Sunday, August 4, 2013

1 Timothy 4 - Spiritual Shape Up!

LINK: 1 Timothy 4


After today, there are only 66 more chapters, and we are done with the three years of Bible Book Club. Amazing! Finish well, my friend. You really are on the home stretch!


BACKGROUND


In Paul's farewell to Ephesus in the book of Acts, Paul warned the Ephesian elders about false teachers:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)
Sadly, this prophecy was fulfilled. Paul made some good points about false teachers that we can even apply today:
1) They are fueled by Satan, and people listen to the lies of deceitful spirits and demons through these false teachers.  
2) People stray from the basic tenets of the faith when they listen to false teachers.
I said I would discuss 3:14-16 because it fit better with today.  The church is the "household of the living God" and the "pillar and support of the truth" (3:15; Ephesians 2:20-22). We have a "common confession" that comprises the basic tenets of our faith.  These tenets are the pillars of the church that is built on Jesus Christ. The truth about godliness was a mystery but was revealed in Jesus Christ when He . . .  
  • Came in the flesh - Jesus was our Immanuel which means "God is with us" (Matthew 1:23; John 14:1-9). He is both God and man. He took on the limitations of humanity so He could live and die for all who would believe in Him. 
He was . . . 
  • Vindicated by the Spirit - The Greek word for vindicated means "to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous."  The Spirit worked through Jesus to perform many miracles in His life and His resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:24-36, Romans 1:4, 8:11). This proved His righteousness. 
  • Exalted in heaven by angels - Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 1:6. 
  • Preached among the nations - God's intention has always been that the nations would be blessed through Jesus Christ (Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3). Jesus commissioned the church to do this until His return (Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 24:14).
  • Believed in the world - This is the result of these truths being preached among the nations, and it is happening (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5)!
  • Taken up in glory - He ascended (Acts 1:2, 22, Ephesians 4:10), is preparing a place for all who believe (John 14:2), and will come again and take His church to that glory (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
3) They are hypocritical liars - they preach legalism but practice another thing. They do not "practice what they preach."  
4) They deny God's Word by adding legalistic demands that clearly contradict Scripture. 
Timothy was to keep his flock on track by "commanding and teaching" sound doctrine and living a godly life, training himself for godliness. He was to be nourished constantly on the Word of God. He was not to let others look down on him just because he was young but was to be an example of Christ-likeness through his conduct. 

REFLECTION


"The 'good minister' preaches the Word that 
he himself feeds on day by day. 
But it is not enough to preach the Word; 
he must practice it."
Warren Wiersbe

I am writing this post 45 minutes before I will go to hear the Word of God preached at my local church. My pastor takes his calling to preach the Word very seriously. He is not afraid to keep us on track just as Paul exhorted Timothy. I know he feeds on the Word daily because he puts out a daily email with his thoughts and reflections from his daily time with God. He not only feeds himself on the Word of God and preaches it, but practices it! I am so grateful. 

(After church note: he preached on legalism today from Galatians 1!)


APPLICATION

Spiritual Shape Up!


I was a college athlete. I remember the rigorous "daily triples" that we would do at the beginning of the school year. It was a quick way to get ourselves in peak shape for the season. I remember being so sore that I had to hit the wall and slide down it to get into bed at the beginning of those triples. It was intense!


What if we approached our spiritual life with the intensity of an elite athlete? Physical exercise is good and for this temporary life, but spiritual exercise helps us now and prepares us for eternity 1 Cor. 9:24-27). 


Let's get in shape!


These disciplines for godliness might include:


- Prayer
- Meditation on the Word
- Study of the Word
- Fellowship
- Service
- Sharing


Check out the spiritual classic Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.

2016 Update: Since January, I have been going through this book with two other people. It has been such a wonderful review and first time through for the other two! There is a nice (but spendy with very spendy shipping and handling) DVD series that goes with the book that has been well-worth the investment: 

Celebration of Discipline DVD Kit

How are you doing?


PRAYER


Lord, teach us to discipline ourselves for godliness. In Jesus' name, Amen. 
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