Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Samuel the Prophet

Consider this:

Samuel was a witness to the departure of the glory of God at the hands of the High Priest's sons. He had no role models. The High Priest was weak and did not know the voice of the Lord. His peers were corrupt and used the things of God for their own advantage.

In light of Samuel's life, let us consider our own positions in Christ. We at Bible Truth Chapel, my home assembly, looked back on 100 years of ministry in the city of Miami, Fl. this past weekend. We have had many, many godly influences in the past.  Looking around this evening, I realized that we have many, many godly men of God in our lives today.

Further, note that Samuel remained faithful despite not having a visible symbol of God's glory. In the physical sense, Samuel and us are quite similar. We have no visible symbol of God's glory. However, when we consider this further we find that we have the advantage in this area as well, in the Holy Spirit. Remember Christ prayed that we believers be glorified with the same glory Christ possesses. We have the glory of God indwelling us.

Let us be faithful to our Lord with all that He has given us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Verses 1-2. Paul continues his mantra of respect. Wherever you find yourself there's always an opportunity to show respect to others. In the previous chapter, Paul said leaders need to respect those under them. Now, Paul says if you are under someone else's authority, you must respect that person. Respect is reciprocal.

Verses 3-6. Paul points out how to spot a false prophet--he respects no one. He is conceited, which means he does not respect other people. However, as a conceited person, his inflated perception of himself is not reality, thus, only serves as another form of disrespect. In the end, this selfishness does not allow this man to understand how things really are. Paul points this out in a truly poetic fashion. The conceited man thinks "godliness" is a tool for his own gain. But the truth is that when one one's goal is real godliness, then they truly reap rewards.

Verses 7-12. Paul continues in similar vein, pointing out the biggest weakness in human history: money. The love of money and all the power that money causes man to do all kinds of evil things. Note that Paul doesn't say "don't do" without giving an alternative. Replace those evil things with wholesome things. Go from destruction to building up.

Verses 13-21. Lest we forget who this is for, lest we think that Paul speaks of his own authority, lest Timothy (or any other leader) blindly follow a mentor, Paul lets us know who is really behind all of these instructions. Our Lord is who is behind everything. Our Lord is the one whom we strive to please. Our Lord is the one we want to be like -- hence the term Godliness. This charge is serious. In light of the seriousness of our Lord, everything that the world considers important suddenly loses gravity. How sad it is that people who profess godliness, miss the mark so egregiously. Finally, a reminder that grace is a key to the Christian life.

Friday, September 17, 2010

1 Timothy 5

1 timothy 5 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Verses 1-2. Here Paul lays out an "easy" way to show respect to all in the assembly. He tells Timothy not to sharply rebuke an older man, but to appeal to him as a father. He then applies these paternal terms to other members of the assembly (younger men & women, Older women). This instruction is easy to remember, though difficult to practice. It is difficult to practice because while the instruction to not sharply rebuke carries over to all 4 age/gender combinations, so does the directive "in all purity." Note that Paul is not saying not to rebuke others (see v. 20), he only restricts the manner in which it is done and the spirit (pure) in which it is done.

The benefits of a gentle rebuke are obvious -- psychology would tell us that the approach is key when trying to correct poor behavior. However, the real challenge is to remain pure. Many times have I tried to correct a brother or sister. Most of those times I have failed to approach the offender in an appropriate manner. The rest of the time (or so it seems), I had impure (read: selfish) motives. I trust that God's will was accomplished, however imperfect His tool was.

Verses 3-16. Immediately, Timothy has to put this respectful rebuke into action. The issue of the widows is a case study which Paul uses to illustrate his point. Timothy is instructed by Paul to honor the widows who are widows, and correct an issue with widowhood which was prevalent in this assembly. He had to tell them what they were doing was wrong and then give them alternate behaviors which would be more acceptable. (Note that a sinful act is always replaced by a holy one.) All the while, he had to treat them as mothers/sisters and in all purity.

People hate to be corrected. Timothy was not in an enviable position at all. Even if Timothy did everything right, he would probably still endure harsh, unholy criticism from the congregation. However, leaders in the assembly must be subjected to that from time to time for the sake of the glory of God.

Verses 17-25. But while the work is hard, Paul says the reward is great as we remain faithful to God. Verse 21 is a key when considering the goal of leadership: maintain God's principles and don't be partial. In other words, respect God while respecting fellow man. Shall we take it so far as to say follow the greatest two commandments, Love God & Love Man? That would seem right.

If we keep those two strait, then the rest will follow. Clear sins are clear enough to judge. Hidden sins will come out. Obvious good will be praised. God will bless good thing done in secret. All we are called to do is be faithful.

Friday, September 10, 2010

1 Timothy 4

1 timothy 4 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Verses 1-5. Here Paul continues his previous argument regarding prayer. In fact, this is the best reference we have to the practice of saying grace before eating our meals. By giving thanks to God for the food we eat, we bring a few things to the forefront of our remembrance. 1) Our dependence on God almighty. By saying grace, we acknowledge that God provides all good things to us. We check our pride and further develop our faith in Christ. 2) As a direct result, we are driven to gratefulness. We thank God for something simple like a meal, but overall we know that all good things come from Him, including our salvation. 3) Knowing that we are saved by Him, we know that we are not saved to live as we choose, but we should be His instruments. As we try to follow Him we will avoid falling away from the faith and into our own agendas. May God help us as we live for Him.

Verses 6-11. Now Paul tackles the discipline needed by the believer. This is a natural progression, as prayer itself is an exercise in discipline. We must constantly consider what it is we believe and why. In this way we sharpen ourselves. Verse 10 gives us our reason: because we see our hope in God (to be like Him, read: Godliness) and strive to achieve this goal.

Verses 12-16. Now Paul gives a few practical tips for leaders. Namely, 1) make sure the scripture is read, 2) exhort the believers, 3) teach the believers and 4) use your spiritual gift effectively. Note that it all starts with the reading of God's Word--but it does not end there. Too many times we feel that God's Word stands alone. That the reading of God's Word is all that is needed. While I would never argue against the effectiveness of God's Word, I would argue that God's Word is always accompanied by an instrument of God's choosing, namely, the teacher. The teacher, as Timothy is instructed, exhorts, teaches and brings his spiritual talents to the table. Using this combination, God's Word is effectively used.

God desires to use man to further His message. That is incredible!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1 Timothy 3

1 timothy 3 - Passage Lookup - New American Standard Bible -

Here Paul gets into Church leadership requirements. The requirements are that an Overseer, Deacon, and Women must be Godly. Note that the Overseer and Deacon were to be men.

Two main points in Pauls argument are that Church leaders 1) must be Godly leaders in their home and 2) must have gone through testing and come out strong.

Verses 4 & 5. These verses clearly state that the Church leader must be a Godly leader at home first. If a man cannot control his own household, how can they control the flock? If one cannot lead their own blood -- people who should be the most compatible with -- how can they lead neighbors, friends and perfect strangers? Further, a man is most honest in his own home. The traits exhibited by his household will permeate anything else he leads.

Verses 6 & 7. Here we see that the Church leader must be able to stand against testing. Tests will surely come. The devil loves to test leaders with their pride and and the things done in secret (outside the church). The Godly leader will be able to recognize this, and realize that their personal actions are important in the grand scheme of things. One cannot give themselves up to the devil in any part of their life and still expect to be a Godly leader. Verse 10 reiterates the command to Deacons, stating that after they go through testing and remain beyond reproach, then they should be appointed as leaders.

Verses 14 & 15. Here we have Paul's mission statement. This is the reason why he wrote this letter: so we can know how to behave in God's house. We must behave God-like.

Verse 16. Paul follows up with what I like to call the Godly Nutshell. This is a description of the effectiveness of Christ's mission to earth. Each of these six items point to the Godliness of Christ's work. Everything He did was right and produced results. Knowing that He has begun a good work in us is truly an amazing thought. In case anyone thinks that Godliness is something unattainable, must consider Christ and His will for us and then realize He will perform it. He will, if we let Him.

Friday, September 3, 2010

1 Timothy 2

I remember praying for everybody in the whole world to be saved. I remember my father tearfully adding an Amen after my prayer and nodding with approval. I did not pray that all men be saved ever since.

Theologically speaking, it is ridiculous to thin that all men will be saved. Even that all men could possibly lay aside their pride and trust on the Lord Jesus. But God certainly wills that all men be saved. He is not only willing, but he is able to stretch out his grace to cover them.

Here in the second chapter of Paul's letter to Timothy, Paul stresses the importance of prayer to the life of a Christian leader--it is essential! Paul tells Timothy to pray for everyone, that they may lead Godly lives. One cannot truly lead a Godly life until their sin problem has been dealt with. God wants to be the one to deal with this issue.

Now here we have these two concepts -- God's provision for salvation and man's desire for independence--creating palpable tension one with another. What could it possibly mean? Are we to conclude that God's will is not strong enough to accomplish it's goals? Are we to conclude that man will be forced to accept grace despite his attempts to avoid it? I say no to both accounts. Remember that Timothy was an instructional letter written to a leader. Prayer fosters an attitude in the one who utters the prayer. By praying for all men's salvation, you cultivate a heart of compassion--the heart of an evangelist. Once a church leaders realizes that he truly desires for all men to be saved, he then realizes God's heart, and becomes transformed more into His image.

It is in this vein that we approach the last portion of the chapter. Paul switches gears (but not direction) with the word "likewise," and turns to women. He asks the women to watch how they dress and approach the assembly meetings. Again, Godliness is the point of his instruction. Note that Paul simply asks the women to take their place in the role God had laid out for them from the beginning. Therefore women truly experience Godliness when in the role God prepared for them, and the same rings true for men.

Recently, a little girl was asked to bless the food. She had been wanting to do it for a long time, so in the privacy of the home she was asked to say grace. Everyone thought it was going to be a short, simple prayer for the food, and then we could get to eating. She proceeded to bless the food, bless each person sitting at the table by name and prayed that everyone in the whole world would be saved. As she prayed, I must admit that I began to get antsy, wondering when she would end. But I remembered my Child-like prayer for everyone in the world. I contrasted that with my cold theological sophistication.

My eyes were not dry by the final amen.
That final Amen was mine.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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