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Wednesday July 5, 2006
"His Faithful Servant I Would Be!"
"Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:15,16).
A standard safety announcement on commercial airline flights has to do with the oxygen masks. The flight attendant instructs that you are to place the mask on yourself first, then any children who are with you. Initially this seems to be contrary to the "put others first" ethic. However, it's altogether proper. By assuring that you stay conscious you're able to help those around you who may be unable to place the masks on by themselves.
I believe that's the focus of this passage. We must stay in good spiritual condition to faithfully influence others for Christ and eternity. We've all seen examples of those that don't and its effect not only on them but also on those around them. "God, help me to persevere today!"
The above portion of Scripture has long gripped my heart. I first recall its richness when I was preparing for my ministerial ordination in 1979. It is a heavy call to all who minister for Christ whether vocationally or as dedicated lay people. Paul is writing instructions regarding church life and ministry to young Timothy and through the Holy Scriptures to all of us.
"These matters" certainly include the immediate context, but I believe also the entire content of the letter. True ministry is a very serious calling. The word for diligent, rarely used in the New Testament, conveys "to take care of." I'm so glad our Lord has provided such an adequate instruction manual for those who serve Him! We are called to devote ourselves "wholly" to this call. Whatever your form of service for Christ may you give of yourself wholly to that which God has called you to do.
May those we minister to see our "progress". This translates a wonderful word ("prokope"), used elsewhere in the NT only in Philippians. In fact one of my favorite preachers (Warren Wiersbe) had a newsletter with this title. It essentially conveys advancement and increase. Is your faith and the character traits of Christ advancing in your life? Do others see this increase?
"Watch your life and doctrine closely." That is, pay close attention to how you live and what you believe. So many start the race well but some neglected sin or doctrinal aberration creeps in. We know those who have served for a "season". I think of fellow Bible College students and associates early in ministry that have not "stayed the course". May God help us to regularly examine our lives and doctrine frequently and "persevere in them"!
The final phrase is amongst the most sobering in the Bible: "because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." I certainly don't believe this negates other teachings about salvation through Christ by grace. Of course Paul is not saying we save. Only Christ can save. But our influence on others is great, both for good and bad. Surely there are those who have abandoned the faith due to the fall of preachers and Christian leaders. May God help each of us to stay faithful!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen C. Weber
Brooksyne's prayer: Jesus, stir in my heart the desire to be diligently immersed in the Word of God. The deceiver is diligent in planting seeds of doubt, confusion and clever lies always intending to lead me off course in my spiritual walk. Jesus, as I persevere in reading and applying truths inscribed throughout Your Word I ward off the incessant pleas from Satan to yield to sin. I desire to be Your faithful follower not just for a season but all the way to eternity. It is my heart's desire to influence as many as possible to join me in this noble calling. May You find me faithful so that those who watch my life daily may also find me faithful!
Brooksyne's Note: When I was a teen-ager I first heard a song that goes something like this; "Your life's the only Bible that some people read. That's why we must be careful of what we say and do." I've stored these words in my heart over the decades as I've sought to live faithfully for Jesus. In reading today's dailyencouragement message I immediately thought of David's sin with Bathsheba. In preparing for discussion in a Bible Study at church this evening I read over 2 Samuel 11 carefully this morning. It was fairly easy to see the progression of sin in David's life since the author outlines the events that led him to lust, commit adultery, cover up and when that didn't work he eventually murdered an innocent man. No doubt David thought himself clever in the beginning but when we choose to commit sin we never know how far it will escalate as it takes us away from that which we know is right. It's a sad testimonial in the life of a king also known as "a man after God's own heart." I consider the privileged position God gave David and yet he used his kingly position for evil. May God help us to be ever vigilant in recognizing the devil's seducing power when we are in positions of authority. Our earthly authority is always subject to God's spiritual authority in everything we do! So let's be careful in what we say and do.
This message prompts me to consider a line from a hymn that states, "His faithful follower I would be, for by His hand He leadeth me." The hymn, as many of you recognize, is "He Leadeth me"
Vocal acapella (great harmony by the Drummond family!)
Instrumental by James M. Stevens
"Find Us Faithful" is another song that touches my heart in regard to today's theme. Here's an audio version by Ron and Gary Matthews.
Today's photo was taken in Door County Wisconsin by my cousin's wife Georgia. She titled it "Bookend Churches" and it sure reminds me of the place faith should have in our life!
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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