Devotional # 204. 1 Timothy 5:1-16

Devotional # 204. 8/29/16. 1 Timothy 5:1-16.

Intro. Last week Paul exhorted Timothy in things he should do specifically pertaining to his situation, but they were also beneficial for us to apply to our lives. Today we’ll be briefly studying how to exhort people in the church, but the majority of the Scripture is focused on three types of widows. I love how God provides for widows and we can apply this to our lives since we all are either related to or know a widow. Probably the most applicable are our mom’s, mother-in-law’s and grandmothers who need to be taken care of. Let’s read to find what our mindset and godly attitude should be!

vv. 1-2. Respect for others. In the same way that Timothy was not supposed to allow others to despise him for his youth (1 Timothy 4:12, Devotional # 203) he was not supposed to despise or act disrespectfully towards others in the church. The idea of the church being a family is brought out by Paul here. In the same way we’re to honor our mothers and fathers (Exodus 20:12; Ephesians 6:1, Devotional # 111) we’re to honor the older men “as a father” and elderly ladies “as mothers.” The same with younger men and women and the point of all of this is to make sure you don’t shame the body of Christ but instead build them up. Sometimes younger people have more common sense and wisdom then their elders, so are they supposed to despise them or not share that God-given wisdom? No, they are to exhort them and encourage them. How? In all love and “all purity”, not with ulterior motives or a prideful, demeaning heart.

vv. 3-8. True widows. Apparently the church in Ephesus had an issue with ladies impostering widows in order to be taken care of. So Paul gives Timothy a litmus test to check that the widows receiving church support truly needed it. These are great standards for us to live by today. How do we know where resources should go? In my mind the worse thing would be to support someone who was being lazy or a scam artist while someone truly in need was turned away. So Paul says if they have family let the family take care of them. Not only will this benefit the elderly lady but it will give the family godly life-skills (v. 4), not to mention lessen the burden on the church. Paul finishes this section condemning the family that calls themselves Christians, knowing what to do, but not doing it (v. 8). I have several friends who have to sacrifice for their mom or mother-in-law living with them or having to pay for a retirement home. The true Christian recognizes that God will help them take on this burden and will grow them through this time.

If the widow doesn’t have family and desires to be taken care of she needs to do two things. 1. “trust in God”, and 2. “continue in supplications and prayers night and day” (v. 5). Receiving support from the church should be free from monetary cost but that doesn’t mean the widow doesn’t have any responsibility to the Lord. These two requirements can be done anywhere at any time, but I find it interesting because they’re not really something that can just be started the day the widow starts receiving help from the church. It seems rather that Paul is telling Timothy to take care of the widows who have been faithful to the Lord, having “trusted in Him” and “supplicated” and “prayed” to Him in the past (for a reminder on supplication and prayer see Devotional # 197 from 1 Timothy 2:1-2). This is such an important requirement that Paul tells Timothy to command them to do these things (v. 7). Remember last week when we talked about the need for commands (Devotional # 203).

vv. 9-10. 60+ year old widows. These verses mark a new section; Paul isn’t talking about the general widows from verses 3-8 anymore. Now he’s talking about a separate group of elderly ladies, similar although separate from deaconesses (which traditionally started the ministry at 40 years old and had all kinds of ladies among them including virgins and widows). This special group of 60+ year old ladies would have “ministered with sympathizing counsel to other widows and to orphans” as well as “general supervision over ladies” as seen in Acts 9:41 (Source 1) . The idea here is that a person desiring to serve in the church needs to be tested that they understand the responsibility and that they are trustworthy and dependable. Fausset spends a good amount of time describing this (although maybe a bit confusing) if you would like to read more see Source 1.

vv. 11-16. Young widows. Paul now focuses on another group: “young widows.” It’s important to understand Paul had experience with this type of situation so he wasn’t being mean, just honest and doing what’s best for everyone involved. Experience had shown Paul that typically ladies who had been widowed while still young had a natural desire for camaraderie so most of the time they would want to get re-married (v. 11). It doesn’t make sense to expect them to take on responsibilities that weren’t right for them but, on the other hand, they also shouldn’t be allowed to run wild (vv. 13, 15). Instead, giving them time to see if their heart desires marriage and raising a family, that is wise. David Guzik explains, “Paul is not condemning any young widow’s desire for romantic companionship; but he insists that it be pursued and expressed in the purity that befits all believers” (Source 2). For the fourth time in this passage (vv. 4, 5, 8) Paul reminds us that if the widow has family they should take care of them.

Conclusion. We learned a lot today about a rarely taught subject of how to help widows. God’s great practices of distinguishing between needy, “true widows” and scammers, and how to provide for what type of person you’re helping is very informative.

Prayer. Lord, help us to get our eyes off ourselves and to focus on the elderly who need our help. We pray that we would have Your loving and compassionate heart towards those truly in need. We pray that You would be pleased with the beautiful women who have served You and continue to serve You. Please bless them and help us provide for them as You provide for us. Amen.

 

References.

Source 1: A.R. Fausset, Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_005.cfm?a=1124001

Source 2: David Guzik, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Ti/1Ti_5.cfm?a=1124001

Trip to Hungary 2016

Full CampAbout a month ago I went on a mission trip doing an English camp in Hungary. There is a small organization called Way of Hope Foundation that provides English camps throughout villages in Hungary every summer. Hungary has mandated that every child learn a second language since their language actually limits them from many job opportunities. (Only 0.189% of the world speaks Hungarian…that’s less than a quarter of one percent of the world!) In these camps we can use Jesus and the Bible to teach English. The kid’s parents (who want nothing to do with religion) don’t care we’re teaching from the Bible because a free English camp comes along once in a life time. Below I’ll share a bit about our team, the camp, what I learned, a video and how you can get involved.

The Teamteam flying out

My wife and I have done 6 Hungarian camps but this one was different for several reasons. One of those reasons was that we teamed up with another local church called “Hope Christian Church of Menifee”. They sent two people: their Assistant Pastor, Jeno and a college student named Krystal. Having Jeno was invaluable  because he’s actually Hungarian even though he grew up in the U.S. and it was great having Krystal beLeaders prayingcause her enthusiasm with the kids was contagious (see her blog here ). We are so thankful that our church (“House of Grace” in Hemet) and “Hope Christian” were so supportive. Once we were in Hungary we met up with three other people from England.
Two of them were a Mother (Samantha)/ Daughter (Meggie) team, and a college student named Rose. Their experience and heart for Jesus were integral to the success of the camp.

The Camp

We traveled for about 24 hours, leaving from LAX, had a layover in Amsterdam and arrived in Budapest. The next dkids with flagsay we made the 3 hour drive to the 2,200 population village of Nagydobos (pronounced: “nodge-doe-boe-sh”) in the North-Eastern part of Hungary. We began the camp the next day at the local school where about 40 kids showed up. Each
day we would start the day with morning exercises set to music, then the older kids (ages 9-14) would split off from the younger ones (ages 4-8) and have a Bible study. After the Bible study we would have several English lessons, teaching the kids conversational English. Then we would finish out the day with fun competition games.

What I Learned

About 10 months ago when my wife and I started praying for this camps and the kids that it would affect, I felt God pressing upon me to be more involved in this camp. I usually do a lot with the Bible studies but this time I got more involved with English lessons and playing games with the kids. I think this helped my wife but also intrigued the kids.

PiratesI also learned how great it was to have another church be involved in the preparation and adventure of going on the trip! Something we learned from Hope Christian was to have three distinct but unified groups preparing for the camp: 1. a Prayer Group, 2. a Fundraising Group and 3. Travelers. This was really good because then all of the stress and blessings don’t just fall on the shoulders of those going to the camp, but can be shared by many.

Trip to Nagydobos Video

 

Hungary Video

How You Can Get Involved

I have a vision of around 5 churches in the Inland Empire of Southern California getting involved in sending people to Hungary for these camps each summer. If we had 5 churches then no one church would feel burdened to send people and the camps could grow.

In case you thingirls coloringk you couldn’t travel to another country and teach English – you can! You only have to fundraise for airfare and all other accommodations are taken care of. And if you’re not an English teacher – neither are we! In fact I’ve never known an English teacher who has gone to any of these camps. The whole point is that normal English speakers show them how to speak conversationally instead of textbook teaching. Literally any English speaker is perfect for being a teacher in these camps.

As always, this camp was a life-changing experience where we got to see many children come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! A little money, a little stress, a little getting out of the comfort zone – but ushering in souls to the kingdom of heaven – that is the ultimate goal! If you’re interested in finding out more you can fill out the contact form directly below & I’ll get back to you. Thanks!

Devotional # 203. 1 Timothy 4:7-16

Devotional # 203. 8/22/16. 1 Timothy 4:7-16.

 

Intro. The last few weeks we’ve looked at requirements for leadership in the church and also how to recognize false religious leaders infecting the Church. This week the text is focused on Paul encouraging Timothy in what he needs to be doing personally. This is beneficial for us because it gives us insight into Paul and Timothy but into our own lives as well. The first section (vv. 7-11) will teach us about godliness and the second half (vv. 12-16) teaches us, in four main categories, how to grow spiritually which will in turn help others to grow.

4:7-11. Godliness.

v. 7. In verse 6 we’re told that being “nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” is important. So we know what to apply but what do we reject? We reject profane stories and “old wives fables.” These would be old religious myths and gossip. If someone tells you the Bible isn’t the word of God or that it’s been corrupted you should reject that. In the same way “old wives fables”, which are from the stereotype that elderly ladies sit around and gossip, should be rejected. There is nothing more captivating than hearing juicy news that no one else knows, but allowing that news to take over your mind and sharing it with others should be rejected with self-control.

Instead we’re told to exercise “godliness.” A month ago I started a Rookie hockey league and in preparation I started exercising. I jog, do push-ups and curls. I have a game once a week but if I train throughout the week I’ve found I’m stronger for the game and less sore afterwards. Exercise in the spiritual life is the same. Each week we have “games” and the more I exercise the better prepared I am for those battles.

v. 8. Paul told us in verse 7 that spiritual exercise will produce greater “godliness.” As we were directed to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:1-2, Devotional # 197) we recognize “godliness” is important. But how do we really define “godliness”? “The New Testament word for godliness, in its original meaning, conveys the idea of it, a personal attitude toward God that results in actions that are pleasing to him. This personal attitude toward God is what we call devotion to God” (Source 1). Our attitude towards God results in actions that please Him, and this doesn’t mean we’re just a good person or that we feel happy at worship in our church. Our attitude is our mindset which is transformed by God and we live that change in our life by doing the actions that the Holy Spirit convicts us of.

Paul wisely tells us that physical exercise is beneficial in a small part of our life but godliness is beneficial in all parts. Often we see someone who is physically fit or really ripped and admire them but really that’s a small piece of our life’s puzzle. But we practice godliness “having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.” As Christians, living godly lives profits our current life but it also profits our eternal lives. Why do you think that is? Because life on earth is just practice for our eternity in heaven. I think many believers don’t realize that they will grow spiritually in heaven (read “The Truth About Heaven” article). So it follows that the more God teaches us on earth the further ahead we’ll be in heaven. Not that it’s a competition, instead if we stop being stubborn when God is trying to grow us then the better off we’ll be here on earth but, more importantly, in heaven.

vv. 9-11. The understanding that we must practice godliness and that it will be beneficial here and in heaven is a “faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance.” We shouldn’t just believe this in our head (intellect) but we need to allow it to trickle down to our heart where it is established as a truth to fall back on in the darkest times.

Because these things are true we Christians face persecution and difficulty. Why? Why does godliness produce such hatred and difficulty? Because Satan hates a godly attitude in action. If a person reads their Bible and goes to church but doesn’t have a heart change that’s exactly where Satan wants you. Apathy = working for Satan. If you don’t like the idea of punching a timeclock for the Devil than pay attention to what God tells us. We “labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God.” The true Christian will suffer. But what is our foundation? The “living God”! We don’t serve an imaginary god, we serve the “living God”. God is “the Savior of all men [and women]”; Jesus Christ was not killed on the cross just to rot in a grave, instead He died on the cross to rise from the dead. This is the truth that has changed our attitude into action, the truth that we get to share with others. Why does Paul tell us to “command and teach” these things? Teaching these things makes sense – I’m doing that right now! But why “command” them? Because just like it’s easier to be an apathetic couch potato and to gossip then to live for the living God, we need to be commanded to do these things since suggestions rarely work. Do you know why the Hebrews wandered the wilderness for 40 years? Sure, because of disobedience but in reality it’s so much more than that. After seeing plagues and such a great salvation out of Egypt how was it that the Hebrews complained to go back for food (Numbers 11:5) worshipped a golden calf (Exodus 32) and rejected God’s leadership (Numbers 16:32)? Because they had too much “Egypt” still in their hearts. They needed commandments (Exodus 20). Going through trials and persecutions produces an attitude change into godly action (godliness)!! I need to be taught, reminded and commanded to do this, how about you?

4:12-16. The Individual’s Work Affecting Others.

Here Paul gives specific exhortation to Timothy, but we can also learn from it. First, Timothy was told to stand up for himself even though he was young (v. 12). Second, he was told what to give attention to (v. 13). Third, not to neglect his “gift” (v. 14). Lastly, Timothy is reminded to continue and progress (vv. 15-16).

v. 12. I love this verse where Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone despise his youth. When I was a young man starting to preach, my mentor pastor told me don’t let anyone despise your youth, just keep learning and preaching. Sometimes, older generations think they are encouraging younger generations by correcting them and telling them how they should speak or what they should think. But if it’s without love, it profits nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). I know how demoralizing it is to be corrected in that way. But I’ve also experienced loving correction and encouragement and that’s an awesome experience! Did you know Charles Spurgeon was 17 years old when he became the pastor of a church? Can you imagine the people that looked down on him for his age? Often people have pride because they think “the young” haven’t been through the experiences that really cause a person to grow and understand the Bible. I can definitely understand that, and I have those same thoughts myself…but it’s all in how you communicate that. God can speak through a donkey (Numbers 22:28), so he can speak through a young person. Especially a young person who shows a godly attitude and desire to serve the Lord (“an example to believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity”)! We should be encouraging the young or else we’ll run out of teachers and the church will die.

vv. 13-14. In this part Paul gives Timothy two main things to consider: what to do and what not to do. He is supposed to read, exhort and study doctrine. These should certainly characterize any shepherd’s daily tasks. Speaking from experience God gives certain people the inner drive to read and study the Bible for hours in order to exhort others. He also gives some the gift of exhortation. All Christians are supposed to do these three things (“reading, exhortation, doctrine”), but this is different from the command Paul is giving Timothy (and other pastors with similar gifts) here. See Devotional 104 on Ephesians 4:7-16 for how spiritual gifts are different from the general requirements by the same names. We’ve seen Paul remind Timothy that there were prophesies about him earlier (1 Timothy 1:18, Devotional # 196). Regardless of our spiritual gift(s), we should not neglect them. I don’t believe that because Paul mentioned this, it automatically implies that Timothy was neglecting his gift(s), instead I believe anyone can fall into the trap of neglecting their gifts. Why? Because it can be hard work to “work out” spiritual gifts and because, as we said earlier, Satan loves to get in the way of godliness. But be encouraged, the Holy Spirit will always help you exercise your gifts.

vv. 15-16. Finally, Paul tells Timothy to “meditate on these things” and to give himself “entirely to them.” What “things” should Timothy “meditate” on? I think it’s everything in all four of these major categories of verses 12-16. If he gives himself over to being an example “in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” and “reading, exhortation, doctrine”, etc. then he will influence the people of the church in a positive way. Here in verse 15 Paul reminds Timothy that if he does “meditate” and devote himself to these things everyone will see his progress. Why would Paul say that, considering he’s always telling us not to worry about what others think? For two reasons: 1. The purpose of this letter (the book of 1 Timothy) is to instruct Timothy on how to get the Ephesian church back in order (see Devotional # 192, 1 Timothy 1:1-2 for more); 2. because Timothy had been chastised for being too young to teach (v. 12). So it makes sense that Paul would tell Timothy to do things that would benefit him spiritually and show his detractors what kind of man he was while growing them into the Christians they were meant to be (v. 16).

Conclusion. We should be encouraged to pursue godliness, which is our attitude towards God resulting in actions that please Him. We should also stand up for ourselves if we’re young and doing God’s work. That work is what we give attention to while not neglecting our gifts. We are reminded to push forward and progress for our own edification and for the growth of others.

 

References.

Source 1: Jerry Bridges, “What is Godliness?”, Nav Press, https://bible.org/article/what-godliness

Devotional # 202. 1 Timothy 4:1-6

Devotional # 202. 8/15/16. 1 Timothy 4:1-6.

 

Intro. Two weeks ago we talked about the requirements for leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Devotional #200), then last week we read that the Church is not ours, but it’s God’s (1 Timothy 3:14-16, Devotional #201). This is important because today we’re going to look at false religious leaders infecting the Church. How do we know what is right and wrong?

vv. 1-3. Religious Leaders Misleading.

The focus is on those calling themselves Christians, especially leaders, we know this because they “will depart from the faith” (v. 1), lie “in hypocrisy” (v. 2) and are contrasted against “a good minister” (v. 6). We see that the Holy “Spirit expressly says” these things. We take comfort in knowing that God the Holy Spirit knows everything; that He has prophesized that religious leaders will teach false doctrine as 2 Peter 3:3 also tells us. In fact Paul will elaborate on this more in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Notice these apostates will “give” heed to false teaching, this implies they had the opportunity to keep correct teaching but “give” it away. So they know the truth but forfeit it and “depart from the faith.” They have their “conscience seared with a hot iron.” This happens to people the more they tell lies (“speaking lies in hypocrisy”) and allow themselves to believe lies and mistrust the Bible.

We learn that there is a “doctrine of demons” which must mean that Satan coaches his demons who have false beliefs and teachings (see James 3:15). C. S. Lewis has a book I recommend called The Screwtape Letters about an elder demon who coaches a younger one. We serve a God who knows all. It is pure foolishness to accept the “doctrine of demons” or listen to false teachers. By now you should know how to tell the difference between true and false teaching. It is matched up to the word of God: the Bible. 1 John 4:6 tells us, “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”

Paul gives us examples of some false teaching that was prominent in churches around Ephesus, where Timothy is at. The hypocritical church leaders had demanded that people not get married and were still holding to dietary laws. Not marrying was just trying to control the people (Source 1) but the focus of this section is on the food which is very similar to Peter’s epiphany that as a Christian you can eat whatever type of food you want (Acts 10:9-15, Devotional # 51).

vv.4-6. The Word of God and Prayer.

Now to the encouraging part! As we just talked about there was conflict about what types of food were OK to eat. The reason for this was that God had told the Israelites that there were certain animals they were to stay away from, but since Jesus came He broke down those barriers. Now people could eat as long as they were “thankful” for the provision. I like how Paul tucks in the being thankful and praying for the food. He doesn’t just say “all food is fine to eat” and move on, instead he makes sure that the heart is in the right place. In the same way as this was an extension for Peter accepting Gentiles, the church in Ephesus needed to learn this lesson. They were going to have to remove teachers who drove burdens and barriers into the church. If a Gentile or a Hebrew entered their church, that person should be accepted regardless of their heritage.

Paul encourages Timothy (which is the point of this letter) that if he instructs the brothers and sisters in this way then he will be considered “a good minister of Jesus Christ.” Is Paul just telling Timothy to blindly follow his instructions on food freedom? No, he is preparing him (and us) on what we just talked about from 1 John 4:6, here called: “words of faith and of the good doctrine.” We don’t need to fear teachers that have more charisma than biblical teaching. They stand on the “doctrine of demons” and we stand on “the good doctrine.” Notice it says “the good doctrine”, so there is one specific, correct Bible in which we base our foundation. It’s important to see the difference between the Holy Spirit’s prophecy, complete understanding and teaching of true doctrine, versus the demon’s lack of understanding and propagation of false teaching.

 

Conclusion. Today’s lesson was one that I find I need to hear as often as God brings it to my attention. We have a likelihood to listen to false teaching unless we’re grounded and rooted in correct, Biblically-based teaching. It’s so easy for us to be frustrated and debate others who call themselves Christians but have false beliefs. I would challenge you to consider your own thoughts first, is the teaching you are frustrated about really from the Bible? If so then you should be able to find it and see how it matches up to the rest of Scripture. If in fact it is something that is a false teaching and is driving division in a church, then it should be addressed. As much as the Bible tells us about staying unified through non-essentials it tells us to distance ourselves in perverted essentials (1 Timothy 1:18-20, Devotional # 196).

 

References.

Source 1: Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_004.cfm?a=1123001

 

 

Presidential Election: Walking in the Old Paths

Presidential Election: Walking in the Old Paths. 8/8/16

old pathsToday we are exactly 3 months away from the Presidential election. Since the beginning of the year I have been preparing you for this. But not preparing with propaganda, polls and political parties. Instead it has been with power…the power of God!

We’ve talked about “Political Prayer Preparation”, the “Decision America Tour 2016”, “God’s Power in the 2016 Presidential Election” and the “Presidential Primary Election” in June.

Most Marketing today relies on our unhappiness and discontent with our current life. If I was selling you a car 6 months ago it was the best thing ever and it wasn’t even this year’s model, it was already next year’s model. But if you bought the car then you’re probably bored with it now so you really should get the next big thing…you can get a 2018 model! The same can be said of Presidential nominees. We aren’t happy with the current and we want the new, next big thing. We want someone who will promise us words like “change” and “progress” but who doesn’t have any concrete plans or beliefs that they wouldn’t be willing to flip-flop on if their benefactors told them to.

So what is the solution? Can we escape this on our own? The answer is found in Jeremiah 6:16, which says, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”

First, we see that it is the “Lord” who has said this and therefore it must be the best thing for us, it must be believed and it must be heeded. Second, if we “stand” in God’s “way” then its truth and correctness will be “seen” and proven. Thirdly, we are able to “ask for the old paths.” Who do we ask? Politicians? Entertainers? No, we ask the only one who can answer our requests. God is the only one capable of fulfilling His promise which He names here: “then you will find rest for your souls.’” But before we receive the “rest” that we long for, there are two other things we need to keep in mind. We must chose the “good way” and we must take action by “walking” in that path.

I exhort you to trade in modern Marketing, slogans and sound-bites for a peace that passes all understanding. Instead heed the Lord and “ask for the old paths.” Sure, it’s easier to flip on the news each morning or check the internet’s newest article on what a candidate said. And if you want to keep that anxiety in your life, if you want to trust people’s wisdom then that’s your own fault. But I encourage you to “find rest” by “walking” in the “good way.” This Scripture in Jeremiah is exciting because it gives us hope; it is also terrifying because it ends with Israel answering God in defiance: “We will not walk in it.” So United States Christians of 2016, will we walk in it?

Devotional # 201. 1 Timothy 3:14-16

Devotional # 201. 8/8/16. 1 Timothy 3:14-16.

Intro. Last week we studied the requirements for leadership in the church (1 Timothy 3:1-13, Devotional #200). This week Paul will remind us why we must obey those requirements. Because the Church is not ours, instead it is “God’s house.” When we say it is His “house” we don’t mean He is confined to a building, instead we, His people, are the Church. We can meet in a beautiful cathedral or a dirty basement and He will be with us. The point is that it is His church to guide and build. As we’ll see in verse 16 God is much greater than we can fathom, He really is the only one who can rule and decree what is right, what is wrong and how the Church should function.

v. 14. We are reminded that Paul is writing to Timothy, to instruct him in how to correct the church in Ephesus (see 1 Timothy 1:1-2, Devotional #192, for more). Do we look forward to seeing other believers? Paul says that he has “hope to come to you shortly.” We just got back from a missions trip to Hungary and there was excitement and anticipation for us being able to see our friends there. We look forward to building each other up and encouraging in the Word. You should have people like this. Seek out people to mentor you and seek out others for you to mentor.

v. 15. Paul knew from experience how he could be delayed. Sometimes it was from the needs of other churches and other times it was being imprisoned or put on trial. No matter the disruptions, Paul wanted Timothy to be aware of what was expected of the Church and of him personally. When it says, “conduct yourself in the house of God” we must consider that the church truly is God’s house. We may not like to hear that women are not supposed to be the head pastor in a church, or that a pastor or deacon is by God’s calling and gifting, or that they need to be tested (see 1 Timothy 3:1-13, Devotional #200). But our rights and “freedoms” and culture make us feel entitled to certain things. However, the truth is that this is God’s church and He will do as He pleases and it will be absolutely perfect. When we’ve experienced the goodness of leaning on “the pillar” and standing on “the ground” of God’s “truth”, our sense of entitlement fades. We attend “the church of the living God.” He is powerful and answers prayers and holds us accountable for what He has told us to do.

v. 16. Paul starts speaking about “the mystery of godliness.” He mentioned the “mystery of the faith” last week (1 Timothy 3:9, Devotional # 200). Before we look into “the mystery of godliness” we should note Paul says it is “without controversy.” This is interesting because the first line of the “mystery” is that Jesus is God; but every major cult that calls themselves “Christians” denies that Jesus is God. So what does “without controversy” mean? My first thought is that it is fundamental spiritual truth and therefore, if God has said it and He is it, it cannot be contradicted or refuted. Spurgeon makes a great point, “I suppose [Paul] means that there ought to be no controversy about these facts, though controversies have arisen concerning them, and always will, since the most self-evident truth will always find self-evident fools to contradict it” (Source 1). In short, Satan will work in people to try and pretend like Jesus isn’t God, but that doesn’t mean it’s really a contradiction.

Now that we understand that, let’s explore “the mystery of godliness”. It’s thought this may have been a song from the early church. Paul says:

God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory
.”

 

God was manifested in the flesh,” As mentioned above this is a very clear indication that Jesus is God since “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). It’s sad that people try and deny this because it really is the only way we can be saved. We need a Savior who has never sinned but who is perfect other than God? Beyond that, what amazing humility to live among us and save us when we didn’t deserve it!


Justified in the Spirit,” This could mean two things: first that “justified” means “vindicated” in which case the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus (a truth found in Romans 1:4). Or “justified” can mean “righteous” which would mean this should be “spirit” with a lowercase “s” (therefore not the Holy Spirit), instead “indicating a declaration of Christ’s sinless spiritual righteousness (John 8:46, 2 Corinthians 5:21, etc.)” (Source 2).


Seen by angels,” This is in conjunction with the next phrase about Jesus being “preached among the Gentiles.” The point here is that good and bad angels got to see Jesus come down from heaven and dwell among us, which had never happened before (Sources 2 & 3). It’s not just the physical world that testifies of Jesus, the spiritual one does as well.


Preached among the Gentiles,” This reminds us that Jesus didn’t just come for Israelites but for everyone (“Gentiles” are anyone who is not Hebrew*). The great thing is that Jesus didn’t just come but that He was “preached among” them too. Everyone has the opportunity to hear of salvation.


Believed on in the world,” This is the very encouraging news that after Jesus had been “seen by angels” and had been “preached among the Gentiles” there were people who came to faith in Him. The goal of Jesus coming to save us and the aim of Him being preached is that people can make the choice to accept His salvation.


Received up in glory.” This is the perfect book-end to how this hymn started. It begins with Jesus going from heaven to earth (“God was manifested in the flesh”) and ends with Him leaving earth and returning to heaven (“received up in glory”).

 

*Gentiles-another way to translate this is “nations” which covers all people of all races.

 

Conclusion. In a section on Church leadership Paul gives us wonderful truths and advice, some in the form of a hymn. The fact that God has created rules for how He designed the church should be listened to because God designed salvation. We should be both telling others about Jesus’ amazing decent and life and ascent, and also leading the Church in a way that honors how God designed it because that ensures it will continue. We’re always one generation from losing the church. So be encouraged today that God has given us the model and power to do what we’re supposed to do, now let’s do it!

 

References.

Source 1: Spurgeon, cited by David Guzik, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Ti/1Ti_3.cfm?a=1122001

Source 2: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1866.

Source 3: Fausset (of Jamieson, Fausset & Brown), https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_003.cfm?a=1122001

Devotional # 200. 1 Timothy 3:1-13

Devotional # 200. 8/1/16. 1 Timothy 3:1-13.

Intro. Today is special…we’re celebrating our 200th Devotional!! It’s been almost 4 years since we started and a fantastic experience! So last week we finished up 1 Timothy chapter 2 talking about men and women’s responsibilities in church (1 Timothy 2:6-15, Devotional #199). Paul will continue this train of thought in the very important section we’re covering today. We’re going to look at the requirements for leadership positions in the church.

First, we should ask why this matters to us now especially for a personal devotional. It matters because this is our God-given structure of the church, if someone isn’t doing this then they are disobeying God and we shouldn’t be taught by them. And, as if being focused on ourselves and what we get out of this section was the most important thing, we should focus on these leaders and pray for them.

Verses 1-7. Requirements for “Bishops”.

v. 1. We’re told that if a man wants to be a “bishop” it’s a good thing. Is this a bishop like in the Catholic Church? No, in the Greek it means “overseer” and sometimes is called an “elder” and sometimes a “pastor.” Why does Paul tells us it’s “a good work”? First, because it’s good to be used by God in the way He has gifted you. Second, because there are a lot of rules and self-control that can be a little difficult so we need to be reminded that it’s all worth it, and it’s a good thing.

v. 2. The first six things mentioned in this verse are self-explanatory but I think the next, “able to teach”, should be looked at. The office of an “elder” or “pastor” needs to be held by someone who has been gifted by God with being able to study the Bible and teach others. It doesn’t mean someone who can talk at people and it doesn’t mean they think they can teach. It means they can teach. The whole point is that others learn from that person because God has gifted them, it can’t be forced. This simply means that the teacher will receive positive feedback from those taught. It doesn’t mean the teacher will emotionally please everyone and it doesn’t mean the teacher won’t offend anyone. It means God’s word was illuminated by God, through this teacher. This can be applied in several ways, often churches have a main teaching pastor then some assistant pastors that teach Bible studies and counsel (another form of teaching). I used to go to a church that had six elders who rotated Sunday morning teaching responsibilities. It was a really cool way to hold everyone accountable without having one man get too much attention or responsibility.

v. 3. Of all of these important traits, for 2016, I’d like to focus on being “not greedy for money.” Unfortunately, over thousands of years (as well as now) the love of money has intrigued and dominated “overseers.” Many times they don’t start out this way but over time get “puffed up with pride” (v. 6) or become “covetous” (v. 3) or see how easy it is to take advantage of people or situations. We must be guarded against this. As a leader we must constantly be checking ourselves and as a congregation we need to be praying for the leaders.

vv. 4-5. These verses are a great reminder about what we talked about last week: God holds men accountable for their wives and children (1 Timothy 2:13, Devotional # 199). As I’ve been meditating on this verse this week I considered my wife’s role in my ministry. I could easily be disqualified from my responsibilities if she went off the deep end. On the positive side she’s always considerate to my needs of time and resources. She selflessly makes a way for me to study, or write or counsel. What a blessing a godly wife is!

v. 6. As we mentioned a minute ago, not being prideful is very important. Sometimes when people first become Christians they want to start teaching, but even if they have great intentions, they are still a “novice.” In the same way you don’t take ski lessons from a beginner and you don’t have a 10 year old teach driver’s ed, you wouldn’t have a new believer teach on the Bible. In fact, spiritual things are much more serious and important than anything else. When you’re a teacher you will be more strictly judged (James 3:1) and you have a weight of responsibility and hard decisions that can only come with time in the Word and experience.

v. 7. Verse 6 compared the “pride” we just talked about with Satan’s pride, which was his first mistake and sin. Pride takes credit for the things God has done. How can a Spirit-filled believer do that? And how does that look to those “outside” the church – the non-Christians? A difficult thing for me when I became a pastor was knowing the right amount of “self-consciousness” I should have. I had grown up not caring what others thought of me, and a certain amount of that must carry over, you can’t please everyone and as a Christian living out the faith you will get mocked. But I also had to develop an awareness of how I was presenting myself and the church to other Christians but also non-Christians. We truly have the hope of salvation but human pride and fighting and greed will deter people from beginning a relationship with Jesus.

Verses 8-13. Requirements for “Deacons”.

vv. 8-9. The word “deacon” means “servant” and so is characterized by someone who sees a need and fixes it. The best way to understand this is by reading Acts 6:1-6 where apostles were too busy for daily tasks so they delegated the tasks to others. Many of the qualifications of a deacon are the same or similar to that of bishops (one difference is that they don’t teach). What does “holding the mystery of the faith” mean? A deacon holds the mystery of faith because people will ask why you serve and you can articulate that it is the love of Christ.

v. 10. In the same way a bishop couldn’t be a “novice” (v. 6), a deacon must “first be tested” to prove that they can be trusted. When they have proven themselves then they can be given more responsibility.

vv. 11-12. The beginning of this verse is literally “likewise wives reverent…” Its debated whether this is referring to male deacon’s wives or to female deacon’s (deaconesses). I personally believe that women can fill the role of deacon, although I don’t think this is where that is proved*. It is proved in Romans 16:1 were Phoebe is called a deaconess.

v. 13. Paul has flipped his model from bishops where he started by saying it was a “good work” (v. 1), now he completes this section on deacons by talking about it being a good thing. Deacons were told how to begin (by being “tested” then, once they pass, allowing them to serve – v. 10) now we’re told what the benefits of being a good deacon is. A good deacon will have two things: 1. “a good standing” and 2. “great boldness in the faith.” A “good standing” means “a well-grounded hopeof salvation” (Source 1). And a “great boldness in the faith” is a faith only in “Christ Jesus.” So let’s look at what the Scripture give us. In places like Matthew 20:28 and Mark 10:45 we’re taught to imitate Jesus. If Jesus’ life could be summarized by two words they would be “loving servitude.” A deacon displays that constantly, and it gives them a “boldness” to share Jesus with others – in word and in action. In Acts 6:1-8 Stephen waits tables and becomes a huge witness by being martyred. Stephen’s boldness was given by Jesus and trained into him by being a servant deacon.

Where is your gift? I would never try and apply “deacon-giftedness” to every Christian (or “bishop-giftedness” for that matter). But for those of you called to be deacons, yet you haven’t answered, I challenge you to submit to God’s calling and allow yourself to be “tested.” For those who are faithfully serving as deacons, stay steadfast in “good standing” and “great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (If you need ideas on how to be a deacon in 2016 read this).For those not called to be a deacon, you certainly have been given at least one spiritual gift from God, so use it! He will guide you, He will make you strong, remember He’ll never give you more than you can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13). Trust Him!

*Deaconess– In my opinion, by the context, it makes the most sense that this refers to the requirements of a male deacon’s wife (like verse 12). However, MacArthur believes this refers to deaconesses because “the use of the word ‘likewise’ as an introduction (cf. v. 8) suggests a third group in addition to elders and deacons. Also, since Paul gave no requirements for elders’ wives, there is no reason to assume these would be qualifications for deacons’ wives” (Source 3). Although I agree with MacArthur’s first point (“likewise“), I disagree with his second point since the very next thing that Paul talks about is that a deacon is supposed to have “one wife” (v. 12) and just as he did for elders (v. 4) he continues to talk about what deacons families should be like. Beyond that, although it’s not as trustworthy as an inspired writer, the translators of the New King James agreed with me (“likewise, their wives must be reverent…”). For more read this.

Conclusion. I like what Guzik says about the differences between “bishops” and “deacons.” It would be easy to say that one is more important than the other but that’s incorrect. “It is a mistake to see one office as more prestigious than the other, though bishops have more responsibility before God. Each is more a matter of calling than status” (Source 2). As you consider the things we’ve read today prayerfully think about roles that desperately need to be filled in your church. Now you have a biblical basis for understanding how God calls servant-leaders.

 

References.

Source 1: Fausset (of Jamieson, Fausset & Brown), https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_003.cfm?a=1122001
Source 2: David Guzik, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Ti/1Ti_3.cfm?a=1122001

Source 3: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1865.

Devotional # 199. 1 Timothy 2:6-15

Devotional # 199. 7/25/16. 1 Timothy 2:6-15.

 

Intro. Last week we talked about the reason Christians have hope and how Jesus was the one and only Mediator between our sin and God (Devotional # 198). This week we’re going to talk about men and women’s roles in church services.

v. 6-7. We’re talking about “the Man Christ Jesus” (v. 5) and that He gave Himself as a “ransom.” Basically Jesus traded His freedom for our freedom. The best part is that it was “for all.” Jesus was impartial when He died on the cross “for all” people, “for all” time.

Paul tells us he was appointed as “a preacher and an apostle” and “a teacher of the Gentiles.” We know the fuller story from Acts 13:2, 42-52. Paul reassures us that this is true, promising by the highest authority and greatest testimony – Jesus Christ!

Verses 8-15. Men and Women’s Conduct in the Church
The next section is on men and women’s responsibilities within the Church. As with anything in the Bible we must understand this in the context of the time period and the church this was written to. When Paul uses words like “every” and “all” it applies to all churches but if he becomes more detailed he is usually referring to a specific problem.

v. 8. Men Leading Prayer

When Paul says for men to pray “everywhere” he means in “every” church. Not that they should have their hands raised wherever they go. Regarding their hands being lifted – this was a common custom of that culture and time while praying (1 Kings 8:22; Psalm 28:2, 63:4, 134:2). There is nothing magical about it but it does give the reminder of humility for the person praying.

vv. 9-10. Ladies of the Congregation’s Modesty

Guzik gives us a great first impression of these verses: “Women should emphasize spiritual preparation and beauty more than physical preparation and beauty” (Source 1). Many people like the idea of taking the focus off of physical appearance but many Americans don’t want anyone to tell them how to dress or act. In the church we need to get rid of our pride and cultural rights if they conflict with God’s commands. Here Paul says that Christian ladies should dress in “modest apparel“, which is explained as “modesty and self-control” (ESV). Much like the mature believer who recognizes that although they have freedom in Christ, they shouldn’t always use it if it stumbles other believers or confuses non-Christians (Romans 14).

The next part needs to be understood in cultural context: “not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.” It’s very clear what Paul means: at the time of writing this, all of these things (braided hair, gold, etc.) were viewed as ungodly and incorrect action. This was because rich women’s would use these things to draw attention to themselves and their wealth and status. Church is supposed to welcome everyone not be just another reminder of how rich or poor a person is.  “How you dress reflects your heart…The most important adornment is good works. If a woman is dressed in propriety and moderation, with good works, she is perfectly dressed. Good works make a woman more beautiful than good jewelry” (Source 1).

vv. 11-15. Ladies Role in the Church Service

Paul talks about ladies being quiet and not being in authority over men. Paul first directs our attention to Adam and Eve. God’s original creation was to have husband and wife submit to Him and to hold the man responsible and to have the wife help the man (Genesis 2:18, 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9). Secondly, the Fall and the curse that came from Eve’s disobedience were used by God. When Eve left Adam’s leadership and protection, she sinned. Likewise, Adam “violated his leadership role” when he followed Eve, so women’s curse is to want to usurp man’s authority (Genesis 3:16) (Source 2). As we’ve talked about in the past, God hold’s men responsible for what happens in their households, not women (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 22). Here God holds men responsible for teaching in the church. Let’s look at teaching a little more.

In the cultures of the Bible women were always looked at as inferior to men. In every command and situation in the Bible God consistently gives women more rights and fair dealings then the surrounding cultures. This case is no different. Notice that the Church is told to “let a woman learn” (v. 11) which was completely unheard of in this day and time. Paul was saying women had just as much right to an education in the Scriptures as any man did. If we couple this with the context of the Ephesian church that Paul is instructing Timothy for, it is possible that some of the ladies were taking advantage of this freedom and trying to gain teaching roles within the church. This doesn’t mean women can’t be leaders and don’t have much to offer. I think of the story of Lydia in Acts 16:14-15 and also in our own church where many women have important insight that men sometimes miss. Just as in marriage, men and women should work together in a church to keep it working for God’s glory. So here, Paul was making sure the divine structure remained intact. Remember men are held responsible for the spiritual health of the church.

Lastly, what does Paul mean by “nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control”? It is clear in the Hebrew this is talking about the women that come after Eve. The word “saved” here doesn’t mean “salvation” instead it means to remove the stigma of being the same gender known for bringing sin into the world. What can ladies do to remove the stigma? They can train up godly kids. Because mothers by nature are more nurturing and generally spend more time with kids then father’s do, they are able to train up their kids in the Lord. How will they be equipped to train up these kids? They must “continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” This is a great way for Paul to book-end his point on modesty and self-control.

Conclusion. The first part of our Devotional today focused on how Jesus died to save “all” people and that is especially meaningful to us in a study that could have initially seemed condescending towards women. God chose a women to carry the baby Savior, Jesus chose the woman at the well to explain He was God and He chose women to be the first witnesses of His resurrection. God has set up the institutions of marriage and family and the church in a specific way. He holds us accountable for what He has said and what we know. I encourage you to put aside your cultural norms and instead meditate on God’s knowledge and goodness. If you follow His commands your life and church will be blessed!

 

References.

Source 1: David Guzik: https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_1Ti/1Ti_2.cfm?a=1121001

Source 2: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1864.

Devotional # 198. 1 Timothy 2:3-5

Devotional # 198. 7/17/16. 1 Timothy 2:3-5.

Intro. My wife and I just got back from a missions trip in Hungary (I had this Devotional set up to post last week but something went wrong – sorry). The trip was for us to lead a camp teaching English using Bible studies and real world conversation methods. It was in a small village called Nagydobos, and was a huge success! I’ll talk more about it in a future blog.

Today’s reading will help us understand the reason for our hope in God, tell us that there is only one way to be reconciled to God and contrast the evil of Satan with the truth and goodness of God.

vv. 3-4. Paul starts off with “for this is good and acceptable.” What is the “this” that he is referring to? Two things: 1. The four different types of prayers in verse 1, and 2. that Christians

lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” in verse 2 (for more see Devotional # 197. But the main point of both of those things was the focus on others. Remember Paul said “all” people and also talked about “all authorities”?

With that context in mind it makes sense that the focus is on God desiring all people to be saved (v. 4). God is not mean, He is loving, but He is also just. In 2 Peter 3:9 we’re told God wishes that none would perish but that everyone would come to repentance. Notice it doesn’t say ‘that none would perish but that everyone would go to heaven’, instead that everyone would repent. Because if they repent then they can go to heaven. So if this really is “good and acceptable is the sight of God our Savior” why does anyone have to go to hell? We’ll get the #1 reason in verse 5 but before that let’s look at it rationally.

If there is a Being who is perfect and infinitely good then He cannot allow evil to go unanswered forever, otherwise He would not be infinitely good. When God created people He gave them a choice: play by the rules and live in harmony with Him, or break the rules and suffer the consequences. Remember the evil I just mentioned that God can’t allow forever? Well, when Adam and Eve rebelled against God they stood in opposition to God and that was evil (Genesis 3). The Bible says that each human being is held accountable for that same decision. Either they stand in opposition to God (which is “evil”) or they accept whatever solution He has given (which is “good”). Now let’s read verse 5…

v. 5. Verse 5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” This is very clear. There is only one way to be back in the presence of God. God has made a way that both His goodness and His justice are satisfied, but it requires us to be humble and acknowledge that we’ve sinned and that Jesus is the ONE and ONLY way. That is the one and only Truth. It is “the knowledge of the truth” from verse 4. And anyone who has heard or read or had it impressed on their heart by the Holy Spirit is accountable to make a decision. But if this is “the truth”, what does “the lie” look like?

Satan is continually lying to everyone. He portrays evil as truth and as fun and as better than the status quo. In John 8:44 we see that Satan is the “father of lies.” Eventually Satan will outwardly command demons of destruction (Revelation 9:1-11). But even then people will be so deceived they won’t turn from that false hope, that evil.

But God is consistently honest with everyone. He portrays real goodness as truth. He shows that although it may be harder, in reality the Christian life is a life of truth and love. Eventually God will outwardly live among Christians and shepherd and lead and wipe away every tear  (Revelation 7:15-17). Christians will be justified in their faith of a Creator and Mediator that they couldn’t see but who gave them real hope and love.
Conclusion. Don’t be afraid to share this message. Don’t be confused when people bring up their reasons for not believing in God or when they chastise the Bible for being “narrow minded.” Remember they are currently believing the lie. All we can do is 1. Pray for them (verse 1), 2. Lead a peaceful life (verse 2) and love them enough to share God’s love (“desires all people to be saved”) and truth (“one Mediator…the Man Christ Jesus”) with them!

Devotional # 197. 1 Timothy 2:1-2

Devotional # 197. 7/5/16. 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

Intro. Last week’s Devotional was really moving for me…and I wrote it! The desire for the church, which is bleeding out, to be cured was just as relevant for Paul 2,000 years ago as it is for us today. Last week we talked about real solutions for the modern church: unity on essential beliefs (1:19) and healing in discipleship and shepherding (1:20).

In a few days my wife and I are leaving for a one week mission trip to Hungary. We’re going over to teach kids English while using the Bible. This type of camp was the whole reason this Devotional started: to share Jesus with others. Interestingly, today’s Scripture encourages us to pray in a variety of ways. Will you pray for our trip? That the kids will start a relationship with Jesus that will have a ripple effect on their families and friends.

v. 1.We know when Paul says “therefore” we’re supposed to think back to what was just said. Paul exhorted (encouraged) Timothy to kick out anyone who rejected “having faith and a good conscience” with the hope that they would repent and come back to Jesus and His church. With that in mind Paul says that he “exhorts” everyone to supplicate, pray, intercede and give thanks for all men (and women!) and also everyone in authority.

Let’s go through what these four phrases mean but first we need to know why so it all makes sense. Remember we just learned about “Hymenaeus and Alexander” in 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Devotional # 196? They were influential in the church in Ephesus but they weren’t the only ones. “The Judaistic false teachers in Ephesus, by a perverted gospel and the teaching that salvation was only for Jews and Gentiles proselytes to Judaism, would have certainly restricted evangelistic praying” (Source 1). For that reason Paul is telling them to pray for all people. As Titus 2:11 says, “the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people” (NIV). Now that we understand this, what are the four ministries the Ephesians (and us) were to do?

supplications” – In the Greek this word means “‘to be without.’ Thus this kind of prayer occurs because of a need” (Source 1). Non-Christians are lost and need to be prayed for since they are ‘without’ Jesus.

prayers” – this is a general term referring to all types of talking with the Lord. Remember Paul is encouraging Christians to pray for others. We can be so caught up in ourselves that we forget to pray for others. And although you should pray for people to get jobs and to get well and to get the house they want, really, way more importantly, you should be praying for people’s salvation.

intercessions” – This word in Greek means ‘to lean in and speak personally with someone.’ The root word for this is used for Jesus standing in for us (Romans 8:26, Hebrews 7:25). So we can understand that we should have empathy for the lost and ‘stand in’ for them (Source 1). We can’t save them. Jesus already interceded for every person’s sins; but we can ask the Holy Spirit to prick their hearts, in that way we can intercede.

giving of thanks” – Paul never forgets this one. He’s consistently reminding us to be thankful for everything God has given (for example think about Colossians 3:14-15, Devotional # 161).As we pray for others we’ll be reminded how good God has been to us.

Now that we know the ways we are to pray, who are we to pray for? Let’s read on…

v. 2. The people we are to be praying for are “all men, for kings and all who are in authority.” The word “all” is used twice here: first, with the general description of “all men (and women)” (v. 1) and second, with “all who are in authority.” Sandwiched in the middle are “kings.”

I have a friend who has always had a problem with authority. In high school his big mouth got him beat up by a rent-a-cop and later in life he wound up in prison. His biggest problem was that if he didn’t respect someone or their office he didn’t have the self-control to keep his thoughts to himself. I think we all understand where he is coming from even if we don’t verbalize it. But the point here in verses 1-2 is that we are to be praying for all people and positions of authority.

In Romans 13:1 Paul tells us, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” This means that God has placed every politician, police officer and professor in their place. We are to trust and respect God and know that His will is best. We talked about this in Acts 26:1-11, Devotional # 69 if you’re interested.
Interestingly, in contrast with the story of my anti-authority friend, Paul tells us that praying for authority will help us “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” It would seem that Paul is saying “a quiet and peaceable life” is our goal. Adventure junkies (missionaries?) and extroverts (street witnesses?) need not worry or rebel against this! The context here is in contrast to authorities so this must mean not being in trouble with the law and not being at war with your neighbors. When we pray for the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7) and a quiet and calmness in our lives, this is God’s answer to that prayer.

Conclusion. Today we learned about several different ways to pray: each time with the focus on others. We also learned that anyone in authority has been put there by God, so it is our duty to pray for them. This will lead us to have peace with others so that we can continue to share Jesus with them!

 

References.

Source 1: John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1862.