Practical Proverbial, from 2 Timothy, 5 June 2019

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NIV).

This is now.   This is 1939.   This is 1914.   This is 1860.   This is 1774.   This is…this is the way of humanity.  Paul wrote these words two thousand years ago.   He wrote them to and about people familiar with the idea that some in society will ignore God and, instead, seek out what they want to hear.  If it wasn’t true then, Paul wouldn’t have written it.  It meant something to people then.  Tell me, do we really think there are new things under the sun?  They who turned their ears away from the truth and turned aside to myths, like those who would do so today, are but the shadows of people who have done so since we were kicked out of Eden.

Danger, Will Robinson, that you and I don’t fall into that trap.   The siren song of false politics, “if it makes you happy” soma, arguing endlessly, and a hundred other falsehoods are tempting to believer and unbeliever alike.   Or haven’t you heard of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, the Schuller family and the rest of the popular televangelists who succumbed to sin?   Or the Catholic ‘churchocrats’ who’ve made careers out of secretly hiding the gross offenses of predators?   It has happened for years; it happened just before great wars and monumental events.   People tire of sound doctrine and give in to something else.   And disaster inevitably follows.   In the last days, it will get worse.

But in the face of it, the antidote is kindness.   Let’s not become weary in doing good because doing good turns back the untruths and the myths and the pop culture lies.  If the cure for the common sin is Christ, then the first tool He gives us to build up His following is to simply do good.   Be kind.   Live nicely and gently and patiently and carefully.   Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.   The opposite of unsound doctrine is sound doctrine, and the evidence of the sound teaching of Jesus Christ is kindness to others.

So that’s our challenge for today:   be kind to someone.   When someone wants to argue with you over some (largely meaningless) point, respond in patience and kindness.   Let the guy from the other lane merge in.   Do some random act of kindness today…just because.  Tomorrow may indeed bring disaster so let’s prepare for it with a smile today.

For further reading:  Ecclesiastes 1:9, Galatians 6:9, 2 Timothy 4:5.

Lord Jesus, You always showed kindness to people, even to those who made themselves enemies to You.  Help me to do that today, to be kind, to smile, to help.

Advertisements

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 13 February 2019

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  1 Timothy 6:9 (NIV).

I prefer to stay on the positive side of this verse.   Those who know me well will find this surprising.   In fact, my wife calls me “Eeyore” because I usually look on the downside of things.   For Everyday Dave, this verse would be a great place to stop.  It’s a lighthouse, warning of rocks just up ahead near the shore.  We’ll probably mess it up anyway.

But that’s an outlook I want to change.  The verse IS a lighthouse, and it’s one that calls us safely home.   Lately, I’ve been daily contemplating Galatians 5, specifically the verses about the fruits of the Spirit.  I read the verses and then look for ways to put them into practice each day, one per month while compounding them.   January was love month; February is love and joy; March will be love, joy, and peace.   You get the idea.  If you haven’t ever really contemplated them, check out Galatians 5:22-23.

Then put them into action because they are the opposite of what Paul describes in verse 9.   And if you think about it, they are the things Paul could say ARE worthy of our attention instead of desire for money, or running into the traps and temptations that lead to ruin and destruction.   How many of us could avoid pitfalls of sin if we would simply find better things on which to focus?   Let’s keep our eyes on the ways Jesus acts, then watch how things begin to improve.

If we are always looking for ways to get ahead, we probably will miss some of the signs around us that point us to ways we can get involved in what Jesus is doing.   Just prior to this verse, Paul had reminded Timothy to be content with only what God provides for our most basic needs.   Anything more than contentment can run the risk of walking the proud walk down the yellow brick road of temptation.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  Man, those are things worth showing off to the world.   They’re the antidote to swallowing too much desire to get rich.   When we talk about focusing on Jesus, a great way to start doing that is by focusing on ways we can let His Spirit remake us around these behaviors He exhibits.  If we do that, when temptations come, it becomes easier to turn from them.   That’s a wealth worth having.

Eeyore might just agree.

For further reading:   Galatians 5:22-23, Proverbs 15:27, Proverbs 28:20, 1 Timothy 6:10.

Magnificent Lord, I’m not always a good follower.   I’ve turned my attention away from You.   Thank You for not turning away from Me, and I ask You to remake me in the ways of Your Spirit today. 

Practical Proverbial, from 1 Timothy, 15 November 2018

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.  1 Timothy 4:6 (NIV).

Yesterday I was in yet another online discussion, this time with a guy with whom I’m no longer on good terms.  We went to high school together and were friends for awhile on Facebook.   But we strongly disagree on many things.   Our conversation this time started on disagreeing about a point of fact and quickly turned personal, both on his and my end.   That’s when I checked out of the conversation; I don’t want to do that any more because it brings dishonor on Jesus.   Yet I wasn’t able to leave the conversation before my ‘ex-friend’ said something that stuck:  “I don’t like you Dave.”

That one left a mark.  None of us likes to be told we aren’t liked but my former friend struck me (rhetorically) pretty hard.  He said he thought I was an insecure jerk (yet he was the one doing the name calling), and to be honest, he had a point.   I’m not perfect; I wasn’t perfect yesterday but I didn’t profess to be.  Yet what he said also made me realize something:

I don’t like him either.  I really don’t.  We were more acquaintances than real friends.  Sometimes we simply don’t gel with others but this is a person I simply don’t like.  This is the point where a gut-check became not just necessary but critical.   I reached out to several pastor friends and asked for some much-needed help.  How can you follow Jesus and still harbor dislike for someone?

Thankfully, my friends gave some very solid advice.   Pray for the other person.  Keep quiet unless you have something positive or constructive to say.  Ask if God is using this as a teachable moment about yourself.  Be cautious when engaging antagonistic people (even Jesus was cautious when He needed to be).  Avoid extended time with serious haters.   And don’t be surprised when some people hate you.   I’m not Jesus but people hated Him too.  As you can see, really great words, and they helped.

Jesus calls us to love God with all our heart and mind, and then He calls us to love our neighbors even more than we love ourselves.   He tells us to forgive generously, to minister wisely but unabashedly, and to live out the fruits of His Spirit in kindness, patience, understanding, and that forgiveness.  I’m thankful that my friends echoed Paul’s advice to Timothy to be a good minister to me.  I hope I can be to others.   I still don’t care for the company of my ex-friend, but in all honesty. I wish him well, health, and faith in Christ.   Jesus loves him too.

For further reading: 2 Timothy 3:15, 1 Timothy 4:7

Lord, forgive my misuse of Your wonderful talents.   I forgive my old friend.   Bless and keep him.