Praying Church Members
Prayer support is valuable support.
1 Timothy(3) (Part of the I Am A Church Member(6) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on January 21, 2018 (Sunday Morning(282))
Church(2), Membership(5), Prayer(15)
I AM A CHURCH MEMBER
Praying Church Members
(1 Timothy 3:1-7)
“It’s Thursday morning. Pastor Mike has a clear calendar, an aberration in his busy schedule. Actually, the calendar is not really clear. He has set aside time to finish his sermon for Sunday. His Bible is open. Study aids are nearby. He begins to study.
Then the phone rings.
His assistant tells him about a car accident involving a family in the church. The ambulances are already on the way to the hospital. Mike leaves all his study material on his desk and jumps into the car.
On the way to the hospital, his assistant calls him again. The entire Godsey family of five were in the car. None are seriously hurt except Gary, the father and husband of the family. His condition is grave.
Pastor Mike walks into the emergency room. The family has just been told that their husband and father did not make it. They see their pastor and run to him sobbing, in total shock. Mike is there for them. He stays with the entire family for three hours until he is certain enough people are around to care for them.
He stops by his home to see his wife and grab a quick sandwich. It is now afternoon. He’s not sure if he can return to his sermon preparation, but he knows he must. He must fight the emotional exhaustion of the morning and finish the message. But as he walks back to the church, his assistant apologetically tells him that two people need to speak with him. They consider it urgent.
Mike meets with the two men. One of them is the worship leader of the church. He is struggling with his ministry and is considering giving up. For two hours Mike listens, consoles, and attempts to encourage the staff member.
The next visitor then catches Mike off guard. George is one of the key lay leaders in the church. Mike considers him a friend and an incredibly vital person in the overall leadership of the congregation. George struggles to speak: ‘My wife is having an affair . . .’ There are no more words for five minutes. Just tears and sobs.
Mike stays with George for over two hours. They pray together and talk about next steps.
It’s nearly five o’clock in the afternoon. Mike is too drained to attempt to get back to his sermon. Instead he begins to look at his crowded e-mail inbox. He cringes when he sees one of the senders of an e-mail. But he cannot stop himself from opening the message. It’s from one of Mike’s most frequent critics in the church. She has two complaints. The first irritation was something he said in last Sunday’s sermon. The second complaint addressed Mike’s failure to visit her sister-in-law who had minor outpatient surgery yesterday. The woman is not a member of the church. And Mike knew nothing about the surgery.
Pastor Mike shuts the laptop cover and moves to his car slowly. He’ll stop by the house to grab a quick bite to eat. Then he needs to check on the Godsey family. He will stay with them for a while, but he must leave prior to 7:30, when he is to give the invocation for a local high school basketball game.
Several people corner him at the game, so he doesn’t get home until after nine o’clock. He goes to his small study in his home, shuts the door, and begins to cry.
Gary Godsey, the father and husband who was killed in the car accident, was Mike’s best friend.
This was the first chance Mike had to grieve.”
[I Am A Church Member by Thom Rainer, 43-46].
That seems daunting doesn’t it? Now that’s not Mike’s schedule every day or even every week, but there are times in ministry when those kinds of days hit.
What we need to understand is that these kinds of days are not exclusive to the pastor, but also to those in spiritual leadership within the church. There are those within the church right now who are serving in leadership and have had long days, working their regular job and then attending meetings or meeting with individuals from the church. As we continue to develop elders within our church, they will find themselves in similar situations. Our current board of administration understands the pressures. We need your prayers on a daily basis.
One of those days
Over the past 8 years, I can say that I’ve experienced one of those days on several occasions
It’s the emergency surgery, death of a loved one, or family situation that supersedes all other priorities
It’s easy to feel the pressure of completing God’s message for Sunday with little time, emotional strength, and focus available
It’s during those times that God’s Holy Spirit supernaturally intercedes and provides just the right words and ideas to communicate God’s message
I’ve been blessed to experience those times of God’s movement in my heart and mind
There are those in the congregation that understand the pressures of serving during urgent and critical times
When the sirens sound, those who volunteer for the fire department have to sacrifice family time and sleep in order to serve their community
They have to drop everything they’re doing and go to the fire station or the scene of the emergency and spend multiples hours helping those in need
If you work in the medical field and are scheduled to be on-call that means your beeper or cell phone could ring at any moment
There is someone who is in urgent need of your help
You have to drop everything and go immediately to the hospital in order to serve
You sacrifice time with your family and sometimes sleep
As an employee of the utility company or an employee of a heating and cooling company there are times when you have to be on-call
For some reason people want electricity, gas, oil, water, heat, a/c, etc.
There are times when the need for air conditioning and heat are critical and when the units stop working or run out of oil or gas, you have to jump into service
It requires you to miss family activities and sometimes sleep in order to serve
Praying Church Members
We’ve been discovering the attitudes that make the difference in church membership
We’ve discovered how to be a functioning, unifying, serving church member
Today we’re going to be focusing on being a praying church member – especially praying for the leadership of the church
One of the passages of scripture that addresses the qualifications of eldership is 1 Timothy 3:1-7
As we look at this passage this morning we’re going to see some important things that we as church members should be praying about for the leadership of Idaville
Being an elder and a board member carries with it very important opportunities for serving and shepherding the congregation
BIG IDEA – Prayer support is valuable support.
Read 1 Timothy 3:1-7
GOD (1 Timothy 3:1-7)
Noble Task (vv. 1)
Paul begins this section on overseers and deacons with a common/popular saying of his day and age
The NEB translates it this way, To aspire to leadership is an honorable ambition [Beacon Bible Commentary, 578]
NIV – noble task
Paul is defining this position of leadership in terms of function and not status or office [Liefeld, 116]
Paul is talking about having a desire to serve the church in a way that individuals grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ – this sometimes requires exhortation/admonition, which can be difficult
It’s not easy, but it’s important
It should never be a popularity contest to serve as an elder, deacon, or on the Board of Administration
There has to be a heartfelt desire, a calling, to serve the individuals of the church – selflessly
“He is not encouraging people to seek status but responsibility.” [Liefeld, 116]
I’m willing to get my hands dirty to serve the church
I’m willing to offer my time, talents, and resources to help the church be healthy
I’m willing to hang in there and work out any differences that arise
“The offices of God’s Church are not honorary positions bestowed on individuals who have attended church faithfully or who are senior in years. Nor are they board positions to be filled by good friends, rich donors, or charismatic personalities. Nor are they positions that only graduate seminary students can fill. The church offices, both eldership and deaconship, are open to all who meet the apostolic, biblical requirements.” [Strauch, Biblical Eldership, 68]
This is what we’re going to look at next
Must be or have: (vv. 2, 3, 4-5, 7)
Be above reproach (v.2)
It means to be above finding fault
It does not mean being perfect, because none of us would qualify – that’s not attainable this side of heaven
“It means that a leader in the Church of Christ must have no obvious defects in his character and must be a person of unsullied reputation. He could hardly be expected to be faultless, but he must be blameless.” [Beacon Bible Commentary, 579]
I’m sure you know of a pastor or spiritual leader within a church who has not been blameless
In some cases it has made them unfit for service as a spiritual leader
What Paul does with the following qualifications is not describe a person totally without sin, but one morally careful and responsible [Liefeld, 118]
“When an elder is irreproachable, critics cannot discredit his Christian profession of faith or prove him unfit to lead others (Neh. 6:13). He has a clean moral and spiritual reputation.” [Strauch, 189]
So, as a church member you should be praying that the spiritual leaders of Idaville Church are ones that are morally careful and responsible
Be the husband of but one wife (v. 2)
Many people want to know how this applies to divorce and remarriage, but Paul is not addressing that issue at this point
He is primarily focusing on the individuals marital and sexual life and seeing if it is clean morally and spiritually
“The point is not how often one can be married, nor precisely what constitutes a legitimate marriage (that the marriage of the candidate is legitimate is assumed), but rather how one conducts himself in his marriage.” [Towner cited by Strauch, 192]
“Whether or not a person has been divorced is not the major issue. That issue is whether the individual’s life and care of his family now exemplify Christianity.” [Liefeld, 129]
It is supposed to be a positive statement concerning the man’s faithfulness in a monogamous marriage [Strauch, 192]
From a negative position it prohibits any deviation from faithful, monogamous marriage, including polygamy, prostitution, homosexuality, and/or any questionable sexual relationship [Strauch, 192]
In the first century among the wealthy families, the wife was there to provide legitimate children, but other women could be used to satisfy sexual desires and to have on your arm during gatherings
You may be married to one wife and never been divorced, but still struggle with other sexual sins – pornography and lust, etc.
If you even look at another women with lust, it’s as though you’ve committed adultery with her in your heart
You haven’t been faithful to your wife
Be temperate (v. 2)
It can mean abstaining from wine entirely or the overuse of it, but Paul says later “not given to drunkenness” so it is probably referring to the other meaning of the word
It denotes self-control, balanced judgment, and freedom from debilitating excesses or rash behavior [Strauch, 193]
Pastors and Elders need to be mentally and emotionally stable, because they will face many serious problems, pressures, and decisions
Be self-controlled (v. 2)
It has been translated as prudent
It’s means to be sound-minded, discreet, and sensible, able to keep an objective perspective in the face of problems and disagreements
Exercising good judgment and common sense
This meshes well with temperate
Be respectable (v. 2)
Someone with a good reputation, well behaved
It conveys the idea of self-control, proper behavior, and orderliness
As praying church members, you and I need to be praying for self-control for the spiritual leaders at Idaville Church
Be hospitable (v. 2)
It’s more than an handshake and a smile on Sunday morning
It’s more than just having your friends over for dinner
It’s an expression of Christian love and care for others
It’s not just sharing your home, but also your life with others
The elders home is one of his most important tools in reaching out and shepherding the flock
As praying church members we need to pray for the spiritual leaders and their spouses as they open their homes and lives with you
Be able to teach (v. 2)
This is very important
Paul expands on this when he writes to Titus, He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught (Titus 1:9a)
Paul is referring to ability, not knowledge
“New Testament elders are both guardians and teachers of sound doctrine.” [Strauch, 80]
The Bible should be the prospective elder’s continual course of study
Some people have been learning God’s Word from a very early age from their parents
Sound biblical teaching from the church is another source of learning God’s Word
Consistent personal study and the ministry of the Holy Spirit
You can’t learn it if you’re not reading it
It seems as though not all elders were teachers in the early church, The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those who work is preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17)
“An elder who doesn’t know the Bible is like a shepherd without legs; he can’t lead or protect the flock.” [Strauch, 80]
“The real strength of the Church is not the amount of its work but the quality of its faith. One man who truly knows his Bible is worth more to the Church’s real strength than a crowd of workers who do not.” [Forsyth cited by Strauch, 80]
I think that many people shy away from the position of elder because they feel like they don’t know the Bible well enough
We forget about the Holy Spirit’s ability to illumine our minds and give us the words to speak when we don’t know the answer
The apostles were encouraged that when they didn’t know what to say that the Holy Spirit would give them the words
You know what God has taught you through His Word, so be willing to share that with others and teach them the lessons you’ve learned through it
As praying church members, you and I need to pray for the spiritual leaders as they study God’s Word and learn from the Holy Spirit
I know I need your prayers each week as the Lord guides and directs me in preparing His message for you
Please pray for God’s wisdom, insight, and the words to preach
There are spiritual leaders who are preparing Sunday school and small group lessons each week
They need your prayers for God’s wisdom, insight, and words to speak
Be gentle (v. 3)
Equitable, fair, and mild
The ability to endure when the pressure is on [Beacon Bible Commentary, 582]
“Yielding wherever yielding is possible rather than standing up for one’s rights.” [Strauch, 197]
Be able to manage his own family well (vv. 4-5)
This includes having a reputation of providing for his family, financially, emotionally, and spiritually
His children must obey him with proper respect
The context involves children who are living at home under their father’s authority
It’s not referring to grown children who are living on their own
Every parent has times when their child(ren) treat them with disrespect or are disobedient
It’s how the parent deals with the situation that is an indication of their ability to manage their own family well
If they aren’t able to manage their family well, how can they take care of God’s church? – the answer is, they can’t
As praying church members, we need to be praying for the families of the spiritual leaders here
Satan will and does use situations in our family to distract us from serving the church well
I know that I worry about neglecting Judy and the boys, because of the pressure of expectations that are on me
It’s always a concern how you all and the community view our family – it’s the glass house syndrome
I’m concerned about my own health – I’m on the edge of having to start taking blood pressure medication (some of it is hereditary, but some of it is stress related)
The other spiritual leaders in our church are dealing with similar situations in their families and they need our prayers
Have a good reputation with outsiders (v. 7)
Most people spend more time with their coworkers and relatives than they do with their fellow church attenders
Those coworkers and relatives probably know them better than church attenders do
“Paul is concerned that those who may judge less sympathetically but perhaps also more realistically and knowledgeably will render a ‘good’ . . . verdict both from the perspective of their own consciences . . . and also from their awareness of the particular man’s commitment and consistency in terms of his Christian faith.” [Knight cited by Strauch, 201]
Idaville Church’s evangelistic credibility and witness is tied to the moral reputation of our leaders in the community
The devil’s trap
A trap is something that is set intentionally
The devil has devised a plan to bring the pastor and spiritual leaders of the church down
When the pastor and spiritual leaders of the church are above reproach, self-controlled, hospitable, studying God’s Word, etc., they are a threat to the devil
The devil wants to tempt spiritual leaders with greed, adultery, anger, addiction, you name it, to catch them in his trap so their reputation is harmed and they are ineffective and eventually removed from service
And so, as praying church members, we need to bathe our spiritual leaders in prayer as they represent Idaville Church at their work place and in their neighborhood – we need to pray that they will not get caught by the devil’s trap
Must not be: (vv. 3, 6)
Given to drunkenness (v. 3)
Paul uses strong language here that means not preoccupied or overindulgent with wine
He is not saying it is an absolute prohibition, but you have to be careful concerning your testimony for the Lord
Scripture warns leaders about the dangers of alcohol
It is not for kings, O Lemuel,
It is not for kings to drink wine,
Or for rulers to desire strong drink,
Lest they drink and forget what is decreed,
And pervert the rights of all the afflicted
(Prov. 31:4, 5; cf. Lev. 10:8, 9; Isa. 28:1, 7, 8; 56:9-12)
Violent (v. 3)
It is also translates not pugnacious
A man who is pugnacious is a fighter, bad-tempered, irritable, and out-of-control
The Greek word is derived from the verb “to strike” and suggests a violent person who is prone to physical assault on others
Quarrelsome (v. 3)
Also translated “uncontentious”
Titus 3:2, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men
Spiritual leaders need to peaceable
2 Timothy 2:24, 25a, And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct . . .
A lover of money (v. 3)
In the 1st Century, it was the bishop’s responsibility to care for the funds of the church
The false teachers were more concerned about developing a gathering so they could get paid
The Pharisees loved money (Luke 16:14; Mark 12:40)
The chief religious leaders of Jesus’ day turned the temple area into a money making market (Mark 11:15-17)
The spiritual leaders of Idaville Church approve the budget each year and approve any expenditures over the budgeted amounts
No, one individual controls the finances here
1 Timothy 6:10, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs
A recent convert (v. 6)
This does not mean that a new convert cannot serve the church, but just not in a leadership position
New faith needs time to mature
Most people within a company or a church are not aware of the inner workings of leadership
The stresses involved in leading are not for the faint of heart
Spiritual maturity enables a leader to hang in there when things get difficult
Paul is concerned with the conceit of a new convert
They might think of themselves and their abilities too highly
Pride then creeps in and brings destruction
The devil was conceited and gave in to pride and was cast out of heaven
The new convert should not be put in a position that will potentially cause them to experience the same judgment as the devil
Notice that Paul does not put a time frame on this
In our humanness we want a time frame
How long does it take for someone to be considered spiritually mature?
Is it 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
The reason there’s no time frame is because each individual is different
We’re not necessarily looking for years of salvation, but rather fruit of the Spirit
That is the identifying factor concerning spiritual maturity
The role of spiritual leader within the church is a noble task that takes humility, love, and self-control
Studying and teaching God’s Word takes time, effort, wisdom, and a heart that is listening to the Holy Spirit
Spiritual leaders are constantly under spiritual attack as they are faithful to the qualifications outlined in the Bible
What seem daunting to you is something that God calls certain individuals to do within the church and they need your prayers on a daily basis
“The Fourth Pledge” in I Am A Church Member
I will pray for my pastor every day. I understand that the pastor’s work is never ending. His days are filled with numerous demands that bring emotional highs and lows. He must deal with critics. He must be a good husband and father. Because my pastor cannot do all things in his own power, I will pray for his strength and wisdom daily.
My Next Step Today Is To: Commit to be a praying church member that intercedes daily for the spiritual leaders at Idaville Church.
We have continued to pray and approach certain men in the church to consider eldership
We would appreciate your prayers as we continue to meet with those men
Pray that God would confirm in their hearts and minds, His desire for them to serve in this capacity
Pray for wisdom, strength, and courage for them to take the step of faith to become an elder
My Next Step Today Is To: Commit to pray daily for God’s chosen men to serve as elders at Idaville Church.
As we all diligently pray, God will be glorified and will answer our prayers for qualified spiritual leaders to be raised up
We will experience a unity that is only found in obedience to God
We will experience peace like never before
We will experience the blessing of God here at Idaville Church
Have the current Board of Administration come forward and ask the congregation to stand and pray with me for them.
Pastor Marc Webb, Laurin Fleming, Bev Fleming, Linda Asper, Derrick Nell, Donna Kerrigan, Marlene McCauslin, Sherl Shaffer, Billie Jo Brown, and Stuart Johns