Monday, February 4, 2013

Helpers Who Hinder

Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11)

What women are in view here? I believe it is the wives of the deacons. The wife of the deacon, or the elder for that matter, is a great asset or a destructive attachment. The deacon who serves faithfully and has a wife who gossips maliciously will cancel each other out when it comes to spiritual service. Imagine trusting someone with an embarrassing issue and then hearing about it as it is spread throughout the church grapevine. Trust me, when one is the subject of church gossip, it is an offense of the highest order that will kill the growth of the church. What is faster than malicious gossip is a message that spreads within the community or the church itself. This rapid message is that you cannot trust the leadership. But a dignified woman will protect the dignity of those suffering in affliction. A temperate woman is a woman who is moderate in her response to others within and without the church. She is not easily excited or emotionally unstable. She will be temperate and even when expressing emotions, will not allow her emotions to rule her. Finally she will be faithful in all things. Faithful to the One who gives her faith. When we know that we must answer to Jesus for the trust that is placed in us as ministers, it is a humbling experience. Imagine standing before the Lord and being required to repeat any malicious gossip we have put forth. It is quite sobering in thought and not beyond the realm of possibilities. The Lord loves those who are bound and brokenhearted. The Lord loves those entrusted with their care. The Lord loves a dignified, temperate and faithful servant. And if you are called to be the wife of the spiritual leader please know this is a high calling. And the first calling of a wife is to be a helper to the husband. When a wife is a malicious gossip it literally means that she is speaking evil. She does not help the church and certainly is a hindrance to the husband. Be a is Christ that you serve.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dining With The Dead

But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:18

The feast at Folly’s table is not what it seems. The foolish woman entices the one who is passing by, trying to live wisely, to come to her feast. She lures him in with claims about stolen water and secret bread. No doubt, this appeals to some. But imagine that you are one who stops…and enters in…and takes your place at the table. It won’t hurt for us to take a peek at what is actually going on. It may prove to be quite instructive. As you look around at the dinner guests, there is something strange about them. The silence is eerie…no one is talking, or eating for that matter. And then you discover that everyone here is dead…and dead men don’t feast. Dead people don’t talk. But this feast speaks volumes. This is the false feast that is waiting on the one who surrenders to the temptation to step off of the wise path. Supper in Sheol. Dinner with the Dead. Who would want that? None of us if that was how it was advertised. But this feast is portrayed as something exciting…dangerous…forbidden. Humans have a problem resisting something forbidden. Wonder where that stems from? But like so many traps we find attractive in its lure, once entrapped we find its hold on us is too strong to escape. Sin baits the trap with something desirous…then it uses a death grip to hold us there. Here is where the sin trap delivers us…to a banquet in the grave. The wages of sin is death. Death at the dinner table and skeletons at suppertime I can surely live without. How about you?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Overseeing Under Authority

It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. (1 Timothy 3:1)

I suppose that some men perhaps pursue the office of overseer without a desire or aspirations to serve in that capacity. Others may see giftings in him and persuade him to be a pastor. And he may agree to it. Some have entered this office from family pressures…perhaps there is a family history or legacy to continue, maybe they come from a long line of pastors. But the most effective bishop, overseer, or pastor, is one who aspires to the office, or desires to do this fine work. Someone who has the want to or desire. Someone who cannot do anything else as effectively because they are designed for the work of a spiritual overseer or pastor. A reluctant pastor is a burden to his family, his church, and himself. But the one who desires to do the work will stick to it. Often it is only the call of God that keeps him there. Biblically, there seems to be a comparison and contrast in the context as to the qualifications of the pastor and the deacon. The similarities are shared of being men of good reputation and able to manage his family. But the deacon is a servant. And sometimes servants are pressed into service even when they didn’t have the aspiration to be a deacon because service was called for. But the deacon is a servant and not an overseer. The deacon is not occupying an office of authority in the church. When speaking of deacons, the Bible speaks primarily of service. When speaking of overseers, the Bible is focused on spiritual authority, which the model is servant leadership. We err in the church when we place authority in the hands of the deacon and never in the hands of the pastor. The trustworthy statement is that the pastor must have the desire to be a man in authority while under authority, knowing that he is accountable for how he has wielded authority while in this position. He must be a man who is in authority with an understanding of authority. This fine work is a responsible responsibility of a true servant leader.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dead Widow Walking

But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. (1 Timothy 5:6-7)

The widow is one who has survived the husband in death. Here we have admonition to a young pastor as to how to minister to widows…especially the young ones. Paul writes that their misery is compounded when the widow turns away from Christ to serve sin and self. The desires and temptations that face the younger women are great. Their fear can lead them away from the Lord and toward the devil. For someone to be dead while she lives is a sorrowful and sorrow-filled state. I see this in women who are abandoned as well. Turning away from trusting the Lord they give themselves and their honor away to a bogus belief that they need another man to take care of them. Sadly, many men will take advantage of such women. And many women will be bound to a horrible existence or abandoned again. The wise counsel is to trust God in their widowhood or their abandonment. Perhaps the Lord has a man in mind. But unless the Lord is consulted, the woman will be prone to foolish choices and a deathlike existence. The Lord is near the broken hearted…He has a special place for grace in which the true widow can abide. Paul’s counsel is that younger women who are in a widow’s position would do well to marry and raise children and keep a godly life in view. Our walk with the Lord really matters in this world.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Subversion...Inside Out Destruction

Righteousness guards the one whose way is blameless, but wickedness subverts the sinner. (Proverbs 13:6)

The difference between a righteous and a wicked sinner is found in what they practice. I am a righteous sinner, in that the effects of sin still affect me from time to time. The only righteous thing about me is the forgiveness I can receive based on the righteousness of Christ. On the cross He became sin that I may become the righteousness of Christ. I am tempted to practice sinful acts willingly that I once did without recognizing the sinfulness. I was once a sinner that practiced sin continually…it was my nature…it was all I knew. But now I am different. I am still a sinner but there is a new reality. Righteousness lives in me…and motivates me to make righteous choices…with the goal of the righteousness of Christ in view. Therefore, a righteous sinner may still sin from time to time, but the righteousness within reveals the path. Righteousness within us is like a spiritual GPS device directing the path. And when I stray off the path, righteousness shows me the way back to it. Righteousness is like the guardrails upon my life.
Contrast that with the life of the wicked sinner. Since there is no deterrent to wicked, or sinful, living, or motivation to live blamelessly, the wicked sinner has no restraint to his wickedness. In fact, the wickedness within is a powerful subversive force. Subversion is especially destructive. It destroys from within…imploding to reveal its emptiness. There is no righteousness that resides in the wicked sinner. Nothing to guard and guide the way. The subversive practice of wickedness is self-inflicted and self-destructive. Self-destruction is deceptive. Like the denial of a terminal disease, we will not believe we are dying and we do not need treatment for our condition. Sin is subversive. In the practice of it, we are destroying ourselves. It’s because we have believed that we are not as bad as we really are…while wickedness is loose…eating away and eroding our lives. We will lie to ourselves when we practice wickedness. Wickedness within cannot tell the truth. Righteousness has not been received. Subversion, intentionally undermining something to cause it to fall, is like termites gnawing at the structure of your house…it will crumble long before its shelf life is set to expire. Don’t die before your time. Seek first the Kingdom of God…and His righteousness. Wickedness eats its way out…of house and home. The Father's House and the Kingdom of God should be our terminal destination.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Come On To Go No More

Suddenly he follows her as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as one in fetters to the discipline of a fool, until an arrow pierces through his liver; As a bird hastens to the snare, so he does not know that it will cost him his life. (Proverbs 7:22-23)

The condition of a man lured into sexual sin is described here. Dumb as an ox, chained like a fool, like a bird hurrying to be trapped. The endgame is a fatal attraction. Like an arrow that pierces the liver…the sinful pleasure carries a serious sentence. We will not survive an arrow to the liver. Death is a sure thing. So is the result of being caught up in the trap that the adulteress sets. Sadly, many men and women go willingly, choosing not to think about the slaughter. I don’t imagine an ox knows where he is going when he goes on to go no more. A fool in fetters does not give much thought to his discipline…he’s just a fool being foolish. It is his nature. A bird alights and hops towards the bait…it doesn’t see the snare. But oh, how he will soon feel the fowler’s snare! Flight is no longer an escape route. Fight is a not so smart alternative. The snare will close tighter and tighter. The admonition is to think about the outcome before we join in with the come on. There is a price to pay for sexual sin…as with any other kind of will cost us our life.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Godly Gifting

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)

When God gives a gift…it speaks of His character. God gives us qualities that are manifest in Him. Here we read that God has not given us one thing, but other things…power, love, and discipline. When we realize that these things are gifts, we must receive them, and thank God for them. The power of God surpasses the power of men. My power has its limitations. God’s power is boundless. His power is more than sufficient for any human condition or circumstance. Death is not beyond His power to restore. Life is not beyond His power to sustain…or stop. Love is a many splendored thing, so the old song says. But our human understanding of love is insufficient for what God wants us to have. Love is wrapped up in His nature. And He wants love to be part of ours. The reason God loves is because He’s God. If He’s living, He’s loving. And God gives us the gift of sound judgment…discipline. He gives us what we need to judge rightly and live disciplined lives. He gives us a right standard to judge by…His Word, His Holiness, Himself. So God gives us gifts that are essentially His very nature. So what is it that He hasn’t given? Here we read a spirit of timidity. But it’s more specific than that. A spirit of fear is what is displayed in some translations. But what is really being said is that God has not given us a spirit of cowardice. This is especially instructive for me. Cowardice is a type of fear that is particularly disabling. Cowardice is being afraid of doing the right thing...even when we know the right thing to do. I have heard it said that courage is fear that has said its prayers. Cowardice does not talk to anyone. It’s too ashamed. Cowardice is too afraid of its fear. Cowardice is too afraid to pray. The reason God has not given us this kind of spirit is that God is not a coward. And when God gives us gifts, He brings them Himself...personally. His presence brings His presents! This is the reason He consistently says to His people…fear not, I am with you. My encouraging word today is that God will give me courage, not cowardice. If fear is courage that has said its prayers, maybe that’s the problem. Cowards don’t talk much with God. If cowardice is found in you, talk to God about it. He is able to give you something different. Courageous people hear from God…and do what He says. They gain the courage that overcomes their cowardice. Perfect Love casts out fear!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Eyes to See

A king who sits on the throne of justice disperses all evil with his eyes. (Proverbs 20:8)

The Look…I know you know what I’m talking about. My mother had the look…something she did with her eyes when she saw something in me that needed correction. It’s been said that the eyes are the window into the soul. Some people can communicate with their eyes without saying a word. The writer of this proverb has a king in mind. Someone in authority because he sits on a throne…a place of authority. You can have wicked or godly authority depending upon what kind of judgments are dispensed. This king sits on a throne of justice. So we can say this person is someone that renders just decisions based upon his ability to sift through the facts of the case. The word disperses in the verse actually means sifts. So this king can sift through evil with his eyes. He can discern the lies told by what he sees. He has the look and knows how and when to use it. Consider the One that revealed Himself to the Apostle John…His eyes were like a flame of fire…(Revelation 1:14). Nothing before the eyes of the Lord can be hidden. He sifts through evil…He has the look…and He knows what He sees. What does the Lord see in me today? As He sits on His throne of justice, does he see me as a man of justice? Does He see me as a man in authority able to tell the difference between good and evil, sifting through what I see? I need to be a wise leader. So do you. I need discernment to be able to sift through what I see to know how to be godly in my life. For one day, we will stand before the gaze of the One whose eyes are like a flame of fire. He will know what He sees…sometimes that causes me to tremble. Then I remember…He will be looking to see His image…He will sift through me to see Himself. Christ in me...the hope of glory. Hallelujah, what a Savior!