The apostle Paul’s first letter to Timothy primarily deals with the doctrine of God’s church. He iterates the roles they were to play in it, the message they were to proclaim, and its precedent to demonstrate that message in how they lived. In 1 Timothy 5, Paul transitions to inform Timothy of how the church was to function as the family God. This is Christianity in action.
From Jesus’s first moments of public ministry, he has endeavored to declare the gospel of the kingdom of God. Yet, his preference was to upset any and all prevailing notions about how this kingdom would come to be and what its founder, the Messiah, would do to establish it. The disciples are certainly confused in this moment. But Jesus speaks into their confusion by relaying two striking parables about the unexpected operation of his kingdom that was right in front of them.
The middle of Psalm 119 might also be its midnight. David opens up to God in the 11th stanza, not pretending he is fine but honestly expressing his grief. His hope has shriveled. His heartache is bringing him to edge of faith, to his wit’s end. It’s easy to feel similarly to the psalmist. But fortunately, we are given the same source of hope in the middle of our heartache.
Paul’s first letter to Timothy sees the apostle instructing his young disciple in the healthy, nourishing words of “sound doctrine.” Such things Timothy was to “labor and suffer” for — to “command and teach” — to construct and conduct his entire ministry on. As Paul closes chapter 4, he gives an insightful portrait into the significance of doctrine and devotion in both the private and public life of the Christian.
The Gospel of Mark is a “no holds barred” sort of Gospel. Its matter-of-fact presentation of Jesus’s actions confront all of our preconceived notions as to what the promised Messiah is supposed to come and do and say. Whereas many fancied the Messiah sauntering into Rome on horseback with sword drawn, instead, he is sitting and dining with outcasts and sinners. Jesus continues his trend towards unexpectedness in Mark 4, as he relays the hallmark parable in all of his teachings.
In Psalm 119, the Christian is afforded with boundless encouragement. It relays to us the unceasing relevance of God’s Word through some of the most earnest, honest, human prayers in life’s intensest moments. The truths throughout the Psalms, but especially those of the 119th chapter, are what we cling to as the church. They are our unwavering, unfading confession.
Seasons of great grief and harrowing loss often make me recognize the relative “cheapness” of my profession. The most basic function of a pastor, at the human level, is to put together words in order to comfort or convict. But in times of abject loss, grief, despair, and suffering, words can often feel cheap — wholly deficient at addressing life’s emotional turmoil. What do we do, then, with this grief? David’s cry in Psalm 13 shows us how we can respond.
We are often only able to gain clarity as to why certain events happen after they occur. “Hindsight is 20/20,” so the saying goes. This is often true in our spiritual lives, too. We are only able to apprehend what God is doing in our lives after it is all done (if at all). But notwithstanding what we are brought through, the other side of every significant moment in our lives will always reveal one thing: God is good. Such is what David contemplates in the 9th stanza of Psalm 119.
In 1 Timothy, Paul is equipping Timothy with the simple truth of the gospel. The motivation for such a charge stems from the burgeoning departure from the faith that was affecting the church. And as Paul continues writing to his beloved disciple in 1 Timothy 4, he details the nature of this departure as nothing more than an abandonment of the simplicity of “sound doctrine.”
There is a stunning verse in Matthew 10 in which Christ declares that he didn’t come to bring peace, “but a sword.” This, of course, is one of Jesus’s sayings that doesn’t fit the modern narrative most have for the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It’s a statement from Jesus that is brought to light in Mark 3, in which we find a stark contrast between Jesus’s enemies and friends — and what constitutes his family.