Monday, September 2, 2013

God's Unlimited Power!

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by certain tasks or things asked of you?  I often feel overwhelmed to the task of parenting.  You just feel like you can't do it.  Even in the Christian life it can be frustrating when you struggle with tasks of serving/witnessing.  Our challenge today is for Christians who recognize that our lives include a redemptive purpose- (2 Corinthians 5:18-19) And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. We are to be guarding, living and sharing the gospel. We also have the responsibility of  service to God by using our God-given talents within the church for the purpose of edifying the body of Christ! There is always plenty of work to be done including discipling those around us such as our children, relatives, and co-workers who may be new believers. This can be overwhelming and challenging at times, but we cannot quit or fail to serve our Lord in these tasks. God is the one working in us and through us for the work He expects from us. We want to observe this in 1Timothy 1:12-17 as Paul encourages Timothy.

 Now imagine how Timothy must have felt. Paul left Timothy at Ephesus with a difficult task to deal with false doctrine and to set things straight in the church. As you study the Books of 1&2Timothy we get the impression that timothy might have been timid and that this task was stretching him. We need to be stretched at times for growth, spiritual maturity and to remind us of our limitations. Timothy might have been thinking of leaving or at least felt inadequate for the task.  Therefore, in our text today Paul is encouraging Timothy to keep going by using himself as an example/illustration of what God can do in people's lives!  We too need to remember this when we feel overwhelmed by the spiritual tasks before us!

Therefore, our focus needs to be that IN SERVING CHRIST, WE MUST TRUST & REST IN GOD'S POWER!  Don't grow weary or quit!  You can endure!  How?


Paul ends v.11 talking about the gospel entrusted to him. This same gospel saved and gloriously
transformed him from Saul of Tarsus to the Apostle Paul!  Again, in this section Paul uses his own
testimony as an illustration on how God changes people! Paul can't help but to break out into Thanksgiving!  How thankful are we that Christ provided salvation for us?  A grateful person is someone whom God can use!  He thanks Christ because He has enabled him- It's a compound word εν- in & δυναμοω- to strengthen, to make vigorous, to become strong. This word is in the past tense. In other words, at the time of Paul's conversion, he was saved and called to be an Apostle initially by God's power, therefore he was equipped by God and enabled to do the work if he would obey and serve.

Now it is also good to know that the same Greek word "enabled" is used in a present tense in (Philippians 4:12-13)  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  This is the daily strengthening that enables us to do or endure whatever is expected of us!  Paul also reminds Timothy in v.12 that God appointed Paul to his task. Therefore God would enable!  Now remember Paul is encouraging Timothy, therefore he is reminding Timothy that God enables us to do His work. Timothy could trust in God for help and strength to oppose the false teachers. We have that same help and enabling from God to serve Him when He calls us to do so. The problem is that we fail to trust/believe God and fail to see God work through us! 


Notice Paul's life before salvation in v.13.  Blasphemer- To injure by words of slander, reviling sacred things, irreverence. He reviled the name of Christ & opposed Him because he did not know that Christ truly was the Messiah. Persecutor- against Christians. Consider verses such as: (Acts 22:19) And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: (Acts 26:11) And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.  Injurious- arrogance, a bully, malicious violence. (Acts 8:3) As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.  (Acts 9:1) And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,  (Acts 22:4) And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. (Galatians 1:13) For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:  YET God showed mercy to Paul.  Why? Notice the end of v.13, Because done ignorantly in unbelief- He thought He was doing God a favor and honoring Him. He saw Jesus as a threat to Judaism. He did not know that He was the Messiah, the implication is, if he had known he would never had done those things. (No excuse, but there is a difference if something is done on purpose or ignorantly).

V.14 refers back to receiving mercy in v.13 and elaborates on that concept. God poured out grace upon Paul that completely changed him. The greater the sins, the greater the Grace. Sin could never hinder or overcome God's grace!!  The change grace made in Paul's life produced faith and love. Before he had unbelief and hatred.  Paul possess these characteristics because he is now In Christ.  Look what God has done with Paul and Timothy needed reminded that God can also do that in the lives of the false teachers and anybody else who hears God's Word. Therefore Timothy was to oppose the false teachers with the truth of the gospel that God can use to transform them!  God does the work we just need to be usable!

V.15 is a statement of special importance! Deserves full acceptance! Jesus came to save sinners. That's what He does! That is why He came to earth- to transform sinners!  Paul says "I am chief" of sinners- the word can mean 1st, foremost, or prominent.  His deeds were known far and wide and he thought that he was one of the worst sinners for what he did against God's church. But again the emphasis is that Paul was saved and transformed by God's power. This is why Timothy must guard the truth and purity of the gospel- because Jesus alone saves man. (Acts 4:12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.  (John 14:6) Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. No one is too great a sinner that they cannot be saved!!

V.16- Paul was a great sinner, but God showed mercy and saved Him! If Jesus can be longsuffering- have the upmost patience with Paul who greatly opposed Him with such wicked acts of sin, then Jesus will do the same for others no matter how bad their sins were!  Paul's life was to be a pattern to others. Pattern- A.T. Robertson explains- "Paul is a sample of the kind of sinners that Jesus came to save."  Timothy was to observe what God did in Paul's life and realize that God can do this in anyone's life!
So the point to these verses is that God does the work in people's lives. God transforms lives through the working of the Holy Spirit and God's Word! Timothy was encouraged to confront false Doctrine with great courage and boldness understanding that God can change them and anyone else who hears God's truth! If the false teachers would not accept the word then they were to be cast out of the church so as not to pollute the purity of the gospel.  Now friend understand that as you serve God through teaching, discipling, sharing the gospel, and any other service, it is God that must work in the hearts of those we are ministering to. You simply are to be faithful in teaching/sharing God's truth! Be encouraged, because too many people become discouraged when they don't see people accepting the gospel or changing when they teach. You can't change them, God Must! It is not your responsibility to save or change anyone. 
You might be thinking, how does praising God help me to trust and rest in God's power for service?
Well, if we are praising Him, then we are focused on Him! Paul cannot help but to break out in exuberant praise!! Paul, like David of old, learned to focus on God's greatness and person to strengthen him in difficult times!  We are to honor- to recognize God. Robert Gromacki says it best when he states that we are to recognize God "as the most precious thing in the universe." We are also to Glorify God. We do that through obedience and submission to His will and by revealing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives! Notice Paul's description of God: King- ruling & reigning w/complete Sovereignty and power!  Eternal- of the ages- always existed & always will! Immortal- death cannot affect God because He is holy, incorruptible- not given to decay!  Invisible- Not completely knowable- holy, set apart! Only- true God, no companions, no other gods. other gods are the figment of man's imagination (see Romans 1:18-26)! Wise- some translations have and some do not. But we can always trust that God knows how to work all things for our good (Rom.8:28).
Focusing on our wonderful God ought to direct our attention to God's greatness encouraging us to trust in His working. We have a God who knows What He is doing. Simply allow God to use you! Rest and trust in His power! God will enable you! God does the saving and transformation in people's lives!  We serve an awesome God, so be encouraged! You are not alone in your service for Him!


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Strength For Every Trial

Have you ever noticed that after experiencing great spiritual victories, the valley of doubt is lurking near? As mere human beings we can often struggle with trusting the Lord as we should. One minute trusting in the Lord's strength and the next minute struggling with doubt and fear. Well, if you find yourself doing this at times, understand that you are not alone. There are many in the Bible that have done the same thing.

Today we want to consider the experience of Asa King of Judah (the southern Kingdom). Turn in your Bible to 1Kings 15:9ff.  Here we learn that Asa was a good King. (1 Kings 15:11) "And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father."  In the next several verses we find Asa reforming Judah so that they will conform to God's will. Unfortunately, he was not able to completely reform Judah for in v.14 we learn that he was not able to remove all the "high places" which were places of pagan worship. Yet we are also told in v.14 that "Asa's heart was perfect with the Lord all his days."  The word "perfect" means undivided, whole. In other words Asa was devoted to the Lord- desired to serve and please the Lord. Yet we will see that Asa did struggle with trust and disobedience. Even though he did struggle some, he still is quite a contrast to many Kings of the Old Testament.

Now turn to and read 2 Chronicles 14:9-15. Here Zerah brings an army of Ethiopians and Lubims (or Libyans in Africa near Egypt- 2Chron.16:8) numbering around a million men and three hundred chariots (v.9) against Asa. Some have doubted the number of men yet there are historical records of even bigger armies of that time period.  This is by the way the biggest army mentioned in the Bible. Can you imagine being Asa and facing this GREAT threat? What will he do? His army is FAR less than the opponent's. Look what he does in vv.11-12(2 Chronicles 14:11-12) "And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. {man: or, mortal man} So the LORD smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled."  WOW, what faith and trust seen in Asa!  God gave them the victory in a way that only He could. What a moral booster! what a faith building experience!

Now turn in your Bible to 2Chronicles 16 and read the chapter. Baasha King of Israel (The Northern Kingdom- remember that after Solomon Israel split into two Kingdoms) came to fight against Asa and the southern Kingdom of Judah.  But what an unfortunate turn of events that we read about here. Asa panics! He does not go to the LORD in prayer! Instead he turns to the King of Syria for help. He offers him great treasure from the "House of the Lord" (v.2). Ben-hadad agrees to help him. In vv.4ff. Ben-hadad fights against Israel the Northern Kingdom and cripples them. 

Asa got what he wanted. The threat from the North has been dealt with.  All is well, right? Well not quite!  Look at vv.7-8. (2 Chronicles 16:7-8) "And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand."  (this last part of the verse referring to 14:9-15

What happened to Asa's trust in the Lord? He forgot what God did for him in the past. Less we be to hard on Asa, don't we also do the same thing at times?  God gives us great victories in our lives and we are on "cloud nine," then the next great trial comes and we forget what God can and wants to do for us. If you know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior- trusting in Him alone for salvation, then we can have the confidence of a loving God watching over us.  (1 Peter 5:7) "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."  Asa forgot this!

Now for the "golden nugget" to help you to press on through any trouble or difficulty. Notice very carefully v.9. (2 Chronicles 16:9) "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars."  Our great God is looking for people "whose heart is perfect toward Him." Again, as mentioned earlier, the word "perfect" means whole or undivided. God is looking for devoted believers who will trust Him completely so that He can show Himself strong in their lives. God wants to work in our lives! He is the God of all strength and power! There is nothing that He can't do! And He wants to work in our lives! Are we looking to and trusting Him to work on our behalf?  "To shew Himself strong" means to strengthen us, support us, to supply our need (if it is with in His will), to protect us, to defend us!  How can we loose with God fighting for us?  We have no reason to worry or become depressed over difficult situations.  Asa should have remembered God's great victory in Chapter 14, but he forgot and paid a price for it!  Are you trusting God to help you? Are you resting in His strength, love, and care? Memorize this wonderful verse and believe it with all of your heart!!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Clinging To The Lord

I was reading in 1 Kings 11 the other morning and one verse in particular jumped out at me. This is the continuing story of King Solomon. The text reads, (1 Kings 11:1-2) But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.  Solomon clave unto foreign women and soon to their gods as you read the rest of the verses. How sad!! 

The Hebrew word for clave means "to cling to, " "to adhere," "to join to something." It is often used with the idea of clinging to someone with affection, devotion, and loyalty.  What are you clinging to? What are you devoted to? Solomon use to be devoted to the Lord, but something happened to where God was no longer enough for him. That is especially amazing to us as we read many of his wonderful Proverbs. I'm afraid there are many Christians like Solomon who are clinging to the wrong things.

David wrote in (Psalms 101:3-4) I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.  A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. David said that he would not allow any wicked thing before him. The commentators explain that the wicked thing can also include wicked plans and purposes.  The word for "wicked" is a word that can mean "evil," or "worthless," or something with out profit." David said that no wicked thing shall cleave unto him. Why? Because he was clinging to God. Not perfectly, he made his share of mistakes, some even very big ones, but his heart was one that loved Jehovah. We must cling to God or sin will cling to us.

The Book of Deuteronomy stresses the importance of clinging to God. Observe a few verses:  (Deuteronomy 10:20) Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name(Deuteronomy 11:22) For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him(Deuteronomy 13:4) Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.  Take time to read the verses in context.

Also consider King Hezekiah, one of the good Kings of Judah.  (2 Kings 18:6) For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses.  V.7 then tells us that he prospered by clinging to God. We will always prosper, at least spiritually, by clinging to God!!

Back to my opening text, Solomon struggled because he clung to the wrong thing.  We will pay a price too, if we cling to the wrong things.  We must cling to God! Stay devoted to Him! Then we know that we can expect answers to prayer, help in time of need, direction for life, comfort in trouble, and so forth!   James tells us in James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.  Let us purpose to draw very close to God and enjoy a life worth living. Everything else will leave us empty and unsatisfied!