Thursday, October 31, 2013

Giving Away What We Don't Have

We are to be examples to believers in love, in spirit, it faith, in purity (1Timothy 4:12). We have been discussing love, now we will look at spirit. Many modern translations leave out the word spirit. However it appears in the word for word translations. So we will include it in our study.

"In spirit" some take to mean behavior. But that does not make sense, because the phrase "be an example" already implies behavior. One author of a Biblical commentary wrote that spirit meant enthusiasm. That would certainly make sense in our American culture, but I have doubts that Paul means we should have "team spirit" as those who watch their baseball team playing on the field.

I believe "in spirit" refers more to our character. In modern language we may say, "She has a purity of humility about her" or "He has a spirit of a servant about him." In other words, he or she is literal a humble person.

We are not to strive to be examples of love, faith and purity without those qualities being in us. We cannot give away what we do not have.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Love in Daily Living

Jesus is our example of what love looks like in day to day living. He was kind even to his enemies exemplified by washing Judas' feet (John 13:2-27). Yet he spoke plainly to his enemies about their faults as we hear in his conversations with the Pharisees (John 9:39-41).

He obeyed the laws (Matthew 22:15-21). He honored the poor (Matthew 19:29; Mark 12:42-44). Yet he never forgot who he was ( John 12:8; 13:3-5; 16:28). He did not take the praise of men to his heart (John 2:23-25; 6:14-15).

He responded kindly to those who came to him with pure hearts and was direct to those who tried to trap him (John 8:1-11). He sought out the outcast of society (John 4), and answered honest questions of the wealthy (John 3:1-21; 20:38-40).

In other words, love is not deceptive, manipulative or blind.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

We Define Love

As we have been discussing, we are to be examples in love, faith and purity. It is important that we understand each of this, because Satan distorts truth even in definitions of words.

When a husband beats or strikes his wife, it is not an act of love. When a parent demeans a child to control him if her, it us not an act of love. When a friend speaks evil behind a person's back, it is not love. When we act out of self interest in a way that harms others, it is not love.

If we say love is giving things to others or physically dying for another person, we may still be wrong because such things can be done without love but a sense of duty (1 Corinthians 13). Paul defines love as, patient, kind, not self focused, does not envy, does not continually talk about personal achievements, not easily provoked and does not think evil of others. It does not rejoice in wrong doing, but does rejoice in the truth. It bears all things. It believes all things. It practices hope in all things. It endures all things. And yes, the greatest act of love is dying for a friend (John 15:13).

Today we pray that God will manifest himself to others through his love being displayed in us.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Failing a Test of Patience

Ministers, young and old, male or female, whether lay ministers or pastors of churches, we are called to be examples to one another. Our way of speaking, the type of language, our tone and attitude and our conduct should all reflect love, faith and purity (1 Timothy 4:12).

It sounds sweet, but it is sometimes difficult when others are speaking to us with contempt or disrespectful. Our human nature is to defend ourselves, and that is necessary at times. But when it is, we remain committed to reflect love, faith and integrity.

If we fail, as I have, at times most miserably, God remains faithful to teach us through patient discipline to be more and more like his Son (Romans 8:28-29; Hebrew 12:1-11). And when our hearts condemn us, or the enemy accuses us, God is greater than both of them (1 John 3:20).

Friday, October 25, 2013

Young Preachers

We are exhorted not to despise someone's youth (1 Timothy 4:12; 1 John 2:14). In other words, we are not to be dismissive of young people whom God has called to teach. Understanding of truth comes from the Father (Matthew 16:16-17).

If we are young, we are also instructed not to despise the elderly but to learn from them (1Timothy 5:1-2; Titus 2:1-6).

God chooses whom he will use, how he will use and when he will use.

Do not doubt God's calling. Be obedient whether you are young or old.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Investing in Stocks

Imagine you have received a large inheritance but it was stipulated in the will that the only way to receive the money was by investing it into the stock market within two weeks. The benefactor also stipulated that all money must be invested in only one of two stocks and must remain in the stock for one year before it can be sold for cash value.

One stock has gained wealth in the millions, but showed signs of crashing. It could happen in the next twenty four hours or remain stable for several months. The other stock had showed slow but steady growth since it's inception, but was guaranteed to spike drastically in the next twenty four hours.

Which stock would you choose?

Peter writes " But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,... (2 Peter 2:10-13).

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's the Profit?

Paul writes "...godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). We know that the eternal profit of godliness is spending eternity in the presence of our precious brother and Savior Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father God with his Holy Spirit.

But does not godliness bring us sorrow on earth? It was because of the preaching of the gospel that the deciples were persecuted and eventually murdered. Does not abstaining from gossip, political dishonesty and manipulation cause us to be excluded from many positions of power. Does not godliness cause persecution in today's society? Is not the persecutions of Christians around the world increasing, even in America, because of standing up for righteousness? How then is godliness profitable for life here?

Godliness produces a clear conscience, which increases restful sleep. A life consistent in godliness avoids being torn between two political foes, being trapped in our own lies, protects against suspicion and distrust because people know we will always tell the truth. Godliness through faith in Jesus builds endurance, endurance builds character, character builds hope for the future because the Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:3-5).

No, godliness does not guarantee profit in things of the world, but it always ends in peace of mind for the believer and great spiritual gain.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two exercises

In America there is a lot of talk about exercise, though the general public does more talking about it than doing it. Exercise tones the muscles, pumps oxygen throughout your veins and help fight off colds and flus and various illnesses. It may not cause us to live longer, but it will help us enjoy the remaining years we have left on this earth.

However, when we die, our bodies will decay, whether we exercised or not.

Godliness is exceedingly more beneficial. It not only sustains us in this earthly body, it has the benefit of eternal rewards. As Paul puts it, "bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8; Hebrews 5:14, 12:10-11).

I am grateful God has given us both gifts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sources of Strength

Several years ago, While at work my head began to feel like it was in a vice. My stomach felt nauseous and my limbs were weak. I kept working, hoping and praying that I was not getting sick. When noon arrived we all went to the lunch room. As I began to eat the vegetables I had made for lunch, I could literally feel strength coming back into my limbs. My head stopped hurting, and my stomach settled down. I had not realized how long I had gone without eating.

We can have the same experience spiritually. We do not realize how long it has been since we spent time talking and listening to God or sat down to absorb his Word. Paul writes to Timothy that we are nourished through words of faith and good doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6).

There is great strength in solid doctrine. There is sweet comfort in words of faith. Let's share those with one another today.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Table is Set

I have heard testimonies from missionaries and those in prison for the sake of the gospel. Whatever their individual sufferings, there is one thing most hold in common. The captors feed them sparingly, if at all. The food has often been rancid and sometimes contained worms. Other times it had poor nourishment having been watered down so much that it barely held flavor of any sort.

In each of these stories, though the believer may have struggled with fear and anger, he or she learned to give thanks to God for what they received. In many cases the prisoner remained healthy despite poor nourishment. Much like the believers in Hebrew chapter eleven, others did not receive deliverance but suffered malnutrition. But in all cases, they testify of the grace and love of Christ as he poured out blessing into their spirits even in the presence of their enemies.

It is important to give thanks for our food, not glibly, not with resentment, but with gratefulness for what God has chosen to set before us (1 Timothy 4:4).

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Godly Grocery Shopping

Paul wrote concerning food that "everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer" (1Timothy 4:3-5). Does this mean we are free to eat every kind of food regardless of its origin? Does this free us from any responsibility concerning the kinds of foods we put into our bodies?

Notice first that Paul said "everything God created is good", implying all thongs God created for food is good. What did God create for food? Meat is given to us to eat (Deuteronomy 12:15; Acts 10:10-16). He has also given every plant and fruit that yields seed for food (Genesis 3:29). Yet some trees are not for food (Deuteronomy 20:20). (Can you imagine putting pine needles on top of your cake, or chomping down on a salad of poison oak?).

All foods are lawful for us to eat, but not all foods are healthy for our bodies. An excellent guideline is moderation (1 Corinthians 6:12-13). But whatever we choose to eat, we need to always give thanks (1 Corinthians 4:4).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Many Paths to Death: One Path to God

Not every teaching that names Jesus is of God. There are lying spirits which use religion to kill and destroy. Many of us know of the crusades when men and women were tortured to give up one religion for another. We know on modern religions which require hatred against others. There are many false gods whose worship requires severe self inflicted wounds or deprive children of nourishment. There are those who devote themselves to angels, philosophies, sectarianism, and boast in themselves.

All of these reject Jesus' claim, "I am the way, the Truth and Life. No one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6) and "by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself, it is a gift from God; not of works lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8).

We also need to remember faith produces works (Hebrew 11:6). Works do not produce faith.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

God Reliant

At the core of every demonic doctrine is the rejection of God's gifts and commands in exchange for the reliance on self. It began in the heavens with Satan's rebellion against God, spread to some of the angels, then was perpetrated by demonic forces on the earth (Isaiah 14:12-14; 2 Peter 2:4; Genesis 3:4-6).

We need a savior. We have all rebelled against the Truth (Romans 3:23). All of us, more than once in our lives, have chosen our own way above his (Romans 3:12). But God took on the form of man so that he might take our punishment upon himself (Hebrews 1; John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

He has made us into new men and women (2 Corinthians 5:17) and has given us his Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12). We are not ashamed of the gospel because it holds the power to free each person from their bondage (Romans 1:16). We are not self reliant (1 Peter 5:5). We are God reliant (2 Corinthians 1:10).

Monday, October 14, 2013

Doctrines of Demons

The letter to Timothy warns that in the last days people will commit themselves to demonic spirits and doctrines of demons. What examples of these doctrines are you seeing?

Part of yoga teaches that a person's core strength is more than muscles in the belly built up from exercise. It is the inner person that draws on internal strength that is truly centered. When something is truly strong at its core, it is unshakable.

There is some truth in that saying, but their source is off. Depending on one's self to remain unshakable is like depending on the ocean to remain calm forever (Genesis 3;5-6; James 1:2-6; Isaiah 57:20-21). Our stability comes from depending on God (Psalm 1; Hebrews 12:25-29).

Friday, October 11, 2013


Scripture speaks of a great falling away from the truth in the last days before Jesus returns to judge the world. People will become obsessed with self worship, forbid marriage, and will devote themselves to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons (1Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 4:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9).

This was hard to imagine in my mother's childhood. At that time in America, everyone knew about God whether they worshiped him or not. People felt guilty about not going to church. When you said you were a Christian, everyone knew what to expect from you. The standards were high and people who said they were Christians, but did not live like Christ, were called hypocrites.

Now, just within the last fifty years, church attendance has dropped drastically. Active Christianity is often ridiculed in the media and respect of the Bible is rare. People call themselves Christians who never darken the doors of a church, live lives contrary to
God's specific commands, rarely, if ever, read the Bible and expect to go to heaven. Others devote themselves to eastern religions, spending years studying ancient writings that teach we are all gods.

These indeed are the Last Days. Remember, Christ will return when the world least expects him (Luke 12:40-48; 2 Peter 3:4).

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Power if His Resurrection

"Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory" (1 Timothy 3:16).

We live godly lives through the power of His resurrection.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Walk the Talk

A buttress is a projecting structure of wood or masonry that supports a wall or building. The broadened base of a tree is a kind of buttress to keep the tree from falling. Paul writes that those who belong to God are a pillar and buttress for the truth (1 Timothy 3:15).

People do not generally read the Bible, but they often read Christians. What knowledge are they gaining about God from observing your life (Hebrews 13:7-8)? Are contributing to the continuance of truth, or are the destruction of it in your world?

Ask God for the wisdom, boldness and strength you need. He will give it to you. Then walk and speak as God's representative.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Receiving Bold Faith

Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience and remaining faithful in all things deacons and their wives gain boldness in the faith (1 Timothy 3:7-13). Remaining steadfast in our faith no matter what the circumstances, produces even mor faith because our experience with God's deliverance increases with each trial (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 1:7, 4:12-14).

Our struggles may be painful, but learning through remaining faithful produces an inner peaceful righteousness (Hebrews 12:11).

One of the first deacons appointed in the Bible was Steven. He was a faith filled and faithful man, who was filled with the Holy Spirit. Though his job was waiting tables (acts 6:1-3) God worked signs and wonders through him (Acts 6:8). He was so bold in his faith that he caught the attention of the enemies of Christ. They eventually put him to death (Acts chapter 7).

This world is not our home (Hebrews 11:13-16). We are Ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom sent to bring the message of that citizenship ( 2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Ephesians 2:19-22); 1 Peter 2:9).

Monday, October 7, 2013

Called to Serve

A deacon has the same qualifications as a Bishop. A deacon must be sober minded, not double tongued, not given to wine, not greedy but "holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Timothy 3:8-9). The deacon must first prove himself called to the position by taking on those type of responsibilities without the title (1 Timothy 3:10). He must have one wife and be in control of the children who live in the home (3:12).

Not only is the deacon under these commands, but his wife must also meet the standards (1 Timothy 3:11).

Did you know these high standards were required in order to wait on and serve people who sat at tables eating a meal? That's right. The first deacons were a kind of waiter. Luke wrote about it in Acts chapter six. Deacons were appointed to wait on tables and to make sure everyone was treated fairly.

Here is the message to us. No task is more important than another. We are all called to the highest of standards. We are all ministers, representatives of Christ, whatever our function in his body.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Under a Microscope

We know that the Pharisees set up traps for Jesus on a regular basis (Matthew 12:10; Luke 11:54, 23:2; John 8:6). Yet no one was able to truthfully convict him of wrong doing (John 8:46). So a pastor or bishop must have a good reputation outside the church as well as inside the church (1 Timothy 3:7).

If you find yourself in a situation were individuals are examining your work under a microscope in an effort to find errors, it can be unnerving. Feelings of anger or resentment can seep across your emotions. It is unfortunate that some people thrive on searching for wrong doing and seem to take pleasure in stirring things up. As followers of Christ, we must expect this to happen sooner or later (John 15:18-20).

Our responsibility is to remain faithful in our tasks (Isaiah 30:21; Jeremiah 7:23; Colossians 1:10, 2:6-7; Ephesians 4:1, 5:8). My temptation is to become defensive, but scripture teaches us, "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility:for God resists the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:5-6).

Thursday, October 3, 2013

An Appropriate Age

I had a son who was tall and stout for his age. His older brother tended toward the smaller side during the developing years. Often people mistook the younger son as the older one and were surprised when his behavior was that of a two year old, and not a four year old.

The community of believers can make the same mistake. They note a teenager that displays evidence of maturity beyond his or her years. The pressure builds to give that individual more and more responsibility until the young person begins to either buckle under the pressure and give up all together, or become filled with pride, looking down on others.

It is good to give young people responsibilities. At the age of twelve I started teaching six to eight year olds after church so their parents could spend time at the altar praying. It would not have been appropriate for me to teach adults (1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Peter 5:5-6).

We must follow godly principles in recognizing leaders.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Six Year Old Pastor

Growing up there were several celebrities who became Christians. The religious community paraded the new converts like trophies in a display case. The emphases on their fame overshadowed their need as new believers to learn and grow. As a consequence many fell back into previous sin. Their experience with believers was in essence the same as with unbelievers, the main purpose was to make the most use of them.

Paul warns Timothy, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil" (1 Timothy 3:6). When someone first comes to Christ, they need to grow in faith and knowledge. We would not expect a six year old to pastor a church, why would we put a new born babe in Christ in that position?

A few sentences later Paul writes, "And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless" (1 Timothy 3:10). If this holds true for deacons, it holds true fir Bishops (pastors). Help the spiritual child grow into leadership if that is indeed what God has gifted him or her with.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lessons in a Waiting Room

My office window opens into a waiting room where families often come to receive assistance. Some children are well behaved. Others are climbing on chairs, chasing each other around the room, screaming and generally causing chaos. The difference in the children reflects the consistency of the parents.

Some parents consistently teach and discipline their children so that they understand how to behave in public and to respect others. Other parents consistently ignore their children's poor behavior not wanting to spend the energy it takes to teach young hearts correct behaviors. The results are extremely predictable. The unruly child becomes the unruly teenage, who becomes the unruly adult, who will struggle with authority, often spending time in jail.

Paul writes, "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?" (1 Timothy 3:5).

Being a bishop or pastor requires commitment to speak the truth and to enforce spiritual discipline when necessary (Matthew 18:15-20). If the minister is more interested in maintaining popularity than shepherding the flock, the sheep will not mature properly. Their relationship with God will suffer (1 Corinthians 5:1-11).