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Scripture Union http://www.wordlive.org

Text: Prepare
As a prayer for our churches, let's sing or say the words of 'Jesus, be the centre'. (If you don't know it, use that phrase as the theme and make something up!)
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Bible passage: Bible passage: 1 Timothy 1:12-20

The Lord Pours Out His Grace on Paul
12 I am thankful to Christ Jesus our Lord. He has given me strength. I thank him that he considered me faithful. And I thank him for appointing me to serve him.
13 I used to speak evil things against Jesus. I tried to hurt his followers. I really pushed them around. But God showed me mercy anyway. I did those things without knowing any better. I wasn't a believer.
14 Our Lord poured out more and more of his grace on me. Along with it came faith and love from Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a saying that you can trust. It should be accepted completely. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
And I am the worst sinner of all. 16 But for that very reason, God showed me mercy. And I am the worst of sinners. He showed me mercy so that Christ Jesus could show that he is very patient. I was an example for those who would come to believe in him. Then they would receive eternal life.
17 The eternal King will never die. He can't be seen. He is the only God. Give him honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
18 My son Timothy, I give you these teachings. They are in keeping with the prophecies that were once made about you. By following them, you can fight the good fight. 19 Then you will hold on to faith. You will hold on to a good sense of what is right and wrong.
Some have not accepted these teachings. By doing that, they have destroyed their faith. They are like a ship that has sunk. 20 Hymenaeus and Alexander are among them. I have handed them over to Satan. That will teach them not to speak evil things against God.
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Text: Explore the Bible

Saved by grace
What motivates Paul in his mission is the overwhelming grace, mercy and peace Jesus has shown him personally (vs 2,12-16). This is the key that unlocks the whole of this letter.
Through grace God has saved us for a life that reflects him to the world, both by what we believe and say about him, as we saw yesterday, and also by who we are and how we live. Jesus is at the heart of both.
Sharing the simple truth
The simple truth of what Jesus achieved by coming to earth is a 'trustworthy saying' (v 15), something we and our church leaders must hold on to, no matter what. Someone once said that unless Christians continually remind ourselves of the cross of Christ, we'll forget it and lose our love for him.
How is our church sharing the simple stories of what Jesus has done for us? Including our church leaders? Could we prompt some telling? With reminders of their own experience of Jesus' love and of their first calling and empowering (v 18), our church leaders will be equipped to 'fight the battle well'.
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Text: Respond
Paul gets carried away in praise of God (v 17), when he recalls all God has done for him through Jesus. Praise the Lord in the same way - with the most exuberant, glorifying phrases you can. Terry Clutterham
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Text: Deeper Bible study

Paul is never afraid to tell his story, believing that God has used him as a visual aid, to give others hope. He tells the story of his conversion but focuses on his commission. He does not spare himself as he describes the words he used about Christ and Christians, the acts he committed and the motives that drove him (v 13). But that only serves to highlight God's lavish grace to him, the wonder of being called into his service and the faith and love that have been his companions along the way. As he looks back, since his calling decades before, he can testify to God's hand upon his life, as many of us can too.
Paul formally gives what is the first of five 'trustworthy sayings' in the Pastoral Epistles (v 15); maxims that should be noted and remembered (the others are 1 Timothy 3:1; 4:8-10; 2 Timothy 2:11-13; Titus 3:4-8a). The first concerns the nature of the gospel itself. It reassures his readers that no one is outside the grace of God. No clearer example of this can be found than that of Paul himself. Paul in his ongoing ministry regularly reviewed downwards his own standing, from being 'the least of the apostles' (1 Corinthians 15:9) to now 'the worst [of sinners]'. This served to encourage others to believe that what God did for Paul he could do also for them.
Having contrasted the false teachers with his own story, Paul challenges Timothy to stand up for truth, to fulfil his calling and to fight for the gospel. The consequences of not doing so are illustrated by the excommunication of two prominent members of the fellowship. How important, then, to clarify your focus on Christ and eternal life. The glory of God should move us to praise and worship. So live for him, with, as your guides, the commandments of God and a good conscience.
Colin Sinclair
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Text: Background: Paul - the early years We first meet Paul as a young man at the death of Stephen (Acts 7:57 - 8:1). Of his earlier life we know relatively little except what can be gleaned from Acts and his letters.

Family background

We know from Philippians 3:4-6 that he was a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin and it seems that his early upbringing confirmed him in his Jewish faith.

He was born and grew up in Tarsus (Acts 21:39), a city which still exists in southern Turkey. In Roman times it probably had a population of about half a million, and was an important commercial centre and seat of learning.

Here Paul encountered not only the Jewish thinking of his family but Greek and Roman ideas. As a citizen of Tarsus he enjoyed the privileges of Roman citizenship (Acts 22:25).

Education

It seems likely, in view of Paul's education, that his family were reasonably wealthy. At some point Paul moved to Jerusalem (Acts 26:4).

Here he was educated under the Rabbi Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Gamaliel was a member of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:33-40) and was part of the more liberal wing of the Pharisees.

Religious fervour

The consequence of his early years and his Jerusalem education was that he became an ardent and enthusiastic Pharisee and persecutor of the Christians. As a Jew his pedigree, education and commitment were unquestioned (Philippians 3:4-6).

Fine figure of a man?

We know little of his appearance except that he was probably not an impressive person (1 Corinthians 2:3,4; 2 Corinthians 10:10). Some scholars think that Galatians 4:13-15 and 6:11 suggest that he may have had a problem with his eyesight.

An early text describes him as 'a man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness'. By the standards of the time this need not be seen as unflattering.

John Grayston
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Text: Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year. Today's readings are:

Job 7,8

Psalms 81,82

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