Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Ahead to 2011

Well it’s almost 2011. That means it’s time to celebrate the passing of one year and welcome in another. I spoke to my kids tonight at church about this very thing. I thought I would share with you some of the things that I shared with them. These are things that we should be thinking about as we look forward to the year ahead of us.

When you think about New Years and the celebration that goes along with it there are a few things that come to mind. This time of year we have the symbols of the baby representing the birth of a new year. There is the symbol of the old man representing the old, outgoing year. Many of you will eat black eyed peas hoping that it will bring you good fortune or luck next year. (I like the Danish tradition better which is to eat doughnuts on New Year’s Day.)
As many of us do, we will watch the ball drop in Times Square and countdown to a new year. (I asked the kids tonight how many of them had ever watched Dick Clark count down the New Year and they looked at me like I was crazy. So, I had to ask how many of them had watched Ryan Seacrest count down the New Year.)

The biggest tradition of the New Year however is the “New Year’s resolution.” The number one resolution made by American’s every year is to lose weight; the second is to stop smoking. Those of us that are Christians should resolve some things for this year as well. We should resolve to read our Bible more, to pray more, to be a better witness for Christ. We should resolve to be more loving, compassionate, and patient. In essence we should resolve to be more like Christ.

In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul tells the church that he is pressing forward in his walk with Christ. In so doing he will be forgetting the things of the past and focusing all of his attention on the future. I wish this year we would learn to let go of the past and look to the future. Many of us cannot move forward for Christ because we are looking over our shoulder at the past. The past is the past and there is nothing that can be done to change it. I suggest that you do as Paul did, and forget those past things that are weighing you down. You may say, “You don’t know what I’ve been through.” This may be true. I may not know what you have been through, but I do know the only way you can move forward is to forget it. Forget your past stupidity, past sorrow, past sin, past suffering, and move forward.

The problem with resolutions is that we do not follow through with them most of the time. Someone will resolve to lose weight so in January they will spend time at the gym and eat plain baked potatoes. In February however they will spend time watching American Idol and eating potato chips. Paul knowing that this would be a problem gives us three pieces of advice in the following verses.

  1. Help each other (verse 17) - As much as we like to think we can do things on our own, we truly need the help of others. If I am encouraging you, and you are encouraging me then together we will be helped.
  2. Keep away from those that will distract you (verses 18, 19) - If there is something that is inhibiting your walk with Christ then stay away from it. It may be a person, a thing, a place. What ever it is, stay away.
  3. Keep your eyes on God (verse 20) - If we keep our eyes on the Lord then He will always lead us in the right direction.

I hope this is the best year you have ever had.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Three Wise Men (Fact and Fiction)

Well let me begin by saying “Merry Christmas.” I hope you have a wonderful day with your families, but most of all I hope at some point today you remember what we celebrate this day. Today the greatest gift was given, the gift of Jesus Christ.

Since it is Christmas I thought I would give you something to think about. Something that has interested me for several years is the story of the “Three Wise Men.” This story is so interesting because what we believe about these men is not totally true. The story of the wise men goes something like this, “Mary delivers the baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem. Just after the baby is born a group of shepherd show up, followed by three wise men with gifts.” When we set up nativity scenes there is the baby, Mary, Joseph, some sheep, a shepherd and three men with crowns. Let me give you four things to think of.

Myth #1 – Why “three” wise men? The Bible never tells us an exact number. All the Bible says is that a group of wise men came from the east in search of the Messiah. The Bible never says that there were three of them. There could have been three, but there could have been thirty, or three hundred for that matter. The reason we have always assumed there were three is because there were three gifts given (gold, frankincense and myrrh.)

Myth #2 – Would it surprise you if I told you that the wise men were never at the manger in Bethlehem? Well, they weren’t. In fact when the wise men found Jesus he could have been as old as two years. Sometime after these men saw the star they came to Herod, according to Matthew chapter 2, and asked Herod where the young child was supposed to be born. Of course Herod did not know the answer, so he asked some scholars who told them in Bethlehem. Herod asked what time they saw the star appear, and asked them to come back and tell him where the baby is once they have found him.

In the same chapter of Matthew we are told that the wise men find Mary and the baby in a house, not a manger. They enter the house and worship the baby, presenting unto him gifts. Of course Herod wanted to harm the baby, not worship him, so the wise men never returned him. When Herod determines that the men are not coming back he has all the young children two years old and younger killed, trying to kill the baby king. It very well could be that at this time Jesus was as old as two, since this was the age of the children Herod had killed.

Fact #1 – These men were wise. These men knew what many others in Jerusalem should have known. If a group of men from the east could figure out that the Messiah was born, then why could God’s people in Jerusalem not figure this out? What a shame that the people of God were not looking for Him. Daniel figured it out; the people in Jerusalem should have as well.

It has been said that wise men still search for Jesus. What a shame it will be when one day soon the Lord Jesus appears to call His church home, and God’s people are not looking for him. It will take many by surprise when Jesus comes to the earth the second time.

Fact #2 – These men were determined. It took these men up to two years to find this child. They were determined that no matter how long it took, or how far they had to journey, they would find the Messiah. Because they never gave up they were blessed with the experience of seeing the Son of God. They worshipped Him, and no doubt they went away telling everyone the experience they had with God.

How determined are we to find Him? Are we determined enough to take the time to look for Him? So many times we give up because the journey is long and difficult. Those who are determined enough to continue to search for Him are rewarded with a wonderful experience, the experience of seeing, worshipping, and forever having their lives changed by the presence of the Son of God.

Monday, December 20, 2010

What the Bible says about Good Works

Titus chapter 3

In three short chapters the book of Titus covers a lot of ground. The first chapter teaches us the importance of order in the church. Chapter two speaks of the importance of correct biblical doctrine. In this final chapter Paul reminds Titus that it is important for any church, or church member to exercise good works. Let’s be clear that God sent His Son to this earth to redeem sinners, not to reform them. Once a person is saved however, God does have something to say to them about displaying good works.

In the early days of the church Christians were looked upon as “odd balls.” They lived different lifestyles. Therefore in the first few verses Paul is encouraging them not to do anything that will draw unnecessary attention to themselves. The way they can do this is by being law abiding citizens. You will say, “Oh, but Bro. Josh we are to follow the laws of God, therefore we don’t have to worry about the laws of the land.” If this is your thought then I have a question for you, “What Bible are you reading from?” The bible is very clear that we are to obey those that have rule over us, including the law of this land.

In fact if you think about it, the laws of the land and the laws of God many times go hand in hand. God says “don’t steal, don’t kill, tell the truth under oath.” I would say that if we obey the laws of God then we will have little trouble with the laws of the land. It is a shame when you hear about a “Christian” getting caught stealing money, taking drugs, cheating the government. What a shame that is, not just for the one that got caught, but for the church as a whole.

Verse two warns us one last time not to gossip. The more I study the bible the more I am convinced that one of the biggest problems in the church is the sin of gossip. Someone said that “you can’t believe everything you hear, but you can repeat it!” Another person said that “people will believe anything as long as you whisper it to them.” This is the way that the unsaved world acts. This should not be the way the children of God act. These things are good works, and they should be exercised by the church.

I feel like I need to point out before I move on, that the bible is very clear that a child of God is to maintain good works. At the same time the bible is very clear that these good works do not affect your salvation. You can work all you want to, but no amount of works will ever be enough to earn salvation. Let me further say that after you are saved good works have nothing to do with maintaining salvation. If sin was to void salvation, then none of us would be saved. In the eyes of God there are no big or little sins, and just one sin is unacceptable when compared to the perfect holiness of God. If you are counting on your good works then I’m afraid that you soon will find yourself disappointed. Any person that claims they have no sin in their life has committed the sin of lying.

Verses 4-5 tell us how a person is saved. We are saved because God showed mercy on us. We did not turn over a new leaf, we are saved because of the mercy God had on us. Paul is clear in these verses that works have nothing to do with salvation. “According to his mercy He saved us.” Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins because He is merciful to you and me. God is rich in mercy, which means He has plenty of it. God is able to save you today, but He will only save you based on faith in what His Son has done. Your works will not get it done.

In this verse we are told that we are saved by “the washing of regeneration.” The word “washing” means to “bathe all over”, or a “laver.” It is a picture of the brazen laver which stood in the court of the Tabernacle. The brazen laver is a picture of the word of God. The brazen laver was made from the highly polished metal the women used as mirrors. This is a good picture of the word of God. We look into God’s word and it reveals to us our condition. It shows us all the dirty places in our life.

I have said over and over that a person is not saved based on their good works. I stand by that, and so does the word of God. The fact is that once we are saved we are to be careful to maintain good works in our lives. Some people think that salvation gives them a free pass on good works. Just the opposite is true.

Titus was to keep reminding these people over and over that they are to have good works.

Before we are saved God does not want to talk to us about our good works. They are like filthy rags in God’s sight.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”    Isaiah 64:6

After you are saved God wants to say something to you about good works. We are to consider, ponder and be anxious about these things.

Let me further say that to have good works does not just mean to work in the church or to have religious works. While it is wonderful to work in the church, good works also means to lend a hand to that neighbor in need. We should be helpful in the community and help those in need. One of the best ways to help win someone to God is to show them acts of kindness, or good works. This is biblical good works.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Some of the greatest doctrines in the Bible. (You may be surprised.)

Titus Chapter Two

If you were to hear a preacher mention biblical doctrine what would you think of? Maybe you would think of the doctrine of salvation, the doctrine of the grace of God, the doctrine of eternal security. While these are all true biblical doctrines these are not the doctrines that Paul wanted Titus to teach to his church. Many times bible doctrine is more practical than we realize.

In this chapter four groups of people will be mentioned. As these four groups are mentioned Paul will give them some good advice on how they should conduct their lives. These practical doctrines are as important as is the doctrine of the grace of God. The problem is that we don’t enjoy hearing these things because they might ruffle our feathers.

Older Men

Titus was a younger man; therefore it would have been easy for him to neglect the older men in the church. Paul wants him to spend some time teaching these older men how their lives should be led. He begins by telling them that they should be “sober”. To be sober means to be serious or self controlled. It may seem funny but these older men had probable retired from physical labor and therefore they had more time on their hands to get into trouble. Therefore they had to be warned to exercise some self control.

Next they were told to be “grave.” To be grave means to be dignified. Those of us who have small children will often remind our kids to be respectful to their elders. Let me say with all due respect, that an elder should conduct themselves in a manner that is worthy of respect. It is hard to respect someone who does not conduct themselves in a dignified manner.

These older men were to be sound in their lives and in their faith. They were to be sound in love, faith, and patience Paul says. They should know what they believed, and why they believed it. They should have convictions about the word of God. It is sad to see a 70 year old baby in the church. Some people get older, but they do not grow up. A godly saint will be an encouragement to the younger members of the church. Be someone that others can look up to.

Older Women

Now I know that I’m going to lose some of you right here. Before you click this blog away please hear what the Bible says. Don’t take my word for it. Get your Bible down and read it for yourself.

The word “likewise” in verse 3 seems to mean that the older women were to have the same qualities as the older men. They were to behave themselves in a manner that displayed holiness. Beyond that they were told not to be “gossipers.” I am convinced that one of the biggest sins in the church today is the sin of gossip. Over and over the bible warns against the sin of gossip.

They are not to be “drunkards.” This seems to be pretty obvious. I don’t think there is a lot of explanation needed for this one.

Paul not only tells them what they should not be, but also what they should be. These older women were to be teachers. They were to teach the younger women to be “keepers at home”. This is more than just teaching the younger women how to keep up the house, it means to instill in the heart of the younger women the right spiritual attitude toward their home.

The greatest responsibility that God gives to a woman is her home. The younger women needed to learn to love their husband, love their children and how to have a successful marriage. This may not sit well with some but the bible is clear that the woman’s first responsibility is her home. It is serious business to take care of your children and your home. There is an old saying which says “A man’s work is from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.”

If God has given you children and a home then the most important business in the world is taking care of them. This is your ministry, and it is a gift from God. I’m not saying that woman is to be a prisoner in her own home. The bible is saying a woman should be able to manage her home. A husband who can trust his wife to care for the home is blessed.

Let me further point out that while it is the wife’s job to manage the home, it is the husband’s job to lead the home. This may be a big pill to swallow but the husband is to be respected by his wife and children as the leader of the home. Verse 5 tells us that the woman is to be “obedient to their own husbands.”

The idea of being obedient means to “respond” to her own husband. I wonder how many men misuse this verse. They will say something like this “the bible says that you need to mind me better.” Sir that is not what the bible says. The bible says that she is to respond to you. When was the last time you told your wife that you love her? Just as the natural man responds to the love of God, so does the wife respond to the love of her husband. A home that has little trouble with love will have little trouble with obedience.

Young Men

While it is the responsibility of the older men to set a good example it is up to the young men to live up to the example set before them. One day these young men will be the ones setting the example, so it is important to live up to the godly standard set before them.

We teach others by the pattern of the lives we live. If a pastor wants his church to be something, he must be that something first. If you want your children, grandchildren, to be something then you must be that something first. These godly men had set an example now the young men were to fashion their lives after them.


Paul spends a good deal of time in the New Testament speaking to this particular group. The reason he does this is because there were a lot of slaves in the church. Paul warns them not to forsake their responsibilities to their master. Here are three rules they should follow.
  • They should be obedient. They should try to please their masters.
  • They were not to talk back. They were not to gripe about their master to others. This gives a poor testimony
  • They were not to steal. The word “purloining” means to steal. This goes without saying, but you should not steal from your work. Paul tells them to show “good fidelity” which means to be faithful.

These are very practical doctrines, but they are very important doctrines. Please don’t overlook the practical doctrines of the bible. These practical doctrines will have more of an impact on your church and your community than any other doctrines in the bible.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Lesson Learned While At Taco Bell

Have you ever learned a life lesson at Taco Bell? I have. I can imagine that some of you have learned a lesson while at, or shortly after leaving, Taco Bell, but that is not the kind of lesson I am talking about. Let me share with you a true story that happened Saturday night while my family was eating at Taco Bell.

My wife and I took our girls to see the Living Christmas Tree, which was awesome, then to eat at Taco Bell. As we were finishing up our supper one of the girls ask if she could have something else, she was still hungry. I asked her what she wanted, gave her the money to get it and watched her as she went up to the counter and ordered. Seems normal right?

While this is taking place my other girl starts to get the pooch lip. She wants something too, but will not ask me for the money to get it. It is very obvious that she is pouting over the fact that her sister is getting something extra and she is not. Well, the sister returns from the counter with her extra food and starts to eat. The pooch lip is now dragging on the floor.

So, I look at the daughter who is obviously wanting something and say, "I would never do for one child what I wouldn't do for another. All you have to do is ask me if you want something." And I meant it. I am their father and love them the same. I would never give one of my kids something and deprive the other.

Here is the problem. The pouting child is not willing to ask me for what it is that she wants. So, the second daughter finishes her extra food and we leave. As we are driving away God speaks to my heart and teaches me a lesson. God says to me, "So many of my children sit around with the pooch mouth because they do not have something that someone else has, but they have been unwilling to ask me for it." God is our father and He would never do for one child and not do for another. The problem is that we are unwilling to ask Him for what we want.

Jesus said "hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name, ask and it shall be given to you." I wonder what we do without because we do not ask for what we really want. The Bible is clear that God will give us the desires of our heart. If this is true, then why are we pouting over the things we do not have? We haven't asked.

I'm certainly not telling you that God will give you everything you ask for. God knows better than that. What would happen if you gave your children everything they asked for. They would eat candy all the time, they would never go to school and they would grow up to be terrible adults. All I am saying is that you should not pout about what God is not doing for you, when you haven't even asked Him to do it.

So, next time you are in need of something think about what you would do if your child was in need of something. What would you do if you of your children came to you and said they needed something? God is our Heavenly Father. Next time you need something why not ask? You might be surprised what could happen.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Get The Church In Order

Titus Chapter One

It is apparent that Paul and Titus had been together in the ministry on the island of Crete. The problem is that the Bible does not record this time for us in the book of Acts, so we don’t know exactly how long they were there. This is proof that the book of Acts does not record everything that took place during those first years of the church. In fact the book mainly focuses on the ministry of two men. Peter at the first of the book, and Paul at the end.

We don’t have to read very deep into these scriptures before we discover that these were not the best people. Paul tells us that these people were known for being liars, gluttons and lazy. That’s a pretty rough description. Paul obviously left Titus in Crete. Sometime after departing he writes this letter to him. It has been estimated that this letter was written sometime around A.D. 64-67.

The Bible doesn’t reveal to us a lot about this young man named Titus. It seems that he was a little stronger person than was Timothy. Titus seems to be stronger both physically and spiritually. Paul expressed concern for the welfare of Timothy, but Titus seems more mature. We know that Titus was a Greek since Paul refused to circumcise him in Jerusalem. But that is about all we know.

Paul’s main reason for writing this letter was to tell Titus to establish order in the church. Everything God does He does with order. The church is no exception. I don’t understand why people feel like the church is exempt from this rule.

The world we live was created by a God of order. Nature and science teach us that the world is one of order. Mankind is a creature that needs order. If we were all just left to ourselves chaos would ensue. The church is built upon certain principles and rule. The church should be a place of order. The people in the church should conduct themselves in an orderly basis.

In the first chapter of Titus the main focus is on the need to establish elders in the church. It seems that there were men already acting as elders, but they had not been ordained for that work. These men had the gift of leadership, and they were exercising their gifts. Again, in order to keep the church orderly it is not enough to exercise your gift. These men needed to be set aside, ordained, for the work God had called them to do.

In order to be used of God for this work these men must be: blameless, they must have faithful children, they should not be self willed, not easily angered and not covetous. God sets for high standards for this high office.

Because God is faithful, He expects his man to be faithful as well. According to verse 9 the preacher and teacher must be faithful. They should be faithful in building up the church by teaching the word. They also must be faithful to defend against false teaching. It takes both these things to have a successful ministry and a successful church.

According to verse 13 Titus was going to have to be a little rough with these people. They were rough people; therefore they had to be treated roughly. I would imagine the man that preaches in the prison should preach a little rougher than the man preaching to a room of kindergarten students.

Lastly, Paul warns them about false doctrine. The biggest problem this church had, and is still a big problem today, was that they were trading the truth of the Bible for man’s tradition. When Jesus was upon this earth He warned constantly about trading scripture for tradition. The Pharisees had a problem with this. Many churches today have this same problem. It may surprise you, but many Baptist churches have trouble with this. Just because some man you look up to preached something does not make it right. You would be amazed at some of the things I have heard preached and taught. We as God’s people must be careful to side with the Bible, not with what some else has said.

This problem is more than just preachers preaching tradition or preferences. It happens in our families. “Well, I know what the Bible says, but Grandma said this…” “Momma always told me…” We must side with the Bible, not with Momma. This may seem like a little thing, and not worth discussing. This was the biggest problem Jesus was faced with in His day, and it is still a big problem today.

Let me finish by saying again everything God does He does with order. God desires order in your home, your church and in your life.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I have been speaking to the kids at church this month about being thankful. I have tried to express to them that we have so many things to be thankful for. So, I thought I would write a quick note to you guys about Thanksgiving.

There are certain things that we have grown accustom to on Thanksgiving.

  • 90% of Americans will eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Some will bake their turkey, some will smoke their turkey, and a few will even risk burning down their home in order to deep fry their turkey. However you choose to cook it, most of us will eat turkey today.
  • Most of us will visit with family today. Enjoy the time you spend together, because someone may be missing at the table next year.
  • Between 2 and 3 million people will gather in New York to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade. Millions more will watch it on T.V.
  • The Detroit Lions will lose their football game today. I'm not even sure who the Lions are playing, but it's Thanksgiving so they are going to lose.
While there are certain things that we have grown accustom to doing, I would like to challenge each of you to remember five things this Thanksgiving.

  1. Remember those 102 brave souls who left their families, their homes and their comforts and boarded a boat called the Mayflower. They came to a place where they had nothing but hope. Hope for new land, hope for a new world and hope for religious freedom.
  2. Remember that the freedom we enjoy today is possible because someone else was willing to give. During the first winter almost half of the first Pilgrims died. Today, while I sit in my recliner, typing on my laptop and waiting for the parade to start, there are brave men and women now are giving up time with their families so that I can have the freedom I enjoy today.
  3. Remember that we have a good God who blesses us every day of our life. David said in Psalms 68 that God daily loaded him with benefits. We have so much to thank God for.
  4. Remember those who are less fortunate than you. While we gather together with our families and eat more than we can handle, there are others who will go hungry. Whisper a prayer for them. God bless those who donate their time in order to aid those in need.
  5. Remember to tell someone "thank you." Surely we would not go through this Thanksgiving day and not tell someone "thank you."
I pray you have a blessed day. A day full of fun, family and fowl.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Famous Last Words

Second Timothy Chapter 4

A great persons last words are special. A great persons last words are a measure by which we can evaluate their lives. This is the final chapter of the Bible written by the apostle Paul. This final chapter is amazing. When you read this chapter you can see a tone of sadness in the words of Paul. In these words you can hear the feeling of loneliness in his voice. He is in Rome, alone, in a horrible prison. He is cold and asks Timothy to bring his cloak. Because he is lonely and the hours are long, he asks Timothy to bring his books, especially the parchments. In spite of this sadness you can also hear a tone of victory in the apostle’s words. He charges Timothy one last time. He talks about a crown that awaits him on the other side of eternity.

Paul begins this final chapter with a warning. Paul charges Timothy in light of this coming judgment. Since Timothy is going to be judged there are some things he should be busy doing. It was a serious matter that Paul would soon face death, but it was even more serious that he and Timothy were facing judgment. This should be something that we keep in our minds as well. I do not believe that a saved individual will stand before God to determine whether they are worthy of heaven or they will be punished in hell. If this was the case all of us would be deserving of hell. The fact remains that one day each of us will stand before God. Paul mentions in another epistle that when we stand before God, God will reveal the secrets of our heart. Those things that you bury deep down inside, those things that you think no one knows about, those are the things that will be revealed. In light of this coming judgment we should be doing all we can for the glory of God.

The main responsibility that Paul shares with Timothy is to preach the word. This means to proclaim or to give out God’s word. Timothy was to be instant in and out of season. This means that he was to preach the word of God at all times. He was to be diligent and alert to every opportunity to preach the word of God. Did you know that you are a preacher? You say, “Bro. Josh, God has not called me to preach.” While this may be true, you are preaching a sermon every day of your life. You preach to others by the way you live before them.

Paul not only gives the command to preach the word, but he also gives the reason to preach. There was coming a day when people would not endure doctrine. I think we are in this condition today. That day is today. There are very few that will endure sound doctrine. Sure, there are men who have great followings, and churches that are filled beyond capacity. That does not mean that those people are doing a great work for God. It also does not mean that they are not doing a great work for God. I don’t think I’m going out on much a limb however when I say that most of these “mega” churches are “mega” because the man behind the pulpit is tickling the ears of the people, instead of preaching sound doctrine. Everyone likes to be entertained. Everyone wants to know how to “live their best life.” But, according to this chapter there are not going to be many people following a man who stands for truth.

A young preacher once complained to Dr. Spurgeon that he did not have as big a church as he deserved. Dr. Spurgeon asked “How many do you preach to?” They young man answered “Oh, about one hundred.” It is said that Spurgeon solemnly answered “That will be enough to give account for on the Day of Judgment.” A man’s ministry is not based on statistics. A ministry is evaluated by the faithfulness of the worker in the field God has given to them.

Paul’s last words

If we could walk with our minds into the execution room in this Roman prison we would see a terrible sight. This was a bloody place. It would probable make us sick to watch as a prisoner placed their head on the chopping block. A large, brutal Roman soldier lifts his tremendous blade above his head and then in one massive swing severs the head from the body. We would watch as the head drops into a basket on one side of the chopping block, and the body falls limp and trembling on the other side. In these last words Paul lets us know that if what I described is all we see then we are missing something. Paul mentions that he is ready to be offered. The word offering means to be poured out like a drink offering.

A drink offering was interesting in that there were no real instructions given to Israel concerning it. God gave specific instructions for almost every offering, but not this one. The drink offering is mentioned in both the books of Exodus and again in Leviticus. When someone offered a drink offering they would take wine and pour it into the brazen altar. The brazen altar was where burn sacrifices were made and fire was constantly burning. This altar was very hot because of the constant fire. You can imagine as the wine was poured onto the altar a steam would go up from the altar. The steam would just evaporate and disappear.

Paul’s life would soon be poured out like this drink offering. As Paul’s life went down into the place of death his spirit would rise from the altar and disappear, just as the drink offering evaporated off the brazen altar. Paul was pouring out the remainder of his life. Paul had been pouring out his life for many years, and now he would finish it.

Paul summarized his life in three ways.
  • Soldier – “I have fought a good fight.” There were battles to fight and victories to win. Paul had defended the word of God, stood for the truths of the Bible and fought against the powers of darkness.
  • Runner – “I have finished my course.” Life is not just a battle it is also a race. Paul, as an athlete ran to win the prize. To finish his course means that he touched all the bases, he completed every task God planned for him.
  • Good steward – “I have kept the faith.” What an amazing thing to say. Paul could honestly say that he had not veered off course. Paul stayed true to the doctrines and truths of God’s word.

With this in mind Paul says that the time of his departure is at hand. The word translated “departure” is the same word used to describe the departure of the church in I Thessalonians 4. The church will soon depart from this world. Paul was doing this same thing, except Paul was going to depart through a different door. Paul will go through the doorway of death.

Paul is looking forward to the future. He is expecting a crown of righteousness. A crown is a reward. This crown of righteousness is obviously a crown won for living a righteous life. Paul is not saying that just because you believe in the return of Christ you will receive a reward. Paul is saying that those who love his appearing will win a reward. To love his appearing means that you love Him.

In these last days Paul is lonely and he knows his days are few, so he wants Timothy to come quickly. It is touching to see that in his last days Paul wanted his “son in the faith” by his side. Demas has left Paul and went to Thessalonica which was a good distance from Rome. Demas is mentioned three times in the New Testament. The three times he is mentioned tell the story of his life. In Philemon his is listed as a “fellow laborer” along with Mark and Luke. In Colossians he is just named. Lastly in this verse is said to have forsaken the work of God and returned to the world. Little by little Demas went back to the world. This is the same way it happens in the church today. People don’t just wake up one morning and decide they are going back to the world. Satan gets them to take one small step in the wrong direction. One step leads to another. Then before they realize what is happening they are completely separated from God, many times they don’t even realize what they have become.

Luke was faithful, standing by Paul until the very end. Luke is the physician that wrote the book named “Luke” and the book of “Acts.”  Mark has come a long way since the time he left Paul on his first missionary journey. It is wonderful that Paul pens these words. If he had not written these words then we would not have known how Mark has grown and that things had been mended between the two of them. It also shows that one mistake in Christian services does not make your whole life a failure.

Tychicus was to pastor in Ephesus. He could not stay in Rome forever, there was work to do. It is believed that this man actually worked as a personal servant to Paul while he was in Rome. Carpus lived in Troas and had given hospitality to Paul. Paul obviously had to leave this man in a hurry and left some of his belongings with him. This man would be faithful to guard it until it could be retrieved.

Paul wants Timothy to come before winter. If Timothy waited until winter the ships would be harbored and he would not be able to travel. Paul did not want to risk Timothy not being there before he is killed. Paul asks for his cloak. This reveals a little of Paul’s suffering. I have read that this prison was cold in May and June so it must be cold now. Paul is physically in need. Paul wanted his books. He needed something to keep his mind occupied.

Although many other men forsook Paul, God stood by him. When Paul was discouraged in Corinth the Lord visited him. After he had been arrested in Jerusalem the Lord appeared to him again to encourage him. On a boat in a terrible storm the Lord stood by Paul and told him all would be O.K. Now in a horrible Roman prison the Lord was standing by his servant. You and I may not be in prison, but in all circumstances the Lord will stand by us just like He did Paul.

The Bible does not record for us the final days of Paul. Tradition tells us that he was found guilty and sentenced to die. He was taken outside the city and beheaded. We should thank God for men like Paul. We should thank God for men like Timothy who carry on the work. John Wesley once said “God buries His workmen, but His work goes on.” You and I must be faithful so that future generations may hear the gospel of our Lord, and have the same opportunity to be saved that we had.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Leeeeeets get ready to Ruuummmmble!

I remember when I was a kid the ring announcer was one of my favorite parts of a boxing match. In fact it usually took the announcer more time make his introductions than it did for Mike Tyson to knock out his opponent. I would try to mimic the announcer and say, "Leeeeeets get ready to Ruuummmmble!", like the ring announcer did. Today I don’t watch much boxing, but I love the UFC and they have a great ring announcer. It still pumps me up to hear a good announcer just before a big fight.

This very familiar saying popped into my mind the other day as I fought a battle inside of myself. A few days ago God gave me a thought that I wanted to study and develop. I wrote a blog a week or so ago about the thought of “darkness”. This is something that has my attention and I know that God wants me to study up on it.

So, there I am, knowing that God wants me to study this thought, but finding myself putting it off. “I will start on that tomorrow.” “I would start on that now, but I’ve got other things to do.” “I will start on that, but let me check Facebook and twitter first.” I’m sure that you have never been like this, but I still have to fight this fight.

When this takes place I feel terrible. I wonder why I have such a hard time doing what I love to do. I know God wants me to do, and I want to do it.  So, why is it so hard to get started? As I’m beating myself up for being this way, I am reminded of the fight one of my heroes fought daily.

The apostle Paul, one of the greatest men to ever live, said that every day he was in a fight with his flesh. Paul tells us in Romans 7:14-24 that every time he desires to do good evil is present with him. He tells us that the things he does not want to do, are the things that he winds up doing. Paul finishes Romans 7 by saying “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”

So, if a great man like Paul has trouble fighting his flesh and doing the right thing, maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. This also tells me that no matter how much I grow in the Lord, and how much I study the Bible I am always going to have to fight with myself to do right. I wish I could say that once you are saved all your problems go away, and you become a saint who never does wrong. If I said that though, I would be lying. It’s a Biblical fact that we will continue to war with our flesh until the day we die.

A couple days ago I finally stepped into the ring with my flesh and decided that I was going to begin to study this thought God had laid on my heart. You know, once I opened my Bible, broke out my laptop, and began to study I got into a zone. I had a blast studying the word of God. Before I knew it I had been studying for almost two hours. I couldn’t wait to finish up my study the next day. I won that fight, but I’m sure it won’t be the last time we step into the ring.

What is it that you are fighting with? Maybe you are putting something off. You know that God wants you to do it, but just can’t bring yourself to get started. I bet if you would just do whatever it is that God keeps telling you to do; you will be glad you did. It’s time to say:

Leeeeet’s get ready to Ruuuuumble!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Second Timothy Chapter 2 (Seven Bible Illustrations)

Illustrations are fun. We use them with our children such as the story of “The boy who cried wolf”. We use illustrations when holding conversations with other adults (“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse”.) When Jesus was here on the earth He was constantly using illustrations, called parables, to describe a point to His listeners. Paul also liked to use illustrations. In chapter two Paul gives seven illustrations to describe the duty of a believer. In these seven illustrations we will be able to see God’s desire for our Christian life.

Steward verses 1-2

The gospel is not something that we get and keep for ourselves. The gospel is a treasure that we are to share with others, who will in turn share with someone else. As a steward of God’s word we should be diligent to study and learn all we can.

Jesus made it very clear from an early age that He was going to be busy. He spoke these words to His mother at the age of 12, “I must be about my Father’s business.” The Father’s business is getting out the Word of God, and Jesus made it clear He was going to busy working.

We are God’s stewards. God needs us to work. Some may disagree with me, but I believe God has no hands unless He has our hands, and God has no feet unless He has our feet. We should be busy working for God.

Soldier verses 3-4

Paul lived in a military state, and at the time he wrote this letter he was in prison. Therefore the illustration of a soldier is easy to understand. In the letter of Ephesians Paul warns the church that they are in a spiritual warfare with the powers of Satan.

As a soldier we are not to be entangled with the affairs of this world. Imagine if you will, a soldier receiving orders from a superior officer about a mission, and the soldier explaining to his superior that he cannot perform his duty because of “some personal matters.” This seem ridiculous, but this is what we do to our superior officer. I know we have to take care of some personal things in this life but we must have our priorities in the right order. Never be too caught up in this world that you cannot live the Christian life.

I read the story of a Civil War soldier who was a watchmaker. One day the bugler sounded for the camp to break up. The soldier complained “I can’t go now I have a dozen watches to repair.” This is the way many of us live our lives.

The Christian life is not a playground, it is a battlefield.

Athlete verse 5

The word “strive” means to contend in a game. I think Paul was a sports fan. One of his favorite illustrations is the illustration of an athlete. Paul talked about boxing, wrestling, running and exercise in his letters.

As a Christian we are to do everything in our power to be a winner. . I don’t know about you but I do not like to lose. If I’m going to compete then I want to win. If you’re on my team I expect you to do everything you can to win.

An athlete will exercise, sacrifice, and work hard to win the prize. Someone said the only exercise a Christian gets it by “jumping to conclusions, running down their friends, sidestepping responsibility and pushing their luck.”

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”   Philipians 3:14

We are warned here that we’re to strive, but that we are to strive lawfully. This means to obey the rules. There is no shortcut in the Christian life. There is not an easy path or a set of tricks that can get you by. Just as a runner cannot cut a corner and a baseball player can’t skip second base, you and I cannot cut corners in the Christian life.

Farmer verse 6

The fourth example is the example of the farmer. We are like a farmer in that we work by sowing seed, tilling the fields of the Word of God. There are several good examples to be found in the illustration of the farmer.

  • If a field is left to itself it will mostly bring forth weeds. God has to work in our lives so we produce more than weeds.
  • A farmer must be patient. You can’t expect to plant in a garden one day, and have corn the next. It takes time for the garden to grow. Just because you are not everything you want to be does not mean God has forgotten about you. Be patient, God will perform a work in your life, but only in His time.
  • A farmer is the first to enjoy the blessings of the harvest. You may not understand what is going on in your life right now, but hold on because one day you will be enjoying the blessings of God.

Workman or Teacher verse 15

The faithful minister will labor in the Word, guard the Word and invest the Word. The teacher and preacher who use the word correctly will build up the church the way God wants it. The sloppy minister will take verses out of context, apply them as they will, and make it say whatever they want it to say. In the day that God judges our work many people will have theirs reduced to ashes.

The Bible is a book of laws, structure and principals that cannot be ignored. If you do not know how to divide God’s Word then you could be in danger. There are certain dispensations in the Bible and different methods in which Christ deals with man. The basis of salvation has always and will always be the same, but throughout the Bible man has displayed his faith in different ways.

For example Abel and Abraham brought lambs to sacrifice to the Lord, but I don’t think any of you took a lamb to church with you Sunday. Jesus was the Lamb of God therefore the need for those rituals are no more. Abel and Abraham looked forward to Christ, we look back.

There are many things to consider when dividing the Word of God, therefore it is to be studied.

Vessel verses 20-21

What qualification would you give for a vessel to be usable? I would imagine that you would not use a vessel for supper tonight that was not clean. Well, let’s give God credit. He is not going to use a dirty vessel either. For a vessel to be used of God it must be empty, clean and available.

Paul divided the utensils into two groups. One group was vessels of honor (gold, silver). The other were vessels of dishonor (wood, earth). Are you a vessel of honor? Are you available for the Master’s use? Are you a clean vessel?

Servant verses 24-25

Finally the child of God is to be a servant or slave. A slave has no will of his own. He works and lives to please his master. This seems strange that in one verse we are to be a soldier and are to fight, and then in another verse we are told to be a servant and not to fight. This is not a contradiction of scriptures. There are times when we are going to have to stand and fight for the truth. Don’t be a coward when it comes to standing for what it right.

At the same time there are places and times when we should not fight. If you are trying to win someone to God that is not a time to argue with them. You remember the story of the woman at the well? She made several statements that Jesus could have corrected her on, but instead he continued to tell her how to be saved. Some things are not worth fighting over. I wish some believers would learn this lesson.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Something I can’t get off my mind!

For the past several days I have been thinking a lot about a word. I was sitting in church Sunday night listening to the preacher and this word just came to me. The word I have been thinking about is the word “darkness.”

Sunday night was the fifth Sunday night of the month. Whenever a month has five Sundays our church will always partake of the Lord’s Supper. On this night Bro. Tom will usually preach about the importance of the Lord’s Supper and what it symbolizes. This past Sunday was no different. As part of his sermon he is talking about the disciples in the upper room with Christ.

As I was listening my mind wandered into that upper room as I though t about that night, and especially Judas. At this time the devil had already entered into Judas. Judas has made up his mind that he will betray the Lord. This is a decision that will ultimately lead to him killing himself.

In the upper room our Lord wanted to share some things with His disciples, but is unable to do so with Judas in the room. Jesus begins to explain that one of the twelve will soon deny him. As the disciples begin to question “Is it I?” our Lord leans over to Judas and says “That though doest, do quickly.”

John records in his gospel that at this time Judas got up to leave. Then John paints a picture that I believe most overlook. John says:

“He (Judas) then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.”

I can picture as Judas walked from the light of the upper room into the darkness of night. This is so symbolic of what took place in the life of Judas that night.

Darkness is spoken of many times in the Bible.
  • Darkness is a physical occurrence. God separated light from darkness at the time of creation.
  • Darkness is a power. Satan and his demon followers are spoken of as the powers of darkness.
  • Darkness is a presence of mind. The Bible tells of men and women who have had their understanding darkened.
  • Darkness is a place. Hell is a place of outer darkness.
So, for some reason this thought has not left my mind since Sunday night. Maybe I will study it some and see where it goes. I'll let you know.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Second Timothy Chapter 1

Love Delivered

The first things that strikes me when reading this chapter is the love that Paul had for Timothy. On many occasions Paul referred to Timothy as his “son”, but in this chapter he calls him his “dearly beloved son.” I believe as a person’s life draws to a close they realize their true feelings. Paul loved Timothy. He was proud of him for the work he was doing, and would do.

We read in this chapter that Timothy had a very good upbringing. It is obvious that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Christian women. They taught Timothy the ways of God from his childhood. This is something that is debated today. Some will argue that you should not force church on your children. “Let them make their own decisions about God”, many will say. I have even heard it said that if you push church on your children too much they will not want anything to do with God when they get older.

It was not this way in the life of Timothy. His mother and grandmother taught him the Bible as a youngster. I can picture as this godly mother held Timothy in her arms and read the scriptures to him, told him stories of how God had blessed their home, and how she was saved herself. This had an impact on Timothy’s life for the better, not the worse. The Bible teaches us to “bring up a child in the way they should go”. Then God makes a promise. If we bring our children up this way “when they are old they shall not depart from it.”

You have the right to choose the way you raise your kids. I’ll take my chances with God. What chances are you taking?

Love Demonstrated

In verse 8 Paul tells Timothy not to be ashamed of the afflictions that have come to him. Paul was obviously suffering. He was in prison, and about to lose his head. Why? Did he commit some terrible crime? No, the reason Paul was suffering was because he performed the work God had him to do. God asked Paul to preach the gospel message, and that is what Paul did.

It was possible that this same affliction would come to Timothy. Lets face it. None of us like to suffer hardships. This is only natural. Jesus even prayed that if it was possible, God would let his “cup” pass from Him.

At the same time I don’t understand why so many people believe that once they are saved God will make life easy for them. Men even tell people from the pulpit that God will bless you with money, take your troubles away and even give you perfect health. The reason I don’t understand this message is because it is exactly the opposite of what Jesus taught.

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Jesus even said that the world will not like you if you are a Christian.

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

At this moment Paul is in prison with a sentence of death upon him. In spite of his circumstances Paul was still not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, and he did not want Timothy to be ashamed.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16

Love Denied

In the last part of this chapter Paul names two individuals who have turned their backs on him. We do not know who these men were, but it is likely that they were leaders in the church who opposed Paul.

It is interesting that in 1 Timothy we are given a few names of people that had turned on Paul. Now in this letter all have turned on him. Paul is sitting in a prison about to die for preaching the gospel message and none other than Luke are with him. All have turned their backs on him. How sad. This reminds me of the Lord who went to the cross with only a handful of women by his side.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lesson Audio

God has laid it on the heart of a man at our church to begin an internet ministry. We are just beginning and are working out some kinks. The audio recorded is turning out pretty good, but the video does not work.

If you get the chance to listen this is a link to my lesson taught at Landmark Baptist Church this past Sunday the 24th.

While you are there you can also listen to a couple of our past church services.

Hope this is a blessing to you!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Burden

If I look back on my life it amazes me the journey that God has allowed me to take. When I was a kid growing up, my family did not attend church on a regular basis. We would go around Christmas, New Years, sometimes Mother’s Day, and of course Easter. We mainly went on Easter.

All I can remember about church in those days is that you got a new outfit and a new pair of shoes when you went. Mom bought me a brand new pair of white dress shoes one year at Easter. I guess I thought I was Don Johnson or something. Oh, they were great then, but looking back at my picture now; I looked like a real dork. Anyway, for me church was what you had to do before you went Easter egg hunting.

I’m not saying we were bad people. My family was a good moral family. We didn’t cuss, Mom and Dad didn’t drink. We believed in the Bible, but we were not what you would call regular church goers.

I remember the first time we attempted to attend the church I would eventually get saved in. Dad got lost and we got to the church late. I remember begging for us not to go in because we were late. It wasn’t because we were late, I just didn’t want to go.

We didn’t go in that day, but went back the next Sunday, and the Sunday after that. It did not take many Sundays before something began to happen in my life. God began a work in me that changed my life. It would not be many days before God began to deal with me about salvation, and on February 23, 1993 I accepted Christ into my life and He saved me that night.

A lot happened sitting on my parents couch the night I got saved that I did not see, and could not understand. Not only did I escape Hell, but a work started in me that is still with me today. My life verse is Philippians 1:6 which says “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

I believe I know what God wants with my life right now. I am doing my best to fulfill the work God has given me to do. I’m afraid however that most Christians don’t have this same understanding. I am a firm believer that God has a work for every one of us to do. Not every person has the same work, but each of us has something to do. God wanted David to write Psalms, Solomon to build a temple, and Jesus to die on a cross. Each had their own work to do for God. Each work was different, but each was important.

It really burdens me as I look across the church as a whole. Most people think that all they are supposed to do is warm a pew. God has so much more He wants from our lives. God doesn’t save anyone for the purpose of just sitting.

I worry about my children and your children. Are we teaching and training them in such a way that when we are gone they can continue the work of God. Will they be able to teach their children the ways of God?

Our nation has been blessed with great men throughout history who preached and taught the word of God. Men like Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, and D. L. Moody. Even men recently like Warren Wiersby, J. Vernon McGhee and Billy Graham. Who will take their place? Who will stand in the gap? Will you? Will I? I wonder what will the churches look like in 10 years? 50 years? 100 years?

In an effort to stop rambling let me ask you a question. Do you know what God wants from your life? Are you trying figure out what God wants from your life? God wants you doing something!

I can’t tell you how glad I am that my Mom and Dad took me and my sister back to church that next Sunday. The decision they made changed my life. The decisions you make today could change the lives of your children, your grandchildren.

God help me to do the work you have given me to the best of my ability. God help me and my wife to be an example to our children, and to the children we minister to at our church. God help the one reading this blog to figure out what it is you want for their life, and to get busy doing it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Second Timothy Introduction

Final words from a Faithful man

Much has happened from the first letter Paul wrote to Timothy and this letter. Somewhere around A.D. 58 Paul was arrested in Jerusalem. For three years he goes from one trial to another. We can read about these trials in the book of Acts. From A. D. 61-63 Paul undergoes his first Roman imprisonment, which is where the book of Acts leaves off. It appears that from A. D. 64-67 Paul was released from prison. During this time he covered a good deal of territory preaching the gospel. It was also during this time in which he wrote his first letter to Timothy.

In A. D. 67 Paul is arrested again. He stays in prison for about one year. In A. D. 68 Paul is beheaded in Rome, but just before he does he writes one last letter know as Second Timothy. It will not be long before Paul will send Tychicus to Ephesus to take over for Timothy so that he can come to Rome, visit Paul one last time and take over his ministry.

There are two verses that tell the theme of this letter.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”    2 Timothy 2:15

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.”   2 Timothy 4:2

The main word of the epistle is the word “loyal.” Paul tells Timothy to be loyal in suffering, loyal in service, loyal in face of apostasy, and loyal to his servants.

The words of 2 Timothy are the final written words from Paul. I believe that a person’s last words should be paid close attention to. If a man or woman is on their death bed and they breathe a few last words, they are valuable. I have been blessed in that I have not experienced death often in my 31 years. There have been however, a few loved ones that I have had to stand next to their bed as the Lord called them home. I can assure you that I will forever remember those moments.

These final words have a mark of sadness that we do not see in other letters. In spite of this sadness there is also the tone of triumph.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:”   2 Timothy 4:7

As Paul pens these words you can almost picture a dark cloud beginning to hover over the church. This dark cloud will soon turn into a storm. This dark cloud is apostasy. Webster defined apostasy as a “total desertion of the principle of faith.”

You and I would like to believe that the gospel message will eventually save the whole world, but this cannot be supported in light of the scriptures. Speaking of the time in which he returns to the earth our Lord asked the question:

“When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

The way this statement is phrased in the Greek it demands a negative answer. The answer is “No, he will not find faith on the earth.” Soon the true church will be raptured away and so called church that is left behind will go into total apostasy.

When you look out onto the horizon of the church you can see this same dark storm brewing. In the world in which we live is getting worse, and will continue to do so. In chapter three Paul will list 19 words or phrases to describe these terrible times. He will say things like “men will be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God”. Paul says that in the last days men and women will go against nature speaking of the sin of homosexuality. Children will be in rebellion against their parents. These are just a few, but we will cover it in more detail when we get to that chapter.

If you cannot see the storm on the horizon then you are not looking. Please, I urge you, be prepared to meet God. I believe the next big event on God’s time-table is the return of Christ to call His church away. I will warn you along with Paul that dark days are ahead. If you think things are bad now, you do not want to be here when the true church leaves.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Some things I learned in Kindergarten today!

Well I guess before I tell you what I learned. I need to explain what I was doing in kindergarten. Sometimes you are willing to do about anything to spend some time with the person you love. I had the day off, but Davena was subbing in kindergarten. Therefore I decided it would be a good idea to volunteer in her class.

It was a pretty good day. The kids were relatively good considering they are five and six. I learned a lot today. I learned that Davena is a pretty good sub and does really well with the children. I learned that “I smell good” according to one of the little girls. And I learned that kids don’t remember names real well. I was called “Ms. Mounts” (sorry Ms. Mounts if you are reading this, I’m sure you look nothing like me). I was called “hey you” but most of the day I was called “Ms. Josh.” Again, they are five and six so I didn’t hold it against them.

These are not the things that I wanted to share with you in this blog. As I was sitting on the playground the thought came to me that if Christians would obey some of the same rules as they have to obey in kindergarten it would make things a lot better. So, with that being said, I would like to share some kindergarten rules with you that every Christian should follow.

Rule #1:  Friends are good to have, but having the wrong friends will get you in trouble. I noticed that some of the kids were better behaved when they were not around certain other kids.

As a Christian we should heed the warning in the scriptures that tell us not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” You may love God, and you may want to live right, but if you hang around the wrong crowd long enough they are going to get you into trouble. I’m not saying that we have to avoid every non-believer. How can we reach a world that we cannot touch? I am saying that a person who chooses the wrong friends may find themselves in trouble.

Rule #2:  Most of the time it’s better to just stay quite. These kids today were pretty well behaved, but when they did get into trouble it was usually because they were talking when they should have just been quiet.

This one is tough for me. I like to have an opinion about everything. It is hard for me to stay quiet sometimes. The problem is that the Bible teaches me to “live peaceable with all men”, not to gossip, and to love my neighbor as myself. One scripture says that the tongue is set on fire of hell. Even our Lord was quiet in the face of His accusers just before He was crucified. My life, and I suspect yours, would be a lot better if we could contain our words.

Rule #3:  Read the instructions. Every time Davena would hand a paper out she would read the instructions to the children, and then show them how to do the work. On almost every assignment handed out there would be a few kids that would not know what to do. The reason they did not know what to do is because they were not listening to the instructions.

I bet you can guess where I am going with this. How many times have we not known what to do with our lives, or not known what to do when a certain situation arises? The reason we do not know what to do so many times is because we have not been reading the instructions. When was the last time you read your Bible? Listen to a sermon? Followed along with a teacher?

Rule #4:  Keep your hands and feet to yourself. I noticed that some of the children like to “help” the others. They were telling them what to do, or how to do it. A couple kids got hurt on the playground because another kid wasn’t keeping their hands to themselves.

Why is it that we feel we need to sweep everyone else’s porch when ours is so dirty? The Bible tells us not to point out the splinter in our neighbor’s eye when we have a beam in ours. On many occasions the Pharisees and the Sadducees would point out a “fault” on the part of the Christ or his disciples. The only thing they did was to show how much at fault they were. We teach our kids not to be a “tattle tale,” but the Bible teaches us not to be a “tale bearer” (gossip, tattle tale).

Rule #5:  Keep your eyes on the teacher. The teacher knows where to go, when to go, and how to get there. She (or he) knows the agenda for the day. These five and six year olds can’t tell time, so if it was up to them they would miss lunch, miss their special areas, and they would not know when to leave.

As a child of God it is a good idea to keep my eyes on the one in charge. If I don’t have my eyes on Him then I might find myself in a lot of trouble. I would miss blessings that He has for me. By keeping my eyes on Him I can avoid wrong turns. And one day soon He will let me know when it is time to “go home.” The Bible teaches that none of us are able to “tell time,” for none of us “know the day or hour in which the Son of Man cometh.” It is very important to keep our eyes on God. He will never lead us astray.

It’s amazing the things we will learn if we are looking!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Timothy Chapter Six

The last chapter of this epistle does not deviate from the overall theme of the book. Paul has been instructing Timothy about false teachers, apostasy, and how to deal with certain issues in the church.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the church was trouble free? As you know, this is not the case. There is coming a day when all our troubles will cease to exist. This is one of the things that will make heaven so wonderful, but we are not there yet, so problems exist.

In this chapter a few different topics are discussed. It seems that some of the people in Timothy’s church were having problems at work. The word “servant,” in verse one, literally means to be a slave. Over half of the population in Rome at this time was slaves. Many of these people were educated and cultured, but they were slaves none the less. The problem came when these slaves started rebelling against their masters. These men and women were experiencing something in Christ they had never experienced before, freedom. The Bible teaches us that once we are saved Christ sets us free.

Because of this new found freedom, these people decided that they did not have to obey their master, and therefore started to rebel against them. Timothy was to teach them that their salvation, their freedom in Christ, did not change their social responsibility. These men and women were to work as hard as, or harder than they did before they got saved. They were to work especially hard for their master if their master was a believer.

I wish I could say that once you are saved God will provide all your needs, and that you will never have to work another day in your life. If I told you that I would be lying to you. I wish I could believe these, so called, “preachers” who teach that once you are saved all your problems will just go away, but I can’t because that is not what my Bible teaches. So, I will get up and go to work tomorrow because I have bills to pay, and a family to provide for. I will pay my insurance premiums because I might get sick and have to go the doctor. I will even lock my doors when I go to bed because this world is full of people who do not know God like I do.

Paul deals with these false teachers one last time in verses 3-10. In these verses, Paul tells us that there are certain identifying marks of a false teacher. First they will deviate for the doctrines of the Bible. If a man does not preach and teach the truths found in the Bible you better keep an eye on him, or better yet stay away from them. And, by the way, just to lift one verse out of the Bible in order to prove a point is still false teaching.

You will know these men because they will be proud. They will boast about their knowledge and they will always want to argue over small matters. Because of their teaching people will be filled with envy, quarrelling and constant friction.

These men and women will have one motive behind their ministry, and that is to gain from their ministry. They teach and preach for money instead of doing their work to serve the Lord. Paul was always very clear in his letters that a minister of the word of God should be rewarded for their labor. He was also very careful to make a point that a man should not minister just to make money. Paul accepted support from churches as he traveled, but Paul also refused to take money from the church at Corinth. He did not want someone in the city to say that he preached just to make a buck. There are men today who only serve because they are being paid to do so.

In verses 6 & 7 Paul reminds the church that godliness brings contentment, not money. If we depend on material things to give us contentment then we will never be satisfied. When you gain something there will always be something more to gain. Many have counted on material things for contentment and today they are visiting psychiatrists, turning to alcohol and drugs, some are even taking their own lives because what they were counting on let them down.

A millionaire was dying while his heirs waited outside the hospital room. After some time the doctor and the lawyer finally come out of the room, and the heirs eagerly ask, “How much did he leave?” The lawyer replied, “He left everything. He didn’t take anything with him.” We come into this world empty handed and that is exactly how we will leave this world.

Verse 10 is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. So many say that money is the root of all evil, but that is not what the verse says. This verse tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. Money is amoral; it is neutral being neither good nor bad. It is a matter of how we use our money and how we act toward material things.

Let me further say that to have money does not mean that you are evil, or wrong. I wish I had more. According to verse 17 – 19 a person who uses their money properly will lay up for themselves treasures in heaven. If God has blessed you financially then here is some advice from these verses:

  • Be humble – To have material wealth should cause a person to be humble and thankful to God. It is possible to be rich in this world and poor in the next. Just as it is possible to be poor in this world and rich in the next.
  • Trust in God – Money does not mean security. You may find yourself stripped of it all tomorrow, but if you are trusting in God you will make it through. Read the book of Job for further proof.
  • Enjoying the blessings – It is not sinful to enjoy what God has blessed you with. If God has given you material blessing then enjoy them.
  • Employ the blessings – Do good to others. Give to the missionary, give to the church, share with those in need. If God has blessed you then you should be a blessing to someone else.

Paul closes the epistle with three pieces of advice for Timothy.

Flee (verse 11)
Many believe that if a person runs away from a situation then they are a coward. Sometimes fleeing a situation is an indicator of wisdom, not a lack of courage. Joseph fled from his master’s wife when she tempted him with sin. David fled from Saul who tried to kill him. This word flee does not mean just to run away to be separate yourself from something.

Timothy was to separate himself from these false teachers. Not all fellowship and not all unity are good. There comes a time when the man of God must take a stand on certain things like false doctrine and separate himself from it.

Follow (verse 11)
If all a person did was flee then eventually they would isolate themselves and remove the possibility of growth. Paul tells Timothy to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness.

Fight (verse 12)
This word translated, “fight,” is the word from which we get our English word “agonize.” This word means to be a soldier or an athlete who gives his or her all to win the prize. Paul was a fighter himself and he wanted Timothy to be a fighter as well. The man of God and the people of God must be like Nehemiah who had a trowel in one hand and sword in the other. He must work to build up the church but at the same time be ready to fight for what he believes in.

God help us to take the whole counsel of God’s word to live by. Let us not be like the false teacher and select the verses that suit our likes, but all of God’s word. Let’s show this world that God has made a change in our lives by the lives we live in front of them.