Between the Words ... Pastor Jim’s Perspectives on the Weekend Behind and the Week Yet to Come (September 30, 2019)

By Jim Garrett

September 30, 2019

Friends, we ALL have a job to do.

1 Timothy 1:14-17 (NIV) tells us, “Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.”

Have you ever thought about it? When you love a people so much, and you know that you must be away from them – at least for a long while, you want to be sure to leave them in good hands with good instructions. Mentor/Apostle Paul is writing to his young protégé, Timothy, with instructions on taking care of the Ephesian church, which Paul deeply loves and wants to protect. And Paul instructs young Timothy regarding love and unity – but he also warns him of dangers and divisions. This is the setting for the entire book of 1 Timothy. (And by the way, anyone desiring to serve the Lord in any capacity would do well to study Paul’s pastoral epistles carefully and to read them regularly.)

Wherever God presents spiritual opportunities to you, know that the enemy will present obstacles in the middle of your path. Young, easily-discouraged Timothy was facing MANY obstacles.

Life Point: We all have a job to do — and by God’s grace and our commitment, He will work in and through us to complete it.

As part of Timothy’s task, Paul called upon Timothy to teach sound doctrine (vv. 1-11). Paul commanded sound doctrine. No other kind would do; in fact, any other kind would only bring confusion. So, Paul spoke against false doctrine.

My friend, today we NEED sound doctrine. There is every kind of teaching under the sun out there and if we are not careful, if we don’t put up our defenses, we will be caught and tripped up. Let each of us be sure we are getting the Word right.

It used to be said that when an aspiring agent for the U.S. Treasury was learning how to detect counterfeit money, they are taught to tell the fake from the real. Do they look at counterfeit bills? Do they learn about color-shifting inks, watermarks, ultraviolet glows, and fiber quality? Probably not! Their training consists of one thing and one thing only: endless hours of touching, viewing, and sniffing real money. It is said that if a person knows what the genuine article looks, feels, and smells like, then they’ll never accept a counterfeit. While this story is probably not true, it certainly makes a great illustration for our purpose.

We must be so open to the truth of God’s Word – so hungry to dig in to and to know God’s Word – that when a false doctrine comes our way, we know it immediately.

Our best prevention, then, against false teaching is good, Godly teaching. And Paul gave Timothy (and the church and us) a charge to teach sound doctrine!

A “charge” literally means “strict orders from a superior officer.” This charge had the effect of saying, “Timothy, you are not only the pastor of the church in a difficult city, you are also a Christian soldier under orders from the King. Now both obey these orders – and pass them along to the soldiers in your church.”

And there is a continued need within the church for basic Christian doctrine. But some are afraid of the word “doctrine” and tend to see it as divisive and unnecessary. However, doctrine, foundational teaching of the Bible to the church, is to the church much like the foundation is to a house; you cannot build anything solidly without it. Lack of good and strong doctrine also gives opportunity for compromise and sin. In other words, sin, not doctrine, is what eventually builds up barriers between the believer and God. We need to express good doctrine in our preaching, in our teaching, and in our living.

Life Thought: Regarding your teaching, If God calls you to teach, that’s terrific. But teaching shouldn’t be a driving desire in any man or woman because with greater responsibility comes greater potential for condemnation should a teacher swerve from the simplicity of the Word.

Additionally, Paul told Timothy – and us – that he was to Proclaim the Gospel (vv. 12-17). We must grasp that our testimony is a part of the Gospel. The Gospel is the euangelion, meaning, the Good News. It is the fact that God and mankind were separated from one another because of sin, that God so much desired for that separation to be removed and for the relationship to be restored, that He sent His Son, Jesus to live among us, to die for us, and to resurrect among us that we could walk in that restored relationship with Him forevermore – and that we could tell others about that Good News as well.

Paul spoke very openly about Mercy and Grace. And further, Paul used the prefix, Huper, meaning “An exceeding abundant amount” in his conversation. So, when Paul referred to grace and to mercy in this context, he was referring to an exceedingly abundant and powerful mercy and grace.

And the closer Paul drew to the Lord, the more he understood the extent of his sin and his need for a Savior.

Life Illustration: The first time I saw the Chicago Skyline from the air, I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. But when I got off the plane, into a car, drove on to Michigan Avenue, past Garrett Popcorn and looked up, up, up at the buildings surrounding me, I was amazed because the closer I got to the buildings, the larger they looked.

And so, the closer Paul drew to the Lord, the more intimate he became with the Lord.

And finally, Paul told Timothy – and us – the he/we were to defend the faith (vv.18-20).

He said to Timothy, “Hold on to the faith. If you are God’s servant (and you are), called by the Spirit (and you are), obeying His will (and you are and must continue), then you can “stay with it.”

Church, Hold on to the faith! Defend the faith! Finish the work that is before you! And as you do these things, do not get further discouraged, do not reject the Gospel and do not become shipwrecked in the faith – as some have done before you. Instead, enjoy the relationships and community of the church because the fellowship of the local church – in obedience to the will of God – gives believers, including the leaders, spiritual protection.

So, what should we do?

1) Hold on to the Faith

            2) Learn, teach, and live sound doctrine.

                        3) Preach the Gospel

                                    And 4) Defend the Faith

And on a different note.

It has been a relatively quiet week for our family—which is really nice. Sometimes we get so engaged in the hecticness of life that we forget to LIVE. And, for my week, I conducted a funeral/memorial service of a lady who reminded me that life should be an adventure and should be lived to the fullest.

So, my short simple message this week is: Live life as an adventure and to the fullest – in Him.

Pastor Jim

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