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.

Monday, October 4, 2010

First Timothy Chapter Five

May I have your attention please!

One of the first problems the church faced was a problem that the church is still facing today. There was, and will always be people in and around the church that demand attention. In this chapter Paul instructs Timothy how to deal with certain needs among certain people.

Those being neglected
The first thing that Paul writes to Timothy about is the importance of not showing favoritism among the members of the church. Timothy was a young man so it would be very easy for him to ignore the older members of the congregation. Timothy was to treat the older members as a mother or a father and the younger members as brothers and sisters.

Those in need
Next, Paul mentions that there may be some in the church that require special attention. In this chapter the focus is on widows and how they are to be cared for. This was a popular topic in the first church. In fact the first deacons were called in the book of Acts because a certain group in the church did not feel that their widows were not being cared for as well as another group. This may seem like a small thing, but when you consider that in this day they did not have social security, Medicare or retirement homes, you can see how this could be a problem.

I understand that the church today does not have to support widows like the early church did, but the fact remain, the church must be careful about who they do help. Christian people are to be tenderhearted, but there are a lot of people with their hands out. The church must be careful not to waste its resources on someone who really does not need it.

In these verses Paul will list several requirements that a person must meet before they are helped by the church. I will mention a few of them.

Before a church helps someone they must be desolate or without family support, according to verse 4 & 5. If a person has relatives that are able to help them (children or grandchildren, which is translated nephews) then they should look to them first. I believe this has always been God’s method. We are to care for those that once cared for us. One of the cruelest things a person can do is to abandon a loved one in their time of need. Children will place their mother or father in a home and leave them to die without as much as a visit. I am not saying that nursing or retirement homes are a bad thing, sometimes they are necessary. I am, however, against children and grandchildren abandoning their loved one in their last days. According to verse 8 if you are not willing to care for a relative then you are worse than an infidel.

Paul mentions that a church should consider a person’s track record before they receive help. If a person has helped others, according to verse 10, then they should receive help in their time of need. Some people will accept help, but are not willing to help others. This should be considered.

Those not behaving
In this last part of the chapter Paul deals with the elders in the church. These principles could apply to the role of pastor but I feel like the primary thought goes much further than that. The pastor, elders, deacons and other church officers should work together in harmony. It is a terrible thing when pastor acts like a dictator and tries to rule over the church. It is equally as terrible when a deacon, member or group think that they rule the church.

Church discipline is never good but sometimes it is necessary. Unfortunately discipline in the church is either done in one of two ways. Some don’t discipline at all and it seems like the others act like police officers. Church discipline is discussed several times in the bible and there is a certain order in which it is to be done.
It is sad when church member has to be disciplined but it is even sadder when that person is a leader in the church. Let me first point out the purpose of discipline is not for revenge but for restoration. Our desire should be to save the person not to drive them away.

Paul gives some words of caution about discipline to Timothy to close this chapter. First make sure you have your facts straight. Are their witnesses, is the accuser willing to testify to what they are saying before others. Next he tells him to make sure nothing is done in secret. Everything should be done out in the open. Thirdly Paul tells him to obey God’s word no matter what his personal feelings are. A pastor or church staff must not work with prejudice. Each member of the church is to be handled the same.

Let us be faithful in every aspect of the Christian life. Sure it is important to attend service, give in the offering, tell others about Christ and be a good moral example to the community. It is equally important to care for our loved ones in their time of need, to be a good example to our family and our church. These are the things no one sees so we tend to overlook them. In order to be a well rounded Christian and a well rounded church we must pay attention to the “small things.”