1 Timothy 1:1- 11 Part 2

As I mentioned in the last post, Paul had issued a warning, documented in Acts, to beware of certain people in Ephesus who were preaching a different doctrine, drifting into myth and speculation, and not stewarding the faith in the proper manner. Here, he is urging Timothy to stand up boldly for the true faith of Scripture, “proclaiming the true and original message of faith As taught by Christ and the apostles,” (pg 2094, ESV Fire Bible).

What is that “true and original message of faith”? Verse 5 of our passage says, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” I really like the first two lines of the study note in the ESV Fire Bible for this verse. It says, “The ultimate goal of all instruction from God’s Word is not Bible knowledge in itself – knowledge cannot save us – but an inward spiritual transformation that radically changes ones moral character. If genuine, this change will express itself in love and purity of heart (i.e., total devotion to God in thoughts, motives and behavior),” (pg 2094).

We hear lots about purity nowadays. We hear the good, the bad, and the ugly. You need to keep yourself pure for your future spouse. It’s something that the world doesn’t seem to care about anymore. And it’s something that’s difficult to do, because of the pressures put on us by the world, unless we stay plugged in to the Word and lean in to the support of Holy Spirit. But if we do stay in the Word, stay in tune with Holy Spirit, if we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), the automatic result will be purity of heart from which moral purity follows naturally. But if we drift, get distracted, listen to the voice of the world, we can be drawn away quickly.

We need to know who we are listening to and not let those outside influences distract us from the voice of our One and Only. And that’s not always an easy thing to do. Sometimes the voice will be a voice calling from the wilderness, a generic voice of the world saying that this is okay or that is okay. “It’s okay to live together, you’re probably going to get married eventually anyway.” “There are dozens of pens in the supply closet, this one won’t be missed.” It’s like the cartoon of the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Don’t give in to the devil’s voice.

Other times the voice is a friend, even a close friend. “Oh come on, we’re adults. What’s wrong with an R- rated movie? The sex scenes (or the violence, or the foul language, or the depictions of the occult,…) aren’t that bad.” “Come on, the party’s going to be great. You don’t have to drink (or get high) if you don’t want to.”

And sometimes the voice is a professing strong Christian, or even a close family member. “But don’t forget what Paul said, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet,”” (1 Timothy 2:12). (Okay, opening a huge can of worms here. Much more on this in a future post.) And sometimes those loved ones, family members, or purported strong Christians fall into the realm of verses 6 and 7, which state, “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.” (ESV). They read the Scriptures, but they don’t listen to Holy Spirit for proper interpretation, they only listen to their own thoughts, or those of the world, and they end up being off, taking things out of context. And when it comes to being off, a little or a lot makes no difference. Off is off when it comes to the Word of God.

Our only influence should be Holy Spirit. He lives inside us. He knows us better than anyone else in the world. He is the Spirit of God, given to us as a gift, to be a helper to us when the voices of the world start calling out to us. He is the Voice of Truth spoken of in the Casting Crowns song. So, the Voice of Truth, Holy Spirit speaking inside of us, keeps us focused on our King of kings and LORD of lords, Jesus. And staying focused on Him, being in His Word, keeps our minds renewed, resulting in a pure heart which, naturally, leads us to keeping ourselves pure. Pure of heart, pure of mind, pure of body. This should be our aim.

This week’s Scripture memory verse is Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Last week I forgot to include some questions for thought. This week, I’m remembering in time. So, what voice do you listen to most often? Do you listen to the Voice of Truth? Or do you tune it out and listen to friends or family or voices of the world?

READING PLAN
Day 15: Gen 28-29 Psalm 15 Matt 18
Day 16: Gen 30 Psalm 16 Matt 19
Day 17: Gen 31 Psalm 17 Matt 20
Day 18: Gen 32- 33 Psalm 18:1- 24 Matt 21
Day 19: Gen 34- 35 Psalm 18:25- 50 Matt 22
Day 20: Gen 36 Psalm 19:1- 6 Matt 23
Day 21: Gen 37- 38 Psalm 19:7- 14 Matt 24

Drifting

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I recently attended a conference, well, actually, not a conference, but a council, the annual council for the Illinois District of Assemblies of God churches. I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts that they have been posted specifically to fulfill requirements for certain classes. I’m not sure I’ve ever mentioned that the reason for those classes is that I’m pursuing credentials to become a pastor within the Assemblies of God.

Those words still rather scare me. It was never, and I mean capital N, NEVER, my plan to be a pastor. My plan was either to pitch for the Cubs (until recently, they couldn’t have done any worse with me than they were doing without me. But this is our year! Go Cubs!!), or join the Army. When the military fell by the wayside, hearing issues preventing me from fulfilling that plan, I decided to get a degree, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with emphasis in international relations and a minor in Military Science. (Yes, that Army dream died hard. But I got to take the ROTC classes at Northern Illinois University, wore the uniform proudly, and “served” three years in my small capacity.)

And then I drifted. What do you do when all your dreams, from early childhood, crash to the ground and you realize you have NO idea where to go or what to do. I had nothing. Sure, I’ve got a piece of paper that says I finished college. I’m the only one of my generation to do that in my family. And what do I have to show for it? I’ve got a piece of paper.

So I drifted, and I drank, and I drugged, and then drifted some more. I drifted from job to job. I drifted from home to apartment to home again. (Yes, Mom and Dad called my yo-yo.) Just like a boat drifts without an anchor, so I drifted.

And then, I found the anchor, Jesus. My life began to settle down. I got a job. (Been there over 10 years now.) I bought a home. (Six and a half years for that!) And settled into my new life. But those of you who’ve been boating know, if the current is strong, or if it’s windy and you’ve been drifting quickly, sometimes it takes a while for the anchor to grab the bottom. It may b down, but sometimes that anchor just drags across the bottom. Your momentum may slow, but you are still drifting. And that is how I fely, anchor out, tied to Jesus, but the current of the world still dragging me along.

And over the course of this last year, still drifting slowly in the current, dragging the anchor of Jesus through the muck and mire of the bottom of the lake I’ve been on, I didn’t even notice that I was also starting to let the rope pull through my hands. I was losing my grip. As John Bevere, one of the keynote speakers at the council made reference to, I’d been so involved in my own thing, drifting, loosening my grip on the anchor, that when I looked up, I no longer recognized my surroundings. I drifted farther than I ever realized. And it seemed to happen on the blink of an eye. In reality, it’s built up over time. But I allowed myself to become so distracted, it seemed as if just a moment went by.

I’m getting myself back on track, I’ve tightened my grip on the anchor rope again, and I’m beginning to pull in some of that rope that slipped through my hands. And even more important than that, through the speakers at this council, and more so than that, by my focus getting locked back on Jesus, laser sharp and ready to go, the anchor is set. Actually, it’s always been set. The anchor is ALWAYS the anchor. It never changes. What we do with, or to it, is what causes us to drift. But the anchor of Jesus will never be moved.

So I’m back to my study schedule, and I’ll finish up my classes, and I’ll become a pastor. That still sounds so strange to my ears. But if I look at my classes as training, homework and Bible Study as PT (physical training), if I shift my thinking, I’m actually, finally fulfilling my dream of being in the Army.

I have decided to follow Jesus, and I’m a soldier in His Army. No turning back. NO TURNING BACK!

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I wrote this about two weeks ago, not publishing it right away, but just letting it stew for a little while. I love how God uses that stewing process to bring other things to light. As I was reading yesterday, for one of my classes, I encountered this from the author:

“The writer of Hebrews said, “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (2:1). Drifting takes no conscious effort or strategy. The currents and winds of social trends and fads, in the church as well as in the world, are always in motion.” (Hurst, Randy; The Local Church in Evangelism, 3rd ed.; pg 155)

Isn’t it just amazing how God can pull things together from seemingly unrelated places, yet they suddenly appear as a beautiful piece of art, and you think, “Well, of course this all goes together.” So, this, along with the posts in the coming weeks, and continuing on, will be my project for this class. (Thanks Papa!)