Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Church, Part Two – 1 Timothy 5:7

The Church, Part Two – 1 Timothy 5:7
by Pastor Lee Hemen
June 1, 2008 AM

For many in our day and age “church” has become a place where people sit on Sunday mornings, to “worship God.” But how can a person worship the Lord if they are not a believer nor a member? Church is to be more than a place to hear a good “talk”, listen to Christian music, to get away from the kids, to sit back, relax, and to feel, well… you know… kind of “churchy”! Not only it this unbiblical, it is leading many away from what Jesus’ church is supposed be. The church, as defined by Jesus and the New Testament, takes its name from the word "ekklesia." It means an explicit group of individuals that are called out by Him to do a specific task. It is Jesus’ “body,” made up of His people who are called out to do His work and will. It is a sacred and holy thing, His ekklesia.

Jesus taught the importance of His church: “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20) He established its authority in that “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17) And, the importance of church membership in the day to day organization and spiritual unity of the church when He related, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18-19) Jesus established His church, yet far too many ignore its importance and the Biblical command to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing.” (Hebrew 10:25) Paul continues his teaching on the church with Timothy. Let’s find out what he related…

READ: 1 Timothy 5:7

Paul taught that all believers were to be members of a local ekklesia: “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it,” (1 Corinthians 12:27) and, it was Jesus who has given each member specific roles of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastors, and teachers, “to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) How? Here in his letter to Timothy, Paul relates that…

I. The church is to disciple its members!

1. Christians are called out of the world and into the body of Christ! Paul relates to Timothy, “Give the people these instructions, too.” Why? Paul simply wanted Timothy to make sure the church he pastored was being discipled properly in the gospel. He knew that just feeling love for one another wasn’t worth a hill of beans unless you were willing to learn how to love one another. Love, for the believer, is not a feeling. It is being active in your faith. The outcome of loving God wholeheartedly and loving others as yourself. It produces a life that is worthy of being called “Christian.” However this loves is sacrificial in nature. It costs the believer something. It takes discipline. It takes personal training in areas that are unnatural for sinful people to do! Paul would write to the Ephesians, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Ephesians 4:1) In fact Paul knew that the church’s task was that “all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4) They were to watch their “life and doctrine closely” and they were to “persevere in them.” (1 Timothy 4:16) One of the last things Jesus taught His disciples was His marching orders for His church: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19) A disciple of Jesus Christ is to train themselves. The church is to disciple its members.

EXAMPLE: We all hate to be told what to do. I believe that’s why so many dislike going to school because it is such a controlled environment. You have to be there at a certain time, follow a schedule, be graded on what you do, hand in your homework, sit in class, listen, study, take notes, read the textbook, take tests – you know – follow instructions! When I was younger they tried to do school in “new” and unique ways. One was to have classrooms without walls, classes without grades, and the student could pick their own grade! It failed miserably. Why? They found out that you cannot have instruction without structure and a controlled environment. In fact, this is exactly why so many public schools today are failing students. No structure, no discipline, and low expectations for students. Every child is seen as “honored,” with nothing for students to strive for but to feel good about themselves. Simply making someone feel good about themselves does not impart wisdom nor expectations in the life. The same is true for the church. The church is to disciple its members.

Church membership and discipleship are so far removed from today’s church that some become angry at the mere mention of membership. Folks want all the benefits of sitting in a Sunday Service without putting in any of their time, talent, or treasure to make it so. Church is to be more than a free weekend show for spiritual freeloaders. It exists for the work and will of Jesus Christ in the community it exists. It is His body doing His will. Churches can have beautiful buildings, relevant programs, great Sunday Services, and not be the body of Christ as related in Scripture. Paul teaches us that…

II. The church is to strive to be blameless in a sin-fallen world!

1. Christians are called out to be Jesus’ unblemished people! Paul wrote to the Ephesian church that husbands were to “love” their “wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) His emphasis was not just on marriage but on the church. How can I say this? Well, he writes that a man should take care of his wife, “just as Christ does the church.” In fact, he continues by saying, “This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32) Paul knew that the church was to be blameless, “a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” in a sin-fallen world! And, just as husbands should love their wives sacrificially, as Jesus did the church, so too should church members love their church in the same way -- sacrificially! Notice why Paul tells Timothy this is so important: “so that no one may be open to blame!” Jesus said Christians were to be the “light of the world” and the “salt” of the earth. Paul would write the Philippian church, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.” (Philippians 2:14-16) The church is to strive to be blameless in a sin-fallen world!

EXAMPLE: Much of what is done in today’s church should be held up to public scrutiny. More and more the church is becoming like the world and less like Christ. It certainly is “open to blame.” Like a the deranged social order found in the book, “A Brave New World,” which describes a “hedonistic society, deriving pleasure from promiscuous sex and drug use, in the form of soma, a powerful psychotropic rationed by the government,” churches today are churning out sated spiritual patrons but lousy disciples. They hate instruction, theology, and chafe at being told what it means to live their faith. So, we have churches that do a lot of religious things, but do little to make sure they are discipling believers. In fact, few churches know if attendees are believers because anyone can drop in or out, and therefore can hide or leave at anytime and not be bothered. We have developed camouflaged Christians. The word for disciple implies discipline of self into the mold of the Lord Jesus. The disciple is to follow the instruction of their teacher, thus becoming like the teacher in every aspect. The church is to strive to be blameless in a sin-fallen world!

Conclusion:
The church is to disciple its members, and it is to strive to be blameless in a sin-fallen world!
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

What It Means to Be A Good Soldier – Matthew 8:5-13

What It Means to Be A Good Soldier – Matthew 8:5-13
by Pastor Lee Hemen
May 25, 2008 AM

According to the historian Stephen E. Ambrose, General Douglas MacArthur was a good officer and a fine soldier that did not ask his men to do anything he was not willing to do himself. However, he was also known as a prima donna and often referred to himself in the first person. Meanwhile, Dwight Eisenhower was a quiet, confident officer that got things done and was willing to make the tough decisions and stick to them. Sometimes, to the point of irritating those around him. He followed orders and expected others to do the same, including someone like a General Patton or Montgomery where both had to be reigned in from time to time. In April 1951, MacArthur's habitual disregard of his superiors, especially President Truman, got him relieved him of command. When he came back to the United Sates he brazenly addressed Congress and made his famous quote that recalled: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” “And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away — an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty. Good-bye.” He was grandiose to the last. Was he a good soldier?

Here in Matthew’s gospel we read a wonderful depiction of a good solider that is confronted with several different choices. Most centurions commanded a century of 80 men. Ordinary century commanders would be equivalent to modern day army lieutenants or captains. Senior centurions would be equivalent to lieutenant colonels and a Primus Pilus would be considered equivalent of a colonel. They could often be merciless in their training of lowly legionnaires, and were known for dealing out brutal punishments or great rewards. While the Roman army was known for these harsh conditions, it paid off during battle when strict order and discipline could decide the outcome. This often allowed the Legions to succeed in battles where they faced a numerically superior army. But was this man a good soldier? I believe he was. Let’s see why…

READ: Matthew 8:5-13

Soldiers like George Washington and Ulysses S. Grant are remembered for what they accomplished, but few would have cared for them if they had known them just a few short years beforehand. Washington failed in most of his battles and Grant was semi-retired from the Army, vowing never to return, simply wanting to be a farmer. History however had other things in store for both men because when given the opportunity, they understood their place. Interestingly, neither of these great soldiers are as long remembered as this one centurion, whose name we do not even know. Why? Because…

I. A good soldier knows his place in the world!

1. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God! (Romans 3:23) The conqueror had to go to the conquered in order to have his request heard. He would have walked with a swagger that showed all those around him his authority and power over other men. He was tough, fair, and expected others to show him respect. However, we realize as we see him going to Jesus, that this soldier first had to conquer that which many find difficult to subdue, his pride. Here is a military man whose rank and prestige had brought him his place in Roman society. No mere buying of a rank sufficed for service in such an important post as Palestine. While some Roman officers, sons of the wealthy, would buy their places of service in order to gain recognition, you could not do so with a post like this. It was too important to the Imperial court back in Rome. Too much tax money was a stake and the populace was far too fanatic for a Roman’s taste. They wanted men whom they could trust and those who would get the job done. They had to know their place in the world and know who their allegiance belonged to. Here was one who recognized that he was a “man under authority” who did not “deserve to even have [Jesus] come under [his] roof!” Do you understand the significance of his remark? A mighty warrior of Rome had to humble himself before a Jewish itinerant teacher in order for his request to be heard. A good soldier knows his place in the world, do you?
There was a movie made in 1977 called, “A Bridge too Far.” The film tells the story of Operation Market Garden, an only partially successful Allied attempt to break through German lines and seize several bridges in the occupied Netherlands during World War II. The name for the film comes from a comment made by British Lt Gen Frederick Browning, deputy commander of the First Allied Airborne Army, who told Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery before the operation, “I think we may be going a bridge too far.” It was part of Operation Market Garden that failed. However, those under orders followed them heroically. Just like this centurion would have if given his orders. Why? Because…

II. A good soldier follows his superior’s orders!

1. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household! (Acts 16:31) We do not like to be ordered around, do we? Yet soldiers know that in their life’s work this is part and parcel of their world. Giving orders, expecting their orders to be carried out to the letter, and obediently following orders given to them by their superiors. No questions asked, no whining, no deciding to do what you are asked to do whenever you want to – you just do what you are ordered to do! However, instead of an order this soldier makes a request: “Lord, my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” First, he recognized Jesus’ authority: “Lord.” Second, he makes his wishes succinct and simple: “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” No pleading, no excuses, no whining, just a simple statement of the facts in military fashion. Jesus sees something special in this soldier so he immediately and without hesitation responds, “I will go and heal him.” Jesus knew what it took for a good soldier to come to him. His response to Jesus’ willingness literally astonishes Jesus. Can you imagine astonishing the Lord? No one else in all of Scripture astonishes Jesus, but this soldier did! This centurion replies, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” A good soldier follows his superior’s orders, do you?

One of the most famous photographs in history, Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, was taken by Joe Rosenthal at the Battle of Iwo Jima, during the Second World War. The image shows five Marines and one Navy corpsmen raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi. The flag was hoisted on the fifth day of a 35-day battle. The battle was the first American attack on the Japanese Home Islands. Of the 21,000 Japanese soldiers defending Iwo Jima, over 20,000 were killed and only 216 taken prisoner. The Allied forces suffered 27,909 casualties, with 6,825 killed in action. During this 1-month-long battle, 27 U.S. military personnel were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions, 14 of them posthumously. Of the 27 medals awarded, 23 were presented to Marines and four were presented to United States Navy sailors; this is a full 30% of the 82 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines in World War II. Most earned them for bravery and how they took care of their comrades under enemy fire. Why would these men do such a thing? Because…

III. A good soldier watches out for those under him and gives honor to those over him!

1. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep! (John 10:11) Jesus immediately saw in this soldier’s actions a willingness to do what was necessary, including disregarding his own status and rank to make sure that someone under his supervision was taken care of. This should give us pause. How many of us would go out of our way for a fellow co-worker, a classmate, a neighbor, or even a family member we do not truly care about? Yet, here we find a Roman soldier, a hated Roman soldier, an arrogant conqueror asking the conquered for help for a slave. His compassion for his beloved servant speaks volumes of this man’s care for those under his care. Notice this good soldier’s reply: “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” He knew Jesus’ authority: “Just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” His concern was for his slave to be healed, and to show he believed Jesus was capable of meeting his request. He trusted Jesus. This man knew what it meant to have faith in those who had power, in those who were able to do what they said they could do. Jesus had already told His disciples, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.” (John 14:21) Jesus’ commands were simple: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) This good soldier displayed his willingness to follow both commands. A good soldier watches out for those under him and gives honor to those over him!

Jesus understood what it meant to be a good soldier. He knew His place in the world, He followed His Superior’s orders, and He watched out for those under His care and gave honor to His Heavenly Father. This is why Jesus was so astonished at this soldier’s actions and character. This is why He told those near Him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” But He was not through, He said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And you know what? That good soldier’s servant was healed at that very hour! (Matthew 8:10-13)

Conclusion:
A good soldier knows his place in the world! A good soldier follows his superior’s orders! A good soldier watches out for those under him and gives honor to those over him!
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Church, Part One -- 1 Timothy 5:1-6

The Church, Part One -- 1 Timothy 5:1-6
by Pastor Lee Hemen
May 18, 2008 AM

What should the ekklesia, the Body of Christ, His church be doing in the world? Some think that it is to get as many people through its front doors as possible. This seems like a good idea, if you are Wal-Mart, but that is not the New Testament concept of the church. The idea of the local church changed dramatically in the early 1900s in America. It went from small intimate family groups of individuals evangelizing and discipling the lost, to a big box concept of the mass weekend revivals every Sunday morning. The Billy Sunday-Dwight L. Moody concept of Sunday morning worship! However, if we take a biblical look at Scripture, we discover that the Apostles nor Jesus did not teach this! Contrary to some opinions the multiple feeding of the multitudes and Pentecost are not examples for the local ekklesia. What then is the church supposed to be?

We find Paul exhorting Timothy, a new pastor who was kind of timid in his leadership, to get some backbone and confront some ungodly issues in his church at Ephesus. The first were the false teachers, but the rest dealt with how the church was not being the local church it should have been. As we look at Paul’s letter to Timothy, we discover what the church for today should be…

READ: 1 Timothy 5:1-6

Going from instructions about how Timothy was to conduct his personal life and ministry, the choosing of pastors and deacons, Paul then turned to advice on how to relate effectively to individuals who make up various groups in the church. Paul’s overall advice about how to treat various age-groups was that Timothy handle different people as he would corresponding members of his own family. Paul tells Timothy that the Church should…

I. Treat one another as family! (vv. 1-2)

1. A family is relative, but a church family is forever! In order to help him set a good example, Paul gave Timothy a principle, recorded here, that would help him with relationships inside the church. The apostle encouraged Timothy to treat members of the church as he would treat members of his own family. Demonstrating the honor and respect to fellow church members that he showed to members of his own family would help Timothy form good relationships with others in the church. Notice, Paul tells him to not “rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father.” Why? Paul knew that Timothy had a great family relationship. His mother and grandmother had set for him a wonderful example, and I believe his father had as well. Paul uses Timothy’s remembrance and fondness for his own father as an example in how to treat older men in his church. Godly men were to be held in high regard. Timothy was also to “treat younger men as brothers,” just like his own siblings he loved! And Timothy was to care for “older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” Timothy was to be above reproach in his interaction with the opposite sex. He loved and honored his own family, he should give careful attention to the godly men and women of all ages in the church he pastored and treat them as family and with complete wholesomeness. Isn’t this the way an church should be? A family? Paul would teach the Corinthians “As it is, there are many parts, but one body…. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:19, 27) Older and younger Christian men, older and younger Christian women were part of the body of Christ, a family under the leadership of Jesus, but the ministry of Timothy. A church is the called out of Christ, His ekkle?sia, His family doing His work and will in this world. We are to treat one another as family in the body of Christ.

EXAMPLE: You don't have to meet parents face to face to know what kind of parents they are. I just listen to the way their children refer to them. The respect that children have for their parents can be a good indicator of how much respect the parents deserve. But isn’t this true of our families as well? What about your church family? I cannot think of a greater tragedy in life than a parent to lose the respect of their children. I would be humiliated if my daughter were ashamed of me. But nothing makes my heart happier than when she tells someone proudly, "That's my dad!" Shouldn’t this be true of the church we are members of as well? How many of us willingly and proudly tell others, “That’s my church family!” and not simply, “That’s where I go to church.” A good test of whether you are a father who is respected by his children is to ask yourself, “Do I want my son to be what I am, to do what I do, to go where I go?” A good test for a church is to ask itself is, “Would I want my family, my friends, and even strangers to attend and be a part of my church home?” Does your church treat one another as family? Do you treat fellow members in your church as family?

How we treat one another as a church family says a lot about who we are and what we truly believe, doesn’t it? Paul knew this to be true as well and he continues to instruct Timothy in how a church family should treat its members. Paul told Timothy that a church should…

II. Take care of its family members! (vv. 3-6)

1. Church members that are wrapped up in themselves, make small packages! Next, Paul offered instruction on how Timothy must deal with the widows in the congregation. Throughout the Old and New Testaments widows, along with foreigners and orphans, are viewed as special people of God’s mercy. As such they are to be taken under the wing of the congregation. A good family gives “proper recognition to those widows who are really in need.” As early as in Jerusalem where the Grecian Jews “complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food,” (Acts 6:1) the church had established a charitable outreach to widows. Now, about 30 years later, the ministry to widows showed signs of being a major inconvenience to the congregation. It should not have been so! Here is why: Paul related to the Corinthians, “God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.” (1 Corinthians 12:24-25) Paul was therefore eager in this passage to identify those who did not truly need help in order to leave enough for those who did. He encouraged the church as a family to support those whose husbands had died. The children or grandchildren of a widow had the first obligation to care for the widow. Paul stated three reasons why: First, these descendants needed to practice their religion. A second reason for children and grandchildren ministering to widows in their own families is to repay their parents for the care they received growing up! And, a final reason to meet widows’ needs is because such behavior pleases God. The widow who trusted God stood in contrast to the self-indulgent widow. Paul described this kind of widow as physically alive but spiritually dead. Those who do not practice their faith are! A church family, like a regular family, should take care of its members who cannot!

EXAMPLE: Far too many churches in our day and age think that they are ministering to their congregation by providing things for them to do, but this is not the biblical example we find in the pages of God’s Word. The church was never meant to be a social club offering a bored populace safe entertainment. Nor is it supposed to be investing its finances in bait that lures in the unsuspecting world, in order for them to be caught. Certainly the church is supposed to train up fisher folk for going after the lost and dying world, but the use of the church as the lure is not to be. What happens is that there becomes a focus on meeting the needs of the unsaved instead of strengthening those who need it within the church family. Paul will later tell Timothy, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8) this applies well to the church family. A church should take care of its family members.

Conclusion:
Paul teaches us how we as a church are treat one another, and he teaches us how we as a church should take care of our members. Now, let’s make sure we, in our church family, are doing what Paul taught Timothy.
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How Do We Display Godliness? - 1 Timothy 4:1-16

How Do We Display Godliness? - 1 Timothy 4:1-16
by Pastor Lee Hemen
May 11, 2008 AM

I can still hear my mother calling after us, “Boys, stay on the trail!” What? Did she think we would go and wander off and get lost? Please! We lived in the woods, we grew up in the woods, we ate and slept in the woods. We were the wild boys who owned the woods! ARGH! ARGH! ARGH! However, her concern was not so much that we would wander off and get lost, because that could have been a blessing in disguise for her, but rather we would fall, hurt ourselves, or that someone or something would grab us and haul us off and eat us. Then, she would have to clean up the mess or look for us, and she did not want to do either. I am not sure why, but when we were younger my mother was always worried about “wild animals” eating us while on picnics. Sadly, we read in the news today that there are many who wander off the trail and get lost, hurt, or eaten by “wild animals”! Maybe Mom was right after all?

One reason Paul wrote to Timothy was to instruct him about how to deal with folks who had wandered off the trail of truth. The false teachers presented doctrine contrary to the gospel of grace. Paul encouraged Timothy to reject any teaching that would lead to ungodliness. Salvation should produce godliness in a believer’s life and Paul challenges believers to display godliness in their daily lives. His words also remind us that God does not view any sin lightly. He wants Timothy to understand how we display Godliness in our lives in Christ. Let’s discover how this morning…

READ: 1 Timothy 4:1-16

Recently, two toddlers in California were hauled off by coyotes but were rescued by their caregivers before anything horrendous happened. What has occurred is that because of suburban encroachment and absurd environmental protection for some wild animals, it has created a real danger in some areas of our nation. Paul related that there are hungry dangerous advantageous false teachers who constantly want to drag off the unsuspecting believer to their own den of ungodliness. Paul told Timothy in order to display godliness in a believer’s life they must…

I. Reject Ungodly Teachings! (1 Timothy 4:1-5)

1. Never give a lie a foothold! Paul called Timothy’s attention to the fact that the Holy Spirit had prophesied of a time when false teachers would lead some to depart from the faith. Jesus had related that later “many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. (Matthew 24:10-11) The “later times” Paul is referring to here is the time following Jesus’ death until He returns and not the end times as some would have you believe. Paul was dealing with the here and now. These ungodly teachers were the ones who “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons!” Any teaching that promotes any way of salvation other than through Jesus Christ belongs to the doctrines of demons. However, it was human spread! They were “hypocritical liars, whose consciences [had] been seared as with a hot iron!” They did not care who they harmed, only that their ungodly teaching was adhered to. These false teachers (probably Gnostics) emphasized two prohibitions. First, they forbade marriage and secondly a demand for abstinence from certain foods! How could the false teachers prohibit marriage or certain foods that God had created and declared good? Because they were ungodly! Paul wrote that “everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer!” Therefore, Paul teaches that in order to display godliness in our lives, we should reject ungodly teaching.

EXAMPLE: A good mother wants to protect her children. We find this in the animal kingdom as well as with human mothers. It is something God has given every mother who loves her offspring. I remember being on a picnic and a mother bear wandered into camp with her two cubs. We wanted to get a closer look, but my Dad wisely said, “No. Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.” My Dad understood the protection of mothers and their offspring. Timothy was to protect his church as if he were a mother bear protecting her cubs from harm! There were ravenous wolves seeking those whom they could devour with their ungodly teaching. Timothy needed to be aware and protective of God’s children. He did not need to debate them, listen to them, or allow them into the church ever. They were deceptive spirits teaching demonic theology, and these kinds of people still exist today. In order to display godliness, believers are to reject ungodly teaching wherever they find it.

There is an absurd notion that exists within the Christian church today that we should allow anyone an opportunity to voice their opinion of Scripture. This is not only harmful, but unbiblical. False teachers in Ephesus placed their own opinions about marriage and diet ahead of God’s clear declarations in Scripture. Paul denounced these ungodly teachings and practices that threatened the church and encouraged Timothy to lead his congregation to reject such heresy as well. In fact, Paul told Timothy in order to display godliness in a believer’s life they must…

II. Pursue Godliness! (1 Timothy 4:6-10)

1. Wishing for godliness never brought it about! Paul encouraged Timothy to be a good servant of Christ Jesus, who had been “brought up (nourished) in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching (doctrine) that [he had] followed” all along! However, he needed to encourage godliness in response to those who taught false doctrines. Paul again warned Timothy to “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales.” Such myths should not be elevated to the status of religious truth. The term rendered “old wives’ tales” labels such ideas as not worthy of serious attention. False teaching like this is best ignored rather than discussed because it gives it too much credence that it does not deserve. Instead, Timothy was to train Himself “to be godly.” Why? Paul knew that “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” Christians do not just live for the here and now, we live for eternity. Pursuing godliness for Paul was a “trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” It was a way of life for him: “for this we labor and strive!” Paul wanted Timothy to pay attention to this way of life that was the living truth instead of dead myths that held no hope. “Our hope,” Paul firmly believed, was “in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe,” and not in some idiotic false doctrine. The best way to display godliness was to pursue it with all a Christian’s might.

EXAMPLE: My mother hated snakes. She hated them with a passion and probably still does. I will never forget one afternoon while we were hiking down to the Wenatchee River to go swimming, we had to cut across a cow pasture, and my mother nearly stepped on a big old rattle snake. I never thought she could run that fast. All she did was yell back at us, “Get away from that snake! Get away from that snake! Get away from that snake!” as blankets, towels, and our afternoon lunch went flying in all different directions. For my mother, there was no debate as to whether snakes were acceptable or not, she feared and hated them all equally. Of course in knowing this we would often bring home garter snakes for her to inspect, which she threatened us with great bodily harm if we did not remove them from the house immediately. There are no good snakes for my mother. That should be the way it is for the believer and false teaching. Just as fast as my mother ran from the rattle snake the believer should run away from false teaching and toward the Lord and godliness. Paul told Timothy that in order to display godliness in a believer’s life, they needed to pursue it.

No one accidently stumbles into exercise or wakes up fully trained. As an athlete needs consistent self-discipline over time to get into shape, so believers need to practice such spiritual disciplines as prayer and Bible study in order to progress toward spiritual maturity. Paul wanted Timothy to persevere in spiritual discipline in preparation for God’s highest purposes for his life. The godly training that believers need to pursue involves both godly beliefs and behaviors. However, Paul’s pursuit of godliness was not self-centered. He wanted others to experience God as Savior. A Christian who pursues godliness encourages unbelievers to accept Jesus as Savior. How? Paul told Timothy that in order to display godliness in a believer’s life, they needed to…

III. Demonstrate Godliness! (1 Timothy 4:11-16)

1. Often, the gospel is best seen than heard! Paul did, however, instruct Timothy to “command and teach these things.” The use of the word “command” signifies that Timothy should stand authoritatively against the false teaching that was occurring. Timothy possibly had a problem with timidity, and Paul used this opportunity to encourage the young man to stand strong in the face of opposition, and to overcome any inferiority he may have felt because others thought that he was too “young.” He needed to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Notice, it is both outwardly and inwardly! Genuine spirituality impacts the whole person—from the inner heart and spirit to the outward actions. Paul knew that until he came again the best thing Timothy could do was to “devote [himself] to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” The basics. Timothy had the task of teaching Christian doctrine and exhorting the congregation in Ephesus to obey the Word of God rather than just merely to listen to it all the time. And, he was not to neglect the spiritual gift God had given him. Timothy was also to “Be diligent (give careful thought) in these matters.” By giving himself “wholly to them,” then others could see his mature spiritual “progress.” It is good advice that all Christians should “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” by the example you live. It is a demonstration of godly behavior that most affects people around us, not just mere words. Paul told Timothy that in order to display godliness, he had to demonstrate godliness.

EXAMPLE: The one thing you could say about my mother is that she was tenacious. Sometimes, stubborn, obstinate, resolute, and firm as well. But rather than these being necessarily negative characteristics they helped her to remain persistent and resolute as a young woman growing up, literally in the wildernesses of Wyoming and Alaska. Because of these, she instilled in her children much of the same characteristics for better or worse. We are all persistent if not determined in life. A careless life is a wasted life, especially one that is carelessly lived for the Lord. Paul wanted Timothy to be conscientious about his influence. He did not want Timothy to discredit the gospel message with a contradictory life. Paul did not contradict his overall emphasis on salvation by grace through faith in this verse. Timothy could not earn salvation by faithful endurance, but rather his consistency of life and doctrine would give evidence of his salvation and also attract others who needed to be saved. There is nothing worse than a wishy-washy parent whose children have no idea what they want. Paul told Timothy that in order to display godliness, he had to demonstrate godliness.

Conclusion:

Paul told Timothy that…
1. Displaying godliness begins with rejecting ungodly beliefs and deeds. You reject false doctrine.
2. Displaying godliness does not happen easily or automatically but requires consistent self-discipline and constant effort. You pursue it.
3. Displaying godliness in our daily lives is the best and most helpful example we can set forth for others. You demonstrate it.
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Do You Qualify to Serve? - 1 Timothy 3:1-15

Do You Qualify to Serve? - 1 Timothy 3:1-15
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 4, 2008 AM

Has anyone ever said to you, “Do as I say, not as I do!” Perhaps that person did not use these exact words, but their life demonstrated the haughty attitude these words reflect. Leaders who demand standards of behavior that they themselves are unwilling to meet discredit their own leadership. This principle, however, also works in reverse. Many followers have demanded standards of their leaders to which the followers themselves are unwilling to adhere. One purpose of high standards in leadership is so that leaders can help their followers develop strong character as well.

Paul’s letter to Timothy encourages leaders to set a strong, positive example of Christian leadership. It also encourages followers to meet those same standards. Paul was addressing some problems Timothy had allowed to continue when he as a pastor should have handled. Women had been teaching the men about being leaders within the church, when Timothy should have been doing so. After encouraging Timothy to face false teachers, Paul turned to the qualifications for leadership in the church. He first listed qualifications for the pastor and then he listed qualifications for a deacon and his wife. He expected to find these same qualities in church members, who should serve as models for new believers. He was asking the tough question: Do you qualify to serve?

READ: 1 Timothy 3:1-15

Paul in his writing Timothy asks…

I. Do You Qualify to Be a Pastor? (1 Tim. 3:1-7)

1. A pastor is called to be a shepherd, not a CEO! For the second time, Paul introduced a trustworthy saying (See 1:15). The KJV incorrectly uses “bishop” where the NIV accurately uses “overseer,” which is a reference to a local pastor and not a church government where one officer presided over elders in various local churches. This is a second century development! The “noble task” of pastor Paul was referring to had certain qualifications. He related that he “must be above reproach” and it is presented in the present tense. Therefore, a pastor should be “the husband of but one wife,” and the literal translation is “a one-woman man,” holds that Paul demanded a pastor who is married is to remain faithful to his wife! A pastor should also be “temperate,” meaning avoids all forms of excesses. He is therefore “self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” A pastor must also “manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” Why? Paul relates that “If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?” I agree! Because of Timothy’s age and inexperience Paul warned that a pastor “must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” Added to this the pastor “must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap.” The office of pastor requires maturity both spiritually and morally. Satan loves to use a person’s weaknesses to undercut his effectiveness. An effective pastor needs the respect of non-Christians. When a pastor fails to discipline himself or his family, he becomes a disgrace to everyone. Do you qualify to be a pastor?

EXAMPLE: In listing criteria for pastors, Paul included being virtuous and being good family men, maturing in faith, and having good reputations. Too often church members expect these qualifications of their leaders without being willing to live in such a manner themselves. All believers should be the best Christians possible. In our day too many pastors are unapproachable. They see themselves as CEOs of a corporate kingdom rather than shepherds of the flock. A shepherd knows everyone of his sheep, a CEO leaves the management of his company to others who do not care for the individual but only for the “bottom line.” This is why you find so many pastors of larger churches doing and getting away with ungodly behavior. They hold themselves above the fray of the unwashed masses, only coming out into the open to impart words of wisdom once in a while. A pastor who dresses casually to be seen as an everyman, but is inaccessible to his flock is worthless as a shepherd. Same too the pastor who dresses and lives like a king, but refuses to rub elbows with those he is supposed to mentor, is of no use to the kingdom of God. The same is true for the church that does not hold their pastor accountable for his words, actions, and lifestyle. The question Paul asks is drastic in its implications: Do you qualify to be a pastor?

Paul in his letter asks Timothy …

II. Do You Qualify to Be a Deacon? (1 Tim. 3:8-13)

1. A deacon is called to help not hinder! The word deacon literally means “servant.” The qualifications for deacons are “likewise” similar to those for overseers or pastors. Paul stipulated that a deacon should be “worthy of respect.” The NIV inserts “are to be men” but this does not exist in any manuscript but some believe it is implied because of verse 12, however verse 12 is relational in that if the individual is married and does not mean they have to be so. Note that deacons are to be “sincere,” meaning not “double tongued.” They should not be drunks or driven to “dishonest gains.” The best stance for leaders as well as for all Christians is total abstinence not only in alcohol but in gambling or greed. Both impair a person’s spirituality. Paul goes on to write that deacons “must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.” In other words they should know Scripture well, especially the gospel and they should practice it! Those who are considered for deacons should be “tested,” or weighed in the balance of their lives in Jesus. And finally, Paul related one extra step concerning a deacon’s wife, if they are married, “are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” Why? Because these leaders are entrusted servants of the church who should be willing to wait on others first, not seeking any gain for themselves. Also, if the deacon is married and/or has children, he “must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well,” just like a married pastor with a family should! Why is this so important for deacons? Those who fulfill their servant roles faithfully gain two things: first, “an excellent standing” before fellow Christians who understand and appreciate the beauty of humble, selfless, Christlike service; and second, “great assurance (confidence, boldness) in their faith in Christ Jesus!” Do you qualify to be a deacon?

EXAMPLE: Joe Stowell writes, “I remember an older gentleman from one of the churches I pastored. He was the epitome of grace toward others; and he was deeply loved by his wife, his daughters, and his sons-in-law. In fact, his sons-in-law kneeled by his bed as he died. Afterward, one of his daughters wrote me a letter. At the end of the note, she concluded with these powerful words: ‘Our world has lost a righteous man, and in this world, that’s no small thing.’” What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as a believer? The qualities Paul looked for in a deacon should motivate all of us to live deep and fuller lives in Christ. One of the greatest men I ever knew was a deacon in the first church I attended. His life impacted everyone who came in contact with him. Does yours? Do you qualify to be a deacon?

Paul in his writing Timothy asks…

III. Do You Know How to Behave? (1 Tim. 3:14-15)

1. Christians are called to act, not act up! Paul expressed a desire to visit Timothy in Ephesus. The apostle also wrote to encourage Timothy to provide strong pastoral leadership to the Ephesian church which he feared Timothy had not done so. Paul also expressed fear that he might not be able to see Timothy as soon as he hoped. We do not know if Paul ever made this anticipated visit to Ephesus. Paul wrote to instruct the church concerning “how people ought to conduct themselves God’s household.” If he was “delayed,” the importance of his instruction written to Timothy would be vital. Why? Paul saw the church as “God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” As God’s household, it should be acting as such. Therefore the instructions he had given the pastors and deacons in the church applied not only to the leadership but also to the church’s individual members. Timothy, as the shepherd there, needed to get a strong handle on the situation so that it would not get out of hand and bring disgrace to the gospel. Timothy had the task of leading a fledgling church into proper conduct in these areas. The imagery is not that of a building but of a family. The love and respect that characterizes a strong family should characterize the family of God. Paul noted that the church belongs to the living God. The gods worshiped by pagan Ephesians were lifeless and dead. The church, however, belongs to a God who is alive. His people’s behavior should give evidence of that reality! He was literally asking him, “Do you know how to behave?”

EXAMPLE: “Just behave yourselves,” was the warning my mother often gave Ed and me. Of course we would look at her as if she were accusing us of some terrible crime that we would never dare commit let alone think about doing! Us? Misbehave? You have got to be kidding! All to true my mother knew the temperament of little boys left to their own devices. One of the last statements Jesus makes to His disciples, was “You must follow me.” (John 21:22) The context was they were wondering what would happen to John, and Jesus told them to basically “behave.” Paul is relating this to Timothy as well. He was telling Timothy and his church that they ought to know how to conduct themselves in a sin-fallen world. Paul would tell the Corinthian church, “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20) He is telling them to “behave.” Do you know how to behave?

Conclusion:
Pastors should be the best Christians possible—and so should all believers. Deacons and their wives should be the best Christians possible—and so should all believers. The behavior expected of the church’s leadership should be characterized by all the church’s membership. Do you qualify to be a pastor? Do you qualify to be a deacon? Do you know how to behave?
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.