Tag: 1 Timothy

Guard the Faith

1 Timothy 6:20-21

Listen to the experts, supposedly the prevailing philosophy of our day is postmodernism. Claim to believe there’s no absolute truth, if there is we can’t know it for certain; no big story that applies to everyone and gives answers to ultimate questions; right / wrong for you doesn’t necessarily apply to anyone else. And this is supposed to be new, the successor to modernism. If we are to engage people who think this way – bring the Gospel to them, communicate spiritual truth to them – must come up with new and exciting ways to do it.

That must mean Satan was just playing games when he asked Eve: “Did God really say that?” “That may be true for God but it doesn’t have to be for you.” “God’s standard doesn’t have to apply to anyone but God!” From the beginning, truth has been under assault – by Satan, then by Adam and Eve, continually in every generation since.

So, truth is truth, what’s the big deal? Can’t the truth take care of itself? Especially since the church, the household of God, is the pillar and ground of the truth 1 Tim. 3:15. Yet Paul thought it necessary to plead with Timothy – “guard what has been committed to your trust”; “guard the good deposit entrusted to you”. 1 Tim. 6:202 Tim. 1:13-14

Guard the faith, that body of Gospel truth entrusted to the church and Christ’s servants. Guard the truth from dilution, distortion and deviation; do so in the grace the Lord of the Church supplies.

A. dilution – you need this plus

Jerusalem council – Acts 15:1“Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.

Christ and faith in him is not enough; you need that plus circumcision, Christ plus Jewish ceremonial custom

these works / sacraments – RC church

“…no one can merit the initial grace of forgiveness and justification, at the beginning of conversion. Moved by the Holy Spirit and by charity, we can then merit for ourselves and for others the graces needed for our sanctification, for the increase of grace and charity, and for the attainment of eternal life.” CCC, par. 2010

“Only Jehovah’s Witnesses, those of the anointed remnant and the ‘great crowd,’ … have any Scriptural hope of surviving the impending end of this doomed system” Watchtower

these peoples’ ideas – Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith

Christian Science – “Your dual and impersonal pastor, the Bible, and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” is with you; and the Life these give, the Truth they illustrate, the Love they demonstrate, is the great Shepherd that feedeth my flock, and leadeth them “beside the still waters.””

Mormons – “The [Mormon] Church believes the word of God contained in the Bible. It accepts the Bible “as the foremost of [the Church’s] standard works, first among the books which have been proclaimed as…written guides in faith and doctrine.”

the world’s methods – seeker-sensitive; targeted programming; creative scheduling

whether church planting, church programming, church growth strategies, church employment opportunities and benefit packages – have more in common with corporate America than the Bible

“Graded [Sunday School] Lessons do not need to be argued to-day as they did a few years ago: their success, where they have been given a fair trial, is sufficient justification for their use.” Miller, Making the Old Sunday School New, 1917

“This professional demographics company is geared to church planting needs. …you’ll get insight into community preferences for church programs (‘how do we meet their needs?”), styles (“how do we appeal to their tastes?”), and communication (“how to we contact them?”).” http://www.nextchurch.org/links/helps.html

How about: how do we give them what the Bible says they must have?

B. distortion – using a different dictionary

Pharisees

“Love your neighbor” means it is also right to “hate your enemy” Matt. 5:43

Calling my resources beyond essentials “Corban”, devoted to God, means I can be relieved of taking care of my parents

same words but with alternative meanings

doesn’t have to be “Christian code” – can be standard Bible vocabulary

Robert Schuller – “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem.”

parallel conversations – using words that are familiar but have significance miles apart; leads to wrong conclusion: they must be on the same page, using the same language – umm, no

Bible codes, DaVinci Code

Equidistant Letter Sequence – 1st letter, 50th letter, spells a word; hidden message encoded in original language

DaVinci Code popularized idea of hidden books – gospels missing from the Bible

same principles but with alternative application

“by his stripes we are healed” – charismatic healing;

Isa. 53:5, Matt. 8:17 “Jesus healed the sick so that “it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the Prophet, ‘Himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses’.”

health & wealth

Mal. 3:10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”

and the real kicker:

3 John 1:2 “I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health” KJV

same practices but with alternative significance

Lutheran baptism (Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)

“In baptism, however, we do not do something for God, rather he does something for us and in us. He works to either create or to strengthen faith.”

RC communion, Lord’s Supper

“At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood.” CCC 1333

C. deviation – changing to a different goal

Demas only one kind of example – 2 Tim. 4:10

sent greetings with Paul to church in Colosse; did same to Philemon, was classed with Mark, Aristarchus and Luke as Paul’s fellow laborers

loved the Lord, served the Lord, up to a point – was not ready to sacrifice his life for the Christian cause

might have been convinced he wasn’t martyr material, could not do it well; in process, abandoned his ministry and apostle Paul

orthodoxy without orthopraxy

Rev. 2:2-4 church in Ephesus nailed their doctrine; made sure anyone in the church claiming to be Christian believed right doctrine, rejected those who failed the test

but… according to Lord Jesus in his letter to the church: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”

goal had shifted from loving Christ to loving doctrine, from living right way to liking right books

Barth / van Til types

start out ok but then focus on single doctrine or method of interpretation, end up with banjo that only has single string

result: get weird, unbalanced in their understanding of what the Bible teaches, fall into serious error

for example: God is holy, he is “other” from us, different from us in being and glory

important to keep God’s holiness in mind, not minimize or neglect it; should not make God so “other” that he is “wholly other”, so radically different that there’s no possibility of communication or relationship

D. all of grace

God’s Word is a perfect, sure, right, pure, clean and true light, illuminating the character and plan of God, clear and understandable to the ordinary reader. What must we do to guard the faith? individually? corporately?

Paul said: 1 Cor. 15:10 “By the grace of God I am what I am” – it’s all of grace – all we are, all we know and understand, all we accomplish for Christ and his kingdom

his closing blessing – “Grace be with you” plural; not just “Grace be with you, Timothy”; “Grace be with you, Timothy, and all to whom you minister and all who will hear or read this letter.”

individually

what we believe – must be traceable without dilution, distortion or deviation to God’s Word; Bible is supreme authority for faith and practice – nothing equals it or outranks it, all other authorities must be in submission to it

what we teach – same standard, must point hearers to Bible as absolute truth, Christ as sole source for salvation

corporately

how we live – truth as it is found in God’s Word must be evident in life of the church

how we decide – reasons for doing things must be found in God’s Word – not results, what others do, what sounds good

Bottom line – if we are to guard the truth must know the truth, make sure to extent of our understanding that it is pure truth we are guarding. Just as important: must be close to the truth – the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. In too much of our culture Christians are known by what they are against. Should be known as those who are passionate for truth, in particular, the One who is the truth. Is your love for Christ evident? Are you at every opportunity pointing others to Christ and his sufficiency for all things? Keep your eyes on Jesus and depend on the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth as it is found in the living Word and written Word of God.

“When we see salvation whole, its every single part is found in Christ, And so we must beware lest we derive the smallest drop from somewhere else. For those who seek this treasure-trove of blessings of all kinds, in no one else can they be found than him, for all are given in Christ alone.” Calvin

Enjoying True Riches

1 Timothy 6:17-19

Surrounded on all sides by noise related to money and wealth. I say “noise” because if everyone had their way, nobody would have anything. Some promote schemes to dramatically increase wealth, others declare the rich should feel guilty while half the world starves. And, of course, bureaucrats have to get in on the discussion, coming up with creative ways to remove treasure from one person’s pocket and put it in another’s. Should you invest in this security or that project? How about a Powerball ticket? Or a trip to Foxwoods or Atlantic City or Vegas? With just some pocket change, you know!

We could spend next hour listing out world’s ideas about wealth, what principles are right to follow. Would be no closer to truth than when we started. So,… won’t do that. Instead will listen to what God has said in his Word on the subject. Might surprise you to know that Jesus said more about money than about heaven and hell. Nearly half of his parables focused on topic of money and wealth. That makes it real clear that even though this life not all there is, still has great importance.

God has graciously given us both responsibilities and things to enjoy here and now. Also graciously provided instruction on what to do now so we enjoy eternity more fully. Like other parts of Christian life, when comes to wealth there are sins to avoid and duties to pursue. If we faithfully follow God’s financial principles, we are assured of eternal benefits. See if your investment counselor can match those terms!!

A. not a sin to be rich v.17a

assumption is that some within Ephesus church are people of means – not surprise given nature of city as commercial and intellectual powerhouse

would expect as Gospel penetrated culture, people from community came to Christ, would be wealthy individuals among them

Demetrius, highly successful silversmith (Acts 19:24) stirred up riot in Ephesus while Paul was there

no hint of command here for rich to stop being rich, no criticism of their wealth

Zacchaeus not the prototype – come to Christ, come to the church, put half of goods in first benevolent offering

Solomon’s unparalleled wealth a gift from God – asked for wise and understanding heart, given that plus wealth and honor in addition

further basis found in 10 Commandments

not to take what belongs to someone else, given to them in trust by God; is theirs to manage

not even to desire what belongs to someone else; are blanket statements, not comparative ones

don’t take it, want it if you have enough; if they only have some stuff, not gobs and gobs

not whether you have wealth or not, it’s attitude toward it and use of it that counts

do you think about material things the way God does?

do you value the things that God does?

do you use resources he has entrusted to you in ways God approves?

B. two sins to avoid v.17b

arrogance – high-minded; haughty

about self

temptation is to view wealth as yardstick – way to measure things other than God’s goodness

==> ability to pick good investments; work tons of hours, live on peanut butter and crackers, build bank account; find really good deals at yard sales, on Craigslist, acquire valuable stuff for little or nothing

smarts and strength and self-denial and luck and hat is all of a sudden too small

in relation to others

they must not be as smart or strong or lucky, they don’t have much

maybe God doesn’t like them as well as he likes me, hasn’t treated them so well

since I have, they don’t, makes perfect sense for me to decide how things should be done

increase our missions giving? and they can’t give another $1 on Sunday? what kind of idea is that?

line from John Newton’s hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” that is most appropriate:

“My richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.”

materialism

not the sin of having things, the sin of trusting in things

obvious rationale given:

material things are uncertain, God is unchanging

numerous examples in current economic situation – display unpredictability and uncertainty of riches

count up foreclosures, repossessions, length of unemployment lines

listen to those who depend on investments for income – what they counted on isn’t there, no indication of when it might be if ever

not so with God – he is Alpha and Omega, First and Last, A to Z; (Rev. 1:11, 17); the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8)

Job just as much a child of his Heavenly Father when on the ash heap as at the end of story – not because of Job but because of God and his unchanging character

God’s ability and desire to provide for his children does not change over time or with circumstances

C. two duties to pursue v.17c-18

trust in God

trusting in material things implies lack of trust in God

as much as saying: can’t trust / expect God to provide all I need

he’s not doing such a good job right now since there’s stuff I want / need but don’t have

gotta take up the slack, make up for his lack of provision

trust in things quickly becomes love of things; Jesus spoke pretty strongly about that

Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

essential to look beyond gift to Giver – especially since he is ultimate source and gives abundantly

on purely practical terms: why settle for golden egg when you can have the goose and constant supply of eggs?

regarding God and his gifts, contrast is even greater – because of who / what God is

God gives perfect gifts, precisely matched in character and quantity to needs of his people

on that basis, confidence must be in him – that he will continue to supply right things in right amount

here’s greatest difference: many of God’s gifts are for this life only

trust in the gifts won’t carry us over into and through eternity; trust in God will

do good to men

goal for the believer: to be rich in good works, not good stuff

default should be to give not grasp – quick to give, being generous, not grasping / holding on to last possible second

question regularly ask: how can I best use what God has entrusted to me for work of Christ, growth of his Kingdom?

true of every gift God has given, not just material things – time and talent as well as treasure

start by looking around family – what is best use of time/talent/treasure to encourage growth in godliness

then church family – same question: how can I use my resources to edify brothers and sisters

then neighbors – what would the Lord have me to do with his good gifts to draw neighbors to the Savior

talking about people in neighborhood, at supermarket, in workplace, wherever you regularly encounter them

have an answer to your question? ACT, don’t just sit there, DO IT, trusting in the living God for the outcome

show by your actions that you truly believe he is Lord, he is the one you love, he is one you trust

D. reap the reward v.19

a good foundation

see Matt. 6:20 – Jesus called it “treasures in heaven” – treasure up treasures in heaven, ones that will endure

so what are those things of gold, silver, precious stones that make up foundation of our home in heaven?

that which causes the church to grow in holiness, strength, effectiveness

which causes others to give glory to God for what we’ve done (Matt. 5:16)

may be a cup of water for thirsty, clothes for the naked, food for the hungry, comfort for the sick, shelter for the weary (Matt. 25:31-46)

may also be word of encouragement, a “thinking of you” note, a well-timed gas card, transportation to an appointment

how about a challenge to think about eternity, a soft answer to a harsh question, time to listen, a message of hope to one who has no hope, doing right when it’s costly

practice these things and you’ll “take hold of life that is real” (HCSB), experiencing life the way God intends for his children

Heavenly Father is not stingy; is generous beyond measure. Can we do any less than be the same, reflecting his character to all around us? Just as important: there’s more to life than just now. Can’t earn eternal life, but sure can add to treasure we will enjoy in heaven. Sounds contradictory but… to get most out of this life, must be investing in next life. Those investments are made when we walk the walk, follow the King, live each moment of each day striving to please the King.

Follow the King

1 Timothy 6:13-16

Too much of what passes for Gospel is wrong-headed self-help strategies. Emphasis is too much on man and his desires, too little on God and his standard. Idea that man is basically good, just needs a little help to be even better is pervasive in broad segments of church. Package message right way, appeal to felt needs, guard self-esteem at all costs, people will turn out all right.

Often presented as: “God loves you, has a wonderful plan for your life. God wants you to have this/that/the other, just do this and it will be yours. Pray this prayer, claim this promise, follow these 12 steps, you’ll live happily ever after.”

True Gospel: God loves lost helpless sinners; has done all necessary for their redemption. God saves those lost sinners by grace through faith. Now what does he expect of those whom he has saved, adopted into his family, rescued and naturalized as citizens in Christ’s kingdom? Lord Jesus put it this way:

Matt. 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Turn from your sinful ways and Follow the King! Focus on the King (not 12 steps), be faithful to the King (not yourself), live in full hope that the King will conquer all his enemies. If you are genuine follower of the King, your enemies are his enemies – means you have nothing to fear. Remember: the Lamb wins!

So what does it mean to follow the King?

A. focused v.13

coram Deo – before the face of God

solemn charge as given to bride and groom at a wedding: “in the presence of God and these witnesses” – including Lord Jesus

Stephen, martyr – Acts 7:55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

under his watchful eye

not some sort of intergalactic policeman, lurking behind every corner, light saber at the ready, waiting to pounce

1 Peter 3:12For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

good Heavenly Father watching out for our good, our best interests

under his providential care

creator and sustainer of all things – not only has given life but also reasoning ability and senses and heart and hands and lips with which to praise

each moment of each day has in it cause for praise and adoration of God and his loving provision

in total dependence on him

whatever it is that makes cell at moment of conception living cell comes from God, along with everything else necessary for growth and development

whatever we have and are has ultimate source in God – means we should live and act continually aware it’s all given in trust: we are stewards

bought by Christ Jesus

his confession => his death => our redemption

Lord Jesus set the perfect example: was faithful, obedient, maintaining clear witness to his faith and purpose

because he was victorious in death, his followers will be also – even if good confession costs life, does not end in defeat, in death

if Lord Jesus could faithfully endure what he did, with his help we can persevere also; don’t be intimidated by man’s threats, he wasn’t

not in it alone: Rev. 1:12-20 Son of Man, in the midst of the seven lampstands, in his right hand seven stars

our military may carry out missions by remote control – call them drones, guided munitions

not so with God – commander of the Lord’s army is present with his people (Josh. 5:14) to strengthen and encourage

fixed on the same goal

“for the joy set before him…” (Heb. 12:2) – received his Father’s “well done”, has been granted spoils of war

believer has prize set before him also: Phil. 3:14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

B. faithful v.14a

keep the commandment – keep fighting the good fight of faith

remain faithful to God’s expectations of him as believer and servant in the church

it’s a call to commitment without an escape clause; no hint of prenuptial agreement, “if it doesn’t work out and we don’t really expect it will here’s how we’ll deal”

love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength and neighbor as yourself in sphere of work where God has placed you

without deviation

too many “fear nonconformity to the world more than they fear nonconformity to God” Kreeft

our destiny: be conformed to image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) – best way to look like him is to look at him, from as close up as possible

walking along path Lord Jesus picks out, being involved in work he is doing (not off doing our own thing), understanding his goals / priorities and making them our own, using methods and practices he approves

without slacking off

not to get complacent – standard for staying an elder no lower than for becoming an elder

standard at end of Christian life no less than at the beginning – 1 Pet. 1:15but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct”

notice also doesn’t say persevere ’til age 65 or ’til you get tired or move to Arizona or some other convenient cut-off

says ’til Jesus comes! – continue faithful to Christ with the strength he gives ’til you see him

but what if I don’t make it? then what? here’s where believers need to hear Gospel again

remember who and where you are:

John 10:28-29 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

remember what to do:

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Eph. 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

C. full of hope v.14b-16

he’s coming back (14b)

Jesus wasn’t a martyr – he didn’t die for his faith, he died for our redemption; didn’t take his own life, presented and offered himself as sacrifice (Heb. 7:27; 10:12)

since he laid down his own life, has authority and power to take it up again – which he did

means we persevere with head up, not head down; looking to Jesus, author and perfector of faith

in his perfect time (15a)

his first coming was at appointed time; so, too, will second coming be, when God’s sovereign purpose will be complete

God will never say “I wish I had…” – he will accomplish every detail of his eternal plan without haste or delay

in glorious victory (15b)

matters not how bleak outlook appears, how fierce the battle, how much might look like defeat: Christ wins

Rev. 17:14 “These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

all who are with him will be victorious also; the One who knows the end from the beginning has declared it so

worthy of praise (16)

God is ultimate ruler, the only one whose opinion really matters, the only source of all good

he above all others deserves our adoration and praise, our worship and our service

You say “I don’t get it, I’m confused and tired, I don’t know how much longer I can hang on; I’m not sure it’s even worth it.” Dear brother or sister, focus your heart and eyes of faith on “the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords, the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom none of mankind has seen or can see, to whom be honor and eternal might. Amen.” Your need to understand will be met in God; your strength to hang on depends on his grip, not your own; your heavenly Father is committed to doing all things for your good and his glory.

Perhaps you’re like man who heard these words: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.’ Then responded, “You need say no more. My parents were Christians and they taught me these things all through their lives. But …” Then he picked up a pencil and on a white sheet of paper drew a line from one side to the other. “I know all about it,” he said, “that to gain salvation there is a line that I have to cross. But I am very near…” and he pointed to a spot just below the line, “and the decisive step has not been taken.”

Don’t delay, Isa 55:6-7 “Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.”

Walking the Walk

1 Timothy 6:11-12

Many things the world doesn’t understand, many more they woefully distort. Much of what world does understand they follow inconsistently. Let me illustrate: hear statements like “whatever works”; “if it’s true for you / if it works for you, fine”; “whatever floats your boat”; “the end justifies the means”. Easy to conclude that’s how the world thinks and operates – achieving particular result overshadows all other considerations.

Have you noticed, though, bands have conductors; roads have speed limit signs and traffic signals; recipes have directions after list of ingredients; basketball and baseball and lacrosse and soccer and hockey and football and Monopoly and Jenga and Chicken Foot have rules. Even for all the rhetoric and outrageous statements, with most things in life it truly does matter how you get there; it’s more than simply reaching the goal or getting to a destination or winning the game.

Same is true for Christian, all of details of life, to be lived pleasing to God. God is concerned with the means just as much as the end. If means didn’t matter, Jesus would never have died; God would have simply declared “you are saved”. He didn’t do that; it is “by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). Not all roads lead up the mountain to eternal life; only one way, by faith in Lord Jesus leads to the Father (John 14:6); only one name under heaven by which we may be saved (Acts 4:11-12); “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5).

Just a few examples of Bible’s teaching that how we are saved is of crucial importance to God. So,also, is how we work out our salvation. Those who have been born again, converted from lost sinners into children of God, are different – new creatures with new nature, new desires, new goals. If we’re going to talk the talk, we need to walk the walk: live in such a way that our verbal profession is credible. Profess loyalty to Red Sox while wearing a Yankees shirt, who will listen?! Christians shouldn’t do that; must be consistent, and loyalty to Christ must be more obvious than loyalty to anything else.

So how do we go about walking the walk? Paul gave Timothy instruction in four basic areas: what to run from, what to run after, how to compete, and what to cherish and grasp onto. Notice these words are action words – becoming holy people of God doesn’t simply happen with passage of time. Involves action on our part, actively living in way God has prescribed for us.

A. run from v.11a

false teachers and their followers

incredibly easy to get sucked into an argument, esp. when about important principle or people

good to remember Paul speaking first to experienced pastor here – if anyone should be safe from traps false teachers set, you’d think Timothy would be

Paul makes no assumption, tells him to make tracks – he has far more useful / productive ways to spend his time

their bad behavior

there’s an either-or situation set up here: same thing Jesus taught – “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” Matt. 6:24

too often, think it’ll be ok if I watch, listen, do this in small quantities; don’t want neighbors to think I’m too weird!

clear imperative here – don’t even think about sin, don’t hang about it, run away from it as fast as possible

whatever it is, if it is sinful and represents a threat to your holiness, get away

don’t listen to talk radio if it causes you to be critical; watch that TV show if it causes discontent; read that junk mail if it causes fear; go to that website if it causes temptation; hang about with those committed to pursuit of wealth

B. run after v.11b

“Just say NO” doesn’t work! – can’t simply say “No” to sin, must say “Yes” to something in its place

fits perfectly imagery used in our text – to flee from, run from, be a fugitive from one thing, must be running toward something else

must be right thing we’re running toward

“There is more to avoiding sin, however, than simply beating a hasty retreat. If all we do is run away from one sin, we will run right into the arms of another.” Philip Ryken

also implied: same exhortation given to Lot and family – “Escape for your life; do not look back” Gen. 19:17

requires pursuit, purposeful effort toward a goal – things to be pursued not ones that we would naturally put on our “bucket list”

if you’re one to keep that sort of list, I challenge you: put these 6 things at the top

righteousness – δικαιοσυνην – doing what is right and acceptable according to God’s standard

not simply doing what comes next, what’s in your face, what others are hounding you to do

it’s doing what is right, pleasing to God – requires thinking, understanding Bible, applying truth to life

results in blessing: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness” Matt. 5:6

godliness – ευσεβεια – devotion to God characterized by a life of conformity to his will

motivation counts as well as means – why are we doing what is right? should be love / devotion to God

has profound impact on attitude, shows on outside too – loving obedience vs grudging vs desire to make points

sweet gentleness vs sour impatience vs intense competition

faith – πίστις – confidence in God for our destiny, neither of which we can see

“I believe, help my unbelief” Mark 9:24 – faith comes in all sizes and measures

our job to work on growing it so confident trust shapes our outlook in all situations

love – αγαπη – affection for God and man made evident by specific action

again, because we love God (1patience – υπομονην – perseverance in the presence of hostile forces

standing firm – persevering in right course when there is great pressure or temptation to deviate

enduring affliction – remaining faithful with right spirit, confident God has good purpose in your affliction

gentleness – πραοτης – humble and caring spirit toward others

refusing to treat anyone as if they are beyond hope – relating in meekness and humility and tenderness

summarize: strive to develop habit of life that shows presence and power of Holy Spirit

remember fruit / evidence of Spirit’s presence in life: Gal. 5:22-23

take all of Bible’s teaching, must conclude we’re not passive players in Christian life – it’s not cosmic game of foosball where God is only one exerting effort

we cannot succeed apart from God and his help; we cannot expect God to do all the work in making us holy

God’s word heard and memorized and meditated on – moves us along road of increasing godliness / holiness. As it moves us along, enables/equips us to better put off sinful behavior and attitudes, positioning us to more profitably receive Word which moves us along….. Is it the Word applied by the Spirit that enables us? Or is it our preparation that enables us? Yes. Both. In a complementary way: 100% God plus 100% us = 100% holiness. It’s 100% gift of God’s grace plus 100% our responsibility that achieves God’s 100% goal for us.

C. compete well v.12a

contend for the faith against all foes

indwelling sin – primary danger, closest to home and most deeply rooted

must daily weaken and put to death sin dragging at our heels – refuse to feed it, do as Christ said: “deny self, take up the cross daily, follow him” Luke 9:23

Satan and his tools – accusations, discouragements, temptations, fears, distractions

go right back to beginning, how was he successful? – took Eve’s focus off God, onto self and stuff

especially effective when he can get us to focus on what feeds personal weakness, indwelling sin

hostile world

accuse of being unloving, hypocritical, bigoted; criticize for being old-fashioned, out of touch, uneducated; attempt to limit religious freedoms

must remember Jesus experienced same, but persevered – remained steadfast in faith because kept his eyes fixed on God

fight for the faith

labor to both know and understand true doctrine, and… live according to principles of true doctrine

remember real enemies of the faith are spiritual ones – “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (Eph. 6:12)

D. take possession v.12b

make sure eternallife is your prized possession

don’t be fooled by worldly thinking: what you’ll buy at Cherished Possessions is just “stuff”

things that are worth pursuing are ones that make difference in our soul, what is eternal not temporal

act like you own it!

it’s in your grasp, don’t let it go; don’t let grip weaken, don’t set it down to pick up something else

let go of everything else that pulls in different direction, that would pull off course

follow Christ, pursue Christ, lay hold on Christ who is the only way to eternal life – exchange everything else for Christ

Matt. 13:44-46“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

Christ is treasure, pearl of great price – make him yours whatever the cost; you will never regret it.

“Secrets” of Contentment

1 Timothy 6:6-10

Man created incomplete – evident from very beginning, first day of creation. Gen. 2:18 – “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” God did just that, built up a woman from one of man’s ribs. Important to understand something: in themselves, Adam and Eve were incomplete even together. They did experience perfect wholeness…. for short period of time…. before their rebellion and catastrophe of sin.

Mankind created in image of God, means there are characteristics in common – God is relational, always has been and always will be. Expressed in our description of God as Trinity – one God, three persons. For a moment let’s reverse the order – three persons in one God: Father, Son, Spirit, one God. Father, Son, Spirit in eternal oneness and fellowship and relationship. Man’s creation as relational being requires certain things for fulfillment, wholeness: human relationships are necessary, so is relationship between man and God.

In the Garden Adam and Eve broke up with God, ended the relationship they had with God since their creation. Left a huge void crying to be filled again, same void every one of their natural offspring is born with. One exception, of course – supernatural offspring, Lord Jesus. Every man, woman, boy and girl goes to great lengths to fill the void, satisfy the emptiness, their relational need.

Especially in first-world country like ours, all sorts of things clamor for our attention, promising pleasure and satisfaction and contentment – buy this, try this, go here, experience that; you deserve it, you know you want it. World falls for the line every time, fails in the quest because none of those things have characteristics of what is missing. We know that, we’ve found the answer, we’ve responded to Gospel call and filled the void with the right solution: God. Means we’re immune to seduction of stuff, to idea that we’ll be just a little bit happier if we have this or that. Right?

Umm, wrong! Remember who our text is addressed to: pastor of local church, understanding he would pass along teaching to his church. Also would be passed along to next generation of leaders in the church. Christians by no means immune to misunderstanding, deception, false teaching about way to contentment. That’s why v.5 identifies the error, v.6ff lays out once again right perspective, right relationship between godliness, gain, and contentment.

Wrong view: godliness is a means of gain. Right view: godliness is great gain. And,… true godliness accompanied by contentment.

A. pursue God v.6

pursue contentment, will never achieve it; by God’s design it’s result of pursuing Him

“What a far way about do men go for contentment, while they compass the creation for it, and when all is done miss it?” Thomas Boston

notice what comes first: godliness

that is what is to be achieved, nourished, encouraged by pursuing God

learned attitude, to be satisfied with God

must look beyond the gifts to the Giver

gifts given for this life are finite – even best gift, perfect gift, if finite will not satisfy forever

Giver is infinite – greatest gift he gives is gift of himself

2 Cor. 6:16 For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

so what is contentment? what is it to be satisfied with God?

read Phil. 4:11-13

means to not depend on particular circumstances for meaning, purpose, fulfillment, satisfaction

e.g.: what you do does not define who you are; presence or absence of children does not define purpose

notice Paul’s perspective: whatever his level of support, he willingly accepted and was satisfied with it as God’s perfect provision

used skills God had given to best of ability, was content with the result – not complaining, not constantly thinking how to acquire more

B. recognize ownership v.7

all we have is ours by God’s gracious providence; he can recall any or all at any time – 1 Cor. 4:7

One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell God that they were done with Him.

The scientist walked up to God and said, “God, we’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things. We’ve decided that we no longer need you.”

God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and after the scientist was done talking, God said, “Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a ‘man-making’ contest.” To which the scientist replied, “OK, great!”

God added, “Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam.” The scientist said, “Sure, no problem” and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt.

God just looked at him and said, “No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”

anything work can achieve or wealth can acquire will not leave this world

power, position, possessions, monuments, titles, achievements, all the world holds dear (and much Christians pursue as well) are for this life only

but,…but,…what about all I’ve done for Christ and his Kingdom?

first, if you’ve truly done it for Christ, who gets the glory? He does, of course

second, what have you done on your own for Christ? whose dirt did you use?

so, even things we take out of this world – investment made to build up body of believers – only result of what God has graciously enabled us to do, and has accomplished through us

C. understand need v.8

must properly distinguish between necessity and desire

enjoying something or wanting something doesn’t make it a necessity

food, clothing/shelter necessary for long-term survival; beyond that, except for people with specific medical conditions, represents additional blessing from God

with that additional blessing comes additional responsibility – more in a moment

~50% of world lives on < $2 / day ==> don’t miss the point, vast majority of them not only survive, they live to grow up and produce next generation

at the very least, should be incentive to objectively consider: what do I really need, why would I not be content with that?

must also distinguish between self-imposed necessities and basic needs for life

things lead to things, in choices we make about necessities, too

do you really need 17 kinds of soup or would 2 or 3 suffice? a $30,000 car when one 1/2 the cost would be adequate? an estate when modest home would provide proper shelter?

each of those “larger” choices means you “need” larger income to meet your “needs”; hmm, what’s the better way?

finally, must be proper stewards what God blesses us with over/above needs

God regularly supplies more than absolute basic necessities – what do you do with the surplus?

can use it up pursuing great American dream; or,…can invest in God’s people

help to provide materials for theological training of pastors in Brazil; help to provide Bibles for brothers/sisters in northern Africa; help pay salaries for indigenous evangelists targeting unreached people groups

DV, you’ll see results of those investments and others like them in heaven

D. avoid deception v.9-10

false promises – if you do / have / believe this, then you’ll be content

unless it is “do what is pleasing to God, have all that he graciously supplies, believe he knows and does what is best for you”, it’s an empty promise

you’ll be pursuing wrong thing and it will never be enough

everything world offers – all you see in junk mail advertising, TV commercials, roadside signs – something less than God

constant intense pressure to buy into their solution, what Satan would like most; he knows it leads to slavery, not contentment

How do you avoid that, how do you learn contentment and its secrets as Paul did?

“If anyone should say, There is a particular thing in my condition that above all things I cannot be content without; there is something I would have, and God does not see fit to give it to me: what shall I do to be content. I would say, be what it will, go to God, and make a solemn exchange of that thing. If he has kept that from you, he offers you what is as good and better, himself, instead of it. Renounce that thing, give it up, and take Christ instead of it; and having taken him so, believe that you have him instead of it. Say, Lord, there is an empty room in this heart of mine, such a comfort would I have to fill it; but you see fit to refuse it; therefore I give it up; your will be done; but I take you yourself instead to fill up that room. And now I have made the exchange, and Christ is to me instead of that which I want. So you shall find your heart satisfied.” Thomas Boston

The Right Story

1 Timothy 6:3-5

Proper teaching is essential for lots of things in life – children must be taught three R’s plus much else to become productive adults; immigrants must often be taught English, accountants the principles of business math, astrophysicists the laws of planetary motion, secretaries the language of shorthand, machinist the steps of setup and operation, we could go on for hours! If any one of those and many others are taught wrong methods or principles, consequences usually not immediately life-threatening. Teaching firefighter, airline pilot, pharmacist or physician the wrong thing a different story – one wrong piece in their teaching can have fatal consequences… for a whole lot of people. Talking life and death, for real, no do-over’s.

Might think that’s way of it in those occupations, stakes aren’t as high for Sunday School teacher or youth group leader or pastor or evangelist. If you think that way, you’re wrong. Wrong actions by firefighters and physicians and pilots can result in physical death; following wrong teaching by leader in church can result in eternal death. It’s difference between body and soul; remember what Jesus said about that:

Matt. 10:28 “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Getting the story right Is essential to good health of local church and souls of its people. A sound church is characterized by orthopraxy flowing out of orthodoxy – healthy church known for both right practice/action and right doctrine/teaching. The one based on, a result of the other – when child of God led by Spirit of God sits under sound teaching from the Word of God, he or she does what is pleasing to God. False teaching, unsound doctrine messes it all up.

It’s a big deal, especially when talking about nuts and bolts of the Gospel:

Gal. 1:8-9But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”

Vitally important in day when errors abound and most have large following that we recognize sound teaching, cling to it tenaciously. Means avoiding false teachers like the plague ’cause it’s even more deadly.

A. sound doctrine v.3

apostolic

consistent with what apostles taught – simple truths of living the Christian life

firmly rooted in Scripture, passed on from one spiritual generation to next

2 Tim. 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

was apostolic teaching Timothy was to commit to faithful men, same apostolic teaching they were to teach others – not something new that has been discovered in last 100 years

even Protestant Reformation not promotion of new ideas, was recovery of what apostolic church believed and taught

Christological

words Christ spoke, words that speak about Christ – Christian teaching and preaching must point to Christ

that’s what Jesus did on road to Emmaus

Luke 24:27beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

Christ is mold – teaching must bring learners back to him so they can be conformed to his image

consider how God has spoken to his people: Heb. 1:1-2God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”

if we are to know God, must listen to his Son (Matt. 17:5) – sound teaching enables us to do so

sanctifying

sound teaching leads to holy living – loving God and neighbor; keeping Christ’s commands because we love him; loving brothers and sisters, esteeming them more important than self; seeking satisfaction in God not stuff

unsound teaching does just the opposite, more on that in v.4b-5a

B. unsound teachers 4a

puffed up

proud because of supposed inside track, greater knowledge/understanding, superior ability

expecting to be followed, looked up to because of treasure they hold, share little at a time

take for granted will be given position of leadership – obviously better suited for it than anyone else

rely on personal expertise / opinion to validate their teaching: what about….. that’s not how I interpret it!

ignorant – lacking understanding

knowing the facts – often have better recall of verses, details, events than seasoned believer

but not getting right connections – connect verses / words / principles in novel ways; quick to make string of gems but with nothing of substance holding them together

or applications – end up making text mean the wrong thing, apply to wrong situation; e.g., using Isa. 53:5 “by his stripes we are healed” to claim God wants all his children free of sickness

majoring on minors

things that are not central to Gospel, that mature believers can and do differ on and still maintain fellowship

individual with numerous issues between them and particular church, selected one question to sort it all out: “how do you interpret Daniel’s 70 weeks?”

important? sure, but not as starting point; needs context of many other things, lots bigger issues

multitude of sources

1st century had word of mouth, small quantity of written material – warranted strong warning of danger

21st century has “christian” radio, television, internet, music, spoken word, books, magazines, emails, and on and on – much of it with little connection / accountability to local church; warrants just as strong warning

C. ungodly results v.4b-5a

controversy and quarrels that produce:

envy – dissension – slander – suspicion – constantly bickering/friction ==> exact opposite of what Jesus prayed for his followers

John 17:11 “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are.”

from specific source:

unrenewing minds – truth-deprived ==> minds unlike what Christian should have

neither renewed by Holy Spirit (Rom 12.2) nor led by the Spirit (Rom. 8:5)

and lead people in wrong direction – away from God and lifestyle that is pleasing to him

D. unsavory motivation v.5b

godliness a means of gain – find a poor false teacher, one who doesn’t hound for money, who doesn’t have significantly higher standard of living than average supporter

“The most common false teaching in churches in the English-speaking world today (as well as Africa, btw. ed.) is the false teaching that God wants you to be physically healthy and materially wealthy all the time; and that if you’re not, it’s because you don’t have enough faith or you haven’t made the commitment to the secret teaching of whoever it is that’s teaching that particular message.” Ligon Duncan

that motivation works for both teacher and student – ones who follow this brand of false teachers do so for what they hope to gain

E. suitable prescription

Rom. 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

2 Thess. 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

2 Tim. 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

Don’t hang about, testing your resistance to see how long you can stay faithful to truth. A couple local parts stores offer free service – think you might be having trouble with car battery, take it in, they’ll test it for you. Connect to machine, puts battery under electrical load for few seconds, gives report. If it’s ok, put back in vehicle and drive away. Let’s just say, though, you left on machine, kept pushing the test button. Before long, battery is dead.

Same with your commitment to the truth of God’s Word – to keep it healthy, requires constant replenishing at well of sound doctrine. Error is seductive, purposely; remember who the author really is, Satan, the great deceiver and seducer. Hang about it enough and it will suck you in. Even worse, once you get sucked in you become conduit of error to others who need to hear the truth.

There is one Gospel that offers genuine hope for men and women, boys and girls lost in their sins – Gospel of forgiveness and reconciliation found in Christ alone, the Lamb of God who promises to receive all who come to him in faith believing only he can save. If you have personally experienced transformation from death to life through faith in Christ, should be your desire that as many as possible enjoy the same. Unsaved family, friends, neighbors, co-workers – should all be in your prayers, that God would use you as means to bring them to conversion.

Must tell them the right story, though. Must be the story the apostles told, that includes words Jesus spoke and speaks of Jesus, that if believed will lead to life of godliness. Can’t be a sales pitch, a non-offensive sugar-flavored version that is no Gospel at all and has no saving power. Must be real deal, Gospel of Christ and him crucified. And what about saved family, friends, neighbors, co-workers? They need to hear same Gospel, be reminded that only in Christ can we have victory over sin, persevere in our course to heaven, and finish well.

Living in an unCivil Society

Titus 3:1-8

Not hard to wonder: did God really know what he was doing when entrusted job of civil government to fallen, sinful men? Just look at kind of job they’re doing! What a bunch of crooked, dishonest, self-serving, incompetent morons sit in places of political and civil authority. And that’s what people in other countries have to endure! Don’t even start with all that’s wrong with executive and legislative and judicial branches of our own government.

There’s gotta be point when citizens ought to do something: stand up to Chinese tank in Tiananmen Square; take to streets on ongoing protest labeled Arab Spring; camp out in public places in name of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe you’re not brave enough or crazy enough to go public; instead complain about injustice and evil; say all manner of harsh things about perpetrators of bad legislation and legal decisions; make excuses or look for ways to get around distasteful regulations at federal, state, local level.

And what about neighbors – you know, those people. The idiot that cut you off in traffic, cussing you out in the process. That clueless woman glued to smart phone while her brats ran around the store screaming. The rotten kids shooting off fireworks at midnight where they aren’t allowed or tearing up private property with noisy 4-wheelers. Uncivil, rude, inconsiderate people are everywhere; just can’t get away from them. If only they’d just smarten up, realize you have rights too. If only God understood what you’re going through, he’d do something to help.

Sound familiar? What does God’s Word have to say about attitude and action toward civil government, uncivil neighbors? How are we, people of God, to live in two spheres: Christ’s Kingdom while in the world?

A. submissive to rulers v.1

everyone needs reminder – not obvious from the culture, not automatic by nature to do the right thing

of our attitude/responsibility

have a history of wrong attitudes, failure to live up to God-given responsibility – see v.3

are surrounded by those who still think / act the way we used to

constant temptation and opportunity to get sucked in

of God’s omniscience

he established civil government, is the ultimate source of authority, has given mandate: encourage good, restrain evil (Rom. 13:1-3)

he entrusted civil government to fallen man to carry out knowing: man’s nature, every detail of human history

God knew there would be injustice, corruption, misuse of power and resources, evil laws, unethical and immoral behavior at every level

means the Christian can’t use any of that as excuse to get out of doing what God commands

of our source of help – that comes later in the text! (v.4-7)

btw, it’s our only help and only hope for government – here or elsewhere in world, now or future

submit to lawful authority

isn’t simply submit in sense of keep a low profile, fly under radar while doing what you think is best

is obeying those who are in authority – doing what is commanded, not doing what is forbidden

only situation you’re off the hook: when civil authority requires disobedience of God – commands what God has forbidden, forbids what God has commanded (Acts 5:29)

support what promotes good order, well-being of culture

do your part to actively contribute to good of society – be salt and light as Jesus directed (Matt. 5:13-16)

not just for your own benefit, for that of neighbors and community at large

B. softhearted toward the lost v.2

be considerate of their blindness

unregenerate are stumbling around in dark, can’t see right way to go or obstacles in their path

don’t make life harder for unbeliever than already is – sin is plenty big enough burden to carry

be patient

God is patient – with mankind in general, with individuals in particular

has plenty of opportunities, lots of reasons to draw line, say enough, bring this age to end

before and after conversion believers try patience of God – but it’s his nature to be longsuffering

he may use you as means for saving your enemies

often tempting to want God to make their bad behavior stop, whatever it takes – usually have something painful in mind

better to want God to change their nature and their behavior – transfer their citizenship and allegiance from domain of darkness to kingdom of his Son (Col. 1:13)

you have ability to do what is right for right reasons, make world better place

with that ability comes responsibility to use it for good

using world’s methods to bring about change won’t bring people to Christ

root of the problem is nature – heart of the problem is it’s a problem of the heart (Krabbendam)

C. struck by the contrast v.3

differences between true follower of Christ and unbeliever are obvious

should cause us to thank God for his grace, not get frustrated with others for their foolishness

“nothing distinguishes us from the perverse culture around us but God’s election manifest in a transforming call of the gospel.” Tom Nettles

we used to be like them!!

mind dominated by sin – “foolish” – thinking and acting contrary to what is good and right

did not submit willingly to authority – disobedient

how much of child rearing/training centers on authority issues and obedience

rejected as false what was true and accepted the false as true – deceived

one example: origins, creation vs. all other explanations; many other examples / situations

sought fulfillment in worldly pleasure, not eternal joy

even wisest man did that, wrote book about it: Ecclesiastes

can put names, faces – neighbors, co-workers, family, public figures – give no thought to anything beyond this life

all personal relationships were adversarial and antagonist

when comes right down to it, for pagan #1 is always #1 if #1 stands to lose something big

D. saved according to mercy v.4-7

how come we’re not like that now? we are being saved by means of regeneration and renewal

salvation motivated by God’s kindness and love for man – prompted God to make first move (4)

caused God to sacrifice what was of greatest value – his Son – for sake of dirty rotten sinners

based on his mercy and grace alone (5)

not because of works, even in comparative sense – not perfect but sure higher up scale than them

absolutely everyone has exactly same need: hopelessly lost “without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12)

notice what changed: good outward behavior is result of internal God-orchestrated transformation

bestowed lavishly through Christ (6)

entire work of regenerating and renewing – saving and sanctifying – poured out in abundance

God’s supply of grace more than sufficient to accomplish what we need, to make us fit for his service

with the end in view – confidence of eternal life (7)

not only saved from sin and death and hell, saved to life and righteous living

E. staunchly committed to gospel living v.8

heirs act like family because they are family

God’s people act differently from the world because they are different – have new hearts, new desires, new ways of thinking, new goals

requires constant repetition, reminder

might help if label on forehead, see in mirror each morning: remember who you are; God’s better idea – pastors/shepherds to remind flock who they are, how they should live

true gratitude shown by loving obedience

when friend does favor, we want to return it; God has done far more than favor for his children, should want to respond in way that pleases him

effectiveness found only in using right weapons for battle

Christian life can only be lived effectively when it’s lived dependently – moment by moment, day by day reliance on Christ and his strength and supply

culture war a spiritual battle, must be waged using spiritual weapons

10 Commandments on public display not enough; God’s law written on new hearts is required

Christians must be good citizens – Jesus set the example, God’s word gives the mandate. But good citizenship and political process won’t make a Christian nation. Electing different politicians may be right thing to do; shakeup on Supreme Court might satisfy some people; won’t fix the problem. Solution to problems in America and Egypt and Syria and Israel and every other nation on earth: the Gospel taking root in hearts of men, women, boys, girls at all levels of society.

That will take place when God’s people grow up – mature into the stature of Christ in context of healthy local church. God changes the world through the church, not the court or Capitol Hill. God’s people must devote their resources to living God’s way – gaining strength and understanding and encouragement in here to live right out there, all in full dependence on God’s grace.