Category Archives: The Believers Walk

A Son in the Faith

1 Timothy 1:1-2

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;
2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

The word Apostle used here is the Greek word apostolos which means a messenger, one sent on a mission or one commissioned by another to represent him. This same word is used of the twelve disciples, or apostles, that followed Jesus around for His three and a half years of earthly ministry. The twelve disciples were chosen by Christ specifically and in person. He asked each one of them to follow Him. They traveled with Him, prayed with Him, ate with Him, slept with Him and watched over Him all that time. There were also times that Jesus sent them off to minister on their own while he was still on this earth. Jesus trusted them with His life and with His message, and they did not fail Him.

Paul puts himself on a level playing field with these twelve disciples when he uses this word to describe himself. How could this be, seeing Paul came on the scene a good 3 years after Christ died? How can Paul say he was an apostles by the commandment of God and Jesus? I bet most of you can answer that question, but I’ll help you out.

Paul was quite a leader, and he was commissioned by the Pharisees to put an end to this so called church that had sprung up after Jesus died and supposedly rose from the dead. Paul’s job was to search out Christ’s followers and bring them to the judgment hall where they would be punished for following this Jesus. The first we see of him is at Stephens stoning, where it says he consented to Stephens death. Paul, whose name was Sauk at the time, even picked up Stephens robe after he died.

Shortly after this, Paul was headed to Damascus to find other followers there and either bring them back to Jerusalem or kill them. While on the road, he was suddenly struck down from his horse and a bright light shone down from above, blinding him. Out of that light spoke a voice that all those who rode with him heard. It said “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” Paul had no idea what was going on or who was speaking so he yelled back “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” Paul was afraid and surprised. His only reaction as to say “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” The voice, who Paul now knew was Jesus himself, said “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” This is the commission of Paul. Paul was never the same after that day. He went into the city and was met by a man just as God said he would be. That man prayed for his eyes and they opened. Paul was then told he would suffer much for Jesus, and he certainly did see (2 Corinthians 11).

Has Jesus ever confronted you? I don’t mean through the words of the Bible, or through the Holy Spirit, but Jesus Himself come before you and spoken to you, in a dream or in person. I know He has never confronted me, but He has given me a vision of Himself on the cross. I was at Pure Life Ministries in the summer of 2008. This is a place where men go to get their eyes back on Jesus. I had wandered far away, yet was still professing my faith. Pride was eating me up. This place had us doing intense bible study and devotions, as well as in church 9 times a week. One day God confronted me in my Spirit with the question “Do you now how many people were affected by your sin?” As I thought about that, I fell to my knees sobbing. I was restless the rest of that evening and had a hard time sleeping that night. Finally at around 3 in the morning, I headed out into the meadow and down to the life-size cross that sat above the trail. I knelt before it weeping and slowly prayed Psalm 51 over and over again. Very slowly, allowing the words to sink into my soul.

The words of that Psalm penetrated deeper than they ever had. A Pastor of mine had urged me to memorize that [prayer years before, and I was so glad he did. On that morning, after I had finished praying that prayer, I looked up at the cross. That is when I saw Jesus, blood dripping from His brown where the crown of thorns lay. His body was covered with bruises ands scars from the lashes He had received. His hands and feet were nailed to that cross, blood dripping down. I could almost smell the stench of the blood. I looked up and His eyes were on me although He was not alive in this vision. I looked into those eyes, weeping large tears, and asked Him to forgive me. My spirit was suddenly at ease, knowing that from that cross he spoke the words “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I was forgiven. I was a moment in my life I will never forget.

Paul’s call came directly from Jesus on that road and he took it very seriously. The result of that day cannot be overstated. Paul went on to travel throughout Asia starting churches and preaching the Gospel to all. He suffered much, but said he counted it all joy to suffer for Jesus. There was no one who did more to advance the Gospel than Paul did. He was truly a messenger sent by Christ.

Then he names Timothy as his son in the faith. The Bible never mentions Timothy’s real father, although it does mention his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois in 2 Timothy 1:5. Many believe that Lois and Eunice had received the gospel message and helped Timothy to see the truth about Jesus. Since they are not mentioned elsewhere, one can only speculate about their faith, but the scripture says that faith “dwelt in them.” Most likely Timothy benefit from the influence of these two women and learned about faith from them.

Who do you have in your life that was a mentor or a teacher? Who led you into deeper faith by their example? Make sure you take time to thank those people who raised you in the faith. Often we forget to show our appreciation for all they have done for us. Paul mentions these ladies to show how much he appreciated their contributions to Timothy’s faith. Timothy was valuable to Paul, and these two women helped him become the man he was.

Paul took Timothy under his wing as a son. Fathers have an awesome responsibility to help their sons grow in the knowledge of God. We read in Deuteronomy 6:6-7

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Paul and Timothy traveled together on many missionary journeys. I have no doubt that while on these missionary journeys Paul would instruct Timothy in the things of God. Paul knew the law of God and he knew how Christ fulfilled that law. He also understood the grace and mercy of God probably better than most of us understand it today. Walking beside Paul all those years must have been an incredible experience for Timothy. I imagine it would be like walking beside Billy Graham when he was still alive. All he preached was Christ crucified. This is what Timothy needed to know. That is what we all need to know.

In our world today, preachers are teaching all kinds of things. We have books abounding to teach us how to walk in the Spirit, how to have a secure financial future, how to this and how to that. There are teaching out there on how to start churches and how to grown churches. There are books on building accountability groups and how to have a better marriage. Books about all kinds of subjects. But not very many about Christ crucified.

We have a responsibility to teach our children and those who we mentor. We have a responsibility to teach them Christ crucified. We don’t have to dress it up and we certainly should not get off subject. The only message that is important is Christ crucified. We shouldn’t talk about end time theology or all those other subjects that seem to be so prevalent around us. Just Christ crucified.

Christ crucified explains the Garden of Eden Christ crucified explains the sacrificial system. Christ crucified explains the prophets. Christ crucified opens up the Old Testament to the eyes of our children. It opens up who God is and how much He loves us. It explains His mercy and His grace. It explains the salvation He provided when He gave His life on the cross. It explains that He rose again to give us eternal life.

As we go through this book, we will see a lot of teaching about church leadership and discipleship. Timothy was on his own often and Paul had given him the task of developing leaders in the early church. It was an awesome responsibility and it still is today. These letters to Timothy and used by many churches as criteria for their own leaders. What is in these letters is as relevant as anything in scripture, and we should be teaching these things. But let us never forget the message of Christ crucified. None of this matters without that!

Next Study – Timothy and Titus

I have been praying what direction to go next in our Bible adventures and feel the urge to head into the pastoral letters of Paul to Timothy and Titus.  These three letters contain many great timeless principles for the church and for church leaders.  These letters are generally accepted as written by Paul, although through the years there has been some discussion about possible other authors.  The writing style is very similar to Paul,s and Paul identifies himself as the author in all three.  I’m not sure why the controversy ever came up!  We will agree with the general opinion that Paul wrote these for this studies sake.

These letters are different than Paul’s other writings in that these are addressed to the church leadership, while all his other letters are for the entire body of believers at each church.  Contained in these short letters are guidelines which are still used today to ascertain the qualifications of deacons and elders.  We will ,learn a lot about our own walk as we go through these beautiful letters.

Timothy is first mentioned in scripture in Acts 16:1.  Timothy was mentored by Paul (Acts 16:3) and from all we can understand received salvation under Paul’s ministry.  Timothy was a Greek and most believe Paul met him at Ephesus and this letter was written shortly after that. Timothy’s mother and grandmother are both mentioned in scripture but there is no mention of Timothy’s father.  Paul considered him a son and was very close to him.  Timothy became an evangelist and traveled with Paul to many cities and on his own to some.  He also came to Paul’s aid when he was imprisoned in Philippi.

Titus was also a Greek thought to be from Antioch.  He too was converted under Paul’s ministry and traveled quite a bit with Paul.  Titus was used by Paul to settle things down in the Corinthian church after Paul’s first letter had them reeling.  Titus was also an evangelist  and a missionary, going on many journeys of his own.

As e go through these letters, we will be getting a glimpse into the early church and the discipline Paul saw necessary to make them witnesses in the early life of the church.  Separating out leaders was critical to the development of the church.  Timothy and Titus were two leaders who went on to teach other leaders.  I pray you will see that these leadership skills are needed today just as much as they were back in the first century church.

Where is Your House Built

Matthew 7:24-27

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

This is probably one of the most familiar little stories of Jesus. We sang it as a children’s song when we were young and I would guess all of us believe we know the meaning of this verse. We tell people we have built our house upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ and the wind and waves of life cannot topple our house. We think of Him as our great foundation, holding us up by His word and His promises. What more can I possible say about this verse to give it deeper meaning?

Jesus was a great orator. We don’t often think of Him like that. We think of His healing and miracles, about His parables and stories, and about the price He paid for us. We think about His birth, His baptism and His death and resurrection. We think about blind eyes being open, the dead rising up, lepers healed and demons cast out. But we don’t give much thought to what a great speaker He was.

I have seen many great speakers in my life. Zig Ziglar, Colin Powell, Brian Tracy, Billy Graham and many others have awed crowds with their use of the right words to motivate others and get their message across. I have been in Toastmasters for over 30 years and have won many a speech contest, once taking the Iowa Table Topics contest 1st place trophy. There are elements that make a speech great, and the conclusion is the most important.

The conclusion must make an appeal for action to the listener based upon everything else the speaker has said. It should sum up in a few short sentences what the speaker is trying to get the audience to understand and should leave them with a desire to do what the speaker is asking them to do. We’ve all seen preachers who “close” their sermons three or four times before it is finally over. This is not great speaking, but it can be effective. Here, Jesus closes once.

This little analogy is very powerful and very specific. It is about doing what Christ has asked us to do in the previous three chapters. It is about following through with all that He has said, not just part of it. Jesus does not want us to flounder and fall into the waves that life will toss at us. He wants us to have that solid foundation that is based on His word. This is a foundation that the world is trying to do away with. The world does not want to have a standard of morality. The world does not want anyone to tell them what is right and wrong.

Jesus says the choice is simple. You either follow the words He has said and stay on a solid foundation or you don’t do what he says and you fall. Real simple, real precise. The Sermon on the Mount is a revealing of the kingdom of heaven on earth, and we best heed His words and do His words if we want to be a part of that kingdom for all time. What Jesus reveals to us is God’s will for our lives. This is how God desires that we should live here on this earth. This is how we should treat one another – not just our brother, but everyone. This is the standard, this is the way. In our last lesson we went through all the various things Christ taught us in Chapter 5. Let’s move on now and review Chapters 6 & 7.

In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us to keep our giving to ourselves and not let others know what we are doing. We shouldn’t even let our right hand know what our left hand is doing. He says our prayer lives should be private, not public. They should be personal, not vain repetitions.. He teaches us a pattern of prayer with the Lord’s Prayer, then He tells us we should forgive or our father in heaven will not forgive us. That should be enough to get your attention! Jesus next addresses fasting, telling us we should not let others know we are fasting by our appearance, but make sure we look good even though we are fasting. It’s none of their business! He tells us that the most important treasure we can store up is that which we have in heaven not on this earth. What a contrary statement to the worlds thinking this is! He explains how we must be singularly focused on the Light and not darkness, and that we can only serve one master. Then He explains how important it is to trust God for the daily necessities and focus our attention first on the Kingdom of heaven. We should not worry what tomorrow will bring. That’s a lot to take in from one speech and we still have another chapter to go!

In Matthew 7 He starts out by telling us not to judge others. We have enough troubles of our own to figure out. We should take care of our own faults before trying to fix someone else’s. Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking if you want an answer to pray is Jesus next point. We are told to do good things for each other, and He gives us the Golden Rule. He tells us the narrow gate leads to life. This narrow gate is at the end of a path that is straight and follows His words. He also says the broad gate has many people going to it because they do not want to follow His Word and stay on the straight path. We then are warned of false prophets and are told we will know them by what they produce. They are very deceptive, and we must be diligent. We must do the will of the Father or Christ will say He never knew us on that day when He returns. The will of the Father is all in this Sermon.

The conclusion is that we have a choice. We can choose to live out all the things that Christ taught us in Matthew 5-7 or we can choose to just do what we want to do and maybe follow some things but not others. We can strive to please the Father or we can aim to please ourselves. This is our choice. Jesus tells us that if we will follow His Word then we shall have a solid foundation to stand on. Our lives will be built on the rock, and no storm will be able to knock us down. This is a promise that there will be storms, and what we do with Jesus’s words will determine how well we will survive those storms.

Or we can choose to just go our own way and follow what we choose to follow. If we make that choice, our house is built on sand, which shifts whenever the tide comes in. There is no solidity to it. There is no sure foundation, but it changes all the time., When the storms come in, the sand can wash away, leaving us trying to stand up with little or no foundation. I do not want to ever be in that place. I want to be where I can firmly stand.

Please never take this story away from the previous three chapters and all that Jesus tells us we should be doing. God desires us to be so strong in the storm that our light will shine for all to see. He wants us to be a lighthouse to a lost and dying world because they are floundering in the storms with no foundation. They have chosen their own way and are falling farther down all the time. They need us to reach out and grab them by the hand and pull them back up on the firm foundation.

Will you be there for them, standing on the Rock?