Hope that Does Not Disappoint

By Mel Wild

As we enter into the final orbital spin toward Christmas, it brings with it a host of mixed emotions. For some, the excitement and anticipation of spending time with family. For others, a time of great pain and loneliness, disappointment, regret and loss.

What was meant to point us to the Blessed Hope can also point our hearts to feelings of hopelessness.

We as human beings cannot go forward with our lives without hope. Nor can we afford to rest our hope in all those good things that must come to an end.

What then is hope? Biblically speaking, hope is not wishful thinking; it’s having confidence in the promises of God. While faith looks backward, anchoring itself in the finished work of Christ, hope looks forward, anchored to those sure promises yet fulfilled.

Mr.GC freedigitalphotos.net

Mr.GC
freedigitalphotos.net

This got me thinking about what Paul said in his letter to the Romans…

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:4 NKJV)

So, how does this hope that never disappoints work?

First, it never disappoints because it’s not anchored in life’s circumstances but in something much more reliable and unchanging. Its anchor keeps our hearts moored at the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor.4:6), and in the knowledge that it’s the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom…now…in this life (Luke 12:31-32).

For hope deferred makes the heart sick (Prov.13:12), but this hope is living in us now (1 Pet.1:3).

How does this mooring keep us in hope, practically speaking?

It does so by not letting us get tossed and torn in the maelstrom of everyday life – distraction, despair, disappointment, regret, self-pity or doubt.

I’ve known people who are stuck in their woundedness; abandonment, rejection, unforgiveness, fears…what’s been done to them. This woundedness becomes like a dysfunctional friend.

While I have great compassion for people stuck here, this is never God’s will for us — continuing to wallow in this mire, barely surviving until we get to heaven. No, it’s to thrive in the stunning revelation of Jesus Christ who ever shines in the deepest part of our heart – even if our outward circumstances don’t change.

Being moored by hope also means I’m not stuck in my past, even if it’s my fond past.

There are people I grew up with who are still stuck in the “good old days” of high school – or the younger, stronger, prouder days – caught up in the nostalgia.

And I have to admit, it’s easy to check out and entertain these thoughts when we hear a favorite song or see certain movies, getting swept up in emotions that can bring such angst to our soul…reminiscing of headier days gone by. But these fond memories can also be an insidious trap lurking deep within, waiting to steal our heart and lead us away from our destiny.

It’s this hope “set before us” that continuously propels us forward in every situation life may bring our way, finding its anchor in the Spirit as we enter behind the veil.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil” (Heb.6:19 NKJV)

Entering this Presence behind the veil is entering into the eternal fellowship between the Father and the Son in the Spirit. This is what John was inviting us into in his first letter…

“that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” (1 John 1:3-5 NKJV)

Two things are guaranteed in this invitation.

First, that there will never be a time when we will ever be alone again. For when we say that God is Father and Son, we’re saying He is primarily about relationship and that there’s never been a time when He was ever alone.

Therefore, for us, this eternal fellowship means both that we abide in Christ in the Father’s embrace (John 15:9; 17:23; Col.3:3) and with the family of God that we can touch and see on the earth. Let this fact comfort your heart.

The second promise is fullness of joy. And this joy is not dependent on our circumstances because it’s a joy that emanates from the deepest part of our soul. And since it finds its source in the Father’s embrace, it cannot be cut off by people or anything outside of us.

LeafDance

Beloved of God, remember that Christmas celebrates the day that Immanuel–“God with us”– came to make His dwelling place among us (John 1:14). And now, He lives in the hearts of those who’ve accepted the Father’s invitation to join Him in the Divine Dance that’s been going on from eternity. He’s living in you and He’s for you. And in Him there is fullness of joy. And that’s a hope that will never disappoint.

Mel writes about the love and grace of God at In My Father’s House. He is a persistent advocate of the true gospel of Jesus, and an insistent edifier of our status as precious and beloved children of the Father who created us all.

Hope is…

©susanirenefox

©susanirenefox

When hope is felt it’s heart to heart.

From where it comes, true faith does start.

When I through Spirit bloom to glean

Gods promises do hope convene.

 

With mercy, ‘twas Your face I sought

And held onto more pleasing thought;

Instead of fixing on what’s seen.

God’s promises do hope convene.

 

Enfolded in your sweet embrace

Of comfort, love and boundless grace

Hope’s joy revealed, yet left unseen.

God’s promises do hope convene.

 

When hope is felt it’s heart to heart.

God’s promises do hope convene.

Hope is a Circle

By Dale Jordan Heath

After the death of our son, Brandon, to what was ruled a suicide, I was in shock and what seemed to be a permanent sorrow. The anguish had an immutable grip around my life. I was suffocating in grief. No one could say anything to me that was comforting. I sought the peace I did not have, desperate to know that in spite of how my son had died that he was in Heaven with Jesus. Somehow I had in my mind that to kill one’s self is unforgivable. I think I must have come to my own wayward conclusion somewhere in my past undoubtedly inspired by an unforgiving world and/or an unforgiving religion. To believe your child is not forgiven and possibly in hell is hell itself for a parent. My personal belief is that once we are saved by God through our belief in Christ Jesus we are forever His (John 3:16) …forever in His grip (John 10: 26-29)…. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8: 35-39). We are forgiven of all sin; past, present, and future. Somehow that belief was waylaid by my inability to rationally think. I was in disbelief and shock.

Brandon Heath

Brandon Heath

I cried out to friends, family, pastors of various denominations, and strangers who professed the Christian faith. Even though, they told me the comforting truths of where my son is, my mind was in a vortex of disbelief on every level, including all I ever knew about God’s grace and mercy. I prayed and yelled and ranted. I was insane from my own misunderstanding. It was the worst feeling in my entire life paralleled to the death of my son.

How could this happen to my son who was a Christian? How could he have been in such despair and we did not know? Why would God allow this? Was I being punished? What about my precious son? This was the beginning of a spiritual warfare that I had only begun to fight. I was ill-equipped as a grieving mother to battle the foes driven by the force of Satan. I would soon learn that I was not alone and that God, indeed, had not forgotten or forsaken me or my son.

Shortly after our son died, my husband and I moved back to the area where we had been raised and where we had raised our children. I wanted to start attending our church again although I did not like to grieve publicly and knew that church would be the very place that would test my emotions. Fragile and crushed, I began to attend Sunday night service. People were compassionate and attentive. The restraint, under the strain of keeping my tears at bay, was unbearable. It was just not possible to be tearless when the Holy Spirit tended to me in ways I can’t explain. My joy clashed with my sorrow. Quietly, I would try to stifle any emotion that would cause me to be on display. So many emotions at once, I felt the need to compartmentalize my feelings to keep them in check. In spite of those attempts, I failed most of the time. The nature of grieving does not allow for scheduled tears.

Our church observes communion the first Sunday of each month. It was on one such Sunday I prayed before going to the altar for God to please send me a sign that my son was with Him. I had no way of knowing if God would answer or how He would if He did. Humbly I made my way to the front of the church in line with others. The organist was playing hymns as we knelt. As soon as my knees hit the bench the first three notes of the next hymn began. I instantly recognized “It Is Well With My Soul.”

I was mildly surprised as the words came quickly to my mind…..”when peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll…” and I said to God, “I’ll take that as my sign.” I received communion and left with a most inexplicable peaceful feeling. I had not heard that song in a long time and if I did, I had not paid attention as I did this day. The following month I prayed the same prayer because my grief had rendered me useless and depressed in the weeks before. My mind seemed to have forgotten that “it is well…” from the previous month. I was not thinking about it or expecting anything in particular right away. The choir was singing this time, as I knelt they began to sing “when peace like a river…” I was astonished at the wave of relief that came over me. This time I felt even more excited that God was speaking to me, allowing me to know it is indeed well with my son.

Never in my lifetime, have I received the intimate whispers of God’s voice…or should I say, recognized His voice. “It Is Well” continues to be “my” song from God. Many times over the course of this past five years, whenever I have heard its soothing lyrics and melodic strains, my crying heart is quieted. It was not only sent to me at Holy Communion but in ways I cannot begin to count.

Like the time I was listening to K-LOVE as I drove to town, and a song by Aaron Shust played called “My Hope Is In You, Lord.” It spoke to my heart so when I returned home I looked it up on YouTube. I would never have expected what the video was actually about, nor what was waiting for me at the very end. The video portrays the death of a couple’s teenaged daughter. I was drawn into the scenes as they unfolded to the song’s words…. “I won’t be shaken by drought or storm”…. “the peace that passeth understanding is my song…” At the very end of the video came God’s intimate communication with my broken heart, mending it with His love and tender touch.

One day while looking up “It Is Well” online to cut and paste into a journal page, I discovered the history of the song. The song’s relevance was not only in how God worked it to minister to me but that it was written by a parent in the throes of unspeakable sorrow; the sorrow that only a grieving parent could know, the sorrow that could only be shared by parents who have lost a child. For Horatio Spafford, the writer of the hymn, it was all of his children, lost at sea when their steamship was struck and sunk by a sailing vessel. Through his tears and utter sorrow, he shared his faith, his hope, his anticipation of all that God has assured, never knowing its impact through the ages for people like me.

Recently, I decided to make a CD for a lovely couple with whom my husband and I had become acquainted because of the mutual grief over the loss of our sons. We had planned to visit them in their North Carolina home and I wanted to take them a CD of the songs that have been instrumental in helping me to cope with grief. I went through most of my downloads on my pc and systematically burned them to the disc. I remembered that I still had Brandon’s memorial CD tucked away in a my dresser. My two daughters chose most of the songs. I had chosen two songs about angels and did not remember any of the other songs on it. I retrieved the CD from my drawer and began to upload them. My heart was overwhelmed as I soaked in the words of each song. The songs that only made me cry in my anguish then, now soothed the pulsating, deep down ache of missing my son. I caught my breath as the third song began….it was sung by Chris Rice, “It Is Well With My Soul.” http://youtu.be/cPPSG_SpojY

When telling my daughters about my discovery neither one took credit for it. No one knew who was responsible for the song being on the memorial CD, but we happily concluded it was indeed God’s timewise voice…always on time, in time, timeless. Needless to say, I included it on my CD for our friends Ron and Diane. My hope was they would also be comforted.

Recently, my husband and I joined the church choir. By doing so, I knew I would not be kneeling at the communion rail to be tended to by the hymn that has been mine for the past five years. I must mention at this point that the hymn was only sung or played on any Sunday following a very bad week. I did not hear it every communion Sunday.

I prayed and thought long and hard about my decision to join the choir. I finally decided it was time for me to sing the song; my heart could now begin to sing of the peace that continues to be given to me.

The very first Sunday I sang in the choir was the last Sunday referred to by Methodists as “camp meeting” months. During that time, we sing the favorite hymns from the Cokesbury hymnal as requested by individuals in the congregation, the page numbers politely called out to our music minister.

I turned to the last page number requested to discover with a pleasant surprise, “It Is Well…” the last song requested before the special music for the day. God’s wink. And because God does not do anything in small and insignificant ways….the next song, the special music already planned by the organist and pianist was their inspiring rendition of “It Is Well With My Soul.” I saw through my tears the faces of the people nodding with whom I had shared in small group studies, or who knew my personal story and had witnessed all those times when the hymn was played at the communion rail…. who knew that God had abundantly blessed me beyond my comprehension of all things holy and true, and understood this was no mere “coincidence.” Hope had come full circle.

The hope I received in the beginning was mine to give away to others who may be hurting and in despair. I received God’s approval in a song: ‘our song.’

I continue to share all that God reveals to me during this loss. My son is not here. I do miss him so much. While I know he is in Heaven, I am still human and continue to have the many emotions that accompany my life now that the winds of change have blown me off course.

Please join us today, December 14 for the Worldwide Candle Lighting in memory of all children gone too soon. For more information, visit The Compassionate Friends website.

Along with that change is the constant of God’s love, grace, and mercy. “My hope is in You, Lord”….”The peace that passeth understanding is my song…” …. “I won’t be shaken by drought or storm…” … “God is my refuge” …..“when peace like a river attendeth my soul…” … “Lord, haste the day when my faith will be sight…”…. and most of all… “It is well with my son’s soul.”

In Memoriam: Michael Brandon Heath July 26, 1979 ~ March 6, 2009

Dale Heath writes about her experience as a mom of a young man who died by suicide at In the Wake of Suicide…trying to understand. She is a hopeful and compassionate woman who provides a safe and uplifting space for others coping with the pain and confusion of a loved one taken by the illness of depression.

Indicatives & Imperatives 13

2 Timothy

Paul’s final letter (chronologically and literally) was written between A.D. 65-67 during Paul’s second imprisonment in Rome. This was after the great fire in A.D. 64. Though everyone knew Emperor Nero set fire to the city, he blamed the Christians and used that as an excuse to execute many.

St. Paul the Apostle Claude Vignon

St. Paul the Apostle Claude Vignon

Though Paul anticipates his death (4:6-8), he writes a personal and reflective letter, saddened at some who turned away in times of trouble, yet joyous for those who uplifted him and kept the faith. (1:15-18)

He calls Timothy “my beloved child,” and recalls Timothy’s sincere faith, which Paul appreciates was nurtured by his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. He reminds Timothy though he is “bound in chains as a criminal” for preaching the gospel, “the word of God is not bound!”

Paul encourages Timothy to gain strength from the Holy Spirit, and to continue to preach the gospel as Paul taught him – the true gospel of love and faith.

It is believed Paul was beheaded during the end of Nero’s reign which was extinguished in A.D. 68.

(emphasis added)

The Imperatives

Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God (1:8)

Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you. (1:13-14)

Remind [believers] and charge them before God not to quarrel about words which does no good but only ruins hearers. Avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. (2:14,16)

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness: faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2:22)

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but be kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2:23-24)

As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (3:14)

Paul reminds Timothy what is important – not law or words or dogma or “being right,” but the pursuit of faith, love and peace which results in righteousness. The word “whom” in 3:14 is plural, and refers not only to Paul, but to Timothy’s mother and grandmother, recalling the sincerity of faith he learned growing up. At the end of Paul’s days, he is clear about the gospel, and encourages us to see through the veil, too.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. (4:6-7)

The Indicatives

…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ( 1:7)

[God] saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1:9-10)

Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. (2:1)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (3:16-17)

The Lord stood by me and strengthened me so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all might hear it…The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (4:17-18)

For those of us who desire to see the true gospel presented – the gospel of love, faith and peace – the words of Jesus stand as the true representation. This is what Paul repeated in all of his letters: the non-negotiable gospel of grace and love and faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Spirit to transform the way we think and, ultimately, the way we live.

Salt and Light

Salt and Light

Montag451  montag451deviantart.com

Montag451 montag451deviantart.com

My Lord, you ask us to be salt and light

Accept your grace and mercy then extend

Put God and neighbor first with love, insight

 

In fear we kill each other day and night

Instead we worship doctrine, land, and then

My Lord, you ask us to be salt and light

 

We slay each other over being right

In full disdain we mock, we scorn, we rend

Put God and neighbor first with love, insight

 

Crude jokes abound, constricting hearts, incite

Our thoughts and words and actions God offend

My Lord, you ask us to be salt and light

 

We take the wider path with full delight

And disobey, don’t even feign pretend

Put God and neighbor first with love, insight

 

As celebration of Your birth draws nigh

We worship, “Peace on earth, good will toward men.”

My Lord, you ask us to be salt and light

Put God and neighbor first with love, insight.

Hope Spirals Eternal

By Belinda Borradaile

When Susan Asked me to write about ‘Hope’, my first instinct was, ‘Yes of course dearest Susan!’
Thinking about it over this last while I realised a few things, and reaching my final day to put this together, I realised this:
Hope and lack of it, is all I write about – all the time. My own struggle with holding on to hope and my DESIRE to BRING hope to others.
It is in that desire that writing this is so hard for me, for it is the ‘anticipation or expectation of a desire being met’ that instils hope within us.

Writing here has allowed me to assimilate my perceptions of hopes meaning.
Thank you Susan for prompting the opportunity to do so, for myself, and hopefully, for others.

Spiral.2Hope is formed in Uncertainty.

A simplified expression of hope is the hope for a good spread of presents under the Christmas tree … whether we are children or parents.
It is not guaranteed to be so … but we hope.

Why is it that both the receiver of gifts and the giver are filled with hope?

As children we want to get something special, as adults, we want to give… something special.

Have you watched a child’s awe and joy when they open a present they hoped for?
Have you seen a child’s heart when they watch someone opening a present they have given?
Have you felt the hopefulness in them? The anticipation of what their gift will bring the receiver?

Have you felt it in yourself?

I lose my hope when I feel I have nothing to give. Funny that. When my reasons for living are about what I can get, it is then that I have nothing to give, and it is then that I find hopelessness setting in.

To watch someone unwrap a gift they have anticipated hopefully, brings a sensation not easy to express.

How do we allow ourselves to hope for the ability to receive something, when hope is all we wish to have?
Hope for the future, hope for love, hope for dreams and joy and peace.

How do we maintain our hope when these things seem so intangible?

Uncertainty brings fear, yet it also brings hope.
Hope brings confidence in our desires for the future even when we are uncertain of the outcome, we HOPE it will be a good.
We hope, INSTEAD of fear.

I believe hope is a moment.
Something we hold in memory.

We cannot hold it and keep it. It flows.
We cannot take hope, nor can we wish for hope.

Hope is that which we give and receive, not something we lay claim to.

True hope, not a wish, is a deep desire for change. For something special to happen … something significant that shows us answers to little or big questions, or simply that – we matter.

No wonder we lose hope so easily. We look and look for where we left it, where it went to. We try to ‘get it back’. If hope is an expectant cherished desire for change, and we expectantly wait on being given an epiphany as ‘something special happening’, we COULD wait a long, long time to know hope. Yet if we look back, at moments in their intangibility, and we look at our lives and the changes we have endured or cherished, we will see hope in the faces that filled those moments. Even bad moments, for there they were in the past, but here they are no longer in the present… change happened without us seeing it.

If we are present in each moment, hope becomes a gift of a moment in time understood. Not something to chase after. When we lose hope, the only way to find it is to allow for it to make its appearance.

Not to beg, nor plan, nor yearn for. Hope is what we dream of and desire to know, so it can be real to us. To understand something as real, seeing is believing. Hope can only be known when, as with everything intangible, it manifests into our reality.
The problem with hope, is we cannot see it very easily, because hope resides in hearts. Looking at ourselves is impossible if it were not for a mirror, and then it is a mere reflection.
You cannot look at yourself, to see and know hope.

Hope does not belong to us, it can only be ‘seen’, in the lives and faces of those we give it to.

So what is that feeling we have when we can say – ‘I have hope’?

It is not hope in itself that brings this feeling. It is joy.
Joy resides where hope lives. When we give hope, we give joy. When we give joy, we receive hope.
Many of the answers we seek to find is to show us our purpose. Do we matter? We need change through answers, to show our effect on our world – to show us that in our reality – we matter and are valuable.

When we receive hope, we receive joy. When we receive joy it is because we know that we are valuable and matter. We feel a purpose to our lives.

How we all seek for something tangible to give us a purpose and meaning in life.
How much do we strive to be valued by others and even ourselves?
How many moments do we spend trying to be valuable?
Everything we do in society is geared in some way to adding value to ourselves and our time here. Some do it only for themselves, others wish to be of value to society, by being of service to their fellow man. Others simply feel value through achievement, still others – feel no value… they feel hopeless… we may even refer to them as ‘hopeless cases’…

According to Wikipedia, hope, is ‘an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. To, “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation”

Theologically, hope is defined as: ‘Expectation of and desire of receiving; refraining from despair and capability of not giving up. The belief that God will be eternally present in every human’s life and never giving up on His love.’

Hope is considered a virtue along with faith and love. I wish I had room to convey the relationship between these three and WHY they are virtues, alas I do not or we shall have a book to read – I will however state that the definition of faith according to the dictionary (not theological definitions) is, ‘Complete trust or confidence in someone or something.’ I MUST mention this as I see error in the presumption that if there is no belief in God that there is no faith. Faith is what we see as true – what we place our confidence in.
… but regarding hope:

Hope is something we instil by how we choose to live. Giving away something we seek in order to receive it, is not virtuous. Giving good away in order to refrain from giving bad away – is virtuous. The ‘virtuous’ aspect has nothing to do with the theology, but the way we perceive good. It is understanding the flow of hope – faith and love.
If you are a reader of my blog you will be aware that spirals are constantly apparent in much of what I think and write about. Spirals are the foundation of everything, from the tiniest DNA strand to the spiralling galaxies.
SpiralThe simplified version of how the hope spiral forms:

It is as important to receive as it is to give, for in doing so you allow someone else the hope in ‘expecting with confidence’ the outcome of the circumstance of giving to you. To allow someone else the ability to give of themselves and see hope and joy in another is in itself a gift we can give to each other.

We all desire to feel that what we offer each other is valued. We ‘cherish a desire with anticipation and with confidence’ – we HOPE that we can give enough and give joy. We give our hope over to give joy…we put it on the line. The joy is a manifestation of the hope we give.

When we allow others to be a part of giving, and do not desire to only be the one giving, we create a circle of hope. We create confidence in others. We create a desire met. We create joy.

To receive hope offered, is to be humble in the presence of the gift we receive and so also give. To give the gift of hope, first, we must be able to humbly receive, no matter how small the offering. In receiving we are giving. In giving we are receiving.

Imagine the child with gift in hand offering in hope of giving pleasure and joy to the receiver, now imagine how hopeless a child would be if they did not SEE that there gift had given pleasure … imagine being that child, feel the confidence and cherished desire to give joy seep away, and know hope – lost.

Special moments cherished, the simplest way to give and receive hope to remember in our hearts through the hopeless times.

It is the hope that is remembered, understood and cherished more than the moment that gave it – hope received humbly as a child gives a gift, is hope truly found, and it changes not a moment – it changes everything.

Belinda writes philosophically in prose and poetry on Idiot Writing, where she does not write at all like an idiot.

Indicatives & Imperatives 12

Timothy 1 and Titus

Paul’s letters to Timothy (1 & 2) and Titus are known as his Pastoral Letters, not because they are from a pastor, but because they are written to someone who is shepherding members of Christ’s church. These two letters are together in this post because they have much in common:

They are not theological treatises but circumstantial letters, meaning they were written to address a specific circumstance that needed to be addressed, namely false teachers that had infiltrated the group of believers: in Timothy’s case, the group in Ephesus; in Titus’ case, the group in Crete.

They are written to encourage the recipients to identify false teachers within their midst, call them out to their gathered believers, and ensure that whoever leads believers in their absence are beyond reproach in character, behavior and understanding of the gospel.

These “churches” are not buildings as we have them today; they are mostly gatherings in the homes of believers.

Some would attempt to make pieces of what Paul says into Church Doctrine. However, to do so would be in direct conflict with the entirely of Paul’s epistles, which state clearly and repeatedly we are not to add to Christ’s gospel, nor return ourselves to an enslaved state of manmade laws.

(emphasis added)

The Imperatives

“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions.” (1 Timothy 1:5-7)

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct: in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)

Paul reminds Timothy (and Titus, in his letter) that the gospel is about love – pure and simple. Any discussion about law, even though some laws may be good, is unproductive, meaningless and divisive.

“Whoever teaches false doctrine and doesn’t agree with the accurate words of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teachings is a conceited person. He shows that he doesn’t understand anything.

“They are sick with a love for arguing and fighting about words. And that brings jealousy, quarrels, insults, and evil mistrust. They are always making trouble, because they are people whose thinking has been confused. They have lost their understanding of the truth. They think that devotion to God is a way to get rich. Devotion to God is, in fact, a way for people to be very rich, but only if it makes them satisfied with what they have.” (1 Timothy 6:3-6)

marcolm freedigitalphotos.net

marcolm freedigitalphotos.net

“O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.” (1 Timothy 6:17-21)

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)

“Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.” (Titus 3:10-11 MSG)

The Indicatives

“…even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.” 1 Timothy 1:13-15

“Tell them not to speak evil of anyone but to live in peace with others. They should be gentle and polite to everyone.In the past we were foolish too. We did not obey, we were wrong, and we were slaves to the many things our bodies wanted and enjoyed. We lived doing evil and being jealous. People hated us and we hated each other.

“But then the kindness and love of God our Savior was made known. He saved us because of his mercy, not because of any good things we did. He saved us through the washing that made us new people. He saved us by making us new through the Holy Spirit. God poured out to us that Holy Spirit fully through Jesus Christ our Savior.” (Titus 3:2-6)

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tiverylucky freedigitalphotos.net

In saving us, Christ made us new – no longer quarrelsome, envious, hateful, or slaves to Law. But we must embrace our new identities in him. We have a daily choice – to walk with him or away from him, to be arrogant or humble, to be loving or hateful, to be content or envious, to grant mercy or be accusatory, to trust the words of Jesus or the words of those who distort his message.