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Devotional - Biblical Instruction For Christian Leadership

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Jul 9, 2013.

  1. Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them. Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. Until I get there, focus on reading the Scriptures to the church, encouraging the believers, and teaching them. - 1Timothy 4: 11-13 (NLT)

    The letters to Timothy were written by the Apostle Paul to his protege. Timothy was called to preach and be a leader in the church. Popular tradition places Timothy as a Pastor/Preacher/Teacher at Ephesus. So where Paul's letters to the various churches he started deal more with general doctrinal matters and false teachings, the Timothy letters take on a more personal tone. Paul is instructing Timothy, since he knows that his own journey on earth would soon be coming to an end. The keys verses today come from the first letter Paul writes to Timothy and these three verses outline some specifics regarding the proper role for someone who is called into these roles. I say called because it has become too frequent in these end days to see everyone jump on the preaching bandwagon without seeming to care of there actually is a calling. The Bible has also warned us about this too:

    Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. - James 3: 1 (NLT)

    Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. - 2Timothy 2: 15 (NLT)

    Unfortunately sometimes it seems as if people skip that first instruction about working hard and never present themselves to God at all. They think if enough people show up each week that it must be favor from God. But the Lord does not measure success using carnal metrics. Preaching is not a popularity contest:

    Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. - Galatians 1: 10 (NLT)

    Beloved the true Gospel offends. It often cuts deep. The very concept of seeker friendly theology dismisses the true nature of the Gospel. It is already seeker friendly for those who are ready to trade their sinful selves in for the new creation they can become in Christ. For those who are not though - the Gospel cuts them right to their hardened hearts. I have seen my share of people who can intellectually put a preaching Word together but completely lacking in the anointing of the Holy Ghost. And I do not mean the cheapened definition of anointing that has been abused in the modern churches today. I mean that the Holy Spirit is who leads us into all truths and explains the deeper spiritual things of God to us - starting with the preacher! I cannot tell you how many times I started a devotional with my own carnal thinking in mind and by the time the Holy Spirit was done with it, even I had to be amazed at what He had imparted to me. THAT is how it is supposed to work.

    Back to the key verses we see the first instruction from Paul is to make sure that everyone learns what we need to teach. I may have passed this by except i think there is some relevance for today. I see churches today more inclined to get rid of sheep than close the pen door. I have heard pastors say to people they need to leave, during a sermon! While this may sound incredible it is actually what today's church leaders are being taught. The Purpose Driven Church is the model for the vast majority of churches in this country today. This model actually espouses and teaches how to deal with those who might disagree or dissent. Not disagree or dissent with the Gospel but rather with the church model. This of course flies in the face of direct teaching from Jesus.

    “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? - Luke 15: 4 (NLT)

    Instead we see pastors sending out of the pen and into the wilderness those sheep that might simply have a difference of opinion. The first lesson here for would be Christian leaders is that everyone counts and the Bible should be the unifying principle.

    The second lesson we see is that we should not allow anyone to marginalize us for non-doctrinal matters. In the case of Timothy, Paul was concerned that because he was young he would face opposition. Today we see all sorts of opposition to sound preaching and people will use any excuse possible to prop up heresy as sound doctrine and avoid Biblical truth. David Wilkerson once said that the first thing said by false prophets to their opposition is to cry legalism! Once again, the Bible has warned us about this:

    For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. - 2Timothy 4: 3-4 (NLT)

    There is no question that a great swath of the modern church is merely following their own desires at the expense of sound doctrine. People look for such false teachings because it is what they want to hear. I understand the great draw of something like grace alone teaching. Who wouldn't want to hear that we no longer have to worry about sin? Who wouldn't want to hear that this is the year I will be supernaturally blessed by God? Who wouldn't want to hear that this is our best life now? If it is in disagreement with the Gospel then we should not want to hear it beloved. We should not.

    Continuing in the key verses we see that as leaders we are supposed to be an example for those that would follow. Paul gets very specific for us however. First of all Paul instructs us to be examples to all believers in what we say. As a teacher/preacher, people are there foremost to hear what it is that we have to say. Bringing the Word of God should be considered an awesome responsibility; not a job. What we say may very well be someone's only chance or their last chance, to accept Jesus Christ and be saved. My pastor once taught me that every message should be able to come back to the cross of Jesus Christ or it is not worth preaching. How true. But what do we see today instead? We see self-help sermons. We see motivational sermons. We see sermons designed to help our marriages or self-esteem. Beloved, you can be a motivated, self-helped, person with a great marriage and boosted self esteem and none of it will matter without salvation. People do not need to come to church to hear from me. They need to hear from God.

    We are supposed to be an example to believers in how we live. You want to know why there is so much sin in the camp? Look to who is running it. How many pastors and leaders fall from grace every day in Christianity? And this is not to be overly critical of them per se. We are all human but we are held to a higher standard. You cannot stand in the pulpit preaching holiness while carrying on an affair! The Bible says that what we do in the dark He will bring to the light. While we are on the subject; there needs to be a vigilance against hypocrisy. You cannot tell people to leave the sheep fold and then preach on the 99 and the 1. Our lives must match our words beloved. The words your leaders speak need to match their lives! Preaching the Word of God carries His moral authority but if it has not first affected the preacher as such, why in the world would the people feel compelled to follow it?

    We are supposed to find our example of the love of Christ in the leaders we follow. When the church becomes a business it always runs the risk of losing the love that is supposed to guide it. The Bible says that the world will know us by our love for one another. Have you ever walked into a loveless church? You can usually sense it right away. No one seems to want to talk to you or be friendly. Have you ever had a preacher expound on the love of Christ but you know they do not lead their lives or even run their church by that same guiding love they preached? Our love cannot be shallow. It cannot be based upon agreement but rather on Christ. Love based upon deeds not just words. When Christ looked upon the multitudes He had compassion for them. People are not attendance statistics or future tithers. They are people and usually they are hurting in form or another. As much as they need the Gospel - they need it delivered with love.

    Next, we see Paul instruct Timothy that we must be an example to all believers in the display of our faith. That may sound easy enough but how many carnal leaders do we have running churches today? Leaders who do not understand the true nature of spiritual warfare and therefore rarely preach it. Leaders who are quick to turn to the solutions of this world instead of standing on faith. The truth is that faith is always easier taught than caught. It is always easier to teach the principles of faith than to have to actually live them. But nothing teaches faith better than a life lived by faith.

    The final area Paul instructs Timothy on to lead by example is purity. The dictionary defines purity as being free from anything that contaminates or pollutes. It is a topic rarely discussed or preached about anymore because it relates directly to holiness.

    So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.” - 1Peter 1: 13-16 (NLT)

    No one is perfect beloved but it seems we sometimes use that as an excuse to not even try. This letter written by Peter was written to various churches so it is addressed to believers in general. How much more important is it for the Body of Christ to see the principles of holiness and purity from it's leaders? The modern church continues to infiltrate the world looking for relevance instead of bringing the pure Gospel. We should not be relevant to a culture that is sending people to hell. We cannot continue to mix Biblical principles with worldly logic and human reasoning. We must seek to purge the pollution from the Church and it must start with those who would take the lead.

    Having reviewed the personal responsibilities for would be Christian leaders and those who would seek to bring the Word of God; the key verses wrap up with Paul sharply focusing Timothy on what he should be concentrating on. Nothing about cultural relevance. Nothing about seeking as many people as possible. Nothing about giving them purpose, drawing circles in the sand, or any other wave of false doctrine. Just three things that if preachers/teachers/leaders would stick to, we would have far less problems than we currently do. The first is reading Scripture to the church. What a novel concept! I remember someone once asked me why I use so much Scripture when I preach. My answer is that there is nothing I can say that will break any yokes in your life. Only the Word of God has that power. My job is to bring that Word and connect the dots. Joel Osteen once said that he often goes the entire sermon without Scripture and then maybe brings it in at the end. How sad. I have watched other preachers who seemingly have no Scripture in their sermons or verses taken horribly out of context to support their false teaching. There is power in the Word of God! The Bible says that it never returns void! I remember once that I was going to give up writing because there was very minimal feedback. Looking back I can see the carnality in my logic. That very night however, a woman who had been left quadriplegic from a horrific motorcycle accident emailed me to say that the devotionals had restored her faith. She went home to be with the Lord the following week. God could not have been clearer. We do the writing, preaching, and teaching and He makes sure His Word does not return void. The first focus for anyone who wants to lead/teach/preach is Scripture, Scripture, Scripture.

    The second focus however is to be an encourager. This is not just an academic or doctrinal exercise. People are real and so are the mountains we face. Once you have established the truth through Scripture Paul reminds us of the human condition we all face. My pastor once taught me that if the people who hear you do not feel as though you care about them, they probably will not receive the message. Too many times we see a barbed wire Christ devoid of love. The Bible is not meant to be a blunt instrument to whack people over the head with. These truths are not easy. They go against the world we all live in. Christianity is often falsely sold to people as being easy and costing little. The Bible does not say that. We must be prepared to pick up our cross and follow Him. That message though can be delivered in an encouraging fashion.

    Once you have solidified the truth through Scripture and acknowledged our shared humanity through encouragement, the final instruction for today is that now we can begin to teach. The Bible says that the people perish because they lack knowledge of who God is. When Phillip first meets the Ethiopian Eunuch he asks him if he understands the Isaiah Scriptures he was reading.

    The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. - Acts 8: 31 (NLT)

    Teaching and preaching are a sacred responsibility beloved. Do not follow just anyone. The Bereans were considered of more noble character because they checked the veracity of everything Paul preached against Scripture. It has become in fashion to blindly accept whatever is spoken from a pulpit. This lazy brand of Christianity does not work. The result is a body filled with spiritual babies never advancing to feast on the meat of the Word of God. The responsibilities of leadership should be humbling and awe-inspiring. We need to remember that every sheep counts not just the ones that agree. We must never allow the minimization of the true Gospel for any earthly reason. God has given us a list here of the type of examples leadership in the church should be setting. If we ever focused correctly on purity, we wouldn't need to focus so often on revival. Strip away the leadership conferences, theories on church growth, and business marketing strategies and get back to reading the Scriptures to the body, encouraging all believers, and teaching them what God has so graciously imparted to us. Amen.

    Reverend Anthony Wade - July 9, 2013
  2. This verse special to me at my age many of the people of my church are twice my age and this verse helps me do what I am called to do with respect.

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