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Soldier4Christ
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« on: July 15, 2006, 02:21:40 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 1:1, 2; Acts 16:1-5

But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel. - Philippians 2:22

The first seven chapters of Proverbs are believed to have been written by King David for his son Solomon. David was about to hand over the kingdom to his son, and he wanted to take the opportunity to share wise advice and counsel, exhorting his son to pursue wisdom and to live righteously.

This month we will study the books of 1 and 2 Timothy, letters written by the apostle Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy. In a similar way to Proverbs 1-7, Paul wants to pass along wise advice, helping to prepare Timothy for the ministry that he had been given.

It's likely that Timothy became a believer when Paul first passed through Timothy's hometown of Lystra on his first missionary journey (cf. Acts. 14:8-20), meaning that Paul was Timothy's spiritual father since he introduced Timothy to Christ. Although Timothy and his mother were believers, his father was not (Acts 16:1). Paul was a Christian mentor, entrusting ministry responsibilities to Timothy and viewing him as the successor to his own legacy of ministry. Paul and Timothy exemplified a father-son relationship through Christ that still provides a model for believers today.

Understanding this relationship provides the lens through which we can read and understand Paul's letter. First Timothy provides important and urgent instruction for the church, but it isn't a formal church document. Rather, it's a personal letter meant to cheer, instruct, and strengthen a young pastor-missionary. Although Timothy was certainly a man held in high esteem both by Paul and the churches in which they had ministered together (Acts 16:2-3), he was altogether “ordinary,” just as we are. Young and timid, he needed Paul's encouragement (cf. 2 Tim. 1:7). Raised by an unbelieving father, he didn't have the perfect Christian heritage we might expect. We learn how God often delights to work powerfully through the most unlikely candidates.
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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2006, 02:23:36 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 1:3-7
Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer. - 1 Timothy 1:3

Someone has reinterpreted lines from employment ads. When the ad reads, “Join our fast-paced company,” it really means, “We won't have the time to train you.” If the ad boasts of a casual work atmosphere, perhaps it's because they don't pay enough for their employees to wear something nicer! And if the ad announces you need problem-solving skills, prepare to join some chaos!

Verse three from today's reading outlines Timothy's job description, but Paul doesn't use deceptive language. Paul left Timothy in Ephesus for an important mission. The problems in Ephesus were urgent and required a great deal of authority. Paul made the chain of command clear, invoking his apostolic authority at the beginning of the letter (v. 1) and conferring authority to Timothy over the elders of the Ephesian church. Paul doesn't give Timothy the job of suggesting solutions or collaborating towards agreement. Rather, Timothy had the task of “command[ing] certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (v. 3).

This first half of chapter one reveals the heart of the crisis in Ephesus. Certain men, presumably elders of the church, were teaching false doctrines. The content of their teaching had been both misleading and false (vv. 4, 6), with drastic results. They were undermining the essence of true Christian faith, which is first love for God and then love for others (v. 5, cf. Matt. 22:34-40). Because of this false teaching and the controversies it had produced, the members of the church spent more time arguing than loving God and loving each other.

The fact that they had lost sight of the goal of faith, especially of love for God, is proved by their abandonment of “a good conscience and a sincere faith” (v. 5). Without a proper love for God, we abandon our desire to obey Him. Our conscience quickly suffers from our betrayal. And without love for God, we no longer protect the revelation of God. We idolize our interpretations about God rather than pursue the truth of God.
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2006, 02:25:48 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 1:8-17

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. - 1 Timothy 1:15

“I would have been less surprised if little green men had walked in,” said Patrick Quinn, an editor for The Associated Press, of Farris Hassan's knock at his hotel door on Christmas Day, 2005, in Baghdad. The sixteen-year-old had traveled from Fort Lauderdale to Baghdad without his parents' knowledge or permission, all for a journalism assignment. Whether bravely or foolishly, he had traveled alone halfway across the world to a danger zone.

The Ephesian church also took a journey from the safety of sound doctrine to the minefields of false teaching. The journey hadn't taken long. About four years earlier Paul bid the Ephesian elders farewell (Acts 20:13-38) and warned them of the false teaching that would soon emerge within the church. Now his prophetic warnings were realized, and Timothy had to bring the church back to sound doctrine (v. 10).

It's helpful to see the contrast between sound doctrine and false teaching. The false teaching emphasized myths and genealogies, a focus on non-essential biblical ideas to the exclusion of important doctrines. The false teachers also improperly used the law, teaching that observance of the law was a means of righteousness.

To highlight these errors, Paul reminded Timothy about the essentials of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Salvation is not achieved by following the law. The law's proper use is for condemning us and pointing us to our need for a Savior. Paul admitted his own incalculable need for this grace. He was the sorriest of sinners. He desperately needed God's forgiveness for what seemed unforgivable: blasphemy and persecution. There was no hope of erasing his record, only hope for the patience and mercy of God through Christ Jesus (v. 16).

All preaching and teaching, all sound doctrine builds on this foundation of grace. It reminds us of our sin, our need for God, and His forgiveness made available through Christ Jesus.
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2006, 02:26:57 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 1:18-20

Fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. - 1 Timothy 1:18-19


Two movies, A Perfect Storm and Titanic, tell of two very different historic shipwrecks. A Perfect Storm recounts the loss of a small fishing boat and its six-member crew; Titanic dramatizes the loss of the “unsinkable” ocean liner and the lives of 1,500 people. The crew of the Andrea Gail knew when they set sail from Gloucester, Massachusetts, in October that they could encounter unpredictable weather and potential storms. They knew there could be danger, and they took the risk. The crew of the Titanic sailed with confidence and feared nothing—until they hit the iceberg, and it was too late.

Paul wrote about another kind of shipwreck—the shipwreck of our faith, a prospect much more frightening than the fates of the Titanic and the Andrea Gail (v. 19). Two Ephesian leaders had already been shipwrecked (v. 20). Paul gives the reasons for their spiritual demise and encourages Timothy to avoid their pitfalls.

These men abandoned two essential things that preserve our lifelong commitment to Christ: “faith and a good conscience” (v. 19). Faith is the sound doctrine to which Paul referred earlier in the chapter (v. 10). In this context, faith refers to the essentials of our Christian beliefs, doctrines such as salvation by grace through Christ Jesus. Later in chapter three, we'll see Paul flesh out even more the content of this faith (cf. 3:16), but already Paul has emphasized the crucial importance of faith, or right belief (1:4, 5, 14). What we believe really matters.

Alongside right belief is right behavior, or the actions that spring from a “good conscience.” Through the Holy Spirit, our conscience sounds the alarm when we're wandering from God and His commands (1:6). Our right actions should flow from our right beliefs; these two elements work together in our lives.

That's why Timothy is encouraged to keep fighting the good fight of the faith while holding onto both right belief and right behavior. We still face this very real battle even today.
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2006, 02:28:01 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

God our Savior . . . wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. - 1 Timothy 2:3-4


Keith Green's song, “Make My Life a Prayer to You” could easily have been inspired by our passage today from 1 Timothy. Both call us to prayer and to godly living: “Make my life a prayer to you / I wanna do what you want me to / No empty words and no white lies / No token prayers, no compromise.”

Keith Green's song focuses on proclaiming the gospel in a credible way, and in our text today Paul talks about prayer and godly living as actions that we can take to spread the news about Jesus.

Our God is God the Savior (v. 3). Verse four reveals that God wants to save men and women. By nature, He is compassionate and rich in mercy. He wants to forgive and reconcile people to Himself. And not only does He want to save but He has made a way for salvation. It's one thing to want something done and quite another to get something done. Our God has done both—desired our salvation and achieved our salvation. Imagine if He wanted our salvation but couldn't make it happen. We would hardly serve Him as the great, sovereign God that He is, holding together the universe by His word (cf. Heb. 1:3). And if He had the power to save us but chose not to do so, we would think Him terribly cruel and unfair. Thankfully, the God we worship is both all loving and all powerful.

Because of God's heart of compassion, our hearts should be equally tender to those who don't yet believe. Paul gave himself completely to the task of evangelism (see 1 Cor. 9). We're instructed here to do two things to further the message of salvation. First, we can pray (v. 1). Then, we can live holy lives, lives that bring credibility to the beauty and truth of this message and the name of Christ (v. 2)
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2006, 02:29:02 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 2:8-15

I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. - Ephesians 4:16


Judith Martin has been writing Miss Manners for over twenty-five years. She answers questions of all sorts, from those of simple table etiquette to more complex questions of social graces. “You can deny all you want that there is etiquette, and a lot of people do in everyday life,” Miss Manners explains. “But if you behave in a way that offends the people you're trying to deal with, they will stop dealing with you.”

Etiquette is a word that describes social propriety. This word propriety appears twice in our text today (vv. 9, 15), and its meaning is richer than simple manners. It appears only one other time in the New Testament (cf. Acts 26:25) where it is translated “reasonable.” “What I am saying is true and reasonable,” Paul insists when Agrippa mocks his testimony as the words of a crazy man. “Propriety” refers to reasonable and appropriate actions.

In today's passage, Paul sets forth guidelines for a life governed by Christian propriety. These actions are our reasonable response to the grace we have in Christ. For the men, propriety means peace (v. Cool. As a reasonable response to the peace they have with God because of Christ, they must make peace with one another.

For the women, propriety includes modesty in dress and submission. Propriety in dress doesn't necessarily forbid women to wear gold and pearls but emphasizes that their focus and energies should spent on inner beauty (cf. 1 Peter 3:3-4). Propriety also means understanding proper roles in the family and church. This does not mean that women are relegated only to the kitchens and nurseries of the church. Paul obviously expects that women will want to learn and should continue learning (v. 11). However, men, not women, are given responsibility for the authority of the church and family (cf. Eph. 5:23). By submitting to these reasonable restraints in dress and decorum, women continue in the high calling of “faith, love and holiness” (v. 15).

Today's passage is one of the most controversial biblical texts, and it has certainly been abused by some as an excuse to mistreat women. Note that Paul does not exclude women from pastoral roles because they lack the intellect or leadership savvy. He bases his argument on the order of creation (v. 13). The argument is not cultural or psychological but inherently biblical. And as we seek to understand this text today, may our approach parallel Paul's in that we allow the Bible to speak for itself and by itself.
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2006, 02:31:52 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 3:1-13

Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus. - 1 Timothy 3:13


During President Bill Clinton's impeachment hearings, some people questioned the fairness of judging public officials for their “weekend” behavior. Could they not fulfill the duties of their public office despite their private moral failures?

As Christians we know that the conduct and character—whether public or private—cannot be separated. God sees and knows all, and He's as concerned with our attitudes as He is with our actions. The list of qualifications for overseers and deacons reveals this. It includes both the public and private dimensions of life. That's why the standard for a leader's conduct is set high. It must be evident that Jesus Christ has taken hold of his life from the inside out if he is to be selected for this ministry.

Tomorrow we'll look more in depth at the actual specifications for overseers and deacons, most of which are the same, a few of which are different. Today, however, we'll consider some of the implications for leadership that we see in this passage: examination, responsibility, accountability, and reward.

The first three elements should sober anyone who would aspire to this noble task. The first, examination, means that his life and family should be scrutinized (v. 10). The reason for this is not for the purpose of fault-finding but for the purpose of understanding whether someone fulfills the requirements of the position. Secondly, leadership in the church is an enormous responsibility. Leading a family is challenging; leading a church requires that much more wisdom and grace from God (v. 5).

Third, leaders are accountable to a scriptural standard of behavior. Not only must they meet these requirements to become a leader, they must also continue to live uprightly. The good news is that the task is well worth it. The fourth point reminds us that the reward will be great for those who lead well in the church (v. 13).



If you are a leader in the church, reflect on this passage in prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to examine your life and ministry. If you are not in a position of church leadership, spend time praying for your pastor and others who lead your church. Pray especially for their families, as they are included here as a vital part of God's blessing and responsibility for a pastor. Pray, too, that those serving faithfully will experience God's rich rewards.
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2006, 02:32:36 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 3:1-13

My way of life in Christ Jesus . . . agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. - 1 Corinthians 4:17


“Do as I say, not as I do,” is one of the worst kinds of parenting. Children left with no clear example to follow don't know what to do or who to be! The angry retort of a child infuriated by his parents' hypocrisy is: “Practice what you preach!”

The example of leaders is powerful in the church, whether for good or for bad. When leaders make bad choices, churches are deeply wounded by their hypocrisy, sometimes even causing people to doubt the gospel. But when leaders make good choices and lead exemplary lives, this inspires all those watching. That's why the issue of personal conduct is the root of many of these qualifications for overseers and deacons. Surprisingly, this list in 1 Timothy has little to say about what leaders should believe. But it has much to say about how they should live. While it's often easy to assert what we believe, it's much harder to prove it by our actions.

The code of conduct here for elders and deacons is like a series of concentric circles. All of the areas overlap, but they begin at the very center of a man's life: his character. What kind of control does he have over his body and mind? Is he given to addictions? Is he about momentary pleasures and impulses, or sober-minded service to Christ?

The next circle out is the arena of the family. Is he loyal to his wife? Is he raising his children according to biblical principles? Or are things out of control in his home?

After family responsibilities come ministry responsibilities. Elders are required to exercise more spiritual authority and responsibility than deacons; their responsibilities include hospitality, teaching, and oversight of the church's congregation. Deacons, whose name is from the word meaning “servant,” gladly give themselves to the practical matters of church life.

The final circle of qualification is the most public: reputation. Are they known to be trustworthy and respectable?



Whether you're a man or woman, leader in the church or not, the four areas of character, family, ministry, and reputation provide a helpful start for prayerful self-examination. Are you living differently in private than in public? Are you living lovingly and in harmony with your family? How are you serving Christ with the gifts and opportunities that you have? Last, does your reputation in the neighborhood and workplace reflect the reality of a Christlike life?
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2006, 02:33:22 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 3:14-16

God has chosen to make known . . . the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. - Colossians 1:27


Steven Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, researched over 200 years of “success” literature to find common principles for personal success and fulfillment. What he immediately noticed was the “character ethic,” the principle that he says emphasizes who we are matters most in what we do.

Personal change does not happen solely as the result of the integration of good habits into one's life. While important, habits cannot make us into the person we want to be. Today's passage gives us the real “secret” for godliness.

Godly conduct is rooted completely in our identity in Christ. This passage reveals the primary purpose for Paul's letter to Timothy, that “you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household” (v. 15). There is an imperative for personal holiness in the church.

We are called to godliness because we belong to the family, or household, of God. We are the church of the living God, which emphasizes the personal and active presence of God in our lives. We don't serve mute idols. We don't serve an impersonal force. We serve a God who speaks to us and who listens to us. And we are a people who represent the truth. We represent steadfast, eternal realities that do not shift with cultural tides. Our calling is to represent the God we serve to a world that prefers not to acknowledge Him.

We are pressured on every side to forsake this high calling, and we will fail in it if we do not understand “the mystery of godliness.” We cannot depend upon ourselves, our habits, our energies, and our abilities to get the job done. The secret of the Christian life is about our union with Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit within us. The mystery entails what Christ has done and who He is (v. 16). And that also is what matters most. By allowing Him to live His life through us, we have our ultimate “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).



If we want to be completely united with Christ, we need to confess and repent from deliberate sin. When we persist in deliberate sin, the Bible says that we “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30). Thankfully, our confession and repentance will be met with forgiveness (1 John 1:9). As the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin, He also guides us to the truth of forgiveness through the work of Jesus. As He works in our lives, we can expect nothing less than change as dramatic as resurrection (cf. Rom. 8:11).
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2006, 02:34:03 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 4:1-10

We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe. - 1 Timothy 4:10



Some rules have changed on many Christian college campuses over the past few decades. There was a time when few Christian colleges permitted students to watch movies, play cards, or leave campus in the evening. Most enforced a stricter dress code. Now many colleges have relaxed these policies, and some lament a creeping moral laxity among Christians. Others celebrate the move away from what they call legalism.

Christians struggle to define the “gray” areas of Christian conduct. We easily commit errors of either permitting too much or too little. Today we read about one of those extremes, the tragic consequences of legalism in the church.

Chapter four begins with a reference to “later times,” but Paul obviously believes these problems have begun in the Ephesian church. False teachers have told believers to avoid marriage and certain foods in order to grow spiritually (v. 3). And that's usually the formula of legalism: restrictions of external behavior without regard for the sins of the heart.

The effects were devastating. When we are tempted to think that legalism is a minor error, we should be warned that it's one of Satan's greatest strategies in the church. The teachers had become desensitized to sin. Those who followed their teaching had and would soon “abandon the faith” (v. 1). Legalism keeps us from many of God's blessings that He intended us to receive with thanksgiving (v. 4). And it fails to ensure greater holiness!

Timothy received instructions from Paul to avoid these errors and keep his hope in Jesus. By Christ and in Christ, we are saved and sanctified. This is the message of Scripture where we find the sum of all “the truths of the faith” (v. 6). We must stick with the message of the Bible, avoiding formulas or rules and restrictions as a method to get us closer to God, instead embracing a living faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.



Paul told Timothy to “train yourself to be godly” (v. 7). Getting in shape physically requires motivation, a plan, and discipline. So, too, our spiritual fitness! Paul gives us the motivation in verse 8: training for godliness has rewards for earth and heaven! Now for the plan. Write out what kind of spiritual “exercise” you would like to do. You might include things like systematic Bible reading, prayer, Scripture memory, worship, or service. Now get an accountability partner to ask you regularly if you're getting in shape!
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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2006, 02:35:27 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 4:11-16

We who teach will be judged more strictly. - James 3:1


Knute Rockne, head coach of the Notre Dame football team from 1917 to 1931, once said, “One player practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” He understood that integrity on the playing field demands a certain behavior, not just nice-sounding words.

In our passage today we read Paul's admonition to Timothy about integrity in ministry, exhorting him to “watch your life and your doctrine closely” (v. 16). The Ephesian elders who had loved and respected Paul (see Acts 20:17-38) seemed skeptical of young Timothy and unreceptive of the message he had to bring to the church. That's why Paul instructed Timothy to not only preach the Word but to live it. A godly life can be a more persuasive tool in ministry than even the most powerful sermon.

In order to fulfill his call to the ministry, Timothy needed to keep in mind four aspects of effective leadership. The first, as we've mentioned, is the importance of example. Timothy would gain credibility for his teaching to the extent that he practiced what he preached. As Kent Hughes says in his commentary on 1 Timothy, “Godly character creates moral authority.” Second, Timothy was called to remain faithful to Scripture, which was to serve as the content for all his preaching and teaching (v. 13). Unlike the false teachers who had strayed from faithful instruction found in God's Word, Timothy was to speak God's Word to God's people. Third, Timothy had to use his spiritual gift (v. 14). When he needed reminding that he could do the job to which he had been called, he needed only to think back to the time when the elders laid their hands on him.

Receiving a gift isn't enough—it needed to be exercised and nourished, not neglected. That's why Paul's final thoughts challenge Timothy to work hard in his ministry. “Be diligent,” “give yourself wholly,” “watch,” and “persevere” were all words to remind Timothy that ministry doesn't happen simply because one is gifted, but rather because one is committed!



It's not just preachers who need to watch their “life and doctrine.” Parents need to set an example of godly character before their children. Teachers should extend the respect they demand from their students. Employers have to model conscientiousness and integrity for their employees. Also, young people need to consider the example they set before their friends. No matter what your age or life circumstance, your integrity matters to God and others!
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2006, 02:36:52 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. - Proverbs 12:18

TODAY IN THE WORD

It has often been said that 10 percent of communication is verbal (actual content) and the other 90 percent of communication is nonverbal (tone and body language). Learning to communicate effectively means learning not only how to phrase a message but also how to communicate it nonverbally in one's tone, inflection, posture, and facial expressions.

Timothy had a difficult message to communicate to the Ephesian church. He was young and timid, but he had been commissioned by Paul to exercise authority over those older than him, the elder-teachers of the church. We saw in Paul's instructions in yesterday's reading, that Timothy had to begin to lead by example. But example alone can't get the job done of “command[ing] certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1:3). A confrontation was brewing, and Timothy needed to know what to say and how to say it.

We should note that today's verses don't indicate what Timothy should say as much as how he should say it. First, Timothy should “not rebuke an older man harshly.” Several Greek words can be used for rebuke in the New Testament, many of them meaning to warn, to refute, or to expose. But the Greek word used here is much stronger. It actually comes from the Greek word meaning “to strike at.”

Paul is clearly forbidding any kind of rebuke that is meant to inflict harm or pain. It's not Timothy's responsibility to berate the elders for their spiritual density. He shouldn't speak rash words of anger or hostility. He's not to enter the blame game for what's been happening at Ephesus.

Rather, Timothy needed to “exhort” those elders. This word has a sense of gentle asking, pleading, and encouraging. It is a word indicating that one is looking toward the future, not the past. Timothy needed to get the elders and teachers back on the team, encouraging them back to orthodox belief and teaching. The way that he was to go about this is important.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Remember one of Paul's reasons for writing this letter to Timothy? “I am writing you these instructions so that . . . you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household” (3:15). Today's reading helps us to see that in the church we must continue to show proper respect to those older than us, whether or not we're in a position of leadership. Furthermore, we need to practice charity and love toward all. We're in the same family!
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2006, 02:37:28 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 5:3-16

If anyone does not provide for his relatives . . . he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. - 1 Timothy 5:8

TODAY IN THE WORD

Of the many health-care concerns today, care for the elderly is among the most important. Life spans have increased dramatically over the past century, and Americans age 85 and older are now the fastest growing segment of the population. As people are expected to live longer, long-term care will be needed for them. Who will provide that kind of care, and how will it be funded?

Deciding how to care for widows was one of the earliest concerns in the New Testament church (cf. Acts 6:1-7). Throughout Scripture, God reveals His heart of compassion towards needy people, including the orphan and the widow (cf. Ex. 22:22, 23). God wants to see that these people receive their daily necessities, and the burden of responsibility falls not upon the government but the people of God. The church cannot care for everyone, however, and that's why families must understand their obligations to one another.

Our key verse sounds a warning for believers. It's a rallying cry to look first to the needs of our own family in order to “put [our] religion into practice” (v. 4). No doubt there are needs everywhere: refugee families on the evening news, homeless beggars at the corner, and needy children in social services. We cannot and should not be indifferent to these problems. When allocating our money and time to help others, though, we must first make sure we have provided for our own families.

Adult children have a biblical mandate to care for their aging parents, honoring their years of sacrifice for us and in a sense “repaying” them (v. 4). The circle reaches beyond those considered “immediate family.” Verse 16 encourages all women to care for any widow in her family, likely even family by marriage. Families have to do their job of providing for their own. The church can then dedicate itself to helping “those widows who are really in need” (v. 3).

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

We need wisdom discerning what will be most helpful for our family members in need. It may not be best to bail someone out time and time again from the financial mess caused by foolish and extravagant spending, or to help someone support a destructive habit. We are required to have compassion for our family members and do our best to make sure their needs are met. Caring for our family may not always be glamorous, but we are bringing glory to God through our service.
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2006, 02:38:13 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 5:3-16

Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. - 1 Timothy 5:3

TODAY IN THE WORD

Since the Protestant Reformation, Christians have embraced many church models. Churches have sometimes emphasized strict adherence to doctrinal principles, sometimes focused on social activism to combat cultural ills, sometimes devoted energy to forms of worship. To find the balance for the church, we must often re-examine the biblical purposes of the church and realign ourselves when necessary.

The church of Jesus Christ is called by God to fulfill many redemptive purposes, including the unapologetic proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Proclaiming the gospel, however, is not just the work of the evangelist. The gospel is announced every day as Christians live out their love for one another (cf. John 13:35). No wonder the care of widows was and should continue to be of great concern to the church. Helping the needy among us visibly demonstrates the love that has transformed us and that forms the basis of our commission from Christ.

In today's text, Paul calls on the church to assume financial responsibility for those widows who are distinguished by certain qualifications. First, the widow should be a believer and member of the church body. She should not be looking to earn her living by any illicit means, but she should actively and visibly live out her faith and trust in God.

Older widows participate not only in receiving help but also in offering help to others. (This is most likely the list of widows referred to in verse 9.) Because Paul has in mind that the purpose of gathering the women is to serve, he notes that older women will be less likely to be distracted by marriage proposals and idle gossip (vv. 11, 13).

God's Word consistently exhorts God's people to care for widows as a way of demonstrating love for Him. Just as God has provided salvation for us when we could do nothing on our own to gain it, we bring glory to Him by meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Consider the truth that God often uses His own people to meet the needs offered up in prayer. Think back to recent prayer requests that you've heard shared in your church. Have financial needs been mentioned? Is there a family crisis requiring childcare? Is someone facing joblessness? As you think about the specific prayer requests, consider whether or not you could meet a need that has been mentioned. Ask God to guide you, and wait expectantly for Him to use you.
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2006, 02:39:05 PM »

Read: 1 Timothy 5:17-25

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor. - 1 Timothy 5:17

TODAY IN THE WORD

In the 1970s, Chrysler Corporation made headlines when it had to ask the federal government for loans to keep the company running. But its amazing turnaround was owed largely to Lee Iacocca, the CEO, who rescued the company from near financial ruin. Iacocca is proof of how important leadership is to any enterprise.

The church in Ephesus was suffering tremendously because some of their leaders had abandoned faithfulness to God. Timothy had been appointed by Paul to address these critical leadership issues, not only regarding how he himself must lead but how he should appoint and supervise other leaders. If the leadership of the church impacts matters of salvation and condemnation (4:1, 2, 16), choosing leaders is a heavy burden that should not be approached hastily (v. 22).

Once leaders have been chosen, the church has the right and responsibility to evaluate how they are leading. The staff of the church who serve faithfully deserve both respect and pay (v. 17). Respect is a necessary protection, for these servants are exposed to critical appraisal—they live in ministerial “glass houses.”

While pastors are accountable to their churches, they should not be subjected to the shame and destruction that can result from idle, isolated accusations. No pastor should be accused apart from a plurality of voices within the church (v. 19). Furthermore, pastors deserve a fair salary. If the ox can eat while he works and the laborer deserves his pay after a long day in the sun, the minister of God's Word should rightfully earn his living from his work of preaching and teaching. This isn't a grudging hand-out or “charity,” but fair compensation for his hard work as a laborer in God's fields.

If respect and pay are due to the faithful servants in the church, public rebuke is owed to those who are unfaithful in their roles of leadership (v. 20). They should know that flagrant violations of the ethics of leadership will not and cannot be tolerated by the church.

TODAY ALONG THE WAY

Take time this week to pray for your pastoral staff and write them a note of encouragement. Consider how heavy the responsibility must be to care for the people of God. How can you make their burden lighter? You might affirm the strengths you see in their leadership, and we should all be on guard against gossip and complaining about what the pastor does and does not do. You might even want to offer them a small gift of thanks this week as a token of your appreciation for their hard work.
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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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