Devotional # 208. 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Devotional # 208. 9/24/16. 1 Timothy 6:11-21.

Intro. It’s been exactly 4 years to the day since I started sending these Devotionals! My heart behind starting these was from the first time we did English camps in Hungary. I wanted to continue giving Bible studies to the Hungarian kids from the camps so I got their email addresses and went through the gospels. It grew into me emailing it to Americans also. This has been a great blessing for me to write and I’ve heard good feedback from a few of you also. But for the last couple of years God has put writing a book on my heart. My wife has been reading the book The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst, which talks about how we often say “yes” to requests when we should say “no” or we chose the wrong option of “yes” for our “yes.” The point is that I’ve been stretched thin with personal, church and writing responsibilities. Although this weekly Devotional is blessed by God, I’ve been called to say “the best yes” is focusing on writing a book and stopping the regular Devotionals. I will still post several specific Devotionals in the future.

In today’s reading we’ll look at the holiness of Jesus and how we should continually share that with others. Fittingly, we’re encouraged to stay the course and confess Jesus, even if  He changes our ministry. We’re finishing out the chapter and the book today.

vv. 11-13. Confession of the Eternal

Paul exhorts Christians to “flee these things.” This doesn’t mean we try and combat them, it means to run away from them. To the best of our ability, like Joseph running from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:12), we need to retreat. As always, Paul gives us a list of the things to pursue: “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness” (v. 11). Paul continues by telling us to “fight the good fight.” We’ve talked about the “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11-18, Devotional # 119) and something very similar to this in Philippians 3:13-14 (Devotional # 134) where there was the idea of “fight the good fight” along with enduring for the “prize” (as we’ll see next with laying “hold on eternal life”).

What does Paul mean by “lay hold on eternal life”? If we’re already Christians don’t we already have eternal life? Yes, but this is a little different; instead of having our head buried in the earthly “love of money”, it should be high in the heavenly mindset. It is probable that this is referring to “The Imperishable Crown” also known as the “Victor’s Crown” (Source 1), for more on the Six Crowns of the believer see Devotional # 136. If we are to release and run from sin, then we are to pursue and grab ahold of “eternal life.”

Paul tells us to “hold” to what we were “called” and continue to confess it in front of “many witnesses” (v. 12). Paul urges these Christians to commit to these things before God the Father (“God”) and God the Son (“Jesus Christ”). He then reminds us that Jesus was faithful to witness in front of Pilate (v. 13) as we should be faithful in front of whoever we’re given an opportunity.

vv. 14-16. The Awesomeness of Jesus Christ

We’re to keep this “commandment” until the Rapture (“Jesus Christ’s appearing”). I love that Paul focuses our attention on God’s timing being different than our own. Often we want things to happen “right now” but Jesus’ timing is always best. Jesus will “appear” and rapture the Church which will happen in Jesus’ own time and at that point we no longer need to work at keeping the commandment of witnessing about Jesus. The awesome thing, as we read in Revelation, is that we get to keep witnessing about Jesus but were doing it fully on His power and not our own. As Paul shares this he begins a spontaneous doxology. He shares Jesus is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power” (vv. 15-16). What a beautiful encapsulation of who Jesus is! Yet again, the Bible reminds us of how much greater He is than us. What a vast chasm there is between God the Son and us. And yet, as we look at what a few of these words and phrases mean, we also see how humble He is to have met us where we are and be called our Brother (Romans 8:29, etc.).

We’ll look at the words/phrases: 1. “only Potentate”, 2. “dwelling in unapproachable light” and 3. “whom no man has seen or can see.”

  1. only Potentate” means “Sovereign” and in Greek means “might” and “power” (Source 2). The NIV translates it as “only Ruler.” So this has the same emphasis as the phrases directly after this (“King of kings and Lord of lords”).
  2. dwelling in unapproachable light” is a great description and reminds me of 1 John 1:5 where we’re told that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Light reveals the truth of a matter, illuminating secrets and shadows. But the kind of “light” that Jesus is, is unparalleled. I think of our Sun, the greatest source of light for our planet; but I can’t approach it and live. In the same way God (who is even greater, having created the Sun) can’t be approached without annihilating that person. But if Jesus is that “truth-light” and lived on earth for 33 years how can He be “unapproachable”? Let’s look at the next phrased for that answer.
  3. whom no man has seen or can see” is an interesting phrase. A Jehovah’s Witness friend once quoted John 1:18 to me which says, “no one has seen God at any time.” He used this to tell me that since people had seen Jesus and no one has seen God then Jesus couldn’t be God. The problem is that his first premise was falsely based upon his understanding of the word “seen.” I don’t blame Him, many of us, when first reading this might look at it similarly. However, we have to remember that to have a proper understanding of Scripture we have to look at all of Scripture instead of just picking half a verse to prove a point. For example Exodus 33:20 tells us no one can see God’s face and live, and we read 1 Timothy 1:17 that said God is “invisible” (see Devotional # 195). At the same time Jacob saw God (Genesis 32:30) and Moses saw God (Exodus 33:11). So there must be a difference in how we understand “seeing God.” Most simply it comes down to how much of God we’re allowed to see. No one has seen all of God’s glory, but many people have seen a protected, safer form of God. Going back to the John 1:18 statement that “no one has seen God at any time” and reconciling that with seeing Jesus, Matthew Henry brings up four points: 1. “The nature of God is spiritual” therefore man can’t see Him with human eyes but we can see Him with faith (Heb. 11:27), 2. In the OT when God ‘showed’ Himself it was imperfect compared to making Himself known in “the incarnation of Christ”, 3. The Old Testament prophets were not as qualified as Christ “to make known the mind and will of God”, 4. Christ must be heeded since He “knew more of [God’s] mind than anyone else ever did” (Source 3).

We started this section with descriptions like “Potentate” and “King of kings” and finished with “unapproachable light” and that “no man has seen or can see” Him. This last phrase of “whom no man has seen or can see” is a fitting conclusion to the ideas of how awesome Jesus, God the Son, is. It then makes sense that Paul completes this verse that Jesus deserves all “honor and everlasting power.” Wasn’t that Paul’s point in verses 12-13 on why we should witness to others? So how do we give all glory to Jesus? There are many ways and sometimes we have our own personal ways of doing that. One is to read Jesus’ words, feel convicted and obey them. Another is to recognize Him for who He is completely. You can tell a cult that calls itself “Christian” by their denial of Jesus’ complete deity (being God). Why is Jesus’ godship such a controversy? Because if He is not fully God then we don’t have to fully obey Him or give Him all “honor” and worship. Lastly, another way to give all glory to Jesus is by making Him Lord of your life. If He isn’t sitting on the throne of your heart, governing every aspect of your life, then He doesn’t have all “honor.”

vv. 17-19. Sharing Riches

I talked about this greed being a characteristic of a false teacher two weeks ago in 1 Timothy 6:1-5 (Devotional # 206) and this is a continuation of what we read in 1 Timothy 6:6-10 (Devotional # 207), specifically vv. 9-10. There we were reminded to be content that our base needs are taken care of by God, and that dependence on worldly riches will end in disappointment and failure. Here, Paul commands that the wealthy not trust in those riches but in spiritual riches (v. 17). How do they do this? By doing “good works” (remember these are “proving works”, not “striving works” – see my St. Patrick’s Day Devotional for more). When the Holy Spirit convicts us to get our minds off ourselves and serve others we become content and spiritually rich! Remember in Matthew 6:19-21 when Jesus told us all of this world’s wealth will be lost but we have a savings account in heaven.

Ravi Zacharias tells the true story of a man who is on the top 10 wealthiest people in the world list. He came to faith in Jesus when he realized he had everything the world had to offer but was still empty inside. Zacharias uses this man’s simple faith to illustrate Jesus’ explanation that it is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for the rich to get into heaven (Matthew 19:24, Source 4). These “good works” of sharing God’s blessing with others, giving hope to the hopeless, will be “a good foundation” for “eternal life.” This is what I’ve been telling you! This life is a training ground for us to learn about Jesus and share Him with everyone!

vv. 20-21. Staying the Course

Paul choses an interesting way to end the book and chapter (although originally the letter didn’t have chapter demarcations). He encourages Timothy to be faithful to work on what had been committed to him. This was more than just punching a time clock in ministry to the Lord; God had specifically called Timothy (2 Timothy 4:5) to his ministry. In the same way God has called each of us to specific ministries. Often this isn’t a calling to be a pastor or missionary to Africa, instead it’s to be faithful to proclaim Jesus at your work, or in your neighborhood or with family. We may be called to something specific for 6 months and move to another thing, or 60 years of the same thing. But we can’t let anything (in Timothy’s case it was fabricated “knowledge”) deter us from what God has called us to do.

Conclusion. I want to be faithful in what I’ve been called to do. And I want you to be faithful to your calling. For me I feel like it’s time to stop these weekly Devotionals and focus on the book. I will continue to send the special Election Devotionals each month and I hope you continue reading the Bible and having daily devotions on your own. This week’s teachings in our confession of the eternal, the awesomeness and the rightful worship of Jesus, recognizing our spiritual riches and sharing them and staying the course of our Christian walk is a great way to finish these regular Devotionals. Remember, do not stray “concerning the faith.” Stay rooted and grounded in the Lord and He will give you the strength to continue the ministry He has given you. “Grace be with you. Amen.”

 

References.

Source 1: A.R. Fausset, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/jfb/1Ti/1Ti_006.cfm?a=1125010

Source 2: dynasteshttps://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1413&t=KJV

Source 3: Matthew Henry, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mhc/Jhn/Jhn_001.cfm?a=998001

Source 4: Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods, Thomas Nelson, 2012-01-09, iBooks, pp. 154-158.

Devotional # 164. Colossians 4:12-18

Devotional # 164. 11/23/15. Colossians 4:12-18.

Intro.   Today we finish out the book of Colossians: we’ll be learning about more men of faith. As it seems with the world we know today, there were people in the early church that stuck with Jesus and the faith as well as some who fell away. What can we learn from Paul’s final words and goodbye?

vv. 12-13. Just like Onesimus (4:9), Epaphras was from Colossae (“one of you“). And as such Epaphras’ heart was with his hometown. Notice that Paul says he was “laboring fervently for you in prayers” (v. 12) and “great zeal for you” (v. 13). So even if we have moved out of our hometown it’s a good thing to keep the ministry there in prayer. If God has called you to another place other than where you grew up be faithful in that place, praying for it and acting in His will but don’t forget your roots. It will be such an encouragement for your brothers and sisters in your hometown to hear how you battle for them in prayer! And another thing we see about Epaphras, aside from the great compliment by Paul about him being a “bondservant of Christ“, is that he also kept Laodicea and Hierapolis in mind. 

Sadly, what we know from Scripture about Laodicea, things didn’t go so well. According to Revelation 3:14-22 the Church of  Laodicea was one of the “very bad” Churches. The city of  Laodicea lay on one of the great Asian trade routes, was a leading banking center and manufactured black wool. There are references to the emetic qualities of the soda-laden warm water from nearby Hierapolis, whose thermal springs ran into the Maeander. So we see that Hieropolis was close to Laodicea. It is believed that Hierapolis is where Phillip (the Apostle) was stoned to death.

v. 14. “Luke” and “Demas” are mentioned here. This is the Luke that wrote the Gospel of Luke, which was named for him. He was not an eye-witness of Jesus but he went around as a reporter and talked to eye-witnesses and as moved by the Holy Spirit wrote down the story of Jesus. He then worked with Paul, as more than an eye-witness, laboring with Paul and Timothy and Demas and the others who are mentioned here and in other epistles and gospels. He makes me think of our present day Lee Strobel who was a journalist for the Chicago Tribune and strong atheist who started investigating claims about Jesus and then became a Christian. He has written books like The Case for Christ (documenting his attempt to prove Christianity false, multiple interviews with evangelical Christian scholars and ultimately his conversion) as well as The Case for Faith, The Case for Christianity and The Case for the Real Jesus, among others. I would encourage you to read any and all of these. What we can learn from men like Luke who are educated (Paul was a doctor) is that Christians can be educated and still serve the Lord greatly. Obviously there are still men like Lee Strobel (and J.P. Moreland and Ravi Zacharias and R.C. Sproul and on and on) who carry on the tradition of telling others about Jesus with scholarship. Go ahead and look at this link of 20 apologists (and other cultural commentators): http://crossexamined.org/top-20-apologists . I suggest you look into how these people share their biblical worldview.

Notice Paul doesn’t give any positive mention of “Demas” and it seems like maybe that is for good reason. Although he is mentioned in Philemon 1:24 as a “fellow laborer” with Paul, the last mention of him in 2 Timothy 4:10 shows that Demas actually forsook Paul “having loved this present world” and that he went to Thessalonica (Source 1). It seems like Demas degenerated in his walk over time. We can learn a lot from this. It seems that the writers of the Bible are wise in reminding us that we can fall away from the Lord and our walk with Him. We may not plan it, or even think it would ever happen and yet it does. The longer we spend time in churches and fellowship with Christians the more chances we have to see this happen. Be warned do not lose your love for the Lord, do not allow your walk to become boring and uninspired. As soon as you settle in to monotony you will drift away from the Lord instead of sailing alongside Him.

v. 15. Here we’re told of “Laodicea” and “Nymphas.” We just talked about the area of “Laodicea” but now we’re introduced to “Nymphas.” Paul tells us that Nymphas’ had a church in his house and Paul greets Nymphas and all who are in that house church. Not much else is known about Nymphas himself but the house-church is an important part of church history. It wasn’t until some time in the third century that Christian churches were in there own large buildings. But knowing that Nymphas was a faithful man is encouraging especially in light of what we just learned about with Demas.

vv. 16-17. When a church got a letter from an apostle such as Paul or Peter they would read it in their church usually multiple times. They would often have people copy it and then pass it around to other churches. Paul gives specific instructions that the Colossians are to read the letter among themselves but then they are also supposed to pass it on to the Laodiceans and make sure that it’s read to them also. Paul is doing more than just reminding them, he’s making sure to call out the importance of the church in Laodicea. In just the seven verses Paul has mentioned the Laodiceans four times. He’s actually killing two birds with one stone: he’s making sure that the Colossians recognize the importance of the Laodiceans and other churches and that the Laodiceans both feel that they are important and recognize the importance of other churches like the one in Colossae.

Paul then says something interesting. He specifically tells the Colossians what to say to a man named “Archippus“. Archippus may have been Philemon’s son “since he is mentioned in the context of the wife of Philemon” (Philemon 1:1) (Source 1). We see Paul’s appreciated view of Archippus when he calls him “our fellow soldier.”

But it’s really interesting Paul doesn’t just say ‘hey, just remind him about this thing.’ Instead Paul specifically tells them the words that he wants used. God had a very specific message specifically directed at Archippus. I love that our Lord knows us by name, and that he has specific messages for us throughout our lives. Sure this message may speak to many other people who feel convicted that the Lord is speaking to them that’s one of the reasons God uses the Bible. But sometimes we can be so interested in applying it to our own lives that we forget about the person that it was initially intended for. Archippus was a real guy and really needed to be reminded by God to, “‘take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it’“. So it would seem that Archippus was not doing all he should with the ministry he had been given. I love the wording here, it was not “his ministry” it was a ministry that he had “received.” Every ministry that we have has been given by God to us it is owned by Him and He has hired us to do His work.

v. 18. Paul signs off on his letter to his friends in Colossae. He signs it by his “own hand” so that they will know that it is a credible letter and that they can believe it. As we’ve seen this was common for Paul and others of his age, to sign off on the letter whether they dictated it to someone else or wrote it with their own hand. Paul remind them of his “chains” – not to get sympathy out of them but because he wanted to remind them of his commitment level and what theirs should be. Not just was he able to give them encouraging words but he lived out his convictions. It also served to remind them to pray for him since it was a difficult place to be in. Paul then says, “grace be with you.” This is an appropriate reminder that God has extended kindness to us even though we didn’t deserve it. I think it’s really cool that even though Paul was in prison he still recognized God’s grace to him. Paul’s proper mindset on grace is then passed on to his friends there in Colossae. We can learn from this when we’re going through difficulties it is the mature Christian that can still encourage other Christians with words like “grace be with you” instead of “poor me”. Paul concludes with “amen” which means “may it be” or “so be it.” The use of “amen” is always the perfect bookend to a spiritual thought, prayer or letter. God is speaking through Paul saying, ‘everything that I’ve said here is righteous and true and will come to pass.’

Conclusion. As we close up the book of Colossians we should look back over some of the things we’ve learned. We talked about praying for others (1:9, 4:12) to be fruitful (1: 10) so that we can share Jesus’ salvation with others (1:14). We learned about Jesus’ nature and authority (1:15-18). We talked about how philosophy and legalism weren’t worth anything when compared with knowing Jesus (chapter 2). We spent some good time on the character of the believer and what our family relationships should look like (chapter 3). And here in chapter 4 we talked about walking in wisdom and redeeming the time (4:5). We then heard about some great men of the faith and how they can impact our lives nowadays (4:7-17). Again, all of these awesome and comforting thoughts were sealed with “amen” by God Himself, so we can take courage in knowing they are true and will come to pass.

I hope that as we transition into the blog format you will continue to receive these Devotionals and tell your friends, families and enemies (haha) about them. Again, it’s at: https://godsheartblog.wordpress.com , which is the main page where all devotionals will be posted.

 

References.

Source 1: David Guzik, https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Col/Col_4.cfm?a=1111001