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A good servant of Jesus! — 1 Timothy 4:8-16

A good servant of Jesus! — 1 Timothy 4:8-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 7, 2018

People will spend money for gym memberships, take time to run every day, or make sure that they eat only certain things in specific amounts. What is interesting though is that these same folks who spend so much time and effort on some of these things do not spend the same amount of effort, time, or personal investment in their relationship with the Lord. Just as regular exercise for the body is good so is regular spiritual daily exercise with Jesus.

Paul knew that his mentorship with Timothy included his investment daily in spending time with the Lord. Paul had studied the Psalms and he knew the question David asked: “Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?” and how David answered it: “He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior.” (Psalms 24:3-5 NIV) What David could only know momentarily Paul had come to realize believers enjoyed permanently. However, in order to mature and grow in the Lord as a good servant one must also spend time with Jesus; so let’s discover what Paul writes Timothy concerning being a good servant of Jesus…

READ: 1 Timothy 4:8-16

When Jesus enters into someone’s life they are spiritually changed forever: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV) Do they still carry some of the old world’s habits? Yes, but that is why we are to walk daily with him who loved us, died for us, and rose again to prove he was able to change us! In fact total spirituality is not a momentary thing but takes a lifetime and this is why Paul told Timothy that…

I. A good servant of Jesus trains his entire life! (Vv. 8-10)

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. This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.

1. Paul understood that while “physical training is of some value… godliness has value for all things”. We live in an age whereby some people think that if they feel something then it makes it true for their lives and therefore valuable or worthy. This simply is not true. Worth does not come from how one feels but from the actual substantive effect it has. You cannot think about working out and experience the actual benefits of doing so. You have to actually do it! Saying you feel someone’s pain does not mean you actually are experiencing it. Training in godliness then has extreme value, “holding promise for both the present life and the life to come”! This is not a wishful thought or a hoping that it might come true, it is the actual result of living a godly life both here and now and in one’s eternal life to come! Above all Paul wanted Timothy to live well but even more to live his life for the Lord. Paul knew if Timothy did he would have an effective life and one worthy of God. Later on in this letter Paul would remind Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain”. (V. 6:6) In his life, Paul had come to realize that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”. (Romans 8:28 NIV) So he writes Timothy that “This (then) is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance” in all believer’s lives. It was what Paul labored for and strove for his entire life! And it was the complete reason why Paul had “put [his] hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men… and especially of those who believe”! Paul understood that a good servant of Jesus trains his entire life!

EXAMPLE: Interestingly some of the most closed minded individuals can either be believers or atheists. In both hubris can interfere with one’s willingness to share the love of Christ and hubris can also interfere with one’s willingness to hear biblical truth. The world sees humility as another’s acceptance of their ideals and never ever disagreeing with them. If a Christian does then they are being conceited and disagreeable. Whereas a believer can plug their ears to the sinner’s plight and not have a broken heart. This is why Timothy needed to learn that a good servant of Jesus trains his entire life!

I decided a long time ago not to take a backseat in explaining what I believe about Jesus, the world, or my own personal philosophy of life. I looked at the life of Paul and realized he never did and then I realized neither did Jesus. However, if you decide to be bold in what you believe be forewarned you will be branded as being conceited. However, we discover Paul bluntly teaching Timothy that…

II. A good servant of Jesus controls their life! (Vv. 11-13)

Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.

1. In Paul’s day the individuals were considered “young” until you reached the age of wisdom which was around 30. This notion held true until about the 1960s. Interestingly research has shown that young adults often do not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions nor can they make logical decisions until they reach the age of 25! Insurance companies realize that this is why younger folks are more likely to be involved in more risky decisions than older adults. However, Paul wanted Timothy to not allow “anyone [to] look down on [him] because [he] was young”! Now least you think Timothy was an adolescent, he was not by today’s standard. He was probably in his late 20s to mid 30s. Yet his age was no excuse, as a Christian, he was to “set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity”! Can you imagine asking, let alone demanding as Paul is actually doing here, today’s believer’s of any age to do the same thing? Notice Timothy was to “command and teach these things”! Timothy was not to feel good about his self; he was to live a life worthy of being called a believer! A life where he watched the words he used, the way he lived his life, his love life, his faith practice, and his ability to be above reproach! Paul would tell another young man, Titus, that a believer’s life “teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” (Titus 2:12 NIV) Yet there are those who claim they love the Lord but would rather make excuses as to why they should do the things the world does instead! Is it possible to live the life Paul wrote about? Certainly it is. Paul told Timothy that until he arrived he was to “devote” himself “to public reading of Scripture” and “to preaching and to teaching” the word of God. The idea is gathering with those of like mind and spending time together learning and speaking the words of Jesus! A good servant of Jesus controls their life!

EXAMPLE: Easy believism is easy to believe when one places more importance on a sinner’s prayer than on a changed heart. Saying a mystical phrase does not necessarily make a person a believer and nor does trying to earn God’s love through doing good works. There will be an inner change that is caused by the presence and power the Holy Spirit that will influence one’s outward actions. Christians are not to try to be “good for goodness sake” and in fact a belief in God is not necessary to be a good person. And good people do not necessarily know God! I’ve known lots of good people who did not know God at all and were sometimes even proud of the fact! However, true Godliness (holiness) in life boils up from the inner change that has occurred from knowing and walking with Jesus. This is why Paul taught Timothy that a good servant of Jesus controls their life!

There is no easy way to have a vibrant life in the Lord without devotion. Devotion to speaking daily with the Lord, devotion to reading and understanding the Bible, and devotion in living one’s life for Jesus as his disciple. Paul just made this plain to Timothy and continues by telling him that…

III. A good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually! (Vv. 14-16)

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1. The problem with why folks do not mature in Jesus has nothing to do with time management but rather it is more to do with the will-management. What I mean is one’s willingness to take the needed time involved! We are an instantaneous society that seeks gratification immediately. Why do you think Twitter, Snap-Chat, texting, and other things that take less than a nanosecond of thought are so popular in our culture? Yet there is no such thing as an “instant” faith walk with Jesus! Paul retorts, “Do not neglect your gift”. Now contrary to those who want to in some way to mysticize this — this is not what Paul meant. Those around Timothy had seen his ability to handle the word of God and the gift of his service; this is why they set him aside to be a pastor. His ability was “given [him] through a prophetic (inspired) message when the body of elders (from his local church by the way) laid their hands on” Timothy. It wasn’t the laying on of hands that gave Timothy his “gift”; rather the laying on of hands was the recognition of his ability to be a pastor. Timothy did not all of sudden “receive” the Holy Jolt as some would have you believe. Paul is reminding a self-conscious young man of why he was a pastor in the first place. Others saw God in Jesus at work in him and they willingly set him aside for that reason and he should not neglect it! Timothy was to stop worrying about what others thought about his youth and instead “Be diligent in these matters”. In fact Timothy is encouraged and commanded to “give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress”! He was to “watch [his] life and doctrine closely.” You mean doctrine is actually IMPORTANT? YES! Timothy was to “persevere in them, because” Paul knew if he did he would “save both [himself] and [his] hearers”! Save them from eternal separation from God, save them from hell, save them from a sin-filled life! A good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually!

EXAMPLE: Some of the most critical people towards those in the ministry are usually either nominal believers or nonbelievers. I believe it is because they do not fully understand the holy things of God or they are embarrassed by their own actions and spiritual immaturity. Jesus warned his followers to “not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.” Why would Jesus say such a thing? He goes on to relate that “If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6 NIV) This is why I very rarely take any criticism seriously from a nominal or nonbeliever. Yet believers are to let their “light shine before all men” and we are to “become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe”! (Matthew 5:6 & Philippians 2:15 NIV) Paul knew that a good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually!

Conclusion:

A good servant of Jesus trains his entire life! A good servant of Jesus controls their life! A good servant of Jesus must be willing to mature spiritually!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The Judged Life! — James 2:11-13

The Judged Life! — James 2:11-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 1, 2014

We do not like to be judged by others, but we are no matter if we like it or not. We can declare, “Don’t you dare judge me!” but folks immediately do, especially if we say such a thing because they immediately think we have something in our life to hide that we should be judged for! As a pastor I have heard folks whine, “Judge not least ye be judged!” thinking that by doing so they have scored a self-righteous advantage, yet failing because Jesus went on to declare, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:2 NIV), meaning that if one truly judges by God’s standards and not their own self-righteousness, they can indeed weigh in balance a fellow believer’s ungodly life. That’s why you are to “first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5) In fact, Jesus and the rest of Scripture goes on to relate that believers will indeed be judged and held accountable to a higher standard than the world. We live a judged life and it is time for us to grow up and act like it.

Remember James just got through telling us, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” And now he continues his teaching by relating to us just what he means. James was well aware there would be some who would tend to dismiss their offense of prejudice as trivial. Kind of like some do when they think they can sin in other areas of life and God won’t care. They would hardly consider themselves as actual sinners and can justify their ungodly actions with some of the lamest excuses: I deserve this! Everyone else is doing it! It’s my life! God doesn’t care if I do this one thing! However, James went on to make it clear that any sin is no small thing that can be easily dismissed, and, whether we like it or not, as believers we live a judged life! Let’s find out what James teaches us this morning…

READ: James 2:11-13

Toddlers like to play the game Hide-and-Seek! They will put their hands in front of their eyes or place a favorite blanket over their heads, and declare, “You can’t see me!” Of course we can. Sadly, this is the very same thing some Christians do with God. They try to play a silly game of sinner’s hide-and-seek with the Lord and their lifestyle, thinking that if they just ignore their sin, God will to! James teaches us that in the judged life…

I. Any sin is sin and will be judged! (v. 11)

For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. (James 2:11 NIV)

1. Not every sin is the same. Certainly the sin of unbelief will be judged harsher, especially when we know we should come to faith and yet reject it simply because we do not want to change our ungodly lifestyle! Jesus taught, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men (even believers), but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:30-31 NIV) Why? Because, “Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man (Jesus) will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit (those who hear but refuse the Spirit’s voice) will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (Matthew 12:32 NIV) That is blaspheming the Holy Spirit, whose sacred work is to draw us to God and Christ! And we know that the sin of deliberately trying to get believers to sin carries a heavy judgment, Jesus related in fact that “if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck!” (Mark 9:42 NIV) However, James understood that there are Christians who actually think they can get away with their sin and God will not judge it. They have forgotten that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV) Paul admonished his readers, “Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God–I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:34 NIV) John wrote, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.” And, that “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:4, 6 NIV) This is why James related, “For he who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2:11 NIV) In other words, any sin is sin and will be judged by God!
EXAMPLE: When we had the Youth Car Wash a man drove in with an old battered pickup truck. It was a construction rig he used on his job and he saw we were doing a car wash, so he thought, “Why not?” The girls and I scrubbed as hard as we could and rinsed it real good trying to make sure we got as much of it as clean as we possibly could. However, no matter how hard we tried there were places on that pickup that just would not come clean. They were not dirty but rather they were where someone had spilled oil or gasoline on the paint and no matter how hard we scrubbed, the oil spot would still be evident. He chuckled when I remarked to him, “The past sins of your work have found you out.” That’s the way it is when we try to hide our sins or when we try to ignore them. We cannot wash them away ourselves or try to paint over them, only Jesus’ sacrifice cleanses us completely. If we sin, we must remember that any sin is sin and will be judged by God!

So, what’s the answer? If any sin is sin and will be judged by God, how do we escape being judged? Do we keep on sinning; hoping God will look the other way? Do we every day and every way try to get better and better? Do we use the same excuse the foolish fisherman did who was in a leaking boat, ignore the holes and water gushing in, but kept madly rowing for shore, yelling, “I’m paddling as hard as I can!”? James writes that the judged life realizes that…

II. If we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord! (Vv. 12-13)

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:12-13 NIV)

1. We do not like it when we are asked to do something we do not want to do, but this should not be the case for the Christian who loves the Lord and is asked to follow him! It should be a delight and joy because we know that God only has the best planned for our lives if we simply follow his lead! God told the prophet Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) We try so hard to outguess God when it comes to what he has in store for our lives, thinking that we know so much better than the one who created us in the first place! What utter arrogance! He has told us over and over, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways!” (Isaiah 55:8) and we forget that God continued by promising that if his people obeyed him and followed him that “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands!” (Isaiah 55:12 NIV) Wow! Now I do not know about you, but if God describes the promise of following him in this way, don’t you think it is worthwhile to do so? Perhaps you have forgotten that “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved!” (Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV) James had not forgotten. This is why he reminds us to “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom”! However, we should not, as Paul reminds us, use our “freedom to indulge the sinful nature”! (Galatians 5:13) We should love God so much that our lives reflect whom we follow. We are to abide in Christ; follow him so much that we might escape the corruption of this world! (2 Peter 1:4) Peter would encourage that it is “For this very reason” we as Christians should “make every effort to add to (our) faith goodness… knowledge… self-control… perseverance… godliness… brotherly kindness; and… love.” Peter knew “if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV) Consistent obedience is required if spiritual maturity is to be attained! We are judged by God and “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” Yet, the wonderful truth is that God’s “Mercy triumphs over judgment!” If we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord!
EXAMPLE: Books on leadership often appear on best-seller lists. Most of them tell how to become a powerful and effective leader. But Henri Nouwen’s book “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership” is written from a different perspective. The former university professor who spent many years serving in a community of developmentally disabled adults says: “The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?” There’s the real question that often goes unanswered. If we do not want others around us judging our faith; if we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord!

Conclusion:

James teaches us very succinctly that any sin is sin and it will be judged! If we do not want to be judged as a sinner, we should follow the Lord!

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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