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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Reflecting trees (Photo by Georgia)
Reflecting trees on Black River, Wisconsin
(Photo by Georgia M, original here)

"Staying The Course" (Part 2)

Message summary: May God help each of us to stay faithful and stay on course, for both ourselves and for our hearers! "God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!"

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"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).

Safety announcement A familiar part of the 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" ethos. 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.

That's a principle vital to ministry as well. The daily verse reminds us that we must be diligent and stay in good spiritual condition if we are to effectively influence others for Christ and eternity.
"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). We've all seen examples of those who didn't and its effect not only on them but also on those around them.

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. 

"Be diligent" means "having or showing care and conscientiousness in one's work or duties." Diligence is “focusing my effort on the work at hand.”

"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 elsewhere 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 be give of yourself wholly to that which God has called you to do.

Warren WiersbeMay those to whom we minister see our "progress". This translates a wonderful word ("prokope").  In fact, Warren Wiersbe, for many years 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 neglect sin or doctrinal aberration creeps in. We know those who have served for a "season". I think of fellow Bible College students and associates in ministry who have not "stayed the course."

About twenty-five
years ago I went out to Kansas City to visit my folks. Connecting in Pittsburg I providentially met Paul Grabill*, a  pastor friend who was headed to Springfield MO, but we had the same flight to KC. He told me about a dear friend who had a very successful ministry and pastored a large church who had just fallen into moral failure. I recall how broken-hearted he was and how hard it was for him to believe that his pastor friend (whom I didn't know) had so grievously failed.

May God help us to regularly examine our lives and doctrine frequently and persevere in doing what is right! Don't let popular opinion of the day sway you. God's Word is settled once and for all; its truths and principles apply to every generation.

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 that "we" save. Only Christ can save. 

But our influence on others is great, both for good and bad. Certainly 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 and stay the course, for both ourselves and for our hearers! "God, help me to stay the course and persevere today!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, doctrinal error or disobedience to truths expounded upon in the Word of God will lead us off course. There are many situations that contribute to our getting off the straight and narrow path of righteousness, if we're not wholly intentional in denying ourselves, taking up our cross daily, and following in the ways of Christ. There are tremendous disappointments we will experience, whether it's related to our work situation, our family, our church, financial restraints, our relationships with others, health crises or painful loss. Through it all we know that You will lead us daily and give us grace for every trial  if we just stay the course and musically proclaim with hymn writer Fanny Crosby,

"All the way my Savior leads me,
Oh, the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father’s house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way.

* Paul Grabill stayed the course and passed on after a lengthy battle with cancer about six years ago. Message here. "Paul Grabill... His Life and Legacy" with background song "You Hold Me Now"  Video  This was the video tribute at the Memorial service for a longtime minister friend of mine. This, in our view, is an excellent example of a video tribute.

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: "To whom much is given much is required."

II Samuel 11 reveals the progression of sin in David's life 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 think, say and do.

Study note: Paul's prediction in 1 Timothy 4:1 sure seems to be the case. "But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons."

In Ephesians 4:14 he writes of those who are "tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming." Today we see a departure from the course that our forefathers could hardly have imagined. Even in my own lifetime who would have imagined that something so foundational as the basic constitution of holy marriage would be a serious issue of departure. And now all this absolute nonsense about something as basic and evident as Genesis 1:27.

Today's Suggested Music and
Supplemental Resources

"All The Way My Savior Leads Me"  Video   Wintley Phipps

"Slow Fade"  Video  This song powerfully describes the lure into sin and getting off course.  This song was featured in "Fireproof".

Slow Fade Teaching  Video  Mark Hall is the youth pastor who wrote the song and leads the group "Casting Crowns". He shares an interesting perspective from Psalm 1 that prompted this song.

"Take My Life And Let It Be"  Video  Brian Doerksen A beautful rendering of an old hymn.

"Take Time To Be Holy"  Video
  Mennonite Hour Men's Quartet This is another old hymn you don't hear much these days, but its message is very relevant and timeless.

Yesterday an observant reader speculated that the fields of yellow we showed in this photo is Canola

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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, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. 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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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