4.18.2011

1 Timothy Highlights

I know that the blogs about my bible study aren't the most read, but I feel compelled to write them... especially since it was the motivation to begin with anyway.  I am convinced that they are for me more than anything else.  In writing the last blog about the book of John, I was moved and convicted about something that I hadn't realized by the actual study.  It took me writing to reveal it to me.  I am still amazed that something written thousands of years ago is still applicable to me at the very time that I need to hear it.  "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12.

The book of 1 Timothy is a letter written by Paul to Timothy, his faithful disciple. 
Timothy was preaching at a church in Ephesus and Paul wrote to encourage him to maintain the sound doctrine and sound discipline.  This letter became a legacy for the church for instructions for different groups who would be serving.  In studying this book, I was reminded of the responsibilities that are placed by God to our pastors and spiritual leaders in the church.  They need our prayers because of the tremendous burden for which they are held accountable.

Paul warned Timothy that some men, straying from sound instruction, turned aside to fruitless discussion and wanted to be teachers even though they didn't understand what they were saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions (1:5-6).  It is the pastor's responsibilty to instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrine (1:3).

In Chapter 2, Paul gives instructions for the men and women in the church.  The thing he wanted to take place the most in the church was prayer above all else...prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity (2:1-2).  Paul wanted all the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension (2:8).

Power comes from prayer, and I firmly believe that this is an area where satan attacks strongly.  He has been very successful in many churches to minimize prayer to just a small, minute portion of a service.  Prayer meetings are no longer true prayer meetings, but another study because prayer takes effort and concentration.  I wonder what would happen if we all lived this fully in our church.  Last week, my friend, Jamie told me about a book she was reading on this very subject.  It is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  She read me a chapter over satan's attempt to get us to think we are really praying, but really our prayers are inneffective.  I am going to have to read that book when she is finished because I have really thought about that often this week.  I was also reminded of a video that I saw going around on facebook about a year ago.  Here is the link...Satan's Plan.  I promise it's worth the few minutes to watch!

As I was studying this book, we were preparing for deacon nominations to add to our deacon body in our church.  1 Timothy Chapter 3 talks about the qualifications for overseers or deacons, and it was timely passage for a reminder of the importance of the deacons/elders (whatever your church happens to call it) in the church.  The qualifications are rather strenuous, but must be held to this standard in order to be a church that God will use.  Here is a list of qualifications:
    1) must be above reproach
    2) the husband of one wife
    3) temperate
    4) prudent
    5) respectable
    6) hospitable
    7) able to teach
    8) not addicted to wine
    9) not pugnacious
    10) gentle
    11) peacable
    12) free from the love of money
    13) one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity
    14) not a new convert
    15) must have a good reputation with those outside the church
    16) must be men of dignity
    17) not double tongued
    18) (listed again) not addicted to much wine
    19) not fond of sordid gain

"Deacon" is only referred to in this passage and in Philippians 1:1, and the Greek word simply means "servant" but may be tranlsated as "minister".  God takes leadership within the body very seriously, expecting the best.  These qualifications look like the qualities that should be present in the life of every believer. 

I am so thankful to have a husband who is not only a spiritual leader in our home, but he also serves as a deacon in our church.  For the last several months, the deacons have been meeting early before church on Sunday mornings to pray.  Currently, I prepare the words on the screen for worship, and sometimes I am upstairs working on a few last minute touches during this time.  I will never forget the first time I witnessed our deacons along the front pew all on their knees praying.  It almost moved me to tears to see it!  There is just something about seeing our church leaders all submitting to the authority of God the Father.  It was a sacred moment.  To all deacons..."For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 3:13).

The last three chapters in the book gives lots of instructions to the church.  Chapter 4 gives instructions to the leaders:
   *have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women
   *discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness
   *let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, adn purity, show
     yourself an example of those who believe
   *do not neglect the spiritual gift within you...
   *pay cloase attention to yourself and to your teaching...for you will ensure salvation both for yourself and
     for those who hear you

Chapter 5 discusses treatment of church members.  The first two verses instruct how Timothy is to relate to specific groups of people: 
  
He also discusses treatment of widows and qualifications of those who will be helped because in that society, the church took care of those who couldn't take care of themselves.  In our country, the church has neglected this area leaving it up to our government to help those in need.

In the final chapter of the book, Paul leaves Timothy with more instructions as well as some encouragement.  The first portion of instructions in this chapter was directed to slaves.  Although we don't have slaves in our society, this could also apply to anyone who works under authority of someone in the workplace.
   *regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be
     spoken against 
   *those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren,
     but must serve them all the more

The second group addressed are rich men. These are familiar verses and are often quoted..."But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil; and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs" (6:9-10).   It is sad to see some Christian ministers who fall into this snare and cause many to stumble because they take advantage of people's emotions, in the name of Jesus, to get rich themselves.  It stains the name of the gospel and we should strive to be grounded enough to know if the teaching we sit under is of sound doctrine.  It is not just ministers who fall into this temptation, but it is just sad to see leaders being led astray.  We are to flee from these things and...

Worship Him for what you know about Him personally.  It is so much more exciting to knwo what God says that to know what someone has said about Him.  It's the difference between firsthand knowledge and secondhand information.

"To the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen." (1:17)

2 comments:

  1. Awesome blog! I admire your study of the Word.

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  2. It is so good to read your blog and be uplifted by your scripture based insightfullness. Thanks for taking the time to do this. Good way for me to end the day and have your words in my mind to begin tomorrow.Keep my students and me in your prayers. I love the praying, the way we are connected to our Lord as well as to each other.

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