November 16, 2013

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.

Today’s “Walk-a-Way”

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


November 15, 2013

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

November 14, 2013

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:

1Jesus 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

November 13, 2013

Today you should read: 1 Timothy 1:1-11

Batman and Robin. Laverne and Shirley. Cory and Shawn. Zack and Screech. Batman-and-RobinAll 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