Scripture reading for September 28th: 1st Timothy 3
“Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task.” (1st Timothy 3:1) God calls men and women into pastoral and apostolic leadership. It is a high calling and those who open their hearts to respond, desire a noble task. Leading in Christ’s church is challenging and rewarding for those who apply themselves fully.
“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited, and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.” (1st Timothy 3:2-7)
As we look at the qualifications of an overseer, there is more about character than gifts or talents. The person must be above reproach and if married, husband of one wife. (or wife of one husband) They must manage their own household and finances well as a prerequisite for working with the family of God and finances of Christ’s Church. New converts are not yet proven in their character and humility and should not be placed in leadership. One ability mentioned is the ability to teach. Teaching sound doctrine is one of the great needs of the church.
“Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.” (1st Timothy 3:13) It is a noble task to serve Christ as overseer!
Scripture reading for April 5th: 1st Kings 9-11
“The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.” Proverbs 27:21
Fame and fortune bring lots of praise from the lips of men. These blessings can easily lead our hearts away from faith in the Lord. God warned the Israelites that when they entered the promised land and settled down and became prosperous, they would be tempted to forget God. (Deuteronomy 8:10-13) In a sense, prosperity and fame can be a more difficult test than sexual lust. Solomon found this to be true.
After Solomon finished dedicating the temple and achieving all he had desired to do, God appeared to him a second time. God promised that He would hear the prayers said at the temple and watch over it. God then warned Solomon against turning away from Him and going after other gods. (1st Kings 9:6-9) God understood the test that Solomon would face as his fame and fortune grew.
Solomon was soon headed down a wrong path. His heart was not obedient to the Lord. He left the Caanites in the land and put them in forced labor. Solomon married foreign women and took 700 wives and 300 concubines from among the nations. God had warned that their hearts would be led astray to idolatry. (1st Kings 11:1-6) Solomon’s heart was not fully committed to the Lord and he did evil in God’s sight! He built high places for these gods of his foreign wives and they offered sacrifices, further angering God.
God raised up adversaries against Israel. Hadad the Edomite and Rezon from Aram (Syria) were both hostile towards Israel. One of Solomon’s own officials, Jeroboam, son of Nebat, also rebelled against the king. Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but he fled to Egypt.
We all think that it would be wonderful to have what Solomon enjoyed, but we must be reminded of how our hearts are tested by this. The pride and power of prosperity can make one as drunk as wine! God is jealous (Exodus 34:14) and will not tolerate idolatry. Many mighty have fallen through pride and idolatry!
Pray today for someone who has fame or fortune, who is in a position of authority and influence. Pray for God’s grace to protect and keep that person from falling away and leading others astray.
Scripture reading for January 16: Genesis 41-44
The lottery is a big thing in our land. People play the lottery because they hope to become rich overnight! If their “lucky number” is drawn, they could become an instant millionaire! Of course, some do win but the statistical odds are not in your favor. Those who do win, find that “dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” (Proverbs 13:11) Those with a Christian worldview understand the lie behind the lottery. There is a something other than luck behind Joseph in today’s reading.
Joseph had been in prison for several years for a crime he did not commit. He had been faithful to God and avoided the seductive trap of Potiphar’s wife but it cost him time in jail. There he had become a key helper in the jail. He had interpreted the dreams of two other prisoners; the one who was freed had agreed to help him get out but promptly forgot! What “luck”! Two years later, Pharaoh had a disturbing dream that none of his advisers could interpret. The Pharaoh’s chief cup bearer, the prisoner who had vowed to help, remembered Joseph’s ability! Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and he interpreted the dream, giving God credit! (Genesis 41:16) Pharaoh promoted Joseph to second in command in all of Egypt! God rewards faithfulness and integrity.
The lessons from this passage help us to see that it isn’t winning a lottery that will make us rich and famous. Faithfulness to the Lord to serve Him and live for Him brings great reward. Sometimes it takes us on paths we didn’t sign up for, however. Joseph’s time in jail tested his faith and centered him even closer to God. Joseph was also a type of Jesus Christ. Keep on being faithful and He will exalt you in due time!
“So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took the signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.” Genesis 41:41-42
” and He sent a man before them–Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what He foretold came to pass, till the Word of the Lord proved him true.” Psalm 105:17-19
Scripture reading for October 18th: 1st Timothy 3:1-16
In this chapter, Paul tries to help Timothy with some guidelines for those who work at overseeing the church. He gives Timothy some qualifications for both overseers and deacons and their spouses. These are not meant to be laws, but help Timothy evaluate those seeking to become leaders in the church and to give instruction to the church of the standards that God values in His leaders. Behind all these values and qualifications is what Paul calls ‘the mystery of godliness.’
It’s a good thing to desire to be an overseer in Christ’s church! Overseers are what we might call the pastors, superintendents and bishops of today. “Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect.” We note that these qualifications involve character more than gifting or charisma. The ability to manage and minister in the home takes precedence over ministering in Christ’s church. If it doesn’t work at home, in will not fly in God’s household!
“He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the devil’s trap.” Time in service is also a qualification. It takes time to grow in grace and the character of Christ. Pride and conceit are primary weapons of the devil and each man is born the first time will pride as a stronghold. When Christ changes us, we need time to grow in relationship and to build a reputation outside the church as well as in as a consistent follower of Christ. Reputations are easy to lose!
These instructions were given to help people know how to conduct themselves properly. But a relationship with Christ is foundational to godly living. “Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” (1st Timothy 3:16) Faith in Christ brings godliness to all who believe as we humbly follow our Lord!