Respect

1 Timothy 5

Saturday, September 10, 2022

When I first moved to Louisiana I had experienced culture shock. The food was different, the accents were different, and even the weather was different. All around, it has been quite interesting. I think the thing that stood out to me the most is the amount of respect everyone gave each other. Especially if someone was older than you were. When I first went to church and was introduced to some of the kids there they all had to call me “Mr. Jesse” which was quite weird to me because I had not lived with a prefix my whole life, unless it was something formal. Likewise, the amount of Yes sirs and No sirs, and yes ma’ams and no ma’ams was alarming. The only time I said those things growing up was when I was in trouble. However down here it is considered just respectful. Paul, In the first verse of 1 TImothy chapter five reminds me of this culture. “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” All of these things have to do with respect. Some people say “I’m not going to give respect unless I get respect.” However I would say Paul gives us good guidelines for this by saying Honor older men as fathers, and younger as brothers and women as mothers and sisters. This is how we should treat everyone, as if they were family. It can be difficult sometimes, families can be tricky.

-Jesse Allen

Application Questions

  1. Who has been a good example to you of showing respect to others? How do you think they do it?
  2. When do you have a hard time showing respect? What can you do to improve in this area?

Want to Get Rich?

1 Timothy 6

(Today’s devotion will be on 1 Timothy 6. Tomorrow we will jump back to 1 Timothy 5. Thanks for being flexible with us!)

Friday, September 9, 2022

 “Hey Jesse are you going to buy a lottery ticket?” A group of my coworkers had been talking about the jackpot because the lottery had reached over a billion dollars. The conversation that followed that question was followed with speculation of what the group of us would buy or what we would do with the money. Many, if not all, said they would have quit their jobs and bought extravagant things. Some even said they would invest it and be smart with the money. And some said they would give most of it away and keep enough to live on for the rest of their life. My answer to the question was “No, I mean of course it would be nice to have that money but I know I would probably spend all of it and end up in debt, broke, or dead.”

I think the lottery is a good example of what the world reaches for but doesn’t understand. Money may be able to buy you a boat, a cool new car, house, vacation, or whatever. However those things are only temporary and don’t satisfy the one thing we all strive to achieve in our lives. CONTENTMENT. No, not fugitives selling wintergreen lifesavers out of a tent, but contentment. The understanding of knowing what you have right now is enough. Just read what Paul in 1 Timothy 5:6-9 says “But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

Money is not bad, however if you aren’t content without it, what makes you think you will be content with it? I can tell you from experience you won’t be,  unless you are trying to attain only to godliness first. Then everything else ordinarily falls into place and we become content. Something I struggle with, and I am sure you do as well, everyday. The understanding that God takes care of His people when they are seeking him is scattered all throughout the Bible. My favorite example and probably most prominent is Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of god and his righteousness, and all these things shall be handed unto you.” (I recommend reading the whole chapter to get the gist of what “all these things” Jesus is speaking about. No the lottery isn’t one of those things.) Seeking God is where we find our ultimate contentment. With him we don’t have to worry about plunging ourselves into ruin and destruction as many of the past lottery winners have done. Instead, we live our lives knowing we are content.

-Jesse Allen

Application Questions

  1. What do you think Paul meant when he said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)?
  2. How does your contentment rank? Without ‘getting’ any more – how can you boost your contentment level with what you have right now?
  3. Explain how the Love of Money can be the root of all kinds of evil. Have you seen an example of this?

Nourishment

1 Timothy 4

Thursday, September 8, 2022

“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.” – 1 Timothy 4:6

One of my favorite parts of the year is camps, and retreats, and other various conferences. At these conferences I always love hearing other people’s stories of faith. Listening to the speakers everyday and overall being surrounded by people of faith and having a safe place to discuss, and weed through questions we often ask. These events we attend are crucial in spiritual development. But why do I feel differently when I get home? Similar to a feeling of hunger, if we do not surround ourselves with the nourishment of Godly things. The fact we feel hungry at home and not at these events, probably means we need to start being more diligent in reading and feeding ourself with spiritual truths, and people. If we did that we wouldn’t be as “hungry”. As Paul says, it’s just a part of “being a good servant of Christ Jesus.” That and it feels great to be close to God and his promises. Go, be nourished. I know I need it. 

-Jesse Allen

Application Questions

  1. When do you feel most spiritually nourished?
  2. What do you think God expects you to command and teach to others? (verse 11 and surrounding passage)
  3. Have you been watching your life and doctrine closely? Why do you think Paul mentions both? What is the result if you persevere in doing both well?

Oversee Yourself First

1 Timothy 3

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

There are many concepts in the Bible about leadership. These verses in 1 Timothy 3 are no exception. “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)” 

Leadership is often confused with some form of management of other people. When in fact leadership is a very personal endeavor. People who are leaders are very rarely focused on what everyone else is doing. Rather they are focused on what they are doing and how they can better themselves.  If you don’t manage yourself first then why would anyone listen to you? Just in case you are actually asking yourself that question, I will give you the answer that I have learned from experience. They don’t. Not even a little bit. I’m sure you have heard the whole oxygen mask on a plane cliche so I’ll spare you the explanation.

These verses apply to anyone that considers themself a Christian not just elders and leaders that have been appointed. But rather I think Paul may have been alluding to the fact we are all carriers of the Gospel, therefore we all are responsible for representing it well, not just in our Church life, but in our personal life too. So if you are thinking about becoming a leader of some sort that’s great! Start now by improving yourself because when it comes down to it that’s what leadership is really about.

-Jesse Allen

Application Questions

  1. Look carefully at the list of qualifications for the overseer and deacon and deacon’s wife in 1 Timothy 3. Why do you think each quality was added to the list given by Paul to young Timothy?
  2. Are there any of these areas that you see as an opportunity for growth? Any that you have already been working on and seeing progress?
  3. According to 1 Timothy 3:13 what is the benefit to serving well? Who do you think of that has been a faithful Godly overseer in your life?

Are You Good Looking?

1 Timothy 2

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

I love dressing sharp, and looking nice. Lots of people do, I even get stressed out about what I wear, and what others will think of me about what I am wearing. Seems a little conceited right? Well I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, we all have done this at one point in our lives. Whether it be clothes or shoes, perhaps new cars or something else, we like having nice things and showing them off. It feels good when someone complements us or the stuff we have. But I am here to tell you and myself, that these things are not what matters. See Paul in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, has to explain this to some of the women in the local community, but it applies to everyone!  “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness.” We are known not by what we look like or by what we have. Rather by what we act like. Jesus doesn’t really care what fancy clothes we wear. Some may disagree but all I am saying is he wore a robe and sandals. When’s the last time you saw someone in church wear a robe with sandals? Yeah, I can’t remember either. Therefore, recognize the value of our actions over the way we look. I personally struggle with this concept probably more than anyone I know. But with God all things are possible. 

-Jesse Allen

Application Questions

  1. Who do you admire for true beauty? What makes them so?
  2. How concerned are you with your outward appearance? Do you pay more attention to doing good rather than looking good on the outside?
  3. What does Paul write to Timothy regarding prayer in 1 Timothy chapter 2. How well are you following the directions in verse 1? In verse 2? In verse 8?

Grace Poured Out

1 Timothy 1

Monday, September 5

It is easy to make mistakes when you don’t know you are making them. My job is GIS mapping, and I create maps of construction permits, plans, and various other things. These maps usually take between 9-18 hours of work to complete and they are needed in order for us to move to another project. The other day I finished a project and went to start another one and accidentally switched the new project for the old one and rewrote and saved over my completed project! Before I could realize my mistake I had completed the next project in the same file, therefore losing my project all together. This is a big mistake that can delay a project by 1-2 days. Fortunately for me I am new and it was my first time doing this, so with that I was given a lot of grace, and was just asked to do the project again. A lot of mistakes come from doing something new and not knowing what we are doing.

Paul in 1 Timothy 1:12-14 admits that he had acted in ignorance when persecuting the Christians. He had no idea that he was in the wrong and kept going, similar to a botched project. He admits his fault and God gives him grace by placing him in charge of all those who he was persecuting. Paul says in verse 13 “. . . yet I was shown mercy because I acted in unbelief”. When he was persecuting the Christians he had no idea of God’s plan, he refused to admit he was wrong, but God shows him mercy through recognizing he may not understand what is going on. Many of us make mistakes without knowing they are mistakes until it is too late. This is true especially with God, God gives us mercy everyday when we are making mistakes. Even the big ones and even if we repeat the mistake God still is good and forgives us.

-Jesse Allen

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What spiritual truths or expectations were you once ignorant of?
  2. How did God get through to you – and show you grace for your past mistakes?

Masterful Maker – Stubborn Clay

Isaiah 45-46 and 1 Timothy 4

Hello everyone!

Thanks for taking a journey with me this week!  It has been a different challenge for me to focus on a book in the Old Testament, so I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have 😊

We see the phrase “no other than/like/except/but Me” ten times out of the 38 verses in the two chapters of Isaiah we just read.  That is over 25% of the message that has been written in these texts.  Do you think God was trying to make a point that there is no other like Him???  Seems like something He may want us to understand…

Since there is no other God than our God, it makes sense that we acknowledge His power and authority in our life.  He has been identified as the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and everything that lives in it.  We know that He created the world with a purpose of filling it with good things (Isaiah 45:18).  This tells me that everyone, including you and I, has a purpose in their life according to the One True God.  God likes to use analogies to help His people understand His truths.  In Isaiah 45 we see the analogy of God being the potter, molding the clay, His people, to be great works.  In this analogy, God uses some rhetorical questions to help us identify how silly it sounds when we try to take control of our own life from Him.  It’s like the clay asking the potter “What are you making?” or saying “This looks wrong…” (v. 9).  I know I am guilty of being the clay that asks those questions and makes those comments when looking at my own life. 

Depending on where our life is in each season, it can be hard not to question the plan God has laid out for us!  And yet, Isaiah 46:10 reminds us that God knew everything that would happen in our lives from day one.  It doesn’t matter how much we think we have control, because God tells us that “My plan will take place and I will do all My will.”  This can be confusing, but I find it comforting as well.  No matter how badly I think I have screwed up my life, I can have faith that God still has a plan and purpose for me, not necessarily because I am someone that is insanely special, but because I am God’s creation and He has a purpose for ME!

Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it can be easy to feel like my life is supposed to have an extravagant testimony or grandiose plan to fulfill.  God’s purpose has to be one of great achievement, right?  That message is easily pushed by modern day Christian messages, especially those targeting youth and young adults.  While I don’t think it’s bad to set big goals to achieve, I also think it is just as important to recognize that God uses everyone in impactful ways that may not lead to fame and glory on this earth like we can get the image of at times.  When Paul is writing to Timothy he does not encourage Timothy to gather a bigger following or perform any miraculous wonders that will be spread throughout the land.  Instead, he encourages Timothy to train himself in Godliness (1 Tim. 4:7) and to be an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity (v. 12).  None of those things scream popularity or magnificent plans!  But all of them are important for fulfilling the purpose that God has set aside for those who follow Him. 

We were made by an omniscient Creator who wants His people to understand who He is so that they can be strengthened as they fulfill the purpose He has for their life.  We may not always know what that purpose is, but we can trust in our God who does.  We may not always understand the journey we are taking, but we can trust in our God to continue to mold us into what we should be.  So if you have questions about your purpose, I encourage you to lean in to the Potter’s hands, open yourself to the not-so-extravagant, and see what amazing things God has already planned for you.

I hope this week was one that made you think, encouraged you, and grew you in your faith!  Thank you for allowing me to be part of your daily readings this week, I certainly have gained a lot from it as well.

Grace be with you all.

Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 45-46 and 1 Timothy 4

More Opportunities

For God’s Children To Have a Relationship with Him

Isaiah 43-44 and 1 Timothy 3

When you read through Isaiah 43 and 44, what do you see?

I see a God who loves His people, whom He has chosen.  I see a God who shows mercy and patience.  I see a protective God.  I see a jealous God.  I see a God full of power and authority.  I see a world full of broken and lost people.  I also see a Father whose children have ignored Him.  I see a Father who knows there are unrighteous people in the world trying to pull His children off the path of righteousness.  I see a Father longing for a way to have relationships with His children.  I see children who do not understand what they are missing.

All of the great qualities we observe in or read about our God can seem far away when looking at the Old Testament and reading that He set His chosen people aside for destruction and abuse, or when we see large groups of people destroyed, or when the barbaric sacrifices of animals somehow allow for the forgiveness of sins.  I feel at times that the God of the New Testament seems to be much more loving and gracious than the God of the Old Testament.  And yet, since creation, God has had a plan for redemption not just for His chosen people, but for all who called upon His name.  The whole thing can be a bit confusing if I am being honest!  I have to remind myself that God has never changed, He has simply created more opportunities for His children to have a relationship with Him.

The Christian faith is one of just that, faith.  We can scientifically prove many of the events that have happened in the Bible did in fact happen.  However, the idea that an omnipotent God who has created everything in existence chose to create a group of imperfect beings to be made in His image with the purpose of praise, but then those imperfect beings were given free will and ruined it so He had to send them away but He still made a way for them to come back to Him but it still didn’t make them perfect enough so He sent a perfect being as a sacrifice for all the imperfect beings but then the perfect being came back to life to offer hope to the imperfect but the imperfect ones kept making the creation less perfect so one day the perfect one has to come back and fix the imperfect forever so that the omniscient one can live with the imperfect ones who will now be made perfect……Let’s be honest, it doesn’t make sense.  God’s grace requires faith to accept! 

1 Timothy 3:15 – 16 says “…This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.  Without questions, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit.  He was seen by angels and announced to the nations.  He was believed in throughout the world and taken into heaven in glory.”  

Our God is a living God.  He has been at work in the nations from day one, and He has had a plan for us to all live in relationship with Him from the start.  Why?  I have no clue.  But faith allows me to know that this is true, and our hope through Jesus Christ allows me to live each day knowing that I have an incredible gift of grace that should be used to praise and glorify the One True God.  Do you accept the completely confusing idea of God’s grace? How do you show that daily? 

(In case you were wondering, I definitely plan on asking God why He gave us free will in the Kingdom…along with many other questions 😊)

-Sarah Johnson

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 43-44 and 1 Timothy 3

Our God is an Awesome God

Isaiah 41-42 and 1 Timothy 2

Good morning! (Or afternoon, or evening…)

Our God is an awesome God, and He has no problem telling us that!  Isaiah 41 is all about God telling the nations who is in charge.  In certain places, it can seem a little harsh… calling the Israelites weak worms, putting them in their place knowing that their work is worthless compared to God, etc.  HOWEVER, there are also multiple verses where God’s comforting love shows through as he reminds the Israelites not to fear, and that He is there to help and strengthen them (v. 10, 13, 17).  While the passage can be blunt at times, it ultimately is God simply speaking truth to a group of individuals that He cares deeply about.  He wants them to understand how great He is, and how much He cares for them!

In chapter 42 God provides a little more reasoning behind his passionate words towards the Israelites, He reminds them that they are a chosen people dedicated to being a light to the nations (v. 6).  Isaiah has been tasked with sending this message to the Israelites despite the way they continue to reject God.  I can almost feel his exasperation as he does his best to help them understand that they have a purpose, that God has a plan, and that they keep ignoring it! (v. 20) Do you ever feel like Isaiah trying to convince people that God has the best plan for their life?  It can be difficult to speak truth into the lives of others who are not receptive, and it can be hard to see them ignore the need for God in their life.  We must know that it is not our job to convince individuals they need God, He can do that all His own!  Our job is to share the information, model how God can change a life, and continue to pray for their eyes, ears, and hearts to be opened to the truth.

In reality, I think we end up being most like the Israelites ourselves!  We continue to disobey, ignore, or rebel against the purpose God has for us even though we may know exactly what God wants from us.  We all have sin in our lives.  It looks different in everyone!  That is why it is so incredible that God still includes us in His chosen people, and that we all have the same opportunity for salvation and an eternal life with Him in the Kingdom. 

Unlike Isaiah, we are fortunate to live in the time that we don’t have to just tell people salvation is yet to come; we get to share that a Savior has already come, already been put to death for our sins, and has already rose from the grave with a promise of eternal salvation!  We are told in 1 Timothy 2 that God wants everyone to be saved, to come to the knowledge of the truth (v. 4) and that Jesus was a human who gave himself as a ransom for all (v.5-6).  Who can you share some knowledge with today?

-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Isaiah 41-42 and 1 Timothy 2

Let the World See

1 Timothy 1

Welcome!

Today’s passages seem to have some different main themes, so while all of these are valuable, we will be focusing mainly on 1 Timothy 1 for the purpose of keeping this devotional to a reasonable length 😊

1 Timothy 1 is written by a very dedicated and enthusiastic believer, Paul.  Paul is a very impressive man with an incredible testimony (that we get to see a little bit here) and clearly has a passion for the Kingdom.  This is why I sometimes have to re-read his messages to better comprehend just how deeply he cares for people and soak up all the energy for spreading the gospel he has!  Paul tells Timothy that God’s plan operates by faith (v. 4) and that our role as believers is to have love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith (v. 5).  I LOVE that description of who Christians should be in the world!  Loving, Good, and Sincere.  Do you think the world today has that view of Christians? Or do you think that unfortunately, the world has the view of Christians who turn to fruitless discussions regarding the law (v.6-7)? 

It can be hard to swallow verses like 1 Timothy 1:9 where it says “the law is not for the righteous, but for the sinful”, if you are a sinner and know a Christian who has fruitless discussions about the law.  However, if more Christians today took their righteousness and expressed the “glorious gospel” that has been entrusted to them (v. 11), I have a feeling that it would be much easier to reach those who do not know the law!  The implied context in this passage is not expressing the idea that once you are a believer you don’t have to follow the law, but rather that once you are a believer your focus should shift off yourself and your “good works”, and move towards reaching others who need to know the law.  Paul models a great example of how to approach others about Jesus, by telling them that Christ came to save ALL sinners, including the worst of them all, which was himself! (v.15) When we openly share the impact Christ has in our lives and humbly recognize that we are all sinners, it becomes much easier to reach those who need salvation just as much as we do.

This is not to say that discussions of the law should not happen amongst believers!  Paul tells Timothy to strongly engage in battle to avoid having a shipwrecked faith (v. 18 -19).  To be prepared for battle, it’s important to know what you are up against and how to combat it!  What is key here is that our battle is not one meant to destroy arguments or put down people by boasting of our own righteousness, but rather our battle is against the evil one who is dedicated to keeping people out of the Kingdom.  Our battle is fighting for the citizenship of an eternal Kingdom, for ourselves and for everyone we meet.  The law is one tool we use to win that battle!  Another tool is our own testimony, another is the story and purpose of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and yet another is simply sharing how amazing our God truly is.

Isaiah 40:28-31 provides a great passage to reach others with; I encourage you to memorize it for the sake of winning the battle!

“Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth.  He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.  He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless.  Youths may faint and grow weary, young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the LORD will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 39-40 and 1 Timothy 1

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