Tag Archives: Timothy & Titus

Take Heed

1 Timothy 4:14-16

14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all.
16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee

Do you have a spiritual gift? Maybe you have never used it, or even realized you have it, but I can guarantee you that you have a gift from God. We seem to take it for granted that this verse is talking about a spiritual gift., and that very well could be true. But there are so many gifts that God gives us we should not limit ourselves to thinking this way.

First. There are the gifts of the Spirit which are listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10

8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

There are some who say that these gifts are no longer needed in the church, or that they are no longer in operation. I am sad that they believe this because these gifts were given to edify the church and to show the power and manifestation of the Holy Spirit. I have personally seen all of these gifts in operation and have been used by the Spirit ion several of these gifts. My own personal belief is that the Holy Spirit can use anyone who is willing to listen to Him and step out in faith, and that he can use them in any one of these gifts at any time. It does not have to be in church, or some revival. Gpd can have the gift of miracles alive in my life when I am walking through Walmart, or he can give me a word of wisdom at the grocery store. We are so quick to limit God and put Him in a box that we can understand.

God wants these gifts in operation in every church. But many churches now shut their ears and mouths and don’t even want to work in these precious and powerful gifts. They do not know what they are missing and do not want anyone to tell them. They want to keep God in a place where they can understand His every move and not be awed by Him too much. It is sad to see these gifts neglected, especially when Paul tells us specifically not to neglect the gift that is within us. We have a responsibility to utilize what God has given each and every one of us. The parable of the talents makes that very clear. If the church would start to operate in these powerful gifts we would see revival sweep across this land and throughout the world. Are you neglecting the gift within you?

But the spiritual gifts are not the only gifts. In Romans 12:6-13, Paul list many more gifts that are given to the church.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.

There are things on this list that each one of us is gifted with and just refuse to be used in that area. There are other things that you may not completely understand and you are already working in that gift. So let’s take a closer look at these gifts.

Prophecy – this is not just foretelling a future event, as many think it is. It can also be expounding about things in the present, or applying the word of God to a particular situation for someone else. Have you ever given someone a scripture verse that they needed at that time? Then you used the gift of prophecy. It is simply proclaiming the word.

Ministry – this would include praying for others or participating in some type of ministry to others like providing food or shelter. Ministry is a broad subject that most of us have some part in it. It is a gift that many have.

Teaching – this does not even have to be spiritual teaching necessarily. It can be any kind of teaching. Don’t even try to tell me the teachers in our schools are not gifted to do that! They deal with kids every day, and that is a gift. It definitely includes teaching biblical principles,. But please do not limit it to that.

Exhortation – This is also proclaiming the word, and would line up more with preaching or declaring God’s ways. When we share our testimony, which we all should be doing, we operate in this gift.

Giving – this is someone who gives over and above the tithe, or gives them self unselfishly to help others. It can be a talent we have, or our time, which is so precious.
One author puts it this way. “God loves a cheerful giver. How much He must be pleased when someone cheerfully gives of themselves.”

Ruler – this can apply to anyone in a position of authority. This can include deacons and elders, people who serve on a Board if Directors anywhere, people in management within the workplace or leaders in government. The ones who fill these roles are gifted by God to do so.

Mercy giver – We should all operate in this gift. We should always show mercy to others. But some are gifted above and beyond with the ability to show mercy to others with a cheerful heart, I am so glad for these people.

Love without dissimulation – This is a gift we should all practice and desire. Love without hypocrisy. Love your enemy. Love your neighbor, no matter who they are. Lover all the same. Don’t play favorites. Our love should be that of 1 Corinthians 13. This is a tall order, but we all need to strive for it.

Abhor evil and cleave to good – to abhor means to regard with disgust and hatred. We should hate evil and be disgusted by it. So much so that we stay as far away from it as possible. It is a gift to have this type of hatred for evil and to cleave, or become attached to only good. I want this gift!

Kindly affectioned one top another – there are some people who are much better at kindness than others. They always have a kind word and deals with others in a gentle way. These are not only fruit of the Spirit, but are also gifts given to the church. Don’t discount these kind, gentle people. They are mighty through their meekness.

In honor preferring one another – this gift is sorely lacking in our churches today and is one that I strive for on a daily basis. Putting the other person first is a lost art in our society where it is every man for himself and do whatever I can to get ahead. Let us not be so, but let us do all we can to help others succeed.

Not slothful in and worldly success. – I am sure you can recognize those who work hard and those who do not. This gift also usually brings with it prosperity. This is a remarkable gift to have and can benefit the church in so many ways business. Through the tithe and offerings, through help in making wise decisions, through leadership and mentoring programs – all of these take people who are not slothful.

Fervent in Spirt, serving the Lord – we all know those people in our church who have a heart for ministry. They are fervent about their work for God and take it very seriously. They are true servants of Christ and we depend on them to get things done in our churches. If you are not one of these, I ask you why not?

Rejoicing in hope – some people are always in the joy of the Lord because they see the hope that is set before them. They are not caught up in the day to day struggles we all face. The rejoice because they are saved and redeemed and it takes no more than that to bring their joy to the surface. I think I am blessed with this gift!

Patient in tribulation – I know that my trials are God’s perfecting agents (James 1:2-4). I know they strengthen my faith. I know I am on His timetable and he is in control. So I can wait in those troubling times. I can wait on the Lord!@

Continuing instant in prayer – with out our prayer warriors, our churches would fall. This is a category I need much help in. Oh I am good at praying when God brings someone to mind, or when I am told that prayer is needed. But I am not good at setting aside time to pray on a regular basis. I need much work on this one. I thank God for the silent prayer warriors.

Distributing to the necessity of the saints – I give when I can but most of my income goes into my own monthly needs. I wish I had more to distribute and I am thankful for those who can give more. Our church would fail without them, and many of yours would as well. But this also talks of giving of our time and talent. I do a little better there.
Given to hospitality – My wife and I have always been people who kept pretty much to ourselves. We don’t have people over often and don’t visit others much. I am thankful for those who each out to others and give of their homes and resources to make them feel welcome.

This is just one list of gifts that are given to the church. There are others but I have gone on long enough. I think you get the picture. People who have gifts like these need to step up on a regular basis and share them. We should all desire to be sued more often in these ministry gifts. We need to give ourselves wholly to the gifts that we are gifted with, stirring them up and not neglecting them. When we all do our part, we will see our churches grow both spiritually and physically in numbers. That is the purpose of the gifts. Let us utilize them for that purpose.

 

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Does God Count You Faithful?

1 Timothy 1:12-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Serve

1 Timothy 1:6-7

6 From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;
7 Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.

That word “swerved” really catches my eye in these two verses. This is the only use of that particular word in the Bible. The Greek word is astacheo, and it is only used in one other place in the Bible. 2 Timothy 2:18, this word is translated “err.” The Greek word means to miss the mark or go astray. The first thing that comes to my mind is a car swerving to miss a deer, or a pothole or even another car. The driver sees danger ahead and turns the wheel to avert the danger. I have done this many times and I’m sure you have as well. It’s a word that we commonly use today describing someone who has to go out of their way to accomplish a task. Another use also comes from driving, and that is the drunkard or drug-filled person who swerves all over the road because they have lost control of their perceptions. They become a danger to themselves and to others but are unaware of it because they are under the influence. Both of these examples show us the meaning of the word swerved.

The second interesting word in the KJV is jangling. This is the Greek word mataiologia, and it means vain speaking or noise. This is the only place in the Bible that this word is used. I immediately think of a large ring with keys on it, attached to the belt of a janitor or landlord. They keys clank together, or jangle, when the person walks or when they go to use one of the keys. It is a metallic sound that is non-sensical. The other reference that Webster’s dictionary gives us for jangling is that it “set on edge” which our nerves might be if certain things happen to make us skeptical or afraid.

The fact that Paul uses these two words exclusively in writing to Timothy is no small thing. Paul is obviously trying to make a strong point to Timothy and uses vivid words to get that point across. He could easily have just said “turned aside to foolish teaching” but he chose not to. We can learn a lot about what Paul is warning Timothy of because he used these two specific words only in writing to Timothy. It is a warning that still resonates today in our world.

The first point is that these teachers who Paul is talking about did not just slip into some teaching that was in error. They went their purposely. They swerved, like we do to miss something. The swerved so that they could bring forth a teaching that no one else would duplicate because they fabricated it. It was not a Holy Spirit inspired teaching. It was not based solidly on scripture. It did not line up with the hole volume of scripture, but may have chosen one verse out of all of them and then was taken out of context. I think of those who worship today by taking up snakes because Paul took up snakes. I think of those who worship by smoking marijuana because God said all of creation was good. I think of the movie that is coming out this year called “Corpus Christie” in which Jesus and the disciples are portrayed as gay men.

These things and many more are just dead wrong. The people who practice them and preach them have swerved from the truth. They try to tell us that these things are not against the law of God and they show their ignorance of the word of God. They somehow miss the scriptures that speak out against these things and only listen to that deceptive little voice in their heads saying “It’s OK. It’s OK.” They swerve into their own path and their own teaching so they can stand out as someone who knows a little more than the next person. But they too are deceived. They think their little foray into an obscure idea of what God is saying is a new revelation God has given specifically to them. The problem is that God will always confirm His word with two or three witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15), and He will always inform His prophets of what He is going to do (Amos 3:7).

The second point is about those who get intoxicated by the world and start to think that God is all about giving them material wealth if they ask. They think they should be able to come up to God and demand things because this verse or that verse says a particular thing. They take the scripture out of context and apply it as law. “If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14) is their rallying cry, They are swerving in and out of the truth. They find themselves wanting more and more and thinking that others should be able to gain wealth the same way they did. They think your lack of wealth is a lack of faith. This cannot be farther from the truth. Has God made everyone a rich man? Has God made everyone with the same capabilities? Has He made everyone with the same health?

We are not all the same When these deceptive teaching come along we must be very careful to examine the whole body of what they are saying through the lens of scripture. The whole body of scripture must be taken into account, not just a few verses. These teachers think they are wise and they think they are teaching the law but failing to back up what they say.

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement is a great example of this verse. I am not going to get into all the things this church movement is swerving toward because I want this blog to focus on Christian aspects that will help us grow. The NAR is sweeping through churches across the country and bringing in new doctrine filled with vain jangling and false teaching. I suggest you study up on it so you will be aware if it does start to creep into your church. You can learn a little about this by clicking HERE

Solomon said “There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and that statement is just as true now as it was in his day. In everything we do, we need to do our best to remain true to scripture and it’s context. We need to stay away from those who are just talking with no purpose, or standing on one scripture and miss the mark even on that one. Seek the truth, the whole truth. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth. Don’t swerve off the path!

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!