Sunday, December 26, 2010
I Timothy Chapter 3 (part 2)
I Timothy Chapter 3 (part 2)
- Paul is continuing instructions for church members. We are moving on to instructions for deacons.
- footnote- “Deacon means “one who serves.” This position was possibly begun by the apostles in the Jerusalem church (Acts 6:1-6) to care for the physical needs of the congregation—at that time, the needs of the Greek-speaking widows. Deacons were leaders in the church, and their qualifications resemble those of the elders. In some churches today, the office of deacon has lost its importance. New Christians are often asked to serve in this position, but that is not the New Testament pattern. Paul says that potential deacons should have high qualifications and be very carefully chosen.”
- Just as elders must be respected for their right behavior, so also should deacons.
- “Deacons must be well respected and have integrity. ” To be well respected means that they are looked up to as living life in a right manner. They are looked to for advice.
- Webster's defines integrity as the “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”
- They too have the instruction to not be heavy drinkers. If something else is controlling you... it's not a good thing... If anything else is taking control over your body or over your mind... it is in essence taking the place of the Spirit.
- “Deacons... must not be... dishonest with money.” Deacons are sometimes put in charge of treasury, or in charge of collections etc. They need to be trustworthy men/women with the handling of the church's money.
- Too many times the church is used by people to obtain money for selfish purposes. Trustworthy people need to be set in place so to make sure that church money goes for church usage or ministries and not for personal use.
- “Deacons... must be committed to the mystery of the faith now revealed.” The people put in the position of deacon, must be committed to Christ. They must be willing to go the distance.
- Church leaders have to show the living example of a life lived out for Christ. It's like my students last week... if Kindergarten had to teach fifth grade how to do a bathroom break, or how to go through the lunch lines, or how to play a playground game, or how to walk in the hallways... it would be quite the chaotic experience. On the other hand, if fifth grade has already had to follow all the rules for 5 years and they know all the procedures for everything, then they could very well walk in and teach kindergarten the basics of elementary school... However... kids learn more from watching than they do from spending any length of time in talking. The fifth grade class can talk about following the rules and talk about how to walk down the hallway... but if they don't DO what they SAY... then soon the kindergarten kids will follow their example rather than their words.
- Deacons and elders should be the same. They need to be living examples of their words so that the younger generations in the church can follow their examples and be stronger in their faith because of it.
- When trials come, what is your reaction? What do people see in your reactions to situations? If you were a kindergarten kid... would you follow your own example as a fifth grader?
- “Deacons... must live with a clear conscience.” A clear conscience is a thing greatly desired. On one hand, it means keeping yourself above reproach. Following God's laws and trying your hardest to avoid sin. We should to the best of our ability (with God's help) avoid sinning so that our consciences CAN be clear.
- On the other hand, how many times does Satan use our consciences to throw a million evils from the past at us to try and make us think that we are not worthy of God's love?
- To have a clear conscience means that we are not only in tune with God and His will for us, but we also are living in Grace. We are living in the knowledge that we are saved by Grace and that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
- We are free from sin and death through Christ. Our consciences should reflect that knowledge. I know we all get in places that seem really low... and Satan starts attacking us with our past... trying to convince us that we don't deserve God's love...
- But that's the beauty of it... we DON'T deserve it... but He gives Himself to us freely anyway.
- If you remember the story of Hosea and Gomer... He married her because God told him to. God said that their relationship would be a living image of God's relationship with Israel... Time after time Gomer left to go back to prostitution. She went back to the attractions that the world brought... and time after time God said, go back and take her back as your wife.
- God loves us... He doesn't condemn us, He doesn't hold our sin over our heads... if we repent, He forgives and forgets... So don't let Satan play tricks with your mind. Because NOTHING can separate us from the love of God.
- Romans 8
- “Before they are appointed as deacons, let them be closely examined. If they pass the test, then let them serve as deacons.”
- A few months ago, I ended up on the elder nominating committee at church. I felt so strange... here I am, feeling like a little kid sitting at the table with the pastor and women from my church who I look up to... trying to come up with the best candidates for elders in the church... I felt so out of place... we had to sit and discuss personal characteristics, leadership abilities, qualifications, and our perception of what kind of impact these men would have on our church as leaders.
- But having done that... I very much see the need for this kind of process. Maybe your church does things a little differently... and that's fine... But there is a need for a selection process that focuses on leadership ability and quality. In order for a church to be strong and grow stronger... there have to be Godly men and women in place at the foundation. They have to be solid in their faith and ready to take charge if they need to.
- Our church is really neat... A year ago, my pastor died very suddenly... and we all had to take on more responsibility... some new, some old... but in general... just MORE. Our elders banded together and somehow God held our church together... much through the leadership of these men. Had we had young, inexperienced men in those leadership positions, or men with a faith that was weak or founded on false teachings... our church would have fallen apart...
- As it was... our new pastor arrived about three months ago and we are continuing to move forward as a church body. Even without a pastor in place, we continued to grow until we could find a man to step in to take on that permanent role... because our leaders were ready and willing to take the responsibility to lead the church.
- “Deacons... wives must be respected and must not slander others. They must exercise self-control and be faithful in everything they do.”
- Our pastor was talking this morning about how our relationships reflect our relationship with Christ. Our actions at church might seem to be holy and righteous... but when we step outside the church and go out into the world... do we still represent Christ? Or do we become someone else?
- Our families and our relationships with them reflects our relationship with Christ.
- footnote- “Wives” can refer to women helpers or deaconesses. It could also mean wives of deacons or female leaders of the church (such as Phoebe, the deaconess mentioned in Romans 16:1). In either case, Paul expected the behavior of prominent women in the church to be just as responsible and blameless as that of prominent men.”
- If a husband is a pastor, elder, or deacon, his wife is generally expected to be a partner and extension of himself. His character should be reflected in her and vice versa.
- When my former pastor was first called to the mission field, he prayed that his wife would also get the call... he said God, I can't go without her and we are partners in this... she has to get the call as well... and a few months later, she also got the call in a very specific way. God doesn't call one spouse and not the other... He calls them both as a team.
- I have a friend who was dating this guy... but he was preparing for the mission field... and as they talked and as they prayed... she didn't feel the call... so ultimately, she ended the relationship because for him to be called to missions, and her to be called to a work at home... a deeper relationship would have been impossible in the long run...
- “A deacon must be faithful to his wife, and he must manage his children and household well.”
- Leaders in a church should demonstrate the characteristics of God Himself... God does not cheat on us, nor does He use us, or take us for granted, or abuse us constantly. So neither should deacons cheat on their wives, or use them, or take them for granted, or constantly abuse them.
- Instead, God treats us as special, as loved, as valued possessions. So should deacons treat their wives.
God does not allow His children (us) to run wild and do whatever we want. There are consequences for our actions and our sins. He disciplines us when we need it because He loves us dearly and doesn't wish to see us waste our lives away or to see us die in our sins with no hope for future life with Him.
- In the same ways, earthly fathers should discipline their children in love. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” If children are taught respect, honor, trustworthiness, honesty, faithfulness, etc. at an early age... when they grow old and move out to live life on their own with their own families, those qualities will still be there. It may be hard at times...
- Proverbs 22:6
- I know that there were times that my parents probably had a hard time disciplining me... I know there were times that I didn't make it easy... but they still did it... and I love them the more for it.
- On the other hand, I see students even at the kindergarten level who I think could literally commit murder and their parents would still fight to prove their innocence in all things to avoid letting their child experience any kind of “bad” thing. These children are learning to be selfish, hard, unfeeling towards others, and completely ignorant of the effect that their actions or words could have on anybody besides themselves... and someday, not only will they feel the effects of their upbringing... but so will their parents... *sigh*
- Ephesians 6:1-9
- “Those who do well as deacons will be rewarded with respect from others and will have increased confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.”
- If a deacon or an elder has all of the qualities listed above, they will be well rewarded for completing the duties of their positions. They will be respected by others. Why? Because they will have proved themselves to be trustworthy, faithful, honest, and a man/woman of faith.
- They will also have increased confidence in their faith in Jesus Christ. If you are a leader, it meas that you are expected to do more... and in a leadership position, you can be sure that Satan will try and attack you in any way, shape, or form that he can conceive. Your faith will be tried in the fire of conflict before you know it... if you can survive the trials that come against you, your faith will be strengthened and your confidence in Christ Himself will grow in leaps and bounds because you will have to depend on Him for more and more.
- A leadership position is not to be taken lightly. It is not something that you do for fun. It is not something that you can do just to have something else that will look good on a resume. To willingly take on a leadership position means that you are willing to fight for what you believe in and are willing to fight for those who are too weak to fight for themselves. It means standing when no one else wants to stand next to you. If you withstand all that comes against you... then you will be rewarded... your faith will grow in Christ...
(For scripture references, see last week's lesson on the first half of I Timothy. The cross-references for elders also apply to the deacons.)
- Paul is writing so that just in case he can't be with them... the church will still know how they are to conduct themselves.
- Paul was like a father writing a last letter to his kids just in case he didn't get to talk to them anymore. Paul was put in prison supposedly soon after this letter was written... He knew that he would eventually be tried again by the Romans... it was just a matter of time... so he was writing just in case he didn't get another chance.
- Should our lives not be like that? What if today was the last day? Would it not be better to tell our friends and family all that they needed to hear from us about God and His love for them? If they needed correction or admonishment in something, would it not be better to give it now than to wait until it is too late to give it?
- “This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.” Should we not be a reflection of that God? Of that truth?
- Ephesians 2, 4, 5
- The greatest mystery of our faith...
- That God Himself came in flesh... to save US.
- Since we're in Christmas, we were talking about the Christmas story in Sunday school this morning... one of my little girls asked “well if Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies, why did the Jews not believe Him? Why did they crucify the One Person Who was actually sent to SAVE them?”
- For 400 years at least, the Jewish people had been reading these prophesies about the Messiah. The One who would come to save them. But for the most part, they were all expecting this great conquering king. A man who would rise up and take over the world from the worldly rulers they were under at that point in time.
- But nobody ever expected God... to come as a baby. A baby is vulnerable... dependent... not mighty and conquering...
- But this is how God chose to come... and He didn't come as a King either! He was born to poor parents... in a stable... in hay... next to the animals... in a little teeny town... with only shepherds to visit... who were smelly and dirty and not used to a whole lot of human contact outside their own niche.
- Doesn't seem like the way God would come to earth does it? Most of the time we think of God and we automatically think of a Zeus like figure. Ready with lightning bolts and quick to get really angry... always riding on a massive horse... looking like a... well... a god... lol
- Our brains do not think of the God of the universe as a baby cooing and spitting up on everything... or having to have his diaper changed... not what we think of as a Godly figure...
- But this is how God chose to come... why? Just so He could be spit on, cursed, and murdered... for us.
- He was seen by angels... announced to the nations... and still was rejected...
- And yet... He was believed in throughout the world and taken to heaven in Glory. After all that... He sits enthroned in heaven with God the Father... and we have salvation through His sacrifice.
- And THIS is the great mystery of our faith... that GOD... would love the world so much... would love YOU so much that He would humble Himself to be poor and simple and plain, would come as a baby rather than as a conquering king on a thundering steed... would give Himself up as a lamb to the slaughter to die in YOUR place... just so that He could give you the gift of Grace... just so your life could be saved from everlasting death.
- Isn't God great? : )
- Ephesians 3
- Isaiah 7:13-16
- John 1:1-18
- Romans 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9