Thursday, September 10, 2009

Impossible Jobs—Part 2

1 Timothy 6:1-10

I. The Rewards Are Worth the Effort

A. Christian contentment is actually incredibly valuable. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

1. Physical exercise brings immediate and valuable benefits but they are not long term like spiritual benefits. “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

2. A Christian ought to let God decide what is best rather than attempt to out provide Heaven. “For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84:11)

3. Jesus promised that those who look to God will get what they need from Him. “(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:32-33)

B. Learn to measure realistically. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. (Psalm 37:16)

C. The treasures of this world are temporary. “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (1 Timothy 6:7)

D. Job understood life and blessed God. “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:21)

II. Only Faithfulness Is Essential

A. All believers really need from the world is enough resources to be faithful to God. “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1 Timothy 6:8)

B. Remember how God provided for Israel in the Wilderness. “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.” (Deuteronomy 8:3-4)

C. Pretty trinkets snare people just as lures catch fish; the trinkets are dangerous but not essential. Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)

III. Do Not Clutch at Clouds

A. One wrong path leads to many more wrong paths; bad choices cultivate bad choices. “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” (1 Timothy 6:9)

B. Lot chose what he could not keep while Abraham kept searching for the eternal city. “And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.” (Genesis 13:10-13)

C. When self-interest becomes more important than faithfulness to God, only bad things follow. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

Hard Times

Jeremiah 1:1-10; Mark 13:1-13 / 1 John 4:1-6

I. The Establishment Seems Entrenched

A. As Jesus was leaving the Temple, never to return, the disciples commented on how impressive the Temple appeared. “And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! (Mark 13:1)

B. Jesus erased the illusion of stability and power; the entire establishment would be swept away. “And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Mark 13:2) “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.” (1 Samuel 4:21)

C. The apostles wanted the rest of the story. “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:3-4)

II. Avoid Being Distracted

A. Difficult times provide charlatans opportunities to deceive people. “And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:” (Mark 13:5)

B. The claim to be Christian or to come from Christ is no guarantee that someone does; deceivers frequently make the claim. “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Mark 13:6)

C. Cataclysmic tragedy will come, but disaster is no guarantee that the end has come. “And when ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet.” (Mark 13:7)

D. Disaster introduces yet more suffering, but it does not determine the end of time; labor pains indicate that birth approaches, but they do not indicate how long the delivery will take. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.” (Mark 13:8)

E. Shaking and dislodging the rebellious entrenched powers of the world prepares for the end of the age of sin but disaster for the world system does not mean God is ignoring the welfare of the redeemed. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

III. Individual Believers Must Endure Faithfully

A. Just as the world’s smiles ought not to attract believers, the world’s frowns ought not to discourage believers. “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.” (Mark 13:9) “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

B. World-wide success of the gospel is a better sign that the end is approaching. “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.” (Mark 13:10)

C. Do not become overwhelmed by hard times; the Holy Spirit will guide believers in the difficult times. “But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” (Mark 13:11)

D. Some people will break under pressure and betray their closest relatives and friends; truth divides. “Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.” (Mark 13:12) “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:” (Luke 12:51)

E. People who hold up under pressure will endure and triumph. “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. (Mark 13:13)

F. As the old system crumbles, believers should take comfort that they will emerge from the chaos as the establishment of the eternal order. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10)

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