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KNOW YOUR PURPOSE

TITUS 1:1

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness,”

Several years ago, Pastor Rick Warren wrote a book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life.” It was a number one best seller and launched him on to talk shows all over the United States. Why? Because people want to know their purpose in life. They want to know why they are here. They want to know what they should be doing.

Paul knew! He was a bond-servant of God (a slave of his own choosing). He was an apostle of Jesus Christ (one sent with a message). He purpose was to grow the faith of those chosen by God (reach and teach them). And he was to preach the truth.

Paul knew his purpose and makes sure Titus knows this in his first words of the letter to him.

APPLICATION

Man, oh man! If we can help our children discover their purpose early in life what a difference that would make. I am not saying they should know their career path at five. I am talking about knowing who they are and why they are here. That can only be taught through God’s Word through His worldview. When your child comes to Christ, He will reveal through His Holy Spirit what they are to do with their life to glorify Him. What they do for a living isn’t important.

But so many of we parents are so focused on our children becoming doctors or lawyers (nothing wrong with that, just examples). Instead we need to focus on bringing them up with a vision for God. That can only be taught if we have it. Do you?

What exactly is your worldview? Do you see everything through God colored glasses? As believers, we should see ourselves, our family and others as God sees us. We were all created in His image with one purpose – to glorify Him. We exist to give Him glory. Those whose follow His calling on their lives (and He calls us all but only a few answer) will discover their purpose. Have you?

Father, I am so thankful my purpose is clear. I will glorify You today. I will give glory to You for all You do in and through me.

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OUT OF LINE

2 TIMOTHY 2:18

“men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”

Have you ever known someone who was just out of line? I mean, someone who deliberately said something or did something that everyone could see was not right. Maybe you have done that. Well, the phrase “have gone astray” in today’s verse carries that meaning. It is only used three times in Scripture (here, 1 Timothy 1:6; 6:21), each time by Paul writing to Timothy.

Now, listen to this definition. It means to be out of step with God, to be off target. But it’s more than that. The word has the understanding that this person has purposely walked off the line with God. They didn’t get pushed off. In fact, this word also emphasizes God’s disapproval due to their walking off.

APPLICATION

Raising children isn’t for the weak of heart. Can I get an “Amen”? I’ve said it many times, “We are not raising children. We are raising child raisers.” And there is nothing more important than to teach our children to walk with God. So, when a parent comes to me, heartbroken, because their son or daughter have decided to walk away from the faith, I can feel their pain.

Walking is simple. It’s just putting one foot in front of another. Walking with God can be just as simple – if – we let Him do all the walking. All we have to do is hold His hand. Better yet, all we have to do is place our hand in His. He will hold onto us.

Have you deliberately walked off? Are you walking hand in hand? Take a moment and make sure that every step you take is in sync with the Lord. Don’t take one step without knowing your walk is His walk. His direction will always be right.

I can’t begin to know where You are leading me, Lord. So, I will stay on the path You have laid out before me. Lead me, Lord.

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ONE STEP HIGHER

1 TIMOTHY 3:13

“For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.”

We find another one-time used word in today’s verse. The Greek word “standing” is only used right here in the Bible.  It literally means a step on the staircase, going one step higher. Figuratively, it implies someone who has made a higher rank or higher position. That may imply something that Paul never intended.

If you look at this verse in context of all the qualifications for a deacon, you will get an idea of Paul’s meaning here. Deacons who serve well will be given more important roles to serve the body. By serving well they have shown they are trustworthy and are ready to do even more. It may also imply they are worthy of being considered as elders, a higher “office” in the church.

APPLICATION

“Okay, Carl, tell me how to teach this verse to my children.” Glad you asked. Children need to earn the right to be trusted with some things. We don’t just give a five-year-old a laptop and set them free. We don’t give a thirteen-year-old the privilege of a cellphone unless we know we can trust them to use it wisely.

Some things are gained by being obedient in the small things. Jesus even taught that. By growing in our faith and experiencing trials, we learn how to help others going through similar times. Our children need to be taught that their small steps of faith now will prepare them for those “leaps of faith” that are coming. And by being proven trustworthy now, they can be given greater responsibilities in the future.

Do you clamor for more? Do you want to be recognized for your achievements? Then do it all for Jesus. By surrendering your will to His, the Lord may just bless you with opportunities. Remember what Joshua 1:8 says. “‘“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.’”

All I want is to please You, Lord. If that means I serve lower than the rest, that’s fine. If it means I am entrusted with greater responsibilities, so be it. My joy comes from serving You.

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CLEAR CONSCIENCE

1 TIMOTHY 3:9

but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.”

Do you have a clear conscience? What does that really even mean? Well, let’s break it down. “Clear” here means “spiritually cleanbecause you are purified by God. You are free from the contaminating (soiling) influences of sin.” So, have you been purified by God?

“Conscience” is that connection between spiritual and moral. Strong’s Concordance says this, “Accordingly, all people have this God-given capacity to know right from wrong because each is a free moral agent.” A deacon has been cleansed by God from sin and walks with Him in such a way that he knows right from wrong.

APPLICATION

If you can’t see how to apply this verse to your kids, you might need to go back to parenting school, lol. Isn’t this exactly what we spend 90% of our time doing? We are constantly teaching our children right from wrong. We teach them to walk with our Lord and be purified from sin.

You see, that is the problem. WE are trying to teach them. Do you want to know why it is so hard to do that? It’s because it’s not our job.  Our job is to point them to the cross and let the Lord do the conviction. WE can’t teach them every right from wrong. Only the Spirit of God can show them that. We must continue to point out the right way and trust the Lord to direct their hearts as it is yielded to Him.

So, let me ask you again. Do you have a clear conscience? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to have complete and total control of your thought life? How about your finances? How about your choice of careers? As you give it ALL to HIM, HE can purge you and cleanse you from the influence of sin. Only then will you have the clear conscience Paul speaks of here.

Cleanse my mind right now, Lord. Open my eyes to see everything Your way. I ask You to reveal the evil all around me that is just waiting to trip me up.

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DON’T RUSH IT

1 TIMOTHY 3:6

and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.”

You see it all the time. People get gloriously saved and jump right into some kind of volunteer role at church either teaching or leading some committee. Then something happens and they fall away from the church. There’s a reason Paul warns about this. People need time to grow and be discipled before being thrown into the lion’s den of church service.

Don’t hear me incorrectly. God can use anyone He desires at any time He desires. It is the rare individual, though, who can come to Christ and immediately move into a leadership role. They need time to learn and be tested. We, the body of Christ, need to protect them during this time, so they won’t fall away.

APPLICATION

Explain this verse this way to your kids. Ask them if they think someone who makes the soccer team for the very first time should be the captain of the team and start every game. If they have any knowledge about sports, they will answer, “No.” Ask them why. They will probably say things like, “They haven’t been on the team long enough” or “They don’t know all the other players well enough” or “They need to learn more about soccer first.” 

Kids get it. They see the value in learning before doing. They may know someone who has exceptional soccer skills who made the team and started right away. Like I said earlier, there are those rare individuals. But we normally don’t see that. People grow and develop before taking the starting position or serving as captain.

With all that said, are you growing and developing as a believer so you can serve? Are you being mentored or discipled by anyone to help you mature in your walk with Christ? That’s God’s plan. You start out on milk but advance to solid food. God wants to use you to lead others. Will you let Him?

Father God, I only want to do what You choose to do in and through me. Show me where I need to grow so I can be a more mature follower of Christ and lead others in their walk.

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HIGH BAR

1 TIMOTHY 3:2

“An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,” 

I am sure you have heard the expression “set a high bar.” It comes from the sporting event of the high bar in which the athlete competes by running and jumping over a parallel bar until he/she cannot jump over it without knocking it off the rack. It is supposed to be challenging.

The office of overseer (Elder) has a high bar. Not everyone can rise to this level. Not everyone is supposed to. It is not for the faint of heart. It is challenging. But just like the athlete who clears the bar to set his personal best record, the man who God leads to be an Elder will be overjoyed at the privilege. Pray for your church leaders (Elders and deacons).

APPLICATION

Parents, sometimes we set the bar too low for our children. We let little Johnny or Susie get away with stuff because they are just so darn cute, right? Sometimes we step in and “rescue” them from failure because we don’t want them to feel bad. Don’t do that. Keep the bar high. Make it reachable but challenging. When we don’t push our children to achieve, we are hampering their growth.

How hard should you push them? Ask the Lord. He will tell you. Their goals should be reachable but high. Setting low standards does nothing to encourage growth in our children. High goals can encourage our children to step out on faith, trusting their Lord to guide and provide.

Are you the “play it safe” kind of person? Or are you willing to reach for the stars? Ask the Lord what you should do. He wants us to be the best at what He asks us to do. He wants us to excel and lead others to excel. Will you do that today? Set your goals so that you have to push yourself. You will feel that same rush the jumper does when they clear that bar.

I will trust You, Lord, to lift me to higher standards in my walk with You. I want others to raise their bar also, so help me lead the way. Then, O God, I will give You the praise.

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THAT’S A STRETCH

1 TIMOTHY 3:1

“It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do.” 

Have you ever tried to reach something that was just out of your reach? You wish you had Gumby arms. You lean and lean and reposition, but you just can’t grab it. Well, the Greek word here for “aspire” carries that meaning.  It means “to stretch oneself out in order to touch or grasp something.”

What is really interesting, though, about this word is it is always in the middle voice (hope I didn’t just lose you). That means you have to choose to do it. No one is going to do it for you, nor will it be done to you. In this verse it means only the person mentioned can attempt to grasp the office of overseer. They have to choose to follow the Lord’s leading in that area.

APPLICATION

This will be a fun verse to act out with your children. Get one of their toys and place it just out of their reach. Make sure they can’t do anything to grab it. And then ask them to try to get it. After a few seconds of frustration, have them close their eyes. While their eyes are closed, move it just close enough that you know they can get to it. Then ask them to try again. When they reach out this time, they will be able to grab that toy.

Now, explain to them what you did. You desired for them to get their toy, so you adjusted the distance just enough to allow them to get to it. God is that way with some things in our lives. He places them just out of our reach so we have to stretch ourselves to obtain them. If God spoon fed us everything, we could not grow. By stretching ourselves, we learn to trust Him further. He will not force us to stretch, though. That’s our choice.

What will you do? “Sorry God, I can’t reach that. Could you get that for me?” Nope, that won’t do. If you will reach out and attempt to grab those things He has for you, God will move in to make sure you get them. Aspiring to serve in a leadership role isn’t for everyone but aspiring to serve is. Will you stretch yourself today?

I will reach out for the unreachable today. I will stretch myself because I know You want me to do that, Lord. Help me grasp what You have for me.

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COMMANDED

1 TIMOTHY 1:1

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior, and of Christ Jesus, who is our hope,”

This is not an usual opening for one of Paul’s letters. In fact, in most of his letters he begins by saying he is a bondservant of the Lord or is an apostle by the will of God. In the next letter to Timothy he goes back to “the will of God.” So, why is he using these words? Why did the Spirit of God inspire him to open this first letter to Timothy this way?

I truly believe he wanted Timothy to know that, as he begins this letter to him, he is writing as a commanded apostle of God with definitive orders to not only share the gospel but to also mentor him. Paul had invested years in grooming Timothy to lead. That mentorship was not over. Paul still had much to teach him, and it all was coming from the Lord.

APPLICATION

It is so important that your children know that you are commanded by the Lord to raise them to honor and serve Him. All your efforts to instill Christian values and principles are direct instructions from Him. You are simply following orders, well, not simply. It is really demanding, isn’t it? But don’t stop. Keep following orders.

And the payoff will come later. As you watch your children make the good choices, you will give praise to God. As you see your children make life choices that honor Him, you will leap for joy. Follow His commands and lay the groundwork for your children. Show them what it looks like to be an obedient follower of Jesus.

Are you struggling with obeying God’s commands for your life? Why don’t you stop struggling and simply obey? It is much easier to be obedient, I promise. Be a Paul. Be an obedient “apostle” of the Lord. He will never lead you astray and will always have your back.

Lord, You are my Commander! You are the one I follow. Lead me wherever You desire.

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BUT I’M HUNGRY


2 THESSALONIANS 3:10

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” 

Have you ever been hungry? I mean, really hungry? I can’t say I have ever been starved for food. I have had an occasional hunger pain, but I have never known real hunger. I believe, though, that if I did, I would do anything I could to get some food. Not the people in this verse. They wanted to be “taken care of.” Paul did not like that and let them know it.

I am not telling you that you shouldn’t help someone in need. But it is clear from this verse that you shouldn’t enable someone who could work but had rather beg. You probably see it all the time. It seems less and less people really want to work. They want someone else to work and then ask them for help. Don’t help them be dependent. Do all you can to assist them in finding a way to provide for themselves.

APPLICATION

This is an easy one for parents. Don’t give your child everything they want. Let them earn it. I don’t believe in allowance for children, unless they are earning that money by helping with the household chores. As part of the family, they have an obligation to help. 

Now, you can’t withhold food. That would be child abuse. But you can withhold other things they desire. Remember, you are not raising children. You are raising child raisers. You are giving them instructions that will be passed down to your grandchildren. You are influencing the coming generations in the way you teach your children now.

Do you have a strong work ethic? Boy, my dad sure taught me to work. There was no choice. I got a job as soon as I could. I bought my first car with money I earned mowing grass. I am thankful my parents taught me that lesson. Are you teaching that? If not, start now.

Father, I know that everything I have is because of You, not my sweat. But I am thankful that You have given me the strength to work and earn. Help me pass on that privilege to others.

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NOT FIRST


1 THESSALONIANS 4:15

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 

Come on now, be honest. Don’t you like to be first in line? We want that from our childhood. When children line up to go to lunch or recess at school, many of them want to be the first in line. Most teachers avoid this fight and assign daily line leaders. We don’t want to be bring up the rear. We want to be first.

But Paul tells us that if we are alive when Christ returns, we will NOT be the first to go. All those saints who have died before His return will precede us. They will burst forth from their graves, or wherever their bodies were laid, a precede us in the air to meet our Lord and Savior. But don’t worry. It will happen so fast you won’t even realize it.

APPLICATION

The next time your little Johnny or Susie fight to be first, read them this verse. First isn’t always better. Show them in this verse that if we are alive when Christ returns, WE will get to see that. Wouldn’t that be grand? Get your child to draw a picture of what they think that might look like. That’s worth being second, isn’t it?

Also, by giving up that fight to be first all the time, we have the opportunity to serve others and lead them to Christ. All those who have gone before us don’t have that opportunity anymore. But while we wait on Jesus to return, we can talk to others about Him and perhaps they can join us on that day.

What are you waiting for? Are you pushing to be first all the time? Don’t! Step back and let others go ahead of you. That can even work in traffic (God forbid, lol). Yield to Jesus. Let Him always be first.

I fight this battle every day, Lord. I want to be first in all my endeavors. Let me learn the humility of being in back of the line so I can serve others.

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