Acts 20

Vs. 1, “When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia.”  Paul was resolute on ensuring he would have the opportunity to encourage the churches he had previously helped plant (vs. 1-6).  He also wanted to ensure he could get enough offering to help the mother church in Jerusalem.   The fact that Paul had to change his mission itinerary due to a plot to kill him is a stark reminder that Jesus was right when it came to wolves among sheep (Matthew 10:16).  In Troas (vs. 7-12), we see the believers meeting on the first day of the week (Sunday).  But more importantly we see Paul’s passion to teach and God intervening to see Paul raise Eutychus from the dead.  Reminiscent of Elijah and Elisha, Paul was able to raise the fallen Eutychus back to life.  Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem by Pentecost (vs. 16), so he followed up with those in Ephesus in Miletus (vs. 17-38).  Paul gives a emotional farewell speech to the elders.  Paul’s life and dedication to the Lord served as a powerful example to all of them (vs. 18-27).  Like Jesus, he warns them of coming trouble that will transpire in the church (vs. 28-31).  They are to remain dedicated and follow Paul’s example of giving and service.  Lastly, we see the raw emotions of having to say goodbye (vs. 36-38).

Regarding application…Will You Give?  Vs. 35, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Paul might have been accused of many things, but working hard, loving, and giving could not be one of them.  Like Paul, we travel down the road of life with a calling from God.  Question: Will you be a giver?  We are all takers, but not all of us are givers.  When Jesus told us to take up the cross, this was not a “taker” mentality.  As you face an unknown week ahead, take time today to pray that the Lord would use you this week to be a giver.  Paul’s giving landed him in many difficult situations that would cause him much grief.  Yet, in the midst of that, Paul continued to trust in God.

Titus 1

Vs. 10, “For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.”  As the church grew on Crete, they needed more Godly people to step up.  Paul once again lays out some attributes that a leader/elder must possess to set the example and be effective (vs. 5-9).  Question: Why?  Because where God is working, the enemy is also working hard to bring division and false doctrine.  Paul does not pull any punches when it came to addressing these people who were contributing towards these false ways (vs. 10-16).  Titus was not to tread lightly, but rebuke them harshly for the error of their ways (vs. 13).  While this may seem harsh, there is a difference between rebuking those who know the error of their ways vs. those who ignorantly believe the false teaching.

Regarding application…Why Doctrine?  Vs. 9, “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.”  There is a tendency these days not to pay much attention to good biblical doctrine.  I believe this, they believe that, my church believes this, etc.  There are huge ramifications if we do not know sound doctrine.  When the enemy comes to plant his seeds of lies, if we don’t know the truth, we may fall into the trap.  When we try to encourage others and they think that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross but lived out his life to old age, how then can they think they can overcome if God’s son did not overcome death?  We need sound doctrine in our lives to be able to encourage others and have an answer for our faith.

II Timothy 4

Vs. 7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  Paul writes quite an intense appeal to Timothy in the wake of his impending death.  Timothy was to preach the word (vs. 2) and be a messenger of the Gospel to others!  Question: Why was this so important?  Because in the last days, people will turn from sound doctrine and truth (vs. 3-5).  Paul knew his time was coming to an end and would reflect upon his life (vs. 6-8).  Paul urged Timothy to come quickly to Rome and bring Mark before winter (vs. 9-18).  We see the value of the relationships God blesses us with.  But we also see another sad reality of the Christian life is that some will forsake us.  However, Paul knew ultimately that the Lord was always with him (vs. 17-18).  Even with Paul facing death, he still thought of others as he closes his last letter (vs. 19-22)

Regarding application…Be Prepared.  Vs. 2, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”  Question: Be prepared for what?  To preach the Word of God!  It may be easy to dismiss this personal exhortation and think it doesn’t apply to us.  Because we too live in the last days, there will be many false doctrines.  Paul and Timothy were not the only ones as we were reminded in this letter that were being prepared to stand up for the truth.  The very fact that we are here today is evidence that throughout the centuries, people have been prepared to speak the truth and even die for it.  Brothers and sisters, unlike athletes who prepare for a season of time in the year to compete, we must be ready in season and out of season.  We are always “on call” when it comes to our duty as a soldier for Christ.

II Timothy 3

Vs. 1, “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”  Yikes, quite an ominous statement that Paul gives to Timothy.  Question: When are these last days?  The last days were during Timothy’s time and has extended to ours too.  Sadly, these descriptions are not people who are pagan idol worshippers (vs. 2-9), but they are people who are part of the church.  Brothers and sisters, we should not be naïve of such things.  Many people will state they are Christians, but they have no mind of God.  They are imitators like Jannes and Jambres (vs. 8) the Egyptian magicians who were able to mimic a couple of the miracles Moses had done.  We are to follow the example of Paul (vs. 10-13) and remember that living a life for the Lord is going to be full of persecution.  If we live for the Lord, we will be persecuted.

Regarding application…Word of God.  “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”  Question: How do we combat the last days?  Know God’s living word!  Because of the spiritual warfare, we must be equipped (vs. 17).  Paul likes the word of God to the sword of the Spirit (vs. 17) and this is our one offensive weapon we can use.  We live in an information society.  Information is at our fingertips; Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia.  We read the word of others every day.  It’s so important to ensure we are staying up to date with God’s word!

II Timothy 2

Vs. 15, “ Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”  This chapter is a powerful exhortation from Paul to Timothy to keep up the fight.  Paul shares images of a solider (vs. 3-4), athlete (vs. 5) and farmer (vs. 6).  Each one of these illustrations asks that a person be strong (vs. 1).  Question: Where does Timothy draw this strength?  Through the knowledge and remembrance of Jesus (vs. 8-13).  Paul also spends some time encouraging Timothy on how to deal with the quarrelling in the church at Ephesus (vs. 14-26).  Some of this quarrelling had to do with the teaching of false doctrine (vs. 17-18).  Paul shares an illustration of a house (vs. 19-22), which is the church.  On this house is either good and faithful servants (gold & silver) or false teachers (wood & clay).

Regarding application…Avoid Quarrels.  Vs. 23, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”  There is a tendency to want to defend the truth.  We want to get in a two cents worth and make sure people hear our side of the story.  But Paul encourages Timothy to avoid those who have no desire to know the truth.  Certainly, there were going to be opportunities for Timothy to dispute them through teaching and preaching.  But going to them directly will not help this matter any longer.  This application certainly would do well in our current lives.  How we handle disputes can go a long way to showing a right testimony in our lives to our church, workplaces, school and in our own family!

II Timothy 1

Vs. 8, “ So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.”  As Paul writes this last letter to Timothy, we see his great appreciation for Timothy (vs. 3-4).  He loved him dearly and really hoped and prayed that Timothy would be able to see him one last time.  He recalls the power of laying on hands when he commissioned Timothy (vs. 6).  Sadly there were some who were abandoning Paul (vs. 15), but Paul exhorts Timothy not to be ashamed (vs. 8-12).  When we go through tough times and we look like we are losing, there can be feelings of shame.  But Paul reminds Timothy that he is a part of God’s bigger and better plan.  Thankfully, like Timothy, some others were also loyal to Paul (vs. 16-18).

Regarding application…Do Not Be Timid.  Vs. 7, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  Question: What causes timidity?  When we are unsure.  When we doubt.  When we fear.  Don’t forget, Paul was in prison and would soon die because of persecution.  His admonishment to Timothy was very needed and real.  It is not easy to live a Christian life.  And if your life is easy, than perhaps you are not surrendering your life wholly to the Lord.  Question: What does timidity look like?  I would surmise it can show itself in many ways.  You feel the spirit of God convict you to serve, but you are unsure of yourself and never volunteer.  You want to be like Christ at work, but the negative influence of others keeps you from even wanting to pray in the break room.  In my own life, I struggle with making sure I am not approaching ministry expectations with timidity.  God is on our side.  We will not lose.  Let’s be confident in what God has given us!

I Timothy 6

Vs. 7, “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”  A timely reminder to put things into perspective.  Paul continues the exhortation for the Ephesians to respond in a godly way.  First he addresses how slaves should treat their masters (vs. 1-2), how one should regard those who are false teachers (vs. 3-5), and the danger of loving money (vs. 6-10).  And in the last half of our chapter, Paul takes the time to address Timothy directly (vs. 11-21).   He reminds Timothy to flee from these bad influences which reminds me of I Corinthians 10:13 where God always provides a way out.  It would be wise for us to not engage in godless chatter (vs. 20) where it is not going to benefit continued dialogue with false teachers.

Regarding application…A Good Fight?  Vs. 12, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”  We tend to think fighting is always a bad thing.  But, here we are reminded that life in many ways is a battlefield.  There are fighting words to encourage Timothy to persevere and not give up.  This fight is not with other believers, but with the enemy who is out to hurt us.  I encourage you to listen to the sermon podcasts in our current series “Armor Up.”  Let’s be prepared each day to put on the full armor of God and make our stand!

I Timothy 5

Vs. 1-2, “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.”  Question: How should we treat each other in the church?  Just like we would treat our family at home, with respect and love.  Paul then goes on to instruct Timothy about a very real issue of the day; widows (vs. 3-16).  The life expectancy of men back then was usually around your mid-forties.  The care of widows was important to the Jewish tradition.  As the church grew, there was a concern in the number of widows and how the church responsibly dealt with them.  Some widows were financially well off, while others were destitute.   The latter half of our chapter (vs. 17-25) deals with the treatment of elders and our spiritual leaders.  It seems there was certainly an issue that needed to be addressed.  While the church should be responsible to assist financially those who devoted their life to service, the leaders also had to have accountability.

Regarding application…Wise Choices.  Vs. 22, “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.”  The context of this verse is the decision making of the church leaders in choosing new leaders to serve.  Yet, the application certainly stands out that we must be wise in the choices that we make.  Don’t be hasty in going on instinct; deliberate, seek council, pray about it.  The choices we make in life can certainly affect the very direction that we head down.  The more we seek after God (keeping oneself pure), the more we will have the mind of the Lord.

I Timothy 4

Vs. 1, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”  The Apostle Paul was sensitive to the direction of the Holy Spirit.  We also remember that Jesus himself prophesied that there would be those who would come with a deceiving spirit (Matthew 24:11).  The influence of this spiritual world is something we must remember we battle against (Ephesians 6).  Paul makes sure to address two particular false teachings on the abstaining from marriage and certain foods (vs. 3-5).  Some of the members in the church were buying into these superstitions (vs. 7).   Paul exhorts young Timothy to remember his Godly training (vs. 6-10).  And in the last section of our chapter, Paul powerfully inspires Timothy to keep up the good work (vs. 11-16).

Regarding application…Persevere.  Vs. 16, “ Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”  We all should glean the wisdom that Paul exhorts to Timothy from this verse.  Persevere.  We get so busy in life that we can sometimes forget to be introspective and watch how we live this life.  You may not all be called to be Pastor’s, but our lives should reflect our beliefs.  We are all lights and examples to a world that is looking to us.  How do we talk?  How do act?  What does our personal life look like?  Persevere dearest brothers and sisters for His glory!

I Timothy 3

Vs. 1, “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.”  Because of the false leaders, there were some who were aspiring to be leaders in the church for the wrong reasons.   The church in Ephesus had been around long enough to have established leaders.  But, Paul wanted to ensure that as the future progressed, they would have more guidelines on who to select.  The two offices mentioned here by Paul are overseer and deacon.  An overseer could comprise of bishops, Pastors, and elders and holding such a position was a highly responsible.  A good measure of a person’s integrity is how they are able to manage their family life (vs. 2-5).  But it was also important that they have a good moral character in their community (vs. 6-7).   A deacon is translated from the Greek as a servant.  They are assistants to the overseers so that they may concentrate more on the pastoral aspect.  Yet, deacons also have a very high standard when it comes to Godly living and knowing the truths of God’s word (vs. 8-13).  And in our last section of this passage, Paul goes on to exhort Timothy to remind the whole church how they should conduct themselves (vs. 14-15).  The church should be the ones who help hold up the truth.  And we can only do that through the mystery of true godliness in Jesus Christ (vs. 16).

Regarding application…Above Reproach.  Vs. 2, “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach.”  To live above reproach is to be blameless.  Question: What does this mean?  Must we be perfect?  No, but it does mean we should be people who strive to live a life that mirrors Christ.  The church should be looking for such people and on the flipside, people should be striving to live such a way so that they may be ready.  Living above reproach is just being a person of honor and integrity.  It’s not having ulterior motives or selfish ambitions to serve.  While we may all not be overseers of the church in our lives, the example of such Godly living should be followed by all.  Whether we are an overseer, deacon or just a church member, all are exhorted in our chapter today to conduct ourselves in manner worthy of the Gospel.