Monday, March 5, 2007

May I Introduce You To Tim? Acts 16:1-5

Acts 16:1~5 Timothy Joins Paul and Silas 1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they traveled from town to town, they delivered the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers.

Every once in a while, a man comes along who is kind, clean, loves the Lord and has a heart for people and has the Spirit of God alive in him. As a Dad, I'd only wish and hope that he'd wait for my daughters. If I was Paul and I met Timothy for the first time--THAT is the kind of man I'd want for my girls!

We first met Timothy in Acts 16:1. His mother and grandmother were both believers and had raised this young man with a deep knowledge of the Word of God. He was already known as a disciple of Christ. Other followers in his town and from a town many miles away spoke well of him. As we get to know him through Paul's letters to the Churches, we can see a very well developed young Christian man. He was a leader and a learner. He was a freeman and he was a prisoner. He was a servant and a fighter. We can learn a great deal from this young man and even find character qualities in him that are transferable to our own lives…man or woman.

Also, as we look at this man, we can see what kind of church he was in and what developed in the Church around him. We can look for a special DNA of THAT kind of church, and, perhaps, in us.

First, the Church.
You go to the doctor and he tells you that you are healthy. There are no signs of any illness; blood pressure and weight are within average restrictions.
You go to the spa. Your fitness trainer tells you that you are in horrid shape. He tells you that your resting pulse and body fat percentage are way off the charts; your flexibility is-well, poor and you fell off the treadmill because you lost consciences.

If both men can be right, what does it mean to be healthy? What signs do we share here in our fellowship that tell us if we are fit or not. We will need to look at some of the things Paul says to and about Timothy concerning the health of the Body.

#1 How is your Focal Point? What is the THING you focus on as a worshipper here at ICCS? Our focus would determine whether we have a survival mentality or a service mentality. If what we live for is mainly found in the maintaining the building or getting more people in the worship hall or have more money in the bank, than our focus as a church is on survival.

The simple fact that we really do not NEED a building, or a power point or a piano or even Bibles in our hands to be a Church is reality in many fellowships around the world. In Luke 9:58

“Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head."

These are great to have but it should not be our focus.

But, on the other hand, if our willingness here at ICCS is for us to serve than that is the greatest indicator of a Christ-ward focus. That would be a sign that our FAITH is stronger and that people are open to the powerful working of God's Spirit in us. Someone could say, “OK, how can we go beyond talking about this and really doing something about it?” A very good question that comes out of a willingness to help in a tangible way. That is servant or service-focus.

A focus on the Things of God allows us to support each other, even in our differences and in our pain. We are called to one Body and that brings great Glory to God when we act that way. Working together, planning together, doing acts of service together, worshipping together.

Another part of the DNA is to be HONEST.
Honest to God and to each other. Since I am in the ministry, some may think that I have all my issues in line and all is well with my life. While that may seem the case, maybe, inwardly I have problems of self-doubt, fear and of other issues that are common among men my age. A counselor I saw this past week told that many adult men in the ministry here in Japan are dealing with some form of depression. It is a fact of life. We are all fallen people in need of the same Savior.

AA has it great because all who attend AA KNOW that they are there as people with a drinking problem. While that is not my issue, I understand the unique joy it most be to say, “Hi, my name is Stan. I have a drinking problem.”

The Church needs to be the place where each of us can come and find acceptance. Acceptance not for bad behavior or to excuse it but love for being a person in process. The Church needs to be a place where we can face our fears together. Some of us may feel alone, some feel fear, while others have a deep sense of guilt. Some may feel that this is the only place you don't have to put on a mask. Others feel this is the place where I can just be real.

That is being honest.
How do we help each other overcome the problems in our lives? Good question again. We tend to be a bunch of serious, overcommitted people who might have loss the ability to have fun. We need to rediscover fun. We will need to help each other. These types of things may need some professional help from time to time and for us to take our meds but there is an element of having human touch that comes in here.

The early church, as we have studied in this study of Acts had been dealing with many of the same issues we face today. (Personal needs, health, death, fear, spiritual bondage and the like.)

What was the “way” they dealt with these issues? How do you get yourself ready for these things in life? Frankly, you develop a relationship with God thru His Son Jesus and God's people.

We need to approach Church life from the angle that everyone-old Believers and new Followers and soon-to-be Believers are needing to be open to the instruction of the Holy Spirit to live life effectively. Who doesn't need this kind of living?

The healthy community of God's People flows out of a united cause. Jesus had called His Church to follow Him and "I'll make you fishers of men." What He was really saying was, "Follow Me and I will give you something worthy of giving your life to."

To be a Follower of Jesus is something that transcends our present daily life and puts us in contact with the God of the Universe and in touch with His plan for using us in His creation. That is big stuff. That is worth living for! And that is a life that is transformed. Changed from within. Old things are moving out of our lives and we begin to focus on different values: Values that have eternity in mind.

The value we now share with the Body of Christ worldwide is to seek to expand the Kingdom of God.

Matt 6:33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

And this can be a reality for us as we seek this transformed life in the presence and in the power of the Living God. That is what our friend Timothy had done, so let's look at him…

Timothy had a reputation:
  • People spoke well of him Acts 16:2
  • He was spoken highly of by Paul 1 Cor 4:17
  • He shared in Gospel Work 1 Cor 16:10
  • Timothy had a personal Faith 2 Tim 1:5

This Faith ran in the Family/not his Dad's side-Greek-non believer.

From infancy-Tim knew the Word
2 Tim 3:15
Showed in his walk and actions later in life as he leads and directs the Church in many locations-even from prison.Catch that kind of power in your life!

Qualities: Mature, above reproach, hospitable, loved that which was good, sensitive and sensible, just, devout, had self-control, cared for others, hard working, good confession before others, faithful, good fighter for the Faith, and full of Christian character. Can you fit these in your life?

Tim followed Paul & becoming a companion
We really don't hear from Timothy himself as to what he was saying concerning moving on with Paul, but we can see that he was close to Paul.

Paul called Timothy a brother, a fellow worker, his son whom he loves, faithful.
He says of Timothy that he had a sincere faith, deep knowledge of the Scriptures.

But how does that effect me? Am I expected to be a Timothy? You may say that you did not have the family life Timothy had. You mother did not know God and neither did your grandmother! So, is it reasonable to state that we can be like him? I think so and here is why. God has called us to follow Him and Timothy followed Him.

Please take a look at Philippians 2:19-22 for some insight as to how Paul views Timothy.

19I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you. 20 I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 For everyone looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel.

We can be like Timothy because he was like Jesus.
Jesus took a deep interest in people. He cared for them, prayed for them and even suffered for them. Paul encouraged Timothy AND us to rely on God's power for each day's problems.

2 Tim 1:6

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.Lastly, Paul looks to Timothy to succeed.
1 Tim 2: 18
18Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies
once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight.
That good fight is what the early church was reminded to keep in focus. We, today, need to keep that in focus as well. Not to give up. Not to turn and run. Not to fold under the pressures because:1 Corinthians 10:12-14 (NIV)

12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.


JUST a word about Wheelchairs For Hope: There will be two work days this month to get ready as many wheelchairs as possible on March 15 and 17 at the Matuskawa Place, next to CAJ in Higashi Kurume. We would like to ship as many as possible (120!?) to Mongolia on March 20. You can come for only one hour or stay the whole day. Busy hands to help others! Come and be a part of the solution!

So, You Got Problems! Acts 15:36-41

Acts 15:36-41 36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the Word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

On the surface, this is how it appeared but was it really like that? Was it like the Christmas story of Joseph LOOKING for a place to have his first baby born at the last min… “While they were there…” ? This took place some time after the debate with the “other gospel”. Maybe even up to one year later, Paul approached Barnabas with an idea. Up until that point, they and others have been in and around those main cities there TEACHING, ENCOURAGING, and BUILDING UP THE LOCAL BODY OF BELIEVERS. They were doing the work of an apostle and as pastors, teaching the Word of God.

There was a safe feeling in the ministry. Things were going well. Growth was happening and a growing of a deepening Faith of those they were responsible for, but something was lacking. What was it?

There is a time to move out and to enter the world of adventure. To boldly go where few have ever gone before. Oh, to experience the joy of setting foot on shores that has not been touched by the Gospel before! Here, Paul & Barnabas were not going into new lands but to revisit the people whom they had taught the Gospel to for the first time a little while before. Pagan, at one time, far from God but now, because of the Gospel, are brought near to the Cross and to the fellowship of God's people by the Blood of Jesus. They were transformed people, living for Christ in all they being.

There are times when we here at ICCS need to look up and see that there are "men who look like trees walking." We need a clearer vision of the task set before us. Meaning, we need to be developing a mindset, or rather a new heart-set, that will allow us the joy of going to tell others of the Grace of God. “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus…”

They felt that as much as those here were benefited in the teaching, they needed now to think how much the others out there could benefit from it. “Let's go and make disciples.” Sounds like something else somewhere…

The need was great OUT THERE. There is a BIG need outside these walls as well. If we only look at ourselves we become self-centered. Who in our circle of relationships can we effect for the Gospel? Ask God! He will and can show us our next step-one we need to take!

"Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing."41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches..

How can we at ICCS do the same? You have seen a number of people leave us over the past year. More will follow the Lord as He leads them to other places to minister. Soon M.Y. will leave us to return to Singapore. D. and S. left one month ago to learn French to move to France in 6 months. M.'s family is in Conn. D. and S. have moved to Tenn. There are many others. We can send a letter to them, call them, e-mail them, or visit them with words of comfort to those who have left us-. In the back, we have set up some pre-addressed envelopes to those who are no longer with us. Take one and write to them and let them know of your love. Encourage them in the Lord. Go deep! Tell them of the transformation in your life and of that same change in others here.

So they did end up doing what they hoped to do in the first place… But along the way, something happened.Even when the dispute was a while ago, the feeling of a good fight was still in the air … perhaps. PAUL & BARNABAS disagreed so strongly with the Judizers (sharp dispute/ turbulent quarrellings). As we know from current events, religious disputes seem to run deeper than most.

Did this atmosphere set up PAUL & BARNABAS for a split? Had they gotten in the mood for fighting? Just remember back to the root cause of the trouble. They were contending for the Faith. When the question of purity of doctrine was at stake-it is best you do not look for the easiest way to resolve it. The expedient way of peace should not be the way of choice. There was a time in world history that such an idea was in vogue. Peace at any cost. ILL: Chamberlain & Hitler.

It is true that the loss of Doctrinal purity at the expense of peace is SO unwise. Again, it is good to know WHAT and WHY you believe.

These Men of the Gospel made plans to journey back to the very places they were beaten, preached, bleed and worked the soil of evangelism over one year before. What would they find?

1 Corinthians 3:5-7 “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Young converts need care as they are surrounded by impurity, oppositions and superstitions. We all do! Things could go very badly for them in their spirit and in their walk. How much more so today! When fellowship is broken-well, it is broken! There is a need to repair the relationship. How?

Isa 58:12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins; and will raise up the age old foundations; and you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Could this be the new name for the ICCS church plant? Think of the implications of that change! Could this be a new ministry that comes out of the Chapel? Work it over in your hearts and pray about it! We may already doing it!

Verse 37-38 sets the stage for a split between PAUL & BARNABAS. Let's look at those who are involved. John Mark was Barnabas' sister's son. He was at the prayer meeting for the imprisoned Peter. As his uncle, there would be a natural affection for John Mark already.

But Paul-saw it differently.

13:13 From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem.

Paul had two reasons for not wanting John Mark.

1. Mark had deserted them before-a history

2. Mark had not continued with them in the work.

All this was true. Why did John Mark leave? Maybe he was real young in the Faith-or-he was just too young-or-he was not strong enough to hang in there with the persecutions-or-he was just not ready yet. Maybe his Mom called him! In any case, he did leave the group and Paul did not respond well to that. In fact, in the years to come, many will leave Paul yet Mark will still be there.

2 Tim 4:9-11 9 Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

Then in 2 Tim 4:16

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.

And Colossians 4:10

My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)

When Colossians was written, Mark was in jail with Paul himself! Paul certainly got his fill of people walking out on him yet the last verse speaks volumes. Paul had a good memory of the past. He was a 'call it as you see it' kind of a guy. Some people in ministry are hard-core guys while others are softer.

Verse 39: There was a sharp contention. Not suggesting or implied anger or ill will. Maybe it was just that they differed rather strongly. Unwavered in their feelings. Stubborn? Obstinate? Not really good qualities in a leader, but you need to answer these questions: Too stubborn? Was the result good? Did it bring God Glory? Was the Gospel held back? Did God's work move forward?

  1. Paul's love for Righteousness-let's get the work done!
  2. Barnabas' love for his Relative-let's work this out!

As far as Paul was concerned, Mark had been tired and he had failed. Looks like Paul would not trust him again. But, he did-later. Ever been there yourself? Ever been cut out because of past work or attitude? What did you need? Someone who would put their trust in you…give you a second-third chance. Is it better to be cut or to be built up? And Barnabas was living up to his name: Son of Encouragement. “Barnabas would not give up; Paul would not agree.”

So move on. This is not a proof text for how to divide teams. Not a proof text for divorce. Just in this case, they agreed to disagree and the 'cause of the Gospel' was not effected. They took different roads to do ministry.

Therefore, John Mark got to prove himself to his Uncle on the Island of Cyprus among Barnabas' relatives. Silas proved faithful to his leader Paul as they went through Syria and Cilicia. All this resulted in more churches were encouraged, more believers were strengthened, and God's Word was able to spread farther than it would have had PAUL & BARNABAS stayed together. I feel this points to the fact that there can be a conflict and not find sin. People can have difference without wrong tempers. Not allowing the argument to divide people from working the Word of God into lives of men and women.

The part in verse 40 Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. This only speaks to the fact that Dr. Luke went with Paul and not with Barnabas. He wrote what he saw and was part of. I am sure that the local group of Believers also commended John Mark and his uncle as well.