“Pursue Godliness and Faith”
September 29th, 1 Timothy 6: 6-19
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
“Let us now hear the words from the First letter of Timothy, chapter six, verses six thru nineteen.”
1 Timothy 6:6-19
6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; 7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; 8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.
9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will bring about at the right time – he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.
17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, 19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
“Having heard the words from our scripture, may we now pursue living into their meaning.”
“Pursue Godliness and Faith”
I have someone I consider my Spiritual Advisor, whom I meet with every week. He does not have a master’s in divinity as I do. He has no formal religious training like mine. Yet, he has a relationship with the Creator, our God, my God, his God. He has been in the presence of God and has experienced miracles in his life and seen many, as have I. With my gratitude, he is my Spiritual Advisor, as we all need someone to confide in and someone who is willing to point us in the right direction when we are off the ‘beam’! This past week we were working from a reading that discussed the importance of trusting God, the Spirit of the Living God, in ‘ALL’ of our affairs. He stopped me after I had read that phrase. He looked up at me and said: “You do know Tim, that God, has very good manners. He will not come into your house, your home or your life, unless he is invited.” I am the one with the degree, yet, he was the one with the Spiritual connection that day whom came up with this simple, yet very probing and God ‘in the here and now’ thought! I was forced to reflect on how often I did not invite God to be with me, to come into my life at different moments and events in my life. Yes, we all need someone to reflect with about where we are in our relationship with God.
It is so, so very easy to get caught up in the activities and things in our day to day lives. My wife needed, well she wanted, a new computer. So, I bought her the very best one that I could afford to buy her and then spent the next week to ten days setting it up for her, transferring files and putting in the needed software so she could enjoy it. Sounds easy, right? Well. It wasn’t. Because of the extra activity, I skipped a few of my daily times of reflection and meditation. Those times when I actively seek out Gods presence in my life. For me, quiet meditation is as important as taking time to pray privately to God. Prayer is when I talk to God, meditation is when I listen. But, of course, you all know that. Have you ever gotten caught up in something that became all consuming and you forgot to do one of your daily routines? It sure is easy to do.
Our scripture lesson, this morning, in the letter to Timothy, from the apostle Paul, was a letter of encouragement as well as a letter of instruction, much like my own Spiritual Advisor was directing me with constructive feedback. Many scholars would say: “Paul wrote to Timothy to encourage him in his responsibility for overseeing the work of the Ephesian church and possibly the other churches in the province of Asia.” /’God Questions’ via Google search/ Paul was reminding Timothy and us, that it is important to live in God’s ways and not get caught up the material world which revolves around us and oftentimes overruns us or overwhelms us along our life journey’s.
Following along in this line of thinking, sometimes we can even feel lost, just like the prodigal son, or the metaphoric lost sheep, which Jesus told the parables of. Indeed, we are all capable of getting lost, even if it is just for a moment. I read a thought from a Salvation Army writing on the internet the other day. It was right on target to this thought process for us living in the Twenty-First Century A.D. “In a world of over seven billion people, it’s easy to feel small – to feel as if our day-to-day lives aren’t worth much. Yet God has a purpose and a plan for every-one of us. We all have unique gifts and talents. /The Salvation Army, adapted/ None of us want to feel small and consequently lost.
Looking more closely at our reading we hear Paul offering encouragement and hope to Timothy in his letter, much like the prophet Jeremiah offered to the remnant of the exiled Jews of old: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” /Jeremiah 29:11/ We all need someone giving us encouragement and offering new hope, especially, when things have us bogged down in the busyness of life. Especially, when life is luring and drawing us away from God. Of course, Paul, being whom he was, could not help himself as he preached to Timothy the age-old belief that the material world, the world of wealth and power could pull a righteous and spiritual man away from the presence of the Living God. So, he says to Timothy: “But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.” /1 Timothy 6:11/ Good advice for all of us whom seek to be current in our relationship with God, and with the realm of the Spiritual world of the Divine.
There is hope. That is the underlying message contained in today’s scripture writing. I was exchanging phone messages and even a text message with Toni Larson, whom had hip surgery this past Monday. (A successful surgery by the way.) Her messages were telling me how much she misses being in church and making sure I knew where she was and where she thought she would be in a few days. My messages back to her where uplifting and supportive, telling her we were praying for her speedy recovery. Her last text had a sparkle to it; she seemed uplifted by my simple follow-up message. When we reach out to anyone, especially someone going through a health issue, we have the opportunity to offer hope, as we remind them that we care and in our invoking God’s presence, and by sincerely telling them – they are in our prayers, our conversations with God. We all have opportunities to offer hope to others.
The Apostle Paul is clearly encouraging his audience to cling, to cleave and hang onto to God’s love. Paul wrote many letters and he has often used this tone, this uplifting methodology in his letters to encourage others to stay connected to the love of God. In his letter to the church in Rome he wrote these words. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” /Romans 8:28/ In the present time, we know that millions of Christians study and read his letters over, and over again. Pastors, preachers and theologians strive to expand and interpret his intent and enhance our understandings of his teachings. We do this because Paul was the first to carry the message of Christ, to so many, as he helped to start a few of the first early Christian churches, based on the teachings and the life of Jesus. God knows, churches are still struggling with how best to carry the message of Christ and how to carry his ministry forward!
There is a man, a fellow, whom came to visit me a week ago Wednesday. He was hoping I had restarted my Bible Study on Wednesdays. We chatted for a bit and ended up telling him when I expect to restart it. He is a very religious man. He quotes more scripture then I can in a single thought. He clearly makes every effort to keep God in his current and all too real daily life. A bicycle is his only form of transportation. He has never once complained to me or asked me for anything. Yet, he traveled a mile or maybe two just to see if our Bible study class had restarted! What an example, what an example on how far this man is willing to go – to keep the love of God in all things!
We Christians are called to follow Christ. We seekers of the Spirit of the Divine are encouraged to study the teachings of the man Jesus and to listen to the early leaders of the Christian movement, folks whom took the life, death and the New Life of Christ seriously. We are not all on the same place in our journeys of faith, yet we gather together regularly to pursue our faith. Whether we realize it or not – we are all chasing, following in the shadow of others whom came before us to find and experience a sense of Godliness; and ultimately to hold onto it! The sacredness, the goodness we seek from the study of scripture and the pursuit of God through regular worship and praise is enhanced by our faith, our faithfulness to pursue the Holy.
Paul, in his words to Timothy, instructs him and others, including us, how to follow in Jesus’ pathways, his teachings and ultimately to pursue his teachings, his ministry. “As for those who in the present age… to (NOT) set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” /1 Timothy 6:17/ Paul goes on to clearly instruct us ‘ALL’ on what we ought to do instead! “(WE) are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share,” /1 Timothy 6:18/ There is a profound shift in Paul’s instruction to Timothy! Paul is urging him to move beyond being instructed by the teachings of Jesus to the active response of a good student – carry the teaching and the instructions, including the full story of Jesus to others. When Timothy, when we do this, we are becoming the instructor, the teacher, the caregiver.
In the Old Testament there is the accounting of a Jewish woman named Esther. As she approaches a crossroads of her journey, she is called by one whom could perhaps be considered her Spiritual Advisor; a man named Mordecai. He like the man who challenges me on my relationship with my Creator, he is challenging queen Esther to put her very life on the line for the needs of her own people. He charges her with this proclamation: “Perhaps you were born for such a time as this.” /Esther 4:14/
As we, you and I, look to the challenges of our ministry here locally, we need to consult with those we trust in spiritual matters to guide us forward! We must, if we too, desire to pursue the sacred, then we need to be faithful to our calling. We are charged to become the doers of our faith; our time as students needs to now bear fruit… fruit which shall last and seed the fertile ground around us, spreading the fullness of God’s love for all!