A Profile of a Proud Person

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God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:61 Pet. 5:5). Pride is an ugly and consuming sin that God hates (Prov. 6:16-17; 16:5). Pride comes from the heart (Mark 7:21-23) and leads to contention (Prov. 13:10; 28:25) and callousness (Dan. 5:20). The final outcome of this sin is disgrace (Prov. 11:2), debasement (Prov. 29:23) and finally destruction (Prov. 16:18; 18:12). Yet pride is not always obvious to us. It can be subtle and become so deep-rooted that it goes unnoticed. Below is a small and selective list that provides a profile of a proud person:  Continue reading A Profile of a Proud Person

Selfishness

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Selfishness is something we are all too well familiar with. Me, myself and I are the three people we tend to be most consumed with. Selfishness is the state of being concerned primarily with self and it begins with the craving to satisfy your desires, and it is then carried out by actions that are all about you. The sin of selfishness is such a debilitating sin. It robs us of the joy of being satisfied with God and His sovereign purposes. Continue reading Selfishness

Contemplating the Cross

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Many things in this world consume our minds and we can lead lives that are very busy leaving little time for contemplation. But this is damaging for us. Contemplation and consideration are important, especially when it comes to the things of God. The hymn writer Isaac Watts (1674-1748) wrote these amazing words in his hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, Continue reading Contemplating the Cross

How you can Benefit the Church

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When God saves His people, He does not leave them in isolation. Rather, He places them into the body of Christ and they are to participate with the other members. The members of the church are not all the same. God has designed the church in such a way that it consists of people from different backgrounds, ages and personalities. This beautiful reality is seen in where the focus is on spiritual gifts. John Murray summarises this passage by saying, Continue reading How you can Benefit the Church

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Down, But Not Out

Opportunity

How many times have you disobeyed the Lord and not received what you deserved? I am sure that if we all think long and hard, we will be amazed that we are still here! Why is that? God is merciful and gracious. There are many things that we have done that removed us from the pathway of obedience. We know what His Word says, but we selfishly reject it. Such acts of rebellion (both private or public) against God’s Word are damaging and can cause great devastation. When we deviate from God’s will it robs us of joy in the Lord and opportunity to be faithful and glorify His magnificence.

If we have miserably failed in living according to God’s will, what should our next steps be? Instead of becoming despondent or moving in a direction of deeper depravity, as children of God we must confess our sin to the Lord, seek His forgiveness and repent from our sin. It is then we will know the joy and freedom that repentance brings (cf. ). The fact that the Lord has provided you an opportunity to know the seriousness of your sin and the occasion to seek His forgiveness reveals His wondrous grace and mercy toward you! He would be just in simply punishing us on the spot if he so desired.

This reminds me of Jonah. In an earlier post we learnt that due to his reluctance, Jonah ran away from God’s will. Despite his selfish and rebellious act of running away from God, the Lord chased him and got his attention. The Lord sovereignly prepared a great fish to swallow him up (). It was in the depths of the sea creature’s belly that Jonah saw the error of his way. He confessed his sin and repented.Despite his disobedience, in a merciful and miraculous way “the LORD spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land” (). God then provided Jonah with another opportunity to obey Him (cf. ). This says a lot concerning the character of God. What mercy and grace on display!

Perhaps you are down and despondent as a result of your sin. Don’t despair, instead look unto the Lord God and seek His forgiveness. Be thankful to Him that He has provided you with an opportunity to do this! As He grants you occasion, seek His grace to be faithful and fervent in your service to Him. You may be down, but by His grace you don’t have to be out.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

17  And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.

3:1 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.”

How to Pray for your Pastor’s Preaching

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Like all Christians, pastors need prayer. In an earlier post I wrote about how you can pray for your pastor. In this post, I want to specifically look at how you can pray for his preaching. God in His wisdom has appointed the greatest means so as to reveal His character and will to the church, and that is the preaching of His Word (). Because the preaching of the Word of God is an important and influential task, we must take time to pray for those who preach it.

 

PRAY THAT THE WORD WOULD INSTRUCT HIM 
Pray that as your pastor reads and studies the Scripture, that the Word of God would grip his heart. Pray that his eyes would be opened and that he would behold wondrous things from God’s Word ().

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD APPLY THE WORD
After God’s Word grips his heart, pray that he would apply it to his life. We read this concerning Ezra, “Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (). Make this your prayer for your pastor.

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE DILIGENT IN STUDYING THE WORD
Pray that he would be diligent in his study. Sadly, all too often some pastor’s can be distracted or lazy. Pray that your pastor would make a disciplined effort as he carefully handles the precious Word of God. Paul commanded Timothy,

 

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” ().

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE HUMBLE
Pray that he would prepare his sermons in a humble manner knowing and understanding, that apart from Christ he can do nothing (cf. ). Pride is an ugly and consuming sin that God hates (Prov. 6:16-17; 16:5). Pray that your pastor would be humble before God and would not preach for show, but rather “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” ().

 

PRAY THAT HE WOULD BE FAITHFUL
Pray that when he stands in the pulpit, that he would faithfully preach the Word of God in fullness and in truth. Pray that his boldness and words would be driven by what God has said. Too many pastors fall prey to the pressure of needing to be popular and pleasing to the ear. Paul called for the preacher to,

 

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” ().

 

R A Torrey asked, “Do you want a new minister?” He went on to say, “I can tell you how to get one. Pray for the one you have until God makes him over!” Pray for your pastor’s preaching and this will be a blessing for you and others.

and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;

18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
wondrous things out of your law.

10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Guarding Sound Doctrine (1 Timothy 1:1-11)

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Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 2 To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. ()

STUDY

We need to remember that a church’s doctrine is not to be limited to its current situation. We are to recognize that we stand in line with centuries of historical truth. Every church potentially is less than a generation away from compromise. In this passage, Paul calls for Timothy to guard against departure of doctrine (1:3-7) and to guard the gospel of glory (1:8-11).

Guard Against Departure of Doctrine ()
After his opening greeting (1:1-2), Paul provides Timothy with a serious charge, which reveals the occasion for the writing of this letter (1:3-5). Timothy may have had plans to move on from his role in Ephesus but Paul urges him to “remain at Ephesus” with the view to guarding against a departure from sound doctrine (1:3). Those who have departed from sound doctrine “devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies” (1:4a). It is possible they still teach truth, but they add to it things “which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith” (1:4b). The goal of this charge is genuine love. This love has a threefold source, it “issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith“(1:5).

After giving this charge, Paul reveals the conduct of the problematic teachers in Ephesus (1:6-7). They have strayed from the source of biblical love. This has led them to wandering “away into vain discussion” (1:6). This departure from sound doctrine has resulted in their pride (“desiring to be teachers of the law“) and ignorance (“without understanding“). False teachers ignore biblical love (1:5, cf. ), they don’t source their teachings from the sufficient Scripture and a transformed life (1:4, 6), and they are prideful (1:7). Beware of false teachers!

Guard the Gospel of Glory (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
In addition to guarding against departure from doctrine, Paul calls for Timothy to guard the gospel of glory. This is achieved by rightly using the law of God. Though the false teachers desired to become teachers of the law, they were using it unlawfully. God’s “law is good, if one uses it lawfully” (1:8). Though the law has many uses (refer to study question 5), Paul reveals that one purpose of the law is that it is for sinners to come to an understanding of their horrible condition before the Lord and to find grace in the gospel of Christ. He provides a list of conditions and sins that the law condemns (1:9-10). The lawful use of the law is “in accordance with the gospel of the glory” (1:11). The false teachers use the law for their purposes (promotion of pride), whereas the law is to be used as a means to display the power of the gospel.

APPLY

1. Is doctrine important? Consider the following references and discuss the place doctrine   has in the church: .

2. Discuss the importance of the church having biblical, historical and clear doctrine.

3. It is the duty of God’s people to love (cf. ). Where does biblical love come from? See 1:5.

4. Throughout Scripture we are warned about false prophets and teachers (;). Jesus taught that we would know them by their fruits (). From our passage (and others) what are some of the characteristics of false teachers?

5. What is the purpose of God’s law (1:8-10)? See also  and .

6. Pray that the Lord will enable your church to guard sound doctrine and that He would protect from error and pride.

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

10 the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,

1 Timothy 4:6

If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.

1 Timothy 4:13

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

1 Timothy 4:16

16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 5:17

17 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

1 Timothy 6:1

6:1 Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

1 Timothy 6:3-4

If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,

13 Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:10

10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:39

39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 24:4

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.

Romans 7:7

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.

Consider others better than yourselves

LuckyIn his new book about important shifts in Australian culture, entitled The Lucky Culture, Nick Cater writes about the Australian view of class and merit. Before (say, pre-1970s) Australia was a society structured by merit and individual ability. It was a relatively united meritocracy. Cater notes that our culture is now divided along class lines, but not in the Marxian paradigm of workers and bosses (or “labour and capital”).  He writes, “There has always been divisions in Australia … but this was of a different order. For the first time there were people who did not simply feel better off but better than their fellow Australians.” (p. 6)

Cater describes a society divided, no longer by merit and lack of merit, but by moral superiority and inferiority. He longs for the older ethic of the meritocracy, where people did not consider themselves better than others, but merely better off. However, the Christian ethic is even more radical than that. Continue reading Consider others better than yourselves

The Need for Effective Leadership

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Over the last week or so, there has been a challenge to the Prime Minister’s position in the Australian government. Naturally this has caused much unrest and angst among the party and further frustration to the nation. The current Australian Government is a “hung” parliament. Basically the party in power did not have enough votes to be in power outright, so therefore required the support of the smaller parties. This naturally creates a manipulative environment whereby people from different viewpoints have the power to push their agenda and influence the leadership of the country in potentially unproductive directions. If the Prime Minister and other key ministers are not strong in their leadership, they will naturally be caught up in trying to please others in order to hold onto power. Continue reading The Need for Effective Leadership