Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy who was a spiritual son in the faith to him. More specifically today’s passage is found in the fifth and sixth chapter of this New Testament book. “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity. Honour widows that are widows indeed. But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day. But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth. And these things give charge, that they may be blameless. But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith. And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give non occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan. If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed” (1 Timothy 5:1-16).
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing. Nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand: and they that are otherwise cannot be hid” (1 Timothy 5:17-25).
“Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And 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. These things teach and exhort. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great bain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 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. For the love of meny is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:1-16).
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:17-21).
“The first to Timothy was written from Laodicea, which is the chiefest city of Phrygia Pacatiana” (1 Timothy 6:21).
When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul continuing and concluding this first epistle written unto Timothy who was a spiritual son in the faith. If you take the time to read the words which are found in this epistle you will find that it was written largely in part to provide instruction, exhortation and admonition in the life of Timothy. The apostle Paul makes it perfectly clear at the outset of the epistle that he besought him to abide and remain in Ephesus that he might be a guardian of truth and might indeed combat error, false doctrine, false teaching, false gospels and the like. You will recall that in his farewell words spoken unto the elders of the Ephesian church the apostle Paul emphatically declared unto them that in his absence and after his departure savage wolves would enter in among them not sparing the flock. Moreover the apostle Paul also highlighted and underscored the tremendous truth that there would even be those from among their own number who would draw disciples away after them. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this for it might very well have been at this moment the apostle Paul encouraged, besought and instructed Timothy to abide in Ephesus as a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know from the New Testament book of Acts that Timothy as well as Silas were with the apostle Paul in Philippi, in Thessalonica and even in Corinth.
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand Timothy’s presence with the apostle Paul in certain key cities such as Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and even Ephesus for within these cities he would witness and behold tremendous affliction, trials and troubles which were associated and connected to the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus. In Philippi Timothy witnessed Paul and Silas beaten before being imprisoned, secured in the inner prison and their feet being fastened in stocks. Of course we know and understand in the midnight hour Paul and Silas sang praises in worship before the living God and He supernaturally intervened by causing a great earthquake to strike the earth. As a direct result of the earthquake every man’s prison doors were opened and each man’s chains and shackles were loosed from his person. We dare not miss and lose sight of this particular reality for although Timothy would witness affliction and persecution for the sake of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he would also witness and behold the supernatural intervention of the living God on behalf of those who call upon His name and worship Him. What an incredibly powerful witness this would have been for young Timothy who although he witnessed and beheld affliction for the sake of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he would also witness the ability and the power of the living God to deliver His righteous saints and servants out of their affliction. In all reality I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the thirty-seventh chapter of the Old Testament book of the Psalms as well as the words which are found in the ninety-first chapter of the same book. It is the words we find here which bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible ability of the living God to deliver His righteous saints and servants from all their trouble and affliction:
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and ither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not yhself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the. Meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laught at him: for he seeth that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken. A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholdeth the righteous. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. The wicked borroweth, and payeth no again: but the righteous sheweth mercy, and giveth. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD; and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful, and lendeth; and his seed is blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever. The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it. I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found. Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: He is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him” (Psalm 37:1-40).
Consider also the following words which are found in the ninety-first chapter of the Old Testament book of Psalms which further enhances and echoes the language that was presented in the thirty-seventh chapter:
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: MY God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestiulence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall. No evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation” (Psalm 91:1-16).
The words and language we find in both of these Psalms are absolutely and incredibly powerful when you take the time to review and consider them for at the very heart of both is a trust and confidence the righteous saints of the most High God place in Him and His ability to deliver them out of the hand of the wicked and out of all their troubles, trials and tribulations. It is important we recognize and understand this—particularly when considering the narrative of the apostle Paul and the witness young Timothy beheld—for although the apostle Paul and Silas would be beaten before being imprisoned, placed in the inner prison and had their feet secured in stocks in the city of Philippi these two men would place their trust and confidence in the living God. Scripture is unclear whether or not Paul and Silas had any anticipation or expectation concerning the intervention of the living God, however, we can say with absolute certainty they made Him their refuge, their fortress and their strong stronger. It was because they chose to sing praises in worship before and unto the living God in the midnight hour the living and eternal God would essentially invade prison for the third time in the New Testament book of Acts. You will recall in the fourth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the Lord would supernaturally deliver the apostles out of the prison in the city of Jerusalem and command them to stand in the Temple and proclaim the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will also recall in the twelfth chapter of the same New Testament book the Lord sent one of His holy angels to deliver the apostle Peter out of the prison where Herod had him bound thus delivering him out of the hand of Herod. Now here we have a third intervention in a prison where the Lord would send an earthquake that would not only shake the entire prison but would cause every man’s prison doors to be opened and each man’s chains, shackles and fetters to be loosed.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts I can’t help but think about the fact that almost immediately after beginning to accompany the apostle Paul and walk with him in ministry young Timothy would witness and behold affliction for the sake of the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The living and eternal God would indeed deliver Paul and Silas from the prison wherein they had been cast and secured and yet upon coming to Thessalonica they would experience something entirely and altogether different. It would be in the city of Thessalonica the unbelieving Jews would oppose themselves and blaspheme against the apostle Paul and against the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover it would be in Thessalonica where these unbelieving Jews would gather unto themselves lewd men whom Luke describes as being of the baser sort to incite the city against the apostle Paul and those who were with him. So severe was this affliction and opposition that the disciples and brethren would send Paul and Silas forth from Thessalonica and unto Berea. Upon coming unto Berea the apostle Paul and Silas would enter into a synagogue of the Jews where they would once more reason with them concerning Jesus being the Christ, having suffered, having died, and having risen from the grave. Eventually, however, those unbelieving Jews who were in Thessalonica would get wind of what was happening in Berea and would bring their opposition and affliction among the Bereans as well. Eventually the apostle Paul would be sent forth unto the sea by the disciples and brethren in light of the opposition and affliction which had made its way unto Berea.
As you continue reading the New Testament book of Acts you will find that in light of the affliction and opposition that was experienced in Thessalonica and Berea the apostle Paul would be sent forth from these two places by the disciples and brethren. Much like he was let down from the wall in a basket in Damascus and much like he was sent forth from Jerusalem unto Tarsus because of those who sought to kill him so also would the apostle Paul be sent forth from Thessalonica and Berea at the behest of the disciples and brethren who were concerned for his well being. Oh there would be no supernatural or divine intervention that would take place, however, there would be the concern, compassion and action of the disciples and brethren which were present in the midst of these two cities. Eventually the apostle Paul would come unto the city of Corinth where he would once more experience opposition and resistance from the Jews who blasphemed themselves and incited the crowd against the apostle Paul, Silas, Timothy and the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes the narrative in Corinth so incredibly unique and powerful when you think about it is when you consider the fact that the apostle Paul would not be sent forth from the city by the disciples and brethren and there would be no supernatural or divine intervention as there was in Philippi. This is actually worth thinking about and considering when we consider affliction, suffering, trials and troubles within our own lives.
If we read and study the narrative of the apostle Paul in chapters sixteen through nineteen of the New Testament book of Acts we find various different events taking place around the suffering, the affliction, the opposition, the resistance, the trials and the troubles the apostle Paul faced. In the city of Philippi the living and eternal God sent divine and supernatural intervention as He sent an earthquake which not only shook the prison house where Paul and Silas were being held, but He also opened every man’s prison doors and caused each man’s shackles, chains and fetters to be loosed. In Thessalonica and Berea, however, there was no supernatural or divine intervention on behalf of the apostle Paul—only the action and intervention of the disciples and brethren who would send the apostle Paul forth from the midst of them. When we come to Corinth we find neither supernatural nor human intervention in the life of the apostle Paul and instead we find a vision and appearing of the Lord Jesus. It would be in the city of Corinth the Lord Jesus would appear unto the apostle Paul in the night by a vision and not only instruct him to speak and not hold his peace but would also declare unto him that no man would set upon him to hurt him for he had much people in that city. As a direct result of this vision and appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ the apostle Paul together with Aquila and Priscilla and Silas and Timothy would spend a year and a half laboring among the Corinthians in the work of the ministry and the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts for it brings us face to face with how the Lord handles the suffering, the affliction, the trials, the troubles, and the tribulations we are in. There are indeed times when we experience and walk through suffering, affliction, trials and troubles and the Lord can, will and does send supernatural and divine intervention. Oh although He might not send earthquakes, cause prison houses to shake, open prison doors and cause chains and fetters to fall off He nonetheless shows up and shows off in a manner and fashion only He can accomplish. There are times when the living and eternal God can and will show up and show off in a supernatural and divine manner in the midst of our suffering and affliction much like the fourth man in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrews in Babylon and the angel who shut the mouths of the lions after Daniel had been cast into the den. With this being said there are other times when the Lord will not send supernatural or divine intervention in the midst of our suffering and affliction but rather the brethren who are a part of the body of Christ will intervene on our behalf and help us in those moments of trials, troubles and tribulation. Still there are other times when there will neither be divine intervention nor human intervention but rather there will be an appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ who shows up to not only encourage and admonish us but also guide and instruct us in the work which is before us.
When we witness and behold the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy we find him writing unto a disciple and faithful minister of the Lord who had witnessed the suffering and affliction of the righteous on account of the word and name of the Lord Jesus. With this being said we find this first New Testament epistle being written unto a young and faithful disciple and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ who witnessed the supernatural intervention of the living God in the midst of suffering and affliction as well as human intervention in the midst of similar suffering and affliction. What’s more is that Timothy also witnessed the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of suffering and affliction as He not only sought to encourage the apostle Paul but also instruct him to hold not his peace but to continue to speak for no man would set upon him to harm him in that city for He had much people. The first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy was such that was written unto one who had personally witnessed suffering and affliction for the sake of the word, name and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and who was left in the city of Ephesus as a faithful steward and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul would beseech Timothy to abide and remain in the city of Ephesus as a faithful minister of the gospel to teach sound doctrine and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This in light of the truth and knowledge that there would be those who having departed from the faith themselves would give themselves to doctrines of demons and seductive teachings.
The first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy is such which must be carefully understood for it was an epistle that was not only written in light of suffering, persecution and affliction but also in light of deception, falsehood and lies. In order to understand the words and language which is found in the first epistle written unto Timothy there is a great need for us to recognize that at the very heart of it are words and language which seek to encourage this young and faithful steward and minister of the Lord Jesus Christ in the face of affliction, opposition and resistance as well as in the face of deception, false teaching, false gospels and false doctrines. The apostle Paul made it perfectly and abundantly clear that Timothy was encouraged and admonished to abide in Ephesus in the face of deceptive and false teaching that he might be a beacon of truth and a guardian of light among them. The apostle Paul besought Timothy to abide and remain in the city of Ephesus that he might put the saints in remembrance of those things which he taught them as well as in remembrance of the words which the Lord Jesus spoke. The words and instruction which are found in this epistle weren’t just for Timothy himself as a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ but also for the congregation of saints which were present in the city of Ephesus. The more you read the words which are found in this epistle the more you will be brought face to face with personal instruction given unto Timothy pertaining to his own witness and stewardship but also corporate instruction given unto Timothy on behalf of the church and body of saints.
If you read the words which are found in this epistle you will quickly and certainly encounter the awesome and incredible truth of the apostle Paul seeking to instruct Timothy concerning his own personal witness among the saints of God as well as the fellowship of the saints and brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot read the words which are found in these six chapters and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely awesome and wonderful truth surrounding the instruction and admonition that was provided within it. This first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy who was his spiritual son in the faith is truly awesome and powerful when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth concerning the instruction, encouragement and admonition the apostle Paul sought to convey unto Timothy his spiritual son in the faith. This first epistle written unto this young and faithful minister and steward of the Lord Jesus Christ was indeed written with the express purpose and intention to instruct him concerning his own personal witness among the saints and brethren as well as how to teach and instruct the disciples and brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ. Essentially there are two different witnesses which are present within this epistle for there was the personal witness of Timothy while there was also the corporate witness of the saints and brethren of the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh it is absolutely impossible to read the words which are found in this epistle and not encounter and come face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the apostle Paul seeking to provide guidance and instruction for young Timothy as a faithful steward and minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Consider if you will the various words of instruction, charge and admonition written and spoken by the apostle Paul in this epistle written unto Timothy as you prepare your heart and spirit for the final words which are presented in the fifth and sixth chapters. This epistle is chalk full of instruction and charge given unto Timothy—not only that he himself might be counted a faithful steward of the Lord Jesus Christ but also that the saints and brethren themselves might be counted and found worthy and faithful in the sight and presence of the living God. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are presented within this epistle concerning the charge and instruction the apostle Paul wrote and gave unto this young and faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ:
“As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm” (1 Timothy 1:3-7).
“This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (1 Timothy 1:18-20).
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Timothy 3:1-14).
“These things write I unto thee, hoping to come to thee shortly: but if I tarry long, that thou m ayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:14-16).
“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 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. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:6-11).
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:12-16).
As you come to the fifth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find instruction that up until a couple weeks ago has never meant so much to me personally. If you begin reading with and from the first verse you will find the apostle Paul beginning by instructing Timothy to rebuke not an elder but intreat him as a father. With this being said the apostle Paul also went on to instruct and encourage Timothy to intreat the younger men is brethren, the elder women as mothers and the younger women as sisters with all purity. Essentially the words which are found in the opening two verses of the fifth chapter deal a great amount with how we treat, view and interact with those elder men and women who are among us in our midst as well as the younger women and men who are also present among us. The words and instruction found in this passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the awesome and tremendous truth surrounding how we are to treat and interact with those who are present among us in the corporate body of Christ—namely intreating them as brothers and sisters and even as fathers and mothers. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also go on to instruct Timothy to intreat the elder women and elder men as well as the younger men and younger women with all purity. Oh it is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to this for it calls and draws our attention to the way we interact with our brothers and sisters among us in the body of Christ.
Upon continuing to read with and from the words which are found in the fifth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto Timothy you will find him providing instruction concerning the treatment of widows who were present among them in the body of Christ. In the third verse of the fifth chapter you find the apostle Paul instructing Timothy to honor widows which were widows indeed. The apostle Paul goes on to declare unto Timothy concerning any widow who has children or nephew and that they must first shew piety at home and to requite their parents for this is good and acceptable before God. This would immediately be followed by the apostle Paul declaring that one who was a widow indeed and was desolate trust in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. This is in strong contrast between a widow who lives in pleasure and is dead while she lives. With this being said the apostle Paul also goes on to instruct Timothy to give in charge that they might be blameless. Not only this but the apostle Paul would also declare unto Timothy that if any provide not for their own and especially for their own house that one has denied the faith and is worse than an infidel. These words would be followed by the apostle Paul instructing Timothy to not let a widow be taken into the number who was under the age of sixty and has not been the wife of one man and well reported of for good works. Essentially that which we find the apostle Paul writing and speaking about in this particular section is instruction regarding widows and the care for widows among the saints and brethren of the body of Christ.
I have to admit that this concept of widows—and not just widows but caring for widows—is something that has become near and dear to my heart. Almost three weeks ago my father passed away from COVID pneumonia at the age of sixty after spending nearly two weeks in the hospital. Of course as a direct result of his passing he left behind my mother who is now a widow—something she has never experienced before and never thought she would experience. At the age of sixty-one my mom was suddenly forced with being a widow and my brother and I were faced with the task and responsibility of stepping up to the plate and taking care of her. What’s more is that in having conversations with her after the passing of my dad I realized how much he actually did for her—from starting her car in the morning, to going to Wawa to get her a drink and snack, to packing her lunch, to a number of other things. Now with his passing there are things my mom is going to have to start doing for the first time—things which my dad would always do in an effort to take care of her as the husband and head of the household. In all reality it is something to watch my mom be faced with certain things in her life which she has never had to deal with or even think about before. All of a sudden—not only was a part of her missing and a huge hole left in her heart but now also she is forced to do life alone without my dad and her husband of almost forty years. My father passed away a year shy of their fortieth wedding anniversary which would have been a historic milestone for them—especially given everything they have been through over the years.
Even as I am sitting here right now thinking about the words which are found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with this care and compassion that is needed for widows. I remember seeing a message which was preached by the senior pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle—a message entitled God’s Other People—and it was a message regarding orphans and widows. If you read Scripture you will find a lot of language—especially in the Old Testament and chapters nine through eleventh of the New Testament epistle written unto the saints of Rome—concerning Israel being God’s chosen people and the apple of His eye. While it is indeed true that the nation and people of Israel are in fact God’s chosen people and His special possession it is also true that there is another people within a people who have the heart, the mind, the attention and the affection of the living God. Contained within the Law and the prophets are incredibly powerful instructions given concerning the poor, the strangers, the orphans and the widows which were present among the children of Israel. In fact when the LORD God was instructing Moses concerning the children of Israel He provided very clear instruction concerning the strangers which were among them and how they were not to oppress, abuse or mistreat them. Not only this but within the Law given unto Moses concerning the children of Israel the living God would also provide them with instruction concerning the poor who were among them and not to oppress or mistreat them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for in addition to the poor and strangers among them the LORD also provided powerful instruction concerning the orphans and widows who were among them and to give themselves to care and compassion concerning them.
The more I think about what has recently happened to my mother and what she is now facing for the first time in her life the more I am brought face to face with the tremendous call to rise up and provide care for these forgotten and oftentimes neglected people among us. What’s more is that I am not only convinced these people are among us in the house of the Lord but they are also among us in our culture and society. I don’t know the statistics and numbers but I would love to know how many orphans there are among us in the streets of our cities. I know there are orphanages and foster homes throughout this nation—yea, even throughout and across the globe—and yet I would love to know how many orphans are actually among us. Not only this but I would love to know how many poor are present among us in the streets of our cities within and throughout this nation. Having worked in two major cities within the United States—Philadelphia and Boston—I have personally witnessed countless poor and homeless people within the streets contained therein. Time and time again I have walked—and even run—the streets of these cities and have encountered countless homeless and poor among us within them as men and women are forced to find shelter wherever they can.
I sit here today thinking about the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in the first epistle sent unto him and I am brought face to face with the tremendous need among us concerning the orphans, the poor, the strangers, the homeless, and the widows. What’s more is that I feel a huge stirring within my heart and spirit to start a ministry that deals exclusively and specifically with those who are largely marginalized and ostracized by society. Having a widow so close to me within my own life I am finding myself being confronted with a need to open my heart wide to these forgotten people in society who are so dearly loved by the eternal and living God. I am absolutely convinced there is a stirring within my heart and spirit concerning these forgotten and oftentimes neglected people among us—not only within our houses of worship but also within the streets of our cities. Even as I am writing these words I feel a stirring within my heart and feel compelled to ask the Spirit of the living God to fill me with compassion, tender mercies, charity and love for these people. I am finding myself asking the living God to open and break my heart wide for these precious and dear people to the heart and mind of the living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is a great and effectual door of opportunity before us within our culture and society—particularly and especially in these Last Days in which we are living.
I have to admit that I have in times past felt a stirring for the poor and the homeless as well as for orphans. Over the past several years I have felt the Spirit of the living God gently nudging and urging me to rise up and engage myself among the orphans and widows who are present among us. Much like Stephen in the New Testament book of Acts who was full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom was among seven men chosen from among the disciples and brethren in the early church to minister among the widows present among the saints of God I feel the living and eternal God has called and is calling me to step into that same reality. I cannot escape the tremendous draw and pull within my heart and spirit to rise up and step into this ministry that cares for the orphans and the widows which are present among us in our society. What’s more is I cannot escape the tremendous urge and pull within my heart and spirit to step up and step into this ministry for the poor, the strangers and the homeless within our society. There is not a doubt in my mind that I have been called into such a place within my own heart and life and that this is something the Lord has been working within my heart and life for years. In all reality I believe with everything inside of me that the passing of my father and the resulting widowing of my mother is and has been the effectual and open door to step up into this ministry—one which I have been called to for years now. I do not subscribe to coincidence and I believe that everything happens for a reason—including the death of my own father and leaving my mother behind as a widow.
I am writing these words and I am finding myself being confronted with this tremendous burden and asking the Lord to not only increase the burden within my heart and spirit but also to open the door and provide all the resources and finances that are needed to engage myself in this wonderful ministry. I have to admit that I have felt a strong connection and link to Stephen in the New Testament book of Acts and how he was chosen along with six other men who were full of the Holy Spirit and full of faith to serve among the widows which were present in the midst of the early Church. Scripture wonderfully reveals how Stephen was a man who was full of faith, full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom who was chosen along with six others to step up into this ministry within the body of Christ as he cared for the widows. What’s more is that it was after and as a direct result of Stephen being chosen to minister unto and among widows that the Spirit of the living God would begin to use him in signs, wonders and miracles for the kingdom of heaven.
Having said all of this I am finding myself wanting to create and have a facility where orphans and widows can not only come and gather together for fellowship and community but also for care, for compassion and for whatever needs they might have. I envision a community center where both the orphans and widows can came and know that not only are they not alone but there are those who will care for them. If they need a place to sleep because they cannot sleep in their house alone then they will have a place to sleep. If they don’t want to cook meals because the sorrow and anguish in their hearts and spirits is too much then they can come and partake in a meal that is cooked for them. If orphans no longer want to live in the streets and be without a roof over their heads then they can have a place where they know they will have a clean bed, a hot shower, a fresh meal, and anything they need. What’s more is that the vision I have for this is that this would be afforded to these individuals at no charge to them and without needing to give anything in return. I know that since my dad passed away and since I left the house the night times have been especially hard for my mom and at times it has been difficult to sleep and even be in the house alone. As a direct result of this I have been FaceTiming my mom just before going to sleep and leave the call on all night since that was what she did with my father when he was in the hospital. If I can give my mom some semblance of what she had with my dad and can help her in such a way—even if it might seem small and insignificant then I am going to try and do it.
With this in mind I find myself being burdened within my heart and spirit concerning a place of community and fellowship where the poor and the homeless can come to find comfort, care, compassion and community. COMFORT, CARE, COMPASSION, CHARITY AND COMMUNITY! THE FIVE C’S CENTER! I have a vision within my heart for a community center where orphans can come to find a sense of belonging and community they have not experienced within their lives. I have a vision within my heart for a community center where widows can come to connect with other women—even a place where widowed men can gather together with other men—who are in the same position. I desire a place of community, fellowship, compassion and care for these people who might need someone to talk to, someone to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, someone who will listen to them, and just knowing that someone is with and for them. Perhaps the biggest question I have within my heart and mind is what this looks like and how it will actually come to pass. I feel a tremendous sense of urgency concerning this within my heart and spirit and feel compelled to rise up and look into beginning this ministry—a ministry which I personally feel I have been called to for years. Oh if there is one thing my father taught me from his dying bed it’s that ministry can indeed and can in fact take place outside the four walls of the church. If there is one thing COVID taught me it’s that we have spent more time “going to church” than we have in “being the church.” Men and women focused so much on getting back into the church buildings that they completely missed the invitation to step up and step into ministry in the streets of our cities.
As I prepare to bring all of this to a close I find myself encountering and coming face to face with these forgotten—and more often than not neglected—people who are present among us within our culture and society. I am finding myself coming face with the countless divorced and widowed men and women among us who are lonely, who are filled with sorrow, who are filled with anguish and who simply need fellowship and community. I am finding myself coming face to face with the countless orphans and fatherless children who are present among us in our culture, society and nation and how there is a great need to rise up and engage in ministry unto and among them. Not only this but there is a great need to engage ourselves in ministry unto and among the poor, the homeless and the destitute among us in our culture and society. I firmly believe with everything inside me that this is a ministry I have indeed been called to and a ministry the Spirit of the living God is and has been inviting me to. Even as I write these words I find myself knowing the door that is before me and praying for the courage, the strength, the trust, the confidence and the faith to be able to walk through it. I am praying for the Lord to break my heart and fill me with compassion for this ministry and to give me the ability to step out and take a leap of faith into such a ministry before me. Not only this but I can’t help but wonder if the Spirit of the Lord isn’t calling me to step away from the job I’ve had for almost four years to begin walking in this path to make an impact and change the lives of men, women and children for the glory of the living God and for the sake of His kingdom.