It warms my heart to see young men learning to be leaders in the church. Our first Tuesday of the month where these young boys are up front song leading, praying, and doing devotionals, gives these boys confidence and lets them know they are adequate, able, and aspiring members of the body of Christ in Ripon. This pleases God.
In 1 Timothy 6, Paul writes to young Timothy showing him how to be a man of God, even when other men feel he is too young to be adequate for God. Our young boys have hearts for God. They want to serve God and please Him. Imagine if they were not given the opportunity to? Imagine if we discouraged them in their youth, saying they should not be up there as leaders because they are too young? Imagine if Paul had this attitude with Timothy? It amazes me that there are congregations in this country that do not develop their youth in the church and we wonder why we are losing so many of them to the world.
In 1 Timothy 6:11-14, Paul shows Timothy a portrait of the man of God.
First, the man of God FLEES (Vs. 11). He flees from false teaching and holds to the doctrine of sound words, which comes from God. He does not get caught up in the ways of worldly men (1 Timothy 6:3-5). The man of God also flees from the love of money (Vs. 10). Money can become our idol and Paul states to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). Paul also tells Timothy a man of God is one in whom also flees from youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22).
Our we fleeing from these sinful things?
Second, the man of God FOLLOWS. He pursues heavenly things, such as righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (Vs. 11). Are we in hot pursuit of the things of God?
Third, the man of God FIGHTS. This is the noble and good fight, the fight of faith (Vs.12). This is one in which never gives up. He has made the good confession and takes hold of eternal life in which the devil wants to take away. Are we fighting the good fight of faith?
Fourth, the man of God is FAITHFUL. He keeps to the Word without stain or reproach. Nothing will be able to get us to pervert the truth, or fall from it. Are we being faithful every day to the Lord? Are we being men and women of God?
In His Service,
I noticed a status post on Facebook the other day, although simple, yet powerful. It read, “The missing component to a lot of problems are a result of the lack of love for others.” It reminded me of a story about Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire. The story goes that Cyrus once captured a prince and his family. When they came before him, the monarch asked the prisoner, "What will you give me if I release you?" "I’ll give you half of my wealth," he replied. "And what will you give me if I release your children?" "Everything I possess,” he cried. "And if I release your wife?" The young prisoner replied, "Your Majesty, I will give myself." The young prince’s self-sacrificial love and devotion for his family so moved Cyrus with compassion and mercy, it caused Cyrus to let them all go free. As they returned home, the prince said to his wife, "Wasn't Cyrus a handsome man?” With a look of deep love for her husband, she said to him, "I didn't notice. I could only keep my eyes on you, the one who was willing to give himself for me."
The author of this story is unknown and I do not know if this was a true story or not. However, it serves as an illustration to Jesus sacrificing His life on the cross. Why would Christ face a brutal and agonizing death for sinners who put Him there? John 3:16 tells us why, “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only begotten Son…” It was the deep sacrificial love Jesus has for us that caused Him to lay down His life. Our sins made us enemies of God. We needed to be redeemed and reconciled back to God. The love of Jesus made that possible, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Romans 5:8-11).
Imagine a world bearing this type of love for each other? How wonderful would it be? We may not be able to help save the whole world, but we can show the love of God on our hearts as we reach out to others. As we walk with Jesus each day, let us never forget that His love has freed us from eternal bondage. Showing others this love can cause them to turn to Christ so they are set free.
I used to work as a Realtor. There were times when my seller's listing price was non-negotiable. Sometimes, situations would arise that became inconvenient in the transaction, such as a problem found in the home inspection that would cause the buyer to ask the seller to fix the problem or a lower sales price was negotiated. Depending on the problem, this could cause the whole transaction to fall apart.
In life, situations arise where problems could test our faith. If it makes us feel as if our faith is inconvenient at times, we need to take a serious look into where we stand with God. If we get a promotion if we tell a “white” lie, does it tempt us? When a clerk at the grocery store hands us back an extra $20, do we give it back because we feel we must, because of our faith, or do we want to because of our faith? There is a big difference. What if we are told we cannot preach the truth or we will be thrown in jail? What do we do when something important to us is scheduled at the same time as worship service? Do we compromise our faith and devotion to God?
In the Book of Daniel, Daniel’s faith was tested. He often found himself in inconvenient and compromising situations. Daniel worked in a land that was hostile to his faith and loyalty to God. He was in exile, thrown into Babylonian Captivity. In Chapter 6, the commissioners and the satraps could not find fault with Daniel, so they designed a statute for the king to sign that stated anyone caught making a petition to any god would be cast into a den of lions (Vv. 6-9). Daniel refused to heed to a decree that denied God. His faith was non-negotiable and he went to God in prayer and was caught. Against his will, King Darius threw Daniel into a den of lions. The God of Daniel delivered him, He closed the mouths of the lions and Daniel was safe from the wild beasts. Daniel knew either way, God will deliver him. This caused King Darius to write a decree for all the men in his kingdom to fear and tremble before the God of Daniel (Daniel 6:25-26).
Is our faith negotiable? Unlike a Real Estate transaction where we can negotiate to close the deal, we cannot negotiate when it comes to our faith. We must walk each day of our lives with non-negotiable faith like Daniel, and God will take care of us.
I vividly remember the darkest day of my life, which turned out to be the worst four years of my life. I had just spent a perfect day at my parents for a Fourth of July barbecue. The call came in at midnight from my cousin, who informed me that my dad was taken away in an ambulance. My heart sank. My father had a massive stroke and we took him off life support six days later on July 10, 2006. Just four years later my mom got brain cancer. Not long after, I held her hand as she took her last breath. In just four years my life turned upside down. Tracy and I had three young daughters who loved their grandparents so much, and just like that, they were gone. My family was devastated. However, in our darkest time, God was there. He felt our pain. He heard our prayers. He gave us peace and comfort in a time when our whole world seemed to be crashing down.
It makes me think of Naomi in the Book of Ruth. This was during the time of the Judges when Israel had lost God’s favor. God was finished sending them a Judge to deliver them. Israel was dealing with famine, so the times were dark for them. They got darker for Naomi. She not only lost her husband Elimelech, she also lost her two sons, Mahlon and Chilion (Ruth 1:3-5). Naomi was in deep grief. She thought God was afflicting her and she became bitter (Ruth 1:11-21).
We seem to blame God when trials, tribulations and tragedy strikes us, don’t we? God, however, blessed Naomi with two daughters-in-law, Ruth and Orpah. Ruth was a gift from God to Naomi because she loved her and was there by her side. After Ruth met Boaz and married him, she bore a son. The woman said, “Blessed is the Lord, who has not left you without a redeemer today; and may his name become famous in Israel. May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him. Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap and became his nurse (Ruth 4:14-16). The baby was named Obed. Obed became the father of Jesse and Jesse becomes the father of David (verse 22). Through this lineage Israel triumphed to her greatest heights of glory and where the Savior of the world came through.
Although times were dark and grim for Israel and Naomi, God is behind the scenes at work for His people. When we think He is farthest from us or that He has turned against us, He is paving the roads of greater happiness for us. We cannot forget Jesus is there with us in our darkest times, in the times we may feel alone and helpless. Blessed be the Lord who has not left us.
There is a remarkable true story about a 21-year-old farm boy from West Virginia who faced his sure death in World War II against the Germans. On his first combat mission, Charles Brown looked outside his crippled B-17 Bomber to see a gray German Messerschmitt just a few feet away, moments from shooting them to smithereens! Brown’s tail gunner was dead and half his crew were wounded. His co-pilot, Spencer “Pinky” Luke, looked out of the window of the plane to see the German and he said, “He’s going to destroy us.” Something amazing happened that December day in 1943. The German took his finger off the trigger and he looked at Brown and nodded. Franz Stigler was an ace fighter pilot for the Germans. At the time, he needed one more kill to win the Knight’s Cross, which was the German’s highest medal of valor. What caused Stigler to deny himself of such an award and risk being executed by the German military? Mercy! Charles Brown would later seek to find the German, Franz Stigler. Brown and Stigler would develop a friendship which would last many many years. They became fishing buddies. All because of one act of mercy!
In the Book of Exodus, God granted mercy on the Israelites. After Moses led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, God prohibited them from serving idols. However, just 40 days later we see the Israelites make for themselves a golden calf breaking their Sinai covenant with God and becoming His enemy (Exodus 32:1-6). God tells Moses He will destroy them for their disobedience (Vv. 7-10). Moses intercedes for them and God shows His mercy and relents (Vv.11-14). In Exodus 34:6-7, we read, “…The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” We can be happy and thankful that we serve a merciful Father who has granted the same mercy upon us when we were once His enemies. Our God is a compassionate and merciful God. But like Franz Stigler, we must also be people of mercy. When we grant mercy, we receive it, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy!” (Matthew 5:7).
13397 West Ripon Road, Ripon CA 95366