Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Book of 1 Timothy

The Life Project: 1 Timothy
Candice Roberts

Paul writes to Timothy as a father would write to a son. He has invested much in young Timothy and wants nothing more than to encourage him as a minister to the church in Ephesus. Paul’s desire is to give him important practical advice for leading a church as well as for Godly Christian living. In 1st Timothy 4:14, Paul encourages Timothy to “not neglect {his} gift, which was given through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on {him}.” Paul is very concerned that Timothy realizes his God-given destiny despite the tremendous obstacles that are in his way. In 1st Timothy 4:12 Paul has this to say, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Though it is found in the middle of the letter, this verse could well be the sum and substance of the letter. All the other verses lend themselves to understanding this one passage. The epistle is brimming with practical advice for Timothy and is fitting for every Christ-follower who desires to live a Godly life and leave a Godly destiny.

Paul’s first charge to Timothy is to be an example in speech. This is more than a charge to “no swearing”, though clean language is certainly a part of it. Paul’s charge goes deeper and becomes more uncomfortable to those of us who think our speech is above reproach. Paul deals a lot in this letter about the sin of slander and mindless chatter. Paul warns against malicious talk and busybody nonsense. The sin of speech is so easy to fall into. We may consider it to be a lesser sin. After all, who is harmed by a little gossip? It’s innocent, right? Wrong. Gossip, malicious talk, slander all cause division amongst the body. They also create in us a critical spirit and keep us from doing the Lord’s work. Instead of mindless chatter, we should be engaging in a powerful prayer life. Paul’s challenge is for every believer; instead of gossip about people we should be praying for people. Instead of speaking their name to another, we should speak their name to our Heavenly Father.

Along with speech, Paul charges Timothy to be blameless in conduct. How we conduct ourselves is the most visible evidence of our commitment to Christ. In Paul’s letter to Timothy he warned of drunkenness, violence, and sexual immorality. Instead Paul encourages lives of temperance and modesty. These attributes stand in stark contrast to our world today. In America we glorify the outlandish and excessive lifestyles of celebrities. We celebrate the brazen and bold. We call the modest and temperate prude. Prude or not, this is how God calls us to live. In this letter Paul challenges women, but ultimately men as well, to be adorned with only good deeds. If we allowed this purity of conduct to permeate our hearts and take shape in our lives, imagine how different we would look to the world around us. Imagine the power of our witness if we really were to give our conduct over to the Lord.

Timothy is also encouraged to be an example to the believers in the way that he loves. Paul talks about two types of love in this letter. The first is love for people and the second is love of money. Paul encourages the believers to treat each other like family. 1st Timothy 5:1 says, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”

And while we should love people, Paul tells us to resist the temptation to love money. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, he says. He encourages the believers not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God. I have always found it interesting to watch what people are in love with. You can certainly tell a lot about a person by what they love. As followers of Christ we should love the things that Christ did; people; and not waste our time on things that have no lasting significance.

Paul says that Timothy should be an example of faith. The faith that Paul points Timothy to is a simple one. It is a faith that says, I am the chief of all sinners but God in His great mercy saved me and wants to save everyone. Paul actually discourages meaningless arguments over doctrine and instead encourages focus to be put on God and Jesus the ransom for our sin. Finally 1st Timothy encourages this young pastor to be an example of purity. I love the different definitions of purity; all adding a nuance to what it means to be pure. The first definition is freedom from contaminants or anything that is harmful. Imagine being free of those things which harm you today. What more could you accomplish with your life? Definition number two is virtue and innocence like that of a child. Didn’t Christ call us to have childlike faith? Surely Paul had this in mind when he called Timothy to a life of purity. The final definition of purity is the degree of saturation of a color. We are to be so saturated with Christ that nothing else can be seen. This is purity.

As we look at the charges that Paul set forth for Timothy, we should be inspired to live a life worthy of our calling. Our utmost desire should be to please our Father and to represent Christ well to those around us. If we can follow the directives of 1st Timothy we will be well on our way.

Book of 1 & 2 Thessolonians

The Life Project: 1 and 2 Thessalonians Matt Roberts

In the Book of Acts chapter 17 we read that during his 1st missionary journey the Apostle Paul, along with his colleagues Silas and Timothy, came to the Greek capital of Thessalonica. Their visit to this town would prove to be much different than many of their previous stops. If you follow Paul’s ministry you will find the heart of a church planter. Every town he moved into he did with focus, vision and determination; preaching the Gospel of Jesus, establishing churches, raising up leaders and then handing the church over as he prepared to move on to the next city. But things did not go as planned in Thessalonica. Acts 17 tells us that things started normal enough. Paul, as he had done numerous times before, went into the Jewish Synagogue and began to tell of the wondrous story of Jesus. We read that this happened for 3 weeks and during that time many put their faith in Christ. This infant church was a ragtag group made up of Jews, devout Greeks, and prominent women in the city. All indications showed that there was a lot of work to be done here before this church could ever stand on it’s own. In a perfect world Paul would have the time to invest and disciple these believers to full Christian maturity.

But the 1st century Roman empire wasn’t perfect by any means, especially for those preaching Christ. There was a mob that formed in the middle of the city. They went into the homes where the Christian missionaries were reported to be staying. When their search for Paul turned up empty they drug a small group of believers to the city courthouse where they were scolded and warned that there would be no more talk of this Jesus in Thessalonica. That night Paul, Silas and Timothy where whisked out of town for their own safety. I am sure they wondered if their three week investment in this baby church would have any staying power with the odds stacked so mightily against her. The book of Acts charges forward leaving us with the same question, what will come of the believers in Thessalonica? That question is answered in the opening of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, check it out! “6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. 7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, 9 for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” How is it that a church with so much stacked against it thrived in this way? Popular thinking in the church today tells us that if we are going to make an impact in our world, our community, or even our own church we must first be in a deliberate discipleship process with “mature Christians”.

We need to learn from people who have been around the block a time or two, attended enough Bible studies, served on a Deacon board; you know the kind of people the church needs to move forward. Although this is a great model for development, what do we do when there is no one there? Do we just sit and wait for someone to come along? Do we resign ourselves to thinking I can’t get where God is calling me if there is no one here to show me the way? Paul commends the Thessalonians for refusing to believe this. In these 2 Epistles we see a church that heard the Message, responded with joy and then allowed the Holy Spirit to take it from there. In a world that is constantly looking for the next guru, the next book, the next “it” church, what a beautiful simplicity! I know I am guilty at times of allowing my pursuit of God to warp into a pursuit of men. The Thessalonians allowed the Holy Spirit to become the teacher and guide for their church. When they had no one to lean on, they dove into scripture and allowed God’s Spirit to do a work in them. Maybe this “handicapped” church had a distinct advantage in never learning to look to an Apostle, a Pastor or an Evangelist. They learned that true maturity came through a living relationship with God, His Word and His Spirit. We are so lucky at the Genesis Project to have many mature Christians who give their lives to God and to discipling other believers. But with this great treasure, we need to be cautious that we are ultimately not looking to a person but to God.

Each of us, whether we have been a Christian for 20 years or 20 days, has a responsibility to pursue God on our own. We have the opportunity to know God intimately through His Word and through His Spirit. Those who come along beside us are just icing on the cake. I am reminded of the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” We are promised to find God when we seek HIM. I am so thankful that this was the promise to the church of Thessalonica. I am so thankful that this is the promise for us today.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I Confess

I confess... it's been a hard week. Changes at work and home.
I confess... as much time as I've spent crying, hyperventalating, and feeling like I was going to puke; I've survived.
I confess... I've had some really good conversations with a couple of influencial people. Conversations that were ever long over due or I didnt realize they needed to be had.
I confess... I've been very blessed by 4 special friends this week. Thank you God for putting them in my path.
I confess... although my confessions are very cryptic this week, I am OK. I am not wonderful, but I will be again someday. My God is bigger than all thats going on and I trust and believe that good things are going to happen in all aspects of my life.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Redeemed by Big Daddy Weave

Seems like all I could see was the struggle
Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past
Bound up in shackles of all my failures
Wondering how long is this gonna last
Then You look at this prisoner and say to me "son
Stop fighting a fight it's already been won"

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be
I am redeemed, I'm redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy
Named by the voice of my shame and regret
But when I hear You whisper, "Child lift up your head"
I remember, oh God, You're not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I'm not who I used to be

Because I don't have to be the old man inside of me
'Cause his day is long dead and gone
Because I've got a new name, a new life, I'm not the same
And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, 'cause I'm not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free
So I'll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe every stain, yeah, I'm not who I used to be
Oh, God, I'm not who I used to be
Jesus, I'm not who I used to be
'Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Confess... 10/19/12


I Confess- That I really like my new Ford C-Max car. I've had it for 2 wks and just filled up for the first time. It cost me $20 less than before, and that was weekly, so really I saved about $85. I was able to go 550 miles before my warning came on saying I only had 35 miles until empty. Not too shabby!

I Confess- My husband has lost 30 lbs and looks amazing. Check him out!!

I Confess- I worry that now his 30 days is done, he may not feel committed to keeping it off. I am trying to overcome that worry with belief in my husband.

I Confess- My sweet husband has planned a get away for us this weekend. He doesnt normally plan things like this so I am shocked. We are going to stay at the Anniversary Inn tomorrow night. I am super excited.

I Confess- My wonderful friend Mary is keeping my kids for the night :)

I Confess- Drew's team lost their quarter final game. It was heartbreaking. All the boys were sobbing. Parents were crying (Drew's dad included, shocker!). It was rough. I miss it already... I loved the parents I got to know throughout the season and being with them daily. I may have to plan a reunion!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Book of Colossians

The Life Project: Colossians Candice Roberts Cluttering the message of Christ; this is what the Christians in Colosse were guilty of. They had been given the simple Gospel message of Christ crucified, Christ resurrected, Christ as salvation. But they had allowed other ideas and philosophies to creep in. Two of the primary philosophies of the age were that of Gnosticism and Asceticism. The Gnostics as well as the Ascetics called themselves Christians, but believed they had been given special knowledge and that through this knowledge salvation was available. This sounded appealing to the Colossians. Who wouldn’t want in on “special knowledge”? That sounds like something you don’t want to be left out of. One of the Gnostics primary beliefs was that this world, and all matter was evil. They went so far as to say that it was not God who created our earth, but an evil demigod. This is why Paul emphatically states in Colossians 15-20 “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Clearly, it is Christ who created the heavens and the EARTH!! Christ was preeminent. Paul was adamant that the Colossian church hold to this teaching. The Ascetics also believed that matter was evil, and participated in rituals, holding fast to religious rules that served to subdue their flesh. There was a great deal of legalism and pride that went into these rituals. Though Paul does not specifically mention what the rituals were, as surely the Colossians already knew, he does say in chapter 2:20-23 “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Now Paul was not saying that we should live lives of debauchery and do whatever the heck we want. In fact he spends a large part of chapter 3 describing how those made alive in Christ should behave. He was saying that the Gospel of Christ does not need anything added to it. The Gospel of Christ is complete. Any attempts by man to add rules, regulations, rituals, only serve to cheapen the work of salvation through Jesus Christ. I wish we could see a different world in 21st century America than was alive in 1st century Colosse. Sadly the same sorts of things that plagued the Colossians, plague Christians today. We still are being bombarded with forces trying to clutter the message of Christ. There are still some who claim to have the corner on salvation. They believe they have been given a special revelation and without it, we are doomed. There are still those who try and tell us that maybe Jesus is not God. Maybe in fact there are many Gods. Maybe there are many ways to salvation. Then there are those who cheapen grace by adding legalism; prideful man trying to earn salvation instead of realizing that it is a Gift from Christ Jesus. But before we start pointing fingers at other people, perhaps we should examine our own lives. Are there times when we think our knowledge of God will be our salvation? Are there times when we are tempted to work our way to salvation? Are there times when we would like to embrace other gods as a means to salvation? Are there times when we add to the work of Christ? Let’s stick to the simplicity of the Gospel and remember the words from 1st John 2:24-25. “Stay with what you heard from the beginning, the original message. Let it sink into your life. If what you heard from the beginning lives deeply in you, you will live deeply in both Son and Father. This is exactly what Christ promised: eternal life, real life!”

Book of Philippians

The Life Project: Philippians Matt Roberts Do you remember the seagulls in the movie “Finding Nemo”? Their role in the movie was insignificant to say the least but their high pitched cry of “MINE...MINE...MINE...” will probably be stuck in my brain forever. I believe the reason why those crazy cartoon seagulls made such a big impact in me was the fact that I could see myself, others and even the church in those annoying, self centered birds. As much as I hate it, there are a lot of times that I am all about me. What I want, what I feel, where I am hurt, where I am annoyed, what I think is important or what I think is trivial. The truth is if I am not careful, I have the tendency to allow my life revolve around ME. To mindlessly shout out “MINE” in every circumstance of life. This selfishness is a dangerous and lonely place to exist. If we operate this way it will not be long until we are surrounded by one fight after another. We will have nothing that resembles a real relationship. The Apostle Paul writes to a church in Philippi that has caught a case of the “mines”. Philippi was a small, struggling church that faced the constant threat of persecution and had lost much for the the sake of the Gospel. At some point they became tired of one another, tired at looking at the same faces, dealing with the same issues over and over again. At first I am sure it was minor annoyances but soon there was full scale chaos within the church. Men holding grudges. Women spreading rumors and gossip. Families divided by petty rivalries and disagreements. All in the name of “MINE!!!” The ApostlePaul hears of the trouble from a jail cell in Rome awaiting a verdict in his trial. He sits in a darkened cell and writes directly to the issues of the “me centered” church in Philippi. In the first two chapters of his letter he is very clear and severe. If the church is going to survive they MUST come together. We hear the words of Jesus echoing throughout the Apostles words, “a house divided against itself WILL fall. The church could no longer afford to ignore her fatal flaw. Changes were in order. The book of Philippians has a lot to say about Christian unity. The Apostle Paul very clearly tells this small struggling church that unity is key for them to withstand the onslaught of forces hostile to the gospel of Christ, for the church to maintain a credible witness to an unbelieving world and above all to be found blameless and pure when we stand before Christ. Let’s take a look at these three truths. First, when the church fails to stand united it takes it’s focus off of the calling of the great commission and begins to focus on petty, small, “me” things. We must look like sitting ducks to the enemy when we respond this way. Bickering and fighting instead of praying and contending for a hurting and lost world. Gossiping and tearing down others instead of speaking words of life and encouragement. The moment we divide ourselves, the moment we begin defending the things we believe are “mine” is the very moment we stop being the church and become a useless, dysfunctional mess! The only way we can accomplish the calling and purposes of God among us is together. Period. Second, Paul tells the Philippians that their bickering and selfishness have completely ruined any witness they might have in their community, among their families and even within the church. How many times have you heard someone look at the people inside a church and say, “if this is how they act I want nothing to do with the church”? A church united is a church with a powerful witness of community. When the church is divided we are a poor reflection of Christ to the desperate world around us. Third, Paul warns the Philippians that one day they will stand before God and account for the lives they lived and the way they treated one another. One of the most basic commands of Christ to the church was to love one another with the love of God. How are we doing with that command? What will Jesus say about our relationships with one another inside our church? Will we hear “well done!” or “you could have done so much more!”? The way we treat one another is an act of worship to God. What are you offering to him? Philippians challenges us to be a church united, to put away selfish thinking and serve the church around us. My prayer today is that my life will be a little less marked by the word “mine” and a lot more empowered to love and serve the family of Christ that I have been given. As Paul says in chapter 2 verse 14 and 15 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Amen.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Time to Confess!

I Confess:
My finger is healing better from my spiderbite than I ever imagined it would. It's still peeling, but I didnt lose all that much skin. Yay, Praise God!
I Confess:
We are going car shopping this weekend. My brother no longer needs the car we loaned to him, we aquired another car from a family member, and Bryan's car is getting up there on miles and starting to make weird sounds. I am going to trust and believe that it is all going to work out b/c stuff like this stresses me out.
I Confess:
I feel like I need a shower after dealing with our car salesman. My family has gone to him for years and he works his magic and always gets us what we need, but he is a slicked back carsales man. Ugh.
I Confess:
Drew made it to the playoffs. His team is thrilled. This is the first year any of them were old/big enough to go. I am proud of them and super excited and crazy anxious for their game tomorrow.
I Confess:
I am so glad that Drew played football this year. He's made some awesome friends... in fact he has shown a couple of them the love of Jesus and they are now coming to Rangers with him at church on Wednesday nights.
I Confess:
I am officially down 20+ pounds... and the nurse at the Dr's office yesterday commented on it. That was cool to hear. My hubby is doing a 30 day program with Isogenix and has lost 20 pounds as well.
I Confess:
The words "By the way mom, I have a boyfriend. His name is Morgan and he's Christian" would sound great.... if they weren't coming out of my 12 year old's mouth. I am not really sure what a boyfriend means in the mind of my little girl, but I met this boy the other day and he seems very nice anyhow.
I Confess:
We are like 6 wks from our mission trip to the DR and things are crazy busy at work. I feel a little overwhelmed and just pray that I can focus on what I am doing when I am doing it so when the time comes for my trip I can focus 100% on God and my daugther and serve this community.
Also... October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Have you had your mammogram done? My mom is  2x survivor and I am high risk. 1 in 8 women will get diagnosed, but early detection saves lives. I just went in yesterday and found out my breast MRI is clear... no signs of breast cancer. Have you been checked yet??

Monday, October 1, 2012

Book of Ephesians

The Life Project: Ephesians
Candice Roberts

My very favorite passage of scripture is found in Ephesians. It brings me to tears nearly
every time I read it; such is the power of God’s Word. I wanted to share it with you
Ephesians 3:14-21
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the
Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious,
unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And
I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him.
May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. And may you have
the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high
and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so
great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life
and power that comes from God. Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work
within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or
hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through
the endless ages. Amen.
I think this passage of scripture means so much to me because it speaks of the
hugeness of God, of His plan, of His love. Scripture tells me the love of Christ is too
great for me to understand. God is too great for me to understand. I was talking with
a friend the other day at work. He is not a believer, and was a little put o

ff by some
arrogant Christians he had met. These Christians seemed to have a quick answer for
everything. They acted as if they had God all figured out. I told him that the God I
serve does not fit inside my intellect, and if He did, He wouldn’t be a God I would want
to serve. He wouldn’t be big enough. But Ephesians reminds us that God is infinite,
beyond human comprehension. Our only response to this God is to fall to our knees.
God’s plans for us are tremendous. I think one of the biggest lies Satan tells today is
that you have no purpose. This could not be further from what Scripture says.
Ephesians tells us that God can accomplish more through you than you even dare to
dream. Psalm 139 says that God knew each of your days before you were even formed
in your mother’s womb. It sure sounds like you were created on purpose for a
purpose. And that purpose is huge!! It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you
come from, where you have been, what you have done. God can do amazing things
through you because God Himself is amazing! God can do huge things through you,
because God Himself is huge!!
And if God’s plans are big, God’s love is even greater! It is wide, long, high and deep.
Some Bible versions of Ephesians say that God’s love is measureless! Measureless!!
God holds the expanses of the heavens and the depths of the sea in His hands, and yet
He calls His love for you measureless! That’s BIG. That’s extraordinary love. Romans
8:38 says, “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death
can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our
worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.
Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will
ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our
Lord.” To be loved with a love so big, changes me, doesn’t it you? How could we be
the same after being recipients of that kind of love? And though Satan would like to
tell you that you are unlovable, Scripture clearly says that NOTHING, NO THING, can
separate you from God’s love. Not your past, not your addictions, not your pride, not
your sins, not your failures, not your lack of faith, I could go on and on and on. God’s
love is bigger than anything.
I am hoping this week we can allow our roots to go down deep into God’s love for us. I
pray that we will begin to dream of the plans that God can accomplish through us,
while realizing He can do even more than that. I pray that we can begin to understand
the fact that we will never be able to fathom how big our God is. And I pray that Christ
will be more and more at home in our hearts as we seek to trust in Him.

Life Group Questions

1. Do you feel sometimes feel
inadequate because you do not
understand God? When Paul says it
is impossible to understand God’s
love, His plans, what emotional
response do you have?
2. Have you ever felt like you have no
purpose? How do you discover
God’s purpose for your life? Is it a
great mystery to figure out or is it
simple? Or is it both?
3. What do you think about the
measureless love of God? How does
it change you?