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letthewordreveal

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us….

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February 2017

A Long Obedience In The Same Direction. 1 Timothy 4

Stepping up in life to new challenges and endeavours can be daunting, even overwhelming.

A new job, a new place to live, a new study environment are life changing events, and should never be approached lightly, as these kind of decisions can shape your life, and even your eternity.

Timothy had been left in Ephesus by Paul and faced a big task, to make sure the faith and doctrine that Paul had founded the church on remained unchanged.( 1 Timothy 1:3-5).There are many challenges that faced Timothy because of this role, not the least was a perception about his age (4:12).

The encouragement Paul gives here instructs any who are seeking to be a good servant of Christ ( 4:6) and what true knowledge really is, and the importance of living godly when life is still ahead of you.

1 – Guard the Deposit v 1-5, 6:20-21, 2 Timothy 1:13-14

Paul makes it clear to Timothy, there are devilish teachings which he will have to guard himself, and those in his charge, against.

It’s not always the outright, blatant denial of the person, deity, and work of Jesus Christ that is the leading point of these devilish false teachers. It’s usually something far more subtle. Something that deceives, tricks, that sounds right, looks right, even feels right, but ends up being purely demonic. It’s falsely called “knowledge”. (6:20).

Paul gives the example of legalism. It’s teaching that adds works to salvation that is the greatest trap for every believer.

With convincing arguments, the teachers that Paul was warning of, had taken the command for purity to extents far beyond what God ever intended, making marriage a forbidden thing. They had called good things made by God evil things, demanding abstinence from things that Jesus had declared clean, and could be made holy by closer examination of God’s Word and prayerful consideration ( 4:5).

Alarm bells should ring every time we hear a call for abstinence that cannot be found in scripture.

These false things, Paul, says, must be avoided, and the true things must be taught, reiterated, and firmly guarded.

The devil loves it when people get distracted by false teachings. Anything that takes one’s eyes off of Jesus, whether it’s morality or vice, pleases the devil. He can use guilt just as much as he can use a seared conscience to his ends. He will always appeal to the flesh. Don’t become proud in your knowledge and don’t be tricked into following foolishness.
2 – Train Yourself For Godliness v. 6-10

The answer to this that Paul gives Timothy is give himself more and more over to training in what he has already received.

The words of the faith and the good doctrine (4:6b) are the antidote to lies and deception. He will remain a faithful servant of Jesus, so long as his focus stays on Jesus (4:6).

What are these ‘silly myths’ that Timothy is being warned against? (4:7)

Paul is building from what he has already stated in 1:4. Things that promote speculation, conspiracies rather than truth are things that distract us from training ourselves in the faith, or exercising our gifts.

We become poor stewards when we use our time, our resources, or other people’s time and resources to endlessly talk about things that have absolutely no bearing on eternity or the advancing of the Gospel.

Paul says that we should have nothing to do with these things, but rather, focus our energy, our time, our hearts, minds, and strength on Godliness.

The example he gives of physical exercise (v8a) is often quoted by unfit people out of context, but he proves a valid point, don’t get caught up in foolishness. The only thing that gets a workout when we exercise our flesh is our flesh. Get into arguments on social media. Berate everyone you come in contact with because they don’t think the way you do. Find the negative in every sermon, every person, every event, every point. Your flesh will be strong, and your love will be absent, and you will not have a hint of Godliness.

Instead, exercise yourself in Godliness. You are not working in the flesh so you can have notoriety in this life. You are doing what you can, with what you have, so long as God gives you breath, to build a legacy of Godliness that bears fruit for eternity.

Our hope is not found in what we can do to be noticed by others, or in what they say of us. It is found in the Saviour of the world ( 4:10).

Godliness should be the sole ambition of the good servant of Christ. Anything that distracts us from that shows that our hopes and loves are out of order. A hope set on the living God, leads to a life of value, and one that matters for eternity.

3 – Practice The Long Obedience In The Same Direction v. 11-16

This kind of lifestyle is a lifelong process. There are no shortcuts. There is only grace, and a lifelong ambition to become more like Jesus, every single day.

This a difficult thing to accept in our fast paced, instant society where if we have to wait more than five minutes for a takeaway meal, we feel put out. We want instant gratification, instant success.

Church can be the same.We demand instant help, instant inspiration, instant maturity, but true discipleship is none of these. It is a ‘long obedience in the same direction’.

“There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.” – Eugene Peterson

A life of consistency, integrity, maturity is never achieved overnight, and perfection is never achieved in this lifetime.

This commitment to lifelong repentance is something that is best fostered in a community that encourages youthful energy rather than despising anything new or different.

Timothy faced opposition not just because the message he had was the opposite of what many wanted, but because of his age.

Too often, there is awful lot of despising of youth and not enough encouragement of the progress they are making in godliness (4:15b).

Timothy’s lack of life experience should not be an obstacle, Paul points out, because Timothy is setting such an example in so many areas of his life, anyone who dismisses him based on his age, is wrong to do so, and he should press on into the living his life and doing what God has called him to do.

There is a culture of despising of youth in some churches that goes directly against Paul’s explicit commands here. We are far quicker to criticise and even heckle than we are to encourage, come alongside and commit to seeing Christ being formed in another. We are sin hunters far more than we are grace hunters.

1 Timothy 5:1 will point out that I can’t rebuke someone older. But I can encourage them.So,I strongly encourage the older Christians of our churches to not despise the youth.

If you want to influence them, live Godly,humble, and consistent lives that bring honour to God. Don’t seek opportunities to condemn, or be cynical, but seek opportunity to encourage, and above all, let them know you are praying for them.

I have learnt far more from Godly older Christians who show me how to live rather than telling me how to live. Young people never learn to be godly by being despised. They learn Godliness by example. They don’t look for perfection, but they do see faithfulness and they will honour that.

We as a church have mastered the art of criticism. It’s time to start mastering discipleship instead.

All of this is not to say there is not an explicit call to purity of life and doctrine that young people should be exhorted to.

There is this delicate balance of Godliness. We are required to trust fully in God, and rely completely on the work of Jesus for our salvation and sanctification, but we are,nonetheless, called to works. It is a great privilege to have this calling.

There are five key areas that Paul points out that are specific for Timothy in his young adulthood that will negate the condemnation he was facing because of his age. If he can be an example in these, his youth will not be a hinderance to those who which to make it one.

speech

What you say matters. The tongue is powerful. James tells us that in his epistle. It can bring life or death. Are your words offering the Word of Life?

conduct

What you do, matters. We abuse grace when we live for ourselves. In our actions, our lifestyle, who is revealed to be in charge? Us, or Jesus?

love

Who and what you love, and in what order you love them, matters. Love is first and foremost self-sacrificing. Our love must reflect the love of Christ, otherwise it’s only self-serving.

faith

What you believe, matters. People may hear what we believe, but do they see it in action? Our faith is not intellectual only, but reaches to every part of our lives. A legacy of faithfulness is the ultimate fruit of a sure faith.

purity

Your sexuality, your thought life matters. This begins in our hearts.

Restrictions and regulations don’t necessarily lead to purity. Boundaries are vital to ensure intimacy is approached with the right God-honouring attitude, but ultimately, purity is a matter of the heart. If our hearts are not holy, our minds certainly won’t be, and will be on the fast track to sexual, emotional and spiritual ruin. The chance of impurity is greatly removed when we see members of the opposite sex as siblings in the Lord ( 1 Timothy 5:2).

“There is no struggle for purity so intense that Jesus’ grace cannot win the battle.” – Heath Lambert

Paul tells Timothy to immerse himself in these things ( 4:15), to be captivated with pleasing God is an honourable calling, and it is something every believer is called to.
The call of this passage is not to be like Timothy, or even like Paul. The point is that we are called to be good servants of Christ, and we would all do well to heed Paul’s advice.

Don’t be fooled by the traps of works-based salvation or sanctification. Be immersed in the Gospel, and in pleasing God with your life.

Don’t pay attention to those who would seek to distract you, either by foolish arguments and silly myths or by being negative about your chances of success. Focus on your calling, your gift, and do all you do for God’s glory.

Set your hopes, loves, and total focus on Him, and He will bless you with the fruit of faithfulness.

“Looking for the King: The Friend of The True King” – 1 Samuel

Friendships are something we value and treasure. Finding friends can be hard. Being one can be even harder.But lifelong friendships, forged in the fires of mutual suffering, without personal agendas, show the great possibility of peace and joy in this life.

The friendship of David and Jonathan is one that comes out of incredibly unique circumstances. These two men should have been bitter rivals, but instead, they have one of the most intimate and touching relationships recorded in all of Scripture.

1 The Friendship of Jonathan 18:1-5

Jonathan was royalty, but David was a shepherd boy. Jonathan also would’ve been much older than David, but yet their friendship was closer than brotherhood.

That their souls were ‘knit together’ (18:1) and that they made vows regarding their friendship and bond, shows us that these two men loved each other without pretence.

It wasn’t a strategic or coercive alliance.

Jonathan had everything to lose, and David had little to offer, but Jonathan is aware that God’s anointing was on David.

It wasn’t a ‘I’ll be your best friend if you give me all your lollies’ or ‘I’ll be your best friend if you act exactly like I do’ , kind of promise. It was a total commitment to the other for the sake of the other.

His giving over of his robes, armour and weapons (18:4) is an acknowledgement of the fact that he was not going to inherit his father’s throne.David had been anointed, and Jonathan was willing to submit to the will of God, which meant resigning his own rights.

Like Jonathan, we are meant to give over our right to reign in our lives. There can only be one king, and only the King that God has provided will be enough for a life of sure integrity and uncompromising conviction in the face of great hostility.

“This David – Jonathan sort of friendship is a love that sets the other free to be himself or herself – a commitment with no demands. In a culture like ours in which there is widespread avoidance of commitment because they are confining, this story of a love commitment that is freeing is a breath of fresh air. Healthy relationships do not restrict our lives; they expand our lives.” – Eugene Peterson

We look at their friendship and see it as extraordinary. But there is no supernatural power you need in order to have a close friendship with another person. Just complete openness, honesty, and accountability, all of which go both ways.

There is place for bonds of friendship, ties that can’t be broken, not matter what lies ahead in life, a unity of mind, heart and spirit to one single goal.

It’s not just marriage that serves this end. Friendship, when done in a God-honouring way, can be a vital tool to our holiness and sanctification.

You will never achieve any level of satisfactory growth in the Christian life while living isolated from everyone else around you.

In a world that’s more ‘social’ than ever, we are in need of friendships that build another up in Christ, where we can serve others with no other ambition but to see them become who God intends them to be.
2 The Jealousy of Saul 18:6-20:42

When we think of our ‘social’ culture that grounds most connections through media, we are all too aware of the seriousness of being ‘unfriended’, or worse, ‘blocked’.If Saul had a FaceBook, his activity would provide much cause for concern. Singing the praises of his friends and family one day, plotting their death and insulting them with vile language ( 20:30) the next.

It started very soon after Goliath’s defeat (18:6-10), with the songs women sang about the thousands and tens of thousands. ( 18:6-9).

Why all this was happening is clear to us – God was with David, and was no longer with Saul (18:12). David’s successes were due God’s clear blessing on his life.

Jonathan loves David. Michal loves David. The people love David. God clearly loves David. Saul cannot love him, and refuses to accept God’s plan for David, and becomes insanely jealous and fearful of David.

This is something we see all around us in a culture gone mad with self-absorption and pride, but jealousy is not limited to the world. We find it our homes, our churches, ourselves.

“Jealousy is a terrible emotion. Jealousy is the scab you keep picking only to have the wound fester. Jealousy is a hunger you simply cannot satisfy; the more you eat, the emptier you feel, and it forces you to feed it once again. Jealousy is a pain that will not abate; it persists and pounds us until we are pushed to the point of no return. Jealousy is a terrible and harsh master.” – JD Greear and Heath Thomas.

“Envy is mother of malice and gives birth to murder.” – Tim Chester

When we are envious of someone to the extent we long to see them fail we are not only committing murder in our hearts ( Matthew 5:21-22) but we are saying we know better than God. We are convinced that God is not Sovereign and is not concerned with our ultimate good.

Saul thinks he can use Michal’s love for David to his advantage and David’s destruction.(18:20-21)

When we start manipulating others peoples affections and emotions so we can accomplish our own agenda, we have exalted ourselves to a dangerous and destructive position.

Families are divided and relationships destroyed when jealousy and bitterness get a foothold. Destruction follows when selfishness rules hearts.

This whole story shows the important distinction between those who embrace God and His Messiah, and those who reject Him.

Saul, in the end, stands alone. Which is where jealousy, spite, pride, manipulation and selfishness always end. Alone. Separated from God and all the good things that He has in store for those who submit to Him and His plan.

The answer to jealousy is the same as it is for shame, which was another emotion that Saul struggled with. To find your identity in Christ as your Saviour, not in comparing yourself to others or always obsessing over what they say about you.
3 The Interceding Son 19:1 – 20:42

Saul plots several different ways to kill David, and all backfire on him, and only add to David’s renown.

He thinks having him for a son-in-law will give him a further level of control over his life, and sets an outrageous dowry ( 18:25) which David goes above and beyond in (18:27).

Next time,Jonathan intercedes for David, and reasons Saul out of it. ( 19:1-7).

Saul then tried to spear David again, who barely escaped ( 19:10).

He sent assassins, who had some scruples, as they did want to murder a sick man ( 19:11-17) and Michal goes directly against her father by protecting David, and helping him escape again.

History repeats as Saul comes looking for Samuel at Ramah. In chapter 9, Saul first meets Samuel while trying to find his donkeys. He ends up being anointed as king, much to his shock and he reacts with great humility, and as sign of this being of God, Saul prophesies and people marvel, and the Spirit of God comes upon him with power and authority (11:6).

This time he is looking for David and come to Samuel, but here there is great reversal. He is again overcome by the power of God and prophesies, but this time, it humiliates him rather than exalts him (19:22-24).

When anyone goes against the Word of God, there can only be one outcome. Saul had set himself against David, and in doing so, had set himself against what God had declared. If you think you can outmanoeuvre the Will of God, you will end up humiliated and bearing a testimony to His greatness by your smallness.

It doesn’t take long for Saul’s anger towards David to rear it’s ugly head again when David doesn’t show up to the feast and Saul sees through the story Jonathan had made up to defend him for not attending the feast. Jonathan ends up on the end of another failed spear attack, as Saul’s tryouts for StormTrooper continue.

The two friends part in peace. David is the most upset ( 20:41), as he well knows what it has cost Jonathan to save his life.

They again make a vow, not just that will cover their own lives, but also their future generations (20:42). Saul would not be the determining factor to their friendship and bond. They would not be defined by what drives them apart. They would seek peace for one another, even in spite of difficult barriers. What God has declared will be what they cling to. No “BFFs” bracelets were needed.

David makes good on all his promises with Jonathan many years later by caring for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth ( 2 Samuel 9).

4 – The Friend of the King

David acts with integrity in the face of hatred and personal vendetta.

“David’s integrity before God was his strongest weapon during the years of persecution from Saul. You cannot control what people do to you, but you can control what you do with God.” – Warren Wiersbe

Jonathan was faced with a choice. He had to chose between having peace with God’s anointed, or accomodating compromise and evil.

“To side with Jesus will always mean difficult decisions.” – Tim Chester

When we choose to trust the Word of God rather than be fearful of men, we face hard choices.

Saul chose to be spiteful, bitter, angry, self-righteous. He did not need the Word of God, and refused to accept it. He turned on anyone who got in his way.

Jonathan chose to believe the Word of God, and that lead him to form a friendship with David that even death could not break.

To trust in God’s anointed is the call of every human being who has ever lived.

To be interceded for by the Son of the Great King, who is willing to bear the wrath of the father for the sake of saving others, is the great blessing of any who chose to believe on the Son.

If you believe on the Son, you have life.

Jesus was the Son who bore the full righteous wrath, and actually did die, but not for the sins of the father, but for the sins of the whole world, and for the glory of the Father.

He also gave up His crown to gain glory.

Oh, to be a Jonathan, a be a ‘forever friend’ of the true King!

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