We Are 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 maitained, 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

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

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 maitained, 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

 

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

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 eludes 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

 

He Made A Way

1 Timothy 2:3-4
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”

Shakespeare’s character, Juliet, is famous for her statement, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” To her, a name meant nothing and love meant everything. Biblically speaking, there is much to a name. Throughout the Bible, God is called by a variety of names, each of which details certain aspects of His character. Here, Paul describes Him as, “God our Savior” and explains His deepest desire; “who desires all men to be saved.” The word desire means to take delight in, to love, and to determine to resolve. Paul is declaring that the determined purpose of God is for every person to be saved. He loves you, your family members, your neighbors, acquaintances and those who you have never met or been concerned. God’s desire is unlike our desire in that it does not stop with a wish or an ambition, but is worked out in action. It is because of the desire of God for all men to be saved that Paul goes on to say,

1 Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”

In other words, when there was no way, God made a way. The Father sent His Son to bridge the gap between sinful men and a holy God. In order to build that bridge, Jesus gave His life as a ransom. The penalty of sin was paid and a way was made for us to come to God. Most of us are familiar with Job. His trials are infamous and his faithfulness serves as an inspiring example to us in the midst of difficulty. In the crux of his trial, as he is being confronted by his friends, Job expressed man’s greatest problem. He said,

Job 9:32-33 “For He is not a man, as I am, that I may answer Him, and that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both.”

In Job’s day, there was no one who stood between man and God to make a way for us to be saved. To resolve that dilemma, God sent His Son to the cross, where He laid down His life for your sin and mine. All this was done that the desire of God might be fulfilled, and we might be given the free gift of eternal life. Paul goes on to say,

1 Timothy 2:7 “. . . for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

God’s desire led Him to send His Son to the cross, and His servants into the world. Paul lived his life with the determined purpose of bringing the good news of salvation to all people. Writing to the Roman church, he said he considered himself to be in debt to all men and that this debt was paid through declaring the Gospel message. Paul faced hardship, want, persecution, danger, and imprisonment, all because the desire of God is for all men to be saved. Think about how amazing the love of God is. He allowed His only Begotten Son to be ransomed, and He allows His precious children to be mistreated, all so you and I might hear the message of the cross and be saved. As you sit back in a comfortable seat at church, hearing the Word of God proclaimed, don’t forget that the simple message of salvation came at the highest price. While salvation is free for the taking to any who believe, it was certainly not cheap to attain. The desire is met because the price was paid.

Pastor Jim

 

Shipwreck

1 Timothy 1:19-20
“. . . having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

As Paul traveled the world to preach the Gospel, he had the great joy of seeing many come to Christ. Sadly, however, he also had the difficult experience of seeing some fall away from the Lord. Here he mentions two such individuals and describes their backsliding as being shipwrecked. They once had sails unfurled on course for the Kingdom, but had drifted off course and were no longer serving or following Christ. He mentions them as a warning to us of the dangers of falling away from Christ. A shipwreck is an appropriate analogy for the Christian because of the dangers we face on our journey towards what John Bunyan called “The Celestial City.” Unfortunately, shipwrecks, like backsliding, have a variety of causes.

A few years ago, Hollywood produced a movie called “The Perfect Storm” about a fishing vessel lost at sea due to extreme weather. There are times when the conditions we face are like a turbulent sea, tossing us to and fro. If we are not careful, we will find we have run aground and are no longer pursuing the Lord. These trying times can even leave us bitter and disenchanted regarding Christ. It is crucial that we learn to take refuge from life’s storms in the safe harbor of Christ and the promises of His Word.

Just a couple years ago, a large cruise ship ran aground in Europe. The news sites were filled with images of this mighty vessel being battered by the waves, and it was reported that many had lost their lives. The initial reports alluded to the captain being intoxicated, and as a result, had drifted off course and into the shallows. It is not uncommon to hear of Christians who have done the same thing. Not being careful to remove ungodly influences from their lives, they find themselves tripped up by the sins of their past. They are usually filled with shame and guilt because of the mess they have made of things. This guilt may keep them on the rocks, being beaten by the waves of life. If that describes you, allow me to encourage you. Whatever your sin may have been, there is forgiveness. David described the condition of the one who finally accept the forgiveness available to him, regardless of the severity of the sin committed:

Psalms 32:1 “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”

Another common cause of shipwreck is being ill-prepared for the conditions we face. Not long ago, I watched as a boat attempted to navigate its way through one of Florida’s more challenging inlets. Standing there, unable to do anything but watch, myself and a few other onlookers, stared in dismay as the vessel was tossed into the rocks. His failure was not for lack of trying, but because he was simply a novice and did not have the proper training for such difficult conditions. All too often, Christians fail for the same reason. Not taking advantage of the present calm to develop deep foundations in the Christian walk, they find themselves unable to withstand the trial and temptation that is just ahead. Don’t let that happen to you. If life is somewhat calm at the moment, use that to your advantage to become a disciple of Christ. Don’t wait until you are being battered against the rocks before you begin to invest in the Word, fellowship and prayer.

Pastor Jim