Teaching

1 Timothy 1.3-4 – The Wrong Things

Paul started this letter with grace, mercy, and peace, and now starts in earnest with his instructions for church leading. 

As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.

Does Timothy have a desire to leave that Paul must address? – remain at Ephesus. Perhaps he wanted to travel on with his mentor, perhaps the size of the task ahead is so big that it scared him, perhaps he didn’t feel like church leading is a one-man thing (which it isn’t, which is why he is instructed to find men of Godly character to help).

Either way, Paul felt the need to say remain at Ephesus, and he follows that with a reason, so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogiesFocusing on these wrong things leads to time wasted, and us not living the simple life of faith that God wants. 

Teaching things that are wrong, hearing things that are wrong, spending time speculating over things that are wrong doesn’t often start that way. In an attempt to be so very relevant and applicable, wrong teaching can develop from a good starting place. But, it looks too deep, too far, and too wide and ends up twisting the truth.

The simplest truths of the Word of God have the deepest impact on our lives.

The Bible is so simple and so complex at the same time – Jesus came, died, rose, ascended. Simple on one level, profound on another. We don’t need to ever seek to go deeper than this – Jesus came to take away the consequence of your sin.

We don’t need to spend time discussing and debating any more than we actually want to, there is nothing left to establish through reason or conversation. Upon hearing Jesus explain Himself, so to speak, Pilate said “What is truth?” (John 18.38). The truth has already presented itself, the truth of God came to live among us, and the truth of God saves us from ourselves. 

Rather than spend time on endless debates, endless myths, and endless genealogies, let us focus on the right things, all that Jesus said, did, does, will do, and all that Jesus is.

The Gospel in Zechariah – pt.2

Where is the Gospel in Zechariah 9-14?

Well, simply, we see that

  • Jesus comes
  • Jesus dies and is resurrected
  • Jesus sends the Holy Spirit
  • The Spirit turns all nations to Him

What is common in all of that – Jesus.

What is missing in all of that – us.

Where are we, and where is He?

Zechariah helps us to see that we are not all that much needed in the process, helps us to see our position relative to Jesus. 

He had the 9 visions of chapters 1-8 and all of them, we said last week, can be traced back to the purification on offer through the shed blood of Jesus and the faith therein. 

This week, His first coming, His second coming, His rule, His reign, His peace, His Spirit, His salvation, His vindication…not ours. 

If we were looking at the Minor Prophets and looking for good moral lessons, then Zechariah would have us coming up short. You know, things like, you put your sin in a basket and have it flown away. You ride on your donkey and bring your peace.

That’s not what it’s about, is it. 

Since we have such a hope, (in the glory of the ministry of the Holy Spirit and how much better this will be than law written on tablets), we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3.12-18   

Zechariah, then, helps us to behold, helps us to see all that Jesus has done, and all that Jesus will do.

Not us, Him. 

Where are we, and where is He?

That’s the message of Zechariah, and as we read it and hear it, the reaction will be as one commentator put it, that our hearts will again stand in awe of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ, the Crowned Priest, the Slaughtered, and Resurrected King.

Even Then

Most Thursday’s we have a devotional with a bit of music, and today we’ve got Even Then by Micah Tyler.

On the nights when the dark lasts a little bit longer
When the wind and the storm is a little bit stronger
When the fear in my heart dips a little bit deeper
When my faith to stand gets a little bit weaker

Where could I run to?
Where could I go?

There will be times in our lives when things get tough, when we experience periods where we think ‘Where are you Lord?’, when we have doubts of emotion and feel as if nothing will ever get any better. 

I read recently that when things are happening that we don’t understand, we must fall back on the things we do understand. When life gets rough and tough where do we run, where do we go?

Psalm 73 offers a very present help in times of need and trouble,

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

It should come as a great comfort to us that the Lord never lets go (John 10.28) of those who have turned to Him in faith. When the dark, stormy, fear-filled times come along, we have an ever present help in our times of need. We must turn first and foremost to the Word of God in times of trouble, not our own feelings, not someone else’s experience, the solid, tried, true, and tested Word of God. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition…

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones

He is our refuge and strength, He is in our midst, He will help, He is with us.

We need only be still and know that the Lord of hosts is with us (Psalm 46).

In Memory of Jarrid Wilson

This morning I woke up to the terribly sad news that a Pastor in the U.S. took his own life and went to be with the Lord. He was not old in any sense of the word, barely 30. You can read the story here


Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Harvest Christian Fellowship.


Jarrid Wilson served at Harvest Christian Fellowship and started a ministry aimed at helping those with mental health issues called ‘Anthem of Hope’. He spoke out many times about depression and was open and honest about his ongoing struggles. 

When things like this happen we have so many questions;

Why did this happen?

What went wrong in this person’s life?

If we knew the person we think could I have in any way prevented this?

Society can often be quick to call suicide a sin, mental health issues a sin, depression a sin. But think, would you convict a cancer patient of being in sin because their body does not work according to its intended design? Yet somehow mental health issues are quick to be cast aside as iniquity, depression as something you can just think away, and suicide as the ultimate and unforgivable sin. The Bible does speak of an unforgivable sin, but friends, suicide is not it.

Dealing with grief and loss brings many emotions to the surface. We feel deep, all-encompassing sadness, we feel anger, we feel anxiety, we feel guilt, we feel lost, and we feel confused. Why did this happen Lord?

At times when we do not understand, we must fall back on things we do understand. 

We know that God loves us.

We know that He sent Jesus to redeem us from this fallen world we live in.

We know that He proved His love for us by offering Himself as a ransom for many, for all, whilst we were still sinners. 

We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not now, not ever. 

Larry Taylor, whose son tragically took his own life in 1986 wrote this,

I know the sorrow of loss, but I also know the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I know God’s forgiveness, and I know first hand that God can take a broken and ruined life and transform it into a thing of beauty and grace.

He goes on to say

Our society is plagued with the scourge of sin, not least of which is the horror of suicide which appears to be on the increase…The answer is a personal relationship with the living Jesus who loves you and can forgive you, restore you, comfort you, and heal you. When He returns, may He find us bringing His healing love to others. 

The Wilson family, and every other family who have dealt with this unique type of loss need the healing love of Jesus today, and every day from now until He returns or calls us home.

Join me today in praying for Jarrid’s wife, children, and family. 

1 Timothy 1.1-2 – Grace, mercy, and peace


In 1 Timothy, Paul is writing to Timothy as a new church leader. Even if the letter is specifically addressed to Timothy, there is still much attention needed by those under his charge.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,

To Timothy, my true child in the faith:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

1.1-2

Paul sets out his credentials and his authority (an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Saviour…). Even if the letter is specifically addressed to Timothy, there is still much attention needed by those under his charge.

Timothy and the church are addressed with grace, with mercy, and with peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord

Churches need grace, mercy, and peace, for sure. Individuals need grace, mercy, and peace too. I read something interesting that mercy is added to Paul’s address only to Timothy and in Titus, the other letter written to a church-leading Pastor. Does that mean only church leaders need mercy? Absolutely not, we all do.

For you and me now, today, the church body we are a part of, both global and local expression is a place to find grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. It is a place where we take our failures, shortcomings, anxieties, doubts, and questions and find them answered in Christ Jesus our Lord through His people. 

The church is also a place that needs your grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. It is full of broken people who need you to come alongside them and show them in the grace, mercy, and peace He offers. 

Why not take a moment and pray and see to whom you can minister today?

Spiritual Depression – General Considerations – Psalm 42

In the 1960’s D.Martin Lloyd-Jones had a series of sermons published as a book called ‘Spiritual Depression‘. A Pastor I know recently said it was the best Christian book he had ever read, and that it changed his life. As providence would have it, I had an old copy in the office, so, as I read through it I’ll share it too. In between this on-and-off series if you have suggestions for Bible books you would like to see as devotionals, leave a comment and let me know!

Lloyd-Jones writes that spiritual depression is a condition that appears in both the Old and New Testaments, and seems to be one of the major issues that God’s people have to deal with. How they deal with it will be illuminating and instructive for us. 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 42.5, 11 (KJV)

The Psalmist is sharing his woes and it’s suggested that his spiritual depression is due to not being able to gather with others in the public worship of God (vv.2-4). How interesting, that not meeting with other believers to worship God has led the Psalmist to a place of spiritual depression, where he feels that his soul is downcast, his very being is feeling blue. 

When we face similar periods of spiritual sadness, drought, and depression, we would do well to turn to the Word to see how to move through this. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition and it also good to look at examples and illustrations [in principles] from the same source.

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones, 1964, P.10

The big thing to remember when this kind of feeling comes upon us is this –

it is vital to take the teaching of the Word of God first and foremost.

Feelings, experiences, Janet-down-the-road’s-friend’s-story, our own interpretations, emotions, all of this must come second to the explicit teaching of the Word of God and the principles therein.

If something we feel or experience doesn’t line up with the Bible, we shouldn’t put any stock into it as a method for moving through the spiritual depression we may be feeling. 

Period of feeling like this will affect us all.

There will be days where we don’t see the sanctifying process and progress at work in our lives.

There will be days when we feel like we are going backwards.

There will be says when we doubt.

There will be days where our behaviour is even more un-Christian than before we believed.

We see great heroes of the faith in the Bible experience periods of feeling like this, but the key is to hope in God, His Word gives us an abundance of reasons to do so, and know that we shall yet praise Him for the help he brings. 

When we do this, our attitude and feelings are supernaturally changed in His perfect timing to a point where we can say I shall yet praise Him, for He is the health of my life, and my God

We will move from knowing He will help us, to knowing He has helped us.

The Gospel in Zechariah – pt.1

Where is the Gospel in Zechariah?

The book is filled with visions and imagery that can get us lost in the details, but the explaining angel keeps pointing us to the coming of “the Branch” (3.8; 6.12)

This Branch will purify his people and remove their sin in one day.

Zechariah 3.9

I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day


Jesus, the Branch, came to remove the consequence of your sin.


Maybe you don’t feel very pure right now, maybe you’re discouraged too, maybe you don’t see much purification happening in your life right now.

Zechariah was, at the time, writing to people who were discouraged by living, after the exile, in a “day of small things” (4.10), when there seemed to be little progress toward the glorious future promised in the earlier prophets, and maybe that is you, but God says

10 For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.

So, if you are discouraged and feeling impure, stick with it, God always finishes the work He starts, He who started a good work in you will bring it to completion, and if it feels slow, don’t worry, we will rejoice, we will see the presence of God in the person of the Word of God, this great King and High Priest, the greater and ultimate Zerubbabel. God promises that this is a whole life change for people from all nations. 

That is you and me, that is us, I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness (8.7-8), that is us.


But, how are we able to live with God despite our sinful selves?

The purification on offer to us through the shed blood of Jesus.


Alone, we will never attain that level of righteousness, try as we might, we can never work our way to God’s level of holiness, we can never be as pure as we need to be to be in the presence of God.

But, thanks be to God who sent Jesus, the Word become flesh, God in the flesh, to be the Branch, to stand in the gap, to live that perfectly pure life and to die that perfectly pure sacrificial death and to be the first fruits of the resurrection, so that those of us who believe in and on Him, who believe that God raised Him from the dead, can be viewed as pure and right and good enough by God, and we can be in right relationship with God, through what He did. 

Zechariah points forward to a time when this would be available to the people, they looked forward in expectant hope.

For us, the time is now.