Tag Archives: The Believers Walk

The Mystery of Godliness

1 Timothy 3:14-16

14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

We see now the purpose of Paul’s letter. He wanted to make sure Timothy knew how he should behave in the house of God. I would say that not only Timothy, but all should behave this way. We talked about this as we went through the characteristics of a bishop and deacon, that all these things should also apply to us. I believe we often think those who are in the pulpit or serve as deacons or elders in our churches should live to a higher standard than we common folk do. Nothing could be further from the truth. We should all live holy lives, set apart for God. Jesus did not die so we could still live in sin. He died so we could be free from sin! He died to give us the strength and power to say no to sin. Living the way Paul describes in this chapter is for all of us.

I challenge you to go back to the beginning of this chapter and read it several times. See where you stand with each characteristic Paul describes. Are you grave, keeping things serious and truthful? Or do you joke around a lot and poke fun at people? Are you living in a way that people cannot blame you for something that would be ungodly? Are you apt to teach, ready to give a good word when someone needs it? Do you have your own house in order and are you faithful in all things? Are you not given to much wine and do you have a good report from those outside the church? There are a few here that I need to work on. How about you?

Why are these things important for all of us? Because we are the church and this church is the house of the living God. Paul says the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. Why is the world caving in around us right now? Why is morality falling to desperate lows? Why are things like abortion and gay rights winning the battle for our children? I believe it is because the church has been in a shifting position on these things. They have not spoken out enough on these issues, and the pillar of truth that the church must be has shifted to a lie that does not line up with the Bible. When the church falls into a lie, the world will gladly follow and embrace it. If the church becomes ungodly, the world will go further into ungodliness.

It starts with each one of us. What do you have to do to become more like the bishop and deacon described here? Once you get it right, then you are ready to teach others what is the right way to go. We can turn the church around one person at a time, but it will take all of us. It will take a concentrated effort on the part of every true believer and follower to make this happen. If we do not act now, the church will continue to crumble and turn from the righteousness of God to the ways of the world. I realize that we are all the church, and not the buildings that sit all over this world. But there are so many in this church that are walking contrary to scripture. They must be shown the right way.

What is the right way? What is the mystery of godliness? It is Jesus Christ and what He did to redeem us and give us eternal life. He is the central figure for all of history. He came and showed us what godliness was. He came and healed everyone he touched. He delivered every person who came to Him. He always taught the truth and did not back down from the pious religious leaders. In fact He challenged them to follow the spirit of the law and not the letter if the law. Every time they met with Him, they were baffled by His answers to their questions. His godliness showed in everything He said and did because He was justified in the Spirit. Are we?

The mystery to me is why we don’t follow His example more often? Why don’t I pray for the sick people that come into my life so they can be healed? Is it because I lack the faith to really believe God will heal them? Or is it that I don’t want to risk offending them by praying for them in public? Or is it because my pride says that if I pray and they don’t get out of that wheelchair, I will look bad? Jesus just knew they would be healed if He asked the Father. He had no doubts, so He did not worry about the result of His prayers. Once He prayed, the matter was in the Fathers hands. Every time, His Father answered. I need to have that kind of faith so that God will be glorified every time I pray.

The mystery of godliness is that He was preached unto you and I, the Gentiles, and we believed. We believed that He did what the word says He did. We believe he was born of a virgin in a manger, baptized by John and tempted in the wilderness. We believe He healed the sick, cast out demons, opened blinded eyes and deaf ears and raised the dead. We believe the words He preached and the parables that show us how we should live. We believe He was betrayed, beaten, scourged, rejected and crucified for our sins. We believe He died, was buried and rose again to give us eternal life. We believe He is coming back for the redeemed one day and that we shall rise to meet Him in the air. We believe it all.

It is a mystery to the world. There are so many out there who may believe one part or another, but not all that Jesus did and said in His life. That is a shame, and will cause them to miss heaven because they did not understand the mystery of godliness. They did not understand why He came, what He lived for and why He died. He came, lived and died to show us what godliness was. Jesus Christ is the mystery of godliness to the world, but not to those of us who know Him personally. To us, He is the way, the truth and the life. We come to the Father through Him. We know godliness, and can live godly lives, because of who He is in our lives. It is no mystery to us!

If you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, now is the time. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, then repent and turn away from them. Give Him authority over your life by making Him Lord. Get into the word of God and start fresh with it, reading it like you have never read it before. Soak it in and allow the Holy Spirit to reveal it’s truths to you. Allow Him to guide you every step of the way. Be born again today!

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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!

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?