Category Archives: Commitment to God

The Office of a Deacon

1 Timothy 3:8-10

8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
9 Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.
10 And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless.

Paul now turns his attention to the deacons within each church. Most of us have deacons in our churches today and hopefully we are using Paul’s criteria to choose those people to fulfill this office. I would hope that deacons are not just thrown into office without consideration of their spiritual walk and their character. Not following these guidelines could prove to be a problem for our churches today just like it would have for the churches in Paul’s day.

The first characteristic listed is translated grave in the KJV. In other translations the words dignified or honorable are used. This is also the same Greek word used in Philippians 4:8 for honest. I find it fascinating that one word can carry so much meaning and be translated so many different ways, all with an emphasis on the character of the man. Dignified shows a man who conducts his life in such a manner that people respect him. He is composed and serious about life, not joking around all the time but showing a true concern for others. Honorable is used as a defining word for someone like a judge. This man is deemed worthy of honor and carries himself in such a way that shows he makes wise decisions. Honest shows us a man who does not mince words. What he says is what he believes. All of these characteristics should be found in a deacon.

A deacon should not be double-tongued. They should not be one who says one thing but means another, or that dodges the question and vacillates between both sides of the issue. He should not be someone who changes his mind from one day to the next. He should not be one who will say one thing to one person and something just the opposite to another person just to appease them. He must be stable in his speech and his decisions on all issues. This attribute comes up later when Paul says the man must be proved. He must show that he is not double minded and tossed about with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). What he says is solid and serious.

A deacon should not be given to much wine and they should not be greedy of filthy lucre. These were both covered in my last post about bishops so I am not going to go into them again. I am glad Paul repeated these attributes though. It show us that this was a big problem with the people back in those days, as it can be today.

A deacon must hold the mysteries of the faith in pure conscience. I love the way Paul describes this particular attribute. This person needs a good understanding of the scriptures and he must live by them. This is what Paul means when he says the deacon holds the mysteries of the faith. They are always at his hand. He lives the life Christ has asked us to live. He shows that he is blessed by living out the qualities shown in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). He is salt and light to those around him (Matthew 5:13-16). He abides in Christ continually and bears much fruit (John 15:5). To him, these are not mysteries. They are a way of life. He is ready to give an answer for the hope that is within him (1 Peter 3:15). He is instant in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). He displays and distributes the fruit of the spirit continually (Galatians 5:22-23). There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he loves the Lord and serves Him with zeal.

He holds these truths in a pure conscience. He follows them daily, wrapping his life around them as they guide him on the path God lays out for him. He knows God has a plan for him (Jeremiah 29:11). He knows that he will be held accountable for every word he speaks (Matthew 12:36) so he speaks words that minister grace to the person who is hearing his words (Ephesians 4:29). He is quick to forgive others because he knows how much God forgave him (Matthew 6:14). He walks in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) so he will not fulfil the lust of the flesh. He is a cheerful giver of his time, money and even himself ( 2 Corinthians 9:7). He puts others before himself (Philippians 2:3-4) and ministers life to them. Because he lives the word, he can hold it in a pure conscience.

A deacon must be proved. He must be watched to see if he is doing the above things. There can be no blame placed on him. The community must think highly of him. The church members must think highly of him, not finding any fault within his walk with Christ. We know we are all sinners, but there must be a clean spirit about a man that wants to be a deacon. This is not a task for a novice, or for someone who has just joined the church. A deacon has to prove himself worthy of the office because this is a leadership role that is essential to the church. It is a role of service to others, so this person must be one who has shown he is willing to serve,

It is no light thing to be a deacon. I am sure many of my readers have been in this position at one time or another during their journey with Christ and they will attest to the fact that it carries a lot of responsibility. This brief description offers some insight into who Timothy should look for when asking men to be deacons in the various churches he was in charge of. Let us also search out such men to lead our own churches.

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The Office of a Bishop

1 Timothy 3:1-7

3 This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

The word bishop here is most often translated overseer. It denotes someone who oversees more than one particular church or group of churches. In our modern language an overseer is someone who watches over the work of others. The person Paul is addressing here is Timothy whom he had left in charge of making sure many churches were taken care of and that the pastors of those churches were preaching the things they are supposed to preach. Thus he was the overseer, or bishop, to those churches.

There are some protestant groups today who believe there should be a bishop in each church. I am not sure that is an appropriate use of this word. Although a pastor does oversee the workers of the church the way Paul uses this word denotes a larger responsibility for a bishop. The bishop is not the pastor and the pastor should not be called a bishop. They are two distinct offices within the church. This is one place where the Catholic Church does get it right. Their use of Bishops to oversee the work of the priests is exactly how this word correctly applies. In my church, we are affiliated with Kingsway Fellowship International, not a denomination. We have one bishop who oversees the fellowship and makes sure things run the way the fellowship is intended to run. He is not so involved in day to day operations as he is in visiting the churches in the fellowship and discussing things with the pastor. The bishop is someone our pastor can turn to when he faces troubling situations and wants some advice.

This is why the bishop must have a character that is above reproach. If a bishop does not have the type of character Paul goes on to describe he will bring dishonor to all those who he oversees because leadership is seen to reflect the people who report to that leader. Again using the Catholic Church, many bishops have been charged with troubling accusations and we can easily see how that affects the view of the Catholic church by society. The men who did these abhorrent acts did not understand their duty to what Paul describes their office to be. They forgot the solemn responsibility they had to maintain their job description and it is sad. They used their office to influence young people to do things that are unthinkable. May God have mercy on their souls.

A bishop must be blameless. There can be no hint of impropriety with him. There can be no reason to find fault or blame him for anything that would even remotely be considered sinful behavior. This is not an easy thing. In fact, it is easily the hardest thing on this list. In our society today people are always looking for fault,. They are looking for the least little thing to find wrong with us. There are numerous ways we can access information so anything we have done in the past is readily available for someone to find out. There is a very good reason for this attribute and I outlined that in the above paragraph. The bishop is at the top of the fellowship or group that is accountable to him. If there is found to be something at fault then the whole group can be brought to shame. In reality, we all should be blameless.

A bishop must be the husband of one wife. This shows a quality of faithfulness and commitment. We all know the condition of marriage in our country and our world. Divorce is rampant, many people marry a second, third or even fourth time and there is a loss of the whole idea of a covenant relationship. It takes commitment to make a marriage work. Commitment to each other, commitment to God and commitment to our vows. But people today do not want to make that type of commitment. Instead, they desire to be unfaithful. Extra-marital affairs are everywhere. In fact they are almost to the point of acceptance. Many people consider you abnormal if you are not “fooling around.” A bishop must be above all this. So should all of us that call ourselves Christians. Unfortunately even in the church divorce is on a par with the world around us. Let us pray the church can start getting it right. Because in all reality, we all should only have one spouse for life except when death interrupts that possibility, or when one of the pair becomes physically abusive. Come on church, let us be more faithful!

A bishop should be vigilant. Vigilant is defined as keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties. A bishop is much like a shepherd, always keeping guard over those in his charge. If he senses danger or trouble coming he warns those who may be affected by it. If trouble rises up within a church assigned to him, he is to do whatever he can to be a peacemaker and bring things to a good conclusion. In light of this, he also must be keenly trained in scripture, knowing false doctrine when it arises and able to bring his flock back in line with scripture. One of the biggest dangers facing our churches is false teachers and false doctrine. We all must be vigilant against this creeping into our house of worship.

A bishop should be sober. This speaks of more than just not being a drunkard. It also means not given to frivolity and irreverent jokes and conversation. He does not have to be a prude, but he must keep an even disposition in all circumstances and present himself as one who takes his position seriously and his task as important to God. One who is constantly joking around would not be considered a sober person. Sobriety is having control of ones demeanor in a way that shows others this person has everything under control. We should all be sober as Christians.

A bishop should be of good behavior. His driving should be lawful, not speeding, weaving, texting, calling or anything else that might cause him to get a ticket. His manners would be immaculate, with please and thank you topping the list. This is a lost art in our society today. He is one who would open a door for a lady or anyone else for that matter. He would be careful with his words and his actions not to cause offense or trouble. He is not careless in any way, always seeking to do what is best for others. Actually, we should all be doing these things.

A bishop should be given to hospitality. He would be willing to have people in his home and joyfully treat them to the best things he has. He would be one to visit the churches under his care regularly and greet them with a smile and kind words. He would join in a meal with them if invited and would make the dinner seem like a wonderful time, with good conversation and fellowship. He would do anything to make others feel welcome and comfortable. We should all be hospitable like this.

A bishop be apt to teach. He should instant in season and out of season. There should be a lesson in his heart wherever he goes. If called upon, he should be ready to share with the people and churches that he visits at a moment’s notice. There should never be any hesitation if asked to share a few thoughts with the people, but there should be an air of knowledge and wisdom surrounding a bishop. Not that he is arrogant or prideful, but that he speaks with authority and the people recognize that. He is one who is well taught and who teaches well. He is not only apt to teach, but is also teachable. He will give good comments to anyone who brings a lesson to him, knowing that all souls need to be edified. The scripture says we should all be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15), and that we should be instant in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). We should all be apt to teach.

A bishop must not be given to wine. This does not say he should not drink wine at all. I know there are many who think a Christian should never drink wine, but I do not see where the Bible says no wine. It says not given to wine, which means that he does not have a need for it. It would be best if he did not drink at all, but then a bishop would not have been able to partake after Jesus changed the water into wine. Let us not be too strict in our legalism!

A bishop should be no striker and not a brawler. I put these two together because they talk about similar things. He should not be known for hitting people, either with his fists or with fiery darts of words that cut to the bone. Remember our words can do much more damage than a physical blow can ever do. A brawler with words is one who argues regularly and disagrees aggressively. A bishop should be temperate in all things.

A bishop should not be greedy of filthy lucre. His goal should not be money. He should not be able to handle his own finances without having to find money in questionable ways. He should not be one who is always looking to make money, but rather one who is willing to give what God has given him. He must also be sure any money he does gain is in a righteous way. There is no place for taking what he did not earn.

A bishop must be patient. I would have listed this attribute earlier because many of these character traits must be carried out with patience. I only know of one true bishop and I have been aware of many things that have come before him that take much patience to sort out. Decisions cannot be reached too quickly, but must be thought out and all sides carefully considered before making a judgment, which a bishop often has to do. Without patience, I can see one drawn into arguments, poor behavior, and lack of vigilance. Patience is a must in our lives as well.

A bishop must not be covetous. This is a man who comes to the place that Paul came to in Philippians 4:11. He has learned in all situations to be content. He does not have to have what others have, or do what others do, or be gifted the way others have been gifted. He knows his purpose for the Lord and he knows the Lord has equipped him for that purpose. There is no need for more because he knows God will give him what he needs when he needs it. There is not a constant search for bigger and better because he knows God will provide that when His time is right. There is a confidence in God that he has supplied all the needs in his life. We should all be in such a state!

A bishop must rule his own house well. Paul even gives the reason for this. If the bishop cannot rule his own house, how can he have authority in the church? There would always be a question of what goes on in his house if his children are out of line. This is an area where I fell short. I did not raise my children to love the Lord. I was not an effective priest in my own house and my children now waver in and out of church. They all know their dad loves the Lord, but they were not taught how important that was in their lives. We continually pray their lives will be drawn back to a deep relation with Christ. A bishop has done those things that have instilled a love for the Lord in their children.

A bishop should not be a novice in the Lord. He should be one that has been through the fire of trials and temptations and has learned from those things. He should be one that has studied to show himself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth. He should be one that has served the church for years and knows many of the pitfalls that can happen to a person of authority in the church. He should be one who has put aside pride for humility in all things and who prefers others before himself. Paul says that if someone is raised to this position too early, pride can sweep in and become a big problem. Young people need to sit under the authority of a pastor before beginning their ministry, I believe. This is prudent for all.

A bishop should have a good report outside the body of Christ as well. We have touched on this before. People look on any Christian with increased scrutiny. They expect us to be above reproach. A bishop is even more so because they represent several churches. If the bishop goes down, the churches are all looked upon as dirty as well. This should never be so. A bishop must keep a good report among everyone, not just the church.

Timothy was charged with appointing bishops and deacons in the churches. He was a bishop himself in a way. These requirements, and the ones that follow in the next lesson on deacons, are needed today just as much as they were back when the church was first forming. It is essential that our leaders put forth an image of Christlikeness that is not tainted and not corrupt in any way. Our world needs such leaders. I am glad our fellowship is led by Bishop Jenkins, who fills this role to the biblical standard every day. May he be blessed in all he does. And may we all strive to be as a bishop, living the lifestyle that a bishop must live.  This would bring glory to God and His church.

A Woman’s Place

1 Timothy 2:9-15

9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.
12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

These verses are probably some of the most divisive in all of Paul’s writings. They are used many times to say that women have no place in ministry, but should be quiet in church and not even consider being a teacher or, heaven forbid, a preacher. They are used to say that a woman should be subordinate to a man in all cases. This is really sad because these verses reflected the women of that day, not the women of today. These verses served a purpose when women were uneducated and underappreciated. They still serve a purpose today, but it is vastly different in today’s world than it was in Paul’s time..

Let’s start at the top. The first verse speaks of a women’s appearance. I agree with Paul here. A women, much more than a man, can wear clothes that may reveal too much of their bodies which in turn can be a stumbling block to a man. Men typically have much stronger sex drives then women and when we see a women with a short skirt, or a blouse that is cut deeply down the front or that clings tightly to the body, we can easily get aroused. It is a natural disposition and is very hard to program out, even if we have been saved. God made us to be attracted to the women’s body for a reason, but our society has taken it way overboard. Clothing can cause us to become voyeurs in a way, and I guess that was true even in Paul’s day. Paul knew that clothing that was not modest could cause problems for the men so he said the women should not wear it. He also suggested minimal jewelry and simple hairdo’s.

In many of todays churches and youth groups these rules are not followed. I have seen skirts that are much too short and blouses that fall loosely in the front. I have seen skin tight clothes that leave little to the imagination. I agree that men should be able to control their sexual urges. I also think that woman should not wear such suggestive clothing. It is not modest and can lead to unwanted advances. We see so much emphasis put on men sexually misusing women but little is said about the fact that women just tease men with their clothing choices. I still think the men are wrong, but women should be more modest in there apparel and not invite this type of behavior on a man’s part. That is exactly what they do by wearing suggestive clothing.

Women should be more concerned with good works than appealing apparel (verse 10). It’s not that they should not strive to look nice. We should always look appropriate in our clothing, but there is no need to go overboard. It is much more important to be seen dong good works before the Lord than to have an appealing appearance outwardly. Remember the rebuke to the Pharisees? Outwardly they looked all clean and pretty, but inwardly they were full of dead men’s bones. We should never be that way as Christians. Our inward beauty should always outshine out outward appearance. This is where many in the holiness movement get it wrong. They out so much emphasis on the outward appearance that the inner man gets left behind.

Before I tackle verse 11 and 12, I want to talk about verses 13 & 14. While it is true that Eve was tempted by Satan and succumbed to the temptation, the Bible clearly tells us that Adam was with her and he ate as well (Genesis 3:6). We are never told if Adam correctly explained to Eve that she should not eat of that fruit. He may have told her not to touch it at all, thinking if she did not touch it she could not eat it. Guys tend to overstate things like this to make sure others don’t even go close to the problem. I know – I’m guilty of this quite often. Whatever Adam told her he obviously did not make the point strong enough. Then there is the question of why did Adam not stop her from eating it when he was right there with her. Do you suppose he thought to himself “Hey, I’ll watch her eat it and if she doesn’t die, I can take some?”. These questions have been on my mind forever and I blame the man just as much as the woman for what happened in the garden. But we have taken these verses in 1 Timothy and made it the whole reason man is superior to women and why women should be subservient to men. I think we have taken it all wrong myself. I may be wrong, and I know I am debating one of the greatest biblical teachers of all time, but this where I stand.

So now back to verses 11 & 12. There are many churches where they are adamant about women not being preachers because of these verses. They are strict in that belief and will not bend. Yet they have many women teaching their Sunday School classes, women’s groups and couples classes. My best friend says he will leave his church if they bring in a woman preacher yet his wife is the head of the whole Sunday school department and teaches a class there. This makes absolutely no sense to me! If they are not able to teach and preach from the pulpit, why on earth would we want them teaching our children?

These two verses were written in a time when women kept to the house. They weren’t taught in school like the boys were and they weren’t expected to speak in the way a man speaks. They were expected to be silent unless spoken to and they certainly would never be seen as someone who is smarter than the man. In many ways they were seen as property not people. A man could file for divorce for any reason he wanted, but a women would never even consider filing for divorce because she would be mocked and ridiculed and possibly stoned for bringing dishonor to her husband.

Contrast that with today’s woman who fill roles as doctors, teachers, lawyers, congresswomen and business leaders. These are not the same women as in Jesus day. They are intelligent and confident and in many cases smarter and wiser than their male counterparts. How can we possibly apply the same standards to these women as to the first century women? Yet big name preachers like John Hagie continue to perpetuate the feeling that women are inferior when it comes to their ability to study and preach the word. He may be very knowledgeable but in my book he has this wrong. I would guess Mr. Hagie has plenty of women teachers in his church.

The other factor that comes into play here is pride. Men naturally have a higher susceptibility to pride than women. They do not want to admit that women might be able to teach them anything or be better at anything then they are. They do not want to feel inferior in any way to anyone, but even more so a woman. This would be the ultimate slap in the face. “A women preacher trying to teach me about spirituality? No way!” That is pride pure and simple. God hates pride (Proverbs 6:16-19). In all accounts that we see, Jesus treated women fairly and equally. Many women, including his mother, followed his group of disciples on a regular basis. Even in the case of Paul, several women are given commendation for their work in the church of the day, including Junia, Phoebe, Syntyche and Priscilla. I am not going to go into their roles but all were esteemed by Paul.

Let’s stop beating the drum that women should not be leaders in our churches today. If they have taken the proper steps and submitted themselves to God, they can be used by God in the same way as men and in the same capacities. If you are one that has always put women in a subordinate role I ask you to really study it out with an open mind. Once you do, I think you will stop putting God in a box by thinking women cannot fill these roles. Let’s put women in their rightful place!

Ordained to Preach

1 Timothy 2:7-8

7 Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.
8 I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

What are you ordained to do? The word ordained here means to put or place. Where have you been put or placed by God. I bet you never even knew you were ordained! Well, think again! God has ordained you as well.

Now Paul mentions three things he was ordained as: a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. We will get to these later. This shows that we can have several different callings. So now I want you to think about your different callings, your different ordinations! How many are there. Can you think that big.

Let’s start with your family. What are you called to do in your family? If you are the head of the house, whether male or female, you are called to provide for your family (2 Timothy 5:8). You are called to raise your children in the ways of the Lord (Proverbs 22:6). You are called to teach your children as you rise in the morning and sit to eat and walk by the way (Deuteronomy 6:7). If you are a husband you are called to love your wife as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). You are called to not provoke your children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4) or discourage them (Colossians 3:21). Husbands, you are called to understand your wife and honor her (1 Peter 3:7). Wives, you should respect your husband (Ephesians 5:33). Proverbs 31 lists 17 characteristics you should be following on a daily basis. Children of any age you should honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12).

Each family member has a different call on their life. Living within this dynamic group so closely knit together can be very rewarding and very trying. Similar personalities usually clash, and similar callings will do the same. We must all recognize the gifts, talents and callings of the other in order for the family to fully function. We must also realize that one person can bring dishonor to the whole family, and the father especially can bring the whole family down (see Joshua 7). Let us all search out the best in each member of our family and edify them in a way that makes them want to share their calling with the world. Your work is never done.

What are you called to in your community? You are called to witness to the lost, to heal the sick, to deliver those that are oppressed and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord (Isaiah 61:1-2). You are called to clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty (Matthew 25:34-40) and do unto others as you would want them to do for you (Leviticus 18:19). You are to work as unto the Lord, not unto man (Colossians 3:23-24). You are to honor and respect those in authority over you (Romans 13:1-10). You are to pray, intercede, supplicate and give thanks for everyone around you and for all those in authority over you (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Your work is never done.

How about in your church? Usually we think this is where our calling lies. Are you on the worship team, the worship leader, the one who runs the overhead projector or puts together the bulletins? Do you teach Sunday School, play the piano, help in the nursery or greet at the door? Are you an usher, a deacon, an elder or the church secretary? Do you help clean, cook, wash dishes or do yard work? Work around a church is never done.

We are all called to many types of ministries. We all have many types of gifts. We are all able to minister in many different ways. Yet we all must function together. Romans 12 talks about many gifts the body of Christ should be endowed with. 1 Corinthians 12 does an excellent job of showing the various gifts and talents the body of Christ is empowered with and explains well why we should work together similar to the way our human body does. Yet even after this description Paul says love is the more excellent way (1 Corinthians 13).

I challenge you this morning or evening or whatever time of day you are reading this, to make a list of the ways you are ordained, or put or placed in a position to serve God. I’ll start. Psalmist, writer, dishwasher, clothes washer, house cleaner, chauffeur, grocery shopper, lay minister, evangelist, worship leader, songwriter, edifier, peacemaker, witness, neighborly, husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend– I think that does it fairly well.

Paul lists three things. First he says he’s a preacher. The word used here is one that denotes a person like a town crier in the old days. Someone who goes around the street telling them news items. In Paul’s case, he was heralding the wonderful news about Jesus Christ and the salvation He offered. I can about see Paul walking down the streets of a city saying “Jesus Christ died for your sins” or “Get saved today” or “Be filled with the Spirit of the living God”. The crowd would gather as he walked along reciting various things to get them interested in what he had to say. And by the end of the day he had a crowd to preach to and he would share the wonderful gospel message. He was a master preacher.

Second, he was an apostle. This denotes someone who is sent by another. In Paul’s case, he was sent by Jesus himself when travelling on the road to Damascus. He received a clear calling when his eyes were opened that day in the house of Ananias. Jesus told Ananias Paul would suffer much for the kingdom of God that he had put through such suffering. He was sent by Jesus Christ to deliver the message to the Gentiles. He went to city after city taking the message to the Jews first and they rejected him. The stoned him, the mocked him, they left him for dead. But the Gentiles heard him, repented and were saved. He was a master apostle.

Lastly, he was a teacher of the Gentiles. Who of us can argue with that statement. Paul’s writings are used by every denomination and every church at some time or another. Countless books and blogs and sermons have come from his teachings. He wrote more of the New Testament than any other author. We who are not Jews are all considered Gentiles and he has taught us for centuries. I would guess Paul had no idea what his words would be used almost 2,000 years later to instruct newlyweds, used at communion, to save the lost, to give instruction in righteousness, holiness and Godliness. If you told him then that his words would still be teaching non-believers to accept Christ, he probably would have said “Yeah- right!” He was and still is a master teacher.

Do you have any idea how far your legacy will reach? What have you produced that can last that long? Have you trained up your children to love the Lord, and are they training their children? Perhaps generations down the road they will look back and point to their great-great-great-great-great grandparents as the ones who started them off right. Do you write a blog that teaches Christian principles? Perhaps decades down the road someone will come across one of your writings and give their heart to God. We need to reach out whenever and wherever we can to touch hearts and minds for Jesus Christ.

Lastly, Paul charges us to lift up holy hands and pray without wrath or doubting. I am curious here why he says without wrath. I understand the part about not doubting. We should never pray in doubt, but always in faith. Prayer is our faith put into action! Doubt has no place in prayer. It also has no place in worship and the lifting of our hands. Those who come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Doubt has no place here. Neither does being angry at God, and perhaps that is what the wrath stands for. We can be angry at God, just don’t pray to Him or praise Him in the middle of that anger. Pray when you have cooled down and have a level head. We do not effectively communicate when we are angry, do we? How can we expect anything from God if we don’t come to Him on His terms? That would be like walking into your bosses office when he was in the middle of a very important meeting and arguing with him that you deserved a better raise then you got. That would not sit well, would it? It might even get you fired! God is not going to fire anyone, but He also will not respond to your prayer if you come presumptuously. It’s easy to come on His terms. Why do so often refuse to do that?

This day might be a day of discovery for you. Perhaps you never thought much about all the various ways you serve God. Maybe you have never looked at your family like I have described. Maybe you have never taken into consideration your role in the lives of those around you. We are all ordained into His service. He has put us where we are for a reason. Find that reason and then do it with all your heart. There is nothing in this world more satisfying than know ing you are walking in the will of God!

A Faithful Saying

1 Timothy 1:15-16

15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to lifeverlasting.

A faithful saying is one that will never fail, never be proven wrong and will never change. You can depend on it from dusk to dawn, from Monday until Sunday, from January 1st until December 31st for every single year you are alive. The saying is faithful for your children, your grandchildren and all future generations. It is true for your aunts and uncles, your friends, your enemies, your coworkers and even the clerks in Walmart. A faithful saying applies to everyone, every day at any time.

Another faithful saying is that the sun will rise, and it will set. Or the stars will shine tonight, even though we may not see them because of the clouds. It is a faithful saying to say that winter, spring, summer and fall will come about this year. It is a faithful saying that we will all grow older and eventually die. There are very few faithful sayings that are of this world. But if God said it, it is a faithful saying. It will happen, or it is true, or it did happen. There is no might, maybe, probably or perhaps about it. He is the author of truth and He is faithful and His word is faithful.

This saying is faithful to the rich, poor, fat, skinny, old, young, white, black, yellow, red. It is faithful in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. It is faithful in wind, cold, warm, hot, rain, snow, hail, sleet, cloudy or clear. It is faithful in your home, at work, in your car, in your church, at play and when alone. This saying is faithful when you are tired, angry, sorrowful, impatient, lonely, happy, peaceful, sick, well, or miserable. In any situation, at any time, in any mood or trial, it is faithful. It can be trusted to do what it is intended to do.

This saying is worthy of all acceptance. You can accept it wherever you are, whenever you want and whoever you are. It is acceptable to the deaf, the dumb, the blind, the lame and the leper. It’s worthy of acceptance if you are sick, have cancer, downs syndrome, AIDS, lymphoma, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or any other disease. It is acceptable to all in the North, South, East or West. No matter what your situation, where you have been or where you are now, this saying is worth accepting.

What is this saying that applies in every and all situations in Life? This saying that never fails and always applies? This saying that is faithful to the end and above repute?
This saying is that Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners! There is no saying that anyone can say that is more true than that. This is why Jesus came. He did not come to be made a King, or a healer, or a deliverer, or a raiser of the dead or a great teacher. He did all of those things, but that is not the main reason He came. He came to save sinners.

He came to earth from heaven’s glory and was born in a manger, meek and mild. He was raised by a carpenter and learned the value of hard work. He knew at a young age that there was something special about Him as He questioned the very teachers in the temple when He was twelve (Luke 2:41-52). But that did not go to His head because he knew why He had come. He submitted to John the Baptist even though John knew he was the greater of the two (Matthew 3:14). When the heaven’s opened and His heavenly Father said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17) Jesus did not let it go to His head and declare Himself something special because He knew why He came. When people started to be healed and follow Him, He did not get dreams of being great because He knew why He came.

He came to be cursed and beaten. He came be whipped with a Roman cat-o-nine tails. He came to receive a crown of thorns. He came to be rejected by the people. He came
to be judged by Pilate and Herod. He came to be condemned by His own followers. He came to have His disciples run away. He came to carry a cross down an old rocky street. He came to have nails put in His hands and feet. He came to drink vinegar and have a spear pushed into His side. He came to have His Father turn aside when all of our sins were laid on Him. He took all this for your sins.

He was the sinless sacrifice given by God for all of our sins. The required Lamb that was perfect. All of our scars, all of our pain, all of our hurt was laid on Him on that cross. For the first time in all of eternity He was alone. Alone, hurting with pain He had never felt before and with blood gushing out from several parts of His body All the emotion and all the suffering He went through was why He came. The sacrifice of the spotless Lamb was necessary for the remission of sins, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin (Leviticus 17:11, Hebrews 9:22). His blood was shed in place of yours and mine.

On that cross, in all that pain and suffering, alone and worn, He spoke. He spoke words that come down through the annals of time and touch every single person on this earth. He spoke words that are faithful and worthy of acceptance. He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). He said that about those standing around the cross looking at Him, about the soldiers that were standing guard and about those who were gambling for His garment. He also said it about you and me. Oh what grace! Oh what mercy! That He would speak out and forgive me from that cross.

Then He said “It is finished” (John 19:30). The reason He came was complete. There was no more to do for our salvation. It was done right then and there. We cannot buy it, earn it, work for it or borrow it. It is ours when we accept it. It does not just magically save you from your sin without your acceptance. It is worthy of your acceptance and must be accepted by you in order to cover your sin.

This sacrifice that He gave covers every person, no matter what they did. The murderer, the rapist, the sex offender, the violent, the thief, the deceiver, the mocker, the unbeliever. It is faithful and acceptable for all. No matter how bad, as Paul says he was the chief of sinners. He had killed Christians. He had taken them captive and delivered them to judgment. He terrorized the church. Yet it was faithful for him. It was acceptable for him. It is for you as well.

We most likely will not suffer like Paul suffered for Christ. Shipwrecks, stoning, beatings, near death experiences, mocking, rejection and many other things followed Paul everywhere he went. The pattern of suffering he went through was to let us know this walk with God will not be a bed of roses. It is not all on the mountaintop. We often go into the valley where it is much more difficult and we don’t see the mountaintop clearly. The valley can be a time of sickness or pain or depression or loneliness. The valley is a tough place to be.

The valley is also the place where life is. It is the place where waters flow and birds sing. It is the place where flowers bloom and trees sway in the breeze. The mountaintop is barren and cold. It is lifeless. When we are in the valley, it is a time of growth. It is where God is working on us whether we see it or not. It is a place where He walks with us and talks with us. The valley is a wonderful place to be.

Have you accepted the faithful saying? Have you acknowledged that Jesus Christ died for your sins? Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior? If you have, I am grateful and thrilled for you. You have entered into the life that God has prepared for you and it will be a magnificent journey. There will be mountains and valleys but you will trust in God and come through every trial with joy and peace. You know He is in control and you just have to put Him in the driver’s seat and enjoy the ride. It’s a good ride!

If you have not, why not ask Him today. Simply pray and acknowledge that you are a sinner. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. Ask Him to come into your life. Ask Him to be Lord of your life. It’s that simple. After you pray that get out your Bible, or borrow one, and read John in the New Testament. Then go back and start with Matthew and read through the New Testament. Find a good church and some Christians to fellowship with. You have just entered into new life! Enjoy it!

Does God Count You Faithful?

1 Timothy 1:12-14

12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
14 And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

I like to take credit. I like to think I did something myself. It was me who read the Bible and gained the knowledge I have. It was me who began to understand how the Old and New Testament worked together., It was me who figured out how the scripture applies to everyday life. I wrote all these poems and songs through the years. The moving of the Holy Spirit is due to my ability and expertise in putting a worship service together. All these years, I have been slaving away for God and coming up with these thoughts and ideas on how God works in our lives. I did it. Me!

That paragraph is the definition of pride. I did it. I accomplished it. I figured it out. This is where I lived for years, and truly believed the sayings in that paragraph. It caused me to start top think I could disregard all that I had learned and do what I wanted to do. After all, I had done it all for God!

But I soon fell hard, lost my job and almost my family and had to take inventory on my spiritual life. What I found out was what Paul says here. God has enabled me. I do not have the ability within myself to do the things above. It is God in me and through me. That is the only way these things can minister the way they do. That is the only way the right words can get on paper that will touch hearts and heal up wounds of the soul.

You see, I was once very much like Paul. I certainly was a blasphemer, a breaker of all the commandments, a drunkard and drug addict and a person who could care less about God. My own way was the way I would go and no one could tell me I was in the wrong. I had walked away from God in high school and had no plans on coming back to Him. I was a persecutor, maybe not of the saint, but of everyone around me. I would put down, speak badly of, and try to hurt with words anyone that wronged me. I was a smaller guy and not a physical specimen, so I relied on a quick wit. This also made me injurious, like Paul. My words could injure peoples spirits and hearts quicker than a dart being thrown at them. The bigger problem is that they could dodge a dart, but could not avoid my stinging words.

Then grace came in. Love came in. Faith came in. Somehow I found myself driving to Iowa to see my best friend. Clear out of the blue I had decided to make the 1300 mile drive from Massachusetts to Iowa. When I arrived at his house, we had a great reunion, having not seen each other for over a year. He was a Christian, and had tried to sway me a year earlier at our high school reunion. It didn’t work, but it also did not hurt our friendship. Here I was on His doorstep in Iowa. Through the last year we had sent letters back and forth and each one of his letters had a scripture address on it. I had to look it up to see what he was saying. He was a sly old fox (well, not that old. He was a week older than me).

Then he said come to church with us tonight, and I said OK. I had no problem going with him, just don’t give me any of that salvation stuff. Don’t tell me I need saving. I was doing just fine. And I was so wrong. That minister, who was a missionary home on leave, told me I was headed for a burning hell. I did not want to go there! Then he told me there was only one way to avoid it, and that was Jesus Christ, I wanted Jesus. Jesus took me into His arms later that week and saved my soul. His grace covered me completely.

Now He enables me. I do everything I can to keep my thoughts out of this blog, out of the poetry, out of the songs that fill the pages of my web sites. I seek God’s wisdom and His words for these pages, not mine. I have nothing of value to give except my life. These are His words, His thoughts, His songs. I claim no ownership.

Since He has enabled me, it is now up to me to be an open conduit. He has put me into this ministry and now I need to allow His message to flow through me out to you. Paul tells us that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet (1 Corinthians 14:32). This means God gives us the ability to shut it down or make it flow. We can muzzle the message God gives us to share. We can say “God gave this to me and I’m not going to share it!” We absolutely can. But I do no want to be that person.

My heart’s desire is to be counted faithful. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much will be required (Luke 12:48). The words, songs, melodies and so on come from God. He has given them, for some reason I will never understand, to me. He entrusted me with the ability to hear His voice, and I for one want to make sure He will say I did it well. I could care less if anyone on this earth says the same. I am aware that very few hear God the way I hear Him. Very few have learned to listen as He has taught me to. He holds me accountable for those things He has entrusted to me.

What about you? What gift, or gifts, has God given to you? What talents do you possess? What are you doing with them? I suggest you make a list of all the gifts and talents God has bestowed on you. Some will have just a few items they can think of, others might have many dozen. Pray about it and be thorough. Once you have compiled your list, take each item one by one and ask God if you are doing a good job with that talent. If you’re like me, there are some you are doing well with and others you need to do better.

After this is done, ask God to help you do a better job of ministering in the areas where He has gifted you. Ask Him to enable you to reach more, teach more, love more and touch more. Ask Him to make your light shine so that you might bring Him glory. Give yourself as a living sacrifice for Him so that you might prove the will of God is alive in your life. Be vigilant in your ministry and never back down. This world needs you!

Use the Law Lawfully

1 Timothy 1:8-11

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

Today our cities are being torn apart by the unlawful use of the law. We have seen many riots in the streets because law enforcement officers are suspected of using unnecessary force against people of different color than they are, They are accused of paying closer attention to infractions that minorities commit than the majority commits. They are accused of playing favorites between their own race and those of a different race. It is thought that the over zealous actions of the police has resulted in a large majority of minorities in prison, not because they commit more crimes, but because the police concentrate more on catching them. This is a perfect case of using the law unlawfully. The law is not a respecter of persons. The law should be applied to everyone equally and not single out anyone of one race or one social class. The law should be pure and undefiled. The law should be used lawfully!

In this plea to Timothy, Paul is addressing the fact that many well-intentioned Jews were trying to make the Corinthians live under parts of the law after they had been converted. They were saying that circumcision must be done to truly be a child of God. It is an old case of works vs. grace. They claimed you must do something to earn your salvation. They taught that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough to receive a pardon from God and be adopted into His family.

The fallacy of the necessity of works for salvation is still alive today. There is nothing in the Gospels or the writing of Paul, Peter, James, John or anyone else in the Bible that says we must do something to earn our salvation. The gospel is a simple message. Jesus said God loved the world so much He gave His Son so whoever believes in Him will have eternal life (John 3:16). The key word is “Believes”. That is all it takes. Faith. Pure and simple. Paul wrote that we are saved by faith through grace (Ephesians 2:8). Grace is given to us so we can have the faith to accept Christ’s sacrifice. Paul goes on to say it is not works that saves us (Ephesians 2:9). This is because if we were saved by works we would tend to become full of pride that we were saved because we found favor with God through our works, and that pride would puff us up. Romans 10:9-10 says if we confess Jesus Christ with our mouth and believe in our hearts God raised Him from the dead we will be saved. Once again, no mention of works is made.

We can do nothing to earn our salvation. It is a free gift from God. If you have been trying to earn God’s favor, you will never be able to do it. All you need to do is accept it, accept His sacrifice for your sins, accept that He rose from the dead to give you eternal live. Believe it! Have faith in God and His word. Paul goes on to say here that the Jewish law is what was given to show us our sin – it is for the unsaved. It was given to teach us what sin is. The heathen nations around that area had all kinds of ungodly mannerisms and practices that God did not want His people practicing. So He gave them the law to give them an idea of what holiness was.

Now once you are saved, you have a responsibility to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Jesus says if we do not do the commands of the Father, we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21). You cannot just get saved ands go on your merry way. Grace covers a lot, but Paul tells us that we should stop sinning. We have no right to keep sinning so He will shed more grace on us
(Romans 6:1-2)

There is preaching out there that once you are saved, you are always saved. The Bible does not support that idea. John 10:28-30 tells us that no one can snatch you out of the Fathers hand., But that does not mean that you can’t leave on your own. You have a choice. You can decide to leave God’s safety by not following His word and walking away from repentance when you do disobey. His grace reaches a long way, and it will reach you no matter how far away you might get. But if you decide you don’t want to be reached, that is your choice. If you decide you will not follow what He has said, then you are in danger. Repent!

There are a lot of other teaching out there that say we must do something on top of our confession of faith in order to truly be saved. Paul says it is the glorious Gospel, the simple gospel that will save us, not laws. Let us never be ones to put burdens on new converts saying they must do more. Let us encourage them in the faith and show them the way to grow in their newfound faith. Faith that came by grace. Grace that saved their souls