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Monday, February 23, 2015

In the Service of the Believer

His Yoke is Easy
1 Timothy 6

A continued look through of Paul's first letter to Timothy will take us to Chapter 6, which speaks again of service, but this time it will deal with the differences between slaves and masters. 

Chapter 5 gave us through Paul to Timothy on his actions concerning the members of his church. It covered all members from how to speak and treat the elders, where the widows fall in work and behavior, and it spoke of the younger members.

This next chapter will begin with members of his congregation, who at that time were not free citizens, but slaves. It will give them the instruction needed in their Christian walk. The culture at the time was somewhat different from today.

Paul's Instruction To Servants

1 Timothy 6:1-2

Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
During this time, slavery was a common practice. In these verses, Paul is speaking to Timothy about to the slaves who were under the authority of a master. The difference here though is that, these slaves were believers in Christ. Paul is letting them know that although they were saved by grace, they were still under the rule of a human master. This master deserves the honor and respect due him.
Titus 2:9-10 says ”Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.”

As Christians, we should be also showing the same attitude as Paul was talking about to the slaves. We aren't slaves in today’s society, but we do have bosses over us; we  still need to show the proper honor and respect that is required of us. Taking a half-hour break when you only have a fifteen minute is showing dis-honesty. (Even if all the others are doing the same thing.) And if your co-workers and your boss know that your a christian, how is this being a good steward of God? By these actions, and attitudes, we cause the name of Jesus to be blasphemed. We are showing our irreverence.
Paul speaks of blaspheming God and his doctrine. The word 'Blaspheme' means: To talk about God or religion in a way that does not show respect. Words might not be spoken, but attitude, behavior, or actions are other ways that don't show respect. And God does not take blaspheme lightly. Romans 2:24 says, “As it is written: “God's name is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you”.
Paul continues in verse 2, that some of these masters were believers themselves. The slaves are still required to show the same respect and honor.
Paul also left out the word 'yoke'. One of the definitions of yoke is: an oppressive agency. 
Being in the service of a believer is not a yoke
Or it shouldn't be.
 It shouldn't be any different serving a unbelieving boss or one who is a brother in Christ. Paul doesn't want the slaves to think that he is exempt from doing a job well. Most of the bosses I've had were unbelievers. A few were Christians. That is a joy, because I can speak freely of my faith in Jesus, but I also am aware that my job is still required to be completed and done with the best of my ability.
This is what Paul was talking about.
In this chapter, Timothy is showing he probably had slaves who attended his church. Timothy was to teach them and exhort these examples of proper christian behavior, despite being despite someone else rule.

Reject False Doctrines

1 Timothy 6:3-5

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

There were during this time, false teachers that were out and about teaching things contrary to the truth of the gospel. Just as there are today. These teachers despised any government agency, and any type dominion. Speaking evil of all forms of authority. These included: magistrates, rulers, pastors and church officials. These false teachers encouraged disobedience to all in authority.
2 Peter 2:10 says “and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,”

Jude 1:8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities”.
I think of today, and how many false teachers are out there teaching in our grade schools, and universities, and even our churches. And filling the minds with false doctrine.
The true gospel is milk for the babes, and meat for the strong. A sweet savory food for us. Nourishing and gives spiritual growth. I love that. And so true. The Bible is not tainted, has no corruption, and has no poison. I still remember a co-worker saying that the Bible was JUST a book. I couldn't really even say much at that point. Her mind was pretty much closed. It's still sad to think about that even now.
Paul tells Timothy that these false teachers are proud. The doctrine of Grace is a humbling nature, especially if spiritually understood and received. The Doctrines of men, fills the mind with pride and vanity. This is because nothing is there. It's empty knowledge. We probably have all come across someone who says a whole lot of big words, but really says nothing at all.
These men Paul (the false teachers) is speaking of, have no truth in them. Just serving their own selfish needs. Paul warns Timothy and us to have nothing to do with them. Don't allow them into the ministry. Don't let them preach. Avoid all conversation with them. Sounds harsh, but think of all who can be lead astray from their teachings. How many are doing that today?!
Contentment in Godliness
1 Timothy 6: 6-10
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many
Godliness is: 'believing in God and in the importance of living a moral life'. That being; with faith, hope, love, and a fear of God that shows in outward worship, and conversation. This is great gain.
It's the contentment and the possession of the true, solid, satisfying, durable, and unsearchable riches of grace. That I think would be better than all the wealth in the world.
This brings us directly to verse 7. We came into the world naked and with nothing. Even the richest mother-to-be has to bring her baby into the world just like everyone else. Naked.
There's that old saying ' born with a silver spoon in their mouth'. This was generally said of children born into aristocratic families in England. But it first in print in 1801. But just like it says in Job :1:21 “And said, naked I came out of my mothers womb, and naked I shall return thither: The Lord gave and the Lord taketh away; Blessed be the name of the Lord”. Ecclesiastes 5:15 also says,
Naked a man comes from his mother's womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hand.
Reminds me of how the Egyptians pharaohs used to do things. Putting all there wealth and goods into the tombs when they died so it would be there in the next life. Where's that wealth now? In other peoples hands. You can't take it with you.
As for this life we live now, God wants us to be content with what He gave us. He ALWAYS will provide us with enough to eat. Clothes to wear, and a place over our heads. I think this world unfortunately has a given people the since that more is better. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”. That's pretty awesome.
We come back again to the rich in verse 9. Being rich isn't the problem Paul is talking about. There are people who are rich who are able to be content with what they have. But others who are rich and want more riches. Donald Trump is someone who will never be satisfied with what he has. Actors, Musicians, and athlete fall snare to the higher dollar amount. And it leads them right into destruction. What does it say in verse 10 again? “ For the love of money is the root of all evil:
The key word here is 'the LOVE of money'. Money itself isn't the root of evil. It's the 'love' of it. If someone loves money that much, this is a form of idolatry. Idolatry which means: immoderate attachment or devotion to something. The Bible has much to say about idolatry. As a matter of fact, there are about 100 verses about idolatry. The first is in Exodus 20:3-4 that gives us the law from the ten commandments.
Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.
This verse sums it up the best.
Fight the Good Fight
1 Timothy 6: 11-16
But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, thereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 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; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 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.
In the verse 11, where Paul calls Timothy 'O man of God, I wanted to see who else was considered a 'man of God' in the Bible. I found 5 men who were called 'man of God'. One was Moses: Deuteronomy 33:1
Samuel: 1 Samuel 9:6,7,8, & 10
David: 2 Chronicles 8:14
Elijah: 1 Kings 17:17
and Elisha: 2 Kings 5:8
I know there were many men of the Bible who were 'men of God', these here were the ones I found and now we add Timothy. An awesome blessing.
To continue though, Paul is reminding him that as a minister to flee from the lure of money. Follow righteousness and Godliness. Have patience through the trails and afflictions. And have meekness to bear up under adversaries.
Paul wants Timothy to Live the gospel, expose the hypocrites, and build up the Church. Timothy, as we are as well, are in a battle to fortify ourselves where our honor, our life, and our soul are at stake. We are striving for the prize God has for us; the crown of eternal life.
I was able to glean that this verse with the word; 'charge' is used as a means for Timothy that he has a duty before the God who created all. To not entangle himself with earthly things. To live for God. For the Christ Jesus, who confessed before Pontius Pilate.
I did some searching on the time line here, since Paul makes reference to Jesus' being before Pontius Pilate. I found that Paul would have been about 24 years old during this time and Timothy around 16. Paul may have been in Jerusalem when Jesus went before Pilate and was crucified. But, as we know, he didn't come to know Jesus till they met on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:1-19)
And Paul makes mention about keeping God's commandment. Making God the center of our life's. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 
And to keep this commandment till His return. Which only God knows of. It's in His perfect timing.

A Charge to the Rich
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Just like we read in 1Timothy 6:9-10, Paul is again emphasizing the folly of obtaining riches. Now he goes further into his lesson about not being high-minded. The wealth they have adds nothing to your inner worth. These riches can be fleeting. I think of those who bye lottery tickets. If someone wins, are they very happy? If they are, for how long? And how long does the wealth last? Most are usually broke within a couple years. Only God can give us the comforts of life needed. And the things we need. He gives to us liberally. Man divides it badly. 
He asks that the rich who have the wealth, for them to do good with it. To help out their brothers who are in need. And willing to communicate. Or as one of my Bibles says; sociable. Bring them together into fellowship.
And we should be storing up treasure in heaven. Nothing we have is going with us. Gold is already used to paved the streets. It says in Matthew 6:19-21
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Final Guidance
1 Timothy 6:20-21

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babbling, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. 

Paul gave wrote this book to Timothy, and placed it with his trust. He was to be mindful of the secular words being said. The vain chatter of others. And oppositions of false science. In other words; The theory of Evolution. Paul says; stay away from them!
Some of the ministers out there were misusing the knowledge. Were in fact in opposition of the gospel. Paul asks that grace be with him. And ends with an Amen. Just like a prayer. A great way to end.

In conclusion, In this first book of Timothy, Paul shepherds Timothy as a young pastor. The authority that was given to him by God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ. Speaking also of the seriousness of the ministry. Allowing no fables, or genealogies to be heeded to. To have a pure heart, and faith. Praying for all men, even those in authority. We were taught the mysteries of Godliness. That He was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, preached to the gentiles, and was received up in glory. Paul also gives Timothy instruction for church leadership. And he teaches Timothy about relationships within the church. And the helping of widows. And lastly, we learned that slaves needed to show honor and respect to whatever master they had. Riches and wealth are fleeting, and that we should be fighting the good fight of faith, and looking towards eternal life.

Monday, February 9, 2015

A Matter of the Heart

Philippians 3

This was my morning to move on in Paul's letter to the Body of Christ at Philippi.  I'd love to have you join me with this lesson to us all.

Chapter Three of Philippians speaks to the joy we have in believing -- the joy we have in pressing toward our goal in Christ -- the joy we have in remembering that our citizenship is not here ... it is really in heaven. 

It's all about the matters of our hearts.

I.                   A Matter of the Heart
Philippians 3:1-3 
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
·         To rejoice in the Lord
·         To press on
·         To be transformed  

In other words, giving our all for Christ

But a body of believers even when full of faith and growing spiritually can at the same time find itself in need of warning and caution to be ready to stand strong against disturbances that come and could bring problems in, around, through, and with the church.

Back in the Book of Acts, Luke speaks to this when he says THEY WERE OF US BUT WERE NOT A PART OF US…THEY WENT OUT FROM US

How can that be? Isn't everyone who goes to church there to seek unity, spiritual growth, humility and the truth of Jesus Christ without being confused or causing confusion for others?
As a flourishing church, the body in Paul's day had to also face those in leadership who were still hung up on keeping the Law -- Judaizers. These folks were neglecting the grace God had for them (that free gift we have all been given in Christ). 
The Bible tells us He came to set the captives free
John 8:33 John 8:36
Why was it unwise and even harmful to try to live as Christians while at the same time want to keep the law rather than live in that freedom the Lord provided? What was so wrong with the practice? 
Mixing observances of the law with the doctrine of Christ and with the standards of the Christian church caused dire confusion during Paul's day. This would be the same for the average Christian today while at the same time the Bible tells us GOD is Not the Author of Confusion.
Ps 71:1 tells us "Let me never be brought to confusion"
Titus 3:5  1 Corinthians 14:33
That confusion can bring doubt in what it means to have that personal relationship with Jesus and living a victorious life. It also can make a believer come to think he or she is made righteous by works over faith. But the Bible in Titus tells us: It's not by works of righteous which WE have done but according to HIS MERCY HE saves us
Paul warns often in his letters of why the unwise tend to follow the traditions of man, which takes away our freedom…which makes that freedom secondary. It causes people to focus more on their traditions rather than focusing on God and what He did for us, through Jesus Christ on the cross. It focuses on what a person can DO for God or to make them think it is bringing them closer to God, rather than what He does for them.
What He does for you and for me?
What can we do for God? NOTHING. He's already done it right there on the cross,
The services we do, though they can be good, are our natural responses of our love for the Lord. Living in our Faith is our spiritual outgrowth that he gives us --that mercy he bestows on us that we don’t deserve.
Why would Paul say to the Philippian Christians and us "To write the same things to m , to you indeed is not grievous but for you it is safe." Here, once again, Paul is reminding the believer how important it is to know these things, he must write to us about, and for him to share them is for our good.
Paul wants to share with us what is SAFE for our walks. It should not be grievous to hear these warnings about dogs or about evil workers. They are out there. He just wants us to be ready and not to be brought to confusion by them.  
Sin and its effects are going to be out there throughout our lives, and we are going to have to face them, but it's important to note, though we don't need to praise and thank Him for those,  we do need to have the right attitude regardless of these things. And we can have thanks and praise in our hearts when we receive forgiveness and no longer look back.
It's in verse 2 that Paul emphasizes his warnings to the Philippians about the false teachers. Though the Jews had called the Gentiles "dogs" We see it turned around here when Paul instead shows us that it was the Judaizers who were the dogs because it is defined here that dogs were a class of people who lived in rigid ceremonialism -- as non-conformists, as evil workers, and those who lived their salvation by doing works rather than by faith, and who tried to convince those who were living by grace to do the same. (Those who were dogs had a way of literally dicing up the word of God)
 So how are we different?
In verse 3 Paul is just bringing out that to be of the circumcision was a spiritual matter of the heart. To rejoice in the Lord and have no confidence in the flesh, in other words.
Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:27, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Ephesians 2:9, 2 Timothy 1:9
II.                Outward Show Inward Grace
Philippians 3:4-8
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

Paul is showing here that, while he could have easily boasted on his own upbringing because of his birthright, being a native Israelite, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, being taught by Gamiliel, a doctor and scholar, he counted all these things as meaningless when compared to his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he didn’t.

To Paul, those things simply didn’t matter. In fact he goes so far as to call them nothing more than dung.  "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ"

He's teaching the Philippian believers the same thing, and for us -- we need to consider this too. Paul's glory was not in the things of the flesh (according to the law) but the things that are of the Spirit. He made the choice to trust in Christ, not his heritage  (Which we can also read about in Acts 26:5). 

Paul shows of the great difference in trusting in the Lord over trusting in the flesh. Not proving his Christianity by outward performance which means little to God but by inward Grace which is God evident in him.

"But none of these things move me, neither ount I my life dear unto myself,
so that I might finish my course with joy and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God. " Acts 20:24

III.             Knowing Him 
Philippians 3:9-14
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Paul again reiterates what he was trying to say earlier that the righteousness of Christ is so much better for all of us than the righteousness we earn by keeping the law but we also need to understand that as we come to know Him better each day and as we continue to grow in Him, we also will be sharing not only in the power of Christ but also in the sufferings that take place in everyone's lives. 

The Bible tells us it will rain on the just and the unjust. A trial is real, but we can get through these as we look to him.

None of us have attained. None of us are perfect. But just as it was shared in a Bible Study I recently attended, it is so important for us to press on toward that mark -- press on to that high calling God has for us -- press on in the race we are in to attain the prize that awaits us.  To press also means persecution will come. We just need to press through it.

Are we willing as Christians to forget the past and not allow ourselves to rest in our past works, but instead push ourselves ahead? Are we willing to give our Christian walks everything we've got?

What are some things that hinder you in your spiritual walk?

"Many people are hindered in their progress because they are always looking at the past, either hung up by their failures, or bitter against those who have hurt them, or resting on the laurels of their past successes."
Chuck Smith:

How important it is to look forward to what God has planned for our futures rather than how we might have messed up in our past. Yesterday is gone. He grabbed hold of you and me for a purpose.

IV.            Keeping Our Conversation Heavenward
Philippians 3:15-21
Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)  For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:  Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

Paul was able to set himself before the believers as one who could be followed because of his example.
What are some ways they could follow him. And we can follow him today? It's so important to bring these to recall often. 

·        Be likeminded with other believers
·         Stay faithful  -- set our hearts and minds toward heaven
·         Stay faithful to keep our focus on Jesus Christ
·         Make Christ our all
·         Press toward the mark
·         Bear with one another

Once again in the section of Chapter three, Paul warns of the enemies of the cross for whom we must watch. That it is the design of those enemies of the cross to draw the believer away.Their end for us is for destruction. Their God is their belly (they mind earthly things not heavenly things). Their glory is in themselves and is to their own shame.

It would be a dangerous thing for us to even desire to follow them. Just as Matthew Henry writes in part: while we are on earth…keep our conversation about heavenly things…the world is not our home.

It is better for us to have fellowship with those who have fellowship with Christ. Verse 20 explains why. Because we look for our SAVIOR who is from heaven; we keep our eyes on Him. We know He is coming for us. We know He could come at any time.

And I say Lord please come quickly.

Though yes, this chapter is full of warnings to us all as believers it also speaks to 
·         The Joy we can have when we stay faithful to keep pressing toward our Goal in Christ --
·         The Joy we have in remembering that our citizenship really is in heaven
·         The Joy that He is transforming us each day into the person he wants us to be.  (1 John 3:2)
His exhortations to us? Follow His example - Beware of enemies of the cross - Be heavenly citizens and look for God's return.

Paul was sold out to Christ. He was serious about pressing on to reach his goal. He was in a position to be able to encourage us to follow in his footsteps as we follow Christ.

  1. Are we too sold out to Christ?
  2. Are we too serious about pressing on to reach that goal?
  3. Would we also like to be in a position to be able to encourage our friends and loved ones to follow in our footsteps as we follow Christ?