The Character and Nature of a Believer (1 Peter 1; 1 Peter 2)

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Scripture reading – 1 Peter 1; 1 Peter 2

Today’s Scripture reading is 1 Peter 2, but I will take the liberty of introducing you to The First Epistle of PeterPenned by Peter, who identified himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ,” the letter before us was not addressed to believers of a specific city, nor individuals (as with Paul’s epistles). Instead, Peter addressed his letter “to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). To understand that statement, consider the historical setting of this epistle.

Historical Background

Peter was writing at a time the Roman Empire was near its peak. Reaching as far west as Britain, and south into the African continent to Egypt, Rome’s territories covered nearly two million square miles. The emperor of Peter’s day was the infamous Nero. By the time Peter penned his epistle, the dark clouds of persecution were already shadowing the world. Believers soon experienced the first wave of persecution, and tens of thousands were eventually martyred, among them the apostles Paul and Peter.

The Author – A Story of Amazing Grace (1:1a)

Peter the fisherman (Mark 1:16-20), along with his brother Andrew, had been a disciple of Jesus Christ, and an apostle. He was a natural leader, and with James and John, had been privileged to be numbered in Christ’s inner circle (Matthew 17:1-2; Mark 5:37, 9:2, 14:23). We remember him as the disciple who boasted he would never deny Christ (Matthew 26:29-35); yet, he denied Him three times the night He was betrayed (Matthew 26:69-74). Humiliated, broken, and repentant; Peter was restored (Mark 16:7), and became a testimony of faith, courage, and faithfulness to the Lord.

The Recipients of the First Epistle of Peter (1 Peter 1:1b-2)

Who were “the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1:1). They were not “strangers” to Peter, but aliens, foreigners to this world (1:1). They were numbered among the tribes who believed Jesus was the Messiah, and were rejected by their families, driven from their homes by religious zealots, and left a people without home or country.

They were not only “strangers,” they were the saved “elect,” and chosen “according to the foreknowledge of God” (1:2a). To be elect is a term of endearment. When a sinner becomes a part of God’s kingdom, he becomes part of His family, and is endeared to the Father. In His foresight, God the Father knows those sinners who come to Him by faith, and are sanctified by His Spirit. Their salvation is a covenant relationship, and they are sealed by the “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1:2).

On a personal note: I believe the “elect” are chosen by God, according to His foreknowledge, and are the objects of His saving grace, through faith in the sacrificial offering of Christ for our sin [His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection]. Paul described “election” in Ephesians 1:4 in these words: “According as He hath chosen us in Him [i.e., for Himself] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame [above reproach]before him in love.”

Who are the chosen? Who are the elect? Who can be saved?

My answer is, “whosoever will.”  The elect are “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord” (John 3:16; Romans 10:13). My heart rejoices to conclude our brief introduction to 1 Peter 1 with this eternal promise: “And [Jesus] is the propitiation [atoning sacrifice] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

1 Peter 2 – Progressive Sanctification

A brief introduction of chapter 2 will suffice, but I invite you to consider a doctrine that is all but forgotten by the 21st century church: Progressive Sanctification.

In essence, “progressive sanctification” is the sanctifying work of God in the heart of a believer (John 17:17, Ephesians 5:25–27; Colossians 1:22; 1 Thessalonica 5:23; Hebrew 13:12). While it is the work of God, sanctification also requires spiritual discipline on the part of the believer. Paul described progressive sanctification as a “putting off” the sinful ways of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:22, 25-31), and “putting on”spiritual virtues and the fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-24; Ephesians 4:23-24, 32).

Peter taught progressive sanctification in 1 Peter 2:1-2, when he exhorted believers: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,  2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (2:1-2).

Five Besetting Sins (2:1)

Understanding “laying aside” describes how one might remove and exchange a garment for another, Peter challenged believers to be “laying aside” five besetting sins that hinder spiritual growth. The first, “all malice,” a desire that embraces evil, and is acted out in a pattern of hurting and injuring others (2:1a). The second sin to be laid aside is “all guile” (2:1b), implying deception, or as some might say, “two-faced.” Peter exhorted believers to lay aside “hypocrisies” (2:1c), which implies hiding behind a mask (perhaps a mask of spiritual piety that conceals one’s true heart and motive. “Envies” (2:1d) is also identified as a hindrance to spiritual growth, and is a jealousy and longing for what others possess (money, friends, popularity). Finally, “all evil speakings” (2:1e) were to be set aside, knowing slander, gossip, and disparaging words have no place in the congregation.

Closing thoughts (2:1-2) – Having set aside sins that hinder spiritual growth (2:1), Peter urged believers to be as “newborn babes” and “desire the sincere milk of the word” (2:2). In the same way a healthy, growing newborn craves its mother’s milk, believers will earnestly desire the sincere, unadulterated, truths of God’s Word.

A sincere, spiritually growing believer will evidence the signs of progressive sanctification, and “desire the sincere milk of the Word.” (2:2)

How’s your spiritual appetite?

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Living in the Midst of a World Gone Mad (Titus 3; 1 Peter 1)

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Scripture reading – Titus 3; 1 Peter 1

Today’s Scripture reading is Titus 3 and 1 Peter 1. The focus of our devotional is Titus 3.

After challenging Titus regarding the character and virtues of men he would ordain to minister to the churches (1:5-8), Paul warned him concerning those who would oppose the Gospel (describing them as “liars, evil beasts, [and] slow bellies” (in essence, lazy gluttons, 1:12).

In chapter 2, the apostle charged Titus concerning the spiritual character he was to expect of the membership of the church. Addressed were “aged men” (2:2), “aged women” (2:3), “young women” (2:4-5), and “young men” (2:6) of the congregation. Knowing believers of the church would be a reflection of their spiritual leaders, Paul challenged Titus concerning his demeanor before the churches (2:7), and the character and tone of his speech (2:8). He was urged to conduct himself in such a way, that those who opposed him would have “no evil thing to say” of him (2:8b).

Titus 3

The focus of Titus 3 was the life and testimony of believers in that day. The 1st century world was not much different from our own. Like the politicians and bureaucrats of the 21st century, the Roman empire was plagued with government corruption, gross injustices, and high taxes (to support Rome’s vast armies). The Caesars, and governors of Rome’s territories, were infamously immoral, and the bloody spectacle of gladiator fights was employed to feed the demand of the masses for entertainment.

The Believer’s Response to Secular Authority (3:1)

In spite of the wickedness and persecution, Paul commanded Titus to instruct believers, and “put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (3:1). A believer was to obey human authority (the one exception is when those in authority demand we violate the commands and word of God; Acts 4:18-20; 5:25-29). Believers were not only to be obedient, they were to be ready and eager “to every good work” (3:1d; Galatians 6:10).

The Believer’s Testimony Before His Fellow Man (3:2)

I conclude our study of Titus, and invite you to consider four practical commands (two negative, and two positive). Instructing believers concerning their relationship with others, Titus was to urge God’s people “to speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (3:2)

Regardless the ill treatment we might receive from others, believers are not to defame, slander, or malign the character of their fellow man (3:2a). Nor are God’s people to be “brawlers,” and find themselves caught up in the midst of needless quarrels and arguments.

Finally, the saints of God are to conduct themselves in a “gentle” manner, “shewing meekness unto all men” (3:2b). To be gentle and compassionate toward those we love is a small matter; but to do the same toward those who are inconsiderate, and mean-spirited is another. Yet, such is the burden of believers; we are to be ready to forgive, and harbor no bitterness in our hearts (Ephesians 4:32). Though the wicked are brazen, and offensive, believers are commanded to respond in “meekness,” accepting slights with gentleness.

Are those spiritual qualities true of you?

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Character and Qualifications of Christ’s Ministers (Titus 1; Titus 2)

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Scripture reading – Titus 1; Titus 2

Continuing our chronological reading of the Scriptures, we come to The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to Titus.Before us is one of four letters written by Paul to individual believers (the others being to Philemon, and the first and second letters to Timothy). The book of Titus was probably written following Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, and his visit to the churches on the island of Crete. Paul was freed from prison sometime after his epistle to the believers in Philippi. (The cause for Paul being set at liberty was not revealed, although some speculate his accusers failed to come to Rome and appear before Caesar to bring a witness against the apostle.)

Characteristic of his style, Paul introduced himself as the author in the first verse, and identified his calling and authority, writing: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness” (1:1). As with Timothy, the apostle had a loving bond with Titus and addressed him as “mine own son after the common faith” (1:4). Titus was a Greek convert, and uncircumcised (Galatians 2:3). He was also a member of Paul’s inner-circle, whom the apostle identified as a “partner and fellow helper” (2 Corinthians 8:23). While the letter was addressed to Titus, it was likely read to the churches in Crete where he ministered (1:5).

Paul’s Charge to Titus (1:5)

Paul left no doubt that Titus was empowered to act upon his authority. The young preacher was charged with the responsibility of setting “in order the things that are wanting [needing attention], and ordain elders in every city,” as Paul had directed him (1:5). The office of the pastor is defined in two terms in chapter 1: The title “elder” (1:5)  defines the dignity of the pastoral office as “pastor and teacher,” as opposed to a novice (Ephesians 4:11; 1 Timothy 3:6). The title, “bishop” (1:7), defined the duties and authority of the pastoral office as an overseer. In my opinion, the titles are interchangeable for the office of pastor (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7).

The Pastor’s Character and Household (1:6)

Bearing the sacred responsibility of ordaining “elders [pastors] in every city” (1:5), Paul defined for Titus the spiritual qualifications of men who would serve the congregations.

The principal, and indispensable requirement of the pastor is he “must be blameless, as the steward of God” (1:6, 7a; 1 Timothy 3:2). “Blameless” does not mean he must achieve sinless perfection, but that his life is free of scandals (for instance, the qualifications that follow in verses 6-8 define the character of his personal life). In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he mandated the pastor “must have a good report” (1 Timothy 3:7). He must be “blameless,” because he is the steward of God,” meaning the overseer of God’s household (1:7; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

When choosing a pastor, a church must also consider his family life (1:6). He is to be morally chaste, “the husband of one wife” (1:6b). The minister cannot be divorced, nor have more than one wife. Should he have children, they are to be “faithful not accused of riot or unruly” (1:6c). A pastor cannot have children living at home in opposition to the Gospel. Though not perfect, the pastor’s children are not to be riotous (implying drunkenness or moral debauchery), or “unruly” (rebellious or insubordinate).

Five Disqualifications from the Pastorate (1:7)

In addition to being “blameless,” Paul listed five things that disqualify a man from the pastorate. He must not be self-willed, meaning dogmatic, arrogant, and self-seeking (1:7b). He must not be easily provoked to anger (1:7c). A pastor must not be “given to wine” (1:7d), nor a “striker” (contentious, 1:7e). Lastly, a minister of the Gospel is “not given to filthy lucre” (not a lover of money or possessions; 1:7e; 1 Timothy 3:3).

Six Positive Qualifications for the Pastoral Office (1:8)

Having listed five disqualifying traits, Paul followed with six qualifications required of those who serve the congregations. A minister is to be “a lover of hospitality” (1:8a; hospitable to saints and strangers; Galatians 6:10). A pastor is to be a “lover of good men” (1:8b; literally, a lover of all that is good; Philippians 4:8). He is to be “sober” (1:8c); sensible, exercising good judgment, and not given to silliness or ruled by urges (1 Timothy 3:2).

The shepherd of God’s people is to be “just” (1:8d), morally upright, and a man of integrity. He is an example to the church, and “holy” in conduct (1:8e; devout, pious, and dedicated to God, Romans 12:1-2). Finally, the man ordained to the pastorate must be “temperate” (1:8f), spiritually disciplined in his affections and desires (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).

Closing thoughts (1:9) – So much more could be written regarding the qualities that must be true of men called to pastor the churches, including their duty and devotion to God’s Word (1:9). I close with a word of warning:

Failure to hold ministers to God’s standard invite His judgment, and the eventual ruin of churches, Bible schools, and institutions. Tragically, one need not look far to see the evidences of that failure.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Spiritual Principles for Employees and Employers in an Entitlement Age (1 Timothy 6)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 6

Our brief study of Paul’s 1st Epistle to Timothy concludes with today’s Scripture reading. Readers will notice Paul continues a broad sweep of issues that have confronted believers since the 1st century. Arguably, times have changed, but the prevailing sins and spiritual challenges of mankind are the same. Today’s devotional will consider 1 Timothy 6:1-6.

The Culture of the 1st Century Church (6:1-2)

Paul’s letter was addressed to a culture where slaves and masters were members of the church. In fact, the membership of the 1st century church had some slaves who found themselves serving “believing masters” (6:2). Paul did not tackle the moral or ethical nature of slavery, as slavery was a common way of life in the first century. Nor did he urge Timothy to lead an uprising against slavery. Instead, the apostle addressed the dynamics of believing slaves and their masters (whether unbelieving or believing).

Author’s note – Before I consider an exposition of 1 Timothy 6:1-2, I hope you might give me liberty for a personal observation.

Mirroring the attitude of the 21st century world, I have observed the growing presence and influence of a rebellious spirit of entitlement even among believers. Sadly, our families, churches, and Christian institutions have embraced entitlement as a right, of which few are willing to challenge. Entitlement arises from a self-focused heart, in essence, from those who would espouse employees’ rights and privileges above all else. I believe the pendulum has swung so far in favor of employees, that they now abuse their employers thus driving corporations to the edge of fiscal insanity, if not bankruptcy.

What is the Believer’s Duty to An Unbelieving Employer? (6:1)

Paul challenged Timothy to teach slaves and servants to be characterized by the same attitude of which he wrote, namely – Respect. Whether a slave served a master who was an unbeliever or a believer, the requirement was the same: Servants were to treat their masters with honor and respect, knowing their actions and attitudes reflected on their faith and profession in Christ. Paul wrote, “1Let as many servants as are under the yoke [the yoke of bondage or slavery] count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed” (6:1).

In his epistle to believers in Ephesus, Paul challenged servants and slaves to obey their masters, and fear and honor them out of a sincere heart, “as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). Peter commanded, “18Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward” (1 Peter 2:18). The heart attitude of a believer is to serve, honor, and obey an employer to the end they will give them no cause to have an ill opinion of God and the Scriptures (6:1).

What is the Believer’s Duty to a Believing Employer? (6:2)

Today, many believers bring a spirit of entitlement when they are employed by believers or a ministry. Some believers become so offensive in their expectations, they become a sorrow to fellow believers that employ them.

There were some in the congregation Timothy pastored who were masters (6:2). Surely, salvation so transformed the lives of some that they evidenced love and Biblical virtues toward their slaves (2 Corinthians 5:17). Perhaps, some believing masters even divested themselves of slavery entirely.

Nevertheless, slavery was a component within the culture of the 1st century church. Therefore, Paul commanded Timothy teach and exhort believers regarding the relationship of the servants and their masters (6:2). What was Timothy to “teach and exhort” servants? (6:2) Paul wrote: “they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit” (6:2).

While the servants and some masters were believers, the believing servants were to remember their place and role, and treat their masters with respect (“not despise them,” 6:2b). A believing servant was to “do them service,” meaning serve them with a right heart attitude and spirit (6:c). Because the master was a believer, the believing slave was to value the privilege of serving a fellow believer, knowing both were “partakers of the benefit,” meaning the Gospel of the grace of God in Christ (6:2d).

Closing thoughts (6:3-6) – I close today’s devotion, exhorting you to not entertain any other spirit or attitude that arises and hinders your testimony in the world. There are believers who justify a belligerent, divisive spirit toward their employers. If believers were to exercise an honest self-examination, some would find a spirit of entitlement contrary to the Spirit of God, and the teachings of the Scripture.

If believing slaves were commanded to honor and obey their masters, surely no less can be expected of us.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Calling and Passion of a Minister (1 Timothy 4; 1 Timothy 5)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 4; 1 Timothy 5

The passage assigned for today’s Scripture reading is prophetic (4:1-5), convicting (4:6-16), and voluminous in practical instruction for the daily life of the church, its leadership, and members (5:1-25). Understanding Paul was writing to Timothy, who was not only his spiritual son in the faith, but a young pastor, we find instructions that are powerful and pointed. Unfortunately, I must limit today’s devotion to 1 Timothy 4.

1 Timothy 4

Warning Concerning False Teachers (4:1-5)

On numerous occasions our study of the New Testament has evidenced a concern regarding false teachers and their teachings. Timothy was no stranger to the enemies of the Gospel, and their presence without and within the church. Paul was aware of the challenges facing Timothy as a pastor, and he warned him concerning the presence and growing influence evil men would have “in the latter times” (4:1).

Apostasy has plagued believers from the fall of man, and the influence of evil men has shadowed God’s people throughout the ages. Moses contended with wicked men in the midst of Israel’s sojourn through the wilderness. Isaiah prophesied against the people of his day, saying, “this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men” (Isaiah 29:13).

Paul warned Timothy to be vigilant, for the Holy Spirit had revealed to him, the time would come when men would abandon the truth, and “depart from the faith” (4:1). Believers would follow deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (4:1c). False teachers would perpetuate lies, and their consciences would be insensitive, as though “seared (and hardened) with a hot iron” (branding iron, 4:2). Reminiscent of the false doctrines of Roman Catholicism, false teachers would teach abstinence and forbid marriage (4:3a), and commend denying oneself food as though it merited God’s favor (4:3b).

After warning Timothy of the encroachment of false teachers and their doctrine (4:1-5), Paul gave him practical instructions concerning the character and godly virtues of those who aspire to preach and teach God’s Word.

Four Essential Traits of Spiritual Leaders (4:6-11)

1) The minister must seek his spiritual nourishment in the Scriptures (4:6). To “be a good minister of Jesus Christ” to his congregation, a pastor must feed himself daily in the Word of God (4:6; 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).

2) A pastor must not entertain false teachings, nor get entangled in foolish speculations (4:7a).

3) He will discipline and exercise himself in godliness and spiritual disciplines (4:7b). Perhaps having in mind, the physical disciplines of Olympic athletes, Paul reminded Timothy physical exercise profits a man only for a brief time (4:9a). However, spiritual disciplines in God’s Word, prayer, and in pursuit of godly virtues, profits a man in this life and eternally (4:8). Paul asserted, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation” (4:9). In other words—the preeminence of spiritual disciplines is without question.

4) A faithful minister must be committed to work hard, willing to “suffer reproach” and rejection, because his faith and hope is “in the living God” who would “have all men to be saved” (4:10-11; 1 Timothy 2:4).

With the challenge, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers” (4:12a), Paul recorded six virtues that should be true of all in positions of spiritual leadership (4:12-16).

Six Godly Virtues of Spiritual Leadership (4:12)

1) Word (4:12b) – Ministers must be examples in speech and conversation. They are to guard their speech from sin, and speak that which edifies, and encourages others to Christlikeness (Ephesians 4:29).

2) “Conversation(4:12c)” The pastor’s manner of life and conduct is to serve as an example to others. He is to be a model of righteous living, and “holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).

3) Love (4:12d) Sacrificial love motivates the minister’s work, as he dedicates and gives his life in serving the Lord and others (John 15:13).

4) Spirit (4:12e) A pastor’s spirit is passionate regarding the work of the ministry to which the Lord has called him.

5) “Faith” (4:12f) – A good minister must be mature in his faith, and unwavering in his obedience to the Word of God.

6) Purity (4:12g) – The sixth virtue speaks of the minister’s moral character, and is to be characterized by purity in heart, mind, and body.

Closing thoughts (4:13-16) – In conclusion, Paul exhorted Timothy: “13Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (4:12). The old apostle challenged the young pastor to keep his passion and focus on ministering to believers. Timothy, as with all ministers, was to focus on three spiritual disciplines: “Reading”(4:13a) – the private and public readings of God’s Word. “Exhortation” (4:13b)Encouraging believers could take on the form of reproving, rebuking, or patient exhortation (2 Timothy 4:2). Lastly, Timothy was to teach and instruct believers in “Doctrine” (4:13c).

An observation – There was a time when a pastor’s ministry was measured in decades, as he faithfully poured his life into reading God’s Word, exhorting believers, and teaching doctrine. Tragically, the average stay of today’s pastor in between 3-5 years.

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Women in the Church, and God’s Blueprint for Church Leadership (1 Timothy 2-3)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 3

1 Timothy 3 addresses two ministering offices of the church. The office of the bishop defines the function and qualifications of a pastor as overseer of a local congregation of believers (3:1-7). The second church office is that of the deacons (meaning servant; 3:8-13).). Notice the bishop\pastor and deacons’ offices were defined by personal, spiritual, and family qualifications (3:1-13). The focus of this devotion will be the office of the bishop\pastor; however, I will first set the context for our study by examining the role of women in the church.

The Women of the Congregation (2:9-15)

While there are many controversies challenging the 21st century church, I suggest the role of the sexes, and leadership is the most hotly debated. Beginning with the conviction believers accept the authority of the Scriptures in faith and practice, the teachings regarding the role of women becomes simple and straightforward.

After writing regarding the importance of prayer (2:8), Paul addressed the adorning and decorum of women in public worship. As he commanded men to “pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (2:8), the apostle commanded women to be adorned “in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works” (2:9-10).

Dress Matters: A Principle for Women’s Dress and Decorum (2:9-10)

Contrary to the “come as you are” invitation of many churches, Paul taught believers to dress in a manner that befits God’s holiness (2:9a). With reverence and restraint, women are to dress in a manner that would not distract from public worship (2:9b). Modeling godly character, a woman’s works (her outward deeds) are to be a reflection of her dedication to the Lord (2:10).

The Attitude and Demeanor of Women in the Church (2:11-12)

Then, Paul’s attention turned to the attitude and demeanor of women in public worship. The apostle wrote: “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection” (2:11).

The church is graced with women who are wonderful examples of spiritual piety and Biblical knowledge. Nevertheless, in public worship women are to be learners, and not teachers. Indeed, the role of women in the church is one of subjection (Paul had written the same to believers in Corinth, stating: “It is a shame for women to speak in the church,” 1 Corinthians 14:35). Paul taught the same principle in his letter to Timothy, stating, “I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence” (2:12).

Two Spiritual Foundations for Paul’s Instructions Regarding the Role of Women (2:13-15)

The apostle Paul needed no justification for the limits he placed on the role of women in the church; nevertheless, he identified two principles for his instructions (2:13-14). The first, God’s creative order: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve” (2:13; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9). The second principle arose from the historical fact concerning the fall of the human race (2:14). Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord’s commands; however, it was the woman, not the man who was “deceived” and transgressed (2:14; Genesis 3:1-6a). Adam sinned of his own volition, and disobeyed God. Eve, however, usurped her husband’s authority, and was deceived by the serpent (2:14).

Having clearly, and unequivocally defined the role of women in the church (2:9-15), Paul then set in order the leadership offices of the church (1 Timothy 3). For today’s study, the focus with be the office of the bishop\pastor (3:1-7).

1 Timothy 3 – The Bishop\Pastor

The Person and Office of the Pastor (3:1)

Accepting the Scripture’s authority in both faith and practice, the Bible is clear: The office of bishop, meaning overseer, is to be occupied by a man. Of those who aspire to the calling of pastor, it is “a good work” (3:1). The word “desire” indicates a strong urgency to pastor and oversee the work of the ministry. Such a calling is a “good,” and honorable work. Yet, desiring the office and work of the bishop is not enough; for a man must also be qualified to hold such a high calling.

The Qualifications of the Pastor (3:2-7)

I might suggest various outlines for the qualifications of the pastor, but I will limit myself to four categories. The first is a personal qualification: “2A bishop then must be blameless (3:2a). That is not implying perfection (for I can ascertain no man would qualify). “Blameless” indicates the necessity of the pastor’s personal life passing scrutiny. The pastor’s moral character must be above reproach, and must not be chargeable with a moral offense (adultery, fornication, or any other reprehensible conduct disqualifies a man from the pastorate).

The second qualification of the pastor concerns his marriage and relationship with his wife (if married). He is to be “the husband of one wife” (3:2b), in thought and deed (or as many have observed, he must be “a one-woman kind of man”). Other than death, which ends the covenant of marriage in the sight of God and man, a pastor is to be devoted to one-woman. A moral failure or divorce disqualifies a man from the pastorate.

Thirdly, notice the pastor’s character is an essential qualification, and he is to be “vigilant (watchful), sober (disciplined), of good behaviour (honest; well-behaved), given to hospitality, apt (qualified) to teach; 3Not given to wine (not a drinker), no striker (violent or combative), not greedy of filthy lucre (lover of money); but patient (gracious), not a brawler (contentious), not covetous (lover of possessions) (3:2-3).

The fourth essential for the pastor is he is to demonstrate godly leadership in his home (3:4-5). He is to be “one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity” (3:4). Notice the essential nature of a pastor’s household leadership is stressed as the background for the following proposition: “5For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?” (3:5)

To be spiritually qualified for overseeing the body of Christ, a pastor must not be a “novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (3:6). Regarding his public testimony, “he must have a good report of them which are without [secular society]; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (3:7).

Closing thoughts – With the Scriptures as my authority, I state unequivocally: Women are not to usurp men in teaching or preaching the Scriptures. Women have their place and role in teaching women (Titus 2:3-5); however, they should never exercise authority over men and aspire to teach or preach the Scriptures. To do so is a violates the clear teachings of Scripture.

A Personal Observation: Tragically, many spiritual leaders have accommodated the sins of their children and violated Paul’s instructions (3:5). From my vantage, it seems every failed ministry (Bible-preaching church, Bible college, and Christian institution) has one thing in common:

Spiritual leaders have compromised the spiritual precepts of their institutions, and invited God’s judgment upon those ministries.

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

The Law and Commandments: Love ‘em or Leave ‘em? (1 Timothy 1; 1 Timothy 2)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 1; 1 Timothy 2

Having introduced Paul’s 1st Epistle to Timothy in a prior devotion, we begin with his charge to the young preacher. Paul wrote, “Now the end of the commandment is charity [self-sacrificing love] out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned [sincere faith; without hypocrisy]” (1:5).

1 Timothy 1:4-5

Paul’s commandment charged Timothy with three principles that are the foundation for loving and ministering to others (Matthew 22:37-39; John 13:34-35). Genuine, Christlike love springs from a “pure heart” (1:5a), meaning one not encumbered with sin or deceit. A pure heart is single-minded, honest, and sincere. Remember, to the “pure in heart,” Jesus promised, “they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The second requisite for loving and serving others is a “good conscience” (1:5b). A “good conscience” is sensitive to, and self-aware of one’s sin and guilt. Such a conscience is blameless, and free of guilt and remorse. Thirdly, Paul desired Timothy would be a man of “faith unfeigned” (1:5). Such faith is genuine, sincere, and confident in the Lord Jesus.

Verse 5 might be summed up in this truth: The love of the believer is not the product of “fables” and false doctrines (1:4), but springs from a pure heart, clear conscience, and sincere faith.

Paul’s letter to Timothy was one the young preacher would have read and reread as he carried the responsibility of pastoring believers in Ephesus. Remembering Ephesus was the center of the religious cult to Diana (Acts 19), and Paul had ministered in the area for two full years (Acts 19:10), he was aware of the opposition Timothy faced.

The Charm of False Teachers (1:6-7)

Already, some believers had “swerved” from their profession of faith, and fallen preyed to the “vain jangling” of some who aspired “to be teachers of the law” (1:6-7). Of those men who would have some believe they were rabbis (“teachers of the law”), Paul declared, they were ignorant, encouraging endless debate, giving rise to questions, but knowing nothing (1:7).

The Cancer of False Teachers (1:8-11)

Because Paul preached salvation was by grace through faith, and not of the works of the law, some accused him of diminishing the law. He answered their charge, and wrote: “we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully” (1:8).

Some reading this devotion are members of churches, and sit under preachers and teachers who minimize, and negate the important role the Law and Commandments have for all men, of all ages. False teachers of the 21stcentury have been busy diminishing the role of God’s Law and Commandments, under the guise of championing grace. Those false teachers, and their followers, charge others with legalism, and foster a spirit of rebellion under the guise of the “Gospel of Grace.”

The Law and commandments are good, and should be preached and taught, because they convict and convince sinners of their need of a Savior. In Paul’s words, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). Therefore, “the law is not made for a righteous man” (1:9a), but for the “lawless and disobedient” (1:9b).

Closing thoughts (1:9-10) – Carnality defines many, if not the majority, of those who profess to be followers of Christ in the 21st century. The failure of pastors, teachers, and parents to teach the Law and Commandments, has given rise to a “lawless and disobedient” membership (1:9b).

We will never see spiritual revival in our homes, churches, and institutions, until we preach and teach the law and commandments “for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine” (1:9-10).

Challenge – Are you righteous or carnal? Your response to the Law and Commandments is indicative or who you are (Psalm 1). The righteous man “delight(s) in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” The ungodly resent the Law, despise its teachings, and “the way of the ungodly shall perish” (Psalm 1:6)

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

An Introduction to the First Epistle of Paul to Timothy (1 Timothy 1; 1 Timothy 2)

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Scripture reading – 1 Timothy 1; 1 Timothy 2

A personal note: Of all Paul’s epistles, his first letter to Timothy is my favorite. As a young man, I found the apostle’s counsel to his “son in the faith” (1:2) to be invaluable as I framed my own ministry philosophy. Now that I am an elder minister, I reflect on Paul’s manner and rapport with Timothy, and desire the same with those who serve with me. This is a bonus devotional, and serves as an introduction to our study of Paul’s 1st epistle to Timothy.

We first met Timothy when he was a young believer, and was privileged to be a part of Paul’s missions’ team. He was, according to Acts 16:1, “the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek.” The implication was Timothy’s home was a spiritually divided home; his father apparently a Gentile unbeliever, and his mother a woman of Jewish lineage and a follower of Christ.

In spite of what might have been the divisive nature of his household, Timothy’s mother and grandmother were women of faith and had a profound influence on him. Paul wrote, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned [sincere] faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also” (1:5).

Timothy’s passion for spiritual truth was inflamed from his childhood, and in his second letter to Timothy, Paul reminded the young pastor of his godly heritage. Paul wrote, “from a child [very young child] thou hast known [growing knowledge of] the holy scriptures [instructed in the Old Testament Scriptures], which are able to make thee wise [understanding] unto salvation through faith [assurance; belief] which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). Of course, Timothy became a devoted companion on Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 16:3), a co-worker in the churches, and finally the pastor of the church in Ephesus (1:3a).

1 Timothy 1

Paul mentored many; however, his relationship with Timothy was especially rewarding to the old apostle. Considering himself that young preacher’s spiritual father, his affection for Timothy is evidenced throughout the letter in both affirmations and admonitions (1:2, 18; 4:6-16; 6:11-13, 20-21).

Paul had commissioned Timothy, and charged him to continue ministering in Ephesus after he departed by ship for Macedonia (1:3a). Paul’s letters seem to indicate a certain timidity on Timothy’s part, and in his absence, the apostle was mindful to encourage Timothy to be bold in his ministry (1:3b), and give no tolerance to false teachers and their heresies (1:4). I conclude this introduction, taking liberty to close with Paul’s charge to Timothy (1:5).

1 Timothy 1:5 – “Now the end of the commandment is charity [self-sacrificing love] out of a pure heart, and ofa good conscience, and of faith unfeigned [sincere faith; without hypocrisy].”

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.

Beware of Joy Robbers! (Philippians 3; Philippians 4)

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Scripture reading – Philippians 3; Philippians 4

Our study of Philippians concludes with our Scripture reading, Philippians 3 and 4. Now, the closing verses of chapter 2 revealed the occasion of Paul’s letter. Paul wrote, “I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus…your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants” (2:25). Epaphroditus, a member of the church in Philippi, had come to Rome as a “messenger” for that congregation, and ministered to Paul on their behalf during his imprisonment.

Though he had faithfully discharged his ministry to Paul, he had taken ill, and in the apostle’s words, “was sick nigh unto death” (2:27). Not even the apostle was empowered to heal a fellow servant apart from God’s will and intervention. In other words, in this sin-cursed world, sickness will occasion the life of the most faithful servants of the Lord.

Rejoicing in God’s mercy, Epaphroditus was healed and returned to Philippi with Paul’s letter (2:28), and his commendation of the man as one they should “ receive…in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation” (2:29). Paul was forward in his observation, how Epaphroditus nearly worked himself to death, making up for the insufficient service of other members of the church at Philippi (2:30). (Interesting, but the age-old problem of 10% of the membership doing 90% of the work is as old as the church itself.)

Philippians 3

Arguably typical of many preachers (including this author), Paul began the conclusion of his letter prematurely, and wrote, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (3:1). Epaphroditus’ return would give cause for his fellow-believers to not only “rejoice in the Lord,” but literally, “keep on rejoicing in the Lord!” (3:1). Yet, as soon as he called believers to rejoice, he issued a dire warning:

Beware of joy robbers! (3:2)

Who were the joy robbers of the 1st century church? Paul identified them with three epithets: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision” (3:2). Dogs, evil workers, and the concision were false teachers and fake believers that were in the midst of the congregation. Let us briefly consider those enemies of believers.

Paul wrote, “Beware of dogs (3:2). Unlike our culture, which dotes on dogs as four-footed friends and furry companions, the dogs of the 1st century were unclean, wild pests that ran in packs. The Jews of the 1stcentury considered Gentiles unclean dogs, for they did not follow the Torah (God’s Word). The prophet Isaiah described false prophets as “dumb dogs,” and “greedy dogs” (Isaiah 56:10-11). They were greedy of riches, and guilty of teaching lies, giving some a sense of false security.

There was a second group in the congregation whom Paul identified as “evil workers” (3:2). They were “workers,” fellow laborers, perhaps prominent leaders and teachers in the congregation; however, they lacked integrity. They were “evil,” indicating their character was dishonest, insincere, immoral, and wicked men. Tragically, such personalities earn a following of the naïve, and pose a danger to fellow-believers.

Thirdly, Paul warned, “Beware of the concision (3:2c). The concision were Judaizers, and preached a strict conformity to Jewish customs and practices, and in particular the observance of circumcision. They demanded believers of Gentile origin be circumcised to merit God’s favor. Their influence caused some to lose faith that God’s grace was sufficient for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Circumcision of the Heart: Three Characteristics of Genuine Believers (3:3)

Lest any be tempted to place their faith in anything other than Christ for salvation, Paul declared, “3For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). That was an astonishing statement to those of Hebrew lineage. Beginning with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14), physical circumcision served as an outward sign of an inward settled faith in God’s promises. Yet, physical circumcision was insufficient without the circumcision of the heart (identified with God’s grace, and set apart to Him, Acts 15:1-24).

The LORD requires circumcision of the heart and spirit. (3:3-7; note – Romans 2:29)

Paul identified three characteristics of a circumcised heart: “3For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). Circumcised hearts “worship God in the Spirit” (3:3b). When a believer worships “in the Spirit,” his worship is an act of devotion, out of sincere love for the Lord (John 4:24). Secondly, a circumcised heart will “rejoice in Christ Jesus” (3:3c). We who know Christ as Savior, have no reason to glory in works; our rejoicing is in Christ alone.

Finally, a circumcised heart has “no confidence in the flesh” (3:3d). The Judaizers boasted in the circumcision of the flesh, but Paul overshadowed their boasts with his own lineage, and adherence to the Law and customs of the Jews (3:4-6). Yet, he confessed, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ” (3:7).

Closing thoughtsThe Folly of Self-righteousness (3:7-8)

Paul counted the privilege of his birth (his lineage and tribal heritage), and personal achievements (education, religious zeal, and blameless character) as “loss for Christ” (3:7). He placed his faith in Christ, and declared: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (3:8). Paul forfeited everything that he might attain “the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (3:8).

To be saved, sinners must accept they have no grounds for confidence in the flesh (Titus 3:5), and cannot merit God’s favor (Ephesians 2:8-9). Our salvation is in the Cross of Christ, His death, burial and resurrection (3:9-10).

* You can become a regular subscriber of the Heart of a Shepherd daily devotionals, and have them sent directly to your email address. Please enter your email address in the box to the right (if using a computer) or at the bottom (if using a cell phone).

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

Heart of A Shepherd Inc is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501c3, and is a public charitable organization. Mailing address: Heart of A Shepherd Inc, 6201 Ehrlich Rd., Tampa, FL 33625. You can email HeartofAShepherdInc@gmail.com for more information on this daily devotional ministry.