Monthly Archives: November 2013

Messed Up Love

Devotional Text: 2 Timothy 3:2-4

No power exists greater than love.  It motivated God to the greatest act humanly known (John 3:16).  It seems to us so very natural and easy.  After all, can’t we just fall into it?

The truth is, love can be so very hard.  We often fail horribly when it comes to love—and this isn’t about failed relationships.

Paul describes coming “times difficulty” and characteristics of men that would make it so (2 Tim. 3:1-5).  In this list of nineteen traits, five of them have specifically to do with love.  That’s over one-fourth of the list.  Messed up love makes life so difficult.

It’s all about love misguided; love with the wrong aim; loving the wrong things and not loving the right things.

Paul says that among the things that will make these times so bad is that men will love self, money, and pleasure, all the while failing to love God and good (2 Tim. 3:2,3,4).

It’s seriously misguided love.  It’s not a question of if one can love, but rather what they do love.

A very necessary step in any real self-evaluation is to take a hard look at the true objects of our affection.  Honestly, what do I love?

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

November 30 Bible Reading 2 Timothy 3-4

Paul’s warning of a great apostasy was undoubtedly a sobering message for Timothy.  He could maintain his own faithfulness by holding to the teachings of Paul and to the sacred writings.  Paul ends with poignant words about his present condition and requests of Timothy to fulfill his requests before it is too late.

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Flee by Pursuing

Devotional Text: 2 Timothy 2:22

A child of God is defined negatively and positively.  Notice that it is “and” not “or”.  There are some things a Christian must be and do while at the same time there are other things they must not be or do.  So, Paul writes about the works of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit (Gal. 5:19-23) as well as the old self and the new self (Col. 3:5-14).

Not surprisingly, he also writes, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” (2 Tim. 2:22).

Have you ever thought about how these two diametrically opposed pursuits are tied together?  Have you ever thought that one of the critical keys for success in fleeing youthful passions is to be actively pursuing righteousness (faith, love, peace)?

There’s an important principle at work here; you tend to get more of what you focus on.  That’s true even if your focusing on what you want to be rid of or avoid.  That means focusing on not doing something really isn’t the best way to avoid doing it.  That’s why nagging is such a poor means to affect positive behavior; it focuses on the negative.  It’s said that in training high speed race car drivers that they are told never to look at the wall.  Even though they are wanting to avoid it, when they look at it, they tend to drift that direction.  Look instead where you want to go, not where you don’t want to.

So for success in fleeing youthful passions (or the works of the flesh or the old self) you must be aiming for (pursuing) righteousness.  Focusing on what you want to be will naturally help you to keep from being what you don’t want to be.

So flee by pursuing.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

November 29 Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 1-2

Paul assured Timothy that he was in no way ashamed of his imprisonment and suffering he now endured as a minister of the gospel.  He encourages Timothy to endure and be steadfast himself.  He also wants him to focus his attention on matters of genuine importance and not useless controversies and further to maintain purity of life and teaching.

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November Week 5 Supplemental Reading

November Week 5: Supplemental Reading—2 Timothy
November 29-30

For the final two days of November, our supplemental reading will cover 2 Timothy.  This, of course, is the second epistle written from Paul to the young preacher.  1 Timothy had been written while Paul traveled following his first Roman imprisonment.  This period of travel and preaching, like that period covered in Acts, concludes with Paul’s arrest and imprisonment, for a second time in Rome.  Second Timothy is written during this time frame.

All indications are that Paul was not nearly as hopeful for a positive outcome to this trial.  Tradition holds that indeed he was executed in Rome during the time of persecution against the church led by Nero.

For November’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Everybody is Ignorant

Devotional Text: 1 Timothy 1:13

That title really isn’t angry or derogatory, it’s just true.  No one knows every thing, therefore everyone possesses some degree of ignorance.  “Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects” (Will Rogers).

Paul confessed his own ignorance (1 Tim. 1:13).  He was specifically speaking of a time in his life when he was persecuting the church.  That also happens to be the time when he achieved so much in his life.  He said, “I was advancing in Judaism  beyond many of my own age among my people” (Gal. 1:14).  He had been educated by the renowned Gamaliel “according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God (Acts 22:3).

Still, Paul said his actions were based on ignorance.

Not only that—and even more remarkably—he said his actions were from a vantage point of “unbelief.”  Yet he was quite zealous for God and in the religion handed down from his fathers (Acts 22:3).  Though he believed in God and with great zeal served—or at least thought he served—Him, what he did was still characterized as “unbelief”.

All of that changed for Paul, of course, upon coming to know Christ.  This well educated and believing man was no longer in ignorance and unbelief.  So what matters most, then, is knowing Jesus Christ.

For all the advances in our world  we’re still plagued by ignorance and unbelief.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

November 28 Bible Reading: Catch Up Day

Today is the regularly scheduled “Catch Up” day for the fourth week of November.  If needed use it to go back and cover some readings where you may have fallen behind—it happens.  Otherwise, below are some thoughts for your consideration for today from this week’s readings.

1. Having read Philemon last week (November 20) and Colossians this week, it should be remembered that Philemon and Onesimus were both from Colossae.  Paul sent the Colossian letter by the hands of Tychicus and Onesimus (Col. 4:7-9).  Paul no doubt intended for Philemon to feel the pressure of the church’s knowledge of their newfound brother, Onesimus—he would not yet have been a Christian when he ran away—as he decided what to do with his runaway slave.

2. Some believe that the church in Colossae was heavily comprised of slaves—if so, that’s another wrinkle for the whole Onesimus/Philemon issue—based on Paul’s emphasis in the letter on the Christian’s inheritance (see 1:12; 3:24).  An inheritance was something no slave possessed, yet all Christians have the greatest possible inheritance in Christ.  So, Christians slaves would in no way be disadvantaged spiritually.

3. Based on the specific instructions and encouragements given by Paul to Timothy, some have concluded that Timothy was not a man of great presence (especially as compared to Paul).  He seems to be given to timidity (2 Tim. 1:6-7), stomach trouble (1 Tim. 5:23), and reticence due to his relative youthfulness (1 Tim. 4:12).    Perhaps Timothy was event thinking of leaving Ephesus for these, and possibly other, reasons and Paul’s instruction is that he “remain at Ephesus” (1 Tim. 1:3).

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November 27 Bible Reading: 1 Timothy 6

This letter concludes with a parting warning about false teachers, a charge for personal piety, and warnings and encouragements for the wealthy and those who wished to be.

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A Hard Test

Devotional Text: 1 Timothy 6:2

Which has more influence on your thinking and attitudes, the Bible or the world?  Don’t be too quick to answer.  We know what we’d like for our answer to be, but when you get right down to it, is it really true?

The Bible sometimes says some things that really challenge us.  What it says runs contrary to our thinking and our attitudes.  Why is that?  Might it not be because the world’s influence on us has been greater than God’s on this particular matter?

Does anything strike you about Paul’s instruction for slaves and masters in 1 Timothy 6:1-2?

“Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.”

Most striking to me is that the Bible’s approach to slavery is not an outright denunciation of the institution.  Rather, it’s that those who are slaves should be respectful and obedient because their actions are a reflection on God.

So that brings us to another question.  Which is really most important to me, my condition and situation in life or God’s glory and honor?

Drat! I dislike these challenges.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE

Conspicuous

Devotional Text: 1 Timothy 5:24

I’d prefer people to know the good things about me, more so than the bad.  That’s only natural, isn’t it?  There’s something to be said for transparency, but still, I have my preferences about what people know about me.  I think that’s human nature.

But, we can get ourselves into trouble here, can’t we?  Trying to manage what people know about us could easily slide into being deceptive and hypocritical.  Perhaps its that we shouldn’t try to hide anything and at the same time not feel obligated to reveal everything.

That being said, we better keep this perspective in mind, everything about us, one day, whether good or bad, will all be made conspicuous, and some things sooner than latter (1 Tim. 5:24).  So, any effort on our part to manipulate people’s perception of us is really futile.

Be honest.  Be sincere.  Be truthful.  Be good. Be who you are—and work on being better.

–David Deffenbaugh

For today’s Bible reading introduction CLICK HERE