Friday, November 29, 2013

The Stolen Parsonage

Years ago a man came to pastor our little church in the country.  The tiny congregation had saved enough money to put a down payment on trailer they extended as a parsonage for a pastor.  This new minister immediately began removing volunteers and taking over all responsibilities.  He not only told the volunteer janitor he was not needed, but told the volunteer secretary her services were not wanted.

The result?  There was no longer any accountability for the pastor.  Within a year he resigned and the church was left with an empty bank account. There was no longer any money for a parsonage.

Yes, sometimes ministers must be confronted, and Paul tells us it must be done in public (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Talking Sheep

Timothy is instructed to beware when someone accuses a Bishop or Pastor.  He must not consider it unless there are at minimum two to three witnesses.  Is it because ministers are less likely to fail or that they get more passes than lay people?  No, it is because leaders are in the limelight and are the most obvious targets for anyone who has a habit of judging others.

Pastor and Bishops become targets because they speak the truth and correction.  Human nature does not like to be corrected and often lashes out at anyone who tries to attempts it (John 7:6-7).

Leaders are not here to please, but to love and speak truth.  If we lead honestly we will make some people happy and some people upset.  It is part of the human experience.  It stands to reason then, that we as members of a flock avoid listening to or spreading negative talk about our leaders (1 Timothy 5:19-20).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Pastor and the Ox

I know of a wealthy man who is plotting to reduce the pay of middle class workers when there is no financial need to do so.  This man has the reputation of being a kind of slave driver to his immigrant workers.  Yet he spends his time poking around town in shops and caf├ęs joining in gossip and destructive rumors. It is difficult to understand such behavior.

Many who would detest this man's behavior would still expect a person in full time ministry to remain at or below poverty level.  God says we treat oxen better than that.

"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

The minister is worthy of full time good pay with benefits.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Words that Bite

We have said that it is not sinful for a widow to remarry, but there is more to Paul's warning about young widows.  Some younger women become restless and spend their time visiting friends instead of working (1 Timothy 5:11-13).  The idle life leads to idle gossip (2 Peter 5:13).  Peter joins Paul in warning against such spreading of negative news (1Peter 4:15).

That kind of sharing does not please God.  The book of Ephesians gives us a standard for speech.  "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29).

   I have been taught and learned from experience that though we think the person we are sharing with is trustworthy, and they may be,  our negative words tend to come back to bite us.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Breaking Vows

Paul writes, "for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith" (1 Timothy 5:11). This not only sounds harsh, it seems to contradict what he wrote to the Roman believers that a widow can remarry (Romans 7:1-4).  Therefore we must look more closely at what he said to Timothy.

A couple of days ago, we referred to Anna who as an example of a widow being supported by the church.  Her entire life was dedicated to service in the temple ( Luke 2:36).  We are instructed in the book of Ecclesiastes that we should be careful that we do not break a vow to God and incur judgement  (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7).

So Paul is not restricting young widows from marrying, in fact he says specifically that they should marry in (1 Timothy 5:14). He is reasoning that young women still have a desire to marry which will most likely result in breaking their vow to remain single.  Therefore they should never make such a vow.

When Paul writes "They have cast off their first faith" he is not referring to the faith if salvation, but refers to the faith of their vow to remain single.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What About Young Widows

We said yesterday for the younger women to turn to family for support instead of the church (1 Timothy 5:3,9).  Two reactions spring to mind.  Does this mean the church is not supposed to help young widows?  And, What if her father or family refuse to support her?

Let's be clear, on the first question, Paul's instructions do not mean that the church does not help the young widow with food or clothing.  Paul is referring to the custom of widows living in the church, and the church being their sole support, similar to Anna who met Mary and Joseph in the temple (Luke 2:36-38).

As to the family who refuses to support a relative who is a young widow, Paul writes, "But if anyone does not provide for his own , and especially from his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (1 Timothy 5:8).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Qualifying for Support

Paul gives detailed instructions to the church concerning widows.  Women who have lost their husbands, who are sixty years old or more, who have no adult children who can take her into their home, and who live a righteous life are to be supported by the body of Christ (2:36).

There are few women who meet these qualification.  Most have children who can take care of them in their elder years.

The hours in grief seem endless to those who have family, can you imagine that kind of suffering with no one to express compassion for you?  A widow finds all that has become life to her has vanished in a moment.  Often married friends forget her.  The single women already have friendships built and unintentionally leave her out.

 Pray about befriending one of the widows who attend your church.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rebuke or Exhort

The tone of our voice reflects the meditations of our heart. Let's use the brief inquiry, "What's the matter with you?" You can ask with sincere concern because someone is ill, or you can ask out of frustration that a person is not doing what you want him or her to do. Or take the sentence "Where are you going?" It can be asked out of polite curiosity, as when someone has told you he is going on a vacation, or it can be asked in anger when he is leaving the room in the middle of an argument.

Paul is making that kind of a distinction between a rebuke and an exhortation. A rebuke means to criticize sharply. To exhort is to give warnings or appeals. Paul tells Timothy that we must not rebuke an elder man, a younger man, a elder woman or a younger woman. In other words we are to speak to everyone as close family members whom we love (1 Timothy 5:1).

It is a wise person who shows respect when it is necessary to confront someone.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Constant Communication

The fourth chapter of Timothy contains warnings against doctrines of demons, hypocrisy, and deceitful spirits. Paul then gives clear instructions how to avoid these evils, by studying, practicing, and exhorting the Word of God.

The chapter ends with a summery, "Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:16).

Keeping a close watch on ourselves takes effort and constant communication with God. We all have people whom we influence and who influence us. Our beliefs have a far greater significance than most of us realize.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Faulty Methods

Paul later writes to Timothy, "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word if truth" (2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:13).

It is imperative that we study the context of any given principle in God's word. For example John chapters 14-16 say numerous times that we can ask what we will, and the Father will give it to us. Many believers interpret those promises based on our present culture and not on the context of the entire teaching of those three chapters. They wrongfully conclude that we could ask for anything that fulfills our desires and receive it.

Reading the entire three chapters as a unit, the way Jesus spoke it, we learn that the "anything" relates to bearing spiritual fruit in the midst of tribulation (John 14:13; 27; 15:1-5, 8, 16, 18, 20; 16:1-4, 24-33).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Miniature Theologians

Devote your self to doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13). Does this mean we must all be theologians? What exactly does doctrine mean and what is a theologian?

Doctrine is ": a principle or position or the body of principles in a branch of knowledge or system of belief". In our context, doctrine is the underlining principles found in the truth of God's word, (I.e. Jesus is always with us { Matthew 28:20}).

A theologian is one who " studies religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world". We may not earn a living as a theologian, but all believers need to practice our faith in daily living and meditate on God's involvement in our daily lives.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

First Graders

When I was a teenager, I taught a class of first graders. One Sunday with great enthusiasm I was teaching the story if Noah. The kids were on the edge of their seats staring up at me. It crossed my mind, "I'm good at this." A child raised his hand. When I called on him he said, "Teacher you're spitting on me!"

I learned several lessons from that little boy, not the least of which was the dangers of pride.

As we prepare and exhort others, we learn in a minimum of three ways. We learn from our study. We learn while we are teaching, and we learn from those who respond to our exhortation. The act of organizing our thoughts so that we are able to express them to others is a great teacher (1 Timothy 4:13).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Devoted to a Exhortation

Paul instructs Timothy To devote himself to exhortation. All who are called to teach must likewise devote themselves to exhortation. But there are two ways to view that instruction. One is to exhort others. If Timothy is called to minister, he must exhort.

But it could also mean to devote one's self to receiving exhortation. We must have teachable spirits if we are to teach others. As Paul wrote just a few sentences later, "for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Devote - to Commit by a Solemn Act

Reading scripture takes priority over reading other books. God's Word gives us direction, correction and protection (Psalm 1; 119:105; Proverbs 1:1-5; 2Timothy 3:16).

Our physical bodies cannot survive without food and liquid, neither can our spirits survive without God's a Word and obedience to his voice.

Paul told Timothy to devote himself to reading scripture (1 Timothy 4:13). Can we do any less?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Climbing Mountains

The standard by which all other readings are measured is the Holy Scripture. If an author makes a statement that either has no scriptural backing, or the way the author applies a scripture is weak, then proceed only with great caution. If the book denies Jesus is Lord and has come in the flesh, dispose of the book.

I heard a friend say to a group of ladies the other day, "Women, be patient. Remember what the Buddhists say, 'One mountain, many path's'". I quickly responded, "You just have to make sure you are on the right mountain."

What my friend said had a measure if truth. But the saying can lead to deception, because it teaches all religions lead to God. Jesus said he is only one way to go to the Heavenly Father (John 14:6), and only if the Father draws him (John 6:43). The good news is, there is a measure in which The Father draws each of us (John 1:4-5,9; 3:16; Romans 1:20; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9).

The point is we must know the scripture if we are to use it as a measure. So above all other reading, read the Bible. Then read other Christian authors.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I knew a young woman devoted to The Lord who refused to read any other book than the Bible. She did not want to be influenced by anyone else's ideas but depended solely on her personal understanding of God's Word. Her intention was good, but her reasoning was faulty. Taking her reasoning to the logical end, she would have to stop having conversations with others, because we are all influenced by people with whom we interact on a regular basis.

God is the author of the gift of being able to express ideas in writing. Paul wrote to Timothy to bring his books to him that he had left at a friend's house (2 Timothy 5:14; 1 Timothy 4:13). Paul read books in addition to the scriptures; the scriptures always remaining the governing authority.

Indeed, we need to be careful of which authors we choose to read. We must look up any scriptures referenced to make sure the understandings expressed are consistent with the Word of God. But is the Holy Spirit not able to cause us to recognize false teaching? Is God unable to speak through other people into our lives? Isn't refusing to read Christian authors equivalent to rejecting one of God's gifts to the body (1 Corinthians 12:15-28)?

Pray before, during and after reading, but read.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Three Tasks

Remember Eve's temptation and failure? She went to the forbidden tree and was focusing on it (Genesis 3:6). Remember Abraham obeying God, packing up his wife and servants and heading to a foreign land? His focus was on God's ability to sustain him (Hebrews 6:13-15, 11:8-12). Victory or failure depends on whether we look to ourselves or to God for wisdom.

If we want to be effective leaders, whether to individuals or as pastors of congregations, we must maintain a regular study of God and his word. Paul gives us three priorities; reading, exhortation, and doctrine (1 Timothy 4:13). We will be looking at each of these.

The amount of time set aside to these tasks will vary depending on individual circumstances. The woman who works a full time job and has a toddler cannot devote the same amount of time to these as the woman who has retired and has no children at home. The man who works a full time job and has a young family cannot devote as much time as a full time pastor. Noting this, we all need to make time to include these tasks on a regular schedule.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Megaphone

Paul writes to Timothy that we are to be examples of purity. Simply put, we are to live lives that honor God and are worthy of our calling (1 Timothy 4:12; Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 4:10).

A king's scepter was a symbol of his authority. It symbolizes the quality of character of the king such as the Hana-sceptre, the shepherd's staff. The hook at the top symbolizing the rescuing a sheep from wondering or pulling it out of brushes in which it had fallen. The straight part of the staff used to beat the enemies of the sheep.

Jesus was called the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20), but the scepter of his kingdom is Righteousness (Hebrews 1:8). He came to deliver us from the power of sin in our lives (Romans 7:14-8:4), that we should no longer be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6-7).

Our purity must be visible to everyone around us. Our actions speak so loudly that words are often drowned out.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Evidence and Substance

Faith is the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen," and we are to be examples of this faith (Hebrew 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:12).

The child awakens in the morning to the sound of someone in the kitchen. The aroma of bacon wafts through the house as he throws off the bed covers and nearly skips to the breakfast table. Mom had promised his favorite pancakes, eggs and bacon, the evidence of which he detected in the sounds and smells. The substance of his faith in his mother's promise was his unusually quick dispense of warm cozy blankets and bare feet on the floor as he ran to greet his mother.

The bride stands in front of the full length mirror while the last if the pearl buttons down the back of her lace gown are closed by the matron if honor. The hair dresser pushes one stray hair back into place. The Bride's smile is radiant. She is getting married to the man if her dreams. The substance of her faith in his promise to marry her is the gown, the wedding party, the invitations and the arrangements. The evidence of his promise are the months or years of consistent words and actions of love, his continued proclamations of the same and sound if his voice in the sanctuary. She is getting married today.

Our faith is not blind faith. It is based on the evidence of God that surrounds us and his continual rescuing us from temptations. The substance of our faith is our obedience and the consistent comfort of his presence.

We exemplify this by our choices in trusting him.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Faith Never Stands Alone

Paul writes that we are to be examples of faith. This word is one of the most used words, second to love, and is one of the most distorted words. The world uses faith as though faith in and for anything is sufficient. They teach doctrines of demands so that faith in any god or faith in self, or just faith that things will work themselves out is all that is needed. They teach that faith alone is the virtue.

But when Paul talks about faith, he is not speaking of faith disjointed from any object of faith. He is referring to faith in the only true God and Jesus Christ whom God sent (John 17:3). It is faith that God himself will cause things to work out that we are to be exemplify ( Romans 8:28-29; Hebrews 13:20-21).

How can we be examples of faith? Most often it is through trials that people observe our faith. The author of Hebrews writes, "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, observing the outcome of their conduct. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:7-8).

We demonstrate faith through actions (Hebrews 11; James 2:18-26).