“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James 3:1
My first pastor would often tell me, “Never take my word for anything. I will not be there standing next to you on the day of judgement.” That has stuck with me all these years of following Jesus. It has fueled my fire to understand and seek the truth for myself. It led me to examine the Word of God and see if what he was saying actually lined up with what the Word says. In other words, we should be like the Bereans who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” (Acts 17:11) In our letter from Paul to Timothy, Paul writes, “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (1 Timothy 4:2) False teachings, specifically the doctrines from demons have to be delivered by false teachers. These false teachers may not even know they are delivering lies of the enemy, as their consciences have been shut off. The feel no conviction over teaching false things. On the contrary, teachers of the truth recognize “that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1) I will never claim to know everything. We are all on a journey of examining the truth and allowing the truth to bring correction into our lives. We always need to remain teachable.
Putting it into Practice
On the day you stand before the Lord, when he asks you, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” What will you say?
Father I pray that you will give each of us the desire to know your Word. I pray that we will be so rooted and grounded in your truth that when we hear false teaching we can recognize it as such. You promise us that if any of us lacks wisdom, that we can ask you, and you will freely give it. Lord, today we ask for your wisdom. In Jesus name, Amen.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.” Genesis 3:1
When our family went on vacation to visit the Ark Encounter in Kentucky there was one exhibit that stood out to both of my girls. It was the fairytale exhibit. In the exhibit there is a sign that reads, “If I can convince you that the flood was not real then I can convince you that heaven and hell are not real.” There are countless reasons for people abandoning the faith, but one of the major reasons that Paul gives us here in 1 Timothy 4 is that they turn from Christ to “follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons”. The NKJV uses the language the doctrine of demons. In other words they are deceived, lied to and tricked by the enemy. The bible describes the language of Satan. “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) The truth wasn’t rooted deep enough in their souls to combat the tactics of the enemy, and so they turned from the truth and fell for a lie of the enemy. We can only pray for people who have turned from Christ, that they will turn again to him before it is too late. But for us, we must always guard the truth. In John 14:6, Jesus makes the claim, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the truth, and what He taught is truth. We don’t believe this just because he said it. We believe Jesus is the truth because he has proven his faithfulness to us over and over again. We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good and that His words are the words of life.
Putting it into Practice
Take some time to reflect on these questions. What are some examples of doctrines of demons? What lies has the enemy tried to get you to believe? If you are believing a lie, would you take some time to identify what that lie is and what the truth of Scripture says about it.
Example: I used to believe the lie that I wasn’t good enough. The truth of Scripture says that while there is nothing good in me, I am loved for who I already am, that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. I don’t have to earn his love. He simply loves me because I am his son.
Lord would you search our hearts to see if we are believing anything that does not line up with your truth. We give your Holy Spirit permission to uproot the lies that the enemy of our souls has spoken over us. We turn to you and ask you to speak truth to us in Jesus Name, Amen.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1 NIV
One of the saddest things for me is to learn of someone turning away from their faith. Honestly, it breaks my heart to see or hear of someone who has felt the unconditional love of God abandoning their faith. Why? Why do people deconstruct, apostatize, or fall away? I am sure if you have been a follower of Christ for any period of time, you have seen this take place. We shouldn’t be surprised when it does happen as “the Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith.” But just because we shouldn’t be surprised doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt, especially when we deeply care for the person who is walking away from Jesus. If you happen to have adult children who have walked away from their faith, this might even be the worst pain. Is there anything we can do? Yes, you can trust their Father. I would encourage you to spend some time today reading Luke 15. It’s all about how God pursues the lost.
Putting it into Practice
After reading Luke 15, which story stuck out to you the most? What do you think God may want you to know from your time reading?
Lord we pray today for all those whom we love and care for that are no longer following you. We ask that you will continue to pursue them with your relentless love. Father may we be an encouragement to them in any way possible. We pray for their hearts to be softened to the gentle calling of their Father, to come home. In Jesus name, Amen.
“you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15 NIV
As followers of Christ we are to hold fast to the truth of the gospel. Jesus Christ “appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16). The church itself is not the truth, but it supports the truth. It is like a pillar of a building. Have you ever seen pillars on really nice houses? I have, and they can be pretty magnificent! This imagery would not be lost on the Ephesians who Timothy was pastoring. In Ephesus was one of the 7 Wonders of the World. The temple of Artemis, the greek goddess of fertility and the hunt. This amazing feat of architecture was held up by 127 pillars, each given by a king in an act of worship. These pillars all supported the roof over the temple. You can see artist renditions of the temple by doing a rudimentary google image search. I find it quite interesting that Paul used this imagery for the church, especially the church in Ephesus who was having such issues with false teaching. This was partially due to the influence of Greek culture and mythology. Paul’s argument is that the people who have been given the truth of Christ, the truth of the Gospel are the pillars who are to support that truth. We, the church, are the pillars of this truth. The foundation for how this truth is to be held up in the world. Those whom the Lord has revealed Himself to as “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6) are commissioned then to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19) Jesus is the truth. Together, the church supports and upholds the truth. In the gospel of John, Jesus says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32). When we hold on to his teachings, then we are his disciples. Only after we hold fast to his teachings will we know the truth, and then the truth will set us free!
Putting it into Practice
In what ways is our culture today making it extremely difficult to witness to the truth? How are you doing in holding fast to the truth?
Father God, today we ask for more of your wisdom and truth. May you give us the strength to continue in that truth, to uphold and support the truth of the good news you have entrusted to us. May you give us boldness to proclaim this truth of salvation through Christ alone to a lost and dying world who is in desperate need of healing. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.” Luke 16:10 NLT
When Amy and I first got married we began to attend Coudersport Alliance Church. After six months of attending though, I wasn’t sure if there was a place for us to serve. My question was quickly answered when Pastor Bernie came up to my wife and I and gave us an assignment. We were tasked with the opportunity to teach a youth Sunday School class. Pastor Bernie asked if we would be willing to first go through the membership class and then we would be able to lead the class. I wasn’t sure about this church membership thing, but I knew I wanted to serve and if that was what I had to do to serve then I was going to get it out of the way. We took the class, interviewed with the elders and became members. The following six months our small class grew from a handful of students to over 20 each week, and all we did was study the bible! It wasn’t long until Pastor Bernie then asked my wife and I to take on the youth group and become the youth leaders. I was also given the opportunity to serve on the worship team. About a year after leading the youth group and serving on the worship team, the church interviewed me to become an elder. In just a three year period, God allowed my wife and I the opportunity to go from attending this church to being fully involved and given greater and greater responsibility. The Lord would later have me serve Coudersport Alliance Church as an Assistant Pastor before calling us to serve here at FlightPath as the Lead Pastor. What’s my point in this testimony? It is simple. When we are faithful with little things, the Lord often gives us greater responsibility down the road.
In our study on 1 Timothy, Paul challenges the deacons that they must first be tested to prove their faithfulness. “They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.” (1 Timothy 3:10) I do not believe this was a test where they fill out multiple choice answers to see whether or not they know the right things. I believe this is a test of delegating authority over a small area of ministry and see if the person is faithful in that area. If they are, then greater and greater responsibility is often given.
*An interesting side note. In Acts 6:1-6 we see the establishment of the deacon ministry. It is here where we learn that Stephen was known as a man who was full of faith. In other words, he was faithful. He trusted in obedience to the Lord.
Putting it into Practice
How have you seen this kingdom concept play out in your own life? Is there anything that the Lord may be challenging you to take a step of faith and say “Here am I, send me”?
Lord, today I pray that we will be found faithful to obey your promptings and callings. May we make it our aim to hear you say to us at the end of our days, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” In Jesus name, Amen.
“A good reputation is more valuable than costly perfume. And the day you die is better than the day you are born.” Ecclesiastes 7:1 NLT
A man of God cannot be one way when he is in the church, as if he were wearing a veil of holiness that he puts on as he buttons his shirt in the morning, and act a completely different way Monday through Saturday. A man can do that, but not a man of God. A man of God recognizes that he is to honor the name of the Lord he follows each and every moment of every day. A man of God understands that we are to not take the Lord’s name in vain. This is more than just vowing not to use Christ as a swear word. As a bride takes on the name of her husband, so Christians bear the name of their bridegroom. Thus, how a man carries the name of Jesus as he goes about his everyday life is one of the greatest testimonies of true character. I believe this is why Paul reminds us here in 1 Timothy that an elder, “…must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” The way an elder carries themselves outside of the church is perhaps one of the greatest tests of whether or not they are qualified to lead the people of God in the church. If an elder were to play the role on Sunday, but frequent the gentlemen’s club to let off a little steam each night before going home after work then he disqualifies himself from serving in that capacity. This would be like putting a chocolate coating on dog feces. On the outside it may look like a snickers bar, but as soon as you dig a little deeper you uncover the true nature of the issue. A man of God is to represent the name of Christ wherever they go, this is carrying a good reputation.
Putting it into Practice
How are you doing in representing the name of Jesus in your everyday life?
Father God we thank you for the forgiveness and freedom that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. We thank you for the indwelling presence of your Holy Spirit, who gives us new life and sets us apart for holy living. We thank you that we are counted among the righteous as your possession. May we truly grasp the amazing responsibility we have to honor the name of Jesus by carrying it well. May our reputation be one in which we can be proud of on the day we stand before you. In Jesus name, Amen.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world. For you said to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne above God’s stars. I will preside on the mountain of the gods far away in the north. I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’ Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths.” -Isaiah 14:12-15 NLT
Paul cautions Timothy not to put people into church leadership saying, “He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6) Conceited, if you were to look up some synonyms of that word you find other ones like: proud, egotistic, arrogant, and narcissistic. In other words they become full of themselves. This is the very reason God banished Satan from heaven. In Lucifer’s pride, he said “I will be like the Most High”. How long then must we wait before someone is considered a recent convert? I believe this depends greatly based on each individual person. There are many believers who have only been following Jesus for a few years who are more mature than some people who have been following Him for 50 years. In other words, it’s not about a certain time period to pass, it’s simply about the spiritual maturity of the follower of Christ. If their heart is hard after the Father then we simply listen to His promptings about the right timing.
Putting it into Practice
How are you doing in your spiritual maturity? The writers of Hebrews calls us to examine our spiritual walk and our spiritual maturity writing, “There is much more we would like to say about this, but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word.c You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.” (Hebrews 5:11-14 NLT)
Father, today we come before you and ask that you will continue to draw us closer to you. We ask God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give us spiritual wisdom and insight so that we might grow in your knowledge. We pray that our hearts will be flooded with light so that we can understand the confident hope you have given to those you have called—your holy people who are your rich and glorious inheritance. In the beautiful name of the Lord Jesus Christ we pray, Amen. (Adapted from Ephesians 1:16-18)
“He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.” 1 Timothy 3:4
Family structures are as important today as they were when this letter to Timothy was written. Scripture teaches us that the basic family unit is the union of a man and a woman for life (Matthew 19:1-12, 1 Cor. 7:32-35). It is in this basic family unit where men are challenged to lead and manage their families well. They are given the authority and therefore the accountability to lead their family. It is in this family structure where men are challenged to lay down their lives for their wife. Where they are challenged to model what life following Jesus looks like to their children. Where they are challenged to be the spiritual leader in the home. It’s this family structure that gives them the opportunity to teach his children about obedience, not only to them, but also to the Lord. And it is in this family unit where he will be judged on whether or not he should be a leader within the church. Does this then rule out those whom are unmarried? Certainly not. Paul was unmarried and yet he was an apostle. Paul is challenging those who are married and who do have children that they should manage their families well, because if you cannot manage the affairs of your small family, how on earth you could manage the affairs of the church family?
Putting it into Practice
What are your thoughts and views about the nuclear family? Do you believe that it is still as important today as it was back in the days of Christ?
Father, today we lift up the marriages and the families within our church. We ask that you will surround them with a hedge of protection from the attacks of the evil one. We pray for opportunities for our men to take the reins of spiritual leadership and manage their homes well. In Jesus Name, Amen.