1 Timothy 1.12-17 – Forget The Past

Today we see that no matter who we were, how we were, or where we were, there is nobody that God cannot use.

12 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. 17 To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Paul writes that even though he was the foremost sinner, a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent opponent, he received mercy because this was all done in unbelief. We see that the grace of our Lord is far stronger than sin committed in unbelief. 

Paul is used as a very particular example, that Jesus Christ might display his perfection patience as an example fo those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Remember, this is coming off the back of a section wherein Paul tells Timothy that look, the law came to expose those who are living in sin. Now, he says, those very people are still not beyond the life-saving, life-changing love and grace and mercy of God. 

The same is true for you. 

No matter who you were, no matter how you were, no matter where you were, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. It doesn’t matter to Him what you have done in unbelief, so long as you sincerely acknowledge that it was wrong, make a genuine effort to turn away from it, completely, and commit to living the life He wants you to live from now onwards. 

We all know we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but that is exactly the reason for the Gospel, the Good News, that no matter what happened before, you have a chance now to be judged faithful in the eyes of God through faith in Jesus and to be brought into His service.

What part of your past do you need to forget today? Where do you need to receive mercy and grace today?

1 Timothy 1.1-2 – Grace, mercy, and peace


In 1 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy as a new church leader. Even if the letter is specifically addressed to Timothy, there is still much attention needed by those under his charge.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1.1-2

Paul sets out his credentials and his authority (an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour…). Even if the letter is specifically addressed to Timothy, there is still much attention needed by those under his charge.

Timothy and the church are addressed with grace, with mercy, and with peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord

Churches need grace, mercy, and peace, for sure. Individuals need grace, mercy, and peace too. I read something interesting that mercy is added to Paul’s address only to Timothy and in Titus, the other letter written to a church-leading Pastor. Does that mean only church leaders need mercy? Absolutely not, we all do.

For you and me now, today, the church body we are a part of, both global and local expression is a place to find grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a place where we take our failures, shortcomings, anxieties, doubts, and questions and find them answered in Christ Jesus our Lord through His people. 

The church is also a place that needs your grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. It is full of broken people who need you to come alongside them and show them in the grace, mercy, and peace He offers. 

Why not take a moment and pray and see to whom you can minister today?

Jude 1.22-23 – Is It Ok To Doubt?

Jude has so far told us to be different to those around us, and to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. Today, what do we do in relation to those who are stuck under the false teaching detailed in vv.8-13? What do we do in relation to those who doubt that Jesus Christ leads to eternal life?

22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

There are a couple of things that come out here – one is to have mercy on those who doubt.

Doubt, inherently, isn’t a bad thing. 

Doubt is human and doubt is universal, says Os Guinness. We live in a broken world and to doubt is sadly just a part of life.

Very simply, all that can be believed can be doubted, and it is no surprise then that our faith, the most holy faith that Jude has written about can be doubted. To doubt means to have two minds, and rather than suppress doubt, we should look into the questions we have in our minds. 

Some doubts come from the will – do I want to follow Jesus?

To this, the Bible has a strong response – James 1.6-8.

Some doubts come from the mind – can this be proven?

To this, the Bible has a softer response – Isaiah 1.18.

Here, Jude is talking, it seems, about doubts of the emotion – how do I feel about all of this?

Coming off the back of talking about mercy and love and eternal lifeJude then says have mercy on those who doubt

Psalm 73 also speaks of the response to doubts of the heart.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

So, is it ok to have moments of doubt? Yes.

How do we interact with those facing emotional doubts about their faith? With mercy

Author Charles Hummel said that a stronger faith can emerge through doubt, and that holiness and faith are strengthened in the fires of temptation. 

It’s ok to doubt, it’s not ok to reject, but it’s ok to ask questions, it’s ok not to know all the answers. There is mercy waiting.


Point to ponder – What do I have doubts about?


Prayer – Father, we know we have moments of doubt. We know we want to follow you, and sometimes we have doubts of the mind or the emotions. We know too that when this happens, your loving kindness and mercy are there waiting for us to strengthen our faith, to uphold us, and to show us that our faith is one of steadfast hope. Thank you. Amen. 

Jude 1.20-21 – We Must

Hot off the heels of the kind of criticism and challenge believers are to expect, and the kind of person this will come from, today Jude hits us with another contrast.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Straight away we see the contrast, don’t we, but you, beloved. There needs to be a marked difference in your life when compared to the lives of those around you who are not walking with the Lord, who don’t know Jesus, who don’t believe that God raised Him from the dead. This will be our actions, and maybe even more importantly, our reactions. 

Jude tells us to keep yourselves in the love of God, to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life, and we do this by building ourselves up in your most holy faith and by praying in the Holy Spirit. 

There is such a personal element to this short sentence, isn’t there. David Guzik writes on this, 

“…we are responsible for our own spiritual growth. It means that we cannot wait for spiritual growth to just happen, or expect others to make us grow.”

We must keep ourselves in the love of God, we must wait for the mercy of Jesus, we must build ourselves up in faith, and we must pray in the Holy Spirit.

One of the wonderful things about our faith is that it is lived out in community. The things we must do and the things we are responsible for may seem difficult or even insurmountable some days. This is where a committed, caring, and challenging church family will come into play.

They will be committed to caring for you as you wait for the mercy of Jesus, and they will encourage you and help you to build yourself up in your most holy faith. They will challenge you to do all of those things, and more, all to the ultimate glory of God, and all to the ultimate praise of Him who saved us from darkness to light. 


Point to ponder – Am I an active part of a church family? Am I getting this kind of help? Am I giving this kind of help?


Prayer – Father, help us to be different. Help us to live the love that you showed us when you sent your Son to die for us. Empower us today through your Holy Spirit to build ourselves up in our faith, and to support those around us doing the same. Amen. 

Mercy Seat – Thursday Music

Sometimes on Thursday we look at a classic hymn, other times contemporary Christian music. Today, something that was released only last week, Mercy Seat by Maranatha Worship. The song is pretty simple, it puts forth this one main idea that we are now welcome and able to go running to the Father by way of the Son.

I see my Father’s open arms, I see Him running

I see my Father’s open arms

Bearing my shame, wearing my scars, I see Him running

I see my Father’s open arms

The first verse takes the mind back to the parable of the prodigal son, doesnt it, 

“…when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15.20)

As our loving Father in heaven, God’s arms are open and if He had a body I’m sure He would run towards us just as the father in the prodigal son parable does. He so wants a personal, loving, intimate relationship with you. To prove it, He sent His Son, God in the flesh, His exact copy on earth, Jesus, to die on the cross for you, to pay the righteous price for your sin, to die a death that we deserved so we can live a life He deserved, eternal and everlasting with the Father in heaven (Isaiah 53.5, 1 Peter 2.24, Hebrews 12.2, Psalm 25.2).

I fall before the mercy seat where the blood of Jesus speaks for me

I fall before the mercy seat

The mercy seat was “…the ornate “lid” for the ark of the covenant, made with the designs of cherubim upon it. The blood of sacrifice was sprinkled upon it for the forgiveness of Israel’s sin on the Day of Atonement (Exodus 25.17-22).”

As God looked down into the ark, He saw the symbols of Israel’s sin, rebellion and failure. But when the blood of sacrifice was applied to the mercy seat, the blood of sacrifice covered His sight of the sin of Israel.” David Guzik.

Now we need not rely on the blood of animals to temporarily cover our sin, because Jesus’ righteous blood was poured out for many, and this blood is poured out for us onto the true mercy seat in heaven, His throne of grace (Hebrews 9.23-26). 

Earthly rituals are but a copy of the heavenly realities, and the mercy and grace that come from the blood of Jesus shed for the sins of the entire world far surpasses that found in outdated animal sacrifice.

I’m not a beggar anymore, so I come running

I see my Father’s open arms

I’m not a beggar anymore, so I come running

I see my Father’s open arms

We need not beg for leftover scraps anymore, even though the crumbs that fall from our Master’s table would surely satisfy us for an eternity (Matthew 15.25-28).

How do we reach such a wonderful position, then, being saved from sin and being given the gift of eternal life? 

Through faith in Jesus alone. 

We are no longer beggars on the outside looking in, we have gone from outside to in, death to life, old to new, slaves to sin to servants of the Most High, and this is all through faith in Jesus; His name, His finished work, His provision, in Him.

Amos 5.1-5 – Seek me and live

Today God through Amos takes up a passionate expression of grief, He expresses sorrow with emotion over His people’s consistent and persistent decision not to turn to Him.

How frustrating must this be for our loving heavenly Father to have His people consistently and persistently turn away from Him and ignore His guidance, laws, and loving, corrective discipline.

Think how bad you feel when after warning and warning and warning your children not to do something because these are the consequences, you need to follow through on them. You do it because you love them, because you know what is best for them in a way they don’t, but you still don’t enjoy doing it…but how you wish they had just come to you and listened!

1 Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel:

2 “Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel;

forsaken on her land, with none to raise her up.”

3 For thus says the Lord GOD:

“The city that went out a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went out a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel.”

4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:

“Seek me and live;

5 but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beersheba;

for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.”

The point then; seek God and live.

Seek God and live.

We should not not seek to give worship or do spiritual things on our own terms, in our own way…we are to do it on His terms and His way. Things that we do that we think are pleasing to the Lord that contradict His Word, His will, and His way are not actually pleasing to Him. Case in point; do not seek Bethel, and do not enter Gilgal. Places set up by man to worship when God had told them to worship elsewhere.

We are now past certain places being holier than others; God lives in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit and the church is, literally, the gathering of believers. But, what we do when there, when gathered with other believers, is important, and what we do each and every day is important;

Do we seek to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength?

Do we seek the Lord in order to live the life He wants us to?

Do we seek the Lord’s guidance and grace on a daily basis?

Do we seek to worship God because He deserves it or because it makes us feel good?

Do we seek the Lord at all?

God’s Word to us is really clear; seek the Lord and live. That is a great point to start with today…seek the Lord.

Seek His guidance, seek to glorify Him through your actions and reactions (even if you are driving, no, especially when you are driving here!).

If we combine the principles at hand in Matthew 7.7, 2 Chronicles 7.14, and Amos 4.4 we see this, a true and genuine encouragement;

If we pray, seek God, turn from our former sinful ways and seek God, we will find Him, and we will live.

What a great encouragement for us today…too good to just keep for ourselves, isn’t it… 

Amos 4.1-3 – Do unto others

Today Amos opens with an address to the ladies…although it’s not an honouring, polite, respectful address, the type you would want your son giving, or your daughter receiving;

1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan,

who are on the mountain of Samaria,

who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,

who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that,

behold, the days are coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks,

even the last of you with fishhooks.

3 And you shall go out through the breaches,

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the LORD.

Not a particularly polite way to address the ladies of Israel, is it, you cows of Bashan? Apparently, Bashan was known for its sleek, fat, plump livestock, so calling the ladies cows of Bashan is quite an insult, insinuating that they are, indeed, fat, plump, lazy, self-centred (who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’), and who with all this self-focus actually oppress others in order to perpetuate it (who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,).

After this damning opening, Amos turns up the prophetic heat, so to speak, and says that, basically, an enemy is coming who will lead you away by a hook through the broken down parts of the walls that they just smashed to get you…and we know for sure it will happen;

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that, (so we know for sure it will happen)

behold, the days are coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks, (they = the coming Assyrian army – who did come and take Israel away)

even the last of you with fishhooks. (people were literally led away with fishhooks through their lower lips to signify they were conquered and now slaves)

3 And you shall go out through the breaches, (walked away through the remains of their city walls to show they had been defeated)

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the LORD.

If only those sleek cows of Bashan had lived the life that their God had intended.

If only they had treated those around them with the compassion, understanding, grace, and mercy that our great God so freely gives.


The obvious question here is, are we like the cows of Bashan?


Are we prospering and pushing people down to ensure it?

Are we lazy, getting spiritually sleek and plump due to our inactivity?

Are we treating those around us as we wish to be treated (Luke 6.31)?

Amos develops a theme through chapter four that God’s people, despite multiple invitations and warning, did not return to Him. I have no doubt that if they, or we for that matter, return to Him and put away all elements of our lives that render us cows of Bashan, that He has a life prepared for us that exceeds our wildest dreams.

If we want it, we must begin by doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, treating people how we want to be treated, dealing with people how we want God to deal with us.