Friday, April 29, 2016
# 77 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2 A bishop (pastor) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, (1 Tim 3:2) We have just begun addressing the matter of adultery and those who would seek to serve as pastors. A line has been drawn in the sand, and those who have converted to Christianity and therefore have left the culture of sexual promiscuity must leave that lifestyle behind! NO MORE ADULTERY OR UNCHASTE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR FOR FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST! The one who would serve as pastor must not give cause to anyone to charge them with improper sexual behavior, and in our culture today, this is where pornography also becomes an issue. Jesus said in Mt 5:28, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Purposeful and persistent viewing of pornography is adultery, and according to most statistics is a huge problem in the church today, even among pastors. To the pastor I ask, “If someone were to look at your history of viewing on the internet, what would they see? If someone were to examine all items you have discarded in the trash, what would they see? Would there be evidence that someone could use to blackmail you? Would you be found blameless in the matter of sexual promiscuity or not?” If such evidence exists, you have a problem and you need to deal with it! There is plenty of help out there for those who struggle with pornography. Seek it! Find it! Use it! And above all fight it! Don't give in to it! The first step is to admit your problem, and the second step is to admit it to your church board, admit it to those who have called you to serve their flock! They need to know! Then you and the board and the congregation need to prayerfully consider a course of action with the ultimate goal of restoring to the “line” that has been drawn in the sand. NO MORE ADULTERY OR UNCHASTE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR FOR FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST! I know it's not easy to admit moral failure, but take heart from this verse in James: Jas 5:16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
# 77 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2 A bishop (pastor) then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, (1 Tim 3:2) Let's spend some more time on this qualification of “husband of one wife.” As we said last time, this means that the pastor cannot be taken hold of or blackmailed by others on the score of sexual promiscuity or laxity! In other words he must be sexually faithful to his wife. (if married and be sexually chaste if he is single) There is a line being drawn in the sand here. Remember again the environment of these early church plants. Remember where these recent converts from paganism were coming from! Fornication, promiscuity, sexual laxity of all forms were prevalent in their culture, and in their religion. It is more than likely that these recent converts to Christianity were former adulterers. But these practices were strictly forbidden by the fledgling church of Jesus Christ. NO MORE ADULTERY OR UNCHASTE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR FOR FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST! But wait a minute, Jesus said in Mt 5:28 "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” I hate to say it, but that pretty much reduces the pool of pastoral candidates to zero! So what do we do with that? Well, this lusting is a sin to be sure, so deal with it as you would with any other sin. Confess it, seek to turn from it, and receive God's forgiveness. Fight to remember that behind every set of eyes is a soul that matters to God! This lusting “adultery” is a sin of the heart and only the devil is able to take it and use it to take hold of a person and blackmail them on the score of sexual promiscuity or laxity! If he does, remember your your standing in Christ. The devil may accuse you, but God is not listening to his accusations. Re 12:10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” But there is a sexual sin of lust by which a pastor can be “taken hold of and blackmailed, and that sin is the public sin embodied in what we call pornography. And we'll talk about that next time!
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
# 77 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, (1 Tim 3:2) Paul continues to pass along the qualifications for men who desire the good office of bishop. Bishop defined as an overseer, and for our purposes in today's church, let us call them pastors. We've talked about being blameless, (free from the possibility of being blackmailed) today let's look at the requirement of having just one wife. There has been lots of debate over this requirement through the years. Some have gone so far as to say that the pastor MUST be married! While it certainly can be helpful to be married in order to minister to those with families in the congregation, it certainly cannot mean they must be married! I mean if that's the case, the Apostle Paul himself would be disqualified! No, the key here is the pastor must have just one wife! He must be a man who is blameless ( cannot be taken hold of or blackmailed) on the score of sexual promiscuity or laxity! In the case of a married pastor........ adultery Remember again the environment of these early church plants. Remember where these recent converts from paganism were coming from! Fornication, promiscuity, sexual laxity of all forms were prevalent in the culture. But these practices were strictly forbidden by the fledgling church of Jesus Christ. The council of Jerusalem made that clear in their letter to these newly formed congregations: Ac 15:29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” This admonition applied to all members of the church not just the pastors, but the pastors are singled out by Paul because as leaders, they must set the standard in their own personal lives. Any convert who slid back into a lifestyle of the sexual laxity of the culture needed to be dealt with through church discipline, and certainly any pastor who slips back into sexual sin and continues in it, is no longer qualified to be an overseer, and certainly needs to go through the same disciplinary process of other unrepentant sinners, and remember that the disciplinary process is always meant to first and foremost restore the offender's relationship with Christ.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
# 76 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. Do you have a heart's longing to be a bishop, an overseer of a local congregation? Do you long for other overseers like Timothy to pass the God-ordained office along to you through the laying on of hands? That is a good thing to be sure! But it takes more than heart-felt desire. There are requirements to be met to ensure that Timothy and his like will not lay hands on you hastily. For starters you must be blameless. Okay, now that we have eliminated virtually everybody, let's move on. What is blameless? There is none righteous no not one!(Rom 3:10) All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Something else must be meant here and it is. I think the best explanation we can give here is that the bishop must live in such a way that he cannot be blackmailed. His lifestyle should be such that an adversary couldn't charge him with being a hypocrite who teaches one way and who's visible lifestyle is just the opposite. This may even involve clearing up any skeletons in the closet. By that I mean the skeletons of past sins that have been confessed, repented of, and absolved through the cross! In short, the bishop or overseer must have the teflon coating of the blood of Jesus applied to His life. His behavior, guided by the Word of God, is to be a model of moral consistency. And if he would be charged with anything it would not stick. Because of the prospective bishop's walk with the Lord, he is safe and secure from (for lack of a better term) blackmail. Because blackmail only succeeds when things are left in secret. Pastors aren't perfect, but they should be free from behaviors that wag fingers. They ought to be “blameless.”
Monday, April 25, 2016
# 75 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 3:1 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. The Apostle Paul knows the end is near for him and so he continues to pass instructions along to Timothy as to “how to do church.” Local congregations that Timothy and others will be planting, must have overseers, and these overseers must meet certain qualifications. The first thing Paul does is underline the fact that a desire to be a bishop is a good thing! This desire is a God-given yearning. The word “desire” here means to “stretch oneself for.” I get the picture of a child reaching out for a cookie that is barely within reach. There is a certain degree of difficulty involved but once grasped it is certainly worth the effort. But what exactly is this yearning for? It is for the position or office of bishop. Say the word “bishop” and it will conjure up all sorts of images and ideas about what a bishop is, but what does the Bible say a bishop is? The word is first used in the New Testament church in Ac 1:20 as Peter was addressing the matter of replacing Judas. He said, "For it is written in the book of Psalms: 'Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it'; and, 'Let another take his office.'” The King James says “his bishopric.” What was Judas' office? His office was one of the twelve Apostles. These Apostles were men that had been with Jesus from the time He was baptized by John until His death and resurrection. They, along with the Apostle Paul had received face to face teaching from Jesus and these Apostles would “oversee” Christ's church on earth and pass along His teachings to others. This was one of the charges that Paul gives to Timothy in 2Ti 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. These faithful and qualified men would then be ordained by the symbolic act of the laying on of hands and was not to be done in haste. (1 Tim 5:22) The man who's heart longs for (desires) this occupation (good work) desires a good thing, but that desire must be matched with certain criteria, and we'll look at this criteria in the days ahead.
Friday, April 22, 2016
# 75 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 2:14,15, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” (1 Tim 2:13-15) On the surface, this seems like such a strange piece of Scripture. You mean a woman can have eternal life just by bearing children? Obviously that's not the case! Simply stated, the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul is reminding us of the promise that God gave Adam and Eve after Eve committed the first sin. Out of Eve's childbearing One would come who would crush Satan and we know that One was Jesus. But note the use of pronouns in this passage. “She” (Eve) will be saved by this child (Jesus) if “they” (new pronoun, signifying all the offspring of Adam and Eve now infected with original sin) continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. The sins of She and they are all covered by this Child! The “if” here is significant because it's not just the fact that Jesus would be born into the world to save Eve, Adam, and all others from their sin. There is a condition attached. And that condition is, Eve, Adam and the rest of us must CONTINUE in faith. In order to continue in faith, we must have faith in the first place. IF Eve, Adam, and all others, (including you and I) have faith in God's promise of a Savior and continue in that faith, they (we) will be saved! This faith is a gift from God! Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. We live, that is, we have eternal life, by this faith, and we must continue in it! Heb 10:38 says, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." God is more than happy to answer your prayer for such faith. Ask Him also to give you the strength to persevere in that faith, and to show forth that faith in your life through love, holiness, and self-control!
Thursday, April 21, 2016
# 74 Today's Prime Time Devo comes from: 1Ti 2:13-15, “ For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” (1 Tim 2:13-15) We've been addressing the role of men and women in the church and have likened it to a dance. Someone has to lead and that someone according to God's created order ought to be men. Two reasons are given here. (1) Adam was created first, and (2) Eve was deceived not Adam. These are facts. They are indisputable. These facts do not give men the right to trample on women, rather men are to “love their wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, (Eph 5:25) This “women saved in childbearing” passage seems difficult, but it doesn't have to be. Just follow the flow of the facts which the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul is reiterating for us. The woman was deceived, this led to the sin which also snared Adam, this led to the loss of their salvation. Nevertheless God had a plan to restore salvation and it would be through the seed of the woman as we read in Ge 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." The sin of the woman (Eve) would be dealt with through her seed (Jesus) and she and all those infected with sin (they) would be saved through her childbearing! The only condition of their salvation is that they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” Faith in the result of the woman's childbearing (Jesus) being the major factor that produces the necessary works, (love, holiness, and self control) which Peter wrote of in 2Pe 1:5-8, “ But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. I hope these devos have been helpful to you as you work through the roles of men and women in the church, but let me say again, they are meant to provide some food for thought and I suggest that you prayerfully search the Scriptures in this matter and then work it out in patient love and wisdom.