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Friday, August 26, 2016

Who Are the Real Widows?

138 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 5:5,6, “Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. (1 Ti 5:5,6) The Holy Spirit speaking through the Apostle Paul keeps referring to widows as “she.” This speaks much to the culture of that day. It was extremely difficult for a female widow to make it on her own in this culture, not so much for the male. So do we just read this portion of Scripture and say, “well this doesn't concern us, it was their culture, and their problem, not ours.” I don't think so. Remember, we talked last time about widows by strict definition are those with deficiencies. Their main deficiency being the lack of a spouse and a family support system. We still have women and men who because of the passing of a spouse, or the passing of a marriage via divorce, or the cold-shouldered treatment by their families find themselves in need. It is the local congregations responsibility to take on the role of family for these “widows.” But, wait, there is a stipulation to this care. In biblical times widows frequently gave themselves to service in the temple. Such was the case of Anna spoken of in Lu 2:37, “and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. The head of her family was God the Father and she diligently served Him and was taken care of by the offerings of the church. The same kind of offerings that the early church distributed to the true widows mentioned in Acts 7. But the church had no responsibility to take care of the widow, who departed from the family of God as evidenced by her carousing with the world. Such a widow has chosen the family of the world as opposed to the family of God! We should make note of these stipulations as we seek to care for those with deficiencies in our local congregation today. The widows of today must also make up their mind as to which family they want to belong to. It's not that the church utterly neglects the poor of society but our resources are first and foremost meant for those of the immediate family of God as it says in Ga 6:10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Church, let us be compassionate to all, but first of all let us look to honor the so called “real widows” in our own congregations.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Honoring Widows

137 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 5:3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God. The word “widow” in the Greek is the idea of someone with a deficiency. It comes from a word that means gap or chasm, an impassable interval. The deficiency for the way we use the term is, this person once had a spouse, but the spouse passed away and now the widow is left alone to fend for herself or himself. He or she is deficient, lacking someone who was once united with them, (The two shall become one) It is well and good to call someone a widow who has lost their spouse, but let us not limit our definition to that. In the context here, a widow is anyone who has a gap in family support. It is anyone who for whatever reason finds themselves without any means of support. (Financially, emotionally, spiritually.) The Holy Spirit speaking through Paul commands us to honor, that is give value to, or prize those who find themselves abandoned. This is God's plan for social security! The first line of defense for those who find themselves alone is the immediate family! The children and the grandchildren have the responsibility to take care of mom and or dad or both when the days of deficiency come upon them. Plain and simple it is payback time kids. Your mother and father sacrificed for one third of their life, (sometimes even more) giving up sleep, money, and time, for you! How many years, how long of a season can you now sacrifice for them as you seek to meet their deficiencies? Show piety! The word has a double meaning. It means to respect and support your parents, but it also means to worship God! Think about that! Meeting the deficiencies of mom and dad is an act of worship! No wonder God says, Eph 6:2 "Honor your father and mother,"! This is good and acceptable to God!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Family of God

136 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger as sisters, with all purity. There was an old praise chorus sung in churches years ago that went like this: “You will notice we say “brother and sister” 'round here. It's because we're a family and these are so near. When one has a heartache, we all share the tears, And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear. I'm so glad I'm a part of the family of God, I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood. Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod. For I'm part of the family, the family of God! That pretty much sums up what the Holy Spirit is telling us here. Local congregations are church families and the elderly are to be treated like mom and dad. The young adults like brothers and sisters, and to carry it even further I would say, teens as teens and children as children. This makes so much sense when you consider that one of the purposes of marriage is to produce offspring, and one of the purposes of church as the bride of Christ is to unite with Him and through evangelism produce offspring! Marriage mirrors the church and the church mirrors marriage! There's a miracle that takes place when the Holy Spirit is received by an individual. They supernaturally become a brother or sister to all others who have received the Holy Spirit. This mirrors the miraculous act of conception! Believe it! Marvel at it! Revel in it! And act like it! It's strange that the Holy Spirit reminds us that this brotherly and sisterly love is to be marked by purity. The word means chastity. The exhortation for all is not to cross physical sexual boundaries in the church family. Pay strict attention to this warning, because it is easy to forget when a brother or sister might be emotionally vulnerable, and lines of sexual purity can be crossed. This may seem a little strong to some, but to cross this line of intimacy is nothing less than incest in the family of God! Yes, young people will meet their future spouses in the church family, and that's well and good! But the line of sexual impropriety must never be crossed in the interactions of church family members. The sex act is reserved for marriage, period!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How To Treat the Elderly In the Congregation

135 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 5:1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, (1 Tim 5:1) Thus far Paul has dealt with things like organizing church leadership, admonitions against false teaching, and reminding Timothy and us of the fundamentals of the faith concerning Jesus Christ. Which must be held and believed by all. These fundamentals of the faith are to be touted by those in positions of leadership and teaching. Beginning here in chapter 5 he starts to give instructions on dealing with the sheep. Not all members become elders and deacons. Not all become teachers. People make up a congregation and these people come in all shapes and sizes. By that I mean some are old some are young, some are widowed, some are slaves, some are slave owners. You get the idea. These guidelines are timeless. Congregations are still made up of young and old, married and unmarried, employee and employer, and we can learn a lot from these instructions. Paul begins with the treatment of the elderly in a congregation. They are to be treated with the utmost respect! Don't tear into them with harsh words, (that's what the word “rebuke” means here. Speak to them as you would to your own father in accordance with the commandment! Le 19:32 says, 'You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the LORD. It's not that an erring senior citizen can't be corrected, but the correction should be done while using the utmost respect. We are told here that we should seek to exhort our senior members of the congregation. Let's face it the senior citizen has the finish line in sight, and the best thing one can do to a racer who is nearing the finish line is to encourage them to finish strong. Got senior citizens in your congregation? Don't ignore them, rather come alongside them with words of encouragement and hope as they near the finish line, remembering that one day you may need those same words of encouragement yourself.

Monday, August 22, 2016

How To Make Spiritual Progress

134 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 4:15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. There's that phrase again. “the doctrine.” What doctrine? The doctrine that was summed up by the early church and then quoted by Paul in 1 Tim 3:16. To paraphrase again. Jesus is God in the flesh, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried. He was justified by the Holy Spirit by His resurrection from the dead which was witnessed by His Apostles and over 500 others. He instructed His Apostles to go and preach this Good News to the Gentiles and many would come to faith. He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty from whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. Timothy is to meditate on these things, the word means to “revolve in the mind.” Keep playing these truths over and over again in your mind and allow the Spirit to strengthen your faith. “Give yourself to them Timothy, that is, agree with them wholeheartedly and then note the promise of “evidental spiritual progress” for those who so do! (“that your progress may be evident to all.”) As you believe these facts about Jesus, it's almost like you were there with Him and the disciples. Further, in believing these things and meditating on them often will guard your heart and mind from false teaching and possible loss of salvation and as you proclaim them to others, these truths have the same effect. Souls will be saved! These things are the foundation of the faith 1Co 3:11 “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We start there and all other aspects of our faith will flow from this truth. Meditate on “the doctrine” often it will keep your life on track with what really matters.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Timothy's Spiritual Gift

133 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 4:14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. (1 Tim 4:14) What's going on here? A spiritual gift was given to Timothy by God through the medium of prophecy (words of God-inspired speakers) and then accompanied by the laying on of hands by the elders of the church. This gift is not to be neglected by Timothy! Let's first of all look at the charge to not neglect this gift. The idea is he is not to be careless with this gift and he is not to make light of it! All spiritual gift are to be revered, if for no other reason than consideration be given to the Giver! Plus these gifts are all important in the functioning of the Body of Christ. 1Co 12:20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you"; nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." But what is this gift of Timothy's? Given the context of the preceding verses and the overriding emphasis of this letter on the problem of false teaching I would agree with those commentators who speculate that his gift was that of discerning the spirits mentioned in 1 Cor 12:10. Timothy was well schooled in the true doctrine from early on through his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois. He was further schooled by the Apostle Paul. These instruments of God proclaimed (prophesied) the Word of God to him, and through this prophetic word, Timothy was given the ability to sift through correct and incorrect teachings. This gift was accompanied by His ordination (the laying on of hands) if you will into the Office of the Word where he had the authority to dispel false teachings. (A very important gift in the overseeing of church planting. A gift that he was charged with not neglecting. Timothy and all others with this gift are never to relax in their effort to dispel false teachings in the church. They are to stick to their guns in the matters of the doctrine of Christ. The doctrine of godliness mentioned in 1 Tim 3:16.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

What's God Been Teaching You This Week?

132 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 1Ti 4:13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Timothy is holding the fort so to speak until Paul is able to come to him. Kind of what the church and it's pastors are to do until Jesus comes! Hold the fort! Timothy, (and we) are given three areas in which to give out attention to. Last on this short list is “doctrine.” The word simply means “instruction.” First and foremost in the matter of doctrine is that “doctrine that is according to godliness.” This doctrine is found in 1 Tim 3:16 and we have covered it extensively in previous prime time devos. This doctrine of Christ is summed up nicely in the creeds of the early church and in the creeds we use today. (The Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athanasian) Instructing the saints on these basic teachings is a great way to combat false teachings that rise up about Jesus. Of course the Word of God contains even more instruction for the saints, as it says in 2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Further every believer has been gifted with the indwelling of the perfect teacher the Holy Spirit: Joh 14:26 "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” It is good to ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read God's Word, and it is good to share what you learn from Him with others. One of my favorite ways to start out a group Bible study is to ask the simple question, “What has God been teaching you this week?” This communal sharing of God's Word is pleasing to Him as we read in Mal 3:16 Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, And the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD And who meditate on His name. My brothers and sisters, give attention to times of mutual instruction!