians, and in all reality all the Christians could be tried for is trying to give the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul commends this and tells Christians to be good citizens, pay your taxes, pray for those who rule over you (much like he states in the book of Romans chapter 13) and be godly and dignified in every way. Don’t embrace the world but be a light to the world.

Pray for a revolution?

It is obvious that we would pray for calm and stability in our countries fortunes as who in their right mind would pray for anarchy and a tumultuous governmental structure? It is important to pray for the prosperity in the short and material term, but we must also pray for them spiritually, that they would turn to Jesus and that they would make decisions based on sound biblical and doctrinal standpoints.

In many cases Governments are areligious, they will not subscribe to a particular faith as to not lose a vote anywhere but we are not to conduct ourselves in a way that Christianity would become a target for government involvement. It sounds far-fetched in the western world, but there are many countries in the world today where it is illegal or restricted for people to profess a faith in Jesus Christ. My prayer for those people is that the Governments would leave them alone to practice their faith.

God is pleased when we honor those in authority.

V4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

Let’s hear from Jesus

And this is why; God desires all to come to a knowledge and faith in his son Jesus Christ. Jesus stated in John 14:6 that “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV) We should be doing it all in an effort to be evangelists to our leaders. Look at how Daniel conducted himself in the land of Babylon, he rose to prominence in a very pagan land but stayed true, loyal and faithful to God and lived a life that was an example to me.

God desires that all be saved but they have to come to that one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ states also in John 10:9 “I am the door. If any man enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and find pasture” (ESV) We have to make a response and accept Jesus as our Savior.

Jesus is attributed with “giving himself” he did that literally on a wooden grave for criminals in the cruelest possible way by one of the most barbaric methods of death ever devised for a criminal. He gave himself “as a ransom” because he did not deserve what he got; he became sin despite never committing one. He became a ransom in the most loving way when he paid a debt that we couldn’t in order to absolve our sins and reconcile man to God.

The reason for Paul’s position

This was the reason “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (V7) Paul preached what he preached. This was a massive U Turn in message from the man who used to persecute those who spoke of the exact same message. He was a preacher of this message and this was the reason why his life changed so dramatically.

Paul calls himself “a teacher to the Gentiles” Paul started off as a minister to both but it was a common pattern of the early church, the apostles, the believers and the new converts would attempt to reach the Jews first to confirm Jesus as their messiah, (they were still waiting for the messiah that they crucified) often times though they would not be received well and they would then go out to the Gentiles who would accept the testimony of Jesus Christ and the Word of God as truth.

Does God want only Gentiles? Only Jews?

Truth is God wants to be reconciled to you whether you are Jew or Gentile, we are all his creation and Jesus died for the sins of the world, not just the sins of a certain tribe or continent. No-one can be saved just by being born a certain way, you have to choose to follow your messiah, Jesus Christ

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

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The chief of sinners receives mercy

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The chief of sinners

This bible study is part of a series on the book of 1st Timothy, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of 1st Timothy for other studies in this book. 

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse fifteen of the first chapter of First Timothy.

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 the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Have you ever done a task in your home and involved your kids? If you have you will know that however small the task is, even if it is just cleaning or tidying up your kid’s room, involving the kids is as much for your benefit as it is theirs. Yes you are teaching them good behaviors; however it is the coolest thing to do is to spend time working alongside your kids, co-laboring to achieve a common goal. I was out in the front yard last week and I mowed the lawn, my kid came out advising that she was going to help me. So I gave her a rake (she is only 5) and I let her drag the rake behind me and she did well to the best of her abilities, she got tired very quickly and went back in and I finished the job myself, but for those few moment we worked together it was truly a blessing. Imagine that that is what God is like with his kids; he loves it when we work on his projects with him.

Paul goes on to call himself the chief of all sinners. He states that he has a faithful saying (used 5 times in the epistles) and goes on to explains the point of what they are doing there. They are to speak of the Messiah and the reason for his coming “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” and that was the basis of Paul’s ministry.

Basis of every Christian’s ministry

To be fair it should be the basis of every Christian’s ministry, to present the gospel of Jesus Christ and explain why Jesus came and the purpose of his mission here on earth. Paul then goes on to call himself the chief of all sinners, this throws me as Paul is such an example to me in my Christian walk and if I could use one as an example then it would be Paul. (Obviously behind Jesus) what humility the apostle has!

We can’t forget what the purpose of Christ’s mission was to save a sinner that is us! Regardless of how holy you think you are, how many years since your conversion you are in the most basic of terms a “sinner” it is the one thing we have in common, where we get a superiority complex is the types of sins we commit. Some of us fall more regularly than others and some fall in different areas to others, but in the truest sense of the world, we were all born with a sinful nature and Christ came to save us all.

Recognize the need for a Savior

We have to recognize the sin in order to see the need for a Savior. I have listened to messages on different websites from preachers who barely touch on, or never mention sin. We have to realize that there is something wrong (sin) that there is a separation from God and the need for a Messiah (Jesus). Otherwise we are just doing a bunch of holy rules for no decent reason.

Paul goes on goes on to say “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.” Paul never regarded himself and reveals the true heart of his writings. Paul isn’t being all “false modesty” here; Paul saw his sins for what they were and how they removed him from God.

This is just my opinion but reading between the lines I see a sense of guilt by Paul of his former life as Saul of Tarsus, the persecution, the deaths, the fear he drove into those he now called brothers in the faith. He saw his sins, the ones causing suffering, death and the ones involving religious persecution as what elevated him to a “chief of sinners” status.

Confirmation in Acts 26

Acts 26 confirms this when Paul is relaying his history to Agrippa…

Acts 26:9 (ESV) “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Paul is remembering his actions, not just the torture but making his new brothers in the faith to be under such weight of stress to blaspheme what they believed in order for this horror to stop! I bet that was playing on Paul’s mind, the sights, the sounds and even the smells that would bring his mind back to what he had seen, what he had done and what he had supervised in his zealousness to break this new faith.

Mentally that has to be tough; I know that had that been me I would have a mass weight of guilt surrounding me. I would state that he had shadows and memories much in the same way that a war veteran has. His thoughts and guilt about his prior actions make him ponder whether any sinner could have sinned too great for God to redeem him. Paul makes this clear when he talks of “obtained mercy”.

V16 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.

The picture that Paul paints of himself does make one ponder if there is a sin so great that God cannot absolve? Paul is grateful here for the mercy received and shows that your sins, whether they be few of many can be forgiven by a loving God who does not desire that any should perish.

Perfect patience

Paul credits Jesus Christ with showing his “perfect patience” he shows to be that he realizes that God could have wiped him out at any point! (We serve a big God who made all that we see in six days, nuking a troublesome Pharisee would not be a nano-second on his calendar!) But God had a plan for his life, he was going to become the person he hated a short time ago, his zeal for the Law would become a zeal for the Christ.

He would be an example! He would shine as an example to what Jesus preached throughout his ministry “I desire mercy over judgment” Paul would become an example that no one is beyond redemption.

V17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Imagine the rejoicing! Paul knew who he was and what he did. He also knew how great the fathers love for us, how far reaching that Salvation was that it had found him on a lonely dusty road on the way to Damascus – is it any wonder he bursts into praise? He who has been forgiven much remembers much!

Paul’s hymn of praise

Paul lists the attributes of his praise to God here:

King of the Ages
Invisible
The only God
The one worthy of glory and honor forever

Which brings me to my last point, how is your praise life? Do we burst with praise because we know who we are and what we have been forgiven from? We could learn a lot from the gratitude and thankfulness of Paul’s heart.

It is not as if Paul had it easy! Paul had a hard mission life and he never threw in the towel. He was persecuted, chased from cities, had many nautical disasters but through it all he realized that he was simply a messenger of God’s word and was available to be used by God. What a wonderful example of pure praise to our Father God. It is not about the words we use but how plugged in our heart is.

Thank you again for finding this article and I pray these bible studies are a blessing. Please feel free to comment, like or share as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

Keep right on til the end of the road

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Keep right on til the end of the road

2 Corinthians 4:16 (ESV) So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

I entitled this article “Keep right on til the end of the road” as I am reminded in this verse of the song by the legendary Scottish balladeer Sir Harry Lauder who sang this song and it became an anthem for many causes. One of the most famous is that it is the anthem of the supporters of “The Blues” a team in England’s second city Birmingham. The team is called Birmingham City and their fans use the song from anything to signing messages to each other “KRO” (Keep right on) to singing the song when the team are playing at home and away.

I find it mildly amusing that a team with such a history of almost making it to the pinnacle and then faltering, and then coming back and then faltering again would have the following words in their anthem…

…”When you are tired and weary, you’ll still journey on”

I get this as football (or association football or soccer depending on where you are reading this from) is like a religion, in my deepest throws of “worship” I have been in big cathedrals dedicated to the worship of the players and our “tribe” all wear similar colours and sing the same “hymns”. I have laughed, danced and cried based on the position of a size 5 spherical object that we call a football and where it is on the field. If it enters their goal I am euphoric, it is enters our goal it could ruin my weekend. Some may object to calling it worship, but it is what it is.

Do I still enjoy the game?

I do, but as I am 4000 miles away it has less of a pull on me than it did when I was younger. The last time I was in Scotland I did check the fixture lists to see how I could get a game in and I did. But I noticed a difference that it was still my team and regardless of whether I was there or not to cheer on my team (Dundee United) the gig went on, they didn’t postpone any games because i wasn’t here, they even managed to win the Scottish cup without me being there (2010) so i would say that it is a lot healthier than it used to be.

Getting back to Paul

What does this mean in the context of the verse? Well I am brought to thinking of the song as it is a song of endurance. A song to keep your spirits up during hard times, I once looked for the song on YouTube and the song that came up had many archive pieces of footage showing victory in wars.

Which is relevant for us, we are called to a battle, a heavenly war if you will. We will be “tired and weary” we will see injustice, we will in our flesh question God’s plan. For me, that is the most difficult part of my walk with Jesus, understanding God’s “big picture”. It is hard to do so when you are in the pit and your circumstances are real.

We are told in verse 17 that “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” so I encourage you, when you can’t pay your bills, when life deals you a raw deal, when I want “My will to be done” I have to buckle and say “Thy will be done”, whatever trial, whatever temptation, whatever it is you are facing God is big enough to take this. You are praying to the God who created the universe in one single spoken sentence. (We are still finding bits of that self-same universe)

We have to get beyond the temporary, when we are in the pit, it seems so hopeless. I must confess that I try to do God’s job for him at that point and find exit routes as I don’t like being tried and tested when I should just place it at his feet and say “LORD I don’t know how you are going to do this, but I need you LORD”.

Let’s look at the life of Joseph

Last night in our bible study, we took a very high level look at the suffering of Joseph, (Genesis 37-50) Joseph had a prophetic dream that his brothers would all bow down to him and he suffered by being betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery for 20 silver coins but through it all Joseph trusted God that it was all going to work out. He was sold into slavery, imprisoned even although he was innocent, (he resisted temptation in the form of his masters wife) this allowed him to meet Pharoah’s cup bearer and when Pharoah was troubled in his dreams, God allowed Joseph to interpret the dream, save the land of Egypt from famine and rise from being an imprisoned slave to number 2 in the country. All throughout this he gave God the glory. What a lesson!

Joseph subscribed to God’s plan, even when he was in prison, even in a situation where he would have got away with sinning against his master and God, he chose the righteous path even although it meant prison time. He knew that God was working behind the scenes and even if it was at his cost he was “all in” on God’s plan.

This is the encouragement, although we may not gain temporarily, we have a promise in Paul’s letter to the Roman church…

Romans 8:28 (ESV) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Application

For me I guess it is about enduring the trials and trusting God, if there is anything you are holding back then give it to him. Lastly trusting that God has “got this” and what we are going through is temporary and there is much more eternal to consider.

I get it, it is tough! People have their faith rocked on a daily basis; personally I have questioned God when people are taken away from me most of all, especially kids and people in the prime of life. I have had doubts and I have never been in jail, never been sold as a slave, maybe I need a little persecution to make me man up at times.

All I can do is do what God has called me to do and trust God to do the rest.

I pray this article was a blessing and please feel free to share, comment or like below
TGBTG
TTE

I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

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I am no “Patriot” but I do “Hail to the Chiefs”

Like most males based in America, I love me a little MNF (Or Monday Night Football for those who do not speak NFL) but I try to restrict myself to when my team are playing and I have it as more of a treat than a Monday night ritual. As you may have guessed by the title and picture that I have placed on the top of this article, I am a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs.

I must have some sort of NFL style Stockholm syndrome by choosing a team that I have never seen live in the Superbowl (I was born in 1977) and who quite often lose in the playoffs, but I am a loyal guy and once I saw an aging Joe Montana throw snaps in the Red, white and yellow uniform, I was hooked and instantly loved the game.

A few years later in the country where I lived in Scotland we got the NFL Europe and we got a team called the “Scottish Claymores” and I continued to like this “foreign sport” along with about 10,000 other die hards until the team ceased operations in 2004.

When I moved to the US I continued to like the game and although I live no-where near KC, I have kept up with what is going on with a team that I have formed an association with and a team that has given me a great deal of joy, a great deal of frustration and a great cause of my mood swings.

Last night was a good night to be a Chiefs fan and it is hard because there is a tradition that we do at Arrowhead that I am not too fond of, this may sound hypocritical as I was not born in the US or am I a US citizen, however I am not a fan of the tradition of concluding the American national anthem with “The land of the free, in the home of the CHIEFS!” I am a really big fan of my team but I do think there are some things that you shouldn’t mess with. The US is a wonderful country and one of the greatest things about this place is that they are proud to be American.

Play by play, the Chiefs played better than the Patriots, won 41-14, they set a new Guinness record for noise and despite the fact I started the game about an hour after the rest of the country. (I had errands to run and I had the game DVR’d) I still finished it about the time the rest of the US and I was getting more and more excited as the game was drawing to a close.

This made me think, imagine getting into a state about a game that I have no control over and that for half of it I was cheering after the play had occurred, (even if I was in the stadium I would have little to do with the outcome on the field) when I don’t get in a state about the things that matter, things like I wonder how many of the 76,000 seats last night were occupied by people who were assured of going to heaven by having Jesus as their Saviour.

Please do not think I am against sports and enjoying yourself, that is not the case. I love watching football and love to see my team win, however I do realize and recognize that “tribal worship” like that is not exactly a good thing. Since I have been in California, I have seen folks check their smart phones to check scores whilst in church, rush out of church to get home to see their game or in some cases (and I have done this) when the church service collides with a game, not went to church.

That’s when you have to do some examining our natural face in the glass (as James would say in his epistle) and pray about what the LORD wants you to do. This maybe an emotive subject as I know many Christians who love the NFL and I know the teams they follow but precious little else about them, that is tragic and we do tend to wear our sports teams jerseys like some sort of cultish pride.

I am not against watching football on a Sunday, Monday or whatever day you choose to, but I do have some advice, last night when I DVR’d the game, I got through it in just over an hour as opposed to the nearly 4 hours I usually set aside. This is not a guilt trip and I am as much talking to me as anyone but when was the last time you spent nearly 4 hours in prayer and worship to the one true king? (Jesus Christ)

I do not wish to get all legalistic and we are all free to make our own choices. I can no easier see your heart as I can your motives in what you do, I have no idea what your daily walk with Jesus is like, however I do like to throw up warning flares and hope that the Holy Spirit uses these writings to fulfill the will of God. There is no anti sport agenda here as I love Rugby, Soccer, Football and Baseball. In fact if my “religion” was sports results then I would have been a happy worshipper with Dundee United, Glasgow Warriors and the LA Dodgers all winning recently.

It is like most things I guess in the Christian faith, all down to your heart. If it becomes a consuming passion in your life then it is clear that you need to take a step back and a step closer to Jesus.

From this member of the Red Tribe I pray that this blog is edifying, challenging and thought provoking, please feel free to comment, like or share below, God bless you one and all
TGBTG
TTE