Archive for November, 2012

Times Of Difficulty (II Timothy 3:1-17)

November 16, 2012

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”  II Timothy 3:1

From the moment he was born, there were days and months and years of difficulty.  But now the difficulty was over or was it?  The previous commentary summarizes the lives of so many people who enter this life without a family who loves them.  Their lives are often lived with a mentality of fight for survival.  For many, their lives are cut short by murder, accidental overdose, or suicide.  For these people, “Life was difficult.”  And sadly, “eternity holds even worse difficulty in hell.”

But these are not alone in their difficulty.  Our More for Christ readings focus on the difficulties of all men who live their lives in rebellion against God.  Paul identifies their attitude in life (3:1-5a).  He strongly warns the Godly to avoid such people (3:5b-9).

At this point the question that comes to my mind would be this, “How does a person become Godly?”  Here is Paul’s answer, “You have become acquainted with the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.” I Timothy 3:15

The ungodly are made godly through the living Word of God.  Jesus Christ cleanses us and creates us into a new person.  His Word becomes the roadmap for our lives (3:16).  We live differently because of Jesus and we die differently because of Jesus.

Yes, we will have times of difficulty (3:12), but with a different result.  We are headed for paradise with God!!!  He deserves our praise and He desires our proclamation of His Word so that all men would be saved.

Today, I want to challenge you to live differently and to share the gospel with men who are in times of difficulty.  In this we are casting a lifeline to people who are drowning in their sins.

The Giver of Understanding (II Timothy 2)

November 15, 2012

“Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.”  II Timothy 2:7

“I just do not know what to do!”  These words have been a constant reminder to me over the past 20 years of how difficult life can really be if lived with a self-induced viewpoint that life is all up to me.  Many times I have met with troubled followers of Christ who have asked, “Pastor, what should I do?”  In those moments I found myself fighting my self-induced viewpoint.  In those moments then and now I have had to come back to God’s Word.  God alone is the giver of true understanding.

This truth is so clear in our More For Christ readings.  Paul is encouraging Timothy to look to God’s understanding.  I want you to notice how Timothy received God’s understanding, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 

Brothers and sisters you and I have been blessed to have faithful teachers who teach us God’s Word.  We should celebrate this and we should concentrate on making sure our teachers are in the Word of God.  Even more we should be in the Word every day.  God has given us the Holy Spirit (I John 3:21,27) so that we have a personal daily teacher.  Study his Word.

As you study God’s Word, Paul encourages you to do three things:

1.  Be strengthened by what you understand, Vs: 1-2

2.  Be submissive to what you understand, Vs: 3-14

3.  Strive to grow in your understanding, Vs: 15-26

With all of this said, if you are struggling with knowing what to do?  Pick up His Word this day and begin to discover His perfect answer!!!

 

A Letter From Prison (II Timothy 1)

November 14, 2012

“Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”  II Timothy 1:10

It seems that the days of receiving letters in the USPS box are almost obsolete.  Today we receive emails, texts, and tweets.  But even then these communications are much shorter and often with less intimacy and instruction.  When was the last time you received a letter from someone?

This morning I want to take you back in time to the first century.  The church is barely 30 years old.  The Apostles are starting to pass away and soon Paul would be next.  There is a new generation of leaders in the church.  One of those leaders is a young guy by the name of Timothy.  He is stationed in his pastorate in the city of Ephesus.  The Apostle Paul is in a Roman prison awaiting execution.  This will be the last letter he will write.  Truly it is a  letter from prison.  Here is a suggested outline of the first chapter of his letter:

1.  Paul focuses on the will of God, Vs: 1-2

I am always amazed at how Paul is not fearful, depressed, or falling back from his strong stand for Christ.  He is both secure and serving Christ in his last days.  What an encouragement this should be to us.

2.  Paul focuses on the work of God, Vs: 3-7

One of Paul’s great life works was in the mentoring of young men.  He was gifted by God to supply the church with elders for the days ahead.  It was not Paul who gifted these men.  God gifted these men (1:6-7).  But Paul had the assignment to encourage, equip, and strengthen their resolve.

3.  Paul focuses on the warfare of God, Vs: 8-14

Every follower of Christ will face times of suffering for his or her faith.  Paul’ reminds us to be steadfast in this journey. We are serving a great God who will give us victory in the Lord.

Brothers and sisters I think it necessary to pause here and ask, “Are you encouraged by this letter?”  I can honestly say, “I am greatly encouraged by this letter.”

Paul concludes chapter one by giving us examples of people who both abandoned the warfare and those who assisted him in the warfare.  This very day you and I must decide how we are going to live out this day!

As you decide I want to offer one suggestion for this day:  “Write an encouraging letter to someone in the faith today.”  And if you are up for a second suggestion: “Write an evangelistic letter to someone who needs faith today.”

The Sheep and the Shepherds (I Timothy 5:1-24)

November 12, 2012

“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.”  I Timothy 5:22

Metaphorically speaking, the scriptures refer to the people and leaders in the church as sheep and shepherds.  Question, “which describes your position in the church?”

Paul gives us a detailed description of how both shepherds and sheep are to interact together.  Here is a suggested outline for your study:

1.  Instructions for interaction with the sheep, Vs: 1-16

Shepherds are to interact in the following ways: 1) Encourage older men as fathers 2) Encourage younger  men as brothers 3) Encourage older women as mothers 4) Encourage younger women as sisters 5) Treat true widows with great honor.

2.  Instructions for interaction with shepherds, Vs: 17-24

Here we discover how the sheep are to interact with their shepherds: 1) Give double honor to those who lead well 2) Give adequate wages 3) Protect elders from false accusation 4) Rebuke unrepentant elders.

Brothers and sisters these instructions are both direct and detailed.  Both you and I have clear guidelines as to how we are to live our lives together in the church.  Paul concludes the chapter with a serious warning, “Do not lay hands on anyone hastily, keep pure, knowing that everything will be revealed.”

Ours is a serous business in the life of the church.  I encourage you to take very seriously your role in the church.  Whether you are a sheep or you are a shepherd know this, “there is coming a day when you will stand before the chief shepherd to give an account.”  On that day, may our Lord proclaim, “We were faithful to our role.”

Brothers and sisters, if there is something that is hindering your faithfulness to your role, get rid of it today!  Your work is too important to allow such things in your life.  Christ came so that we might be free to serve the church in our ordained role.

The God Who Cares More Than We Know (I Timothy 2)

November 9, 2012

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” I Timothy 2:6

This morning someone emailed me a cool video of a young man proposing marriage to a young lady.  The caption over the video was, “A Christ-centered love.”  Certainly we could spend our time thinking and writing about what a Christ-centered love looks like.  But we do not have to because it has been given to us in I Timothy 2:4-6.  Notice two things:

I.  We see Christ desire for all men, Vs:3-4

God’s desire is that all men (All kinds of people) would be saved.  This is an amazing statement considering we live in a fallen world where people are consumed with only their own lives.  Early in the chapter Paul instructed Timothy, “I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.” 

2.  We see Christ doing something about man’s salvation, Vs:5-6

Christ desire led him to do something about our fallen state.  He came to this earth to become our mediator!  He gave his life as a ransom for our sin.  Christ payment for our sin made possible our access to God and our assurance of eternal life with God.  Paul reminds Timothy, “for this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle.”  

Question:  “Do you and I care as much about people as does our God?”  If so, there are several things we are to do:

1.  We are to pray for all kinds of people, 2:1-2, 7

2.  We are to share Christ with all kinds of people, 2:3

3. We are to model Christ with proper living before all kings of people, 2:7b-15

Brothers and sisters this takes a lot of time in each day to accomplish this task.  But one thing is sure, “The more Christ is formed in us the more we want to care as he cares!”

Staying Where You Are (I Timothy 1:1-15)r

November 8, 2012

“As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine.”  I Timothy 1:3

“Yes, you need to stay where you are.”  These words of advice came from a dear friend who was speaking to a young man who wanted to get out of the mess he was in.  Who was this young man?  Timothy.  Who was this dear friend?  The Apostle Paul.

This morning we begin a new book of the Bible in our More For Christ readings.  This is the first of three pastoral epistles in the New Testament.  Paul is here writing to a young preacher who is very discouraged in his church (The church at Ephesus).  There were false teachers who were infiltrating the church and trying to lead people away from the doctrine of grace.  Paul was very forceful in his command for Timothy to stay where he was.  Here is a suggested outline of the text:

1.  He was to correct doctrinal error, Vs: 1-4, 8-12

2.  He was to be compassionate in all he corrects, Vs: 5-7

3. He was to complete his calling among those who were in error, Vs: 18-20

These were certainly not things he was wanting to hear.  But they were things that were needed for his growth and for the gospel!!!  Paul encourages Timothy with his own testimony of how God had saved him and made him into a trophy of grace, (1:12-17).  Paul had stayed the course and now it was paying great dividends.

Maybe, you are in the place where you are feeling that inner nudge to move somewhere else.  Here are a few questions to consider:  1) How does your moving impact the spread of the gospel?  2) How does your moving impact your present church?  3) How does your moving impact your families spiritual growth?

These are needed questions for every Child of God.  They are far more important than the other factors.  My prayer is that you would do what benefits the kingdom, the gospel, and your families spiritual growth.

For further reading, check out, “Church Membership,” By Dr Leeman

Great Reminders (Titus 3:1-15)

November 7, 2012

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.”  Titus 3:1

“I highly dislike certain types of reminders.”  For example, “I do not like an alarm clock, because I lay awake all night waiting for the time to turn it off so that it does not wake up Sherry.”  There are other reminders as well, “When Sherry reminds me of what the Word of God has to say when I am doing something wrong.”

However, I should really like such reminders, but in my flesh I rebel.  Here in our More For Christ readings Paul gives Titus some wonderful reminders that will help him to help the church in her effectiveness in every good work.  Let’s look at the first two:

1.  Our conduct in the world, Vs: 1-2

How often do we fail to apply what the Bible says when we are in the world.  We come to church to hear the Bible and even to mark in our Bibles.  But how often do we allow the Bible to mark us to the point that our conduct in the world is visibly different because of the Word of God?

2.  The mercy of God, Vs: 3-5

Paul remind’s us of our birth in this world.  We are born as sinners (Depraved).  But God who is rich in mercy (Delivers us).  The riches of all we receive in Christ are more than we can discover in our lifetime.  Oh what a great reminder this is.

Because of these two reminders we should devote ourselves to a life of godliness.  However, at the same time you and I have to do battle with false teachers.  This third reminders, Vs: 6-11 lead’s us to and even deeper devotion to Christ.

Question: “Now that we have read these reminders, what must we do?”  Here is our take away:  1) Live differently.  May your light shine through all the deeds of your life.

2)  Reach out differently.  Reach out in mercy to those who are where you used to be.  Share the grace and mercy of God.

You Are Different (Titus 2:1-15)

November 6, 2012

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.” Titus 2:1

Yes, you are different!  As a follower of Christ your life and my life is to be radically different from those who are not followers of Christ.  In Titus 2 Paul turns his attention away from the pretenders to the possessors of faith in Jesus Christ.

Back in chapter 1 we find Paul’s description of pretenders, “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.  They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work,” 1:16. However, here in chapter 2 we find instruction for possessors of faith:

1. They teach and model sound doctrine, 2:1-10

Take careful note of how Paul addresses every person and their position in life.  We see instruction for the following: older men, older women, young women, young men, and slaves,” I want to encourage you to investigate the season that describes your life.

2.  They are trained to model holiness, 2:11-15

Paul reminds us of two things in this section: 1) We are different only because of grace.  In grace Jesus appeared on the earth and He brought grace to us.  We receive this grace because of Christ payment for our sins.  This grace is offered to all kinds of people.  2) We are different in the way we live.  We now renounce the old way of living and we reside in the new way of living.  This is the way we are to live in this present age.

Because of this everything about us is different. Paul reminds us of the joy of living in this way in anticipation of God’s glorious return.  As we wait we worship and we witness of His grace and greatness (Vs: 13-15).  This is truly a different way of living life.

Question: “Is this how you and I are living our lives?”  This morning, I was greatly challenged to investigate my life in light of the Word.  After doing so, I sought forgiveness for those things that did not look different from the world.  I sought strength to walk more and more in the things that look different. I also praised God for the day that He will return.

I challenge you to follow this path as well.  For further reading I encourage you to read Psalm 75, Matthew 24-25.  Praise be unto our God who has made us different!!!

 

Working With People (Titus 1)

November 5, 2012

“One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”  Titus 1:12

Can you imagine having to work with and minister to people who are always liars? This is the assignment given to a young preacher names Titus.  This morning we discover Paul’s words to one of his “Sons in the faith” in our More for Christ readings.”  Titus has been serving under Paul’s leadership for some time (Gal. 2:1-3).  Now Paul has Titus on the Island of Create serving as a pastor of a group of people who according to Paul’s own words, “This testimony is true.”  

Someone once said, “The best thing about my job is working with people.  But at the same time the worst thing about my job is working with people.”  Can I get an “Amen” from anyone?  Brothers and sisters I am sure my pastors over the years would amen this about me.

This morning I was greatly encouraged and challenged to continue working with people.  I hope you find the same.  Consider the following outline as you read Titus 1:

1.  A detailed introduction, Vs: 1-4

Two things stand out here: 1) Paul’s statement, “I am and apostle.”  Why has this man been chosen to be and apostle?  The answer is simple and powerful, “For the sake of the elect.”  “So the elect will receive truth.”  2) Paul’s description of our amazing God. We serve a God who “makes us godly and grants us eternal life.  This God never lies, He always keeps His promises.  He has delivered His Word to us through preaching.

2.  A detailed instruction manual for the church, Vs: 5-16

Titus was to put in order the leadership structure for the church.  He was to appoint elders.  Titus is given a detailed description of their qualifications.  At the same time Titus is to purge the leadership of false teachers (people who are liars).  Imagine how tough this must have been.  Truly working with people is not and easy matter.

However it is a very profitable work as we submit ourselves to our great God who opens the eyes of the blind and makes new those who were in bondage to sin.  This morning I want to encourage you to continue working with people.  People are the very reason Jesus came to this world.  People are the very reason Jesus has left you here on this earth.

For further reading, “Consider Matthew 13:1-23.”

This very day, “God is at work.”  This very day could be the break-through day!  This could be the day when your enemy becomes your brother.  Keep on working with people in the Spirit and in truth.

Jesus, speaks a better word (Hebrews 12:14-29)

November 2, 2012

“And to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” 12:24

Recently I read Bill O’Reilly’s newest book, “Killing Kennedy.” The book is a historical narrative of the life of John F. Kennedy’s days as President of the United States.  I must confess, I was heartbroken as I read about the life of this man who in many eyes was the greatest of all presidents.  In particular I was in shock as I read about his sexual exploits outside of marriage.  Here was a man who was portrayed as a family man, but he was anything but.  His life spoke a far worse word than he portrayed.

This mornings More For Christ readings continues to lift us Jesus as superior to the Old Covenant.  Here is a suggested outline of the text:

1.  The Old Covenant shook and was shaken (Sinai) Vs:17-21.

Under the Old Covenant men were shaken.  Men could not live up to the requirements.  Humanity could not stand in God’s presence.  Because of this man lived in fear before God.

2.  The New Covenant gives us grace because of our Savior (Zion) Vs: 22-24

Because of Christ we are invited to a city, not and earthly city or and earthy mountain (Sinai), but to a heavenly city and a heavenly mountain (Zion).  Because of Christ we are forgiven and we are able to walk in a new way.

Consider the illustration of Abel and Jesus.  Abel was murdered by his brother (Genesis 4).  His blood cried out for revenge.  Christ was murdered by humanity (The Gospel).  His blood cries out, “You are forgiven.”

This very day we have heard a better word.  This word comes from Jesus.  This word changes everything about our lives.  Because we are forgiven we live lives of holiness before God.  We come before God and offer, “Acceptable worship with reverence and awe.”

John F. Kennedy claimed he was a good Catholic, but sadly his life did not speak of following Christ.  Oh that our lives would reflect a different path.  A path that follows Christ word, “A truly better word.”