Today I’ve been preparing for a Worship Department meeting. I’ve been going over my notes and things I want to be sure to cover for tonight, as well as studying for the devotion that begins the meeting. What I went over last time is also what I’m going over tonight, but from a slightly different perspective. It’s neat to go back to the day two years ago, read the devotion I gave before, and see just how uniquely different the thoughts are evolving.
The last time we had the meeting I went over 1 Timothy 4. I covered not neglecting the gift God gave you and working toward godliness, which is still very appropriate. Actually, I blogged about it at about the same time. Check it out. But this time things are coming at me from a different light.
We’re going through a new thing, uncharted areas. It’s probably why God is teaching me other truths in His Word as I read the same passage again.
God has been working in our church family in many different ways. One of the biggest ways is that we’re growing numerically. That’s very visible. Things are getting crowded. Another thing I’ve noticed, which is what I’m really excited about, is that they are people hungry for the Truth. Our recent topics have been about how to live Christian in a sexy world, mostly dealing with having relationships that are godly and that pursue purity and godliness. These messages have been so meaningful to a world filled with hurting relationship. And I’ve been encouraged by them.
But what I’ve noticed the most is that God has been working in me. Please understand, I’m not trying to sound prideful in this or anything. I’ve noticed how I’ve been viewing things differently than before. My outlook or perspective on things have changed. There’s also an enormous warning in it for me that God seems to be throwing in my face over and over again the past few days. And that’s what I’m going to talk about.
1 Timothy 4 also mentions throwing yourself into the doctrine and teaching, the pursuit of godliness that we are to have. Paul was telling Timothy to give it his all in his pursuit of godliness, his teaching, his identifying the difference between lies and the Truth. He was to take pains in it. Of course all this was to begin with nourishing himself with words of faith and sound doctrine.
Nourishing yourself requires one to go to where the water and food is. Sounds simple enough, and yet for some reason, we don’t do it often enough.
Taking pains and being absorbed in exercising the gift God has given me sounds difficult. But taking pains to do it is going to be difficult, so what else should I expect?
The truth is, I know where to find the nourishment. I’ve been going to the watering hole. I’ve gone to Christ’s buffet of spiritual food. I’ve been exercising and working on growing the gift God has given me. It’s the passage at the end that sticks out.
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16 NASB)
Huge warning! If I don’t pay close attention, I might jeopardize instead ensure. But God has shown us what’s expected of us.
In ministry there’s always a danger of pride creeping in and taking over. We like to build a tower or monument to ourselves in order to show other churches how it’s done. We do the things we know we should and stop paying close attention. We get overly excited and let important things fall off our plate. Thus we begin building the tower. Thus the danger. That’s when God begins to act toward us a little differently.
Another passage that God laid on my heart in preparation is Genesis 11 and the account of the Tower of Babel. The people were consumed with themselves to the point of making a name for themselves by literally building a tower to a heaven they thought they could reach on their own. They even left the command of God to fill the earth and stayed in one place. God came down and brought confusion. God scattered them. And they couldn’t understand each other. Their language was changed.
Church! How good we’ve become at building our own tower! How good we’ve become at ignoring the commission of God to make disciples and go to the ends of the earth with the gospel message!
This wasn’t the only time God scattered people in order to fulfill His command. He scattered the church as well! He brought persecution on them. God forbid that it happens to us! But if we are guilty of ignoring His message, why would we expect anything different? We’ve grown comfortable. We’ve got nice towers and monuments that we thing reaches to heaven. What we don’t realize is that we’re falling into the trap of the devil himself.
When we attempt to make a name for ourselves instead glorify the Name above all names, God comes and brings confusion. Isn’t it His Name we are to be praising? Isn’t it His Name we are to seek? Isn’t it His Kingdom we are to be building? Is God going to change our language too?
It takes a humbled heart to change. It takes stopping the building of the tower. Stop building it before God comes and confuses things! If we’re not speaking His language, He’ll show our language to be exactly what it is: foreign.
This is what I’m reminded of. This is the warning that God is giving me. In the midst of all the good things to take note, to pay attention to myself and my teaching in order to ensure salvation to the hearers. Not hinder. To persevere rather than get comfortable. To be challenged rather than complacent. To build His kingdom, not mine. To speak in His language.
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