Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

We have weekly blogs that are written based on our congregational bible reading. These are a great teaching tool to supplement our understanding of the readings. Check out this page weekly to read the latest blogs!

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Seek the Good of Others

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

BIBLE READING: Hebrews 13:1–3; 2 Timothy 1:16–18; Acts 16:13–15; Acts 2:42–47; Acts 4:32–35

“May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome the searched for me earnestly and found me” (2 Timothy 1.16-17)

Paul wrote 2 Timothy from a prison cell. It was a difficult time for Paul, made more difficult by trusted friends who abandoned him in his hour of need (2 Timothy 1.15). In stark contrast to them was Onesiphorus, who went out of his way to track Paul down and visit him in prison.

We considered the import of faithfulness to one another last week, and this brief memoir demonstrates that point. Paul was not a superhero of faith. Even he felt burdened to the point of despair at times (2 Corinthians 1.8) because his ministry was demanding and discouraging. But in this moment he was refreshed because Onesiphorus made extraordinary efforts to find and encourage him. For all that Paul did, it was never on his own. In most letters, Paul listed the names of brethren who came to him and served alongside him. Their names are not for their glory but emphasize the power of faithfulness to the glory of God.

Seeking the good of others is a baseline of the gospel and the backbone of our fellowship. After all, God was not content to simply see us in our sad condition, but came to us, seeking and saving those who are lost (John 1.14; Luke 19.10). In turn, we must not be content to know that others have difficult situations; we must learn to seek the good of others as part of our work of faith.

The easiest way to participate in this is to order your life to be with others. The early church was always together, allowing for needs to be observed and met (see Acts 2.42-47; 4.32-35). It promoted transparency and awareness of personal circumstances. It allowed for service to be observed and modeled in tangible ways in the body. In our individualistic culture, the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” easily proves true. When we’re not involved and present in each other’s lives, love grows cold. People fall through the cracks. Wounds silently fester in hearts. Faith becomes weak and fragile. This is not just true for the outliers. This happens to those who are active teaching classes, organizing events, and leading in public ways. This happens even to those who seem to be pillars of faith because we live in difficult days (2 Timothy 3.1-ff). The work of encouragement is always needs and is work we all can do, but it must be intentional.

Let us learn to be like Onesiphorus and seek the good of others. Who knows who you might refresh simply by making the effort to be there for someone else.

Faithful To One Another

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

BIBLE READING: Romans 12.10; Colossians 1.3-8; 4.12-13; Philippians 2.19-23; Philippians 2.25-30; Romans 16.3-16

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.” (Colossians 4.12-13)

Epaphras is mentioned briefly 3 times in Paul’s writing (Colossians 1.7; 4.12; Philemon 1.23). He is probably the one who shared the gospel and helped start the church in Colossae (Colossians 1.6-7). However, it is not his accomplishments but the quality of his person to which we are drawn. The descriptions of Epaphras include “our dear fellow servant,” “a servant of Christ Jesus,” “always wrestling in prayer,” and “working hard.” This brief sketch reveals more than just a motivated worker. Epaphras demonstrated a deep care for those in whom he had invested spiritually. In short, Paul describes him as “a faithful minister of Christ” (Colossians 1.7).

Faithfulness is an obvious quality we must have; but have you thought about what that looks like towards others? Timothy showed his proven worth with a selfless “others first” attitude in his work (Philippians 2.19-21). He served Paul faithfully as though a son to a father (Philippians 2.22). Many others became as family to Paul in their hospitality and encouragement (Romans 16.13). Epaphroditus nearly died of illness to complete the work of Christ for the brethren (Philippians 2.25-20). Prisca and Aquilla risked their necks for Paul’s life and the church (Romans 16.3-4). I’m not saying that we must always pursue such extreme measures, but we must develop a more committed resolve to love and serve one another. For all the things we can do for the kingdom, this is a key and critical work we all can do. After all, Jesus said we would be known by our love for one another (John 13.35).

I want to draw our attention to 2 key expressions made of Epaphras that ought to motivate our faithfulness towards one another:

  • “[He is] always struggling on behalf of you in his prayers” (Colossians 4.12). He had an intensity, concern and even struggle for his brethren daily in his prayer life. I imagine his efforts carried through even beyond his prayer time and weighed heavy in his mind. His struggle moved him to actions that brought other believers together in love. When was the last time you struggled on behalf of others and not just yourself? Would your prayers be described as selfish or selfless?
  • “He has worked hard for you” (Colossians 4.13). Think about what this looked like. Obviously, this man wasn’t a casual churchgoer who simply filled a pew. He did things that were difficult with the intention of serving the brethren. Perhaps he attended to them in their needs. Perhaps he had hard conversations. Perhaps he sacrificed his personal time to invest in the needs of others. Whatever he did, it was evident to Paul and others.

You don’t have to have a title to work hard for others (see Mary in Romans 16.6). You just have to be committed to faithfulness. So let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10.24) by being more faithful to one another.

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12.10

Indispensable to the Work

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

BIBLE READING: Philippians 4.10-19; 3 John 5-8; Luke 8.1-3; Galatians 6.6-10; 2 Corinthians 8-9

The tongue and lips get a lot of credit for our ability to speak. But did you know it can over 100 muscles in the face to form a single word? Most of these muscles act as a support system, allowing air to flow properly, vibration to occur, and the proper word to be formed by the time it reaches the mouth. Many of us will probably never learn the names of these muscles, but if they don’t exist and execute their role properly, we would never be able to speak.

The human body is a powerful witness to God’s design for us as the body of Christ. As Paul would say, “Though [we are] many, [we] are one body…” (1 Corinthians 12.12). Though some members are less prominent in their work, like the hundreds of muscles in the face, they are indispensable to the ultimate function of the body (see 1 Corinthians 12.21-25).

As I have prepared for my next trip to Ethiopia, I have seen this in action. Simply put I cannot accomplish this work alone. There are many financial and logistical considerations. The preparation requires significant mental exertion and forethought. I’m often overwhelmed and anxious about what will be. But time and again my insufficiencies are supported by members of the body. I have zero financial needs, thanks to many of you. Out of nowhere I have received calls and texts of encouragement. I may be the one going, but it is the love of the church, the prayers of the saints, and the strength God supplies that makes the work successful. There are many people and families whose names may never be known to the brethren in Ethiopia, but whose contributions are indispensable to the work that will be accomplished.

This is exactly what our bible reading this week describes, and it is critical to the body. Those who are talented in one area are often deficient in another. It is how God composed the body so that no one can boast in themselves. We must continue to have a mind to share, support and serve the body with our talents and resources. As we do this, we learn the ultimate gift God has given to each of us: to love as he loves.

As we consider the work that we all can do, do not minimize the import of a supporting role. Perhaps the most needed work in the body is for you to support someone else in their role. Where would Paul be had it not been for the efforts of Barnabas (see Acts 9.26-30, 11.19-26)? Sometimes our work is a word of encouragement to those laboring among us. Sometimes it is a commitment to pray for them. Sometimes a supporting role means you financially meet the needs or serve other members in some needed way. Sometimes it just means you make yourself available when the time arises.

Speaking from experience like Paul, it is a joy to experience the support and love of others (see Philippians 4.10-19). But more importantly, it is an honor to serve alongside you in the body of Christ and see how together we accomplish the work he has called for us to do, together.

Generous to the Poor

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

BIBLE READING: 1 John 3:16–18; James 1:26–27; James 2:14–17; 1 Timothy 6:8–10; 1 Timothy 6:17–19; Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 21:13

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19.17)

There is an unmistakable calling in Scripture to serve the poor, needy and helpless. Under the old covenant this meant foregoing extra profits to allow the marginalized opportunity (see Leviticus 19.9-10; Deuteronomy 24.19-22). God expected a concerted effort to be made to both give and provide for needs in the community. While not so explicitly defined for us, there is an evident need to sacrifice and sell to supply the needs of others (see Matthew 19.21; 1 John 3.18). These expectations often assault our identity and security in the world; But that’s what faith does. It is not rituals alone that please God but a change of heart that invests in the needs of others.

In my experience, we tend towards mere talk that may sound right but does not produce action. This is worthless (James 1.26) and proves our faith is dead (James 2.17). As John would say, “let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth” (1 John 3.18).

Now, there are practical reasons for serving the poor. Without this focus we easily become self-centered, proud and discontent. We become more deeply rooted in present comforts than eternal glory. These are snares that can destroy and ruin our faith (1 Timothy 6.9). Specifically, “the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6.10). Culturally, wealth creates distinction and develops pride. But God expects us to see it as a gift and tool for ministry. We must not be lulled by our standard of living and ignore those in need. The calling of God is to be those who share and help as we are able, and sometimes even beyond that (see 2 Corinthians 8.3-ff). We must be “rich in good works, generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6.18).

More importantly, this calling is rooted in God’s actions towards us. As John stated, “…if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3.17). Giving teaches us the love of God. Throughout history God has acted on behalf of the weak and helpless, the poor and needy. The gospel message is “that while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for us” (Romans 5.6). When Christ was on earth, he did not sit in ivory palaces, but ate with, touched and served those in need. As Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Luke 5.31).

While the ultimate goal is always salvation through obedience to Jesus, our work of ministry must involve giving to those in need. Let’s not be stingy or thoughtless with our resources, but open our eyes and give, like God has given to us. In doing so, we are “storing up treasure for [ourselves] as a good foundation for the future, so that [we] may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Timothy 6.19).

Intergenerational Relationships

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

BIBLE READING: Titus 2.2-6; Ephesians 6.4; 2 Timothy 1.5; 3.14-15; 1 Timothy 5.3-8; Acts 16.1-3

God’s design is for us to find strength from the faith of other believers. This point is obvious. However, I have observed that many have a narrow focus when it comes to these relationships. Are there people my age at the church? Does it have children? Are there people who share my interests? These factors can certainly impact our lives of faith. But to only think of the church from a social standpoint can be detrimental. Our peers often lack the perspective necessary to help us make wise choices.

Consider Rehoboam (1 Kings 12). When he became king, he sought counsel from older men, but rejected it in favor of his peer’s advice (1 Kings 12.6-11). His kingdom soon divided found itself on the brink of war (1Kings 12.16-17). Like him, our peers might make sense to us, but they lack life experience. Conversely, consider the religious leaders in Jesus’ day. They were so entrenched in their collective thinking they were unable and unwilling to consider the truth about Jesus (consider John 7.45-52). We too must be careful not to fix our opinions or dismiss the clarity of those different than us.

To balance these challenges, the scriptures reveal the import and obligation to have intergenerational relationships. The older must teach the younger (Titus 2.2-6) – why? Through life experience and faith, they have learned how to control their passions, rightly apply God’s word, and behave properly in the roles God has assigned. This command implies intentional effort to reach out to the younger and lead them in the ways of faith. This was the saving grace of my faith. In my foolish years, older men reached out, saying pointed and/or encouraging words that brought conviction and direction my peers didn’t have. In fact, many of my peers were doing the same dumb things as me! You may not be able to do something seen as “great”, but perhaps you are the one who grounds the faith of someone that will (consider 2 Timothy 1.5; 3.15).

Conversely, the younger can also teach the older. Paul encouraged Timothy, “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4.12). The younger often have clarity, zeal and enthusiasm that the older have lost through the years. “Become like children” Jesus would say (Matthew 18.3). Children aren’t just the future—they are a model of innocence and trust. They speak plainly and often without pretense. We must learn to become like them in our thinking. We must learn to release control of so many things and trust God with the things we cannot control.

When faithfully practiced, we all benefit from intergenerational relationships. The church becomes vibrant and grounded because we learn to appreciate the value we all bring. This is the root of humility: understanding my role is to serve the body with my gifts and appreciating what every joint supplies (1 Corinthians 12.12-27; Ephesians 4.16). Developing intergenerational relationships is work that we all can do and will strengthen the body today and for years to come.

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