Father be with us as we read your word and worship you this morning. We live in a world that is unlike anything we have ever seen before. The pandemic, terrorist attacks and the most corrupt governments ever to rule. We pause to think of those who are affected by the terror attack in Notre Dame. Father please be with the family and friends of the victims, please bring peace and healing to their souls. For the emergency workers who must have seen the most gruesome sights, and for the French people as they recover from the terrible incident. Holy spirit stay with us as we continue now to worship you.
The darkness is indeed great, but we have the answer. The light of Jesus will bring all things hidden out into the light.
Now more than at any other time People need the Lord.
1 Tim 4:1-16
4 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. 6 If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters,[a] you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. 7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe. 11 Command and teach these things. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14 Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
SERMON ON 1 TIMOTHY 4:1-16
Paul is addressing a young man starting out in ministry and giving him advice on how to keep himself fit and living his life on a high Christian level. I have often heard this passage described as “the ministers how to manual”. But I think the principles in this passage apply to all Christians because we are all in ministry. We all need to develop a good Christian character.
Someone once said our character is really defined by who we are when no one is watching. This is not the same as our reputation, that is what people think about you. No our character is who we really are. Or to put it another way reputation is what man thinks you are, your character is what God knows you are.
It is easy to have a Godly character when we are around others with Godly characters; it is when we are with those who haven’t got a godly character that it becomes harder. Most of us would never dream of sinning in church on a Sunday with everyone watching, it is when we are away from church that we may have problems. For instance, how do we treat people whom we don’t like when no one’s around? When we are at work, with friends or with our neighbours who swear a lot, what language do we use? Does your language change depending on who you are talking too? What about the books we read or what we watch on T.V? Most of us face temptation on a regular basis and we need to train and build up our spiritual muscles in order to resist the temptation. Just as an athlete can’t build a healthy body by eating all the wrong things, you can’t build strong spiritual muscles when your life is shaped by the wrong things.
It has to start with commitment. The Psalmist says in Psalm 119:106 “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws”. Unless we make a commitment to be godly our attempt to live godly lives will be hit and miss at best. I know that there are people who hear a message like this and say to themselves, “The speakers right I do need to live better”, and I have lost count of the times I have been in conversation with a Christian and they express a desire to do better, they don’t understand why they constantly fall prey to the same sins. “It’s so hard” they say or “the devil made me do it”. Well James has something to say about that in James 4:7 it says “submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.
How do we submit ourselves to God? One way is to spend time with God in prayer and get to know him, practice listening for his voice. Some Christians will never hear the voice of God because they have already determined they aren’t going to do what he says. Another way to submit to God is by following his rule book, the Bible. Someone once said, “The Bible is meant to be bread for everyday not cake for special occasions.
There are so many people convinced that they are safe, after all they are saved by grace, and whilst the Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by anything we do, but by what Jesus did for us this is only first level Christian living. In order to truly submit to God we need to listen when the Bible also tells us the people who are really saved must live godly and holy lives. Jesus warns us in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. It’s no good sitting in church saying “I believe” “I believe” when your life outside church is saying “No I don’t” “No I don’t”. As long as the world means more to you than Jesus your Christian life will never be happy.
The story is told of a man making his way home at the end of a very long and demanding day. And he was worried because he knew that he was going to be late for dinner again, that made three times this week. Then he saw a limo parked at the side of the freeway and the driver was out of the car and looked lost. The man wanted to drive on and get home but just as he was thinking this he was very disappointed with himself and thought “if I were in trouble and needed help I would want someone to stop and help me”. So he pulled over and asked if he could help?
The driver looked relieved and explained that his mobile phone was not charged and asked if he could use the man’s phone to call for help, as the driver used his phone the window of the limo opened and Donald Trump put his head out to thank the man for stopping to help and to ask if there was anything he could do for him. The man thought and said, “I have been late for dinner two times this week and my wife is never going to believe I am late tonight because I stopped to help you. Would you write to her so she will know I told her the truth?” Donald Trump asked for his address and promised to do just that.
The next morning a huge bunch of flowers arrived for the man’s wife and the card attached read, “Thank you so much for stopping to help and allowing my driver to use your phone. I hope you weren’t too late for dinner and your wife believed you, thank you again for your kindness. Donald Trump. PS I have taken the liberty of paying off your mortgage.
When the man pulled over he had no idea who was in the car he just stopped to help because it was the right thing to do. His strength of character would not allow him to drive past.
If you want to grow as a Christian and accomplish more for God you need to reject the lies this world is telling you. You need to keep your minds clear from corruption by being careful with what you watch or read. Most people think that something can’t be wrong if everyone else is doing it. But a lie doesn’t become a truth, wrong doesn’t become right and evil doesn’t become good just because it is accepted by a majority. Paul tells us in verse 16 “to watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers”. The first level Christian cannot achieve this. Being spiritually healthy is not about adjusting God to fit in with our lives but adjusting our lives to fit in with God. No matter how uncomfortable that may be.
So, the first level Christian cannot move on until they make the same commitment the psalmist did “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws”. But moving on to the next level involves more than just avoiding the wrong things, it’s engaging with the right things.
The right things, these are things like reading your Bible, spending time with God in prayer and fellowshipping with other Christians. We need to give up our spiritual junk food. In verse 4 Paul reminds timothy to “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly”. Godless myths and old wives tails, they are things like horoscopes. You would be amazed how many times during conversations with Christians I am asked what sign I am. Or saying touch wood when you want something to happen.
You need to give your spiritual muscles a workout because just as we will not get physically fit just eating the right things we will not get spiritually fit just by sitting reading our bibles all day. Too much of a good thing is not always good for us. For example everyone knows that water is good for us but, too much water can kill you.
We exercise our faith in the way we talk and live our lives. By being an example of love, faith and purity would be a good cardiovascular workout. And the heart is the most important muscle of the body. We need to strengthen our hearts by learning to love especially those who are hard to love. Loving the un-lovable is not an easy task and will certainly give your heart a tough workout. We need to keep our hearts pure by being careful what we watch on TV and the content of the films we watch and the books we read.
I have a really annoying habit, if I spend any amount of time with someone I pick up their accent. I am sure they think I am making fun of them but really I am not. And I think it’s like that with God the more time we spend with him whether that is reading Gods word or listing to his voice we will start to imitate him. We need to strengthen our spiritual muscles by holding fast to our faith even in the hardest of situations. We need to spend time with God. If we want to be more Godly then we need to know God and the only way to know him is to spend time with him.
If we are not prepared to put the work in, then we are going to find ourselves sitting back and watching God do great and wonderful things in and through others and wondering why that is not us. But God needs us to have a good Christian character. The Christian life is not easy it is a life of discipline. Paul knew this for in 1st Cor, 9:27 he says of himself
“No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize”.
Paul knew that building godly character takes work and humility. Humility is a word that is often misunderstood. But someone once said that “that humility is not me thinking less of myself, it’s me thinking of myself less”.
If our character is right then our reputation will follow I would have loved the apostle Paul to say the same thing of me that he said of Timothy in the book of Philippians, 2:19-22
“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare. For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel”
What a reputation to have?
A Good Christian character is a person with;
A Dynamic faith, a faith that stands out in a crowd.
A person that reframes from Gossip.
A person who will defend the someone who is absent.
A person who will hold fast to their faith even if it means they may look strange or foolish.
A person who refuses to do the wrong thing even if everyone else is.
A person who will live according to their own convictions no matter what the world thinks.
A person who know this world needs Christ.
Father please forgive us when we fail to be the people that you know we can be. Holy spirit please quicken our spirit when we see someone you send our way for help. We are your people, and we want to be effective for your kingdom. Many people have problems we do not understand because we have lived our lives in your grace, but you know these people intimately and you can give us your love to love them with. In this coming week we ask that you fill us and use us as your children.
Father be with us till we meet again, fill us with your peace and joy, make us aware of your constant presence, we ask this in your precious name Jesus
Thank you for reading
Written by Fiona H
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