Let’s review the situation Timothy faces:
- Replacing Paul as pastor of church in Ephesus. Imagine trying to fill Paul’s shoes!
- Timothy is young, has a spirit of fear, being easily discouraged.
- He also has ongoing health issues.
- Ephesus is an affluent city; materialistic; it is home to the Temple of Diana, the seventh wonder of the old world and a renown house of prostitution.
- False teachers are arising in Paul’s absence.
One of God’s most repeated commandments is “ Fear Not”- but we sometimes forget what almost always accompanies this command: Fear Not for I am with you. Here are some verses to remind yourself of this promise: Isaiah 41: 10; Isaiah 43:2; Psalm 23 and Psalm 91. The most popular place in the Vatican where people wait for hours to get in and see is the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo’s fresco painting of the Creation of Adam. It was controversial when he did it. God reaching out to Adam. And you can see the God is actively reaching to touch Adam, to close the gap between them. God’s greatest desire is to be with His people. Immanuel, God with Us. He wants to dwell among His people. See the father of the prodigal running to meet him. This is our God, our Creator. Our Savior. He longs to be close to us- to live our lives together. The enemy of your soul comes to steal and kill and destroy this close fellowship. If he cannot make you bad, he will make you busy, giving you other priorities in your life. Jesus said He came to give us life and life more abundantly.
Timothy is therefore told to teach: sound doctrine, proclaim the Gospel, and defend the faith. Which happens to be our mission in the 21st century as we face the same issues as Timothy did in Ephesus.
Paul then writes: “Therefore I exhort (urge) first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.” (I Timothy 2: 1) Do you see the phrase-‘first of all’? Paul is indicating prayer is most important in the public worship of the church. Prayer. It is interesting on the Day of Pentecost, Peter’s sermon had been preceded by 10 days of prayer followed by 10 minutes of preaching and 3,000 souls were swept into the kingdom and the age of the church began. How much time do we spend praying for services, preaching and teaching? Praying for lost souls and praying for God’s will to be done? Prayer is a will alignment. Aligning our will to God’s, not visa versa. Wednesday night used to be called a prayer meeting. Jesus cleansed the temple saying “My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” Matthew 21: 13 Are we called a house of prayer? We have lots of activities and programs. And there is a place for those, but how much time do we spend in prayer.
Paul then lists a variety of prayers: supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks made for ALL MEN. Prayer was as much a part of the ministry as preaching and teaching. The believer and the church must depend on prayer. We must not replace prayer with programs. Charles Stanley says all our battles are won on our knees in prayer. Prayer and supplication with thanksgiving are part of Paul’s formula for praying which provides the peace of God which passes understanding and guards our hearts and minds. The object of prayer is “all men.” If we are instructed to pray for all men, it must mean there is no person on earth outside the reach and influence of our prayers.
Notice in verse 3- prayer pleases God our Savior. It pleases our Heavenly Father when we pray as He has commanded us to pray. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us to pray by saying do not pray like the Pharisees, who pray to be heard by men. John writes we can have confidence when we pray in the will of God, He hears us and we have what we have asked for. James says we have not because we ask not and we ask and do not receive because we ask amiss. We ask that we might spend it on our own pleasures. (James 4) Moses said, May the Lord bless you and keep you and make His face to shine upon you. He is pleased when we call on Him. His face shines with a magnificent smile of unconditional love.
THE FACTS OF GOD’S WILL
Verses 3 & 4 tells us: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, who gave Himself a ransom for all to be testified in due time.”
Fact 1. God wants everyone to be saved and understand the truth. John 18:37
Fact 2. God is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. 2 Peter 3.9
Fact 3. God sent Jesus to pay for our sins He is or ransom and Redeemer. I John 2: 2
Fact 4. God has given us, His Church the responsibility to tell the world. Matthew 28
Fact 5. God is going to hold each of us accountable for our responsibility. “ For each of us must appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one of us may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. “ (I Cor. 5: 10) Christians do not face the Great White Throne judgement because we have trusted the finished work of the Lord Jesus at Calvary. Our names are listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, we will face judgement at the Bema. This is not a place of condemnation, but a place of accountability. We will realize how much time we wasted on things which do not matter and be rewarded for those things we have done in faithful obedience to the Lord. I Corinthians 3: 11-15 describes this event. Our works are tested by fire which reveal our motives. Did we do this to receive the praise of men or to please God and lift Him up? God has blessed each of us, so that we might bless one another. What we do on earth matters for all of eternity. What matters most in your life?
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE GOT SAVED?
Do we understand what all happened when we got saved and how it should change our behavior? When we got saved it was a new beginning. We not only had our sins forgiven and our guilt removed, we also received the Holy Spirit who comes to seal us and indwell us and live Christ’s life through us. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old has gone, and the new has come. All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed us to the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ behalf: be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. As God’s fellow workers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain, for He says: “In the time of my favor (acceptable time) I heard you and in the day of salvation, I helped you. I tell you now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 5: 17-6:3
We are born again of the Spirit and we have become a new creation. My wife had a new husband after I got saved. She told her friends she had a new husband. The old one was passing away. This new birth is an act of God. As a result the following changes began to take place.
- New morality as determined by the Word of God.
- New mind as the Word of God transforms our minds. The truth sets us free. Let this mind be in you, which is in Christ Jesus. ( Romans 12: 2; John 8: 32, Phil. 2: 5 )
- New agenda. This is the reason for which I was born again. This is our “ calling”
- New Master. This is the One for whom I live, not myself. Not I but Christ lived in me. Galatians 2: 20
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures on earth where they will be lost, but in heaven where they will await us and last for eternity. This is the Treasure Principle which states where your treasure is, your heart will be also. Jesus then tells us we cannot serve two masters. Jesus then makes an amazing statement: “Therefore do not worry about your life; what you will eat or drink or your body what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or gather in barns, yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more valuable than them? WHO OF YOU BY WORRYNG CAN ADD A SINGLE HOUR TO HIS LIFE? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that no even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry saying, ‘what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after these things and your Heavenly Father knows you have need of them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE GIVEN TO YOU AS WELL. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6.
In his book, “WHEN THE GAME IS OVER IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX” author John Ortberg compares life to the board game of Monopoly. The question I believe we begin to ask ourselves at this stage in the game of life is ‘what really matters, when it is all said and done?’ Like the game of Monopoly we race around the gameboard of life, buying and selling with crowded schedules. Raising children, making a living and some days finding ourselves with seemingly not a moment to spare. My career consisted of my traveling all over the world. I was once gone almost 2 weeks traveling in Australia. I sometimes worked through a weekend and into the next week. In 1998, I had done over 80 seminars by August of that year. Guess what? I was diagnosed with cancer and had to cancel the rest of my schedule which had me booked into the second week of December. The industry never missed me or what I had to say. We seek recognition, meaningful work, money, and possessions. I know you have heard this before but let me say it again. Treat every day as if it were the day before your last.
If you view life as a game, you have to figure out what constitutes winning and losing. What we do is trade time for money and money for things which we not only think we need, but think they will make us happy. Jesus said our Heavenly Father knows what we have need of- but He makes it abundantly clear- He and His Kingdom comes first. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you. And guess what? You will not have to worry about tomorrow. For you have done with today what needed to be done. You have your priorities right. Matthew 6: 33
Jesus told a parable about a rich man in Luke 12. He had spent his life working hard, he had amassed much in the way of possessions. He got ready to slow down and enjoy the fruits of his labor, to eat, drink and be merry. Then he died. It all went back in the box. He had placed the ladder of his life against the wall which was based on the world’s view of the abundant life. Jesus said the thief comes to steal and kill and destroy but He has come that you might have life and have it more abundantly. He also said, ‘a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.’
This man in this parable had devoted his life to the wrong things. Here is what a list of his priorities and goals looked like:
- Harvest large crops. Build bigger barns. Financial security. Eat. Drink. Be merry. Remember not to die.
“The object of life, according to Jesus, is breathtakingly simple. Be rich toward God
Here is what your goals should look like (and it is never to late to start);
- Being rich toward God means growing a soul that is increasingly healthy and good.
- It means loving and enjoying God and people.
- It means learning about your gifts and using them to doing good works to help others
- It means becoming generous with your stuff.
- It means making that which is temporary the servant of that which is eternal.
- It means savoring every day and every trip around the board game of life.
THE BOARD GAME OF LIFE
The Board Game of Life is your calendar. So fill each day with the things which matter most. Think of the hours you worked. Let’s look at a day in your life as a jar. A jar which contains 24 hours. Then because we first used hour glasses filled with sand, let’s fill your 24 hour day with your daily sand of “have-to’s”. Sleeping, eating, working, commuting, shopping, brushing your teeth, etc. If you raised children you spent an average of 31 minutes a day on child care. If you have pets, you spend an average of 7 minutes per day taking care of them. You spend an average 16 minutes per day looking for things you lost. 20 minutes visiting other people. 4 minutes doing paper work for the government. You will spend six months in your lifetime waiting at traffic lights. 75 minutes per day commuting. Recreation: exercise, golf, movies, television, hobbies, vacations. Then there are emergencies, unexpected interruptions which can complicate your life.
Now let’s consider what are our priorities and how they fit in this 24 hour jar of a day in your life.
- God. Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength.
- People. Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Calling. What God gifted you to do.
- Joy. The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy now and forever.
Jesus said if you do what I am showing you to do- you will be blessed. You will be happy.
“Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. Until I come, DEVOTE YOURSELF to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and teaching. Do not neglect your gift (calling) was given to you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid hands on you.” (I Timothy 4)
Let’s do a Priority test to see how this command in Matthew 6: 33 to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and God promises all the things we need will be added. In doing so, you will discover – less is more.