Notes on 2 Timothy 4:1-8

(This is a preparatory message leading up to an ordination at the Global Vision Bible Church.)

God is like a two-headed nickel. He always wins.

Ordination is not the calling of God. Aanyone called of God can preach whether man says so or not. Ordination is more or less a local church formaility, acknowledging someone who has been divinely annointed.

Paul often referred to Timothy as his son (in the faith), even though they were not related. Today, we are disciples who are making disciples.

When God puts something in your heart, you won’t want to do anything else but what God desires. Paul even lays out the framework for what the qualifications are for an elder/deacon.

Just because you have the desire to see God’s will fulfilled doesn’t mean you have the discipline. You must have discipline.

There are dangers in the ministry. Perilous times will come your way. There is perversity and brokenness. Even those in the ministry face these things.

Paul applies these things to all of us, but more so toward those who are in the ministry. God is the one who does the calling and equipping. It is God’s charge to God’s man. Jesus Christ is going to judge us on our motivation or the lack thereof.

God’s charge is to preach the word, in season and out of season. A minister is to preach doctrine. And, yes, doctrine is divisive. You will behave according to what you believe.

The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. People will try to take it out of your hands, even in God’s church. Make sure you stay true to the gospel, no matter what. Some do not want to hear the truth, but only what they want to hear.

Some will turn their ears from the truth and instead turn toward fables. We are even to endure afflictions. Jesus is the real one they hate. (Before they hated you they hated me first.)

Live the life of an evangelist. Be a soul-winner. Make sure you are surrounding yourself with the right people so that the devil cannot come in and destroy.

Do not be ashamed to let your light shine before man. Even be a trouble-maker for the kingdom. Those willing to shed their blood for the Lord are few and far between. (2 Timothy was the last of 14 books Paul wrote. Here he announces that they are about to kill him.)

Paul says he has fought the good fight. If you fight, make sure it’s a good (righteous) fight. Let’s all hope we can say this in the end. Anyone can jump off the starting block, but by all means finish well.

We do whatever it is God has called us to do, and not only those who are called to the ministry, but all of us in the church.

History tells us that Paul literally led his captives to Christ. They watched his life as well as his death. He was willing to die for something bigger than himself. If you’re living for Him, you’ll give your life away. Take it serious and don’t quit.

Lead by example (1 Peter 5:1-2)

If we can trust God with something as big as our eternal salvation, then surely we can trust Him with every minute detail of our lives. Everything rises and falls on leadership. As goes the leader, so goes everyone else. People don’t care what you say when your life doesn’t match what comes out of your mouths. Jesus hammered the Pharisees and other hypocrites for this very reason.

Leaders must learn to lead not just by their words, but by the way they live their lives. Peter exhorted the other elders of the church to feed the flock.

1. Leaders must be called to humility and repentance before the church can ever experience true revival. If the church leadership would get revival through humility and confession, can you imagine what would happen within the local church? The church isn’t seeing a mighty movement of God because the leaders aren’t experiencing it themselves.

We don’t ask the church members to do something that the leaders aren’t willing to do themselves. Paul said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Peter identified himself as an elder who also witnessed the sufferings of Christ. At GVBC, our church structure tries to follow closely the church described in the book of Acts.

A lot of preachers are afraid of vulnerability, and build the persona that their kids are always wonderful, their marriages are rock-solid, their finances are all in order, their health is perfect. Yet the more vulnerable a pastor reveals himself to be, the more God can accomplish in that church.

Peter remembered the anguish he felt after denying Christ and watching Him suffer. Yet on the day of Pentecost (50 days later), this same man stood before a crowd and preached on repentance and 3,000 were saved as a result. This is possibly the most important sermon that has ever been preached.

What Peter saw that day with Christ forever changed him.

When he was crucified as an old man, out of humility, Peter requested that he be hung upside-down because he felt himself unworthy to die the same way Christ died.

2. A true encounter with Jesus will increase your boldness and passion. You can’t possibly have a genuine encounter with Christ and live life the same way you did before. After such an encounter with Jesus, your faith will be unshakable.

It wasn’t the eloquence of speech by those who were with Jesus, but the boldness of their speech. You are a witness to what Jesus does in your life and no one can take that from you.

Don’t seek to be a teacher, because teachers will receive the greater condemnation from God.

Scripture says to feed the sheep, not slop the hogs. Open the Bible and feed the sheep. You don’t even have to look for hungry people. Someone has to take responsibility for the growth of the church. There is only one Biblical responsibility borne by the pastor: open the word of God and feed the people.

3. People are starving for the truth of God’s word. People come from all over to hear the word of God preached. The application of the word of God changes people’s lives. Bibles have become the centerpiece on our living room tables, but not the centerpiece of our lives.

And so we must lead by example.

Q&A with Pastor Locke

Q: What does the Bible say about tattoos and makeup?

A: The Old Testament talks about marking up your body. A lot of the things we do have their roots in paganism. But we have been redeemed from pagan rituals. In the OT, God was specifically talking about the Levitical priests who were marking up their bodies according to other gods besides the one true God who they were supposed to be serving. In truth, if it isn’t dealt with specifically in the gospel, it’s really not of great importance. It isn’t a right or wrong issue, per se. Likewise, as far as makeup is concerned, it’s really an individual issue. However, the way a woman dresses should bring attention to her face, not in an attempt to draw the attention of other womens’ husbands.

Q: When Jesus wept, did he weep because Lazarus died or because people lacked faith in his ability to raise Lazarus?

A: Yes and no. Jesus deliberately waited where he was an additional two days knowing that Lazarus was about to die. So by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead 4 days. He wept because He was bothered about the lack of faith others had in Him. No matter what He did, they just refused to believe He was the Messiah. Also, this showed the human side of Jesus. He was a man of sorrows and understood grief. He knew tears are never wasted.

Q: How do I get baptized?

A: Baptism does not save you. It is not a work of redemption. Is is something we do because we’ve already been redeemed. A person who gets baptized shows that he has died to his old self. It is an outward sign of an inward transformation. We are identifying with God and also with the local church body. The only type of baptism in the Bible is one of immersion.

Q: What makes you married according to the Bible?

A: God knows. What God has joined let no man pull apart. Two evoke one flesh. Man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. Biblical marriage is when a man and a woman come together before God. It is not necessary to come together before man. We have various traditions in American weddings. Most of this doesn’t matter. The important thing is that you exchange vows before almighty God. In the Bible, marriage is such a holy union before God. Remember, Jesus decided to work His first miracle at a wedding. This is probably not a coincidence. Also, remember that the church is the bride of Christ and Christ is the groom. It does matter not only who you marry, but also how we define it. When we change the definition of marriage, we try to change what is in the Bible. God is very plain about this: one man and one woman for life. We are united by God in the eyes of God.

Q: Why is modesty important?

A: We are living in day when modesty is shunned and laughed at. Modesty is a premium in the Bible. We ought to dress in a way that brings honor to God. Modesty is taught in the home, especially when daughters are involved. One of the problems in modern Christianity is that girls are getting their rules of modesty from their mothers. It is the father’s responsibility to establish modesty in the home, because men think like men, and a father recognizes when his daughter ought to cover up. Lost people don’t care about our rules. But once you have been exposed to the Bible, then you understand modesty. But lost people aren’t going to follow or understand our rules.

Q: Why does God allow us pain: emotional, mental & physical?

A: We have to have somebody to take the blame. We as humans must have someone to blame. The easiest thing to do is blame God because we can’t see Him. Not all pain is the result of the moral monster we try to turn God into. Pain was never God’s intention. He made everything perfect, and then humans messed it up with sin. And so pain is part of the curse. God didn’t give us depression, per se, but it’s the result of our bodies falling apart. God relieves us of our sin, but not the consequence of our sin. We can be forgiven for our sin, but still have to pay a penalty here on earth. God allowing the earth to go through the proper channels of what we brought into it. Adam and Eve were the representatives of what we would have done in their position. Because they sinned against God, every single one of their offspring are tainted by the eating the forbidden fruit. Childbearing was supposed to be easy, for example. There will be a day when all things are new again and there will be no pain.

Q: Will all preachers be in heaven?

A: There will be a lot of them in Hell. Jesus will tell many of them, “I never knew you.” There are many false prophets who pastor churches.

Q: Will all preachers still be preaching in heaven?

A: Maybe. I’d like to have a shot at it a couple of times. But there will be no reason for it because Jesus will be the sum total of everything in heaven.

Q: What is the best way to avoid jealousy?

A: Never get into a relationship. (joking) We have a far-fetched notion that jealousy is some evil, vile thing that brings ruin to every relationship. But God is a jealous God. So it’s not the jealousy by itself that’s wrong. It’s a natural emotion. It’s when we let jealousy cause us to sin that it becomes a problem. Sometimes we use jealousy to be possessive jerks. Some level of jealousy is right. God doesn’t want us filled with idolatry. So we have to avoid the possessiveness that comes with jealousy.

Q: What is a Berean?

A: A Berean is a person who is mentioned in Acts 17. Paul and Silas were on a missionary journey, and they met a Berean. It is simply someone who was based in the town of Berea. The Bible says they were more noble than the ones in Thessalonica because they searched the gospels daily for truth. They were Scripture searchers in order to make sure what they were hearing preached was correct. Ironically, they weren’t even saved at first, but came to faith in Christ just by reading the Bible. This is something we should all do and not just take the preacher’s word for everything.

Q: Do you think Judas was told what he had to do, and do you think he was forgiven and is in heaven?

A: He wasn’t necessarily told to do what he did, but was possessed to do so. Christ prophesied that the devil would enter into the traitor. Until then, Judas did the same things all the other disciple did. He did not outwardly distinguish himself from the others. And so the disciples didn’t know which one it would be when Jesus prophesied. We are told that the devil entered into him. Most (if not all) references to Judas are followed by the clarification, “the one who betrayed Him.” Judas was not forgiven. He did not go to heaven. He was a son of perdition. And he didn’t go to Hell because he killed himself. He was going to hell regardless of the way he died. There was no repentance in his heart.

Q: What does the Bible say about body modification?

A: This is another level from tattoos. And it’s not just body modification, but “cutting.” These are things the prophets of Baal did in the Old Testament. Every time we see this in the Bible, it was for the purpose of worshipping a false deity. This doesn’t mean that every time this is done, it’s automatically a pagan act. But we are already perfect in the eyes of God. There is no reason to change our personal appearance. The enemy says that our body is not enough. God says we are enough as we were created. That’s why transgenderism is nonsense. Let’s be happy with what God made and not what we think He should have made.

Q: How do you reconnect with someone after falling out?

A: Fallouts happen. You reconnect by seeking forgiveness and being at peace with others. But some people don’t want peace with you. Gone are the days when I hold onto toxic relationships because I am worried about the fallout. Sometimes a fallout out is the best thing that can happen. We don’t always have to put it back together, because sometimes it’s not God’s intention for us to put it back together. When you reconnect, it is not done by texting and Facebook. It is done face-to-face.

Q: Can you pleas explain what “sitting on a dime and dangling both legs” means?

A: It is a reference to someone being poor or “low.” It’s just colloquialism, something I say sometimes.

Q: Do you know what the lucky lotto numbers are?

A: No. If I did I wouldn’t be here. (laughter)

Q: When will we be starting our building addition?

A: We already have the county’s permission to knock out the outer two side walls so we can expend. We are waiting on the state because of storm drainage modifications. We are going to pay cash for the whole thing. It will happen in God’s timing. The state the other day did cash our check, so that’s a good sign.

Q: What is the difference between major and minor prophets?

A: There are 5 major and 12 minor prophets. Try are not called one or the other because of their importance, but simply the length of their books and the depth of their writings that appear in the Old Testament. The longer, deeper books are considered major, and the shorter books are minor.

Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:16-19)

Last week we looked at how not to suffer as Christians. We are all going to suffer, and there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. When we ask, “Why me, Lord?” expect God to retort, “Why not you?”

In these 4 verses, Peter explains how we are to suffer as Christians. Let us glorify God on behalf of our suffering. This means we don’t get mad and have a pity party, but use our suffering as an opportunity to being glory to a God who is allowing us to suffer for His own purposes.

1. A spiritual outlook will make suffering a privilege and not a problem. When you see suffering as spiritual, you will embrace it as a privilege and not a problem. A problem is something we run from. Three times Paul asked God to take away his “thorn in the flesh,” and God ensured Paul that, “My grace is sufficient.” And so Paul gloried in his infirmity so that God would be glorified.

We live in these “temples” that age and become infirm, yet our “inward man” is renewed every day when we suffer for God’s glory. Then suffering becomes less of a problem. We try to learn from it. It is sometimes not the will of God to remove us from the storm, but to carry us through the storm.

During Peter’s time, the early believers were under Nero’s persecution. Thus, the judgment to which Peter refers was allowed so that God could separate the genuine believers from the phonies.

2. God is pruning His church and revealing who is truly not ashamed of the gospel. We will soon find out who the real believers are. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is going to heaven. When persecution comes, the fake believers will walk away. And then we will learn who really believes the gospel of God and who doesn’t.

Don’t talk about your willingness to die for Jesus; first be willing to live for Him. No man is going to bring revival, and no man is going to stop revival. If you look at the landscape, it is amazing that anyone is being saved.

3. Those without Christ are going to experience true suffering and condemnation. If you see earthly suffering as something terrible, imagine eternally what it will be like for those who haven’t repented. If you are saved by the grace of God, your earthly suffering will be as bad as it ever gets. If you aren’t saved, this is as good as it will ever be.

God knows what we can or cannot withstand. If God created us, then He equips us to endure suffering in a way that brings honor to His name. He is faithful in every area of our lives.

4. No matter what we face, we can trust the faithful wisdom of God. No matter our earthly circumstances, Jesus is enough. He is faithfully wise in our marriages. He is faithfully wise in our finances. He is faithfully wise in the face of a dreaded diagnosis.

It is doubtful that God will ever use a man greatly until he has been hurt deeply. Everyone wants the power, but no one wants the process.

Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:15)

Sometimes the bottom falls out of our lives and there are problems that God’s people have to face. If you stand up for the gospel of Jesus Christ, you will be reproached. God’s people and unsaved people do not think the same. If you stand for truth, those who hate truth will hate you. We bring glory to God when we properly handle the suffering that comes our way.

1. Self-inflicted suffering is not suffering at all, it’s stupidity. When you suffer, let it be for righteousness’ sake. Don’t suffer as an evildoer. If you do evil deeds and are punished for a crime, you are not under persecution. You’ve brought it on yourself.

Verse 4:15 brings up the phrase, “let none of you suffer as…a busybody” The word “busybody” is only brought up a few times in the Bible. If we hated our sin as much as we hated other peoples’ sin, we’d be much better Christians. In fact, the word “busybody” is listed with murder, thievery and evil-doing.

2. It’s not accidental that “busybodies” are listed with severe and destructive offenders.

Busybodies:

  • Love to make other’ business their business
  • Hide their motives behind a false calling
  • Always involve themselves in things they are not qualified to fix
  • Care more about feeling needed than they do meeting needs
  • Are abrasively opinionated, even when they are not asked
  • Use social media as “binoculars” to “spy on the neighbors”
  • Dominate conversations in order to control the narrative
  • Are offended when their advice is not needed
  • Are fueled by gossip but use phrases like “prayer request” and “important information” to cover their addiction
  • Have no trouble lying in order to get out of what they created
  • Say made up things like, “they said” or “people have come to me”
  • Have an uncanny ability of recognizing weak people but avoid authority figures
  • Constantly defend themselves
  • Have an agenda to destroy people
  • Are mad right now and think I’m talking to them

Don’t be one of these people. Shut them down in their tracks. Don’t let the enemy get a foothold in the church. God’s church moves forward in unity, not division.

Pastor Locke Q&A

Tonight Pastor Locke at the Global Vision Bible Church dedicated the Wednesday night service to Q&A, with questions (in written form) coming from members of the congregation.

Q: My son says that he doesn’t believe anymore? What should I do?

A: First, it isn’t your job to make him do anything. There are some who walk away from the faith because they wonder that if there really is a good God, then why do bad things happen? Who’s to say good things and bad things are happening? First, you have to have a moral compass. You see, we can’t assume God is at fault because things aren’t perfect. Things used to be perfect. But mankind introduced sin into the world and so now we are cursed. How come bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, to Jesus. Crazy things do happen to jacked-up people. Jesus came to fix it all.

Q: I am concerned by how many people have unforgiveness in their hearts and die like this? What do we tell them?

A: God isn’t interested in our feelings, only in the truth of God. But Christians do somethings hold resentments and unforgiveness in their hearts. We know there is sin and deviance and pornography and molestation and divorce. There are plenty of things that cause us to question the authenticity of God. But nothing can ever come close to how much Jesus has forgiven us. We have to learn to let go of bitterness. Don’t even let the fruits of defilement in, because bitter people beget other bitter people. We cannot justify bitterness. God will not understand our bitterness. Sometimes people have to come out of bondage and need counseling to let go.

Q: What does the Bible say about the company you keep and the friends you have?

A: The Bible says plenty about this. If you don’t change the crowd you run with when you are saved, you are not going to be transformed. You have to be careful who you hang around with lest they give you ungodly counsel.

Q: As a single mother, how do I give godly discipline to my children and strength to myself?

A: Single motherhood is the forgotten mission field in the church. (There are single fathers, too.) It is a daunting responsibility. There have been many great Christian people, pastors and others, who were raised by single parents. Even more important than the health and well-being of the child is the health and well-being of the parent. Children are incredibly resilient. God is the most perfect Father. He is perfect and all of his kids are stupid. So don’t beat yourself up, but do follow the Word.

Q: Can you get re-baptized?

A: Yes, as long as you are getting re-baptized for the right reason. We have had many people get re-baptized because they didn’t really “mean it” the first time around. Baptism shows that you are saved, so if you were baptized before you were saved, then all you did was get wet. So you will need to get baptized again after you’ve been saved.

Q: How do you pray for healing in depression?

A: There are some things you will never simply pray away, but only by prayer AND fasting. Some things we have to fast out of our lives. When I went through depression, my prayers seemed to make it worse because I felt God wasn’t listening. We usually look for a “yes” or “no,” and sometimes I’d rather have a “no” then have to wait. Sometimes the waiting can accentuate the anxiety. One of the things that rescued me was a bicycle. Jesus saved my soul, but the bicycle saved my life. It let me go free, and my heart and mind needed “catch-up” work. If you try to go it alone, you won’t get out of your bed for weeks.

Q: Who did God lead to decide which of the Dead Sea scrolls would become part of the Bible?

A: The canon is what we refer to as the Bible. There are 66 books (39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New). The early church applied the laws of canonicity. If you take, for example, the 14 books of the apocrypha, they make for good history, but poor Scripture. It’s not inspired. In order to pass the laws of canonicity, it has to be inspired. They’re are 4 such laws, including “divine dictation.” (God told them what to write.) So when David was mad, he wrote mad. When he was crying, he wrote crying. A God that’s big enough to inspire the text is a God who is big enough to protect that text. 

Q: When God comes back, how will He destroy it?

A: He will destroy it with the word of His mouth. He spoke it into existence, and He can speak it out of existence. We know He won’t destroy it by flood, but He will burn it up. But don’t worship the created, but worship the Creator. Don’t worry about saving a world God is going to ultimately destroy.

Q: How do you know if you’re going to heaven?

A: Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Jesus came unto his own, but his own received him not. Eternal life is in God’s Son. There are plenty of Scripture passages that refer to belief in Jesus Christ as our salvation. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we do, but only our relationship to Christ, not our relationship to the church. Do you know Jesus Christ? It’s either yes or no. If you have turned to Christ as your only way to salvation, and you trust what the Bible says, then you will be saved. If you doubt that, it’s dangerous. You don’t have to feel saved. We aren’t saved by feeling but by faith.

Q: When we pray, are we praying to God or to Jesus?

A: One God does it in in three persons. We are told to pray to the Father, though the Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ. The purpose of prayer is to give thanks, make petitions, and forgive others.

Q: When we go to heaven, will we physically see heaven or will it just be our spirit?

A: We will physically see heaven. We will ultimately receive a glorified body. We don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. We will then see all things the way we were always meant to see them. Jesus’ resurrection wasn’t just spiritual, but physical.

Q: What is the middle verse of the Bible, and why is it?

A: It is Psalm 118:8. “It is better to put trust in the Lord than confidence in men.” This is the theme of the whole Bible.

Q: How were the Old Testament saints saved?

A: The same way we are: by faith. They were saved by looking forward to the promised Messiah. We are saved by looking back at the Messiah. We are all saved by faith. Faith without works is dead. It was the same in the Old Testament. We don’t work to be saved, but because we are saved.

Q: Who were the nephilim?

A: We don’t know that these giants were the result of intermingling and if this was an ungodly line. But we do believe instead that demons were taking on human form and intermingling with and raping women. There is another world that if we could see into, it would blow our minds. We would be shocked to see what’s going on in the spiritual world. Jude even said there is a special group of demons reserved in the deepest bondage.

Q: What, if anything, does the word of God have to say about being cremated versus casket burial?

A: It says nothing about either. It’s a choice. It doesn’t matter Biblically. Either way, buried or cremated, God will resurrect us.

Q: At the time of Jesus’ death, who was in charge of the Roman government: Pontius Pilate or Tiberius?

A: Pilate was over that particular region. He was a puppet on a string. Both the Jews and the Romans had a lot to do with Jesus’ death.

Q: Will there be sex in heaven?

A: No, there will not be, unfortunately. The Bible says we will neither be married nor given in marriage, but will be like the angels of God. God created sex for procreation and also for human pleasure (within the context of marriage). If you’re single and having sex, then you need to get right with God. In heaven, there will be no need for pleasure, becaus Jesus will be the sum total of everything we could ever want or need.

Q: Is my husband still going to be my husband in heaven “after the tears are wiped away?”

A: No, but it doesn’t mean you won’t know your husband in heaven. We don’t know what this context will be exactly, but we will not be married in heaven. Our main focus will be on Jesus and the body of Christ, so there won’t be any marital bliss. We will all be children of the most high God.

Q: When a Christian moves to a Muslim country, should he/she pretend to be a Muslim?

A: Absolutely not! We are never to be ashamed of the gospel or of Jesus. 

Q: What happened that Richard Dawkins called you a bigot?

A: He called me a bigot for my stand on Planned Parenthood.

Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:12-14)

The past couple of weeks we’ve actually talked very little about trials. What we do know about trials is that believers face trials together. It’s all about the community of the local church. We should never attempt to go it alone.

Peter greatly simplifies his theology for us in these verses. He reminds us of our kinship together. God is bigger than any problems we face. God is our “beloved” because he is affectionately drawn to us regardless of our circumstances.

What we perceive as trials is often trivial to the trials face by others. Regardless of the size of our troubles, someone always has it worse. As long as we are on the topside of the dirt, God can always rectify our situation.

Loving God doesn’t mean we will live trouble-free lives. Sometimes even though we follow Jesus, life still doesn’t turn out the way we’d like. You see, man is full of troubles. And it’s not “if” we will encounter trouble, but “when.” The things that happen to us are not strange to God, but are divinely orchestrated.

Never think God is picking on you or bullying you from heaven. God is faithful. What you’re facing right now has been faced by others before you.

1. How you respond to your problem becomes the real problem. What we think is the problem is not the problem. We will all respond to problems differently. How we respond determines how or if we will overcome our troubles. If you don’t learn, you will keep going through the same problems repeatedly. The outcome is all in our outlook. If we deal with a problem poorly, it will become more of a problem. If we deal with a problem correctly (Biblically), we can move on to the next problem.

There is a difference between joy and happiness. Happiness is called this because it is based on our happenings. Joy is not based on circumstances, but solely on the Christ who lives in us. We experience joy because we are not going to Hell. We can still rejoice even in the midst of trials and temptations.

We have to embrace the reality that because Jesus suffered, we are going to suffer. The servant is not greater than his master. Rejoice, because He is coming again to set all things in order.

2. Rejoicing in suffering allows you to get better not grow bitter. People who seem to be mad at everyone are really just mad at God. Those with “man” problems also have “God” problems. And bitter parents tend to raise bitter children. Bitterness will cause you to do things you cannot even imagine.

Sometimes we suffer at the hands of others. When they persecute you, know that they did it to the prophets before you. This will just build your crown in heaven. The evil speak of those who worship God. Yet God will be vindicated for His glory. So while others speak of evil, we believers get to speak of glory.

3. Because of the truth of God’s word and the power of God’s spirit, we are able to both welcome and withstand the reproach of others. We don’t have to ignore the evils of this world, nor its trials. Instead, we are able to withstand it all. We must stand for what is just, because God is greater than those who come against us. If you stand for Christ, some are going to hate you for it. So we cannot be too concerned about pleasing others. Just rejoice, because God is still good and Jesus is still on the throne.

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish (1 Kings 13:1-30)

It’s not how you start that matters to God but how you finish. Anybody can start, but if we look back we’re not fit for the kingdom of God.

King Solomon started out strong, but he is more remembered for how he died: a fornicating idolator operating outside God’s will.

People love hearing their own name called. But don’t put your own name above that of Jesus. My name is important but His name is much more so.

The best servants are those who work for the kingdom and don’t need their name called out for recognition. If you or I have to be seen, then we don’t belong in the kingdom of God.

We are all called upon to be fearless when proclaiming the word of God. People are attracted to boldness. The only thing we are to care about is the content of the message.

When you walk in God’s wisdom and live in his favor, people will not be able to put their hands on you unless God allows it. If God is not finished with us, then we are touchless. Nothing can come against us.

We go when God says we go, no soooner and no later.

The first few verses of this chapter refer to a “man of God.” He is nameless, fearless, and touchless. 

Not even the king could come against him, so the king asked the man of God to pray for him. And he did. After all, the man of God wasn’t heartless. (In the story of the Good Samaritan, the one who did right was the one who showed mercy.)

Likewise, the man of God was still able to show compassion for others. Jesus was the perfect balance, being full of grace and full of truth. That’s why we’re supposed to speak the truth in love.

And so this nameless man of God was a relentless man. It’s always too soon to quit. 

By the time we get to verse 14, we learn that the man of God began to take God’s blessings for granted, and he dropped the ball. He became motionless. When we become motionless, we get careless.

When anyone tries to contradict the word of God, walk away from that person. He/she will try to fill you with nonsense. The man of God got careless with who he got his counsel from. He consorted with a false prophet. Be very guarded about your sources of information.

Ironically, in verse 21, the false prophet begins to speak the word of God to the man of God and warns him. And the man of God is slain by a lion after he leaves the place.

And so the sequence of the man of God is this:

  • Nameless
  • Fearless
  • Touchless
  • Wasn’t heartless
  • Relentless
  • Motionless
  • Careless
  • Lifeless
  • Useless

The lion stands beside the carcass as a tesimony to what God does when we lose our spiritual focus. The false prophet then takes up the carcass to take it back to the city to bury and mourn for the man of God.

The man of God started strong but finished abysmally. He had rendered himself useless. If you are saved but not being used by God, then you are useless.

Sacred suffering (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Verse 9 is our context verse. Use hospitality one to another without grudging. We are all valuable and all are here for the glory of God.

Every one of us has some gift(s) from God. Whatever we receive from God, we are to use to minister to others. If you want forgiveness, you give it. If you want understanding, you give it. If you want kindness, you give it, and so on.

1. God’s goodness to us should be a motivator to be good to others. Just looking upon God should be humbling enough to bring us to repentance. Even if the world turns on us, God is still good. Regardless of our present circumstances, God never stops being good.

We are to love and bless and sacrifice for others just as God has done for us. Sometimes we receive the goodness of God with arrogance, as though we think we deserve it, and we do not share that goodness with others.

We must be discipling people and shepherding them. Reinvest yourself in the lives of others. Every gift from God is a gift to be given to others. If you’ve been saved by the grace of God, you are to minister that gift with others who have never received the gospel. We don’t have to be theologians. We just have to share what God has done in our lives.

2. When properly understood, nothing is more humbling than the abundance of God’s grace. Grace means more than just salvation. God gives grace in every aspect of our lives. Grace literally means, “to enable.” He enables us to become children of God, and enables us to live as though we’re saved.

The world is clamoring, “We want what we deserve!” Be careful what we ask for. What we deserve is damnation. Yet we will never run out of the abundance of God’s grace. We will never be able to out-disobey the grace of our Father. Grace never says, “I told you so.” We can’t earn it or pay for it. Grace is simply God’s unmerited favor. So use it in the lives of others.

The oracles of God was the way they determined the word or authority of God before the Holy Spirit. We are gifted in certain things in order to benefit the body of Christ, not to make our employer rich or some devious endeavor. Our gifts are for God’s glory. Everyone is gifted differently. Some are gifted to teach the Bible. Some are gifted at music. We will be miserable if we try to do that which we are not gifted to do.

3. Speaking boldly results in living powerfully. Our opinions will save no one nor enable the church to grow. Only the word of God can do these things. Some of the disciples were merely fisherman, but when they were filled with the Spirit, they spoke powerfully and many were saved and added to the early church.

Jesus is the one to receive the glory. He’s not just the king of kings and lord of lords, but the conqueror of all things evil. If He had died and stayed dead, we’d all be going to Hell together. But we all have life and value and purpose because of His divinity.

4. Jesus deserves all the glory because He’s the source of all of our victory. There’s something about bringing honor and glory and praise to a God who has already won our victory. You can live in victory right now and live for Christ right now. We don’t get victory only when we die, we get it right now because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If He had stayed dead, then this message is a colossal failure and we’ve been wasting our time. But He didn’t stay dead, and so there’s something to look forward to: hope and assurance.

We can have abundant living right now. We can smile now and shout the victory right now. We don’t have this because we are good people, but because Jesus was and is the greatest of them all.

Good Friday

Romans 3:23 offers the sobering reality that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Sin has marred us. We will never be able to reach the goal of bringing glory to God.

What are we to do? Repent and believe in the truth of the gospel.

We do not worship a dead Jew in a Palestinian tomb. We serve a risen Savior.

The gospel is often offensive to people because we try to lure them into the love of Jesus before we convince that they need Jesus. The wages of sin is death.

We have a disease called sin. But God has the “cure” — the gift of eternal life through Jesus. Narrow is the way that leads to life and few find it. Wide is the way that leads to destruction and many find it.

Romance 5:8 tells us that Christ died for us even though we are sinners. We call today Good Friday because it was on this day that He did something for His own glory. Jesus didn’t come just to live as an example but to die as a substitute.

He didn’t love us just because we were lovable or worthy. He died for us because it was the only way we could be “cured” of our sin problem. He died for us even in our guiltiness.

The heart is wicked and that’s what God has to change. He’s not just changing our mind or our appearance or our clothes, but our heart.

If Jesus had never risen from the grave, we would simply die in our sins. Romans 10:11 proclaims that whosoever believes in Christ shall not be ashamed, He wasn’t ashamed to die for us and we ought not be ashamed to believe in Him.

There is no racial tension in heaven. There is no “picking and choosing,” for we are all on equal ground. There are only two kinds of people: the saved and the lost.

Jesus doesn’t need to just be in our heads. He has to be in our hearts.

We are born with a desire to belong and there’s nothing better than belonging to the family of God.