Judas and me and you

Everything had to be right.

Everything had to be in place.

Everything and everyone had to do their part for it to happen the way that it must be. Even the one who did the wrong thing was in the right place at the right time.

There had to be a Judas.

Matthew 26 gives us the story.

“Matthew 26:14-16 Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.”

Someone had to betray Jesus. Judas was that man. I can blame him but I must realize that it’s my sin that brought Jesus and Judas to this place. My sin, and God’s love for me, God couldn’t stand the separation between us so he gave his son to pay for my rebellion.

It was the fullness of time. Jesus was ready and unfortunately for him,so was Judas.

“Matthew 26:20-25 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.”’

It was the fullness of time, all the pieces were coming together, the plan to redeem us.

“Galatians 4:3-5 So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”

Thank you Father God for sending your son, who was willing to be betrayed by a friend and die the death that I deserve. You did it because you love me. You did it because you love us, all of us, everyone of us. Thank you.

1 Timothy, an overview

1 Timothy

Chapter 1

1 Timothy 1

Timothy, that young man that joined Paul and Barnabus in Lystra. He is now Pastoring the church in Ephesus.

Paul calls him “a true son in the faith”.

This is a tough town. It’s where Paul & Silas got thrown into prison for setting a slave girl free from her demonic possession. Then they had church in chains and were set free by a God Ordained earthquake.

Paul was asked to leave the city, but he sent Timothy back in.

This letter is advice to pastor in the thick of it and to a young man living in a sensual city.

We’ll get to the advice later, I was impressed with this in my reading this morning.

Paul sums up his life and ministry in chapter 1.

“12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Yes Paul, what you said. Yes.

The gospel equalizes us all. We are all sinners who need a savior. Jesus has died for us all. The state of grace, being forgiven, is a confession and an acceptance away.

Chapter 2

1Timothy 2

“2 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

There are no conditions on this urging. It doesn’t say, if he is a good guy, if you like him, if he is treating you well, if you agree with their policies. None of that. Just “pray, intercede and give thanks” for our kings and those in authority. I’ve mentioned my prayer list before. There are no politicians on it. That can’t stay that way. Who needs Jesus’ help more than our leaders? First, I will learn who my leaders are, and then I will pray for them.

“5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.”

The reason for Paul to peach and teach. The reason for me type on my phone at at 4:45 in the morning. Jesus loves us, and he died to forgive all of our errors, all our mistakes. Jesus loves me, peter, now you say it, Jesus loves me, ______. It’s true. Jesus loves you.

Next Paul requests that women dress modestly.

Then he says something difficult to understand. “11 A woman[a] should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

The denomination I attend was founded by a woman, Aimee Semple McPherson. Our denomination ordains women. We don’t take this passage literally, we assume it was a cultural thing. It’s there so I quoted it. Don’t let what could be controversial side track the main message.

Jesus loves us and died for us. Male or female, tell the world about Jesus.

Chapter 3

1 Timothy 3

Overseers (Pastors) and deacons qualifications.

“3 Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full[a] respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7 He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.”

The online version that I’ve been using is just a little different than the one that I have been reading. My hard copy says “the husband of but one wife” where this one says “faithful to his wife”. Same idea, being faithful.

Men this is a gold standard list. Orderliness, a life of order and self control. A man who has himself under control. A man who can bring order and control to a system prone to disorder and chaos, his family. It’s not by might or power or vocal volume. It’s by a heart and mind lead and empowered by the Holy Spirit. God in my head and in my heart can bring order first to me then help show, guide and direct those around me to what God has shown me in his word. It is so much easier to read and write about than to do it. Husbands and Fathers, this is the list we are to aspire to. It won’t be easy but that’s why God has called us specifically to the wife and family that we have. We are the specific men for our specific families.

Men, We may not ever lead a church but we are given the opportunity to lead our families. It won’t be by grit or self determination it will be by humbly submitting ourselves to God and being servant leaders in our own homes.

Men the call on us is to pastor our families. Are we up for the challenge? What if our family is a basket case? The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is today. The same goes for pastoring our families. We can only use the second best time, today. Give God our past and present and see what will grow in our future.

Chapter 4

1 Timothy 4

The food network got this one right; All food is good. (Even beets?) no food is on the naughty list. And speaking of naughty, marriage isn’t naughty, it is good. I would add that for me it has been very good.

“3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

There are things we should avoid.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

And here is the thing to not forget, the key, the center of the message, the reason for it all, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.”

Jesus saves. Jesus has forgiven us. Jesus wants to restore us. Restore the broken parts, the parts that hurt us. He wants to heal us from the inside out. When I think about restoring I think about my old truck Rusty and what all I’ve done to get him drive able, useful. A labor, a labor of love. The goal has never been to make him glisten but to make him road worthy. To get him back in service. In many people’s eyes he was just an old carcass, a pile of junk, a waste of space but I saw what he was meant to be. (https://www.facebook.com/Rustys-Page-532927836827647/ )

Some of us feel that way, like a pile of junk but God sees us through eyes of a loving Father who knows our potential. No one knows better the capability of a thing than the designer/architect/craftsman. I am
Limited in my skills, abilities and resources for Rusty. God is not limited in any way with us. He knows what we can be and has the skills and resources to make us just that.

Chapter 5

1Timothy 5

Practical advice for pastors.

Our pastor will often say this to our congregation, “when you’re here, you are family”.

Paul says pretty much the same thing, ” Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

We are a family. Family takes care of our own.

“3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

There were no programs or institutions for the care of the less fortunate. It was all done person to person. I guess that’s not completely true. There was the “list”. Widows who were over 60 and had no family but who were still active in their faith doing good could be put on a support list.

Paul is very practical and realistic here. He notes that younger women will want to remarry, that idle people tend toward gossip and being busybodies. My mom’s favorite saying was “idle hands are the devils playground”. I had at least 4 after school jobs. And yet still I found time to get into mischief.

More advice; if we have a widow in our family we should take ownership of their care, pay your pastor well, don’t believe every accusation that you hear, require witnesses, if an elder sins rebuke them publicly, don’t show favoritism, don’t be hasty to advance people in the church, wine occasionally is good, we are being watched, our sins and our good deeds are being noted, by God and by those around us.

Long chapter. Jesus loves us and cares about the needs of our lives. We need to help others when we can and be open to receive help when we need it. To be The church, we need to act as Jesus with skin on.

Chapter 6

1 Timothy 6

“6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare[a] of their slaves.”

Slavery was a reality, just part of life. If a person was enslaved and a believer, they should be the best slave possible. Respect their master, even more if the master is a believer. I am not a slave but I still have people in authority over me. My direct boss is a Christian. I need to respect him and do my best for him and for Jesus who is watching us both.

And speaking of making money:
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 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. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

Money is a reality. We need it to do what we have to do. Even good and Godly activities take money. Money is not the end, it’s a means to an end. For about $15 we can provide a kid whose parents are in jail a Christmas present through Angel Tree. For $30 a month we can support an impoverished kid in a 3rd world country through compassion international. There is Samaritans Purse and shoebox gift program. There is no end to the needs of people. There are people who need help right where we live. Make as much money as we can not so that we have more but so we can give more.

“17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

If I could have a sign off I think this next quote would be it.
“11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.”

Yes! Amen.

Loving extravagantly

Extravagance. Not holding back anything. Using all I have with no reserve. Laying it all out. Its is a beautiful thing. Some people love extravagantly.

Jesus had friends who did, who loved extravagantly. One friend who did this was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. We read about her extravagant love in Matthew 26. There are parallel passages in John 12 and Mark 14.

Jesus is at a Party. Its catered by Martha, and attended by Lazarus, then Mary enters the story: Matthew 26:6-13 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”’

I want to be more like Mary. I want to love Jesus in an extravagant way, to give my best and give it all without reserve.

Why? Because he gave his all for me. He gave his life for me dying on the cross. He rose again triumphant over death. he didn’t shrink back or avoid, try to veer around the sacrificial death he needed to die to pay for my sin, for our sin.

Jesus loves us extravagantly.

I want to do that. To be as demonstrative and open and extravagant but i fail. Jesus loves me extravagantly even when I fail to return his love. He just loves me. He just loves us.

How can I respond today? How will you respond today?

So this is how we die

Luke 14

So this is how I die.

That thought went through our heads a couple of different times while we were in Italy. One night we chose to walk back to our hotel rather than inconvenience our hosts (or wait for the very social very inter relational Italians to finish talking with everyone in the room). The way back walking was different than the way there driving. We had to walk down an unlit path past a broken down abandoned factory. We both were thinking that that was the night we die. But we didn’t.

“The Cost of Being a Disciple

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

The cost of following Jesus, give up every thing and every one Carry with you what will be your death. That is not a motivational speech. That is not a recruiters rhetoric.

I’m not sure why Jesus said “hate”. Could it be that he was setting the scale of our love for him? Like “you know the way that you feel towards your family? Well you need to love me so much that that feels like hate in comparison to how much your love overflows for me”.

Do I live for Jesus? Have I set him as my top priority. Do I love him “more than these?” Jn 21-15. More than my family? Am I living for him in such a way that I’m ready to die for him? Am I “all in”?

While we were, he did…

He knew.

He knew how and when.

He knew and did it anyway. Jesus how and when he would die and yet he willingly stayed on the path that would lead to his execution.

“Matthew 26:1-5 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.”’

If we Think of the worst person that we know, (most of the time, in my mind that is me). Remember all the wrong things they’ve done. Now imagine Jesus walking towards Jerusalem and his death looking through time at this person and saying, “I know what you have done and will do. I forgive you, I will die in your place”. That is what is going on here as Jesus continues down this road.

Paul said it so well in his letter to the believers in Rome.

Romans 5:6-11 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”

It’s Monday morning. Weekends hold many things for us, sometimes it’s a big box of regrets.

How about starting out this week trading boxes, trading a box of regrets for lifetime of forgiveness? Jesus knew what we’d be doing and died to forgive us anyway. He loves us that much.

Today is is good day to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a request away.

Why worry?

How big is God?

Is he bigger than my worries?

Do Not Worry

12:22-31pp — Mt 6:25-33

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life ? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?

One of my worries just became a reality. My hours are getting cut. The juicy money stuffed hours of overtime.

My question in a time of change is not will he provide for us but what have I added to my life that is extra and burdensome? What will have to go? God has always provided for our family.

Like the families that came out west on the wagon trains who realized that their precious stuff that they thought they needed was just a burden. The lighter the load the easier the journey. I don’t think God is as enamored with my stuff as I am. Hmmm.

Stay tuned to see what God will do.

(Update: our hours were cut back for short time but then we went back to our regular 50+ hour weeks. Now management is talking about cutbacks again. God has continued to bless and provide for us and we are slowly trying to shrink our load of debt.)

What is a weed?

Wikipedia says this about weeds. “A weed is a plant considered undesirable in a particular situation, “a plant in the wrong place”. Examples commonly are plants unwanted in human-controlled settings, such as farm fields, gardens, lawns, and parks. Taxonomically, the term “weed” has no botanical significance, because a plant that is a weed in one context is not a weed when growing in a situation where it is in fact wanted, and where one species of plant is a valuable crop plant, another species in the same genus might be a serious weed, such as a wild bramble growing among cultivated loganberries.”

The picture is of a a group of baby quaking aspens. We replanted a volunteer and now the first tree wants to start a family. I have been just sniping off the sprouts but in two Weeks or so I just have to do it again.

Sometimes sin in my life is like this. Its source is a root buried in my heart and every time it gets a chance it sprouts up. I can spend time sniping off the tops or I can dig down and get to the roots and yank it out by the source.

The writer of Hebrews mentions this while talking about how God disciplines us.

“Hebrews 12:9-16 Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. ”

Some things I deal with have origins in my childhood, some go back generations in my family. Chopping at the tops doesn’t kill these. I have to dig down to the root of the issue.