1 Timothy 4.7-10 – Temporal or Eternal

Lots of people nowadays seem to put energy and effort into things that have no eternal benefit, don’t they. 

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 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.

Having talked of the witness given by God’s people through the centrality of the Word, today Paul talks about the other side of the coin, have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.

Paul then taps into the culture of the day and says, look, stop worrying so much about how you look, how strong you are, for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

For us now, this could be so many things. People are so concerned with and caught up in things that have no eternal value. This could be the politics of the day, the latest tv/movie release, the favored sports team, the new relationship, the new car, the new house…

Let’s be clear, none of those things are inherently sinful, but when they take over and become the number one concern, priority, and passion in our lives, that’s wrong.

Rather than working towards these temporal treasures, we ought to be focused on the eternal reward that is the object of our hope, which is set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe

Amos 5.25-27 – You can have it all if you like

When I was younger, there was a Welsh band called the Stereophonics that I saw live a couple of times. One of their more light-hearted songs was called ‘I Wouldn’t Believe Your Radio’. It was, I think, about the trappings of modern society, namely buying things on credit that we simply don’t need. The chorus went like this,

So you can have it all if you like, you can have it all if you like.

You can have it all if you like, you can have it all if you like, and you can pay for it the rest of your life.

This is very similar to what we see today in Amos, too,

25 “Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness,

O house of Israel?

26 You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god

–your images that you made for yourselves,

27 and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”

says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.

Although Israel still offered sacrifices to God whilst in the wilderness (v.25), they also carried along with them their pagan deities picked up whilst in Egypt (v.26). They are literally wanting their cake, and to eat it too. They want it all. They want to honour God and offer sacrifices to Him (good), but they also want to cling on to paganism and the trappings of their former way of life (bad).

As with the Stereophonics, God’s people seem to want to have it all, but as we see, they will pay for it for what would be, for some of them, the rest of their lives (v.27).

The exile and captivity are surely not what God wants us to have, and are surely not what we want, either. Rather than trying to have our cake and eat it, then paying for it for the rest of our lives, or even with our lives, let us have what God wants for us, let us have it all; life defined by Jesus crucified, life abundant, life eternal.

To have all this, we don’t need to pay for it for the rest of our lives, because Jesus paid for it with His life.

So, yes, we can have it all if we like.

We can either have all that Jesus offers, or all that the world offers.

One was paid for with His life, and the other we will pay for the rest of our lives.

Amos 3.7-11 – What if it’s not central?

Yesterday we saw that the cross of Christ should be central to the life of a believer; everything passes through it, big or small, just like the main train station of a European city (if you didn’t read yesterday’s devotional, you can do here).

Today Amos continues his detail of the guilt and punishment of Israel, both of which are made worse due to the fact that they were God’s chosen people, they only had the Lord known of all the families of the earth.

Often when we read of the judgement of God against sin we think,

‘Well, didn’t they see it coming?

Didn’t they have a chance to repent?

That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it, just judging them without any warning…’.

Well, if we look at what Amos is saying, we see this is not the case;

7 “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

8 The lion has roared; who will not fear?

The Lord GOD has spoken; who can but prophesy?”

So people have had time and opportunity to turn back to God, He has spoken to His people through His prophets, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.

In vv.9-10 we see nations gathered to witness what is going to happen, told to us in v.11,

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:

“An adversary shall surround the land and bring down your defenses from you, and your strongholds shall be plundered.”

So, because the wonderful ways that God had worked amongst them were not being held as central to the lives of these people, because they were oppressing others (v.10), and because they have had ample warning to turn and repent (vv.7-8), now there will be judgement (v.11). This did actually happen, David Guzik writes,

“This was fulfilled in the Assyrian invasion of Israel, less than 30 years after Amos made this prophecy. For ten years, Israel was a subject state in the Assyrian Empire.”

The point is this; the Exodus was supposed to be central to Israel as a time when they had seen God’s miraculous, marvellous, merciful abilities in action, but they had drifted away into living lives dictated by the flesh.

For us, the cross of Christ should be central and should we drift away into living lives governed by the flesh, how much worse will the judgement be for those of us who reject the ultimate sacrifice made by God Himself, if those who rejected His saving powers all those years ago were taken away into slavery?

Surely, then, all the more reason to keep the cross of Christ, the finished work accomplished there, the resurrection and ascension that followed, the promise of His coming again…all the more reason to keep the cross of Christ central to our lives.

Revelation 16.1-7 – Which road are we on?

Chapter 16 starts with the voice of God Himself starting the beginning of the end, ‘“Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”’ We know it is the voice of God because this voice comes from the temple, and chapter 15 ended with the words no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished. So, nobody is allowed in, but a voice comes from within authoritatively announcing the wrath of God is to be poured out. The only logical conclusion is that this is God Himself.

1 Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels,

“Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”

2 So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.

3 The second angel poured out his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing died that was in the sea.

4 The third angel poured out his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood.

5 And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,

“Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,

for you brought these judgments.

6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,

and you have given them blood to drink.

It is what they deserve!”

7 And I heard the altar saying,

“Yes, Lord God the Almighty,

true and just are your judgments!”

Ironically, those who worshiped the beast and bore his image are to be marked by God, too, but not in the way those faithful saints have been. We read that those who had taken the mark of the beast now bear harmful and painful sores…not the kind of mark we want, is it.

Two more angels pour out their bowls, into the sea and the rivers respectively and both cause death and destruction. This mirrors the image given to us in chapter 8, verses 8-11; God judging the fallen earth by impacting the sea and the freshwater sources. Before those chastisements were aimed at bringing people to God, to affect repentance. Here, punishment for not doing so before Jesus’ imminent return…and it is imminent (both in this book and in life!).

So, how can this be just and holy? How can bringing judgement on rebellious people be pure?

For God to be so just, holy, pure, and perfect, He cannot accept sin, rebellion, evil. If He did, He wouldn’t be just, holy, pure, and perfect, would He? He created and sustains life on earth and as Sovereign creator is free to tell His creation how things should be done, no? Surely it is not up to us to dictate to our maker how things should be? (Isaiah 45.9).

On a basic level, this all comes down to the choices we make; do we choose God’s path, or do we choose our own? Do we seek my will to be done, or thy will be done? Choices. The people we read of here have made choices to do their own will again, and again, and again…

So, God has to act on this prolonged rebellion against Him and His ways, but, He is patient, He is kind, He is long suffering, He is love, He wishes that none should perish but that everyone call on the name of Jesus and be saved unto eternal life.

And, to be fair, there have been plenty of warnings along the way. Like a road that falls into a cliff up ahead, God has laid out signs, sent workers to warn people, maybe even diverted the road a couple of times, but yet we still find our way back onto the road that disappears.

Friends, let us do our best to stay on God’s road, let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us when we cannot see the road, and let us take comfort and encouragement from the fact that Jesus has walked this road before us, removed all the obstacles, and waits at the end of the road for us.