The meaning of the Hebrew names for these four men all affirmed God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace for His people. But the new names they were given by the Babylonian chief official sought to undermine and degrade this. For their new names were deliberately drawn from the Babylonian false religions, gods and idols, and erased any trace of God from them. Even today we have the challenge of believing what God calls us vs what the world calls us. The world will call us fat, dumb, ugly, stupid and old….while the Lord will call us loved, free, healed, whole, and His. The world is all about demeaning and humiliating…while God is all about lifting us up. So just remember this…no matter what the world calls you…the Lord named you first, and that name is all that matters.
The Nation of Israel was enjoying a time of prosperity…but with this great prosperity came great division between the rich and poor. And because of it, the people became self-reliant, prideful, and walked away from God. Amos’s message to the people was that of denouncing their privileged life-style that exploited the poor, and calling them to repentance. He warned them of the consequences of their complacency in not doing what was morally right and just for all. Amos was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah who wrote in Isaiah 1:17, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
Great and mighty is Your name, O Lord, for Your magnificent glory is on display for all to see. We thank you today for Your love and mercy…and praise You for all You’ve done for us. We lift Your name on high, for only You rule and reign over heaven and earth. Amen.
Every culture has its myths and old wives’ tales. They contain bits of folklore, unverified claims, and superstitions…and you probably could think of a few right now! . But here in I Timothy, the Apostle Paul is comparing these deceptive fables to the promises of God. He tells Timothy to avoid all forms of this godless chatter. For just like it takes physical exercise to make our bodies strong…he writes that we need to train or discipline our minds to reject the deception of fairy tales, myths, and old wives’ tales…and rather focus on the true promises of God, which have eternal benefits.
In these verses the Apostle Paul is encouraging the Church in Corinth to not give up in doing the Lord’s work, no matter how unimportant it may seem. Even today in this goal oriented world, we want anything we do for the Lord to have measurable outcomes. So if we aren’t achieving specific concrete results, we feel that our work is insignificant. But Paul addresses this notion earlier in his letter when he writes, ” What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (I Corinthians 3: 5-6) We need to realize that God’s purpose is in the process not in His final goal. And each one of us have a unique role to play in this process. For nothing we’ll ever do in the name of the Lord is futile or pointless….and no matter how big or small the task, will it ever be a waste of time when it comes to Kingdom work. For as long as we are obedient and persevere in the race the Lord has laid out before us, we will be victorious.
Paul had not been with the Believers of the Church in Corinth for about three years. But he had gotten wind of the abuses that were happening concerning the Lord’s Supper…or if you will, Holy Communion or the Eucharist. Here he was instructing them to stop and soberly scrutinize and determine whether they were worthy of taking Communion…before they partook. When something becomes so ritualistic and automatic, we tend to perform it without thinking…going through the motions without allowing it to impact us. We are to examine ourselves first, before we participate…for who better to ascertain our own spiritual condition than us? And don’t worry, what you choose to ignore…the Holy Spirit will be faithful to point it out!
God’s gracious gift of salvation is for everyone…for He wants all to be saved.( I Timothy 2:4) But we shouldn’t take His slowness in judgement as a sign of weakness, indecision, or wavering…but rather as long-suffering. For it’s only by God’s kindness, tolerance, and patience is He willing to give all of us the time to change our minds and repent.
I was blessed enough in my early Christian walk to have a lovely older lady come into my life. Joyce came up along side, took my arm, and together we navigated what being a Christian meant. Was she perfect with a perfect family? No, in fact, they had experienced many upheavals in their marriage. But what I saw in her was a God-centered life, marriage, and family, and that gave me hope that God could work in me. Through her example, Joyce guided, coached, and shepherded me on this brand new journey called Christianity. She was my mentor…and I will always admire her firm conviction, her consistent faith, and her unchanging trust in God.
Are your prayers more of a formula of repetitious words from memory…often without paying attention to what you’re actually saying? Have they become just a fixed routine of the same prayers repeated over and over again? Congratulations, you have the gift of religious gab! But this isn’t how the Lord wants you to communicate with Him. It isn’t the quantity or intensity of your prayers that He desires. Rather, it’s the heart-felt, getting real before the Lord, quality He wants.
The Greek word here for “hate” doesn’t mean we must despise our family in order to follow Jesus. What it just means is that we love them less than we love God. It’s called being set apart. So to this, we are to separate ourselves “morally” from the world view and others that don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. In Isaiah 52:11, God tells us to, “Come out from them (the world) and be separate.” To be set apart for Christ means that we have our priorities correct…God is first, our family is second, the world is third. For when you make God the most significant person in you life, you are less likely to allow compromise to creep in. And when God is your everything, you are much better equipped to love those around you more effectively.