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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Preach the Full Gospel

294 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim 4:5) Paul continues his final instructions to Timothy, reminding him again that as he stands on the Word against false teachers afflictions will come his way. But he is to stand on the Word anyway and endure what may come his way. Timothy is charged with doing the work of an evangelist and fulfill his ministry. What is the work of an evangelist? It is to preach the gospel. Let the full preaching of the gospel be your service (ministry) Let it be heard from your preaching! Let it be pointed out in your teaching, and let it be used in your counseling. In short, let it be at the heart of your calling because it is! Jesus said in Mt 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. I wonder some times if we, in our earnestness to have conversions, skip over some of the things included in the gospel. Things that were clearly present in the early “evangelists” messages. For example, what was Peter's first message? He did not “skip” pointing out their sin of crucifying the Son of God, and here's what happened next: Ac 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" 38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter's “full gospel message” included the necessity of repentance, and baptism, which would result in the remission of their sins and the receiving of the Holy Spirit! Another example is Phillip evangelizing the Ethiopian Eunuch: Ac 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" How did the eunuch know the urgent importance of repentance and baptism if Phillip had not included it in his “full” message of Jesus? I think we would do well to go back to this “full” preaching of the Gospel! It's what we were told to do in the great commission and illustrated wonderfully for us in the early church! Preach sin! Preach the antidote for sin! Preach Jesus, Preach repentance. Preach baptism, and preach the promise of remission and the gift of the Holy Spirit!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Exercise Discretion

294 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Tim 4:5) The word “watchful” here literally means to abstain from wine. Well that can't be what Paul means here, because he instructs Timothy in 1 Tim 5:23 to take a little wine for his stomach ailment. This “watchfulness then, must be taken figuratively. In that sense, watchfulness is taken to mean discreet. If you've ever seen someone who has had too much wine, you know that discretion is not part of their M.O. In fact, that's the problem with alcohol, it shuts off that part of the brain that enables you to be discreet. So Timothy, and all others (pastors) that follow in his footsteps are to exercise discernment and good judgment in “all things” and that would include their conduct and in their ability to test the teaching of others. Discretion often brings affliction, because the one exercising it, is not jumping on the bandwagon of false teaching with others. So afflictions will come the way of the man of God and they are to be endured. When affliction comes for standing on the Word of God, Timothy and all men of God, are not to go off on a binge of indiscretion and error to ease the pain! Endure the pain! It comes with the territory for being a follower of Christ, and standing on the Word of God. Jesus reminds us all that in this world we will face tribulation, but we are to be of good cheer for He has overcome the world! ( Joh 16:33) He also said in Joh 15:20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.. And in Joh 16:1-3, “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.” The man of God who stands on the Word can expect this kind of reception on occasion. Gird up your loins for it! Expect it, and know that you are in good company! For Jesus also said in Mt 5:1,12, “"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Affliction will come dear pastor, be watchful, and preach the Word anyway!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Great Apostasy

292 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:3,4) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Tim 4:3,4) “The time will come.” What a prophetic warning from Paul to Timothy and to all who will follow in Timothy's shoes. There will be a defining moment of apostasy in the church of Jesus Christ when healthy doctrine will not be endured by professing Christians. This time of apostasy is as necessary as the preaching of the gospel throughout the entire world before the Lord Jesus returns. It is as Jesus said in Mt 24:11 "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Paul spoke of this apostasy in his second letter to the Thessalonians: 2Th 2:1-3, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, Some say this apostasy has already occurred, prompting the reformation, others say it is still to come. No matter what you believe about this time of apostasy, it's most frightening aspect is the sheer numbers of people that will be or have been taken in! The apostasy that Paul spoke of would or will be a cataclysmic event in world history. But ANY falling away by an individual to the wiles of false teaching is cataclysmic to the individual soul. That's why it is so important to guard against false teaching. Beware of those teachers who cater to the flesh by adding works to salvation (legalism) or who promote an an anything goes lifestyle of cheap grace. These are two things that have a strong attraction to our flesh, and we have seen it to varying degrees in the history of the church, and yes, don't fool yourself, we see it even now. This is why it is vital that we sit under the teaching of pastors who rightly proclaim the full counsel of God, as found in His God-breathed Scripture!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Doctrine Matters

291 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:2, “ Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2) Pastors are to be proclaimers of the Word, and in that sense they are prophets. They are to stand on the Word much like Abraham, who in spite of the circumstances, believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness, and like Peter and John who in the face of persecution said, “we must obey God rather than men!”, and even Martin Luther who said while on trial, “My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me Amen.” The Holy Spirit will use that proclaimed Word to convict, rebuke, and exhort the audience, whilst the man of God perseveres in the essentials of teaching, (the proper word here is doctrine!) Doctrine, by definition, is any adequate statement of a divine fact, and in that sense ALL Scripture, which is full of religious facts is doctrine, and of course is useful as stated in 2 Tim 3:16. But I think Paul is zeroing in on that specific doctrine which he has been speaking of throughout these two letters to Timothy, that doctrine which was stated in the creed found in 1Ti 3:16 “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” As we have said many times in these devos, this creed is the forerunner of the Creeds we use in the church today, and though not taken word for word from the Scripture, they are reliable summations of what the Bible teaches about Jesus, and they are the first defense against false teachers. Pastors then are to not grow weary in presenting this doctrine to the sheep. It's what we believe about Jesus. He is God in the flesh, who was crucified, dead, and buried, He rose from the dead as witnessed by the Apostles, who were given the great commission, and then he ascended into heaven from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. So pastors, preach the Word, for it contains all the divine statements of fact, and pay special attention to what we are to believe about Jesus. Doctrine matters!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Convince! Rebuke! Exhort!

290 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:2, “ Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2) Pastors are to be like town criers declaring the Scriptures! “Hear Ye Hear ye, thus saith the Lord!” They are to be ready to stand unwaveringly on the solid footing of this Word. They need not worry about the results of their preaching, just preach it with all longsuffering no matter the season. The pastor is also to convince, rebuke, and exhort, and here's where we can get off track. Sometimes we think that these three things require some sort of extra animation in the pulpit. A waving of the hands, a raising of the voice. We take on the role of a fleshly cheerleader as opposed to town crier. Please don't get me wrong here, it's okay to get excited while preaching, but don't let your excitement and exuberance distract your audience from the Word! Styles of preaching differ with every pastor and that's okay, just remember to preach and stand on the Word, allowing the Holy Spirit to do the rest. It is not your job to convince, rebuke, and exhort. The Holy Spirit does this through the Word of God! Jesus, speaking of the Holy Spirit said in Joh 16:8 "And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” He convicts through the proclaimed Word of God! The Holy Spirit speaking through the Word also rebukes! The word means an expression of sharp disapproval or criticism. The classic example is Peter's sermon on that first Pentecost of the New Testament church. As Peter proclaimed the law and the prophets and declared Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit rebuked his audience as we read in Ac 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Finally, the Holy Spirit uses the Word to exhort! An exhorter is one who comes alongside. Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Helper” which is another way of saying one who comes alongside. Joh 15:26 "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.” And He testifies of Jesus in the proclaimed Word of God, most notably the gospel which He uses to call us near to Jesus! So you see, pastor, it doesn't matter your style, what matters is is the proclamation of God's Word! The casting of the seed of the Word of God and trusting the Holy Spirit. Preach it! Stand on it, with no regard to the season, then trust the Holy Spirit for the results!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Preach It In Season and Out

288 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:2, “ Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” (2 Tim 4:2) Wow! Sounds like an awful lot of responsibility placed on the shoulder of Timothy and all other pastors who would follow in his footsteps. Preach! Be ready! Convince! Rebuke! Exhort! We've already covered preaching. Pastors are to be like town criers declaring messages from the Mayor of the universe....God Almighty! Next, pastors are to be ready, the word means, “to stand,” Pastors are to stand on this Word of God that they proclaim! It goes without saying that a pastor is to know the Scriptures. He must know what he is proclaiming and what he is standing on! Peter speaking of this word in 2 Peter 1:19 says, “We also have a more sure word!” When is the pastor supposed to preach and stand on this “more sure Word?” In season and out of season. Hmmm, that pretty much means always doesn't it? Now here is where I find myself asking, “why did the Holy Spirit choose to use the word season here? He could've said “always be ready to preach and stand,” and leave it at that, but He didn't. Seasons, speak of opportune times. Farmers know about seasons, it's when they make hay, so to speak! So the Holy Spirit is preparing Timothy, and all future pastors, for the fact that sometimes the Word is received (makes hay) and sometimes it falls on deaf ears. What a relief for the pastor to know! It's not on him! It's on the season of life that the hearer is experiencing at the moment, and what the Holy Spirit will do with that proclaimed Word! Some are ready to hear, (it is their opportune time) and some aren't ready to hear ( it is an inopportune time for them.) One of the traps the pastor can fall into is preparing his message with certain people in mind. He might be thinking, “oh, so and so will need to hear this word,” well maybe they do, but if it's not their season, they won't hear it anyway. Many times people will come up to me after I preach a message and tell me what they got out of it, and it was not anything that I intended as I prepared the message, and you know what? That's a good thing! That's the Holy Spirit working in the proclaimed Word and the season of someones life, a season that I was not aware of! And it serves as a reminder to me to simply preach the Word and stand on it. Let the arrows fly and let the Holy Spirit direct the message to HIS intended target.....not mine!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Stand On the Word

288 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 4:2, “ Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” Wow! Sounds like an awful lot of responsibility placed on the shoulder of Timothy and all other pastors who would follow in his footsteps. Preach! Be ready! Convince! Rebuke! Exhort! To the pastor and prospective pastor I say, it IS a huge responsibility on your part but it is not as difficult as it may seem, when you learn to rely on the Helper....the Holy Spirit! Jesus promised the help of the Holy Spirit to His church in 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. Your job is to first of all proclaim the Word as if it were from God Himself, because it is! Next you are to “be ready,” at first glance one would think that this word means to be prepared, (and you certainly should be prepared and become familiar with the Word of God) but the word actually means to stand upon! Pastors, stand on this Word! Whereas you and I are apt to crumble under pressure, this Word will not wobble, it will not fall or crumble! Trust it! Preach it and stand on it just as sure as you stand on the earth! Ps 119:89-91 says, “ O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. 90 Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. 91 They continue this day according to Your ordinances, For all are Your servants. THEY continue, both the earth and God's Word continue in their role of servants of God!. Have you ever thought of God's Word as His servant? You should! It's why He reminds us in Isa 55:10,11, “as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, 11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. This is what a servant does for his master, he accomplishes what the master pleases! And this is what the proclaimed Word of God will do! So stand on it and it alone pastor, and you will do well!