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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode 113 · 2 months ago

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Paul sent a letter to his son in the faith, Timothy. What's a letter? Look out for some general 1st century letter info that will set up some deeply personal application of God's mercy. Message by Denny Foreman.

We're introducing a new topic this morning and we've got a lot of things to cover, a lot. I'm the chaplain at a private school and three weeks ago, as I was preparing for our chaplain service, I had this plan of having a moment of silence as we remembered the events of and then it dawned on me all of our students had been born years, and I mean many years, after the events of that pivotal day in American history. So I thought, okay, so I'll get some faculty members to share their reflections. Yeah, that did work out real well. Either they would come back to me, Danny, we were five when that happened or uh, we were in the nursery when that happened. So, as I was preparing to discuss this pastoral letter, I realized that there may be among us many who are unfamiliar with the concept of letter writing. We're part of a generation that has instant access to friends and family around the globe, and that's a touch of a button. Within seconds, we can share news events, we can share family history, we can share everything and we don't even have to use words. We can use emojis our means and you know, our communication styles have changed over the years. As Science and technology have advanced, our means of communication have changed drastically. There was a time my time when high school's regularly taught the art of letter writing and we would learn the difference between a formal letter, of business letter a friendly letter. There was a time when a box a really beautiful stationary was a thoughtful gift at graduation. There was a time when really Nice Fountain Pen was a prize possession. Don't even get me started on writing to a letter to a friend who might be overseas. That would require, Um Domum, an airmail letter. Do we do? We guess, an airmail envelope. The envelope was really stationary. Imagine a very, very fine rice paper that folds over, kind of like Orgami, that you actually wrote on and then sealed the edges, and that became a primary means of communicating to people who were overseas. I have family that were missionaries in Japan and that was our primary means of communicating with them. Letters. They were valued, they were saved and passed on for others to read. They were instructional. When my when my parents died, we found boxes of letters that they had saved from friends and family and for me when I was in college, there were things that you held onto because they were important. They were they were the connective tissue uh back and forth to people that were far away. So for the next few weeks we're going to be considering the first letter that Paul wrote to Timothy. Since I'm the first guy on deck on this series, it's going to be important for me to set the stage for the rest of the letter. It's believed that both the first and second letters to Timothy, along with the letter to Titus, were probably Paul's final letters. They're called pastoral letters. It would have been impossible for Paul to complete his missionary style ministry by staying and ministering to any of the one churches that he helped start. It was key that he commissioned other men,...

...qualified leaders, to pastor the flock of Christians that were rapidly becoming scattered across Asia Minor. It's indeed timely that here a connect US church, we're prayerfully considering hiring a pastor to come alongside pastor Kevin, and it's very timely that we are considering what Paul has to say to this young man Timothy, who's he's left in charge of the Church in Ephesus. Will you turn with me in your bibles to first Timothy One as we read the first two verses. And if you don't have a Bible, I'm happy to tell you we'd be happy to give you one there in the lobby right by the welcome center. So please, please, if you don't learn a Bible, uh, take one this morning before you leave. The first few verses of First Timothy Their greetings from Paul. This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by command of God, our Savior and Christ Jesus, the command of God, our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope. I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith. May God, the Father and Christ Jesus, Our Lord, give you grace, mercy and peace. Paul opens his letter with a simple statement. Paraphrase, it would read something like this. I Paul, I am writing to my son Tim Nice. Right. Well, let's dig a little deeper. Who is this Paul Character? And what about Tim now I realize that many of you have grown up in churches and you probably know who these people are, but, let's face it, there may be some people that don't. So you want to dig in a little bit deeper here. What is this relationship between Paul and this Young Man Timothy? Well, we first learn about Paul, or Saul as he has called it, acts eight. We see him standing by approvingly as another young Christian, Stephen, becomes the first martyr for following Jesus Paul. Saul is so incensed over this new cult of men and women who are following this religious group that's known as the way. Saul makes it his personal goal to seek out, persecute and destroy those Jesus followers. But God had other plans for Saul. And as Saul is heading to Damascus to seek out and imprisoned believers kill believers, he has a dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ. A bright line light stops him in his tracks, knocking him from his horse, and Jesus himself appears and says hey, Paul's all, why are you persecuting me? Saul is converted and in acts nine fifteen, Jesus says this this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I don't mind you this. Saul had done nothing to earn this honor. God and His mercy and grace had literally stopped Saul in his tracks and he changes the course of this man's life and, in doing so, the course of history in the process. Saul is given the new name Paul. When God calls a man or a woman hang on, you never know what might happen. Mh to talk about...

...a Jesus moment. Paul did nothing to earn what God gave him. How did God use Paul? Well, we know for a fact that seven of the new testament books were penned by him. Some believe that there were as many as thirteen books written by him. How many churches were formed by his influence? Well, some commentary state fourteen. Others would argue for many more. I want to make sure I have my facts straight here. If you considered the church in emphasis, one church, and we're gonna talk more in emphasis and just a little bit, that one church in turn started so many other churches that the Gospel was proclaimed and churches started throughout all of Asia. As missionaries, Paul moved from town to town and city to city, ministering and starting churches. His only man means of communication with them was through TATA Letters. And so we move on to find that our particular letter that we're studying now and for the next couple of weeks uh is being written to this young man by the name of Timothy. Well, what do we know about Tim Timothy's father was a gentile, his mother and his grandmother were Jewish, and so from an early age timothy was taught the Hebrew scriptures. And then it was during one of Paul's missionary journalist journey that Timothy, his mother and his grandmother prayed and received Jesus Christ as their savior. Their lives were changed in time. Paul recognized something in this young man and he took him under his wing and begins to mentor Timothy. Think about the way Paul Addresses Timothy in verse two of Chapter One, to Timothy, my true son in the faith. I love that his care extends to Timothy's well being. If we had the time, we were discovered that Timothy suffered from some stomach issues, probably caused by anxiety and fears, and it was probably stomach ulcers. In First Timothy Five Paul prescribes a bit of wine to help ease the boys tummy aches. I love this because a good mentor will be interested in the entire well being of his or her charge. Now Mentor, you know, it's become kind of a buzzword in Christian circles. We toss the word mentor around a lot. I do wish we had the time this morning two really develop and look at Paul's Mentorship of Timothy Uh. To do so we would have to look back at act sixteen, one to three, and we learned how how they first met. We learned that that Paul Learns of Timothy's good reputation and we learned that he's so impressed with the man that, and by the way, Timothy was probably in his mid teens when Paul first met him. But Paul is so impressed with him that he brings him along on his missionary journeys. And so as Timothy observes, learns and patterns his life after this apostle, Timothy's own faith and abilities grow and mature, what you want to happen in a mentorship uh relationship, hip, and Paul begins to entrust him...

...with different leadership roles like, for instance, being the steward of the finances on the missionary journeys and later on overseeing ministry in towns as Paul moves on to other locations. Godly mentorship is so cool. I'm chomping at a bit to dive into this letter to Titus, where chapter two gives us great instructions on the older people in the church mentoring the younger both men and women, but we don't have time. But if you're interested in mentoring, I strongly suggest that you look at acts three. I'm sorry, Titus, to back to those opening verses in First Timothy, one by Paul and writing this to my son Timothy, I'm writing this by the Authority of God himself. And then Paul goes on to pray this blessing over his son, his friend, his brother and the faith, a blessing of grace, mercy and peace, a blessing that Paul would know well, because it was God's mercy that called him, a guy intent on killing and stopping the spread of believers. It was definitely God's grace that called Paul, certainly not because of anything that he had done in his life to earn this ministry. Dad didn't have any of those credentials. It was God who brought peace to Paul's life through the power of the Holy Spirit, and now it's that prayer for Timothy. Paul's Prayer for Timothy. Grace, mercy, peace and Timothy was going to needed here in Ephesus, as Paul writes in Timothy one three. When I left from Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in ephesis and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. Now, lest you think that ephesis was some little Poe dunk little village, forget about it. Ephesis was the second largest city in the Roman Empire. It's situated in modern Turkey. It had ports that UH served as a bridge of trade between Asia and the West. One of the wonders of the ancient world that you see on the screen behind me was its theater. Another wonder was the temple to our team, US, our Diana. This temple that you see on the screen behind me is so large it still stands, seated twenty thousand people. Their technology, their architecture was so precise that even today, if you stand in the very center of that uh alter space, in the front where the people are sitting. If you're standing there and talking in a normal voice, you can be heard in the back rows of that theater and we need microphones in my auditorium as a school that seats one, eight six. Uh, let's talk about projection and Danny. I digress. The point is the people of Ephesus were comprised of men and women from both east and the West. They spoke different languages, they have observed different religions. Uh, they were well educated. They were...

...very much like us. In fact, you could argue they were us. Last week, Kevin gave us a timely message, a practical message about leadership. He focused on Moses and the need that Moses had to acknowledge additional leaders to share the task of pastory. And here at the very start of this letter, Paul's letter to Timothy. We see this in operation. We see it in action. The Apostle, Paul has ministered to and mentored, poured his life into the young Timothy and empowered him to oversee the EPHESIAN church. And now, from a distance, Paul is counseling the young pastor to take a stand. Let's continue reading in First Timothy, one four. Don't let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don't help people to live a life of faith in God. And then he goes on calling for pure love and faith and he summarizes the entire letter in this next verse. The purpose of my instruction is that all believers. Let me repeat that. The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience and genuine faith. Read that with me out loud, just that sentence. The purpose. I can't hear you. The purpose of my instructions is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience and genuine faith. Thank you, but some people have missed the point. They have turned away from these things and they spend their time in meaningless discussions. They want to be known as teachers of the Law of Moses. They don't know what they're talking about, even though they speak so confidently. What has happened Ephesians? If you would read the book of Ephesians, Ephesians was about as close to being a perfect church as you could find. It was originally founded by a police and Paul visited the ephesis during his second missionary journey. The Baby Church began with a congregation of twelve. Kevin, how many did you have when you started? About the same amount. There you go. How are we doing, folks? There were some major issues drawing Paul's three year tenure at Ephesus. There was some mob violence. We haven't had that yet. Uh, no mob violence yet. That was over the worship of the Goddess Diana. The temple priests were not thrilled with this group of believers that was disrupting their services of and the writer of acts. In the case that the word of God grew and prevailed mightily in this particular church. God's word was victorious over the Pagan Teaching that was happening there in emphasis and the church was growing. And it was growing not just by numbers in that particular congregation, but that congregation was spreading...

...out and starting. They were planting churches, if you will. That was growing, growing, growing. But even with that, look at what Paul says. To caution this young Timothy. Some people have missed the mark. Eugene Peterson is the regent. He's at Regent University and he expresses this best and as I was preparing for this, this sentence just like slammed me over the head. He writes this the culture, our culture seeps, seeps into the church through the poors of our congregations, of religion without commitment, spirituality without content, aspiration and talk and longing, fulfillment and needs but not much concerned about God. That imagery of culture seeping into our pores and US bringing it into the church. Wow, it's so easy to become saturated with the world. We soak it up, the thoughts and the ideas they bombard us daily, and the idea of seeping, tiny drop by tiny drop infiltrating it wasn't as if the Church at Ephesus was out there welcoming godliness and worldliness. Little by little the philosophies and mindset was slowly seeping in. Now, if we assume that Paul wrote this letter to Timothy around sixty ad if we if it was in fact one of his final letters, that would be put it in that time framework, around sixty four a d. there's another writer who writes about Ephesus about thirty years later, between twenty and thirty years later, and some of you may have recognized the Church of Ephesus from the final book in the New Testament, in the revelation to John, Chapter two, we read these words to the angel or Messenger of the Church in Ephesus. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and you found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name and you have not grown weary. Amn, Hallelujah. Church in Ephesus. That church was being hammered constantly by the enemy. Between the Pagan World of Rome and the hostile Jewish leaders, the church was target number one. And even without the enemy, that culture that they were surrounded with day and night had become part of their lives. Yes, they were hard working and they talked a good talk, but they were so caught up in the culture of their day, the work at school, in the marketplace, the entertainments that they had. Our world's culture seeps in and infiltrates...

...us, infiltrates our hearts, infiltrates our minds and slowly takes over and somewhere in their passion, somehow their passion for Jesus had waned. They were doing a lot of good things. Well, there's some great things, but perhaps not out of motivation by their love of Christ. And as Jesus notes that, even with all the good intentions of the EPHESIAN church, even with all the good they were doing, he says and revelation to four, I hold this against you. You have forsaken your first love. In Reading First Timothy One, we can see a clear path to revelation too, for the following away was beginning. Through the power of the inspired word, Paul is giving the young Timothy a warning. He's shining a light on a church that's caught up in discussions. The world's culture has started to infiltrate and take precedence over their love and passion for Jesus. Many had become fans rather than followers of Jesus. Ephesus was, in a word, becoming mediocre. A good church can go bad. The fire that had shown brightly for Jesus was beginning to fade, and it's easy to become just like everybody else. First Timothy One through five, I wasn't going to read all of this this morning, but I am going to I think it's important. The purpose of my instruction, we read this earlier, is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience and genuine faith. But some people have missed this point. They've turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. They want to be known as teachers of the Law of Moses, but they don't know what they're talking about, even though they speak so confidently. We know that the law is good when you used correctly, for the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It's for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and de l what is holy, who kill their father and mother or commit other murders. The law is for people who are sexually immoral or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching that comes from the glorious good news entrusted to me by our blessed God. The EPHESIANS could spout the law backwards and forwards they knew the truth of God's word. They were familiar with Paul's previous letter to the EPHESIAN church. They could list their ancestrys, those that were Jewish, probably some of them could listen their ancestris back to Moses and beyond. They love getting together for church functions and to discussed...

...the topics of the day. They voted conservative. Oh that's I'm jumping ahead. Never mind that. Dave read writes. Believing the right things is great, but if the proper beliefs do not result in an active love for God and his people, the teaching has fallen short of its goal. Could the Feesians could connect US love through Jesus, their neighbors who were ungodly? Could this congregation love, through Jesus those involved with pornography and homosexuality? Could they love Liars and oath breakers? Could they love people that Jesus died to redeem? Could they be excited about loving the unlovable more than they loved being part of the Church of Ephesus and friends? Just like the EPHESIAN church and many churches around the globe, it's easy to let our passion for Jesus, to let our lamps grow dim I was just looking at a book by Francis Meslett where he photographs hundreds upon hundreds of churches across Europe that are empty and overgrown with Ivy and just going to waste. It would be easy to get caught up in the mechanical business of church, go through the motions, working and talking about religion, working to be the biggest and the best, to the exclusion of a passion for Jesus. Spent a great deal of time reading and researching for this morning and one of the writers who, I admit, I failed to note, shame on me, puts bluntly what Paul was writing about. No amount of zeal for the truth or moral rectitude can replace a heart full of love for Jesus. The big question this morning and for the Ephesians am I a fan of Jesus or am I A follower? Am I committed to following him? And it's time for Paul to end. The opening of his letter to his son and the faith a stunning statement, a gratitude for God's mercy found in verse as twelve and on. I thank Christ Jesus, for our Lord who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God has mercy on me, because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. Oh How generous and gracious our Lord is. He filled me with a let faith and love that comes from Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying and everyone should accept it. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And then Paul's stays and I'm the worst of them all. But God had...

...mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they too can believe in me, in him and receive eternal life. I'm going to step away from my notes because I disagree with Paul. I disagree with him when he says Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I agree with that part, but then he says and I'm the worst of all. He's wrong, because I am. I am. Several weeks ago, I was going through one of my favorite book stores in the area spend a lot of time there and just by accident I pulled I saw a book on the shelf in the kind of the Christian book area and the title was not a fan. That's a book by Pastor in Kentucky by the name of Kyle idlemoon. And they asked the question, am I a fan or follower? Many of you have heard my testimony in the past. You know that I was a pastor who fell into sin, was arrested for trying to pick up an undercover cop for sex and lost everything. But God, in His mercy and grace, had other plans. Now, that happened in December ninth. That's twenty two good years away. So what has happened in that time framework? There's been some great things. The fact that I'm here with Y'all, the fact that that God restored me, that he brought me back. Amen, Hallelujah. Yes, yes, yes, but but at the end of last year I teach middle school art classes and it was one of the last days of school and Eighth Grade Girls can be very uh, they don't have filters, let's let's put we'll put it like that. We'll be kind and uh, we were talking about they were talking about several things and one of them they started looking at me like kind of like really strangely, and one of them said, Mr Fuh, you don't believe in Tattoos, do you? What? What? Where did that come from? Whatever? Well, because you're you got a church, right. That has nothing to do with with anything. And so they're kind of mulling this around for a while and after a while one had the nerve, the guts to say, Mr Foreman, you hate gays, don't you? No, some of the that's some of my best friends are. And then then came to begin. Mr F are You gay? MM HMM. How do I answer that? I could have said well, I did identify as gay for many years of my life, but God saved me, he changed my life, he had something better for me. He had what God intended for me in the first place. I could have said that instead, I didn't. H here's the thing.

In the last twenty two years they have been highs and lows, real highs and lows. But as I was hit with that question, am I a fan or a follower? It's really easy for me to wear a chosen t shirt. It's really easy to wear a cross around my neck. It's even easy for me to carry a New Testament. But you know what, it hasn't been easy to do love. Somewhere along the line in the last twenty two years, it has become all too easy to play church. It has become all too easy to say the right words, to sing the right songs, to come to church, to dry money and in the offering place. But I keep asking myself, how much do I really love Jesus? This Jesus who loved me so much that he died to have a relationship with us, with me. He died to have a he didn't just die to give me a ticket to get to heaven. He wants to love. He wants to love in me and through me. Do I love you, guys? Sure, I love you guys, but do I really love you? Do I love you enough to spend time on my knees at night praying for Randy, to pray for John, to pray for Sandra, to pray? Do I do that? No, and I confess that to you this morning. And it is time, folks, that we as a church, get real about our passion for Jesus. Yeah, I am stunned. I am stunned when I read Matthew Seven and I hear about men and women standing in front of Jesus, who died for them, and saying, Lord, Lord, we did this and this and this and this is and I'm sorry, I never knew you. I don't want my life to be a failure. One of my favorite songs right now is Phil Wickham's Hymn of Heaven and when I think about some of them left words and that to say, to look upon the one who bled to save me, standing face to face with he who died and rose again, I want to be able to look in my Savior's face say thank you, Jesus, thank you Jesus, and, as Paul ends this section in verse seventeen with these words, all honor and glory to God forever and ever. He is the eternal king, the unseen one who never dies. He is God alone. He is God alone, and that God alone is Lord of my life and I love him and praise him for what he's done, for what he did, what he saved me back in October of Nineteen, seventy four, for when he knocked me to my feet in December nine, and to what he's currently doing in my life and I pray that God does the same thing for all of you. Worship Team John, would you close for us.

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