Thursday, May 25, 2006
Money.. 1 Timothy 6
"Dear Dad, $chool is really great. I’m making lot$ of friend$ and $tudying very hard. With all my $tuff, I $imply can’t think of anything I need, $o if you would like, you can just $end me a card, a$ I would love to hear from you.’‘
Love, Your $on
The dad replied the following words. "Dear Son, I kNow that astroNomy, ecoNomics, and oceaNography are eNough to keep eveN an hoNor studeNt busy. Do Not forget that the pursuit of kNowledge is a Noble task, and you caN Never study eNough.’’ Love, Dad
Another college student wrote these words,
"Dear Dad: I kNow you’re busy so this will be brief: No mun, No fun!’’ - Your Son
His dad wrote back, "Dear Son: I kNow you’re very busy, so I’ll be very brief: So Sad, too bad! Your Dad
Well it’s no secret that we live in an age that’s obsessed with money. Now, we’ve been involved in a series of studies designed to help us think clearly about crucial issues of life like problems and relationships and stress and even sex. But there is one area of life where there is more confused thinking than almost any other area. That’s the area of finances. Did you know that more divorces occur because of arguments over money than any other problem? 51% of all divorces occur because of financial tension. Somebody said in today’s world, marriage is "till debt due us part."
Money is discussed a surprising number of places in the Bible. Larry Burkett says there are 1600 verses in the Bible that have to do with money or finances -- there are indeed over 500 verses that include one of the words "money," "riches," or "wealth." The Lord Jesus warned Luke 12, " A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Have you discovered that? " We do not lose when we choose to forsake covetousness. We gain. Living for Jesus with a contented heart brings us fulfillment and freedom. Let’s look more closely at the choices before us.
A Covetous Heart
A covetous heart is never satisfied. Covetousness, by definition, is a powerful desire to have. The emotion is so powerful that it captivates our minds. We see something and we have to possess it. The problem is that this drive can consume our lives. In a cemetery in England stands a grave marker with this inscription: She died for want of things. Alongside that marker is another which reads: He died trying to give them to her. Advertising executives spend a billion dollars a year doing marketing research. A vast network of people, from Madison Avenue to Hollywood, spend their full work week designing novel ways to trigger our desires. Music, slogans, Technicolor sights, digitally produced sounds, and dramatic movement, all collaborate to create a passion to possess. They use fear, nostalgia, pride, sexual arousal, jealousy, and envy to produce the desired effect. Their goal is to temporarily suspend our self-control. They are creating a pattern of thinking, an attitude of discontent which will continue long after their product is forgotten. The result is that they are creating dissatisfaction with life. Proverbs 27:20 says, "Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of men are never satisfied." The covetous heart is never satisfied, and dissatisfied people are miserable. Instead of gaining, we lose. We only develop a lifestyle of misery. We find our relationships strained with other people because they have more than we do. We even find ourselves being dissatisfied with God and His provision for our lives. You see, when we covet someone else’s job, spouse, income, house, or car, we are saying, "You’ve not been fair with me God. I deserve a nicer job, or a more lucrative income, or a bigger house, or a nicer wife or husband. You’ve short-changed me. You owe me something better, God!" Now, you may not say those things directly. But a covetous heart is filled with those thoughts. Do you see the horrible destructive potential of these attitudes? They destroy us, and they destroy those around us. They place us in bondage and rule our lives. But there is an alternative to covetousness - contentment.
3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
Paul describes the people who are the cause of the trouble, so that Timothy can spot them. Their crime, in verse 3, is that they're teaching false doctrines that do not agree to the sound (literally `the healthy') instruction of Jesus Christ, and to godly teaching. In other words, people who no longer teach what we call today the New Testament. Paul doesn't go into detail in this chapter, about what is precisely wrong with their teaching. He's already done that earlier in the letter. But, in a sense, the detail doesn't matter - it's very simple in Paul's eyes: God has spoken through His Son, Jesus Christ, and that is the truth. There's no post-modern relativism here: the idea that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you believe it enough. Actually in religion, as in so many things, who or what is believed in is crucial. To use a trite example: it doesn't matter how much I believe my car works in the morning, what matters is that it actually does.
The false teachers may have chosen to ignore Christ's teaching, or to add on some things to it. But either way the teaching is now false. It's rather like the Mona Lisa, which would cease to be the authentic original if you rubbed a few bits out or painted a few extra bits on. So you could spot false teachers by their beliefs, said Paul, and you could also spot them by their behaviour. It's simply not possible to ignore God's truth and yet live in a manner that pleases Him.
So, if we turn back to the passage, instead of following the healthy instructions of Christ, we see in verse 4 that the false teacher is conceited and he has an unhealthy interest in controversy. These sickly obsessions spread outwards to others like a cancer, leading to envy and strife. So these first steps away from God's truth lead in a deeply depressing direction. The false teacher is not simply short of the mark, or a 50% Christian: he has a corrupt mind and he's been robbed of the truth. He no longer even knows the difference between God's way and what's wrong.
So, what's behind this trouble? The answer is simple - it's money. The fallen teachers believed that they could make money out of religion - presumably either by being paid for their teaching, or perhaps that their faith in God would somehow guarantee them prosperity here and now. In other words, the real focus of their teaching and their lives was about them and the now. It had nothing to do with God at all. Their self-centred motives had led them to wrong teaching.
A Contented Heart
6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
The alternative is contentment, which is the key to fulfillment, freedom, and security. Whereas a covetous heart is never satisfied, a contented heart is always secure. When Epicurus was asked for the secret of happiness, his answer was: "Add not to a man’s possessions but take away from his desires." The Jewish Rabbis had a saying: "Who is rich? He that is contented with his lot."
Now you may be saying, "You must be kidding! If I live like that I’ll never get anywhere. I don’t want to be like a lazy old cow, lying on her belly and chewing her cud. I have ambition, drive, motivation! I am not going to let the world pass me by." While you may be thinking these kinds of thoughts, you should know that this is not the picture of contentedness painted by Scripture. To be content is not the absence of ambition. A person can be extremely well motivated, with a great personal drive, and still be contented. Contentment, you see, is a state of mind.
Shakespeare, in the third part of Henry the Sixth, pictures the king wandering in the country. He informs two gamekeepers that he is a king. One of them asks: "But, if thou be a king, where is thy crown?" Listen to the king’s answer:
My crown is in my heart, not on my head; Not deck’d with diamonds and Indian stones,
Nor to be seen; my crown is call’d content - A crown it is that seldom king’s enjoy.
The apostle Paul, in Philippians 4:11-12, says, "Not that speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need." How did Paul do this? The secret is found in the next verse, 13: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
The contented person, like Paul, knows that he has everything that he needs, and more than he deserves. In whatever circumstances he finds himself, he learns to praise God for the provision He has given. Christ is his strength. Christ is his provision. The contented person is secure in his Lord.
Just look at what God has already done for you. The Lord has given you life. He gives you the air you breathe, the food you eat, the health you enjoy. He has blessed you with His forgiveness, salvation, and the promise of eternal life. He has given you your family, your friends, and so many other things that we all take for granted. Now look at your life. What have you given Him? Have you always been faithful? Have you always given all? Do you want to shake your fist at God, claiming that He has been unfair with you?
Look around you at others - not at others better off than you, but at others who suffer lack. It’s so easy to look at others who have more. It’s easy to ask why we do not have what they have. But look again at your own heart. Do you deserve even what you do have? Look at those who are less fortunate. Are you any better than they?
Look at Job. The story of Job is an illustration given to us by God of a man who trusted in God, not for what God would give him, but simply because God was God. Listen to what Job says in 1:21, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."
Now, Satan thought that Job just served God for what God had given Job. He accused Job before God saying, "Does Job fear God for nothing?" He goes on to say in Job 1:10-11, "Hast thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth thy hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse thee to thy face." Then God allowed Satan to take away everything that Job had. Job lost it all. Verse 22 says, "Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God." The moral of the story is that Job did trust God for nothing. He did not trust God because of what God gave him, he trusted God for who God is. Like Job, we must learn to trust God. We must learn to find our fulfillment in Jesus. This world, and the things in this world, will never fulfill us. God wants us to find our fulfillment in Him. God wants people who will place themselves in His arms. He wants people who are secure in His provision, trusting in Him to provide what they need according to His wisdom. God does not want grasping people, coveting people, people who are threatened by someone else’s possessions or position. He wants people with open hands, open hearts, open arms. He wants people who will rejoice when others are blessed, not when others suffer loss. He wants safe people. A safe person is a person through whom God can bless others, because He knows that person will not close his hand around what He puts there. A contented person is a safe person for God to use.
The great preacher Lacordaire said: " . . . what our age wants most is the sight of a man, who might possess everything, being yet willingly contented with little. For my own part, humanly speaking, I wish for nothing. A great soul in a small house is the idea which has touched me more than any other." The true path to real satisfaction in life is to live for Jesus with a contented heart. But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. We must come to see that having contentment will make us satisfied with life.
The real key to contentment is focusing on what you have instead of what you do not have. I hear so many people complain about the things they don’t have, when they have been blessed with so many wonderful things which they take for granted. What is there within us that makes us blind to the manifold blessings of God? Perhaps it is the Cain Syndrome — the attitude of not being content with one’s own good fortune, but being envious of another’s. Whatever it is, it is not the attitude that helps us be secure in God. The word for contentment in our text could also be translated as self-sufficient. It does not mean that we are self-sufficient in our own power, but rather that we are self-sufficient in God’s provision. It implies that God is our source and resource. We need nothing outside of Him. What a state of grace! To be secure in Him alone. To be content in Him alone. To be satisfied in Him alone. To have that attitude is to be impervious to outside pressures and temptations. The allure of the world cannot penetrate the armour of contentment. If you are contented with a thing, you are not tempted to change. If we are content with God, then we will be satisfied and secure.
1. The Call to Flee . . . "Flee These Things" - Riches are not eternal - Riches do not bring about contentment - Riches present a great temptation - Riches can destroy life - Riches can produces greed - Riches can lead away from faith in God So much of life evolves around the aspect of money. From the movie "Jerry McGuire" comes the popular phrase, "Show me the money!" Often what is done for God and self is based upon whether or not a person has the money. Many times it has been said, "We can't do that because we don't have the money." The Bible teaches we should be good stewards of our money. But when money becomes the over powering issue in a Christian's life to make it and have it, they place themselves in harms way of falling to temptation of the love of money.
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.
The admonition of the hour is to "flee these things!" Flee, get away from the distractions (immorality, idolatry, lusts, money) that deter faithfulness. Psalms 84:10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. When will we learn there is nothing secure in the silver and gold of this world? Faithfulness is a call to flee and to pursue our God.
2. The Call to Follow . . . "And Pursue . . ."
- Pursue Righteousness - Right relationship with God through Christ - Right living in thoughts, will, action and purpose . Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
- Pursue Godliness 1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. Godliness is keeping God as foremost in our lives. It speaks of reverence, and devotion to God. "God cannot be treasured up where the heart is filled up with selfish gain." - author unknown
- Pursue Faith It is not by accident God's Word calls for you and I to walk by faith. Faithfulness is derived from faith living. To have faith in God is to trust, depend, and lean upon God in all of life. God desires is that we would pursue a life of faith.
- Pursue Love Pursuing love involves God and others. As we pursue a loving relationship with our God, we will in turn be better able to love one another. Mark 12:30-31 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
- Pursue Patience Patience is a fruit of the Spirit filled life (Gal 5:22-23). If we are short on patience it stands to reason we may be low on being filled up with the Holy Spirit. Patience is to be pursued so that we might deal with one another effectively and lovingly. Patience is to be pursued so that we might faithfully wait on our God to answer and act.
- Pursue Gentleness We live in a rough gruff kind of world where a sharp answer is often received. May I remind you we are not of the world (John 17:14-16) and our speech is to be seasoned with the salt of grace (Col 4:6) and gentleness. Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
Faithfulness is the result of a life spent pursuing the things of God.
3. The Call To Fight 1Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
We as Christians have become complacent with our walk with God. Covetousness has too much overtaken our hearts, our lives, our families and our friendships.
The words and titles have been changed so that they are less offensive to the Christian community. These hymns are simply new renditions of the old hymns. Here are some of the titles in that new hymnal:
"A Comfy Mattress is Our God" "All Hail the Influence of Jesus Name"
"Above Average is Thy Faithfulness" "He's Quite a Bit to Me"
"I Love to Talk About Telling the Story" "I Surrender Some"
"I'm Fairly Certain that My Redeemer Lives" "It is My Secret What God Can Do"
"Joyful, Joyful, We Kind of Like Thee" "Just as I Pretend to Be"
"My Hope is Built on Nothing Much" "Oh for a Couple of Tongues to Sing"
"Oh How I Like Jesus" "Pillow of Ages, Fluffed for Me"
"Sit Up, Sit Up for Jesus" "Spirit of the Living God, Fall Somewhere Near Me"
"Take My Life and Let Me Be" "When Peace Like a Trickle"
"Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following"
The Christian life will take some dedication. It will take dedication so far as our money is concerned. It will take dedication so far as our priorities are concerned. It will take a fight concerning getting a hold of our own hearts. It will mean you have to expend yourself to bring your heart into line. You must have a content heart, not a covetous heart, or you will fall into sin.
Will you flee covetousness? Will you follow after godliness? Will you fight the good fight, right there in your heart? And in your family? And in your friendships? Will you fight the good fight? Will you take hold of that which really counts? eternal life is what really counts. being rich in eternity is more important than the passing wealth of this earth which will oon pass away. One day it'll all be burned up down here. What will you have then? And of you have the stuff down here... what of it really?
Clovis Chappell wrote in his book of sermons “Feminine Faces:” “When Pompeii was being excavated, there was found a body that had been embalmed by the ashes of Vesuvius. It was that of a woman. Her feet were turned toward the city gate, but her face was turned backward toward something that lay just beyond her outstretched hands. The prize for which those frozen fingers were reaching was a bag of pearls. Maybe she herself had dropped them as she was fleeing for her life. Maybe she had found them where they had been dropped by another. But, be that as it may, though death was hard at her heels, and life was beckoning to her beyond the city gates, she could not shake off their spell. She had turned to pick them up, with death as her reward. But it was not the eruption of Vesuvius that made her love pearls more than life. It only froze her in this attitude of greed.”
Thursday, May 18, 2006
1Timothy 5 ALL IN THE FAMILY
We are converted one by one. We become members of God’s family by being born into it.
But when we are born again, we become members of a family. The church is likened to a Bride, a Building, a Flock and a Family.
In Every family there are People in the family and Problems in the family. The Lord tells us how to handle the People in the family of God and the problems in the family of God.
1. How to Handle The People In The Family of God.
a. There are in the family of God the Special members. Every member is special.
Older men The text literally reads “do not harshly or sharply rebuke an older man.”
In Galatians 6:1 when dealing with reproving a brethren Paul says, “… restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.” The word “restore” means to mend or repair and was used in the New Testament of fisherman mending their nets. While the rebuke must be softened, it must not be silenced. Many a person would have been saved from defeat and destruction if someone had only spoken a rebuking word in time! On hospital beds and in prison cells I've heard many brokenhearted folk say, "This wouldn't have happened, if only I had been warned!" It's always wrong to silence the rebuke that should be spoken. But let it be spoken with sweetness.
What are the marks of a brother's love for a brother? Brotherly love means that I recognize younger men as fellow believer, and that as a believer I want to promote his welfare. That although I may not always agree with him; that as a fellow believer I will always judge him charitably.
Patrick M. Morley suggests ten marks of brotherly love in his book, "The Man in the Mirror":
“When things turn sour you have these people to turn to with the problem. You can express honest thoughts to them without appearing foolish. They will let you talk through a concern without giving you advice. They are happy to be just a sounding board. They will risk your disapproval by suggesting that you are leaving your priorities. They are prepared to tell you that you are doing wrong. When you have fallen into sin you know they will stand by you. You know that together you are facing the future. If she is a woman you can share with her friend the struggles that are uniquely a woman's, while a man can share with his friend the struggles that are uniquely a man's. You can trust them implicitly so that if you share a confidence with them it stays confidential. When you appear vulnerable and weak to them they will think no less of you. You will sometimes end a time together with them by praying
Solomon wrote in Eccles. 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. (10) For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up.” "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Provs. 17:17).
The Bible teaching is that we should have respect for older people. The 5th commandment is "Honour your Father and your Mother" (Ex 20.12). In the Book of Proverbs it says "Grey hair is a crown of splendour; it is attained by a righteous life." (16.31) and "The glory of young men is their strength, grey hair the splendour of the old" (20.29). It is interesting to find Paul telling Timothy not to treat these older people harshly, as if it were possible. Perhaps the culture in his day was not so unlike our own. A few years ago an English student nurse called Sheila Green conducted an experiment to find out what it was like to be old. With suitable clothes and makeup, a practised stooping gait helped by a brace, and adhesive tape wrapped round her feet, she disguised herself as an old woman. She dulled her hearing with ear plugs and impaired her vision with eyedrops. After carrying out a few of the tasks of everyday life, such as getting on a bus, going through a supermarket check out, waiting at an outpatients' department and shopping at a street market, she summed up her response at the way she was treated:
I felt alone, isolated, and at times, threatened and frightened. Most of all I was angry, angry that people do not notice other people's pain, anxiety and helplessness, and realise that they need help and patience rather than abuse. [Nursing Times 14-20 August 1991, in Being your Age, Michael Butler and Ann Orbach SPCK 1993]
Sheila Green returned to the same stores, market and bus queues, but this time as her normal self. She made the same mistakes, fumbled with her coins, but met with no abuse. She came to the conclusion that if people were feeling irritable or having a bad day, they felt safe taking it out on an elderly person - someone who was unlikely to have strength to hit back. This would seem to be a change in our culture, a moving from our Christian inheritance. Dr Alex Comfort describes ageism: the notion that people cease to be people, cease to be the same people or become people of a distant and inferior kind, by virtue of having lived a specified number of years.
He has the following 'would-be' profile of a member of this inferior race: He or she is white-haired, inactive, unemployed, making no demands on anyone, docile in putting up with loneliness, rip-offs of every kind and boredom, and able to live on a pittance. He or she...is slightly deficient in intellect, and tiresome to talk to...asexual, because old people are incapable of sexual activity, and it is unseemly if they are not. He or she is unemployable because old age is second childhood and everyone knows that the old make a mess of simple work...Their main occupations are religion, grumbling, reminiscing and attending the funerals of friends. [quoted in Butler and Orbach, p.5]
The Bible says we need to give proper respect to those who are retired. We don't have enough of the sense that the elders are the ones who have things to teach us. This generation of elders have experienced more change than any others in history. We need people with a sense of history, a sense of proportion.
Ecclesiastes 12: Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, "I find no pleasure in them"-- before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars grow dark, and the clouds return after the rain; when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men stoop, when the grinders cease because they are few, and those looking through the windows grow dim; (Eccl 12.1-3)
We can contrast them with Psalm 92 verses 12-14: The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green,
Younger women Younger women are to be treated with “all purity” literally absolute purity that means never doing anything that would cause that person harm – mentally, spiritually or emotionally. It means being concerned that they continue to grow spiritually. Make sure there is no action towards the younger women in the church that might be construed as in any way immoral.
b. There are the suffering members. Vs 3-8
The Bible has much to say about widows. And we all need to listen to what it has to say because some of you will be widows at some stage, unless the Lord returns first, if we're not already, and many of us will have dependants who are widows. And indeed the first thing we need to note is that the Bible honours widows in a way which most cultures do not. As John Stott remarks: "Too often a married woman is defined only in relation to her husband. Then, if he dies, she loses not only her spouse but her social significance as well."But in the Bible widows, along with orphans and aliens, are valued for who they are in themselves and are to be honoured, protected and cared for. In Psalm 68:5 God is described as a 'defender of widows'. In Exodus 22:22 his people are commanded to be the same: Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused…
Jesus honoured and was compassionate towards widows throughout the Gospels. In Luke 7:11-12 Jesus restored to life the only son of the widow of Nain. In Luke 18 Jesus commended the persistence of the widow who pursued the unjust judge until he acted. In Mark 12, which was our Gospel reading, Jesus commended the generosity of the poor widow who gave all she had. Also in Mark 12 Jesus warned that those like the scribes, who devour widows houses while at the same time showing off how religious they are, will be punished most severely. The Bible says, "learn first to show piety at home." Yes, they say, "charity begins at home!" So does the Christian life. There was a man who had been demon-possessed for a long time. Homeless and naked, he lived in a cemetery among the tombs. But he met the Lord Jesus and was cured and converted. Then he begged, "Let me go with You." But Jesus said, "Go back to your family and tell them what a wonderful thing God has done for you." It was at home that he was to show the change and to tell how it happened, and that was first of all.
The widows responsibility for herself.
The relatives responsibility
God wrote on the tablet of stone, "Honour your mother," and that tablet was put in the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. Everyone is to treat his or her mother with honour. We honour our parents because they are made in the image of God. We honour our parents because the law of God requires it. We honour our parents for their office as the ones who brought us into the world. You were given birth and life and nurture. Hours of toil were bestowed upon you, innumerable sacrifices were made for you every week. Honour your mother! Look first of all at v4. Paul writes:
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Children or grandchildren of widows are to put their religion into practice by caring for them, including financial support if necessary. It is a way of repaying their parents and grandparents who cared for them when they were young and it is pleasing to God. God commands us to honour our parents and says that he has a concern for widows. His people are to obey his commands and share his concerns.Look secondly at v8. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, [he sinks below the level of pagans]; he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Do any of us need to wake up to what Paul is saying? We are to express the faith, not deny the faith. And in an age when the average age of the population continues to rise this is an important issue. Verse 8 tells us that it is a fundamental Christian duty to provide for our relatives. As someone has said: "This is a plain biblical warrant for a life assurance policy." For a life assurance policy is only a self-imposed savings plan for the benefit of our dependants when we die. I've heard some Christians say that we should just trust God about such matters. Well we should trust God but in Matthew 6 Jesus prohibited worry not prudence. So if we have dependants we should take out a life assurance policy. AMP was brought into existence by a Christian man: Short, who got the idea of proviing against unemployment or aged or disabilities by providing the selling of life assurance so that widows or orphans would be provided for. And while we're on finance we should all also have a will that provides for dependants and for gospel ministry.Believers are to spare the church an unnecessary burden by providing for their relatives. Look at v16:
If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
The church’s responsibility
Well let's now move on to v9-15 where we come to a different issue regarding widows - those who are eligible to be put on a list for 'accountable', 'official' or 'accredited' church ministry and those who are not eligible.
c. There are the serving members in the family.
a. The widows guild The list of widows. Now some take this list of widows to be referring to those who are eligible for financial provision. But it would appear that some different qualifications apply to v9-15 compared with v3-8. For example, v9-15 includes an age criterion. Later in the early church the 'registered widows' gave themselves to prayer, nursed the sick, visited Christians in prison, evangelised and prepared women for baptism. Yes there would have been some overlap between widows in v3-8 and v9-15 but I believe that verses 9-10 make it quite clear that Paul is not writing here about a list of widows needing support but about a list of widows capable of offering service. You see loss does not equate with uselessness. Look at those verses and note the three qualifications for being on the list. Paul writes: No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty [so the first qualification is seniority and the fact that she is therefore unlikely to marry again (and notice no retirement from Christian work at 60!), the second qualification is that she must have] … been faithful to her husband, and [thirdly] is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.
Such humble, unselfish and costly service would qualify a registered widow to undertake similar ministries to an accredited church worker. She would also need to take a decision to remain unmarried, indeed as we can see from v12, she would need to make a 'pledge' to do so and so be fully available for service. So widows are not just to receive but also to give.
b. The Pastoral guide. Don't neglect your pastor. If he worries about keeping his family fed because of your neglect as a church, he will not be able to feed you adequately spiritually. And do you think the Lord will bless your family with salvation if you cannot bless his family with basic necessities?
2. How to Handle The Problems In The Family of God.
Paul highlights several problems that occur in churches. There may be the problems of selfishness and sin. Younger widows are exhorted to marry lest they become idle and gossipers. In any church the problem of malicious gossip can be healed when women give themselves to godly priorities. There is the problem of sinfulness ion the church. Not even church leaders are immune from sinful propensities, and may sometimes need private reproof, and even public reproof when necessary. There is also the problem of hidden sins. Paul remoinds believers that what is covered up, the LORD MAY SOON BRING TO LIGHT.
"Some men's sins are open beforehand," says the Bible, "going before to judgment." My heart goes out to the alcoholic. I don't censor him, neither do I condone his sin, but I do have compassion for him. But as he staggers down the street, his sin is seen. It's going before him to judgment. Just this morning I saw a man without any moral restraints. He wallows in wickedness. Anybody can see his sins. He bears them in his body. They're going before him to judgment. Others may be just as shameful and sinful, just as godless and graceless along other lines, but their badness doesn't affect their bodies to any great extent. So they can hide them. But they're not forgotten. For the Bible says, "they follow after." In the early days of our Republic, men and women were required by law to wear a letter made from scarlet cloth revealing the sin they committed. An adulterer wore the letter A; a drunkard, the letter D; a forger, the letter F; the rapist, the letter R; and the thief, the letter T. That law has been repealed, but don't think that you're not marked! In God's sight you wear your letter. Suppose He caused it to appear this moment. What would it be? "Oh," you say, "that's impossible!" But the Bible says, "There is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known." What a dreadful day that will be when you stand before God and man to have all your sins revealed!
But here's good news! If you face your sins now, you won't have to face them then. Confess them, and you'll be cleansed. Queen Victoria visited a paper mill, and on seeing filthy rags, asked, "How can these dirty rags ever be made white and pure?" "I have a chemical process," answered the superintendent, "by which I can remove all the uncleanness and make them immaculately white." A few weeks later the Queen found some beautiful writing paper on her desk, bearing the note: "Will Her Majesty be pleased to accept a specimen of my paper, with the assurance that every sheet was manufactured out of the dirty rags which she saw? Will Her Majesty allow me to say I can understand now how Christ can make the vilest sinner clean - whiter than snow - though his sin be as scarlet?"
But let's look at the other side. It's written in 1st Timothy 5:25, "Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand." There are those who delight in doing good deeds. Many have seen their good works and have glorified God. They have won the praise of man. But there are some who work behind the scene. These prayer partners have never been praised. These timid toilers have never been thanked. What of them? The Bible says, "Even when they can't be seen, they can't stay hidden." Everything done for the Lord Jesus is recorded, and will be rewarded. He recorded the helpful heart that gave all, even though it was but two mites. He recorded the grateful heart of the cleansed man who returned to give thanks. He even recorded the desire of David to build the temple, and He put the building down to his credit, although he didn't build it. He gave as much reward to the prophet's host as He did to the prophet himself. And when you give a cup of water to one of His own, He puts it down as being given to Himself.
"Our labor and our pleasure, be this, to do His will,
To use our little measure, in loving service still.
The cup of water given for Him, will find reward
Both now, and soon in heaven, remembered by the Lord."
"Lord, may Thy love constrain us, through all the 'little while;'
Nor fear of man restrain us, nor love of praise beguile;
Thus, till Thy glorious coming, enough, O Lord, if we
Then hear Thy voice approving aught we have done for Thee."
Thursday, May 04, 2006
1 Timothy 4:6-16 How To Stay Spiritually Healthy
In one of Warren Wiersbe's books, he recalls a time in his boyhood when he was sitting in a grade school assembly program listening to an aged doctor who promised to tell the secret of his long, healthy life. Wiersbe writes that this doctor had been the physician to one of the Presidents of the
How can we stay spiritually healthy?
You might think this addressed only to ministers. In fact the word minister is used here, 6 If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, HCSB If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed.
It is addressed to us all. If we want to be spiritually healthy, to hear the Lord’s “Well done thou good and faithful servant, then we must get with the programme. “get with the program!” – fitness training circuit, at teacher’s college.
1. Give Yourself To The Word.
Ray Stedman: “You hold in your hands the greatest book ever written, the most amazing book in all the world, the only place in all humanity, in all human history, where you are given the bedrock, undiluted truth about life. The Word of God gives you the insights of God into life, the explanation of who you are, what God intended you to be and what will fulfill you. No book is more important to learn, to feed upon, than the Word of God. It is a big book; it takes a lot of reading, a lot of studying, a lot of thinking and meditating to grasp what it says, but when you do, it will change your life; it will lead you into fullness, freedom, liberty and beauty. That is what the Bible is for. So to feed upon this word is tremendously significant and important. That is why Paul stresses this with Timothy, reminding him of it.”
STUDY THE WORD
If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished by the words of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 But have nothing to do with irreverent and silly myths. Rather, train yourself in godliness, 8 for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. 10 In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe.
TURN AWAY FROM OLD WIVES’ TALES
H A Ironside in his commentary on 1Timothy remarks about Old Wives Tales, the imaginary ideas that ignorant people devoid of spiritual insight might be inclined to circulate. Both madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Annie Bessant, the co-founders of Theospohy were old wives. Mrs. Ellen G White’s fantastic “Sanctuary theory” the basis of Seventh day Adventism is an old wives’ fable. Mary baker Patterson Glover Eddy (married who knows how many times) was an old wife who mothered what she falsely called “Christian Science”. These teachings are all contrary to the Word of God. Such have a special attraction for women of a particular type.
BUILD SPIRITUAL MUSCLE. They "exercise" or gymnasticize themselves "toward godliness." They understand that there is some profit in "bodily exercise" but there is great promise both now and in eternity for growing in "godliness." Believers from the beginning of the church age have accepted that this is a "faithful saying" (vv.7b-9).
Every Greek city had a gymnasium and
In the same way other young men were working out to strengthen and build up their physical bodies, Timothy was to work out to build up and strengthen his spiritual life.
Sit-ups Sit under the teaching of the Word of God every week. In Acts 20:7 we read that the disciples came together on the first day of the week to break bread and hear the teachings of the Apostle Paul.
100-yard dash Be ready to run to the aid of a hurting soul and demonstrate God's love. We were not created to live and function alone. We need one another for help and support. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says that "Two are better than one … for if they fall, one will lift up his companion."
Push-ups A traditional push-up strengthens your chest and shoulder muscles. Lifting up a person in need builds your spiritual muscles. The Father of mercies "comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God' (2 Corinthians 1:4). Christians who have been encouraged by God should be the world's best encouragers.
Deep knee-bends If you want the Lord's blessing on your life, pray. Paul urges us to "continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it" (Colossians 4:2). It takes effort and commitment to confess your sins before God, and to pray for guidance for yourself and others. Prayer is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it leads to spiritual fitness and vitality.
Lunges Lunge into Christian service. When God shows you a need that you can fill, get involved and see the Holy Spirit work through you. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all" (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Stretching Stretch out in faith.
Walking Walk in the Word daily. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Reading the Bible is like exercise. Some days you don't feel like doing it, but you know it's good for you. Discipline yourself for godliness by making it a habit to read the Bible every day.
Being consistent in practicing these moves of an active faith is key because a "stop-start" exercise regimen rarely produces lasting results. If you want to make a new start in your spiritual fitness routine, consult your physician — the Great Physician, Jesus Christ. Ask God to help you practice daily spiritual disciplines that will increase your faith.
Runners come to a point where they can hardly put one foot in front of another. But as they press on, their energy is replenished, and they finish the race with a great sense of accomplishment. Likewise, the road of dynamic Christian living requires perseverance.
The Bible provides incredible incentive to persevere: "[T]rain yourself in godliness, for, the training of the body has a limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Unlike bodily exercise, the benefits of spiritual fitness last into eternity.
2. Give Yourself To The Work
Out of Greek history comes the story of how young Alciabiades, was bluntly telling his uncle Pericles an eldely genius, how
Alciabiades, at your age I used to talk just as you are talking now.” Not wincing a bit, he looked the great Athenian right in the eye and replied, “Pericles, how I should like to have known you when you were at your best!”
Standing at the eginning of the 21st Century, the informed observer would have to admit that the church has not been at its evangelical best. There is much work to be done! Calvin Miller tells the following story: "I remember some years ago I was over in Millard one day having a cup of coffee with a policeman. He had a can of mace in a holster on his side. He opened the holster and handed me the can of mace. I had never seen one before in my whole life and I was amazed. It looked kind of like an austere can of clergical Aqua Net. I asked him, 'How does this work?'" He said, 'Well, you take the cap off and spray it in somebody's face.' "'Basically, what does it do?' I asked. 'Does it knock them out?' "'No, they're still conscious but inert.'
"'Man, I replied, 'I've been pastor of a Baptist church for 20 years. I understand conscious but inert. In the church, 80 percent of the people are always watching 20 percent of the people do the work.'" Do you think that describes our church? I think we're conscious but inert. I think a lot of us have drifted into an easy going complacency.
Perhaps you heard about this elderly woman who lived way back in the hills of
Paul wasn’t interested in making life convenient for young Christians. He made life demanding. Not only are young believers to give themselves to the word, they are also to give themselves to the work!
“In fact, we labor and strive for this, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of everyone, especially of those who believe 11 Command and teach these things. 12 No one should despise your youth; instead, you should be an example to the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 13 Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. 15 Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Be conscientious about yourself and your teaching; persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. “
Labor. There is to be something strenuous about our work for the Lord.
labor and strive "Labor" and strive and agonize over your work because you know your work is not in vain because you have a "living God" who is the "Savior" over all men whether they believe or not but is "especially" and eternally the Savior of "those who believe" (v.10).
“example” There is to be something spiritual about our work for the Lord.
in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. What you are speaks so loud that I can’t hear a word you are saying. When I hear of some so called Christian men involving themselves in porn, it weakens our work. When I hear of some so called Christians getting drunk. What do you really think the Lord thinks of that? You are hindering people coming to Christ if you live like that! When I hear some Christians swearing and blaspheming it makes me shudder. Is there any wonder there is no revival?
“public reading, exhortation, and teaching” There is to be something central about our work for the Lord.
R A Torrey: evangelistic crusade, got talking to a gentleman, “Are you a Christian?”
“I consider myself as such.” A dubious answer at best. “Good” Torrey said, “are you bringing other men to Christ?”
“That’s not my business. I am a lawyer. That’s your business.”
“Please read this. Acts 8:4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.”
“Ah yes, but they were apostles. Ministers like yourself”
“I think you are mistaken sir. Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at
W.E. Sangster of the great Central Methodist Mission London : “The simplest way to embarrass a normal congregation is to ask them two ordinary questions. 1. When did you last lead someone to Christ? 2. When did you last try? But you may say.. “I don’t know how.”
Paul says how even the simplest person can do it. public reading, exhortation, and teaching
“Ah” you may say “I am not a teacher!” the first two jobs are not those of teachers. All you got to do is read the scriptures aloud. Let the Holy Spirit do His work through the Word of God. Just read them aloud.
Exhortation? Ask someone to become a Christian. Just ask them. Keep on asking. Sooner or later you got to find a fish that will bite.
“gift” There is to be something supernatural about our work for the Lord.
Evidently, Timothy had grown to doubt his ability. Maybe he wondered whether he belonged in ministry or not. Maybe he was like the surgeon I heard about recently. He had one unhappy situation where a woman died during a gall bladder operation. Another came to him for the same operation, and he refused to operate. He had lost his nerve. Maybe Timothy had a few knocks. Maybe he didn’t think he was all that successful. Maybe he thought only Paul was able to be used by God to lead people to the Lord. And he was packing it in. Maybe you have been doing the same. You think you can’t teach a Sunday school class. Maybe you think you can’t teach a Youth group. Friend, God has not withdrawn his gifts from you. Unless you have failed for some moral reason, you can still do that which God has called you to do. Exercise those spiritual gifts He has entrusted to you. Look at your gifts. Look at your calling. Look at how other godly people have placed their confidence in you. Spiritual gifts have to be exercised and cultivated. Preaching didn't hit me like a lightening bolt. I had to learn to study, learn to outline and learn to deliver the message. However, all my learning stretched the giftedness that God had already placed in me.
"Progress" comes from a Greek word that was used to describe an army advancing across a field of battle. It was also used in the context of an explorer blazing a trail across new territory. There is to be something that steps forward about our work for the Lord. We have a lot of lost time to pick up on. There is a lot of work that needs to be done. Churches generally throughout
“Be conscientious” There is to be something sincere about our work for the Lord.
You are to be totally engulfed in ministry. Live and breathe to teach, preach, pray, evangelize, counsel, and work for the Lord. This is why you drive a cab. This is why you go to the shops. This is why I do funerals. This is why you work where you work. You will save both yourself and your hearers
“Persevere” in these things, There is to be something strong-minded about our work for the Lord.
It’s not going to be easy. This is strong muscular Christianity. This is not wimpish religion! This takes stamina and determination. The Lord Jesus took your whipping. The Lord Jesus endured the cross. The Lord Jesus took that for you. Can’t you persevere a little for His sake? You will save both yourself and your hearers
There is to be something saving about our work for the Lord.
persevere in these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. “