Today you should read: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
If you are as sensitive to your own sinfulness as I am, then reading the list given in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 can really hurt. Even though it doesn’t — or shouldn’t — describe Christians, I see so much of the “old life” (2 Corinthians 5:17) in it. And until Jesus comes back or I die, I have to deal with parts of that old life. I am eternally grateful, though, that God gives us His perfect Spirit to help us in this fight. There are two lists given in Galatians 5; one describes the “old life”, and the other displays the “new life” that is fighting to overcome the “old life”.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:16-26, ESV)
The context of our passage today is concerning those who call themselves Christ-followers in the last days yet deny Jesus by their choices and lifestyles. Among them, we find false teachers and cult leaders. Such evil people will drag many into ungodly devotion to falsehood and false gods. We must be on guard today, even though this may describe something that is even more prevalent in the future. We must “keep in step with the Spirit” in such a way that we fend off evil teachers, and Satan himself (Ephesians 6)!
If you have questions about Jannes and Jambres, here is a quick ESV Study Bible note that may clear it up for you:
Jannes and Jambres are the names given in early extrabiblical Jewish writings to the Egyptian magicians who opposed Moses inEx. 7:8–13. In these writings, these men became key symbols of opposition to God’s truth. Though their names do not appear in the OT itself, they would be familiar to Timothy and other Jews; identifying the opponents with these archetypal enemies of God’s truth would have significant rhetorical power.corrupted in mind. Again false teaching is cast in terms of deficient thinking (see note on 2 Tim. 2:26). This is why divine aid is necessary for coming to the “knowledge of the truth” (2:7, 25–26). disqualified regarding the faith. In spite of their claims, these people do not have saving faith, since they oppose the gospel both in their teaching and in their living (see Titus 1:16).
Since we just concluded a detailed series through 2 Timothy, I encourage you to catch any of the messages you may have missed. You can do so at our website or via Vimeo:
What were your thoughts on today’s passage? What did you learn? Blessings on your day!
Posted by:Todd Thomas
Today you should read: 2 Timothy 2:22-26
A few words stuck out to me when I read this passage:
When I saw that all of these words were in just five verses I came to this conclusion:
Life is a battle and a struggle. We can’t coast through it.
We have been called to “run” from sin and “pursue” righteousness. This requires a life with the foot on the gas pedal, not coasting. Some people may think that it is enough to “run” from sin. They think, “as long as I am not doing this or that or going here or there then I am fine.” That is not the case. That is legalism. Following rules and regulations will not produce a righteous life, it takes the other side of the equation. We have to “pursue” a righteous life. It is also true, however, that this pursuit is not enough. This is the person who says, “I know I don’t always do what I should be doing and I go places I probably shouldn’t but at least I go to church and read my Bible so that should be enough.” It’s not. It takes the “run” and the “pursue” working in tandem. That is what makes life a battle and a struggle and that is why coasting is not an option. So how about you? Are you coasting or are you struggling? We won’t always win this side of heaven but sometimes the victory is in the struggle. If you are struggling and battling to “run” and “pursue” then you are on the right track. If you are not then I challenge you to figure out what is missing and take the necessary steps to make it happen.
Posted by:Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: 2 Timothy 2:15-21
Rightly Handle The Word of Truth…
Well, we should be pretty familiar with these verses!
After a whole teaching series on 2 Timothy, I hope you are beginning to grasp this book as a whole.
Today I want to just briefly help apply some simple verses to our lives:
In the passage we read today, Paul begins by telling Timothy to work hard, in order to rightly apply the Word of truth (v 15). He follows, with the same theme, by telling Timothy to avoid irreverent babble (v 16), because it spreads like a disease (v.17). Verse 18 says that Hymenaeus and Philetus have been telling people that they are already in heaven (basically) by saying they have already been resurrected, which has caused some to turn away from seeing a need for Jesus.
The Basic Summary: Rightly handling the Bible matters. It also is important not to argue about “theological” issues that don’t matter. When we do this, it spreads like a disease, causing dissension in the church and actually hinders people from coming to Jesus.
So, if rightly handling the Bible matters, how do I do it? Here’s 3 basic ways:
1. Read your Bible trying to understand the Author’s intent.
God had an intention when He wrote the Bible through each biblical author. It’s not ok to make the Bible say what we want it to say…or to wrongly apply it to our lives. That’s dangerous because then we can just make the verses say what we want them to say. If we do that, then where is the limit? When interpreting God’s Word we must be faithful to God’s actual intention of each verse.
2. Read your Bible with an intention to apply it to your life.
Rightly handling the Word of Truth involves putting this truth to work in our lives. If we are not actively applying what we read in the Bible to our own lives, then we are not correctly handling it. Then, as James says, “we are deceiving ourselves” (James1:22). This passage in 2 Timothy tells us to “work hard, so that we have no need to be ashamed.” But if we are not applying it to our lives, then we have reason to be ashamed.
3. Use the Bible correctly when applying it to other’s lives.
We can’t be using the Bible as leverage to support our own passions. We can’t use it to gain control, change people to become what we want, or to accomplish our mission. We must use the Bible, as we help other’s apply it to their lives, in a way that is reverently faithful to God’s purpose of the passage. This applies for dads and preachers. For moms and singles. For businessmen and missionaries. No matter our occupation or life-stage…when we minister to others we cannot use the Bible to promote our sweet-spots.
Let’s be people who correctly handle God’s Word. It’s our unchanging standard of truth, and as best as we can, we need to keep it that way!
Posted by:Sam Cirrincione
Today you should read: 2 Timothy 2:1-14
Paul’s words and heart toward Timothy, a young man that he mentors and disciples, is a perfect example in the way us older men should disciple young men. He shows proper affection and encouragement toward him as he refers to him as one of his children and tells him that he will be strengthened by grace in Jesus. He then reminds him of the commissioning service he had for Timothy in front of others so that they can continue to do the same with other men. (v. 1-2)
However the apostle Paul gets serious in the next several passages telling him that he not only look at him as an entrusted son who should be encouraged by God’s grace but that he will suffer for the very thing that is entrusted to him (the Gospel) and will have to work hard in the work of the ministry. (v. 3-6, 8-10)
As one who feels called to disciple, mold, train and send out young men who be missionaries to the world around them and good husbands and fathers to their future families I find this example to be helpful. At heart, men want to be challenged to do hard things and see fruit from their tough labor. We are created to work and cultivate and the ones who are lazy and apathetic are that way because of the fall when God told Adam that he will now receive thistles and weeds when he does what he was created to do in Genesis 3 (work and provide). This is why Paul shoots straight with Timothy telling him you will suffer, you will need to discipline yourself, don’t forget about the Savior in whom you are serving that had to work and suffer as well (v. 8-11).
At the same time we can’t underestimate the yearning our young men feel for grace in their many mistakes and to have a father who will love and discipline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of three – live in biological father-absent homes. The Bible says the church is to be a father to the fatherless and just like Timothy, someone has to fill that void with that type of protection, guidance, love and affection.
So CPC family, what are you doing to help train and send out young men. I may be biased as the student pastor but if we truly believe what teach then we know that it’s the men who ultimately leads the home and the church in a day and age when they are absent of those leaders in the home and more then half of evangelical churches allow women as pastors. This could mean that as a dad you start fulfilling your roles and responsibilities in the home or as a church member you want to help out with our teens or our children pastor’s tutoring program. Whatever it is, we need to be committed to keep on raising up men to lead in such ways and it starts by guys taking initiative and women not allowing our men to continue to go the ways of the world where they are ditching their responsibilities and not leading out.
Posted by:Erik Koliser
Today you should read: 2 Timothy 1:13-18
“Follow the pattern of sound words that you have heard from me” (v.13) these words resonate with me and I am sure with many of you as well. I had a dad who was a provider and a hard worker but he was not a believer and pretty absent when it came to teaching me anything about manhood. When I think about the relationship that Paul and Timothy had I think about the godly men in my life who invested in me and helped me to learn what true manhood looks like. The first guy that I think of is Josh Duncan. He is on staff with Campus Outreach and was on Eastern Kentucky University’s campus when I was there as a student in 2007. Josh met me when I was still a lost frat boy doing what you imagine a frat boy might do. He befriended me and shared the gospel for months while I still lived a life a part from God. That summer I realized that I was a sinner in need of a savior and ask Christ into my life as Lord. Josh was there to disciple me for the next two years. Josh was the first person to help me realize that true manhood was built around faith in Jesus Christ.
The next guy I think about is Tim Parsons, who as most of you know is our pastor here at Center Point Church. I came to Center Point when it was just two years old and started to understand the need for the local church. I was growing in my faith but I was still green when it came to maturity in leadership. Tim invested in me and taught me that Leaders lead with integrity from their faith and walk with God.
Paul is giving Timothy similar instruction:
1. Paul encourages Timothy to follow his example.
Who in your life can you look to and say they have “influenced me to grow in my faith?” Who do you have that is investing in you?
Who are you investing in? Are you at a place in your faith that you can look at someone and encourage them to follow your example? You do not need to be perfect to do this you just need to be faithful.
2. Paul wants Timothy to remember the gospel.
This is a great lesson for us all. If you want to be a leader and you want to be influential you can never forget or go past the gospel. It is the life blood of our faith and maturity comes when we grow deeper in our understanding of it.
3. Paul wants Timothy to remember that the power comes from the Holy Spirit.
You will not be able to make yourself into a godly person. That only happens through yielding to the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. In what ways do you need to let go and obey the word of God through faith?
Posted by:Chad Wiles
Today you should read: 2 Timothy 1:7-12
2 Timothy 2:7 has been speaking to me a lot lately. Leading church “stuff” has been a whole new experience for me. It’s been almost two years since I started at our Richmond campus, but it still feels very new in many ways. On top of all that, we are currently trying something totally new, exciting, and even risky. In case you haven’t heard, we are moving out of our current location and will begin having Sunday morning services at Clark-Moores Middle School on January 5th. We believe this will platform us to have a greater impact in Madison County.
I’ll be straight with you. I have my fair share of insecurities. I’m not always confident. In fact, I frequently wonder why people listen to what I have to say when I teach. I fear at times that I’m incapable of leading a church because, let me be honest, I don’t always know what I am doing. I hope I am doing and saying what is right. I get timid when I have to lead strongly. I get nervous. I think people don’t like me or want to be around me. That’s the world I live in often times.
This was not intentional, but I just re-read that last paragraph. Look at how many sentences begin with “I”. It’s no wonder I have some of these insecurities. My confidence is often in me instead of the power that is within me. God has not given me a spirit of timidity for which to serve Him. Quite the contrary, He has given me a spirit of power and love and self-discipline with which to lead. That power comes from the God who has saved me and called me to Himself because He wants to use me for His purposes.
There’s freedom and power that comes from recognizing the power that Christ gives me. Paul would agree. Look at all of the “I’s” in verse 12. Paul recognized his Power Source and his purpose. When I do the same, “I” can also suffer, “I” don’t have to be ashamed, “I” know in Whom I believe, “I” am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him.
I pray for strong confidence to lead well today. What about you? Do you need to lay down a spirit of timidity when it comes to leading, or sharing the gospel, or saying something that needs to be said? Where do you need to experience the power of love and discipline today so that you can serve and lead with great confidence and purpose for His glory?
Posted by:Rich Duffield
Today you should read: 2 Timothy 1:1-6
Today we begin in 2 Timothy, Paul’s final book. This is Paul’s last shot to instruct his protégé and he starts by telling him three things:
1. He encourages him with thankful prayers to God.
He tells Timothy how thankful he is for him and his “genuine faith” (Paul loves Timothy like a son and he knows he is about to leave this world). Encouragement is so important to those we invest in. Sometimes those we disciple or mentor need us to give them a push, or even a good kick, but don’t underestimate the power of encouragement to those who we hold influence over.
2. He mentions the lineage of his faith.
Paul brings up a brief synopsis of how Timothy came to faith. Now, we know that faith is a personal, individual thing that is not inherited or done as a family. However, there is something very special and strong when faith is “passed” on from one generation of a family to the next. When a mother can lead her daughter to Jesus and then the daughter does the same for her child it creates a very strong heritage. This is a great challenge and encouragement for all parents. As a new dad, and basically a first generation Christian, I desperately long to see this kind of legacy start with me and go to my daughter and then hopefully on down to her children. What a wonderful goal for us as parents to shoot for.
3. Encouragement to practice and sharpen spiritual gifts
Paul then encourages Timothy that, for those reasons, he should work to strengthen his spiritual gifts. This is a great encouragement for us as well. Many times we think because we are gifted in a particular area that we don’t need to work on it or give it much thought. I took a spiritual gifts test many years ago and it revealed to me that I was strong in area of mercy and giving. I thought that meant these things were natural for me and that I didn’t need to work on them. That is totally wrong. These things do come EASIER for me but they are still not natural. If I don’t work on them then I can quickly find myself being selfish, stingy, and short with people. The same is true for everyone. So make sure you work on and practice your spiritual gifts. Read up on them, study them in Scripture, and find ways to use them. Any tool that sits around long enough without being used and cared for will eventually rust and become useless. Don’t let that happen to you.
Posted by:Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 6:11-21
So we have reached the end of 1Timothy and Paul is giving Timothy, and us, a strong charge to do 3 things.
1. Stand firm in your faith- Verses 11-14
Paul tells Timothy to “Fight the good fight for the true faith” and this is our calling as well. Faith is not something that comes easy or naturally for us. It has to be a fight, each and every day. We have our sinful nature, the temptations of this world and a ruthless enemy who all desire to “shipwreck” our faith (1 Timothy 1:19). We must be willing to fight each day to hold tight to Jesus. We can’t coast through this life.
2. Do good with what God has given you- Verses 17-19
Paul tells Timothy to teach and instruct those who are rich to use their wealth to do good. We too must use our resources to do good to others. God is a gift giver who longs for His children to be like Him, gift givers. God gives to us so that we would give to others. God can only fill empty hands. Many of us struggle so much to let go of stuff, maybe a house, a car, a degree, job, toys, etc. God has blessings and gifts that we cannot even imagine and yet we hold on tightly to old, worn things. We trust in our things to give us protection and security. These things are meant to be used to do good, not hoard. We cannot put our trust in the gifts we have in this life, our trust must be in the one who gave them to us. So use them to do good and be ready for god to pour out even greater blessings.
3. Avoid “knowledge”
Paul warns Timothy about “foolish discussions” and how they have caused some to wander form the faith. Now, I don’t know what kind of discussions Paul had in mind but I think today we have several “foolish discussions” abounding today. They range from wacky spiritual practices to slight misinterpretations of God’s word. Either way, we are called to avoid these “foolish discussions”. Most of these discussions pull us away from a true loving relationship with Jesus and a desire to love His church and the world. A good rule of thumb is this:
If a discussion or topic deters you from being more in love Jesus, His church and the world then it is not profitable for you.
So fight the good fight of the faith, do good to others and avoid “foolish discussions”.
Posted by:Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 6:3-10
Thanks for faithfully reading JumpStart. I hope it encourages you and gets your day off to a good start. We’ve walked through many of the books of the Bible together, but we still have a few to go.
Today’s passage has three major themes…
There has been conflict in the church as long as there’s been a church. Look at the things listed in verse 4:
- Controversial Questions
- Disputes about words
- Abusive language
Causing friction. This ISN’T God’s plan for His church or His people
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Romans 12:18
God has been really working me over lately about this subject. A few weeks ago I shared my thoughts about it in Servant Leadership Gathering. In verse six we see a formula. All the pieces must be there for there to be success.
GODLINESS + CONTENTMENT = GREAT LIFE
GODLINESS without CONTENTMENT or CONTENMENT without GODLINESS won’t do it. Live your life for God and be content with where He has you. He will take care of you.
For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:25-34
Verse 9 blows my mind! The love for money is the source for all kinds of evil. This isn’t hard to understand – we’ve seen this in the world around us. This thinking even finds it’s way into the church. The last part is what’s hard to get your mind around. Some by longing for it have wondered away from the faith… The unbridled desire for money has caused people to leave their faith. Now that’s a breach in perspective.
Three Questions to Ponder Today:
- Do I work for peace or do I cause dissention? At work? School? Home? With friends? At Church?
- Am I content with where God has me? With what He’s given me?
- Do I have material possessions and money in the proper perspective in my life?
Spend some time today and think these questions through. Ask God to change your thinking and values to match His. Remember – things work better when you do them God’s Way!
Posted by:Tim Parsons
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 6:1-2
Representing the faith…
It’s crazy to think about… how the God of the universe would allow me to represent His name. He actually allows me to be a representative of who He is and what He can do. By choosing to do His work through His people, God chooses to make us representatives of His name.
Now I know you have heard this idea before, but think about it again… When a king chooses an ambassador (one who goes to represent him to other kingdoms and nations) he doesn’t choose just any old scrub. If he did, this ambassador would walk into the neighboring country just after rolling out of bed, he would have no idea what to talk about, he would probably disrespect the officials of that kingdom, and he would most likely be the reason that all of the other nations think poorly of the king he is representing.
In the same way, we have the constant task of representing our King of King’s and the Christian faith in general.
1 Peter 2:12 says:
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.”
Today in our passage, we see Paul give words of instruction when it comes to slaves. He describes the proper conduct for the slave of the unbelieving master as well as the believing master. Both of which are the same…submission.
The heart behind obeying the believing master is out of love and support of the fellow brother in Christ. The heart behind obeying the unbelieving master is to properly represent the True Master.
This can be properly applied to us as believers in any area of life. 1 Timothy 6:1 says that by our conduct we can “bring shame on the name of God and His teaching.”
How is your conducting representing your Master? At work, with your family, with your friends, or with your classmates…is your conduct representing the faith well?
You never know when you may encounter the same people in the future and you never know if you will have the ability to make up for your poor conduct. Remember, you are an ambassador…representing your King.
Posted by:Sam Cirrincione
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 5:17-25
I have a friend who serves as a youth and young adult pastor at a church in my home town of Somerset, KY. He was having a conversation with one of the members of his church and she was complimenting the preaching. In mid conversation she very casually asked, “what do you guys do during the week?” Unfortunately, this is the attitude for many inside the church. I have to say that I am very thankful to serve at Center Point because I have felt nothing but appreciation from our people.
Paul is trying to warn or drive home the point that “elders who rule” (v.17) are laborers, especially those who preach and teach. This word for labor can also be translated “toil” and is from the Greek word kopiao which implies hard work that makes a person tired (ESV commentary). I have to say that before coming to know Jesus I, too, thought that the job of a preacher was an easy one. I grew up on a farm and the kind of back breaking work that I did had to be more difficult than the work of the pastor. Now that I have experienced what it is like to be on staff at a church I have a very different perspective. I may be more worn out at times in my current job than I have ever been on the farm. I think that there are a couple of reasons for that as described in this passage.
1. Leaders feel the weight of responsibility. (v. 17-18)
a. As overseers we have a responsibility to preach and teach the word of God faithfully. There is a lot of work involved in the study and construction of a message in order to feed the people of the church.
b. Elders have a responsibility to care for the people in our church. When people are in need or a crisis happens due to sin and suffering God has called the elders to oversee that the people are cared for properly.
c. Elders/Pastors have a responsibility to train up the “saints” of our churches to do the work of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-13)
d. Elders have a responsibility to hear from God and lead the church well through making decisions for the church body (v. 17)
2. Leaders are held to a higher standard of accountability. (19-20)
a. Paul warns people not to be quick to pass judgment on an elder without evidence. However, if an elder persists in sin they are to be rebuked publicly in order to warn others. This judgment goes further than the standard of Matthew 18:15-20 that is for all believers. (Deut. 19:15-21).
b. Leaders are held to a higher standard on their teaching by God (James 3:1). This goes back to my point about being faithful to the scriptures.
The point of Paul’s writing in this passage is not to have men aspire to be leaders in order to get better pay or to be given double honor wherever they go. The point is for us to understand that the job of the overseer is a calling of God and requires much faithfulness for the good of the church. So, my hope is that we, as a church, would treat one another with grace and love and show respect for those that God has put over us because it is for our good. Also, for those of us who aspire to the office of overseer know that it is a good thing (1 Timothy 3:1). However, I challenge you to check you motives because the position of an elder has no room for pride or selfish gain.
Posted by:Chad Wiles
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 5:1-16
How should a young pastor treat people in the church? How should various types of people in the church be treated? Paul gave Timothy the answers to these questions in our passage today.
(vs. 1)Older men: Don’t sharply rebuke, but appeal to him, or exhort him, as a father. This doesn’t mean that a young pastor should never rebuke an older man. By all means, some older guys need some rebuke, but the rebuke should not be harsh or disrespectful. This is the only instance in the Bible where this Greek word for “rebuke” exists. It’s different than all of the other “rebukes” in the Bible. This word means “to strike upon, or to beat down.” In other words, don’t give a very harsh rebuke that tears one down instead of builds one up.
(vs. 1) Younger men: Treat them as brothers. In other words, treat them as partners in the ministry. Timothy wasn’t to lord his authority over them, but to work alongside of them as he shepherded them.
(vs. 2)Older women: Treat them as mothers. A young pastor should gladly accept some “mothering” that comes from older women. It’s honorable to receive this treatment from older women, and respect and honor should be returned to these women.
(vs. 2)Younger women: Treat them as sisters. In other words, treat them as partners in the ministry, but be careful to stay above reproach with them. A pastor working alongside a woman needs to take extra precaution with his emotions and conduct towards her. There have been too many instances in our society of pastors and church leaders having affairs with women in their church. This ought not to be.
(vs. 3-16) Widows: The main idea here is to help widows who are truly in need (vs. 3). If a widow has legitimate needs, her immediate family has the responsibility to assist her before the church does (vs. 4). A widow who has no family and is alone, but fixes her hope on God is considered a widow indeed (vs. 5, 10, 16) and the church should be quick to assist her. A widow who is actively involved in wanton pleasure is not to be put on the list of those needing assistance (vs. 6-7, 11-15).
How are we as the church to make application of this passage and glorify God?
- Treat older men and women with respect and honor. Their life experience is very valuable for younger people, and I, personally, have much to learn from those older than me.
- See our younger brothers and sisters as co-workers for the kingdom. None of us are greater or more valuable than the other. Be intentional to work well together as brothers and sisters, but stay above reproach.
- Families of widows in the church must be quick to help the widow in their family.
- The church must take on the responsibility of helping widows in need, particularly older widows.
Posted by:Rich Duffield
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 4:6-16
Picture an old scale with two plates on each end. It is balanced at the center, and is used to see differences in weight. When one side has more weight than the other, the scale leans that way. When the scale has an equal amount of weight on each side, it balances at the center.
As followers of Jesus, there is a certain amount of balance we should strive for in a variety of spiritual elements. We could talk about this with evangelism and discipleship, or prayer and Bible reading, or corporate worship and private worship, or spending time with believers and non-believers, etc. But Paul addresses a different balance in today’s text that can be hard to attain: how we live and what we believe.
We must make sure that there is a healthy balance just like getting those plates to be even. Paul challenges us this way in 1 Timothy 4:13-16. At the beginning of the chapter, Paul addresses apostasy, that people in the church who participated in worship or service will fall away. He says that the Holy Spirit “clearly” tells us this will happen. We can bank on it. This is addressing the last days, but we see glimpses of it today. This ties to what Paul addresses in 13-16. To protect our church from this, we must be true to the Bible and live righteous lives. He says:
Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. Do not neglect the spiritual gift you received through the prophecy spoken over you when the elders of the church laid their hands on you. Give your complete attention to these matters. Throw yourself into your tasks so that everyone will see your progress. Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.
There are many morally upright churches out there today filled with people who do good things like serve in the community and donate to the poor. This is very common in the Unitarian Universalist movement. They keep a close watch on how they live but that doesn’t get them to heaven. Only Jesus can do that. Somewhere along the way, even the once rock-solid denomination of the Presbyterian Church (USA) turned from right doctrine and headed downhill quickly. God didn’t save them — or us — to just be the Kiwanis Club.
The other side has also seen this. There are people who know what they believe but don’t allow those beliefs to affect the way they live. That’s just as bad; dying denominations prove that. They forgot the importance of impacting the world for Christ. They stopped sharing that hope with those who need it, and their faith became a “secret handshake” of sorts. Sure, they kept a close watch on their teaching, but they forsook the life they were supposed to live. God didn’t save them — or us — to become theological eggheads.
Keep a close watch on BOTH how you live AND what you believe (“Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching”). Be the do-gooder because you have One living in you who did eternal good on your behalf at the cross. But don’t forget to protect and preach the sacred message of the Bible. Keep that scale balanced; it’s an indication of being a true believer (“for the sake of your own salvation”). Point others to Jesus (“the salvation of those who hear you”).
Posted by: Todd Thomas
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 4:1-5
“In the last times some will turn away from the true faith; they will follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)
We have been going through the book of 2 Timothy as a church and Paul deals with this issue in more detail in that book. Paul spends a great deal of his last letters to Timothy warning and describing what the last times will look like. One of the key things he talks a lot about is the idea of people following false teachings. Already, in Paul’s times, there are many false teachers and deceivers teaching things contrary to what Paul was teaching, which was God’s true word. This has become even more prevalent in our day as people are fooled into such ideas as new age spirituality, Islam, Catholicism, and other false world religions. There are even other “Christian” world views and religions that have many people fooled into believing things that are “close” to Christianity but, not quite. The health and wealth gospel, second baptism of the Holy Spirit, and movements like these have people fooled as well. The largest church in America (46,000 people in attendance!) is promoting the health and wealth gospel. We live in a day and age where people’s consciences are certainly seared and people are being fooled left and right. So, how do we weed out what is true and what is false? Here are a few quick ways to do this:
- Read the Bible- The Bible tells us of a group of people called the Bereans, who were, of course, from Berea (not KY). They heard what Paul had to say but instead of just taking his word for it they studied the scriptures daily to make sure what he said was true(Acts 17:11). This is the first and most important thing you can do to make sure something is true or not.
- Pray- The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit has been given to us to illuminate (or show us) what is true and right (John 16:13) We have freedom to go to Him and ask for His guidance to see what is true and what is not.
- Make sure it holds Jesus as Lord and Savior and as God’s Son- 1 John 4:1-2 tell us that we should test everything to make sure it is true. John tells us how to do that by making sure Jesus has His rightful place and that He is represented truly and fully. If a belief or a theological system does not hold to this, it is not truth.
- Seek wise counsel- There is always wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14). Seek out people you can trust and who know the Scriptures and can give you wise counsel on what it is you are thinking about or researching.
This is not an exhaustive list but if you start here you can feel confident you will be able to weed out false teachings as they come your way.
Posted by:Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 3:14-16
I hope you’re off to a good day. Thanks for beginning it with JumpStart. These few verses today are potent. Paul begins with the reason why he wrote the instructions we studied yesterday – to the leadership of the church.
So… you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth. (v.15)
Instructions on how we are to “conduct ourselves” as God’s church. He calls us the “household of God.” God’s family on showcase for the world to see. He goes further and reminds us of two very important things:
- We are the church of the living God
- The church is the pillar and foundation of truth
What do these mean? First – it’s not our church to do with as we wish. It belongs to God and He’s alive. We must honor Him with it. We must ask Him what He wants to do with His church. This will stop all of the selfishness and fighting we see today. Second – we are to be the foundation of truth. Truth should ooze from the church in word and action. Everyone should know that in a day of shifting sand – the church is where you go for truth. We must not give in – back up – or shut up. We must stand for truth (2 Timothy 4).
In verse 16, Paul summarizes the Gospel in a masterful way. Listen to what he writes…
Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith:
Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations. He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in glory. (v.16)
Look at his summary. God came to earth in human form (John 1:14). Paul expresses the miracle of incarnation. God coming to us (John 3:16). He was proven by the Holy Spirit. (Luke 1:35) This is undoubtedly a reference to the virgin birth. He was seen by angels and announced to the nations (Luke 2). The angels proclaimed the birth of a Savior to the shepherds. He was believed in throughout the world. The message of Jesus has been taken to the world. People in all parts of the world believe in Him. It’s our job to deliver the message (Acts 1:8). Taken to heaven in glory (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus ascended to the right hand of God awaiting the time to come back for His followers.
Thank you God for the simplicity of the Gospel. Now… go and share it today with the people you meet.
Posted by:Tim Parsons
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 3:1-13
Let us focus on character…
Elder, Shepherd, Overseer (discussed in verses 1-7)... These three words seem to be used interchangeably in the Bible. This is where we see the general qualifications for pastors and elders, in addition to Titus 1:5-9.
Deacon (discussed in verses 8-13)… This word seems to have the translation of “one who serves,” so as to refer to servant-leaders. This is where we see the general qualifications for deacons.
In looking at this, some want to debate what each qualification means, how these offices are appointed, and what the roles are. All of these items are not bad to seek to understand. But…what I want us to notice today is simply this:
Mostly all of these qualifications deal with one’s lifestyle and character, not with the assigned tasks.
No one can meet up to perfection…in any of these areas. And, no one is better than another. The only TRUE qualification anyone has is from the Lord Jesus who qualifies us by grace through His blood.
But with these qualifications in place for leaders of the church, I would think these “standards of character” would be good for everyone to seek to fulfill…whether you lead in an “official” church office or not.
So, today, let’s not only look at these in light of elders and deacons, let’s look at them in light of Christians. There is a reason that these are required for those who lead God’s house. They seem to be “higher” standards of character. And it would seem good that all of us strive for the highest standard of character possible, in light of the gospel.
So how do you measure up? What areas do you need to work on? Make a list, pick one or two, work on them, and move on to a few more. Not so you can become “an elder” necessarily, but so that you can honor God with your character.
It would seem, from this passage, that our skills for tasks would FLOW FROM what is of more importance…our godly character.
Posted by:Sam Cirrincione
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 2:1-15
Sometimes, as Christians, we want to be the ones who determines who’s in or out of God’s favor (and family) and today’s passage just doesn’t allow us to think and act that way. The apostle Paul begins this chapter urging his young mentor to pray for and thank God for ALL people and especially those who are in authority over their country and life. He says we need to pray for them because when we have peace with those who are in authority over us we have peace and civility in our life and have the freedom to live a more Godly life. However, this can be hard to do when those in authority seem to be taking away our religious freedom or championing policies and laws that go against certain values we hold to in honor of Scripture. And, if you think I’m talking about today’s day and age then know that the Roman Empire that was in authority over Paul and Timothy was more hostile toward Christian faith than any era in U.S. history.
Despite Christian persecution, Paul reminds Timothy to pray for his persecutors and to remember that Jesus desires to save ALL people (v. 4) and died on the cross for ALL people (v. 6). I can’t but help but think that he says this right after mentioning how he should be praying for and living in peace with the kings and others who are in high positions. This doesn’t mean that we don’t speak up on issues that go against Scripture but that we do so in a way that attempts to win people to Christ. I’m just going to shoot straight here and say what everyone is already thinking. The way we speak about our current president and his administration (and I’m assuming how we pray) goes directly in opposition to what we read in these first seven verses of 1 Timothy and, hopefully, we are convicted by this. At one point in my Christian walk I was angry and hateful toward politicians and people who aligned with those certain politicians. This passage (and 1Peter 2) caused me to realize how sinful my thinking was and that I was causing more conflict (not peace) when slandering these people instead of disagreeing and pointing to Scripture and showing love and grace.
How do you talk about our President? Do you pray for him? Do you hope he would be one who would be included at the wedding banquet for the Lamb like Jesus hopes for in v. 4?
The last eight verses speak about God’s different, yet complimentary, gender roles and responsibilities that we are given. There can be a lot of confusion about these verses but I don’t have time to explain in this short devotion. If you are wondering if it is sinful for women to braid their hair, dress up nice and wear nice jewelry, or if woman are not allowed to speak unless a guy gives her permission, or if every woman becomes a Christian when she becomes a mother, then I’d encourage you to read or listen to these sermons by John Piper.
Posted by:Erik Koliser
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 1:12-20
Grace is often referred to as unmerited favor. When imperfect sinners stand before a Holy God, we should receive wrath, but instead we receive mercy and are adopted by God as sons and daughters. In verses 13-17 Paul gives a great example of the extreme of sin in his life and God’s response of grace to him. Paul was once a religious pharisee who hated Christ and everything to do with him. He led the charge in the persecution and murder of Christians (Acts 7:58-8:3). Saul was ravaging the church when Christ came and changed Paul’s life forever (Acts 9:1-9). Christ not only saves Paul from his sin, but he also allows him to be a major part of spreading the gospel to all nations. Paul reminds us from his own example that:
1. Jesus came to save sinners.
Paul is talking about you and I. This is often hard for us to grasp because many of us tend to judge our righteousness by the culture around us. Yet, even the best of us are sinful and comparing ourselves to one another is like a filthy rag putting down a pile of dirt. Paul makes it very clear in Ephesians 2:1-3 that we were all formally dead in our sin. The gospel should humble each and every one of us, and produce a heart of worship for our King Jesus Christ!
2. God displays his perfect patience through our sanctification for his glory.
God is faithful and just to work in and through us for His good pleasure. It is for His glory that He saves us and changes us into the likeness of His son Jesus Christ. If you are anything like me, you need to be reminded that God did not save you or I because we are something special, but because he wanted to display His glory in our weakness. Unfortunately, many of us tend to take away from God’s glory by taking credit for the changes that happen in our lives or trying to hide our weaknesses.
Question to ponder:
Are others around you noticing the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? If so, are you using it to point others to Christ?
Posted by:Chad Wiles
Today you should read: 1 Timothy 1:1-11
Batman and Robin. Laverne and Shirley. Cory and Shawn. Zack and Screech. All famous duos… but they don’t hold a candle to Paul and Timothy. Those duos may have changed entertainment, but this dynamic duo — they changed the world. So much so that we are still:
1) Reading their stuff 2000 years later.
2) Modeling our discipleship after them (and they modeled it after Jesus).
3) Governing our churches based on their instructions.
4) Safeguarding the Church based on their warnings.
Paul was the discipler, Timothy the disciple. If you want understand their relationship a little better, listen to/watch our lead pastor, Tim Parsons, teach on it here (from our 2 Timothy series). He talks about the impact Timothy’s family had on him and also how Paul gave continued investment and maintenance.
Today’s passage is the intro to the letter. If you want a more complex, detailed explanation on the background/purpose/outline, etc., check this out (an introduction by NT scholar Daniel Wallace). What we find in these 11 verses is a fivefold plea from Paul to Timothy that will be expounded upon in the rest of the letter.
First: Protect The Gospel (v.3). He told Timothy to take strong leadership and “charge” people to preach the true gospel. We don’t add to it or take away from it. We keep the message of hope in Christ pure, untainted from manmade ideologies. If this is something you seek to understand on a deeper lever, you can check out our most recent Lord’s Supper service where I dealt with the heart of Gospel message here.
Second: Keep The Main The Main Thing (v.4-5). Paul’s instructions to Timothy were simple: don’t let people get caught up in myths and legends. We must stick to the basics of the faith. We’ve dealt with that idea in our 2 Timothy series and will again here at Jumpstart in the following week. The admonition is clear: love with a pure heart, have a clean conscience, believe with genuine faith.
Third: Watch Out For False Teachers (v.6-7). These people probably don’t know that they are false teachers. But we have to test the spirits (1 John 4:16) and be on guard. The only way we can spot them, correct them, and if necessary, completely avoid them, is to know what the Bible teaches.
Fourth: Understand The Purpose Of The Law (v.8-10). Paul explains this in much greater detail in Romans 8 throughout the entire letter to the Galatians. The law reveals our sin. The law points us to the Lawgiver. The law exposes our need for a Redeemer. An overemphasis on the law for the Christian will almost always lead to legalism and an over-judgmental, graceless spirit.
Fifth: Remember That You Are A Servant & Steward (v.1-2,11). Paul was given this ministry by God. He was a servant to his disciple, Timothy, in the same way a parent must serve and shepherd their young children. He was “entrusted” with the Gospel itself. This isn’t just for Paul though. It is for everyone who calls Jesus their Lord. We are all servants, disciples, ministers, and shepherds because we imitate Christ. And because we’ve been given the gospel freely, we freely give it away to others. That’s what Paul was getting at in 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 with all the talk of “reconciliation ministry”.
What did you learn today, church? What did God’s Word teach you? Let us know in the comments section below. I’m looking forward to going through this incredible letter with you all!
Posted by: Todd Thomas
Today you should read: Judges 21
So, we are finally at the end of the book of Judges. We have seen story after story of God’s people going through the “judge’s cycle”. First, they praised God, then they turned to idols and false gods, then God gives them over to the people of the land as slaves, God’s people cry out for deliverance, God sends a judge to save them, they praise God for his deliverance and then it begins again. Now, we reach the end and one would think that by now the people would say to themselves, “maybe we should stay true to God and His law and follow Him.” Sadly, this is not the case. The very last verse of this passage leaves us with a loud footnote of where Israel was at the end of this judge’s period. “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” That is never a good thing. Israel did not learn and, unfortunately, neither do we. You see, as Proverbs 26:11 says:
“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly”
Like the Israelites, we too often go through the same cycle. We will, for a time, follow hard after God and desire His word and want to please Him. Then, situations in life, temptations of the world, and our own sinful nature lure us to follow our own “idols” and “gods” and to turn our back on God. God then allows us to feel the weight of our choices (either in guilt or in discipline or both) and we feel lost and ashamed, like the prodigal son that woke up and realized what he was doing. We know God has sent the ultimate Judge into the world to free us from the slavery of sin and death and He has given us power to fight temptations. And, praise the Lord, He is always there to take us back.
So, my challenge for all of us this week is to break the cycle. When those things lure you away, fight them and cling to Jesus.
Posted by:Robbie Byrd
Today you should read: Judges 20
You’ve got to admit – reading today’s chapter isn’t real encouraging. It’s not a real – get you up and get you going chapter is it? But what it does show is the condition of the human heart and how much sin is a cancer in our lives.
When sin began in mankind in Genesis 3 it quickly saturated and penetrated man’s heart and life. Man lives in harmony with God in Genesis 2 – but sin enters the world in Genesis 3. Watch what follows… Cain kills Abel in chapter 4… the world is so wicked that God destroys man with a flood in Chapter 6… man starts over in Chapter 9, but by Chapter 11 sin is at it again with the Tower of Babel… and on and on it goes. Paul (speaking God’s Words through the Holy Spirit) speaks a mouthful in Romans 5:12.
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. Romans 5:12
A little sin goes a long way! Think of all that’s come of that “little sin” in Genesis 3 – and is still going in our reading today.
Why? Because man’s heart is wicked…
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked… Jeremiah 17:9a
Humanity is in a bad place… or was. That’s why the cross of Jesus is so amazing.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Have you experience this amazing grace? If not – then turn to Jesus today as your Savior – He’ll forgive you of your sins and change your heart. If you have – bask in the goodness of a crucified and risen Savior!
Posted by:Tim Parsons
Today you should read: Judges 19
Today’s scripture and devotion is not for the faint of heart, especially as a father of a little girl and a husband of a beautiful wife. Judges 19 is one of the most wretched, despicable, disgusting stories in the Bible and should make you angry at satan, sin, and how much it’s lasting consequences have reached into this world. The sad thing is that stories like this are still around today, just different culture, different people, different situations, but the same sexual abuse toward women. According to RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S, one out of every six (17.7 million) American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. These ladies are three times more like to suffer from depression, six times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, thirteen times more likely to abuse alcohol, twenty-six times more likely to abuse drugs, and four times more likely to contemplate suicide. (http://www.rainn.org/get-information/statistics/sexual-assault-victims ). As a student pastor I’ve had to call social services at least four different times to report a sexual assault concerning girls in previous student ministries. It makes me sick to my stomach and I would cry if I begin to think how each girl is a daughter of a dad. If I can be honest with you for a moment, as big as I am on grace, it’s the last thing I want to give to the people who cause these types of statistics. Sadly, these mindsets start early (as evidenced in several news reports lately) where high school guys think it’s perfectly ok to take advantage of a girl when she’s drunk.
Steubenville, OH Rape:
It’s kind of tough to know what to apply to your life after reading a story like this and knowing that it happens so often in our very own country (and even more in other countries). However there are a few things we can do
1. Don’t take sexual assault cases lightly. I’m amazed at the Levite’s reaction to his concubine’s rape and assault and it shows how numb he was to the sin. I know he was trying to rally the 12 tribes to go against this evil city but it is complete disrespect and dishonor to the situation at hand. Sadly, there are too many people who still turn a blind eye to these crimes as other’s will say, “well, she put herself into that situation,” or “she was asking for it.” No means no and a person’s past sexual sins have nothing to do with them being knocked out and taken advantage of.
2. There’s hope and forgiveness for every sin, especially the worst kind. Without going into too much detail, I was involved with exposing a relative who raped a family member and then leading the teen girl who was assaulted to Jesus. Soon after, her mom was led to Christ and their whole family started attending church. The girl and mom are still growing in their faith and even serve the church. One of the books that I recommended and God used after their salvation was a book called Rid of my Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault by Justin Holcomb. Check it out when you get the chance. Please remember when being reminded of some of the darkest sins we face… Jesus can redeem ANYTHING. He proved it through the cross. He gives hope in the resurrection. All things will be made new.
Posted by:Erik Koliser
Today you should read: Judges 18
Have you heard the old saying, “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too?” It was a popular saying that I heard growing up. Basically it means the impossibility of having something both ways, if those two ways conflict. Many times we desire an outcome in our lives but aren’t willing to make the hard choices in order to receive the outcome that we desire.
The tribe of Dan is a perfect example of this scenario. Dan desired to have an inheritance of the Promised Land (v.1). The question is why are we in chapter 18 of Judges and the tribe of Dan still does not have an inheritance? The answer can be found in Judges 1:34: “The Amorites pressed the people of Dan back into the hill country, for they did not allow them to come down to the plain.”
The tribe of Dan was not willing to do what it took to take possession of their inheritance that God had given them. It is important to point out that there are many things wrong in this passage. This is a time when the people of God had turned their back on the Lord. So the people of Dan, like the rest of Israel, were doing what was right in their own eyes (Judges 17:6). We can learn a lot from the mistakes of the people of Dan.
1. They looked for the path of least resistance and not to what God had asked them to do.
a. Before Joshua passed away he warned all of the leaders of Israel to put away their idols and false gods and serve the Lord or there will be consequences (Joshua 24:14-28). Yet, Dan did not do this and they did not drive out the people from the land like God had told them to do.
b. If we are not careful you and I will do the same thing. Following God and denying are own sinful desires is hard! Are there ways that you have avoided being obedient to God? Do you still desire the same results in your life?
2. They gave themselves over to the idols which ultimately led to their demise (v.30).
a. Idols can give a sense of godliness and fulfillment for a time. The reality is idols are like a cancer that will destroy us in time. Do you have anything that you hold higher or more important than God? Be warned that God’s blessings can become idols to us. If so, what steps do you need to take to destroy the idols in your life?
Posted by:Chad Wiles
Today you should read: Judges 17
What a weird chapter! From my understanding, there was a man named Micah who had stolen a large amount of silver from his mom. For whatever reason, whether it was a guilty conscience or conviction, he returned the silver to his mom. His mom decides to extend a blessing to Micah for returning the silver. She gets the “Nicest, Most Lenient Mom On Earth” award because it appears as though there were no repercussions for him having stolen the silver. Instead she gave some of the silver back to him so he could have an idol made of the Lord to put on a shelf with all of his other cute little idols so he could worship them. So, she also gets the “Worst Spiritual Guidance From A Mom To Her Child” award.
So, Micah had an idol made and consecrated one of his sons to be a priest. Then a Levite rolled into town and Micah decided to make him a personal priest. Basically, Micah made an attempt to replicate and make a substitute for how God actually desired people to worship and follow Him.
This whole episode is a snapshot of Israel’s spiritual condition at the time. It was just straight up messed up. Verse 6 really sums it all up:
In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.—Judges 17:6
They did what was right in their own eyes. There was no leadership, so they just did whatever they felt like doing. Micah decided to make a substitute religious worship experience because it was a “good idea” in his mind. His decision was utterly sinful and harmful.
I’m tempted to call Micah a big dumb idiot, but that would be real hypocritical of me because I’m not much different than him. Israel had a King; they just didn’t acknowledge Him as King. Micah did what was right in his eyes because he didn’t acknowledge the real King as Lord of his life. There are times when I don’t acknowledge my King as Lord of my life and guess what I do as a result. Well, I do what is right in my own eyes. When I do what is right in my own eyes, I begin to worship other gods and make dumb decisions.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Don’t be a big dumb idiot like Micah or me. Acknowledge Jesus as King. Allow Him to have His place on the throne of your life. Let Him guide and direct every minute of your life. Then, you’ll do what is right in His eyes, instead of doing what is right in your own eyes.
Posted by:Rich Duffield