Profitability

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Sometimes we neglect reading our Bibles because we do not see the value in it. There are times when we don’t understand what we are reading, or how it applies to the daily struggles we are facing. It is not uncommon when talking with a struggling Christian, to share a promise from the Word, only to see them stiffen up and comment on how they don’t think that will help. In this passage, Paul addresses the true value of the Word of God. He uses a word that all business men will appreciate; profitable. He is saying the Words of God are of great value for our lives and for our daily living; they provide doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction.

The word doctrine means teaching. Paul says one of the great benefits of the Word of God is that it reveals who God is, and what He is like. We live in a fallen world that has been greatly affected by sin. When we look at God through the filter of our circumstances, we develop a skewed view of what He is like. It is only through His Word that we can truly understand God, and begin to understand why we are experiencing the trials we face. The word “reproof” means to rebuke or reprimand. None of us likes to be reprimanded, but we all realize there are times when we get off track and need a little rebuke. Like road signs warning us the bridge is out, or the lane we are in is ending. The words of God will show us what we are doing wrong, in order to keep us from ruining our life, family, relationships and witness. The Bible goes a step further than reproof, and also promises to correct us. Did you ever receive a test in school that had been corrected, only to find it covered in red ink, showing you what you did wrong, but without giving any instruction on how to fix it? That is not correction. Instead of just showing us what we are doing wrong, the Bible will also reveal what things are pleasing to God, and instruct us in how to do them. Paul calls this, instruction in righteousness.

Our Christian growth and our effectiveness in ministering to others, is directly connected to the time we spend in the Word of God. A well-worn Bible is a good sign when it is accompanied with well-worn shoes from living out the teaching of the Word. Let’s commit ourselves to the daily reading of the Word, so we can become a people fit for our Master’s use.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 55- The Better Way
Isaiah 56- House Of Prayer

Be Strong

2 Timothy 2:1
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

It seems as though men have always been fascinated with strength. We have all seen images of Greek or Roman statutes, they look like they have come off the pages of a body building magazine, making us wonder if every Roman official looked like the Incredible Hulk. We have also seen images of rockets blasting off, volcanos erupting, or a nuclear explosion. The sheer force involved in these phenomena is mesmerizing. Psychologists and business gurus encourage us to recognize our strengths in order to find happiness in life or success in business. It is not difficult to find lists of character strengths by which to measure ourselves. However, it has been my observation, the things Paul tells us to be strong in are strangely absent. While it is important to be strong in things like decision-making, seeing a task through to the end, or being creative, Paul exhorts us to be strong in other areas which have far more eternal value.

2 Timothy 2:1 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Grace can be defined as the giving nature of God. The Bible teaches us, God loves us and desires to give what is best to us. The highest expression of His grace is seen at the cross, where He gave His Son to pay for the sins of the world. It is when we recognize we are sinners, and He has provided a way of salvation, that we become partakers of His grace. Sadly, many who have trusted in the grace of God for salvation, live out their Christian life as though grace was used up on the cross. They seem to live like Jacob, who was constantly striving and manipulating to get ahead, rather than walking with, and trusting in, the Lord. One of the greatest lessons to learn in life is, once you have received Christ, you are accepted in the Beloved. You are a recipient of God’s favor, and as you walk daily with Him, you will derive the benefits of His matchless grace.

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”

The phrase “be strong in” is used one other time in Paul’s writing; he refers to being strong in the Lord. One of the realities of life is there are many times when I am not strong enough. The other day I attempted to carry a piece of furniture out of the house, only to realize I would have to wait for one of my boys to get home. It was simply too heavy for me. Weakness is something we all have, and it stands in the way of us doing what God calls us to. Rather than failing to do what we have been called to because of our weakness, we must be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Whatever He calls us to, He will equip us for.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 53- Despised And Rejected
Isaiah 54Enlarge Your Tent

Godly Home

2 Timothy 1:5
When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.”

Timothy is one of the stars of the New Testament. His story has all the makings of a blockbuster hit. When we are first introduced to him, he is a teenager described as “being well spoken of in all the churches.” We know that his commitment to Christ struck a chord with the apostle Paul, who invited him to join the ministry team and take the Gospel to the unreached people of the ancient world. While traveling with some of the greatest saints of all time, Timothy rose to the top and became Paul’s most trusted ally and closest friend. By the time his story comes to a close, he is pastoring one of the most influential churches the world has ever known, in the bustling city of Ephesus. We know his success in following and serving Christ had much to do with a teenage decision to surrender to Jesus and the influence of Paul, but we also find that he was greatly impacted at home.

From the few scattered pieces recorded about Timothy’s home life, we can surmise that he grew up in a family with an unbelieving father and a committed mother. Since we know that his mom was Jewish, and as such, was forbidden to marry a gentile, we know that her past included a time of having wandered from the Lord. Rather than letting her past define her present, Eunice determined to raise her son around the things of the Lord. Along with the assistance of her mother, Lois, they raised Timothy on a healthy diet of the Word of God. It is not a stretch to conclude, he was actually taught to read and write using the Word of God as his textbook. With such a godly foundation having been laid, it is no wonder this young man became one of the great saints of all time.

Perhaps you are in a less than ideal family situation. Perhaps you are even the cause of much of the struggle. Instead of letting the past write your future, take the time to surrender all to Christ, and make your home a place where others will be instructed in the ways of God. It is not too late to allow God to use your life to influence others for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 51- Filters
Isaiah 52- Beautiful Feet

Be Prepared

1 Timothy 6:7
“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Famous American inventor and statesman, Benjamin Franklin, is credited with saying, “Nothing is certain except for death and taxes.” It seems we spend much of our time, effort, and energy, trying to avoid these things, rather than preparing for them. Some of us will exercise regularly, change our diet, and get regular checkups with our family doctor, in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. Others, will avoid any thought whatsoever of death or dying, and live this life as though it will last forever. Some, might have a risk-it-all attitude, where they live life on the edge, while others will attempt to amass as much stuff in this life as possible. Remember the mantra “He who dies with the most toys wins”?While I am not suggesting that eating healthy or enjoying life are bad ideas, I am saying, attempts to avoid or ignore death, are not nearly as important as attempts to prepare for it.

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Jesus explained the folly of living for this life only. He reminds us that all we have acquired in this life, is subject to theft or decay. Not long ago, a water line under our house sprung a leak and ruined the flooring in our living room. I can remember the excitement on my wife’s face when the floor was first laid. While we knew it would not last forever, neither of us thought it would go so quickly. Life is like that, we live as though things will continue on forever, not because evidence suggests it, but because we do not want to face the reality that we are temporal beings with a shelf life. All of us must take seriously the words of the Apostle, realize the brevity of life, and prepare for eternity.

“For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

While it is true we can take nothing with us, we certainly can send things on ahead. Jesus maintained, we can store up treasures in heaven. We are all taking a trip one day into the unknown, to a destination where we have never traveled. While we cannot know everything we will face when we arrive, we can prepare in advance for our destination. Step one is to receive Christ; He alone is the way into heaven. Step two, get to know His Word, and live for the things that will outlast this life. The Bible teaches us there are only three things which are eternal: God, His Word, and the souls of men. If we want to live for that which will outlast this life, we must put Jesus first, get to know Him through the pages of our Bible, and seek to impact as many as possible for the kingdom of heaven.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 49- Inscribed 
Isaiah 50- Walking In The Dark

Walking Dead

1 Timothy 5:6
“But she who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives.”

Back in the mid 1970′s, disaster movies were the big craze. Towering Inferno, Earthquake, The Poseidon Adventure, and Tidal Wave, were just a few of the titles that topped the charts. Nowadays, it seems people are fascinated with the concept of the undead. Not only have multiple movies and TV shows been released on the subject, but books, magazines and websites, are devoted to zombies and other undead creatures. There is even a popular TV show called “The Walking Dead.” While these all show mindless creatures, who cannot be killed by normal means, walking about with an insatiable appetite for blood, the Bible paints a different picture of the walking dead. Paul speaks of those who have not surrendered to Christ, as being dead while they live.

Ephesians 2:1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins”

The Bible teaches, as long as we are apart from Christ, we live in a condition of being spiritually dead. We are capable of doing many things, contributing to society, even making life better for others, but we are not able to carry on a relationship with God. Our sins act like a giant wedge keeping us from knowing God; which is the primary purpose for our existence. As long as we continue in this condition, we are missing out on the life Jesus intended for us. If we die in this state, we will live forever separated from God. The way to escape death is to trust in Christ. When a person puts faith in Christ, the Bible teaches that his sins are forgiven, and he is made alive spiritually. Since sin is no longer an issue keeping you from God, you can begin to experience the life He created you for; a life of fellowship with God.

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Jesus came into our lives so we might experience the life God intended for us. That life is found through complete surrender to Him. Speaking to His disciples, Jesus explained one of life’s great paradoxes. He said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) He was speaking about surrendering all to Him. Some of us have never experienced the life Jesus promised because we are holding on to some sin from our past. When we give that up, we will begin to find life in Christ like we have never known before.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 47- Plan Ahead
Isaiah 48- Life, What Does It Offer?

Exercise

1 Timothy 4:7-8
“But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

If you are like me, you have probably seen a great number of motivational quotes posted on your Facebook wall. Things like “Pain is only weakness leaving the body” – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” – “It’s never too late to become what you might have been” – or “just do it”. While many of us might benefit from a little more exercise, ALL of us will benefit from a little more godliness. Paul is not suggesting that getting in better physical shape is a bad thing, but is contrasting it with the benefits of being in better spiritual shape. He speaks of the profitability of godliness.

Godliness is a term which means to be living in a way that is well pleasing to the Lord. The godly man is one who is not considering his personal happiness, comfort, or his own wishes, as the determining factor in his decision-making. Instead, he is making decisions based upon what God has revealed in His Word. Often, when faced with a conflict, an impasse, or a fork in the road, we are tempted to make our decisions solely based upon our own desires. That will often lead us away from what God has for us. The godly man will look into the Word to determine what God has to say on the subject and ultimately make decisions that will be well-pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. Paul speaks of the great benefits of living such a life.

First, he says godliness benefits us in this life. Many of the trials, pains, and scars we endure, are self-inflicted. They have been caused by getting off track and doing things our way, instead of God’s way. If we trace some of our difficulties back to their source, we will find they started with a decision to do what we wanted, instead of submitting to God’s Word. It is wonderful to know, God can always pick up the pieces of a broken life and do great things with it. We need only think of Legion, the naked, demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs, to see that God can always repair a shattered life that is surrendered to Him (Mark 5:2-15). However, it is also important to remember, much of the hardships of life can be avoided by surrendering all to Christ, and determining to live in line with His Word.

Second, he says godliness has great benefits in the life to come. While much of what heaven will be like is still shrouded in darkness, we do know that entrance into heaven is reserved for those who have trusted Christ for salvation. Jesus said He alone was the way and that no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). We also know, while entrance into heaven is a free gift received by faith, treasures are stored in heaven for those who live committed to Christ. Paul spoke of crowns that were awaiting the righteous. I do not pretend to know all the mysteries of heaven, but I do trust the words of Christ, who exhorted us to live this life in a way to be rewarded in the next.

Let’s be sure to commit ourselves to a daily exercise program that includes reading the Word, doing what it says, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and looking for ways to serve the Lord.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 45- The Potter
Isaiah 46- Teddy Bear

Pillar Of Truth

1 Timothy 3:15
I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The church, designed by God, serves many purposes in the life of the believer. It is a place for corporate worship, where the gifts and talents of others enhance our expression of praise. The Bible alludes to the fact that our praises are like a sweet aroma, filling the courts of heaven. The church provides a place for corporate prayer. As Jesus instructed us, there is additional power behind prayer when we gather with others to offer our requests to God. The church is also a place for fellowship. God designed us as social beings. We achieve our best when surrounded by those whose lives propel us forward with godly examples. Scripture informs us, that fellowship with other believers is like a steel file sharpening a knife to make it more useful in the masters hand. When we surround ourselves with other believers, we are in a place where we can share each others burdens, encourage each other through struggles, and lift each other up when we fall. While there may be many more benefits we can derive from the church, Paul writes in this passage, about what we might call the primary purpose of the church.

“The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

The city of Ephesus was known in the ancient world, for the grand temple of the goddess Diana. This elaborate building sat on a hill overlooking the city, and in classic Grecian style, was surrounded by enormous pillars. It has been suggested by some that each of the pillars was more elaborate than the next, as they expressed the glory of the temple. Imagine what it must have been like for Timothy, to open this letter from Paul, read that the church is the pillar of the truth, while sitting under the shadow of that temple. Just as the pillars were designed to hold up the roof of that massive structure, so was the church designed to hold up the truth of the Word of God.

In a culture that is becoming increasingly secular, we are in need, more than ever, of the clear and simple teaching of the Word of God. Scripture compares itself to meat, milk and honey, which feeds the soul and strengthen the spirit. It is also equated to light, helping guide us through the difficulties of life and directing us into the will and ways of God. Scripture is synonymous to oil and water, that works to soften our hearts to the things of God. It can act as a hammer, breaking up the fallow ground that keeps us from trusting in His promises. His word is also like a sharp knife, able to cut away things that don’t belong in our lives, thus making us better equipped for service, and able to experience the abundant life He promises. The Word can remove the veil that hides the face of God and reveal who He is, and what He is like. We are told that through the promises of God, we are able to partake of His divine nature.

There have been times in history where the earth has faced a famine of the teaching of the Word. Christians starving spiritually because of a lack of clear teaching of Scripture. This is not one of those times. There are many good churches holding forth the Truth of the Word. It is critical, as a Christian, that you find yourself in regular attendance, where you can grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pastor Jim

Old Testament:
Isaiah 43- Walking Through Waters
Isaiah 44- Look What I Made