Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Double honour

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. – 1 Timothy 5.17-18

This is kind of hard topic to write about as a pastor because it can seem maybe a little self serving, but it is the word of God and as such it is an important thing for us to remember.

Okay, lets get into this. We all know that we are equal in God’s sight. Pastors and elders and deacons and regular folk are all equally important to God’s work. But God does call some of us to lead and shepherd and teach and provide others with the tools to do God’s works.

Usually the person we are most familiar with is the pastor. Paul uses the phrase ‘especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.’ Pastors are human. They are not perfect. But they are due honour. They ought to be able to pay their bills from their teaching and preaching and pastoral care.

I am so blessed by the pastors I have sat under. They have all helped make me the man I am today. None of them were perfect, but they loved God and they loved me and were faithful to God’s word. Honour is not just making sure they could pay their bills, but they deserve my honour today. For some I honour their memory. For others I honour their lives, but I do choose to honour them.

Don’t forget your pastors. Prayer for them, support them, listen to them, and honour them.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Continue


Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. 1 Timothy 4.13-16

Continue in these things. How often are we told to be stedfast, unmovable, to finish our work, to run the race, to not be weary, to faint not, to not quit, and so on?

Why do we need to hear that so often?

I think it is because the task is not easy. Serving the Lord has its blessings, but it certainly has its challenges. It is easier to give up when things get tough than it is to keep plugging away.

We are not always promised great wins or amazing successes. We are not even promised and easy road. We were never told that the Christian life would be a 100 metre dash. The Christian race is an ultra-triathlon. That’s why the book of Hebrews tells us to ‘run with patience’ the race that is laid out before us.

The one thing that requires out if His workers is that they be faithful to do what He called us to. We are meant to jump off the racetrack because the race gets tough. How many videos have we seen of runners finishing the race no matter what has happened to them? These folks go through some extreme situations just to finish the race. The video attached shows what it mean to finish, That’s the kind of dedication God wants from us as well.

All God wants out is to be faithful and hold on till the end – and he promises that He will be there to carry us through. Finish the course. Keep the faith.

Monday, 13 July 2020

Take heed to yourself

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4.13-16

We need to be careful in all of our service to others and for others that we forget the fact that we must also need to pay close attention to ourselves. We can’t possibly minister to others if we forget our own spiritual needs.

Study, Paul writes, to show yourself approved unto God. Give full attention to reading and exhorting and to doctrine. If my personal walk with God is weak I am useless or worse. If we become shipwreck the cause of Christ is going to be hurt.

I pay heed to my physical needs. I drink when I am thirsty and I eat when I am hungry. I walk everyday. I try to challenge myself mentally every day.

But it is at least an important that I look after myself spiritually. I must pray and read my Bible and meditate on scripture and make sure that I am in a constant process of taking heed to my own spiritual needs or I will be no good to anyone.

This isn’t just for preachers. All of us who want to live for God and be an influence and have a testimony before others must first be sure that we are ‘armoured up’ in the armour of God before we try to go to battle. God told the prophet Jeremiah the prophet to:

Study up
Get up
Speak up

And those are pretty good words for us.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Give yourself

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4.13-16

Paul makes it clear to Timothy that serving God is not something we can do half-heartedly. In the middle of all these instructions about reading and exhorting and teaching and paying attention to his gift he tells Timothy to meditate on all these things and giving himself entirely to them.

There really is no room for half-hearted following in God’s work. We can’t be half way mixed up with the world and half with God’s service. All kind of things want our attention. We are tempted to focus on the news and politics and the economy and sports and business. They all may have their place, but we must give ourselves to God’s work.

As much as I may like some of those things, I can’t give myself over to them. We don’t have to be turned away from God’s purpose for us.

What obsesses me in this life? What drives me? What motivates me? If it is anything but the gospel and my service for God I am on the wrong track.

Paul was speaking to Timothy as a young pastor, but the principle is true or us all.. If we want to have any impact for Christ that motivation ought to be always before. It requires all our effort. If we prioritise God and His righteousness God will take care of the rest.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Pay attention to yourself

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4.13-16

Paul also tells Timothy to not neglect the spiritual gift that God has given him. In his next letter Paul will tell Timothy to ‘stir up’ the gift that is in him. That stirring is the word word to stir up the embers of a fire so that it is a roaring flam again. The phrase ‘do not neglect’ also could speak of the importance of keeping the fire going.

Fires eventually burn out. No matter how big the fire when the fuel runs out the fire goes out. I know that well. When I was in military training many, many years ago we were out for training at a rural military base in Pennsylvania. The building were stayed in were WW2 training barracks and heat and how water depended on keeping a fire going all night. The fire had to be tended and stoked and fuel added. We took turns in half hour shifts and had to march around and check on the fire. I did my short about 1.00 and was responsible to wake the next guy. I did, and was certain he was, but after I left he climbed back on his cot. So, the best morning because the fire was not attended to it went out and nobody had any hot water and there was no heat. And who was to blame – me of course, I had not made sure the next guy was awake to tend the fire. It was neglected and it went out.

That’s wha happens to our Christian service if we don’t tend to it.

We can never take our Christian life for granted. We can’t neglect it. We must keep the fire alive.

Friday, 10 July 2020

Reading and exhorting and teaching

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. – 1 Timothy 4.13-16

Paul tells Timothy that until he can get to him Timothy has a task to do. While he is waiting he needs to not be just lazing about and taking it easy. He is to dedicate himself to reading, to to exhorting others, and to doctrine.

Reading of course is not just a matter of casual reading for enjoyment, though there is nothing wrong with that. When Paul says reading he is speaking of reading the copies of Paul’s letters that are circulating around that part of the world. The gospels were not yet complete, but copies were already being spread. The word of God was not yet complete, but the canon was beginning to take shape.

Timothy was to dedicate himself to the reading of scriptures, then he was to use that ready to encourage believers and to teach them doctrine.

That’s a pretty good reason why we have teachers and preachers today. We read and study and we use our reading and studying to encourage and teach others. This pattern has carried on from them till now. We are to do the same thing Timothy was charged to do. All of us, not just pastors and teachers, are to read the word of God, se what we learn to encourage each other, and share to teachings that we learn.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Example of purity

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. – 1 Timothy 4.12

Purity is a virtue that has always given us trouble. From the very earliest records, in the word of God and other places, impurity has always been recorded and always caused problems. When ancient cities and civilisation are uncovered archaeologist always find statues and carving and hieroglyphs and tilework and paintings that show man at his lustful worse so it is surely nothing new.

But now impurity is literally all around us. When we go online or look on Facebook or turn on the television or go out into public we are battered with impure images, and the problem is that no one, even many Christians, seem to be the least bit bothered by it. Things that we may have been shocked by just a few years ago are now kind of overlooked and winked at.

It is hard to maintain purity in a world like this – but that doesn’t make it any less important and any less a way to be an example to the world.  In fact it may be more important than ever. Those who love morally pure lives are going to stand out in a crowd. We may be made fun at or mocked or laughed at, especially when young, but thing about the impact when people see that we our faith keeps us pure no matter what else.

Purity is not something we can choose on the spot and at the moment. It must be part of our character, kind of like when when he determined before hand that he would not be defiled with the king’s delights.

An example of purity is going to make a real difference in our world. Are we willing to make that difference?