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Father’s Day – Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12

Father’s Day – Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 17, 2018

Did you have a good father? I had a pretty good dad. He took us fishing, camping, and spent as much time with us as he could. He taught us to be moral, believe in God, and what marital devotion was all about. I still can remember him showing us boys how to cast a salmon egg just right in order to catch the bigger trout in the river. I also remember he was firm on his word and discipline.

Sometimes children can think their parents are unfair or that they do not understand but what I have learned is that parents, especially fathers, do understand and that is why they often have to take the firm stand they do. Too many fathers in our day are AOL (absent without leave) either physically or emotionally or both. Proverbs reminds us that “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul. Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:17-18 NIV)” Let’s discover what it means to be a father…

READ: Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 12:7-12

In our world trying to raise children to be independent critical thinkers, moral, and to follow the Lord has become increasingly hard. It is good to know however that the Scripture is not only filled with examples of how not to be a father but it also gives us good advice on how to be great fathers. We discover that…

I. Great fathers consistently discipline their children! (Ephesians 6:4 & Hebrews 12:7-9 NIV)

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord… Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

1. Paul writes, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children”. The wording here refers to a dad who constantly and deliberately tries to enrage or provoke their children into an ungodly reaction. This is not a reference to teasing a child but rather a dad who deliberately and consistently tries to incite their children to react in anger. This could be done through improper parenting where the father constantly degrades their spouse in front of the kids, uses foul language, or involves their children in ungodly activities such as lying, stealing, drug use, or violent behavior. A father can “exasperate” their children when they are not the consistent godly loving example their children need! However, this can also cover inappropriate discipline that is either too harsh or nonexistent. The writer of Hebrews writes that believers should “Endure hardship as discipline”. This teaches us that as children we can think it is a hardship to be disciplined, but in reality it is a blessing if it is done consistently and correctly! Our discipline in life is “God treating us as sons”! It also reflects the biblical concept that discipline is godly! “For what son is not disciplined by his father?” A lack of consistent discipline by fathers can frustrate a child emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually! Children need parameters in life. They need to know their boundaries. And if they do not have them from their fathers they can feel unloved and unwanted or illegitimate! “If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.” Children need to feel and know they are loved and one of the ways they do is when they know their boundaries in life because when they do they grow up loving and respecting their fathers! “Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.” Yet more than this, children who are consistently and compassionately disciplined learn self-discipline! “How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children!

EXAMPLE: My father was a consistent disciplinarian. We knew his “yes” was yes and his “no” was no. We also quickly learned that simply going to our mother to get a different answer did not work. I did not understand my father when he once told me that his discipline of me at the time would hurt him more than it would hurt me. My spanking sure hurt! Yet his words came flooding back when I had to spank my daughter for the first time. It actually did hurt me more than her momentary pain. However it did not stop me from trying to be the best father I could be. I did not stop disciplining my daughter simply because it momentarily made feel bad. Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children!

I’ve learned that life is not always fun. It is not painless or never filled with hurt. An old pastor was quipped, “Life is hard by the yard but a cinch by the inch!” He was correct. Great fathers learn that directing the lives of their children is not a momentary thing. It is a process. We learn from Paul that…

II. Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father! (Hebrews 12:10-12 NIV)

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

1. Certain things in life only last a short while. This is why as fathers we should cherish every day we have with our families. Sure you may have suffered from making the wrong choices in life but God is a loving father and through his example teaches us guys how to be the fathers we need to be! Paul writes, “Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best”. Training and nurturing your children only lasts a few years. In fact most psychologists will tell you that how a child responds to you at 5 years old will be how they respond to you as a teenager! This is why fathers should spend time with their kids. Reading, playing, talking with and listening to them are extremely important if you want your child to be respectful with you later in life. Remember “God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness.” God is a great example to follow as a father. He always looks at the long haul as fathers should and he loves us in spite of ourselves! Fathers should want the best for their children realizing that the investment they make now in the lives of their children will one day reap a great reward! “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” A good life harvest means that fathers must be willing, ready, and able to do the hard day-by-day and moment-by-moment investment in the lives of their children! It is a matter of consistency again. Just as children are not potty trained, know how to walk or immediately feed themselves it is fathers that help them to become the adults they should be! “Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.” Godly dads do not complain about having to spend time with their kids. Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!

EXAMPLE: I remember the frustration of my father when he sat me down and asked, “How many times am I going to have to ask you to do something before you do it?” I responded, “I guess until it sticks.” To my surprise he reached out and tousled my hair and gently replied, “For your sake I hope not.” Got up and walked away. Some of the greatest moments of my life were spent with my ailing father the last year of his life. We spent the entire summer together. His insights, love, and quiet spirit had a huge impact on me. I learned from him that great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!

Conclusion:

Children learn discipline when great fathers consistently discipline their children! Great fathers keep on keeping on being a father!
—-
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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No matter what, preach the gospel! – Philippians 1:12-17

No matter what, preach the gospel! – Philippians 1:12-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 10, 2018

What is important in your life? I mean to the point where you would be willing to leave your home, family, friends, and do what you knew was the most important thing in the world. For some it is sports, some it is music or writing, for others it might be acting or art but for the believer who has given their life to Christ everything should revolve and focus on him who gave everything for them.

For Paul life was Jesus and Jesus was life and this is why for Paul in his life he considered it the greatest thing in the world to preach the gospel. He gave up family, friends, and everything in life to follow him and following him meant telling others about Jesus’ mission and message. Therefore for Paul it meant that no matter what, preach the gospel! Let’s find out how Paul encouraged others to do the same…

READ: Philippians 1:12-17

Someone once said that “The most important thing you have to realize in your life is: knowing your self-worth and by knowing your self-worth you would finally get to know what you deserve. And then you’ll be able to work for what you deserve.” Paul understood his self-worth. He wrote, “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 NIV).  For Paul it meant…

I. Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! (Vv. 12-14)

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

1. A lot of folks think things happen in life through happenstance but when it is something bad they immediately want to blame God but Paul never did. He knew things happen for a reason and not by mere accident. And for the believer Paul knew that things happen in life for one reason only: to further the gospel. This is why Paul writes, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul was being persecuted for his faith and especially for his preaching the good news. In fact, he was in prison for doing just that! Now he was held captive under house arrest waiting for his trial in Rome, held prisoner under false accusations by the Roman government for telling others the gospel. However far from discouraging Paul it only reinforced in him the providence of God in a Christian’s life. In fact Paul’s imprisonment became a means for him to testify about Jesus! And Paul writes that “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.” Evidently those back in Philippi were concerned for Paul but he was enjoying every moment! Paul was not discouraged at all because his imprisonment meant that from the Roman guard to those in the household of Caesar was now hearing for the first time the gospel of Jesus! Paul the prisoner had a second affect as well, “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” His persecution made others bolder in sharing their faith! Life for Paul was all about Jesus and that meant preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

EXAMPLE: Christians can be a contrary crowd believing that Jesus is the only means of salvation but only sharing with those they feel comfortable with. A group of teenagers visited a home for the elderly in Montego Bay, Jamaica, one young woman noticed a lonely looking man at the end of the room. He appeared to have little left in this world but a bed to sleep on—a bed from which he could not move because of his disability. She began to share the story of God’s love for us. Responding to his interest, she explained the wonder of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us. “It was hard for this man, who had no hope and no family,” she recalled, “to understand that Someone he’s never met would love him enough to die on the cross for his sins.” She told him more about Jesus—and then about the promise of heaven (including a new body) for all who believe. He asked her, “Will you dance with me up there?” She saw him begin to imagine himself free of his worn-out body and crippling limitations. She helped him pray a prayer of forgiveness and faith. When she asked him if she could get a picture with him, he replied, “If you help me sit up. I’m a new man.” Paul believed in preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen!

People do things in life for different reasons: Some out of pride or for praise; some from a sense of duty while others do certain things because of guilt. Paul knew that…

II. Preaching the gospel is an act of love! (Vv. 15-17)

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

1. Paul was not stupid. He knew that not everyone who was preaching the good news did so because they loved the Lord like he did. He knew they did it for varying reasons and he writes, “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.” Just like today there were those who wanted to make a quick buck off of anything that was new and that folks were attracted to. During Paul’s day it was usually the latest fad in spirituality. There were those like the cults of today whose founder’s only want fame and fortune. Then there were those who sadly while even within the church itself sought personal recognition or they thought they were in some kind of a competition with Paul. Paul did not care as long as the gospel was correctly preached! So he wrote, “The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.” How sad there were those within the church whose only desire was to outdo Paul or to bring Paul down in some way. Their reasons did not concern Paul because he was happy that Jesus was preached! Make no mistake he disliked factions within the church and wrote the Corinthian church, “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7 NIV)” For Paul preaching the gospel is an act of love!

EXAMPLE: Lee Geysbeek of Compassion International told about a woman who had the opportunity to travel to visit the child she sponsored. She decided to take the child, who was living in abject poverty, to a restaurant. The boy ordered a hamburger and the sponsor ordered a salad. When the food came the boy surveyed the scene. He looked at his huge hamburger and over at his sponsor’s small salad. Then he took his knife and cut the burger in half, offered it to his sponsor, rubbed his tummy, and asked, “Hungry?” A child who had next to nothing his whole life was willing to share half of what he had with someone he thought might need more. This child can be a good reminder the next time we meet someone in physical, emotional, or spiritual need. As followers of Jesus, our faith in him should be mirrored through our actions. We encounter people in need every day; some simply around the corner who need of a warm meal or a kind word. What a difference believers can make by doing good and sharing their faith. Paul knew that preaching the gospel is an act of love!

Conclusion:
Preaching the gospel to anyone who would listen! Preaching the gospel is an act of love!
—-
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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Partners! – Philippians 1:1-11

Partners! – Philippians 1:1-11
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 3, 2018

Having a good partner is important in life whether it is in marriage or in friendship. A good partner can lift you up when you are down, they can be there for you when you need them to be, and a good partner knows when to correct you so you can be the best you can be. Partners are important.

When we think of partners in history we might think of Orville and Wilber Wright, partners in old time comedy would be Abbot and Costello, and of course partners in the Bible would be Paul and Barnabas. Yet Paul had other partners as well and we see him writing to those he considered to be in close partnership with him in spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Let’s see what Paul says to his partners in the gospel.

READ: Philippians 1:1-11

Here we discover that…

I. Paul understood where his partnership came from! (Vv. 1-2)

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1. Here in these opening verses we see that Paul addresses the Philippian church, who he considered his partners in the gospel, by telling them about his partnership with Timothy: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus”. Paul understood what his partnership was based on with his young pastoral apprentice and friend Timothy, namely that it was founded in their being “servants of Christ Jesus”; literally Messiah Jesus. Paul was asserting the fact of who their Master was and he was the Messiah the world had longed for and who had made those he was addressing “saints”! Paul uses the word hagios which meant that they were made pure and holy because of their faith in “Christ Jesus”! All Christians are made holy and pure because of Jesus and this is why all who believe in Jesus are considered “saints” in the Lord! But Paul’s letter was not just to the mainstream congregation at large because Paul had some specific things he wanted to share with “the overseers and deacons”, the pastors and leadership within the church itself. Within Paul’s opening remarks we read the love and devotion he had for these folks at Philippi. Paul desires they know “grace and peace” which was a common enough opening for letter of the time but here we discover that this grace and peace Paul wanted for them was to be from “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful thing to write your partners in Jesus! Paul understood where his partnership came from!

EXAMPLE: It has been said that “Christians shoot their wounded” meaning that they allow themselves to criticize or ridicule fellow believers when they are spiritually hurt or wounded. This should never happen instead like the writer of Hebrews we should “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:13 NIV)” And Paul would write that Jesus “died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 NIV)” Paul understood where his partnership came from!

We now learn that…

II. Paul was grateful for his partners! (Vv. 3-6)

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

1. I heard an old time preacher state that “Christians should develop an attitude of gratitude” and he was right on in his insight. In reading the letters of the Apostle Paul you can immediately tell who he had struggles with and who he was grateful for and he was grateful for the Philippians! Paul writes, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” What a wonderful thing to have written about you by someone else! For all of history this church will be known as the church Paul was truly thankful for! But even more than that he thanked God for them every time he remembered them! Wow! But even more than that Paul thanked God every time he remembered them “In all [his] prayers for all of {them]”! When Paul prayed, which I believe was quite often, he remember his partners in Philippi and thanked God for ALL of them! How many believers are truly that thankful for their church? I pray most are because they should be. Paul was so glad to have this church as his partners in Jesus that when he prayed for them he “always pray[ed] with joy because of [their] partnership in the gospel from the first day until now”! How in the world could Paul pray this way for these folks? He writes it was because “being confident of this, that he (meaning Jesus) who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”! Paul was grateful for his partners!

EXAMPLE: Too often pastors or other believers can become impatient with new believers but they should not because it is God’s job. And Paul reminds us of this when he writes to his new partners in Jesus at Philippi that he was confident God would complete what he had started in them just as he does for all believers. Perhaps we should develop that attitude of gratitude for fellow believers and see them as our partners in Christ. How wonderful to learn that Paul was grateful for his partners!

Finally we find out that…

III. Paul desired the very best for his partners! (Vv. 7-11)

It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

1. In this letter we discover that Paul knew that “It is right for me to feel this way about all of you”. He not only felt this way about his partners in the gospel in Philippi “since I have you in my heart”. Paul kept his partners close in his thoughts and prayers. Paul cared about them deeply and he meant it. He tells them “for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me”. When we share our faith, when we pray for one another, and when we fight the good fight for the sake of the gospel we as believers share in each of these things. We are truly partners in Jesus and we “share in God’s grace”. The mere fact Paul wrote this testifies to his deep godly affection for his fellow believers. This is why Paul writes that “this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”. Paul wanted them to not only experience God’s love as he did but Paul desired that heir love “abound more and more”. Paul wanted them to grow in “knowledge and depth of insight” so that they “may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ”! Shouldn’t this be all believers’ desire for one another? Like Paul all Christians should deeply want one another to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God”! Paul desired the very best for his partners!

EXAMPLE: When one Christian witnesses we all share in that witness as we pray, encourage, and lift one another up. When one of us suffers we all suffer because we are all one in him who saved us. In speaking about the observance of the Lord’s Supper Paul writes “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. (1 Corinthians 10:16-17 NIV)” In fact he would write, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)” And Paul desired the very best for his partners!

Conclusion:

Paul understood where his partnership came from! Paul was grateful for his partners! Paul desired the very best for his partners!

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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Mother’s Day – Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:1-5

Mother’s Day – Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:1-5
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 13, 2018

When we are taught that everyone is “special” then the final outcome is that ultimately no one is. It becomes meaningless. Let me try to explain a little bit. When I was a young boy my father taught me some very important life lessons on how to be a man but it was my mother who taught each of us how we were unique. Notice I did not say “special” because she never said we were special just to say so like a lot of folks do nowadays instead she said we were special when we did something that was truly special. That’s what moms do; they keep you in the real world.

This Mother’s Day I wanted us to focus on why we should respect our mothers. Parenting in general has gotten a bad rap in America today and what I mean is good parenting. It seems as if there is no longer any consistency or heritage of what good parenting is all about. Recently I overheard a mother yelling at her preschooler to get her blankety blank blank bottom into the car. Now I know children can sometimes drive a person to distraction but I believe we need to refocus on what motherhood should be and why believers should honor their mothers. Let’s see why…

 

READ: Ephesians 6:1-3; 1 Timothy 5:1-5

To be fair the same mother that I overheard cursing at her preschooler to get into the car the next week was blowing her kisses and saying “Momma loves you” as she pulled out of the driveway. Let’s see why we are to honor our mothers this morning. On this Mother’s Day we discover that…

I. Christians are to honor their mothers! (Vv. Ephesians 6:1-3)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise—“that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

1. Here Paul writes that “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” Now notice Paul is not speaking to the world in general but to believers. He writes that children are to obey their parents “in the Lord.” What does this mean? While obedience is kind of a foreign word in our nation today we would do well to remember just how important it is. Paul writes that Christian children are to be obedient to their parents in the Lord. Paul meant in their spiritual instruction, in their personal following of God, and in how they respected him. Paul knew if children followed God they would be obedient to their parents. His reasoning was simple: “for this is right”. Obedience some would say comes from respect however many have forgotten that respect is not simply given, it is earned. Paul writes that his readers were to “Honor your father and mother” a reality that is often misplaced in our day. A life that is not focused on the Lord and filled with the Spirit of God is one that can never understand what real reverence means. Honor in our day and age is hard for a lot of people to give others because we live in such a victim-oriented world. It seems as if there is special kind of sport or enjoyment in tearing down anything or anyone that might have earned our respect or be honored in our world. The Boy Scouts of America is the latest victim. No matter how old we are we are to give honor, deference to our parents and especially our mothers. Certainly there are those whose parents may not have been the best sort but Paul is speaking to Christian households here, those who have given themselves to the love and discipline of the Lord Jesus. Paul wrote that this honor is required because it comes from “the first commandment with a promise”. It isn’t the only commandment with a promise from God nor is it the first or primary commandment one is to learn, rather it is the commandment with the promise of God “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Christians are to honor their mothers!

EXAMPLE: I know that any mother can at times be driven to distraction. I remember my mom telling us boys in rather a loud voice to “Just go outside for a while and leave your mother in peace!” Even though there were times we could drive our mom crazy we knew from what she taught us in how to treat the future women in our lives. We were to respect, be polite, and kind to older women, teachers, and all girls period. It wasn’t just a suggestion it was absolutely expected. We were to be gentlemen with any female in our life including our sister! We learn that this is expected from all believers as well. Paul teaches us that Christians are to honor their mothers!

I learned at an early age that boys were to act like gentlemen and girls were to act like ladies. Things like saying please, you’re welcome, and thank you was expected. Manners were taught to us from the time we were toddlers. It is interesting therefore for us on this Mother’s Day to learn that…

II. Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers! (Vv. 1 Timothy 5:1b-5)

Treat… older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help.

1. Believers need to act as to exemplify Jesus in every way possible and especially where their mothers are concerned. Folks inside and outside of the church watch our lives very closely and as part of the family of God Timothy was encouraged by Paul to treat other believers as family. So gentleness, kindness, and morality were to be his motives so that “older women” would be treated “as mothers”. Not all women were treated with the respect they should have been during Paul’s day but Jesus changed all of that. Paul would teach that we “are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” and that there “is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26, 28 NIV)” This is why he tells Timothy that “younger women” were to be treated “as sisters, with absolute purity”. In a world that chewed up people and especially the weak, the orphaned, and the widowed Timothy as a believer was to “Give proper recognition to those widows who [were] really in need. But if a widow [had] children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents (mothers and grandmothers), for this is pleasing to God.” Family was to take care of family and especially their mothers! Paul told Timothy, “The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives.” Paul is writing about a person’s focus in life. In that day single women and especially widows had very few options; either they had family who could care for them, they begged, or if they were young enough they became prostitutes. Note Paul’s emphasis is on their spirituality. Someone who focuses on her spiritual growth is to be commended while the one who focuses on only her own pleasure is spiritually “dead” without even knowing it already. The family of God is to take care of the family of God and Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers!

EXAMPLE: My mom used to say that “Manners never go out of style”. Now you would need to realize that she was raised in the backwoods of Wyoming riding horses, driving cattle, living in a circus tent and log cabin, hunting and fishing, and going to a one room school through 7th grade, but her mother put a huge premium on well-behaved children. It is something sadly that has gone out of vogue. Children are seen as young adults, which they aren’t, and are way too pampered. I believe this is why many young men no longer know how to treat the women in their lives. Paul teaches us that Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers!

Conclusion:

Christians are to honor their mothers! Christians are to treat women in the church like their mothers!

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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Fight the good fight! – 1 Timothy 6:11-21

Fight the good fight! – 1 Timothy 6:11-21
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 4, 2018

When the father asked his little boy what he should do when another child tried to bully him, he was surprised when the little tike replied, “Hit him hard, hit him fast, and run like crazy!” As children of the King we are to respond differently to the whims of life than the world would. While we are encouraged to “fight the good fight” it is a matter of faith and not fists. Believers are to be different than the world.

Society today frowns on anyone taking a stand for righteousness. Paul wrote that a “time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV)” Paul knew that people could be so perverted that “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32 NIV)” Yet as believers we are to be different. We are commanded to fight the good fight. Let’s see what Paul wrote Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 6:11-21

When others turned away from us there was one who willingly grabbed a hold of us and did not let go. However, unless we are reminded to do so as Paul did with Timothy, we can for get that…

I. We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go! (Vv. 11-12)

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 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.

1. The number one song in America right now is one by Drake called “God’s Plan” and it has nothing to do with that at all. In fact, sadly, you may not want to know exactly what the lyrics do portray. Rather than discussing with Timothy his sexuality, masculinity, or promiscuity Paul addresses the fact that a man of God should desire to remain pure before the Lord and so he writes that Timothy should as a “man of God, flee from all of this” worldly desire that focuses on selfishness and the love of money. Instead, the man of God should “pursue”, run after, desire, and jump at “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness”!  Later Paul would tell Timothy to “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22 NIV)” It is the pursuit of holiness with the character outcome of faithful, godly, patient, gentleness which is hard often to find in men in our day and age. In Paul and Timothy’s time it was a dog-eat-dog kind of world. Today it is more of a live like a dog kind of world where such things as holiness and kindness have gone by the wayside. Paul equates this kind of pursuit as a boxing competition where one does his best to “fight the good fight of faith”. Like a Pitbull that doesn’t let go once its jaws snap shut around its prey the believer is to “take hold of the eternal life to which [they are] called”! Timothy was called to serve the risen Lord just as each of us is when come to Christ. In fact, Paul reminds Timothy that he had made his “good confession in the presence of many witnesses”. This is one of the many reasons why we ask you to come forward publically at the end of worship to make a decision. You are showing others your willingness to have them witness your decision to follow the Lord. We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go!

EXAMPLE: The dog was mangy and ornery. A flea-bitten cur if ever there was one. No one would go near him. No one wanted to. He trotted around town as the bully of the streets demanding his due that is until one day he willingly followed a little red-headed girl home. She showed up at her backdoor with the mongrel scratched, a little ragged and bloody, and mussed up. When confronted by her mother on how in the world she got the dog to calm down and follow her home so willingly, the little girl responded, “I just grabbed a hold of him and didn’t let go!” We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go!

I am so glad that when God got a hold of me he did not let go either. However there are those that forget and think that this is all there is to the whole matter. So much so they forget there is a command that we are to “follow” Jesus and Paul reminds us that…

II. We are to follow through on our confession of faith! (Vv. 13-16)

In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time–God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

1. Others are not the only witnesses to our decision to follow Jesus. Paul reminds Timothy that when he decided to follow the Lord it was not only fully “In the sight of God, who gives life to everything” but it was also in front of “Christ Jesus” who he made his own public declaration! It was this same Jesus, Paul reminds Timothy, that also “while testifying before Pontius Pilate made a good confession” openly! Paul wasn’t telling Timothy that he could do whatever he wanted to whenever he wanted to because as a man of God called by Christ Timothy was bound by a greater obligation. As believers all are when we commit ourselves to Jesus! Therefore Paul makes it a serious and conscious decision and writes, “I charge you to keep this command” to live a holy and righteous life “without spot of blame”. And Paul meant that it wasn’t something Timothy could do lightly. Too often we allow folks to think that a commitment to the Lord is a moment by moment thing, and it is not. It is a lifelong serious battle. Salvation is a constant ongoing spiritual skirmish in that we are permanently saved, we are being saved as we walk in him, and we will be saved when we see him face-to-face! Until such time we are, like Timothy, to make good on our confession of faith! Timothy was commanded by Paul to stay true “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time”! When would that be? Paul does not give Timothy any time frame or date, but rather he is to keep on keeping on in his walk with the Lord until he returns at the time of God’s choosing! “God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.” We are to follow through on our confession of faith!

EXAMPLE: “Keep your eyes on the finish line!” the track coach would remind his team over and over. They were encouraged to “never look back” because if they did they would be in danger of losing the race. Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:10-14 NIV)” Paul wanted Timothy to know that we are to follow through on our confession of faith!

Follow through is important in pitching a baseball, making a free throw with a basketball, or in a spiritual walk with the Lord. If we focus on the things of this world too much we will end up impoverished. Instead, Paul reminds us that…

III. We are to acquire eternal wealth! (Vv. 17-21)

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.

1. Paul was fearful that Timothy could lose sight of what truly mattered in life. He wasn’t far afield either where his concern was focused because so many over the centuries have wandered from their faith when caught up in the lust of acquiring wealth. He tells Timothy “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God”. Sadly, far too many folks who profess faith in Christ have lost their focus when they begin to think that wealth, worldly power, or fame is far more important than their eternal walk with God. There is nothing we own or acquire in life that will matter when we are face-to-face with Jesus! It is the Lord “who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” in life! We have need for nothing else. Paul continued by telling Timothy to “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.” It is through this kind of living that others will see one’s faith. It is how we are to display Jesus to the world! In fact instead of trying to acquire worldly riches, it is “In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” The life we live now lays brick by brick the eternal life we will live with the Lord and that can either be a comforting or disconcerting thing! So Paul ends his letter to his young friend by reminding him to “guard what has been entrusted to [his] care.” He was to make the concerted effort to “Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.” Not every bit of “godly” wisdom from the world is truly of God and can, like a faulty compass, lead one astray! Paul finishes by tacitly reminding Timothy of God’s love for him by stating, “Grace be with you.” We are to acquire eternal wealth!

EXAMPLE: As a kid I always hated those Twilight Zone TV shows that depicted someone wishing for wealth or something else and then getting more than what they bargained for. My Dad used to tell us kids, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Sadly we have all seen the personal destruction of those who have gained fame and fortune only to see it disappear or be utterly destroyed by both. I have learned that the things of this world are just so much shadow. Nothing we gain now will matter when we are gone. What matters is what we eternally invest our lives in. Jesus correctly taught, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)” Paul reminds us that we are to acquire eternal wealth!

Conclusion:

We are to grab a hold of the Lord and not let go! We are to follow through on our confession of faith! We are to acquire eternal wealth!

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 way of love! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

The way of love! – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 18, 2018

What is love? It is a question that poets, prognosticators, and psychologists have tried to answer. Love’s theme fills hundreds of thousands of books, songs, and blogs. Tina Turner cynically sang, “Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it? What’s love but a second hand emotion? What’s love got to do, got to do with it? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?” Most contemporary songs in today’s society have reduced love to either feelings or lust, whichever fits the needs of the moment. It reflects the shallow and sometimes cynical view folks have for the meaning of love for their lives. However, if we are to understand Scripture we have to answer the question, “What is love?”

The Bible does define for us what love is. It begins with God himself when we learn “God is love.” (1 John 4:8 NIV) Love’s definition is furthered clarified when he showed what his love is all about in sending his Son. (John 3:16-18) This love of God transforms the individual from the inside out to the extent that they are changed forever in their personal relationship with him, their personal attitudes and their interactions with others. “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14 NIV) and “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12 NIV) The problem is what does the rest of the world see when it looks at the life of a believer? Does it see the love of God revealed in us? With all the misunderstanding, negativism, and cynicism concerning love in our day and age, the question we need to answer this morning is, “What is love?” More specifically, what are love’s attributes? Let’s find out the way of love for ourselves…

READ: 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Since we are so close to Valentine’s Day and we are talking about love I made up the top ten things women may not want to hear on their first date:

10. I love the way the light shines on your nose…
9. I picked these up at the cemetery on the way here…
8. Don’t worry I tasted each piece of candy to make sure there were no nuts inside…
7. Your cooking is almost as good as my mother’s…
6. I take my mother’s ashes everywhere, why?
5. I have my own private apartment in the basement…
4. You’re way prettier than the last girl I dated…
3. Look, two tickets to the hog wrestling championships!
2. Momma always goes on my first date…
1. I am sure this ring won’t turn your finger green…

Love can be confusing but in these verses from Paul…

I. We discover what love is! (Vv. 13:4, 7-8a)

Love is patient, love is kind.… It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1. Mariah Carey once sang: “I wanna know what love is….. I want you to show me.” We discover that all Mariah had to do was open her Bible in order to find the perfect example of love! Paul writes exactly what this kind of love is all about. We discover that love is patient, or as some translations state, “long suffering.” Yet the idea is not one of patiently putting up with something or someone, but rather that of steadfast devotion. There is a serene tolerance involved whereby the believer, as Paul admonishes is to “Be completely humble and gentle; [by being] patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 NIV) Love is also kind, again as in being “kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NIV) Love always protects like a covering or a like a mama bird that shelters her young with her wing, and love always trusts in the one who gave us the example of love. However, we as believers are also to trust in one another as well because we are to be the embodiment of Jesus in the world! In other words, the love a Christians displays sees the best in a fellow believer. How in the world could love do that, are we to be like a Pollyanna and blindly see the good in everybody? Nope, we are to reflect Jesus’ love in that we are to always hope in him and what he can do with our lives: That we look to the bright side of life even in difficult circumstances. Love is able to do this because like Jesus it perseveres. It stays the course set out for it in life, it keeps on keeping on when others falter and persists when others only see failure. Love is all these wonderful things: kind, patient, protective, trusting, hopeful, and persistent! When it is, it never fails! This is what Godly love truly is!

EXAMPLE: In a morally corrupt world we see what the redefinition of love accomplishes. It focuses on self-gratification and reduces love to its basest instinct of emotional lust. Love becomes about selfish relationships and self-seeking, instead of the foundational truth it is supposed to be. Like the redefinition of marriage that ignores the familial outcome of emotional stability and the continuance of humanity. Contrary to the amoral selfish redefining of marriage, this is why God resoundingly condemns it. At its core godly love is sacrificial and is never based on what you get out of it, it is based on the change that has occurred in your sinful human nature that makes you love others in spite of yourself! This why the apostle John would bluntly write, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” (1 John 3:10-11 NIV) This is what Godly love truly is!

For Paul, love was more than what you can gain it flows from what you have already obtained. We have found out what love is, we also have to learn what it is not. So, here in these verses…

II. We discover what love is not! (Vv. 13:4b-6)

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

1. The singer Jennifer Hudson sang: “If this isn’t love, tell me what it is!” Jennifer should know that love is more than losing weight in life! Paul related that God’s love “does not envy, it does not boast, and it is not proud.” Again, in other words, the love of Jesus does not stoop to petty jealousy or green-eyed behavior. Jealousy is just another word for insecurity and at its core it is selfish. God’s love does not care about what others have or obtained, but rather rejoices with another’s success in life, especially when it is obtained in a godly manner! Nor does the love of Jesus brag about itself to others, but rather it knows its place. God is to be glorified in all things. Therefore Jesus’ love does not puff itself up in the eyes of others, like a gangsta thug or short-term sports hero for its own gain. In a world where being crude and sarcastic has reached all time new lows, the love a Christian is to display is not to be rude or crass. Godly love therefore never seeks the lowest common denominator; it has the highest of standards. It does for others rather than for itself, never seeking its own desires first. In other words like Jesus it is sacrificial! Love keeps a lid on its anger and in so doing it does not keep track or a record of the wrongs others have done to it. And unlike the world, who knows “God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, [and] they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them”, (Romans 1:32 NIV) love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” of God! Notice anything about the picture painted here by Paul of what love is not? The love of God as expressed in the lives of believers is to be nothing like what the world offers. That’s why the world does not understand it nor does it understand Christ or Christianity. In Christ we discover what love is not.

EXAMPLE: I always laugh when the world tries to define what Christianity is supposed to be. Recently there has been a desperate redefining of what the world thinks a Christian’s faith should be like. We are to swallow and accept the attitudes and actions of others and never ever say anything that they might take as “bigoted” concerning their personal perversion. Contrary to what the media would try to persuade you to believe, Christianity is not based on what we feel about Jesus, it is based on what Jesus taught and at its core is the fact that a person can only claim being a Christian after they have confessed their sinful condition and placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ himself. Like societies redefinition of love, the Christian faith is not based on selfish emotionalism. And this morning, we have learned from Paul what love is not.

Conclusion:

We have discovered what love is and we discovered what love is not!

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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Do you go to Sunday School?

Do you go to Sunday School?
By Pastor Lee Hemen
January 29, 2018

The apostle Paul wrote his friend and young cohort Timothy these words: “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. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)” Yet sadly in our day many think that by just attending a worship service they have done this; handled the word of truth correctly. Nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a time when things like Wednesday Night and Sunday Evening Services have gone by the wayside and now for many churches they are doing away with Sunday School Classes or promoting Bible Study. It has created a flux of folks who think they know all about the Bible by simply listening to the latest pithy relevant message by their prognosticating preacher, using the Internet to garner spiritual insight, or by reading the latest Christian fad found in their local bookstore.

Paul correctly understood the human condition that it was like water in that it has a tendency to always flow downhill so-to-speak. We are lazy lots who would rather diet and exercise an easy way rather than put in the hardcore self-control and workout that is needed. A pill or prepackaged food will not create the life change needed and the same is true for the Christian who should be growing in their knowledge and understanding of Scripture.

As a pastor I try my best to be in a Sunday School Class on Sunday mornings. I enjoy not only the give and take of lively discussion, I enjoy the friendships formed, and the insights given me by fellow believers. It goes to the basics of what does this passage in the Bible mean, what does it mean for me, and what is its history and context?

Because of the lackadaisical attitude of most Christians there is a spiritual shallowness rampant within Christianity today. Many do not know what they believe nor why they should believe it or not. Most are influenced by society rather than being the salt and light they are supposed to be in an ungodly world. In the 80s and 90s it was the heresy of end times theology that crept into believer’s lives, in the early 2000s it is a worldview that is totally contrary to biblical truth and personal holiness. Worship was never meant to be where one is taught the deep spiritual truths of Jesus. It is where we are to worship. Depending upon a message in a moment will not suffice to make an individual one who is “approved… who correctly handles the word of truth”. Christians need to be in Bible Study or a Sunday School Class, whatever you want to name it, in order to mature and understand the word of God correctly. Paul also told his friend Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16 NIV)” And I am reminded of a beautiful little comment by Luke who wrote about a tiny church who saw the importance of getting together with their fellow believers to learn the word of God: “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11 NIV)”

My advice then is this: Get your body to Bible Study or Sunday School Class on Sunday mornings and if your church does not offer them, find one that does. Therefore, “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. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)”

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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