For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation

 

How many of you know that the world and it’s moral compass is proof that Jesus is coming soon! We’re seeing a lot of scripture truly come to life and we need to heed the warning. Let’s take a look at  1 Timothy chapter 4

This chapter starts off with the warning from the Holy Spirit that some will turn away from the faith of Jesus Christ. Falling away comes in many different forms. One can give up completely, turn their backs on God, and profess atheism. One can begin to believe lies that the world tells them, and begin making up their own Jesus. So they no longer worship the TRUE Jesus, but a made up version, a false version… which is idolatry at it’s sneakiest. Or, one can continue coming to church, continue preaching to the world the true Jesus… but live in complete contrast to Him. They hold the truths in their hands and not their hearts. They say all the right words, but act not a one of them. Their conscience is dead, what once convicted them, no longer applies… to THEM, others, sure, but not THEM.

This is Satan coming to kill, steal, and destroy! His goal is to Kill our salvation, steal our purpose, and destroy our witness. And in the end times, we can’t afford for this to happen!


Timothy was a pastor, but this chapter wasn’t included in the Bible strictly for pastors. God wants our eyes to be open to be doing the work as well. Has anyone ever seen a baby bjorn. Has anyone seen THIS 

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This is how many Christians expect to live. Your pastor is NOT going to get in a man bjorn and follow you around. You can’t strike up a conversation with your grocery clerk and then turn your back and say, “Now my Pastor will invite you to church!” You can’t pack your Pastor up for every family gathering and let him do the witnessing for you. He can’t live YOUR life and influence YOUR circle. As much as most Pastors LOVE bbq, they can’t be at each one of your houses talking to your neighbors while you grill! YOU must step up, you MUST start inviting people to church, or the Church (capital C) will die. You MUST tell others about the AMAZING, AWESOME, LIFE CHANGING SAVIOR OF THE WORLD! I can not emphasize this enough! This is not optional.

But here’s the good news. God never reveals a problem that is too big for Him to solve. And right here in this chapter (and really all throughout the Bible), he gives us the HOW. How do we tells others, enhance our witness, and become effective Christians?

One… You must be anchored in God’s word. Paul says To be Nourished by the message.  The Bible is truth. It is 100% solid. It will give you ALL you need. Arguing over whose faith is right, or fighting against false teachings in a unloving way is never needed. Don’t waste your time. Instead, as verse 7 says, “train yourself to be godly.” Turning your focus on yourself, and your own relationship will win others to Christ WAY faster than pointing out all their wrongs. The healthier you are, the healthier example you set for the neighbors/community around you.

Secondly,  you must train for godliness.  Yes. Exercising is important. Building muscles keeps us going in life. The stronger your muscles, the better your endurance, metabolism, and even mental health are.  There’s no argument that it’s very important. However, the Bible doesn’t speak to a vigorous physical exercise regimen… but it is VERY clear that training for godliness is a must.

This word “godliness” in verse 8 means to have the character and attitude of God– We aren’t made in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger. We were made in the image of God! So, is that true in your life? Do your neighbors, your co-workers, your family see the image of God in you?

I definitely don’t have the image of a beauty queen– but I pray that in every encounter the image of God shines more beautifully to others than any tiara I could ever wear upon my head! I pray that the way I treat my husband, the way I handle telemarketers, the way I negotiate internet rates… I even pray the way I discipline my children is proof that I was made in the image of God. It won’t’ mean I won’t mess up… but it is my duty to pursue, and train myself to live in such a manner. Bodily exercise is good… for awhile, but it won’t affect eternity. It won’t go into all the world and preach the good news… but our godliness will.

It is NOT easy, and Paul does not hide that it will hard. But he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reminds us that we work hard and continue to struggle through this training because  Our hope is in the LIVING GOD. David challenged Goliath in the name of the LIVING GOD… and guys… he slayed the giant! When we choose the godly life, we, too can slay our giants.  We can tell the rage that lives deep down, “You come at me with frustrations and stress but I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can tell your insecurities… “You come at me with shyness and self loathing… I come against you in the name of the LIVING GOD!” You can stand there in front of your giant, whatever weapons he may bear and you can remind him that you have THE.LIVING.GOD and HE is the only weapon you’ll EVER need!

We have power! And it’s a SIN to keep it to ourselves!

We must teach these things and insist that others learn it.  I am NOT saying you beat someone over the head with your Bible, follow around after them chanting “GET SAVED OR BURN” rhetoric. You know, kids don’t learn sometimes on the first time… and sometimes not the 2nd time… and sometimes not the 3rd… or 4th… or 5th time… but we never just walk away and let them ignore the thing they HAVE to learn. Instead you continue to guide, and teach, and speak, and work it into daily life. And if we’re doing it right… we’re not doing this through beating them. Haha. So, we don’t beat people over the head, but we don’t neglect teaching them either. Teaching is more than just preaching, too, by the way.  We show them with our lives, we point them towards Jesus in how we talk to them. We pray for our neighbors and not gossip about them. We seek God’s direction, and we invite grocery clerks to Church. Or we pray with a grieving co-worker. We stand up for the weak, and live out our convictions, even when no one else agrees. You don’t HAVE to preach… but you do HAVE to witness!

There are NO excuses. Timothy was young– but was still called to be an example. So what is your excuse?
If you spoke them out, how ridiculous would they sound?
I did this. I stood at an alter where I felt God was wanting to use me, but I’d held back. And I said out loud my excuses… Are you like me as I stood there and said,
“I’m too fat to approach people and tell them about God.”
Ummm, yeah, where is THAT in scripture?
“I’m just too shy, I’ll stumble over myself if I try to witness.”
“God, I sin.” (Well, DUH!)
“I’m just too busy.”
When you HEAR yourself saying something so outlandish it should resonate with you that you’re just stalling. And you’re giving the enemy a footstool.

 We are called to point others to the saving Grace of Jesus fearlessly and let God do the rest! Paul told Timothy to “preach” through example– preach by the words you say but also HOW you say them–
Preach not just in how you live, but by how you enhance the lives of others.
Preach not by declaring that you go to Church, but instead SHOW them why you can’t stay away!

Preach in the way you live, in the way you love, in how deeply you live out your faith and how pure you are (vs 12). And do all of this by focusing on the scripture, encouraging and teaching others what the Word says.  

We mess up when it comes to the last few verses here… and it’s funny that verse 15 starts  Give your complete attention to these matters…

Timothy was given a gift– This refers to the varying spiritual gifts given to Timothy but it’s also the same word God used to speak of the gifts He gives US! We, as I’ve said before, are made in the image of God– We were given gifts and attributes to use to reflect Him… And yet we neglect them. We live in fear instead of peace. We live defeated instead of victory, we live insecure instead of the child of the God we were created to be! Where do we see the image of God fearful? Defeated? Insecure?

Timothy isn’t the only one that has been given supernatural gifts from God– the word was written TO US! FOR US! We should trust that God will do great things through us– and we must begin to flow with the moving and leading of the Holy Spirit. We must throw ourselves into this task so that everyone will see the progress as verse 15 says.  We need to  Give it our all. We can’t afford to live a passive Christian life. Other’s salvation is at stake.

People are staying away from church because they don’t see the point. The church going people they see are the same as the bar going people. They see anger outside… AND inside the church. They see a world full of hate, division, and pain… and unfortunately… so VERY unfortunately, they see it inside the church.
But maybe one of the most detrimental to the church is that lack of power they see when they look at the church. We’re so passive that they don’t see a reason to change.

Paul is speaking from experience here. No one could accuse Paul of living a passive Christian life.

 1 Corinthians 15:10 says But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.  Paul knew spiritual growth didn’t just happen, we MUST actively pursue it.

We can have a saved soul– I mean, we’ll make it to heaven– but we can waste it in the process.

I mentioned at the beginning Satan’s goals for us. Kill, steal, and destroy… but what is God’s goal?
TO HAVE AN ABUNDANT LIFE! A powerful, effective life!  All of this culminates in this last verse in 1 Timothy
Why does all of this matter? Your salvation is at risk… but also

For the Sake of the Neighbor’s Salvation, you MUST take your faith outside the church walls and into your own sphere of influence.

If you are saved, and you’ve made that choice, the angels in heaven rejoice because of it, but… for the sake of the neighbor’s salvation you can NOT stop there. Your world needs salvation, too. Your living, your teaching, your witness saves people.
Satan knows that many solid Christians are pretty solid in their faith. He has probably figured out by now that he won’t get some of you to denounce Christ. So he shifts his purpose and works diligently to make you ineffective. If he can get you to look just like the world, he’ll ruin your witness… and he’ll win.
If he can get you to doubt yourself, and keep you living in fear, never stepping out to speak to your family about Jesus… he wins.

We, too easily, disqualify ourselves. We fail to believe the promises written right there in HIs word– and we play right into Satan’s plan for our ineffective lives. And for the sake of our neighbor’s salvation we CAN NOT let that happen! We aren’t going to be perfect… but we ARE going to make a difference.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the birthday of the Christian Church. It’s the day the believers of Jesus went to an upper room and they waited for the promised holy spirit to arrive. In order to take the church out of the building, and into the community, we need the outpouring of the holy spirit. I’ve spoken a lot of MUSTS… and as much as I don’t want to sound so bossy and demanding, I’ve felt SO strongly that it is TIME. The Church needs to be a light into the community, and it can’t be just your pastor’s responsibility. They can’t be strapped to each one of you… You don’t need them (although they ARE important parts of God’s plan here).  You NEED Jesus! You NEED His power, His influence, His witness. But you can no longer keep it to yourself. If you are unwilling to take Jesus outside of  your own personal walls, you’re neighbors are going to die, and they WILL go to hell. I don’t know another nicer way to put it. The truth is, it’s time to leave your pews and trust God for the power to take the message out.

May I challenge you? Make a commitment to 1 Timothy 4. To live a godly life as an open witness… for the sake of your salvation… and the salvation of those who hear you!

This Monday devotion was brought to you by yesterday’s Sermon at Crossroads Church. If you’d like to hear more, learn more, or clarify more, please visit our Facebook page, give us a call (507-375-5920. Leave a message if you need to) or come to our Sunday Services every Sunday at 10am. 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN. I’ll save you a seat!

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