Sunday, September 28, 2008

Being Properly Equipped! – 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Being Properly Equipped! – 2 Timothy 3:10-17
By Lee Hemen
September 28, 2008 AM

I learned from my father-in-law that having the proper tool to do a job is important. It can make all the difference in a job well done or one that is only half finished. There are those in our day who actually think that only doing a job part way is good enough. “At least you tried,” is their reasoning. But folks, only trying does not get the job done and it does not get it done right. How many of us would say to a surgeon, who was supposed to do a by-pass on our heart, but decided not to finish, “At least you tried”? You not only need the proper tools, you also need to finish what you started!

Timothy was an example to others in his church. He was to finish what he started. Paul intimately knew this to be true in his own life and expected it from others. This is why Paul had had problems with John Mark early on in his own ministry (Acts 15:37-40), and John Mark needed to mature in this area! Later, after Mark had matured, Paul readily accepted him back and writes to Timothy, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.” (2 Timothy 4:11) Paul understood what it meant to be properly equipped as a Christian and his advice to Timothy will help us as believers. Let’s discover the importance of being properly equipped…

READ: 2 Timothy 3:10-17

We have all heard or seen the pithy saying, “Do not do as I say, do as I do!” However, far too many believe instead: “Do not do as I do, do what I say!” Why? Because, sadly, too many folks realize that they are not the best examples in life to follow! Paul never had that problem. He knew whom he believed in and he knew what it meant for his life. Paul had no delusions about his life in the Lord. No Christian should. He wrote, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ!” (1 Corinthians 11:1) And, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you!” (Philippians 3:17) Being properly equipped for Paul meant…

I. Following those who are godly examples! (vv. 10-11)

1. A godly life is better caught than taught! Paul confidently wrote Timothy, “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” (2 Timothy 3:10-11) Paul’s life was an open book for anyone to see. Timothy saw and heard about Paul’s life lived in the Lord. Paul did not mind that he knew. He did not mind because he knew who his life was patterned after and who he lived for! This is why he confidently wrote Timothy, “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13) Remember, Paul told other believers bluntly to “Join with others in following my example… live according to the pattern we gave you!” (Philippians 3:17) He would boldly relate that Christians were to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind!” (Romans 12:2) It was only then that the believer would be “able to test and approve what God's will is!” (Romans 12:3) In contrast to the false teachers who wanted people to adhere to their ungodly teaching, Paul was content that anyone look at his life to judge whether or not his teaching was true to Christ! His “way of life, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, [and] sufferings,” were all laid bare for anyone to look at and judge. Paul was a godly example for Timothy to follow. Today’s Christian needs to find those who are worthy to learn from. Being properly equipped means following those who are godly examples!

EXAMPLE: It is amazing how one ungodly story can ruin a person’s life. This is true for George Washington, our Nation’s first President. There has been a persistent and unworthy tale told that while Washington was a “deist,” (meaning he believed in God) he was not a Christian. This was and is simply not true. In fact, his daughter spent the rest of her adult life trying to right the wrong done her father. Where did this lie originate? It was published by a writer in the 1800s in a biography of Washington. The writer had not liked Washington’s faith and sought to tarnish this great man’s reputation. Washington could not refute it because he had already died. Washington’s daughter brought together men and women who had personally known her father to testify to the fact that Washington was indeed a strong Christian. She related how he daily prayed and read the Bible. How horrible that people incorrectly learn a lie and believe it instead! Washington was not a deist, he was a firm believer in Jesus! Being properly equipped means following those who are godly examples!

You may wonder, “How do we know for sure who is a godly example or not?” The “proof is in the pudding.” It is not so much what a man can purchase in life that matters as much as what he produces in life that does. Here is what I mean: All people’s lives leave a legacy of sorts. Someone once quipped, “We all leave footprints in the sand, the question is, will we be a big heal, or a great soul.” What is your life producing for future generations? Paul’s produced 13 letters in the New Testament, dozens of churches, hundreds of salvations, and literally millions of people who placed their faith and trust in Christ because of his life! For Paul being properly equipped means…

II. Understanding what living a godly life produces! (vv. 12-13)

1. It is not as important what you gain in life as what you are willing to give in life! Paul bluntly tells Timothy, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted!” (2 Timothy 3:12) Can you imagine an emergent church telling people, “If you follow Jesus, you will be a target!” (I wonder if some churches would be willing to paint a big red bull’s eye on anyone who came through their doors instead of handing out lattes?) It was important for Timothy, as for all Christians, to realize that persecution awaits everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ! Why? Jesus related, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19) And just as godly people are persecuted, “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived!” Some churches have so focused on the “everything is beautiful” aspect of faith that they have forgotten to teach the spiritually unsuspecting that as soon as you believe in Jesus, you become an enemy of the world. How horrible that some churches try to be as much like the world as possible so as not to “offend” the ungodly that crawl through their doors. An ungodly life produces ungodliness, and a godly life will produce godliness. This is why Paul tells Timothy that “evil men… will go from bad to worse!” He wanted Timothy to be properly equipped as a Christian and understand what a godly life produces!

EXAMPLE: Reciprocity is a spiritual concept found throughout the Bible. One reaps what one sows in life. If you live an ungodly life, your children will often follow your example. The same holds true for a spiritual life. Interestingly, “When asked to choose between a church that teaches the traditions and background of their faith or a church that teaches how their faith should influence everyday decisions and lifestyle, most teenagers preferred the latter (39% versus 16%). In fact it was discovered that “Eleven percent of 12 to 14-year-old youth belonging to families that are heavily involved in some form of religious activity during the week (such as attending church, praying or reading scriptures together)… are significantly more likely than other youth whose families do not engage in religious activities throughout the week to: 1) Have stronger relationships with both parents, 2) To participate in family activities, and 3) Are less likely to not run away from home.” College youth revealed that 69 percent of students with two highly religious parents reported a strong personal faith themselves, compared to only 39 percent of students with only one devout parent.” (youthandreligion.org) Paul would say that being equipped properly means understanding what living a godly life produces!

Being true to one’s convictions is often held in high regard, unless it concerns spirituality. For many in our world they believe that one should have an “open mind” as far as spiritual things are concerned. Easy believe-ism is often the mantra for our day and age. Whatever one wants to believe is fine as long as it does not have any “Christian” overtones. This is held true for many politicians who love to quote the Bible for their own political proclivity out of context. It seems as if for a moment of self-gratification people are often willing to suspend their core beliefs. Either the Word of God is held firm in the life of a believer or it is not. Paul wrote Timothy that being properly equipped means…

III. Being faithful to the Word of God! (vv. 14-17)

1. Those who say they “know” God, should also know His Word! Notice that Paul quite frankly reminds Timothy of several important things in these last verses: To “continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of” because Timothy knows “those from whom [he had] learned it” from! They were his own family! It was from Timothy’s “grandmother Lois” and his “mother Eunice” (2 Timothy 1:5) that he had “from infancy… known the holy Scriptures!” Paul knew that it is the Word of God alone, that was “able to make [Timothy] wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The same is true for us as well! God’s Word makes us “wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus!” Jesus is the embodiment of the Word of God. It tells His story from beginning to end. The whole panorama of biblical history is about Jesus. This is why Paul could honestly say that “All Scripture is God-breathed.” It came from God and was about God. But more than that, the Word of God “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” It is within the pages of Scripture we discover what life is about, how to live our lives, and how we can be God’s children! As His children we find within its context our training, our encouragement, our discipline, and our ability to walk with God. It is more than just owning a Bible, you have to know the Bible, and make it known to others around you “so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Paul wrote Timothy that being properly equipped means being faithful to the Word of God.

EXAMPLE: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is fond of quoting a particular passage of Scripture. The quote, however, does not appear in the Bible and is “fictional,” according to biblical scholars. In her April 22, 2008 Earth Day news release, Pelosi said, “The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, ‘To minister to the needs of God’s creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.’ On this Earth Day, and every day, let us pledge to our children, and our children’s children, that they will have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature.” As nice and grandiose as that sounds it is not a biblical quote. Cybercast News Service repeatedly queried the speaker’s office for two days to determine where the alleged Bible quote is found. No response. Professor Mariottini, of Old Testament studies at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, related that the passage does not exist and is “fictional.” “It is not in the Bible,” Mariottini said. “There is nothing that even approximates that.” The same could go for the idea of “liberation theology” or the idea that God “loves everyone just as they are.” While these sound like biblical ideals, they are simply not sound biblical teaching. This is why Paul wrote Timothy that being properly equipped means being faithful to the Word of God.

Conclusion:

Being properly equipped means following those who are godly examples, understanding what living the Christian life produces, and being faithful to the Word of God!
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This article is copyrighted © 2008 by Lee Hemen and if you desire to use it, print it, or copy it you must do so in its entirety.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Living Godly Lives In Ungodly Times! – 2 Timothy 3:1-9

Living Godly Lives In Ungodly Times! – 2 Timothy 3:1-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 21, 2008 AM

People can be caught so easily in Satan’s snares and then become part of his evil will in the world. In Kenosha, WS two boys, ages 14 and 15, are being held for murdering a women for her Xbox. They were caught by a 51 year old woman in the act of robbing her home when they killed her and made off with the Xbox, jewelry, cell phone and her purse that police later recovered at the home of the boys involved. Then there is the case of a 33 year-old Green Bay, WS mother who faces felony identity theft charges for stealing her 15 year-old daughter’s identity to attend a local high school and join the cheerleading squad. Wow! What ungodly times we live in, right?

Timothy, like all Christians are, was to “gently instruct” people caught up in these kinds of sinful deceptions so that they would repent of their duplicity and sin and “come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” Paul wanted Timothy to live a godly life in a time when everyone else was living an ungodly lifestyle. Sound familiar? It should. Interestingly, Paul was talking about Christians and not unbelievers! How do we as believers live Godly lives in ungodly times? We can find out by understanding what Paul wrote Timothy.

READ: 2 Timothy 3:1-9

On February 26, 1993, a powerful bomb exploded in the underground parking garage of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing six people and injuring more than a thousand. It sparked an aggressive investigation with many arrests. But few law enforcement authorities recognized it as part of an international terrorist plot. When the Trade Center towers were destroyed by terrorists in 2001, police commissioner Raymond Kelly looked back on the first attack and said, “It should have been a wake-up call for America.” Looking at Paul’s day and what is occurring now should be a wake-up call for Christians. Paul teaches us that in order to live Godly lives in an ungodly world…

I. Christians need to be aware of the kinds of evil they are surrounded by! (vv. 1-5)

1. We are in the “Last Days! People forget that the “Last Days” began when Jesus was resurrected and ascended! In Paul’s previous letter to Timothy he had warned “that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1) It was to be expected because there would be those who are convinced of Christ, but who are not truly converted. Paul warned Timothy that “There will be terrible times in the last days.” In fact these terrible times would be populated by the normal ungodliness of the world where the “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power.” Does Paul’s day and age sound like today? You bet it does! Why? Sin has not changed! The way of evil has not changed! We may have more modern ways of doing evil, but evil is still the same. Sin exists and the believer, like Timothy, is to “Have nothing to do with” the evil that surrounds us! Some erroneously think that evil will get worse, but evil is evil. The ways of doing evil can get more inventive or we can find out about it more quickly, but evil in of itself remains pretty much evil. Jesus would remind His followers that “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:26) Jesus knew that evil remains pretty much constant and Paul knew that Christians need to be aware of the kinds of evil they are surrounded by.

EXAMPLE: If you know the tactics of your enemy, you have a better chance of defeating him or staying out of his reach. It is for this reason that Peter would remind us to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) This is why law enforcement constantly reminds people to be aware of their surroundings. The AGM-45 Shrike missile was first deployed during the Vietnam War. It honed in on the enemy’s radar. It was named after a little bird that falconers used. When birds of prey were allowed to fly they often flew too high for their masters to see them, so these men used caged shrikes to keep track of their falcons. The Shrike is constantly aware of where its enemy is. The little bird has excellent eyesight and would twist its head to keep the falcon in view. Christians desperately need an alert perception similar to that of the Shrike to detect evil. John would write, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1) Christians need to be aware of the kinds of evil they are surrounded by!

I have often wondered why Christians would flirt with ungodliness. I honestly believe it is because many believers have lost their sensitivity to ungodly influences around them! We live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by scantily-clad men and women. Where drinking alcohol is seen as relaxation and fun. We live in the ungodly notion that what we personally do is no one else’s business but our own. Yet, our cumulative societal behavior has influenced and degraded generations. It is time for Christians to live holy lives. But how can we with all the pressure we are face to “conform” to the ways of the world? Paul would tell Timothy that in order to live Godly lives in an ungodly world…

II. Christians need to be aware of the ungodly people they are influenced by! (vv. 6-9)

1. Christians are to have nothing to do with evil people! An evil person is anyone who denies a godly lifestyle by their attitude or actions. What kind of people are “evil”? Well, Paul would say “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:6-7) These “kinds” of evil people are those who scam you or try to beguile you into their deviant lifestyle. They love to get you to drink, do drugs, or have premarital sex in order to justify their own way of living. And after you feel guilty, “loaded down with sin,” you are easily “swayed by all kinds of evil desires.” These kinds of people see themselves as intelligent, open-minded, and free thinkers. They are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.” Why? To do so they would have to admit that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.” They would therefore be acknowledging their own sinful condition. The latest spiritual fad is more their style. Like “Jannes and Jambres” which is a reference to a Jewish legend about two of Pharaoh’s corrupt magicians who competed against Moses and lost. In today’s world we find superstars, friends, or acquaintances who play a similar role in our lives. They are people “of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.” Earlier, Paul wrote Timothy that these are “men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.” (1 Timothy 6:5) Or as a means of some kind of “personal gain” for themselves! If God rejects them, so should we. Christians need to be aware of the ungodly people they are influenced by!

EXAMPLE: Haddon Robinson wrote that “It's often difficult to understand why people give in to certain temptations. From our vantage point, their problem should be easy to handle. We may even wonder how Adam and Eve could have been so foolish as to have thrown aside all that God had given them in the morning of their existence. We would not have fallen so easily--or would we? Part of the problem is that the tempter wears a disguise when he slithers into our lives. As Mephistopheles, one of the fallen angels, says in the drama Faust, ‘People do not know the devil is there even when he has them by the throat.’” When I got caught, as a youngster, returning pop bottles to the same store that I had pilfered them from my excuse was, “It seemed like a great idea at the time!” As silly as that sounds, it is often the reasoning we use to join in another’s sin when we know we should not. Paul told Timothy that in order to live godly lives in an ungodly world, Christians need to be aware of the ungodly people they are influenced by.

Conclusion:

Christians need to be aware of the kinds of evil they are surrounded by and Christians need to be aware of the ungodly people they are influenced by.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Living In God’s House! – 2 Timothy 2:20-26

Living In God’s House! – 2 Timothy 2:20-26
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 14, 2008 AM

Let me ask you a question: “Are you a hunk of firewood or a clay flower pot, a piece of silverware or a golden broach?” Perhaps if I asked you if you were a lowly mop or a fine china teapot, what would you say? This question pertains not only to how we perceive ourselves in God’s church, but how we behave in it as well. We all know that in our homes there are items that are set out for everyone to see and use and others that we keep behind closed doors. Few would place the toilet in the living room! Yet, the lowly mop that is kept in the cleaning cupboard is far more important in keeping the house clean than say the fine teapot that sits in a place of honor behind glass doors.

A clean house reflects an attitude of the heart just as bringing out the fine china when we want to celebrate. This is exactly what Paul was writing to Timothy about. There were those who viewed their Christianity with less than noble intentions, yet they were all part of living in God’s house. Paul teaches us how Christians are to live in the house of the Lord. Let’s find out what he says…

READ: 2 Timothy 2:20-26

The china teapot is brought out for special occasions so that those you serve can see how important the event is. While the mop may sit in the closet dirty from making sure the floors shine just as fine as a china teapot. A clean house reflects an attitude of the heart just as bringing out the fine china does. Paul wrote Timothy that…

I. Living in God’s house means we will keep it clean inside and out! (vv. 20-22)

1. God’s house is His body in the world! And, there are many articles, people, not only of gold and silver, but also those more earthy of wood and clay. In fact, Paul would write “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ… . Now you [Christians] are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27) God uses some individuals for noble purposes and some for ignoble purposes, but all are used of God in His marvelous house the church. If we desire to be used for more “noble” purposes, then we have to realize whose house we belong to and live in. Few remember that the house of God is not built for them. The house of God is designed and used by and for Him alone. For His good pleasure is why Christians, His noble and ignoble, people serve. We find Paul including this interesting comment to Timothy: “Flee the evil desires of youth.” Why? I believe Timothy had some inclinations that all young people do that were not necessarily beneficial or spiritual in nature. And remember Paul wanted Timothy to be one of those vessels in God’s house that was used for noble holy purposes! He wanted Timothy to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” Why? Paul knew that: “If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” What is clean and set apart for special use can easily get contaminated and be rendered unusable through contact with the corrupt. Paul was concerned that Timothy, his choicest disciple, keep himself in a usable condition for the Lord. Living in God’s house means we will keep it clean inside and out!

EXAMPLE: One day, educator and comedian Sam Levinson was standing with a group of men who seemed to tower above him. Someone asked, “Sam, don't you feel strange surrounded by so many tall people?” He replied, “Yes, I do. I feel like a dime among a lot of pennies!” This reminded me that we who are Christians may not be very "tall" in the eyes of some, and in fact the world often looks down on us. But in God's sight we are of great worth! The apostle Paul wrote, "Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise" (1 Corinthians 1:26-27). He reminded Timothy, “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21) Are you clean inside and out?

One executive, who said his 5-year-old daughter was the most important part of his life, realized that he usually went to work before she got up in the morning and often returned home after she was in bed at night. So to spend time with her, he took her to work with him one Saturday. After looking around his office, she asked, "Daddy, is this where you live?" He may have acknowledged that his daughter was important, but his behavior revealed what he truly valued. Paul wrote Timothy that…

II. Living in God’s house means we will be faithful in our behavior! (vv. 23-26)

1. Our behavior shows the world what we truly believe! Perhaps Timothy had to have that “last” word? My brother did and it got him into more trouble with my father than I could ever recount to you. Not that I myself was negligent in expressing my own opinion. (I know you may find this difficult to believe!) I could slice and dice up fellow students with a deftness that only rivaled the parries and thrusts of a master swordsman. And this is the problem with much of Christianity: We are more interested in our being right, than allowing God to do His miraculous work in the life of an individual. Paul told Timothy, “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments.” Why? Because he knew thay always “produce quarrels.” Remember, “the Lord knows those who are His.” In fact, He is more than capable of handling any situation if we would only allow Him to. Too many Christians think that when Paul told Timothy to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth,” that this is a free license to kill all opponents with “the sword of the Lord,” the Word of God! Arguing about stupid things never shows you as “one approved” that “correctly handles the word of truth.” Truth, God’s truth, the gospel of Jesus is founded and based on God’s love for the whole world. It expresses itself in the love of Christ who gave Himself up for our sins. This is why Paul would add that “the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful” in their conduct or arguing. In fact, “Those who oppose” us we “must gently instruct.” Why? “In the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will!” Christians watch their conduct to win the lost! Living in God’s house means we will be faithful in our behavior!

EXAMPLE: The late Dr. M. R. DeHaan wrote, “I was cruising along on the highway at about 60 miles an hour when up ahead I saw two sparrows in a fierce battle at the side of the road. With feathers flying, they attacked each other with great fury. As my car approached, they became locked in combat. Together they rose in the air and fluttered blindly into the path of the car. With a violent thud they smashed against the windshield, leaving a smear of blood and feathers. They were so preoccupied with their battle that they were blind to more serious dangers. Their quarrel cost them their lives. How often we act like those two sparrows! We fail to realize that in a fight no one ever wins. Both are losers.” Perhaps this is why Paul bluntly tells Timothy: “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” Living in God’s house means we will be faithful in our behavior!

Conclusion:
I am speaking as much to myself as I am to you but we all must work at showing the love of God before we can explain the Word of God to others. How else will they understand the truth of the gospel? Today do not get caught up in stupid arguments but keep things in perspective and speak the word of truth in love. Living in God’s house means we will keep it clean and we will be faithful in our behavior!
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of 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, September 07, 2008

Be Approved of God! - 2 Timothy 2:14b-19

Be Approved of God! - 2 Timothy 2:14b-19
By Pastor Lee Hemen
September 7, 2008 AM

Every human being wants to be loved and accepted. We value what others think of us so much so that we know being accepted or rejected as a child can influence our entire life. Many of us can relate a time when we were rejected by our peer group and recount the hurt that this social dismissal caused. But how do we feel about being approved of God? Does it give us the same feelings of loss or of anxiety if we realized that God may not be happy with our lives? What if we discovered that God did not approve of us?

Paul wrote his pastor friend Timothy to do “your best to present yourself to God as one approved.” Timothy, like all Christians should, needed to be able to handle the “Word of truth” correctly without hesitation so that God would surely approve of Timothy’s life lived for His kingdom. The questions remains for us therefore, “Are you approved of God?” Let’s discover what Paul writes to Timothy that can encourage us to be approved of God.

READ: 2 Timothy 2:14b-19

How one handles themselves while under pressure says a lot about their character. Recently, this is just as true for Vice Presidential candidates as it is for those who claim Jesus as their Savior and Lord. Words are powerful and they affect our lives daily. The laws we live by, the ideas we hold to, the education we seek, or the faith we adhere to are all founded and based on words. In fact, words mean so much that those who are branded as liars are held with contempt in our culture. Paul writes Timothy that in order to be approved of God…

I. The Christian needs to be a good words-man for the Lord (vv. 14b, 16-18)!

1. Words mean things! These past two weeks we have heard how words compete for our attention with the two political conventions. Paul tells Timothy that he is to be very careful with the words he uses. In fact, Paul related that it was to be Timothy’s regular practice to “Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” Why? Words mean things, and if you constantly bicker over nuances then it becomes spiritually defeating. This is in fact why James, Jesus’ brother, said: “Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no, or you will be condemned.” Some people never learn and get into trouble just by opening up their mouths! Paul is blunt and writes, “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” Evidently, there were those who were trying to undermine Paul’s, and thereby the gospel, teaching. Allowing such ungodly talk had literally, “given their words a feeding place like gangrene.” WOW! Paul had earlier (1 Timothy 1:20) wrote that he had handed these foul-mouthed men “over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.” How was it that they blasphemed God? They had “wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” Jesus warned, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned." (Matthew 12:36-37) True Christians would never deny the resurrection. These men were not approved of God. The Christian needs to be a good words-man for the Lord!

EXAMPLE: “That’s not fair!” was my brother’s response to my Dad’s punishment. He had to stay home and work in the yard. It was not about “fairness” it was about character. My brother had promised my father that he would do his assigned work before going anywhere. Dad told him, “Your word is only as good as you are.” I have found that people will judge you by your words and whether or not you actually believe what you say you do and if you follow through on what you say. The same is true for politicians who say one thing, but their lives say another, or spiritually with those who claim they are “Christian,” but deny that Jesus was actually raised from the dead: Christian Science, Unitarians, and such. If we say we are “Christian,” then what we believe about Christ means something. Words mean things. The Christian needs to be a good words-man for the Lord!

How one completes the job they are assigned, says a lot about their personal conduct as well. This is true for those who want to become President as well as it is for those who want to be seen as devout in their faith. Your past and those you see as mentors in life will influence how you follow through today. In fact, I have learned that what you do often speaks louder than what you say. This is why those who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord are held to a higher standard. They are measured not only by their lives but by the life of the One who they say they follow. This is why Paul writes Timothy that in order to be approved of God…

II. The Christian needs to be a good workman for the Lord (vv. 15, 19)!

1. A life lived for the Lord will shine! Paul wrote to Timothy that he was to do his “best to present [himself] to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth!” Handling the word of truth, the gospel, is more than just speaking it or just knowing it. You “handle” it by understanding it and living it. It takes time and practice. It is not learned overnight or by some simplified method. It is a daily thing. Peter would write that Christians should “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12) Jesus taught that His followers were to be “the salt of the earth,” and the “light of the world.” However, if they did not shine like it or if they lost their “saltiness,” they were no longer good for anything, except to be “thrown out and trampled by men!” (Matthew 5:13-14) Can you imagine God’s own truth being trampled on because His followers did not live like the salt and light they were supposed to be? That is the idea Jesus was trying to teach here. It happens far too often. We learn that “God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.’” Paul’s words carry a warning also. If you confess Christ, you had better live like it or face the consequences when He returns. Jesus prayed to God the Father, “Now they know that everything You have given me comes from You. For I gave them the words You gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they believed that You sent me.” (John 17:7-8) Those who “know” Jesus are known of God and are approved by Him. Jesus also related that “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (Matthew 12:35) The Christian needs to be a good workman for the Lord!

EXAMPLE: Notice that the words of Paul “correctly handling” literally mean to “cut straight.” A workman knew how to “cut straight” stone or wood because in those days both were expensive and there could be no waste. One of the few things I was taught in High School Shop Class many years ago was how to cut a straight line with a handsaw. It is not an easy thing to do and there are few who still have the ability to do it well with all of the new power saws and such. I remember that my first few attempts were miserable, especially when I tried to cut a straight line with the grain of the wood. Believe it or not, it is tougher than cutting against the grain to get a perfectly straight line. It takes patience, persistence, and staying power to do the job right. But isn’t that true for any job the Christian is to do in life? James related, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18) Paul said to Timothy, “present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” The Christian needs to be a good workman for the Lord.

Conclusion:
How do you handle the word of God and how do you live out the word of God? Both speak to the fact of your Christian faith. Paul would say that to be approved of God the Christian needs to be a good words-man for the Lord and the Christian needs to be a good workman for the Lord. Are you?
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NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of 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.