cccdailybiblereading

A daily encouragement to read the Bible with others from Christ Community Church, Conway.

Month: October, 2013

Bible Reading Day 304

Day 304: October 31 (2 Timothy 4)

Good morning!

Paul concludes his letter to Timothy with exhortations that all of us would do well to heed. Advice such as “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.” Also “keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”

These wise words speak to every one of us, church leader or not, urging us to remember that we are here on earth for the sake of the Kingdom of God, not to advance our own career, comfort, or reputation.

Paul knows he is nearing the end of his own race, and that a prize awaits him – the crown of righteousness each of us will receive when we meet Jesus face to face.

Then, to reinforce that this is not a race we run alone, Paul concludes with personal greetings that show us what a large community of believers he leads. We all need others around us, and prioritizing the Good News is the best way to gather them!

Have a great day!

Mark.

Bible Reading Day 303

Day 303: October 30 (2 Timothy 3)

Good morning !

Paul’s advice to Timothy goes a step further today, in chapter 3. He explains the characteristics of people in the last days (before Jesus returns). The list makes for familiar (and depressing) reading! Many, if not all, of these characteristics are rampant in our society today.

Paul charges Timothy to be strong in his faith, and emulate his mentor. Which leads to the question – who do you follow? I don’t mean on Twitter or Facebook, I mean who is an example to you? Timothy had Paul; each of us has those we are following in the faith. Knowing who those people are will help us focus on what God is doing in our lives.

As Paul says in verse 14: “But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.”

And as we move toward having only 60 days of Bible readings remaining in the current plan, verses 16 and 17 are particularly appropriate for us today: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

Let the Word work in you and through you today.

Have a great day!

Mark.

Bible Reading Day 302

Day 302: October 29 (2 Timothy 2)

Good morning !

Thank you to those who have recently mentioned how they enjoy these emails. I’m glad they are an encouragement!

Today we read chapter 2 of 2 Timothy. Paul continues to encourage Timothy to be strong in the faith, to avoid arguments and controversies over non-central issues, and to teach others to follow the heart of the gospel: Jesus died for our sins and God raised Him from the dead.

It is so much easier to keep to what John Wimber used to describe as the “main and plain truths” of our faith. These are the facts God uses to draw others to Christ, and these are the primary reason Jesus came.

Anyone who serves God by declaring these truths must be gentle, kind, and patient. Then others can receive what we have to say.

Which of these verses speaks to your life today?

Have a great day!

Mark.

Bible Reading Day 301

Day 301: October 28 (2 Timothy 1)

Good morning!

Today we move on to Paul’s second letter to his son in the faith, Timothy. This letter is later, and more personal, than the first, and was probably written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. There are some similarities in language with the letters Paul wrote from prison.

Paul urges Timothy not to be timid, but to be strong in his faith. He also encourages him to testify for the Lord. The strength Timothy needs comes from the Lord.

Paul also reminds Timothy of his own calling as an apostle, and the consequences of that (suffering, imprisonment, and rejection). He urges Timothy not to be ashamed of his spiritual father; that God is pleased with them both, even though they face opposition and others have abandoned them.

Paul’s perspective is clearly shaped both by his conversion experience, and his certainty that Jesus is coming back for his followers. Perhaps the most famous verse of chapter 1 (among many) is verse 12: “I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.”

As you read today, let Paul’s encouragements to Timothy also encourage you; and, standing firm in your faith, testify to the good news of Jesus whenever He gives you opportunity.

Have a great day!

Mark.

Bible Reading Day 300

Day 300: October 27 (1 Timothy 6)

Good morning !

Day 300: Well done for making it this far!

Today, in chapter 6, Paul instructs Timothy about true godliness. The principles he has outlined so far in this letter are “wholesome teachings” that “promote a godly life.”

Paul contrasts this with those who like to make up complex teachings designed to line their own pockets. Timothy will do well to stay away from that trap! Riches are attractive, but Paul counsels that “true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”

The final advice to Timothy is to flee from evil, fight for God’s good, and teach others to do the same.

As you read the closing section of the letter, how does Paul’s advice speak to your heart today?

Have a great day!

Mark.

Bible Reading Day 299

Day 299: October 26 (1 Timothy 5)
Good morning !
I hope the email subject lines have not been too confusing recently – sometimes when I copy the header to the subject it sends that way, and sometimes it reverts to the previous day. I haven’t worked out why yet!
Anyway – well done for reading this far – tomorrow marks Day 300, and only 60 more to go!
Today we reach chapter 5 of 1 Timothy. Here Paul gives advice to Timothy about widows (who would have been in great trouble in those days with no means of income or support), and about elders in the church.
It is tempting to read this chapter thinking it has little or nothing to do with you, but as you read, look for godly principles that you can apply in other spheres of life.
Paul concludes “the good deeds of some people are obvious.” What good deeds has God prepared for you to walk in today?
Have a great day!
Mark.

Bible Reading Day 298

Day 298: October 25 (1 Timothy 4)

Good morning !

In chapter 4, Paul warns Timothy about false teachers, who in this case were contradicting the word of God by insisting on certain food rules, and teaching against marriage. Neither teaching stood the test of scriptural background so Paul counsels Timothy to have nothing to do with these liars.

He then goes on to instruct Timothy about being a good servant of Jesus: “Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them.”

The foundation of all this wisdom is to stay true to what is right. The standard for this is scripture, and the guide is our relationships with those more mature than us (just as Paul was to Timothy). Between these two strong influences there is little chance of missing God’s best for us!

Have a great day!

Mark.

Bible Reading Day 297

Day 297: October 24 (1 Timothy 3)
Good morning !
We continue in chapter 3 with teaching on the role and qualities of elders and deacons. There is more controversy in this chapter, with many English translations continuing the tradition we noted yesterday, of excluding women from leadership. It is true that Paul only refers to men as elders or overseers in this passage, but that is not true elsewhere. Even in this passage, verse 11 is often mistranslated to refer to the wives of deacons; it actually says “likewise the women” (i.e. the deacons who are women – such as Phoebe in Romans 16:1). For more on women in leadership, here is a video of an interview with respected theologian Bishop N.T.Wright. His conclusion: “In the resurrection, there is a radical re-evaluation of the role of women.”
Paul has many practical and wise stipulations for those appointed as elders and deacons, but read them carefully and thoughtfully – you may be surprised occasionally, where tradition or presumption differs from what is actually written!
Paul concludes with a quote from a worship song of the time, about the truth of the faith. Jesus is the truth, and today He wants to plant truth in each of our hearts as we read.
Have a great day!
Mark.

Bible Reading Day 296

Day 296: October 23 (1 Timothy 2)
Good morning !
Today we read chapter 2 of 1 Timothy, which is mainly about prayer and worship. Paul gives instruction for orderly worship in the Ephesian church, and portions of the later part of the chapter have been misused by religion (and especially male-dominated religion) to restrict and disenfranchise women in church. I don’t believe this was Paul’s intent (because it is inconsistent with many other instructions and practices recorded in Paul’s ministry.
So take care in reading verses 11-15! If you want to be challenged in the traditional interpretation of these verses, you can find an argument for a typological approach here, input from a reformed perspective here, and a valuable gathering of thought from the original languages here.
Now let’s see what else Paul says: we are to pray for all people, especially those in authority, because God wants everyone saved. Men and women both need to consider their behavior and appearance in worship services to be congruent with God’s desire for everyone to be saved. Behavior or dress that distracts or is likely to be misinterpreted says more about the wearer than God, and should be avoided.
Then the radical part of Paul’s teaching (in a culture where women teachers were basically highly educated prostitutes and the religious reaction was to ban women from even learning). Paul says LET women learn in an atmosphere conducive to learning, don’t let them dominate men (as the Greek women teachers were known to do) and beware of the power of false teaching (as with Eve being deceived by the serpent before the Fall). All good advice, tuned to a specific situation in first-century Greece, and then misunderstood and manipulated for centuries by a male-dominated religious system!
So ladies: please be hungry to learn, and take your rightful place in the church alongside men. Men: be more concerned for truth and the revealing of false doctrine than maintaining the status quo.
And finally, here is a tongue-in-cheek list of “Ten reasons why I believe in women in leadership”, from a friend of mine in England.
Have a great day!
Mark.

Bible Reading Day 295

Day 295: October 22 (1 Timothy 1)

Good morning!

Today we begin the first of the “pastoral epistles” written by Paul to his young colleague Timothy.

Timothy was converted in Lystra and became a companion of Paul on his missionary journeys. This letter is written to encourage and mentor him in his leadership of the church in Ephesus.

Clearly there were those in Ephesus who sought position and influence by virtue of knowledge and clever teaching, yet they dismissed the gospel as too simple and inclusive. Instead they promoted themselves as experts on the Law of Moses despite having little or no actual knowledge of it. Ironically, Paul (whose teaching they rejected) was truly an expert in the Law, who chose instead to preach the power and impact of the gospel!

The reason Paul emphasizes the gospel is that it has the power to save sinners, while the Law is written for the sake of those sinners to make clear for them their sinful choices.

Paul knows about the power of the gospel, because he considers himself the greatest of sinners. His first chapter includes a section of thanksgiving for the freedom from sin Paul has been given.

Paul then instructs Timothy to hold firm to his faith, in light of the prophetic words he has been given, and not violate his conscience as others have done.

As you read today, see how the power of God’s love can touch and change your life, as it did Paul’s (and Timothy’s).

Have a great day!

Mark.