Tag Archives: Timothy & Titus

Praying Night and Day

2 Timothy 1: 1-4

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;

I love the way Paul opened his letters both to the churches and to individuals. He was always so gracious and used words of blessing and words to help people remember who he was. This is a characteristic we should all use if we are inclined to write letters by hand (or type them out on a computer). In this world of email, Facebook, Twitter and the rest, letters are a rarity anymore. I know when I receive one it is indeed a blessing.

First, he says he is an apostle by the will of God. Do you view your life and calling that way – that it is only by the will of God that you are engaged in a particular ministry? That it is not because of your talents, or knowledge, or wisdom or any other characteristic you might have. It is by God’s will alone that you are doing this work – buy His good pleasure. He has given us life through His Son Jesus Christ and we should make the most out of our lives. The way we do that is by enveloping ourselves in the will of God and following the course Her has laid out for us. Anything else will cause us to run into resistance in life and we will not have the blessing of God we could have if we did follow His course.

Timothy is Paul’s son in the faith. Paul looked at him as his own son, and I imagine Timothy looked at Paul as an earthly father. There is no mention of Timothy’s father in scripture, just his mother and grandmother. Paul probably served as a father figure for him and brought him up in the faith the way a good father would. He was a mentor, as we would call Him today. One of the gr3eatest honors we can have is to be a mentor for someone else. Not only does this grow their devotion and faith in God, but it will build ours as well. We grow as we take part in their life, showing them the correct way to discipleship. Paul said “Follow me as I follow Christ.”. (1 Corinthians 11:1) What would someone else’s life be like if they carried out this word toward you? Would they grow in their relationship to God, or would they have trouble keeping the faith? We need to examine ourselves.

At the same time, we all need to have someone who is mentoring us, feeding truth into our lives and challenging us to grow in our relationship to God. Personally, I have several. My Pastor is a wonderful mentor. He is kind a compassionate and teaches me what grace and mercy are all about. We regularly talk about various subjects and how they relate to the human condition. He has been such a blessing to us. I can honestly say that most of the pastors I have had through the years were mentors for me. I am one who submits to that authority and helps wherever needed. In turn, I learn a lot from each one. We should give them that place in our lives. God has appointed and anointed them to be in a [position of authority over us. Honoring them by being a mentee is a good thing!

Paul then wished grace, mercy and peace to Timothy in his typical greeting fashion. I would love to get into the habit of starting out emails and correspondence with that statement. Imagine a world where each of us wished grace, mercy and peace on one another. There are few attributes of God that are more powerful than these three things. Some of the others we could use are love, joy and hope. Love might be taken the wrong way and joy might come at a tough time in a person’s life. Hope is a by product of our faith. But grace, mercy and peace can come into our lives at any time and are always working on our behalf. I think that’s why Paul chooses these three things to use in his greetings. I desperately need each one of them every day.

Then Paul says something that really interested me. He said with a clear conscience he could say he prayed for Timothy night and day. I have a confession to make. Sometimes I tell people I am praying for them when I haven’t been really diligent in doing that. A passing thought is usually what I am referencing, not a heartfelt prayer. I am often disappointed with my prayer life. I don’t spend the time I want to in prayer, and when I do spend that time I get too easily distracted. I even wrote a book on prayer and have trouble following the insights God gave me to write the book.

But Paul could say with a clear conscience that he was praying night and day. That means it was the absolute truth to me. He had no reservation about saying it. His conscience would not bother him for saying it. It was something he truly did do. I have no doubt that his prayers were heartfelt and meaningful; not just thrown together at the last minute like a chore he had to do. We should all approach prayer that way. Our prayer lives should be a constant state of mind. Paul write more than once about being in a constant state of prayer (Phil 4:6, 1 Thess 5:17).

In a way, I follow these two verses. I think following these verses is to be ready to pray at any given moment. God will bring things into our spirit that need prayer and we should be ready to pray for that situation when we hear His voice, Whether in our prayer language or our everyday language, we should take time out of whatever we are doing to talk to God and interceded for those in our lies who need prayer. At this I do well. How about you?

Lastly, Paul shares his overwhelming desire to see Timothy. I do not have a lot of knowledge of church history, but I don’t believe Paul ever got to see Timothy again after sending this letter. Paul wrote it from a Roman prison and I doubt Timothy ever made a trip to Rome to see Paul. So, Paul’s hope was never fulfilled and he probably knew that when he wrote this. Why even say such a thing then? So that Timothy would know of Paul’s affection for him, that’s why. We should never shy away from telling people of our affection for them. We never know when it is the last time we will communicate with them. Make sure you tell your loved ones just how much you care today!

No Prisoners of War

I Timothy 6:13-16

I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14 That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15 Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16 Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Have I been keeping this commandment? The commandment to fight the good fight of faith is one that we all need to keep, especially in this day and hour. Paul sensed Jesus would be back any day and he lived his life as though Christ would be returning soon. In this day and age, we are surer than ever that Jesus will soon be seen riding in the clouds, ready to take His church home to heaven with Him. Am I living my life in a way that reflects that thought, or am I just waiting for Him to come and not doing anything different than usual? What should I be doing as the day approaches?

Jesus told us a few things we should be doing when the signs point to his coming. In Matthew 25:10-13 He tells a parable of 10 virgins. They set out to meet the bridegroom with their lamps. But five of them had no oil for their lamps and had to turn back to get oil. This made them late for the wedding and, when they finally arrived, said they should depart because he never knew them. The virgins who had oil in their lamps were welcomed into the wedding, Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit all the way back into the Old Testament. The oil was used to anoint the priests for service. Jesus left His Holy Spirit, the Comforter, with all those who accept Him as Lord and Savior. At the day of His coming we better be ready and full of His Spirit or He will tell us to depart as well. There will be no time to go and get filled up! This parable warns us to always be ready for His return.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus tells us another story which begins with the words “When the Son of Man shall come in His glory…” He goes on to say that he shall separate the people like a shepherd separates sheep and goats. The sheep are the ones who have been ministering to Him by ministering to others. The goats are those who have not been ministering to others, the sheep are asked to join Him in heaven, the goats are sent to everlasting punishment. This story tells us that we must be doing good to those around us and not just sitting in our easy chair and relaxing now that we are saved. If we are doing good to others we will be accepted because we are following the commandments. If we are not, we will not see heaven.

In Matthew 24:36 Jesus says that even He does not know when He shall return, only the Father knows. In Matthew 24:42, Jesus says to watch for we know not the hour when the Son of Man will come. He then talks about the good man of the house who would have protected his house if he knew when the thief was going to come. He uses this analogy to let us know we do not know so we should always be ready for His coming. What if he came when we were in the middle of some sin? Maybe when we are telling a lie, or watching something we should not be, or with someone we should not be, or defrauding someone. We surely do not want to be caught doing anything he would not approve of when He comes. If we don’t know when he is coming how can we afford to do anything he would disapprove of.

Then there is Hebrews 10:25. This is one of the most neglected scriptures in all the church. Jesus tells us not to neglect getting together in fellowship and doing so even more as the day approaches. Yet we see so many Christians who say they are content with listening to that TV evangelist or listening on the radio. They don’t need the church. They can have a wonderful relationship with God all by themselves. There is nowhere in scripture that supports this. We need each other and others need us. We don’t go to church for ourselves, we go for everyone else. And what we get out of the service is a bonus! When I was going through cancer I could not go and I really missed the corporate worship. I could listen to preachers as much as I wanted, but nothing replaced the time of worship with others. IT was a holy time. A time when we could minister to one another, which is the call of Christ to each of us. Make sure you are not forsaking this vital ministry. It’s not for us – it’s for our brothers and sisters that we go to church and have fellowship.

The day is coming that He will return. The word says He will come like a thief in the night, in the blink of an eye, and all of us who are saved will be raised up to meet Him in the clouds. He will be glorious, full if splendor and wonder. It will be obvious to all that he is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. No one will escape His judgment. We will either rise to meet Him or face His wrath in the tribulation. Our duty to Christ is to take as many as we can with us when He comes. We have not been placed on the earth to merely make it to heaven ourselves but to make sure others come along. In these last days, let us make sure we are fulfilling that great commission. “Go unto all the world and preach the gospel.” Your world is your church, your friends, your neighbors, your family, your co-workers. Your world needs to know Jesus. You are there to tell them. That is a huge part of fighting the good fight! Don’t let the enemy take prisoners of war!

Fight the Good Fight

I Timothy 6:12

12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

I think this is one of the most important things we can do today given the deteriorating moral fabric of our society. Fight the good fight of faith. Be persistent and steadfast, always showing forth those things that let others see Christ. This is not a stroll in the park! It is a war against all the powers of hell that are stacked up against us and, even more so, against those who do not know Him. Our job is never done and should never be forgotten. Save the lost. Rescue the perishing. Set the captives free. If we do not do it, they will be eternally lost, never to find their way to heaven. If we do not fight this good fight, we may find ourselves approaching the wide gate, having given up on our own salvation. Don’t let that happen!

So how do we fight this fight? After all, wasn’t the battle won at Calvary? Yes, it was. He won the ultimate battle and we are free from sin when we acknowledge the price, He paid for us by asking His forgiveness and accepting Him as Lord of our lives. It is then we gain victory over sin and can walk in His grace and mercy. We do not need to fight the enemy to defeat all sin. Christ did that. However, Paul is very explicit when he says that we must work out our own salvation (Philippians 2:12). He tells us to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). He tells us we must put off the old man and put on the new man (Ephesians 4:22-24). He tells us we must walk in the spirit so we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Why do we need to do all these things if the victory is already ours?

The answer is pretty simple. We are still in our flesh and this flesh is the habitat of sin in the natural man. We have been raised in sin all our lives up to the point of our salvation, and we still walk in a sinful world where the enemy has his way. Old habits take time to get rid of and new ones even longer to work into our lifestyle. We still have to fight. The battle has been won and, in the end, Christ will stand as conqueror. We are caught on this earth and must battle all those things that come against us because the enemy still wants to defeat us and take us down to the pit with him. He can’t stand the fact that he was defeated on the cross so he will do everything in his power to take you and me down. Everything. He will use our minds against us so that we become boastful, prideful, grumbling, complaining, never satisfied and never happy. He will cause our bodies to lust after things just out of our reach and also those things that he had us trapped in before we were saved. He is evil and full of guile and if we are not engaged in the battle, we will fall captive to his ways.

So how do I fight this good fight? What does it take to continue fighting when it seems to me I have already lost? First, we must recognize who the enemy is. Ephesians 6:12 tells us “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” We must recognize that our battle is in the spirit realm, not in the fleshly realm. Yes, it seems it is our flesh that we are fighting all the time, putting down strongholds that have been there for decades, ridding ourselves of bad thoughts and trying ways. But it is the enemy who keeps coming against us, reminding us of our past and telling us we are trapped there. Remember that he is a lair and the father of lies (John 8:44). Since our battle is against powers of darkness and spiritual wickedness, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to aid us in fighting the battle for our souls. We cannot do it on our own, but we still must stay engaged with Him in order to win.

Then second weapon is found in Romans 12:1-2. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

First, our bodies are not our own. We have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). We must present them before God while we are alive, ready to give them up to Him as a sacrifice before He can come in and help us. If we want to hold onto our own flesh as something worthwhile, we will have a difficult time getting through the battle. Our flesh on its own is week. But when we give it to God, He can strengthen our flesh to overcome the while if our enemy (1 John 4:4). After all, that’s the least we can do since Jesus, God’s only Son, gave His body as a living sacrifice upon the cross. He showed us the way. When we give up our bodies as a sacrifice, He will raise us up victorious, just as He rose victorious from the grave.
Second, it is the renewing of our mind that brings us to the place where we can walk in the place that is acceptable to God. If we are not being changed into His image, we have not been saved. If we stay stuck in the same mindset as we were before conversion, we will never walk into the perfect will of God. We will stay stagnant, and that leads to backsliding eventually. Our love for God will wane just like it had for the Ephesian church in Revelation 3. They lost their first love because they did not continue to renew their minds. That was the one thing n that God had against them and He urged them to return to their first love. The way we do that is to return to prayer, return to praise, return to the word of God. To be transformed by the renewing of our mind is to keep our mind stayed on God.
Another way to keep that transformation alive in our lives is to read and meditate on Philippians 4. There is so much wisdom in this chapter I can’t begin to write it all out in this post. But I will summarize for you and then let you take it in on your own, over and over again, which is what I do. Staring in verse 4, we will always rejoice in the Lord, no matter what the circumstance or trial you are facing. Paul’s double emphasis on rejoicing implores us never to get down, or to grumble and complain, but to always look to the heavens, even when things are at their worst. Verse 5 says let your moderation be known to all men. This word moderation means gentleness and kindness. We should always show a gentle and kind nature to those around us. This includes our manner and speech. I think of Ephesians 4:29 when I look at this verse. Always speak with grace! Verse 6 tells us not to worry but instead take everything to God in prayer, always being thankful. Verse 7 says that doing verse 6 says will bring us a peace that passes all understanding. Verse 8 says that we should think on things that are honest, true, lovely, just, pure, of good report, virtuous and praiseworthy. When we think about these things, negativity will be removed from our thought process. Verse 11 tells us that Paul was content in whatever state he was in. Paul was in a lot of very difficult situations, but he remained content because he always knew he was in Christ. Verse 13 tells us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. In the midst of the battle, he gives us the strength to continue to victory. Verse 19 says God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Jesus Christ. Needs, not wants. He will bring those things into our lives that will help us go through whatever comes our way. It doesn’t matter what those things are. When we are deeply in need, he will supply. When we don’t see a way out, He will make a roadway in the wilderness (Isaiah 43:19). When our finances are running too low to pay our bills, He will make rivers in that desert (same verse). There is nothing too hard for God (Jeremiah 32:17).
The third part of winning the battle is putting on our armor (Ephesians 6:13-18). We must have the belt of truth the Truth of God’s word wrapped around us, holding up things that might hinder us, that we might run with patience that race that is set before us (Hebrews 12:1). Wearing the breastplate of righteousness, Christ’s righteousness, which protects our hearts and vital organs from being wounded in the battle. We must walk prepared to share the gospel, prepared to give account for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15). Having on the helmet of salvation provided only by Jesus Christ, which protects our minds and thoughts from the enemy’s attack. The sword of the Spirit must always be by our side and on our tongues. This is the Word of God that we should have embedded ion our brain. It is the only weapon of offense the soldier has in the battle, so you better know it well. Your faith must be strong enough to quench the devil’s attacks. We must not whither or fade at his evil snares. Above all we must tray, pray and pray again. Once we have put all this armor on, we can stand firm and see His salvation being worked out in us (Philippians 2:12). Then we can be still and know that He is God (Psalms 46:10).

I could continue on and on about ways we should fight the good fight but part of fighting that good fight is for you to be in the scripture studying on your own how to be prepared for the battles you will face. This is a crash course, or maybe the Cliff’s notes, to victory. Doing these things will help us lay hold on eternal life and give us a good profession before all men. This is our witness! Fighting through the difficulties in life will make us stronger and in turn give us a better witness. I pray that you will forever fight that good fight that is our faith. Never grow weary in doing well (Galatians 6:9)!

Be Content

1 TIMOTHY 6:4-8

4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

If you thought I was harsh with that last quote, just look what Paul says here. He shows no mercy on these false teachers, calling them men of corrupt minds, and destitute of truth. He tells us to withdraw ourselves from them because they think that gain is godliness. One has to wonder how people who serve our loving God could get this way. How could they one day be preaching the glorious truth of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice and resurrection and then the next be teaching false doctrines designed to please the flesh? How could they turn from the truth of servanthood and start teaching mastery and dominion? How could they come to the place where they believe demanding from God is what the Bible intends?

Paul gives us the answer to these questions and many more in the first three words of verse 4. “He is proud.” Pride is at the root of all false teaching and deception. Pride instills in the individual the idea that they can do no wrong, teach no wrong, believe no wrong, and think no wrong. They believe their way is the only way and they stand by it no matter what the evidence dictates. I have had my bouts with pride through the years and have come to a point where I can usually identify it and bring it into subjection. You will never get rid of it, but you can control it to a certain extent. You also need someone to help you see it when you don’t. For me, that would be my wife. That accountability is priceless to me because I never want to get to that overly prideful state again. Do you have someone in your life who will point out when pride begins to rise up within you? If you don’t, please make that happen.

My pride manifested itself often with the words “I know.” I used these two words constantly to indicate you don’t need to tell me anything because I know everything. This was especially true when it came to Bible truths. It would be hard to teach me anything because I was the teacher and my ideas were much better than yours when it came to interpretation. So, when you start to show me something you had noticed, I would say “I know” in an inquisitive, excited fashion. This remained true after having my gross sin exposed back in 2003. At that time a Pastor took me under his wings and prayed me back to righteousness only to have me fall into the same trap again. When I got caught again in 2008 and lost my job and almost my marriage. That same pastor found me a place where I could be helped. I remember distinctly walking toward the front of the church as he said to me “Pete, you’ve got to take care of this or it will ruin you.” I said back to him in a low voice “I know.” He quickly said “No, you don’t know. If you did you never would have started up again in the first place.” He was exactly right and I realized I did not know! If you find yourself saying “I know”: a lot, perhaps you know nothing as I did. Ask God to search your heart!

Paul says these false teachers have corrupt minds and are destitute of the truth. The word corrupt is a very strong Greek word which means to be thoroughly degenerate, or wasted away by the decaying influence of moral impurity. How evident that is in the church today. Divorce and adultery are almost the norm even in our churches as they are in society. We see Pastors addicted to pornography at a high level, and others taking advantage of their congregation. We see churches rising up that profess to be preaching salvation message only top say that practicing gay people are Ok with God and will go to heaven. We see sin ignored for the most part because grace covers all sin. The decaying morals fill the church and the false teachers just preach on without addressing the truth. That word destitute in the Greek means to keep away from and this is exactly what they do. They keep away from the truth in order to please those who are listening. This can build very big churches! They even suppose that gain is godliness. That because God is blessing them financially and materially, they are godly people. They feel saved because they have all this stuff God ahs allowed them to have. Paul says we should stay away from these false teachers and followers. You can easily be lured into their version of the truth if you are not careful.

Are you content with what God has allowed you to have at this very moment? Are you walking in righteousness every day? If you are accomplishing both of these two things Paul says you are having great gains in your walk with the Lord. Not because you have a lot of stuff and money, not because you have fame, or power, or lots of friends. You see, it’s all about Him. Walking with Him. Finding our peace, joy and hope in Him. Being content in Him is the greatest place we can find ourselves. Saying “God, you have me here and I am walking with you, and that is all that matters. I am content.” If you can say that, God bless you! This is the closing thought of Paul in this portion.

Contentment had reached into Pauls’ heart. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says that he has learned to be content in all situations in life. Paul knew suffering and pain more than any of us most likely. He knew what is was like to be rejected, put down, mocked, betrayed, and disliked yet he was content. Her had found peace with God and that was wall that mattered to him. The trappings of this world were not his concern. Only Jesus crucified. Only the cross. Only Jesus! Let us all get this same mindset.

On Treatment of Elders

1 Timothy 5:16-21

16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her care, she should continue to help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.
17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,”[a] and “The worker deserves his wages.”[b] 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning. 21 I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.

We now end the discussion about widows with an admonition to those women who may be taking care of widows in their own homes. These women are special to me. Either their husbands have allowed them to have such a ministry, or they too are widows and have decided to give of their substance to help someone else in need. As we discussed before, widows were in trouble back in this day if they had no means passed down from their husband. They could not own land and often other possessions would go to the brothers of the deceased and not necessarily to their wife. The women who took in widows are indeed a rare breed, filled with mercy and compassion. This helped alleviate the church of the burden.

How many of us are willing to take someone in who is unrelated and in desperate need of being kept? I would guess there are not many. In today’s world, we would put ourselves in a very awkward position by taking someone in and caring for them. First of all, if things don’t work out it might be hard to get them out of our house. Second, they may take advantage of our generosity and use us, almost abuse our good intentions. Third, they could actually take over our home and kick us out – it has happened. It takes an incredible amount of courage and faith in today’s world to do something like that, and it did in those days too. If you know of someone who is caring for an unrelated person in their home, pray for them.

Next, to the elders. The word elder refers to a seasoned man who has sound judgement. I think we all would agree that elders in the church need to meet this standard. It is never recommended that a young man without much acquired wisdom should be appointed as an elder. In 1 Kings 12 we read of Rehoboams decision to follow the advice of the young men who he ran with rather than the elders that had served the country for years. The result of this split up the country to two pieces and they never got back together again until the 20th century. It was a disaster! This is a lesson we all need to heed carefully. The selection of elders is critical to the future of our churches. Make sure you are choosing men of wisdom and seasoning that will bring sound reason and spiritual understanding when a decision must be made.

This also goes true in our own lives. We all must be careful who we ask advice from when important decisions come around. Look for men with wisdom and integrity to guide you through life. Maybe a pastor, or that elder in your church who you look up to. This is one way to give the double honor to them that Paul mentions here. Trusting in them for guidance is showing them honor.

Another way to show those elders honor is to show up for church and special activities whenever possible. When services are being held, we show our Pastor and the elders honor by being there and being involved. If one of the elders happens to be a teacher also let him know how much you appreciate his commitment to the church. If he teaches your class, be involved in the discussion. This lets him know you are paying attention. Listening to someone gives honor to them. If a church workday is planned, being there to help clean and repair the things in the church shows the elders honor. These men work hard to build a spiritual foundation for the church and it is our job to make sure the physical building is in good order. The elders deserve more than lip service – they deserve our appreciation. Often, they are held to a higher standard, especially if they are teaching as well. The least we can do is show them the honor they deserve.

If someone comes up to you with an accusation against an elder, and you hear nothing else about it, then you should ignore that accusation. People are cruel, to be honest, and they will often go to great lengths to bring others down to their level. It’s not uncommon at all for someone to either make up an accusation or read into a situation something that is just not true. I was just watching an episode of “When Calls the Heart” last night with my wife (we love that show). Jack, the main character, walked into a restaurant to eat and the nurse that was taking care of his brother happened to be there going over some of her records. She motioned to Jack and he sat down at her table to discuss his brother’s situation.

Soon after, the sister of his Jacks girlfriend walked by the same restaurant and saw them sitting together. So, she came into the restaurant and Jack told introduced her to the nurse and said they were looking at his brother’s records. The sister, who did not particularly like Jack, decided to try and make an issue out of it. She made it sound like they were having a romantic dinner together, insinuating that he was being unfaithful to his girlfriend. This accusation was totally unfounded and almost cost the relationship. Fortunately, they both saw the deception of the sister eventually and made amends.

We must be careful to never jump to conclusions when we see something that seems out of place especially when it involves an elder. If we have questions about something, we should go to them first and tell them we have a concern. I have been an elder in many churches and I have always appreciated when someone comes to me with a concern about my behavior. It shows me that they care, and this is a way of showing honor. You allow me to explain what was going on instead of formulating your own conclusions. If I don’t give a sufficient answer and you have serious questions, then I would suggest you go to the pastor. Not your friend, or your neighbor, or even your spouse. An elder always deserves the benefit of the doubt and going to the pastor should keep the matter confidential. If you have a good pastor, he will know what to do in the situation.

I have been in a position of complete wrong against my pastor, my family and my employer. I was and elder in the church and the worship leader, as close to an assistant pastor as our little church would need. I did some very stupid things and wound up losing my job of 20 years over them. I told my wife and we met with our pastor. He was deeply hurt because I had been through this before with him and he had come to a place of trusting me once again. He did not go so far as to publicly reprove me, but he did insist that I should go for help or never come into his church again. It was a turning point in my life and I am grateful he took those drastic measures.

My wife decided to go back to a church we had gone to before and I went on an 8-month sabbatical to get my life straightened out. When I returned, we stayed in the church where my wife was going and are still there today, 11 years later. That pastor and I have reconciled and I have ministered in his church a few times. Our God is so awesome that he restores broken relationships. I am grateful that my pastor did what was necessary back then because if he had not, I might be still travelling down a destructive road.

Paul ends by telling Timothy how important it is to stay with the instructions we he has given. As a young man, I am sure Timothy had plenty of people who would offer him advice on certain matters. Paul wanted to make sure the first priority was to say with the truths he had shared with Timothy in this letter. Still today it is important to stick with the teachings found in this letter. Let us not wander from the truths contained here!

More on Widows

1 Timothy 5:9-15

9 Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man.
10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
15 For some are already turned aside after Satan.

I have held off on writing about this next [portion because frankly I was not sure what to say. I always rely on the Holy Spirit to give me insight, but Paul goes on and on about widows once more, and as I prayed I did not come up with a reason he did this. Oh, I could go to countless commentaries and get their ideas, but that is not my way. I .pray you’ll be patient with me as I write, relying on the Spirit to guide my words. Right now, I am not sure where this will go.

Paul begins by mentioning the older widows, those over 60. This was an old age ion those days as the average life expectancy in Israel at the time was 35-40 years old, with the rich usually living longer. So someone over 60 was rare, especially a widow. Widows had no one but their own children to care for them as women did not work in those days. If the widow did not have any sons, it would be even worse for her. So Paul is admonishing Timothy to accept the older widows into the church.

Notice the list of good works listed associated with widows. The wife of one man, raised her children well, lodged strangers, washed the saints feet, relieved the afflicted and diligently followed every good work. To me this is a picture of someone whop is faithful and has a servants hears. Remember what Jesus said to the disciples when He washed their feet? He said the greatest among you shall be servant of all. This woman served her husband, her children, strangers, the saints and the afflicted. She did not turn her back on anyone. Can you say the same thing? Do you give of yourself until there is no more to give? It would have been easy for this widow to just sit back and take care of her own and not worry about others. But she rose above her hardship and continued to serve others faithfully. God loves that!

We must take every opportunity to help others. If someone comes across our path who needs help or prayer or transportation or food if it is in our power to provide that than we should. This is the main way we witness to those who do not know Christ and also to uplift others in the body of Christ. Colossians 3:23 tells us that whatever we do we should do it with all our heart, as if we are doing it to the Lord Jesus Himself. This means buying groceries or washing someone’s floor for them. 2 Corinthians 9:7 tells us God loves a cheerful giver. How much He must love it when we cheerfully give of our time and resources to those that need it. Let us all be like this elderly widow and do what God asks us to do.
Contrast this praise of the elderly widow to the stern warning about the younger widow. He warns that if they do not remarry quickly, they will be come busybodies and gossips. Our world is full of people who backbite and speak degradingly about other people. A Christian should never do these things. Gossip and backbiting are just as much of a sin as rape and murder. We tend to forget this fact. Paul says not to give any occasion to the enemy to speak reproachfully. In Ephesians 4:29 he states this thought even better.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

I have a strong desire to live by this verse. I never want to say anything harmful or hurting to someone. I desire that my speech ministers grace to the one hearing it. Now I admit, I am not doing great at this, but I keep growing. This is a very powerful scripture and one we should all pay careful attention to. If the church could just accomplish this, so many more would come to us and desire Christ in their life. The gossip and backbiting would stop within the church and all would be uplifted by one another. This may sound Utopian, but I think it is possible.

The last line talks of those who do not speak with this grace but are always backbiting, gossiping, arguing and complaining. He says they have turned aside to Satan. These are powerful words and present quite a condemnation to those who just can’t seem to say the right thing. They are full of put downs, jabs and satirical remarks. They think it’s funny to poke fun at people. You may think it’s funny to and be drawn in to the conversation. Please don’t let that happen! Serve God with your tongue as much as with any member of your body. You will find that tour not only being a blessing to others, but to yourself as well.

 

Honoring Widows

1 Timothy 5:3-7

3 Honour widows that are widows indeed.
4 But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.
5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day..
6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
7 And these things give in charge, that they may be blameless.

In our society today more and more children are caring for their elderly parents. Because most businesses now do not offer the pensions they used to, seniors are finding it harder to afford living on their own. The cost of living keeps rising and the social security checks just don’t rise as fast. This poses big problems for those who did not do a good job saving up during their lifetime, and that is the majority of our seniors today. Fourteen percent of adults living in someone else’s home are the parents of the homeowner, up from seven percent in 1995.

At the same time, more and more adult children are living with their parents due to various reasons. Lack of jobs, affordability of housing and coping skills are all causing young adults to move back home. And in many cases, grandparents are taking custody of their grandchildren due to a lack of social structure in the home of their children. This is the case with my wife and I. We have our fourteen year old granddaughter living with us because our daughter was in a situation that defied all sensibility and put our granddaughter at risk. We are thrilled to have her and she loves being with us but it does put a strain on our household budget.

I bring all this up because we now live in a society that doesn’t really see its widows. We rarely use that word – at least I hardly ever hear it. It seems there is a negative connotation associated with the word widow and that is so wrong. Women live much longer than men on average so it is very likely we will have a lot of widows around, But the fact that women are aging much better and looking very good well into their 80’s leads us to think of them as still vibrant and able to care for themselves. They just don’t look like widows, if you know what I mean. I know a lot of ladies who are widows that lead very god lives and seem to be doing very well in society. I know they are hurting deep inside, but they do well to rise above that and be active in the community.

In Jesus day, it was a different picture. The woman was a housekeeper and her husband provided everything for her. There was no social security or welfare she could fall back on if her husband died so she was left to fend for herself and it was very difficult. People felt sympathy for them, but most households had enough to do just to keep their own house running smoothly. It was hard for them to give of their sustenance to help someone else out. So, the widows had to trust God to provide for them.

We read a couple stories in the Bible about widows that really show God’s provision and faithfulness. In 1st Kings 17, we can read the story of Elijah coming to the widow of Zarapeth. She was fixing bread from the last bit of meal that she had. Elijah asked for the bread she was making. She felt that once this bread was eaten, her and her son would die because they were out of food. But Elijah blessed the bread and the widow found that her meal never ran out. The widow was provided for.

In 2nd Kings 4 Elisha went to a widow’s house and she was about out of oil. She just had a cruse of it left. Elisha told her to go get all the vessels she could find and bring them to the house. She did that and the cruse filled every vessel she brought into the house so she did not run out. Again, the widow was provided for.

Throughout the Bible we read that God cares for the widows. Psalm 68:5 tells us that God is the Father of the fatherless and the protector of widows. Psalm 146:9 says God upholds the fatherless and the widow. Jeremiah 49:11 says the widows should trust in God. And James 1:27 says it is pure, undefiled religion to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to stay unspotted from the world.

It is fascinating to me that widows are so often mentioned along with the fatherless. And they are both mentioned as ones whom God has a special heart for. What intrigues me is that God is our heavenly Father and he is also the bridegroom waiting for His bride. To me this is not mere word play, but a truth that we should all pay close attention to. The fatherless can be seen as those who do not have Jesus Christ as their Savior, thus never becoming adopted into His family as children and heirs. And the widows can be seen as those who have not married the bridegroom after they have divorced this world. They have not come under is authority and become obedient to Him. These are people in desperate need of attention. They need provision from the word of God to help sustain them and lead them in the right path.

It would be easy for us to overlook these scriptures about widows because the landscape of our society has changed. But God always has a purpose and a vision for the future and He wants us to pay close attention to everything he has to say. We cannot ignore this charge to care for the widows. Whether they be true widows who have lost their husbands, or whether they be spiritual widows who have left this world behind and married the Bride. Both need our attention and our help.

On the other hand, Paul writes if a widow is living in pleasure then she is dead while living. In Paul’s day, this would be looked upon as slandering her husbands name. Today we often see widows go on to remarry or lead very good lives after their husband dies. So once again the picture has changed. But if a person who has died to this world by accepting Christ and lives a life of fun and games that are not spiritual, they face the same fate. They have not come under the arm of a protective Savior, but rather have decided to turn their backs on the one who saved them. This is a very dangerous place to live. Once we turn our backs on this world, we should never return to the ways of the world. Christ calls us to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17). We are to have no part of that former life or of a life filled with gaiety. We are to become obedient to Christ and His commandments if we expect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 7:21)

Do you know any widows who are struggling in their faith? This is a call to all of us to provide the truth to them. The bread of life and the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness. Just as Elijah and Elisha provided for widows in their day, so we should bring the word of God to those who are trying to find their way once they have died to the world. We are not to condemn them, just as Christ did not come to condemn (John 3:17). We are to love them and nurture them, bringing them alongside so they can taste and see that the Lord is good. This is our calling!