“Perfecter Of Our Faith” ( John 3: 21, ESV; NIV ) by Carley Evans


“Whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6, ESV)

Jesus tells us the works we do we do “in God.” Paul tells us the good work God begins in us He sees through to its completion. And Paul warns, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus is persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12, NIV) Many people walk in “a form of godliness but deny its power,” (2 Timothy 3:5) “loaded down with sins and swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:6) “Their folly is clear to everyone.” (2 Timothy 3:9)

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and are convinced of.” (2 Timothy 3:14) “You know the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-16)

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

“Godliness Is Of Value In Every Way” ( 1 Timothy 4: 8, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Paul writes to Timothy, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: ‘He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.’ (1 Timothy 3:16) Then Paul warns that some in later times will “forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving.” (1 Timothy 4:3) In his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensual mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:16-19) The rules and regulations these persons demand of you, says Paul, “have an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:23)

“Rather,” writes Paul to Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” (1 Timothy 4:7) “Godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10)

The example Timothy is to set is “in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) The godliness he seeks is Christ Himself.

“Well Thought Of By Outsiders” ( 1 Timothy 3: 7, ESV ) by Carley Evans


Paul outlines rather thoroughly the qualifications for the office of overseer (or bishop): this person “must be above reproach, the husband of one wife (or the man of one woman), sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” (1 Timothy 3:2-3) He should also be able to “manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive.” (1 Timothy 3:4) And, “he must not be a new convert.” (1 Timothy 3:6)

Then Paul writes to Timothy that in addition to these fine qualities, the bishop (or overseer) “must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.”

Today, I believe this final quality is overlooked and even demeaned as a catering to the world. Think about the recent scandal involving the self-proclaimed prophet who confidently announced the coming of the last day, and the ‘rapture’ of Christ’s church. Even now, this man is claiming the second coming was only miscalculated and is actually going to occur in October of this year. This man is hardly “thought well of by outsiders” and has indeed become “a snare of the devil.” He is leading many people to mock our Lord; and is likely causing new converts to doubt the veracity of God’s organized church and even His Word.

Nothing in the Word of God is to be skimmed over and is to never be dismissed as irrelevant — Paul clearly teaches that a person who desires to lead “must be well thought of by outsiders.”

“The Goal Of Our Instruction” ( 1 Timothy 1: 5, HCSB ) by Carley Evans


Paul, writing to Timothy, “[his] true son in the faith” states that “the goal of our instruction is love.” Paul encourages Timothy to continue this instruction in brotherhood with him and to avoid “myths and endless genealogies” which “promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan.” (1 Timothy 1:4) Paul tells Timothy to avoid all that results in “fruitless discussion.” (1 Timothy 1:6)

Paul reminds Timothy that love “comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.” Love does not come from the law or from “teachers of the law [who] don’t understand what they are saying or what they are insisting on.” (1 Timothy 1:7)

Love emerges from our union with Christ who “came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) Love is demonstrated in Christ’s “extraordinary patience” with Paul, who calls himself “the worst of [sinners].” (1 Timothy 1:16,15) Christ’s patience with Paul is “an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:16)

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)

“Give Thanks For One Another” ( 2 Thessalonians 1: 3, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Our thanks are always due to God for you, brothers. It is right that we should thank Him, because your faith increases mightily, and the love you have, each for all and all for each, grows ever greater.”

 

Notice the attitude of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy towards their brothers in Christ as exhibited here in the beginning of their letter “to the congregation of Thessalonians who belong to God” (2 Thessalonians 1:1). They express gratitude to God for increasing faith and for love shared — “each for all and all for each.” They commend the Thessalonians “because [their] faith remains so steadfast under all [their] persecutions, and all troubles [they] endure.” (2 Thessalonians 1:4)

 

Paul, Silvanus and Timothy exhort this congregation to “never tire of doing right.” (2 Thessalonians 3:13) And they write that “if anyone disobeys our instructions given by letter, mark him well, and have no dealings with him until he is ashamed of himself.” Then Paul clarifies, “I do not mean to treat him as an enemy, but give him friendly advice, as one of the family.” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15)

 

We are not to treat one another as if we are enemies. For we are not enemies; we are members of the one family — the family of God. Instead, we are to be grateful to God for one another, for our mutual faith and our growing love for each other.

“Every Word God Utters” (Matthew 4: 4, NEB) by Carley Evans


Jesus tells us that people are incapable of living only on bread, i.e. foodstuff. Instead, people need “every Word that God utters” in order to live life, and live it abundantly.

Paul writes to Timothy, “Keep before you an outline of the sound teaching which you heard from me, living by faith and love which are ours in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1: 13) And further Paul tells Timothy that “every inspired scripture has its use for teaching the truth and refuting error, or for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind.” (2 Timothy 3: 16 – 17) Paul tells the Thessalonian church, “Do not stifle inspiration, and do not despise prophetic utterances, but bring them all to the test and then keep what is good in them and avoid the bad of whatever kind.” (1 Thessalonians 5: 19 – 22)

God’s Word is the creative force behind every being and every event. God’s Word is the weapon against temptation and its offspring, sin. God’s Word is the draw, pulling a person towards redemption, healing, sanctification.

People can not live on only food; people must own the Word — every Word God utters.

“But The Lord Is Faithful” (2 Thessalonians 3: 3, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy inform the church of the Thessalonians that God protects Christians from “wicked and evil men” who do not have faith. In addition, God “strengthens and guards [us] from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3: 2, 3)

God “encourages [our] hearts and strengthens [us] in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2: 17)

“It is God who is working in [us], enabling [us] both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 13) Therefore, we are to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2: 12)

Why in fear and trembling? Perhaps because we live in a “crooked and perverted generation among whom [we] shine like stars in the world.” (Philippians 2: 15) Perhaps because the evil one prowls among us like a “roaring lion” wishing to consume us. He actively searches for “anyone he can devour.” (1 Peter 5: 8)

Peter tells us that “the God of all grace, who calls [us] to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, personally restores, establishes, strengthens, and supports [us] after [we] suffer a little. The dominion belongs to Him forever.” (1 Peter 5: 10 – 11)

Therefore, let us continue in faith, knowing that it is God who upholds us. He sees us through every obstacle and His plans do not fail.

“The Mystery: Christ In You” (Colossians 1: 27 – 28, HCSB) by Carley Evans


God intends to “make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Paul and Timothy continue to pray, “asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1: 9 – 10)

The hope in you is “you are rescued…from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in Him.” (Colossians 1: 13 – 14)

Paul and Timothy “proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that [they] may present everyone mature in Christ.”

Paul and Timothy wish and work for the maturity of Christians, that each bears fruit, grows in knowledge of God, and understands God’s will. Paul intends to “make God’s message fully known.” (Colossians 1: 25) He warns, “Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit.” (Colossians 2: 8) Base your walk on Christ, “for the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you are filled by Him.” (Colossians 2: 9 – 10)

This is the mystery — Christ in you, the hope of glory.

“Why Does He Still Find Fault?” (2 Timothy 1: 7, ESV) by Carley Evans


The Spirit you have within is “not of fear but of power and love and self-control,” writes Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy.

Paul tells Timothy not to “be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1: 8) Paul reminds Timothy that God “saves us and calls us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gives us in Christ Jesus before the ages begin.” (2 Timothy 1: 9)

God’s calling is from before time — long in advance of any one thing we do or do not do. God “says to Moses, ‘I have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ ” (Romans 9: 15) God “says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raise you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My Name is proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.” (Romans 9: 17 – 18)

God chooses Jacob to love, and Esau to hate. (Romans 9: 13) And this, “though they are not yet born and have done nothing either good or bad — in order that God’s purpose of election may continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls.” (Romans 9: 11)

Our eternal life is due to “Him who calls.” He calls us from darkness, leads us into His Light, gives us His Holy Spirit and walks us to His mountain. Our salvation has nothing to do with our works, which are — at the very best — side-effects of the Holy Spirit within us.

“Watch And Pray With Christ” (1 Timothy 2: 1 -2, ESV) by Carley Evans


Paul writes to Timothy, his spiritual son and brother in Christ, urging “first of all…that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and is pleasing in the sight of God, our Savior.”

First of all — foremost, says Paul, we should pray, intercede, supplicate and be thankful for ALL PEOPLE, for those in government and those in “high positions.” Why? So “that we may lead peaceful and quiet lives.” Paul tells us to remain “godly and dignified in every way.” In this manner, we please our Lord and Savior. Christians want to defend what is right — take up the sword and fight for Jesus. But, Jesus Himself says, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26: 52) Rather Jesus looks to his disciples, to those closest to Him, in hope that they will watch with Him and pray with Him. “And He says to Peter, ‘Can you not watch with Me one hour?” (Matthew 26: 40) Paul writes, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer… Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to what is honorable in the sight of all… Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.” (Romans 12: 12, 14, 17, 19) Paul strongly suggests, as does Christ, that we “overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 21)