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Guarding God’s Investment

April 12th, 2017

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:20-21 NIV)

“Stewards of the mysteries of God” is how Paul described himself and his companions, among which Timothy was one, and “it is required among stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:1-2 NKJV). The steward must give an account of himself before his master, and we must each stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), to give an account of our lives.

The steward must first guard what God has invested in his life. He must guard the knowledge that he has been taught, the experiences that he has shared in, and the knowledge of what it means t walk in intimacy with Christ. These are precious investments that should be guarded and kept.

Paul was concerned, and who would not be, that in a busy and conflicting world, with so many messages floating through the space, that the basic Christian message may be lost by Timothy. Or it may be polluted, or relegated to a position of non-importance.

The “godless chatter” and the “opposing ideas” had to do with the Gnostic heresy of the first century, but each age has its own challenges along these lines. The message can be lost simply because other less important things push it from off of the front page of the church’s life.

The best way anyone may keep the Christian message is to let it become personal to him, to believe it, to treasure it, and to obey it. We must hide it in our hearts through faith, devotion, and meditation.

The second concern of a steward is to speak the message, to share it, to proclaim it, and teach it in practical ways. We guard it not by locking it up in some out of the reach place, but by placing it in the hearts of others. There is where the treasure of the gospel is held best - among the minds and consciences of God’s believing people.

The world competes with this in our hearts, and we often pray like Augustine - “Make me holy, Lord, but not yet.” We must treasure the gospel not as a single entity, but as the message of life that leads to knowledge of the Savior, to intimacy with Him.

C.S. Lewis in his book The Great Divorce told the story of a man standing before the gates of heaven with a lizard on his lapel, symbolically representing our toys and earthly things that fascinate us. The lizard was denied entrance but it pleaded with the man not to leave him. The man was in conflict, unsure what to do, because he loved this lizard very much. Finally he stripped it from his lapel and through it on the ground, and stamped out its life. But then, once it was dad and denied, the lizard turned into a strong and and beautiful horse, and the man mounted him and entered the city gloriously.

To hold to the Savior, to hold to the gospel, is more rewarding than everything and anything the world offers.

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The Soon Coming King

April 11th, 2017

… until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:14-17 ESV)

In giving his divinely-inspired charge to Timothy, Paul added this thought. He said that Timothy was to “keep this commandment,” or he was to fulfill his calling “until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The “appearing” is epiphanea in the New Testament Greek, and was an important word in the New Testament for the coming of the Lord and the end of the age. (See 2 Tim. 4:1 and Titus 2:13.)

We often say these words with a sigh, “until He comes,” aware more of the delay in His coming than the promise of it. But it is given here in an entirely different manner, in a completely different spirit. Here there is faith, hope, and enthusiasm for the coming King.

There is one view of life that sees old age dismally. We start out strong and then grow weaker through the years, losing friends, strength, mental abilities, and optimism. We die as a relief, exhausted by our long and tiresome journey through life. Even some Christians fall into this view, even though there is little Christian about this outlook on life.

The other view is that for the Christian there is always a brighter day coming. We grow old and despite whatever indignities are associated with age, despite the losing of friends, strength, etc., we can say with the apostle Paul, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16 ESV).

The hope of the pastor and of each Christian, is not that we will be recognized and rewarded on earth for our contributions to the work of God, but that we will be affirmed in heaven by Christ Himself, who says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

And in order for that to happen, He must return. Truthfully, we are more excited about His return than about our own reward. He will come at the right time, and all of history is moving and working toward this goal. He is the One worthy of praise:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (Revelation 5:11-12 ESV)

We do not serve for just the sake of resting. We do not serve in order to be forgotten. We do not serve a cause or a calling that is passing away. We serve and worship the coming King, who is and will be victorious. This is the hope that we are to keep before us at all time.

Art is made, whether in paintings, music, or literature, by contrasting light and darkness. Dark and subdued colors fade into the background and bright and vivacious colors leap off the canvas. The darkness of this age, the subduing of man’s spiritual nature and of God’s standard of holiness, the darkening of hearts across this world, has caused a shadow to pass over our age. But the light is not some “new” human idea, or some “new” charismatic leader. Those are just more of the subdued colors of darkness.

The hope is the coming King who is the Light of the World and the hope of eternity. He is the new bright “color” of the future. From the moment we trusted in Christ we began living for eternity. Each day is closer to His return. Each day is closer to this great event. This is what we look forward to. He is who we look forward to.

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