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Living Water Church

a St. Nazianz WI (Manitowoc County) un-denominational Christian church

Happy Father’s Day! Many have written great books about fathers and dads such as Mark Driscoll’s Pastor Dad, Steve Farrar’s Finishing Strong, Robert Lewis’ Raising a Modern-Day Knight, and Tony Evans’ Kingdom Man. Today we are going to look at the Bible to what a model father does in relation to his children. And that father is God the Father. If you read the Bible from the perspective that it is a true story about our three-person Triune God: God the Father and His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit, then perhaps the subtitle in your Bible in the middle of Luke 15 shouldn’t be The Prodigal Son. Perhaps it should read The Prodigal Son’s Father. And before that, starting at verse 8, perhaps it shouldn’t be subtitled The Lost Coin but rather How Persistently our God (our Heavenly Father) Looks for the Lost Us and Celebrates When We Are No Longer Lost. And before that in verse 1 perhaps it shouldn’t be subtitled The Lost Sheep but rather How Persistently our God (Our Heavenly Father) Looks for Lost Us and Celebrates When We Are No Longer Lost. We can be persistent in helping God reach the lost, because that’s who He chooses to use: us, because He doesn’t give up. We don’t give up looking for and talking to those who need their heavenly Father because He doesn’t give up looking. We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). We love – because He first loved us. In the story here, the son realizes he has sinned against his father and God and needs to be restored to his father (small “f”) and to his Father (capital “F”). Our heavenly Father often uses us as the catalyst to help the lost realize that they need God the Father’s grace.

Let’s read together verses 11 through 32 in Luke 15 and see how this father models what a father should do in relationship to his children and family, just like God the Father does for us, his children.

Read Luke 15: 11 – 32.

We, like this father’s sons, are all God’s children as His creation. There are two sons here mentioned on purpose. Fathers, you will have children who get it right away: their own separated state from God, grace, salvation, and live as best they can, filled with the Holy Spirit and according to what our Father has provided for us as guidance in His Word, the Bible. But they could lose perspective and become angry of the “unfair” treatment given to the long lost ones when you celebrate the long lost’s salvation. If you think about it, this was the same reaction of the workers that Jesus’ spoke about in Matthew 20. They grumbled that they started working for their employer early in the day and earned the same wage as those who only worked at the end of the day. It doesn’t seem fair. And you’re right. It’s not. Grace isn’t fair. But aren’t you glad that the grace of our Father extends to all, whether a believer and hearer of the Word and a doer of what it says at a young age or, like the believing thief on the cross next to Jesus, right before our death? There are many earthly fathers, and mothers, who are glad grace is not fair, as their children can also accept grace later on in life.

Back to the story, this story about our heavenly Father. The father in this story taught his sons about grace. If not, how did the son who hit bottom know that he could come back though he didn’t deserve to? The son realized that he had sinned against his father and God the Father in such a way as to not be associated with him anymore as his son. His father taught him that.

Now, take a close look at who our Father is. Read verse 20 to yourself.

Our Father sees us from a long way off. He’s looking for us. He’s watching. He’s paying attention to us. What were the chances that this father sees his lost children from a long way off? Our Father in heaven is always watching for us, watching over us. Fathers should watch. Watch and pray, Jesus said in Matthew 26:41. In Ezekiel 33, God gives charge to Ezekiel as His watchman over Israel in that God would tell Ezekiel what to tell Israel directly from Him! Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:13 and Colossians 4:2 tells us to be watchful. Robert Lewis’ The Quest for Authentic Manhood says that authentic manhood has 4 faces. Two of those faces have to do with fathers being watchful. These two faces reflect a righteous energy and a conquering watchful energy.

Read Proverbs 20: 7-8 to see watchful conviction, courageous servant spirit, and righteous leadership.

Read 1 Timothy 6:11-16, a father’s (or mentor to mentee, like Paul to Timothy) spiritual battle cry about that watchful initiative, that protecting, providing, persevering, fighting energy. Fathers are watchful, patiently waiting, always looking out for our families. Our Father in heaven is the same way, and to perfection.

Back to Luke 15:20. Our Father feels compassion. What kind of compassion? Read Psalm 103:13-14. Our Father knows us, remembering that He made us out of dust. He doesn’t laugh at us when we mess up. He doesn’t yell at us when we hit bottom. He doesn’t reject us when we come crawling back. He feels compassion for us.

Next in Luke 15:20 we see our Father running to us when we realize we need to seek Him. Our Father runs to us when we have run away from home, when we have taken advantage of His grace, when we have wasted our time pursuing goals that are not aligned with Him. There’s more. An article by Trinity International University PhD Matt Williams, associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Biola University’s Talbot School of Theology:

http://magazine.biola.edu/article/10-summer/the-prodigal-sons-father-shouldn’t-have-run

Back to Luke 15:20. He embraced and kissed his son. Some versions say “threw his arms around him.” Go to verse 22. He brought the best clothing to put on his restored son: a robe, shoes, and a family ring. Verse 23 & 24: a celebration with the best food. Verse 25: music and dancing. Verse 31: everything our heavenly Father has is ours! Verse 32: The joy our heavenly Father shows when we turn back to Him!

Our Father. He teaches us about His grace. He is always watching for us. He feels compassion for us. He runs to us as soon as we take that step back to Him. He is affectionate with us. He gives us the best. He celebrates over us with music and dancing. Everything He has is ours. He is glad when we seek Him and we are no longer lost but found.

Happy Father’s Day! As we celebrate our earthly fathers today, those here and those fathers who have gone on before us, give thanks to God our heavenly Father.

 

…Which Really Is Not a Secret (1 Timothy 3 & Titus 1)

“God has bestowed on Dads this incredible title ‘Father’ that we get to share with Him.” – Mark Driscoll

All of the leadership books widely read today were written in the past 100 years, but the best read on the characteristics of a leader are letters written not quite 2000 years ago. Paul wrote them to Titus and Timothy. Church leaders are first given leadership titles in Acts 14, and the entire book of Philippians is written to the leaders of the church congregation in Philippi. Philippians 1:1 mentions Paul & Timothy writing to the congregation members and their overseers and deacons. Timothy himself was a leader in the church congregation in Ephesus. He wasn’t formally trained, he didn’t have a degree from the seminary, and he didn’t have the title “Pastor” or “Priest” or “Rabbi” or “Father” or “Brother” or “Bishop.” The same Greek word is used for overseer, elder, pastor, and shepherd when speaking of a leadership role in a church. Some Bible scholars believe Timothy was a pastor such as we think of a full-time paid position to preach and lead a church spiritually, but I am not sure it is completely accurate to assume that he wasn’t bi-vocational like Paul was. Paul was a tentmaker by trade. I do not know what Timothy did for a job. We do know, as Paul writes, that his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice had strong faith in Jesus, like the women of Living Water Church do. Paul does not mention Timothy’s father by name, and it seems as though Paul may have mentored Timothy spiritually perhaps as Timothy’s father. He calls Timothy his child in the opening of 2 Timothy. All this to say that the Gospel from our Father (with a capital “F”) in heaven is the most important influence on a leader inside of and outside of the church and a church congregation.

Paul also addresses Titus as his child in faith. Again, we see here a possible spiritual father (small “f”) mentorship. Titus was a leader of churches on the island of Crete. There may have been up to five of them plus perhaps another on the very small island of Clauda to the southwest of Crete.

The themes of the letters to Timothy & Titus are the Gospel transforming us to do the LORD’s work, defending against false teaching and false teachers, and the characteristics of leaders in our church congregations. These are all leadership topics. So let’s dive in to see what characteristics a church leader should have. This is especially timely with Father’s Day next week as we fathers are supposed to be spiritual leaders. Apart from faith in Jesus as your Savior from sin and your old life or the life you would have if you weren’t a Jesus follower, this is the secret to church leader success, which thankfully the LORD hasn’t made an actual secret at all. He provided leaders to be inspired by Him and write the Bible. After all, the Bible is the #1 best selling leadership book in the world. At times it doesn’t seem that way. It often times seems more like the #1 best selling book that not enough people read or do what it says. The New York Times best sellers list, and other lists just like it, take the Bible off their lists because it would be #1 all the time.

As we read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9, fathers, pay particular attention to these many characteristics that you and your family should aspire to and what you should emphasize in raising your children as leaders for the LORD and His church, with the help of the Holy Spirit. And when you and other church leaders are disappointed because you miss slightly or big time on one or more of these, keep in mind that our God is a God of second chances. And third chances. And fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth…you get the idea. You are never beyond repair.

Read 1 Timothy chapter 3 verses 1 through 13, then Titus chapter 1 verses 5 through 9.

Let’s look at each characteristic beginning in 1 Timothy 3:

n  “above reproach” – the Greek word here is anepileptos which means “not to lay hold of.” Other Bible translations say blameless reputation and give no grounds for accusation. In Titus 1:6 the Greek word used is anegkleilous which means “not open to censure, irreproachable, unrebukable, irreprehensible.” How can you test this characteristic within yourself and your children? Questions to ask yourself include does anyone have an unresolved justifiable complaint against me? Do you, and do those close to you, think you are a leader? Are you open with others as to your personal life?

n  “the husband of one wife” – some Bible scholars believe this means he cannot be divorced, but keep in mind there are grounds Biblically for divorce; some better questions to ask yourself might be: is he one-woman minded? It’s good to think here about what you watch or read on TV, in movie theatres, and on the internet. Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word.” And I would say the author of that verse, David, knew something about that himself.

n  “sober-minded” – the Greek word here is nephalios which means “sober, clear-thinking, mentally alert, able to make sound judgments.” Other translations use the word temperate. Ask yourself: are you lazy, do you respond well in discouraging circumstances, and are you free from significant and uncontrolled financial debts or obligations?

n  “self-controlled” – the Greek word here is sophron which means “discreet, reasonable, sensible, serious, sound mind.” Other translations say a man of discretion, prudent, and well-behaved. Ask yourself: do you have good common sense, can you give good counsel on matters dealing with personal relationships, do you go to the Bible and prayer when making important decisions?

n  the next word is “respectable” – the Greek word here is kosmios which means “modest, honorable, decent, orderly, proper, organized.” Other translations use the words disciplined or dignified. Ask yourself these questions: Do others take your words to heart? Do you keep your priorities? Does your appearance measure up Biblically if culturally it could be questionable by Biblical standards?

n  next: “hospitable” – the Greek word here is philoxenos which means “lover of strangers.” The Amplified translation of the Bible explains it this way: showing love for and being a friend to believers, especially strangers and foreigners. Questions to test yourself against this characteristic: Do you use your home to minister to people? Do you greet and meet visitors to your church? Are you generally cheerful? Do you invite people to church?

n  “able to teach” – the Greek word here is didaktikos meaning “apt to teach.” Other translations say have the gift of teaching and be a capable and qualified teacher. In 1 Timothy 3:8-13, deacons are not asked to lead by teaching. Questions to ask yourself: Are you able to share your faith and the Gospel? Have you lead people to Christ? If you feel you cannot teach, what are you doing to work toward that? God has a tendency to make His leaders those who were clearly not. Examples: Paul, Moses, Gideon, most of the 12 apostles  – can you think of any other leaders for God who may not have been chosen first as leadership material? It doesn’t matter if you do not think you are qualified. God develops you with His Gospel.

n  “not a drunkard” – the Greek word here is paroinos meaning “a man who sits too long at his wine.” Questions to ask yourself: With God’s help do you continually master sin? Do you make sure you do nothing to make a weaker Christian stumble? And the obvious: are you avoiding excessive drinking and drug use?

n  “not violent” – the Greek word here is plektes meaning “excessively inclined to quarrel or fight, a bully.” Other translations: not pugnacious, not combative. Questions: Are you able to maintain a concern for a person though personally offended by that person? Are you diligent to not receive accusations against other people except on the basis of two or three witnesses? Do you abandon potential quarrels? Do you handle criticism well?

n  “gentle” – the Greek word here is epieidis meaning “gracious, encouraging, considerate, kind, yielding, seemly, equitable.” Questions to ask yourself: Are you flexible to change your positions on minor issues? Are you a good and empathetic listener? Are you kind and respectful to all economic classes? Are you able to secure the discipline of others without a show of authority?

n  “not quarrelsome” – the Greek word here is amakos which means “peaceable, not apt to contend, not given to angry debate, abstaining from fighting or strife, not struggling or fighting or giving a violent effort to obtain something, not disputing.” Other translations use uncontentious, forbearing. Questions: Do you avoid foolish conversations about nonessential matters? Do you promote doctrinal peace, harmony, and unity rather than doctrinal division? Do you see the good points in the views of other Christians with whom you generally disagree? Are you continually under God’s authority?

n  “not a lover of money” – the Greek word here is aphilarguros meaning “not greedy, without love of money.” The Greek word in Titus 1:7 is aiskrokerdei which means “greedy, of base gain” and has the word not earlier in the verse. Other translations include not insatiable for wealth, not ready to obtain wealth by questionable means, not pursuing dishonest gain, not grasping for sordid or ill-gotten or filthy financial gain. Questions: Do you trust God when tested financially? Are you generous but wise with money? If you have a paid position within the church, do you value ministering to people more than having a job on staff with the church? Do you tithe? Are you a cheerful giver?

n  “manages his household well” – the Greek phrase here is kalos proistamenon which means “to direct, be at the head, rule well, be concerned about, care for, give aid, to stand before and hence to lead – attend to – indicating care and diligence.” Other translations: preside over his own household, must have proper authority in his own household, rule his own household well. Questions: Does he lead out spiritually his family? Does he take the lead in training his children in character? Does he maintain a budget of his finances?

n  “keeping his children submissive” – the Greek word used here hupotage , meaning “subjection,” is often a military term translated “to rank under.” Other translations say see that his children obey him with proper respect, able to control and command the respect of his children, keeping his children under control with true dignity commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful. In Titus 1:6 it says “his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery and insubordination.” Questions: Do you have a good relationship with your children? Do they respect you and your words? Do your children respect other adults?

n  “well thought of by outsiders” – the Greek phrase is kalos marturia is often translated as good reputation but literally means “beautiful or good testimony.” Other translations say a good reputation with the outside world. Questions: Do co-workers who are unbelievers appreciate and value you? Are you honest and demonstrate integrity in business and personal dealings? Is your social life a good testimony before non-Christians? Do your neighbors respect you?

Now, let’s go to Titus 1:7 and see a few different words here. We see much the same theme here. The second sentence in verse 7 begins with not. So, a leader must not be these:

n  not “arrogant” – the Greek word here is authades which means “self-willed, stubborn, self-pleasing, self-centered, own authority, headstrong.” Other translations say not overbearing, not aggressive, not presumptuous. Questions to ask yourself: Have you surrendered your will to Jesus in all areas of your life? Are you a team player? Do you generally wait on the Holy Spirit’s leading before making decisions? Do you ask for counsel and wise advice when making decisions? Next:

n  not “quick-tempered” – the Greek word is orgilos meaning “inclined to anger, passionate, cross, irritable, sharp-tongued, short fuse.” Other translations say hot-tempered. Questions: Do you hold your temper well? Are you quick to forgive others who have wronged you? Do you rejoice in trials? Do you generally refrain from correcting your children in anger?

Now, on to verse 8 which has several different words, but again the same theme as 1 Timothy 3.

n  Titus 1:8. “a lover of good” – the Greek word here is philagothos meaning “to love (phileo) good (agathos).” Another translation says a lover of goodness – of good people and good things. Questions: Are your closest associates godly people? Are you quick to claim God’s grace when you fail or sin? Do you believe the best about others? Do you have a hopeful and optimistic view of life, based on the Scriptures? If you remember your parents being concerned about some negative friends you were hanging out with at the time, here is their proof.

n  “self-controlled” – the Greek word here is egkrates meaning “disciplined, strong, master of yourself, in full control of oneself, to have power over oneself.” Other translations here say disciplined, temperate, and keeping himself in hand. Questions: Do you usually accomplish tasks on time? Are you usually punctual? Are you neat and orderly, including your appearance? Are you in control of your habits?

n  “upright” – the Greek word here is dikaios meaning “just, righteous in human relationships, able to make proper judgments and act accordingly, correct, innocent.” Other translations: just, fair-minded. Questions: Are you fair and honest in relationships with others? Do you listen to both sides of the story before coming to a conclusion? Do others seek you out as a fair counselor?

n  “holy” – the Greek word here is hosios meaning “pleasing to God, being undefiled, righteous, pious.” Other translations: devout, religiously right. Questions: Do you desire to please God more than men? Do you have a strong prayer life? Are you committed to obeying God regardless of pressures or trials you go through? Do you spend time with the Lord?

And our final look will be four items in verse 9:

“hold firm to the trustworthy Word as taught” – the Greek word for hold firm or holding fast is antekomenon meaning ”clinging to, devoted to, paying attention to.” Other translations say holding fast to the faithful word, hold firmly to the trustworthy message, a man who takes his stand on the true faith, he must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God. Next phrase in verse 9:

“able to give instruction in sound doctrine” – the Greek words here are parakaleo meaning “encourage, appeal, request, comfort, console, to call to or for” and hugianino for “to be sound, healthy.” Other translations include can encourage sound teaching, stimulate faith in sound wholesome doctrine, to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in healthy doctrine.

Finally, “to rebuke those who contradict it” in Greek is elegkein meaning “convince, convict, expose, point out, reprove, correct, set forth.” Other translations: confute opposition, to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it – showing the wayward their error.

Questions to ask yourself to test yourself on these Titus 1:9 characteristics include

n  Are you capable of mobilizing a small group or ministry team to serve Christ?

n  Are you able to boldly refute someone who is teaching wrong doctrine?

n  Do you have a good grasp of a variety of Biblical doctrines?

n  Are you united in major Biblical doctrine with your church leaders, and if they are wrong are you able to point out their error effectively?

And those are the secrets to [church] leader success – and the secrets haven’ t been secrets for nearly 2000 years. While it is list to aspire to, we will all fall short of this list. But with the power of the Holy Spirit as Christians, this can be accomplished here on earth. Plus, we have an adversary who won’t want anyone to develop all these characteristics as the Gospel changes us. Yet, we can do all things through Him who gives us strength through reading His Word, prayer, and being with other Christians.

We will look at all these characteristics in a Father (capital “F”) in Luke 15 next time.