Tuesday, June 28, 2022

"How We Treat Others" - Henry Knapp

I am notoriously bad at guessing people’s ages. And this is not just for folks who are far distant from my own age. It’s not like I just can’t guess how old children are, or the elderly. Basically, I’m usually a few decades off when it comes to everyone (only a slight exaggeration there). I’m often surprised to find out that someone is significantly older (or younger) than I am… which could make the application of this week’s text hard to work out.

In 1 Timothy 5, the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy on how to treat other people and he separates them out into different age and gender categories: older men are to be treated one way, younger men another, older women and younger women. “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (vs. 1). So, the Lord directs me to treat some guys as father figures, and some as brothers, depending on their age. If, however, like me you have a hard time discerning how old someone might be, I don’t really suppose you can ignore this text!

It appears what Paul has in mind runs a lot deeper than simply evaluating someone’s age and treating them accordingly. What he is addressing here is a matter of the heart. How we engage with others is a measure of who we truly are. How we treat others says more about our own character than it says about them. Paul’s words to Timothy do not direct him to treat others as they really deserve, his instruction concerns Timothy’s heart. If Timothy is haughty, self-assured, and proud, his treatment of others will show that inner character, or lack thereof. On the other hand, a Christ-like character will show in how Timothy engages with others.

“Actions speak louder than words.” An old adage, but a true one if ever. But, even more true is the realization that our actions arise from who we are on the inside. Jesus addressed this issue in metaphor. When talking with His disciples regarding being “unclean” before God, Jesus challenges the traditional notion that touching or eating something unclean defiles you in God’s eyes. Instead, Jesus teaches, “it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth… What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart” (Matthew 15: 11, 18). Jesus could not have been clearer—how we treat others reflects what is genuine in our hearts, either Christlikeness or otherwise.

This week in worship we will look at Paul’s directives on how we are to treat others. Two characteristics will jump out at us—graciousness and humility. And, these traits arise from the heart—and not just any heart or every heart, but a heart that has been transformed by the truth of the Gospel; a redeemed heart that is growing and being trained in godliness will show in our treatment of others—no matter what their age!

In preparation for worship this week, read 1 Timothy 5:1-16.

1. Why would Timothy want to, or need to, “rebuke” someone (vs. 1)? What does this say about the “rightness” of Timothy’s actions?

2. Paul does not spell out for Timothy what it looks like to treat an older man like a father, or a younger woman as a sister. What do you think he has in mind? How does the end phrase, “in all purity,” apply?

3. Paul moves on to talk about widows next. Why do you think he focuses on this particular population?

4. Paul’s initial instruction is to treat them with “honor” (vs. 3). What might that entail, and why would that be the correct action with a widow in particular?

5. Paul is clearly worried about the treatment of widows, both to do justice to them and to encourage faithful discipleship in the body. Where do you see both traits communicated?

6. Verse 8 can be a challenging verse to apply in all situations. Where might it be hard for a family to care for a loved one? How can you be faithful to these commands in your particular situation?


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

"Why Be Godly?" - Henry Knapp

Before we move on to the good, let’s first get one very big “bad” out of the way… There is a very serious, very crucial reason NOT to pursue godliness in your life—do not, under any circumstances, do NOT attempt godliness as a means to merit God’s saving pleasure. This is a blatantly un-Gospel, un-Christian, un-godly approach to salvation, and it is nothing short of evil. Connecting our eternal salvation with anything we do robs God of His glory, destroys grace, and demeans the cross of Christ. Not only are you bound to fail to be godly enough to earn God’s redemption, seeking godliness this way is wicked, evil, and deadly.

OK. Having said all that, pursuing godliness is a basic Christian responsibility, an offer of thanksgiving to God, and a joy for the believer. The quest for holiness is a good thing, and something incumbent upon every follower. We know this because Scripture tells us so. Just as the Bible warns against trying to earn salvation through godliness, so too does the Bible spur on the pursuit of a holy life. The motive really does matter—motivated by self-righteousness, self-centeredness, and self-justification, godliness is nothing but a sham, something that ruins our faith and dependence on the Lord. But, a rightly motivated pursuit of godliness echoes the biblical imperatives.

 Doing the right thing so as to force God to save you is a crazy thought. But, the Bible describes other motives for obedience which are more in line with the Gospel (adapted in part from Kevin DeYoung, “A Hole in Our Holiness”):

·       Following Christ’s example: “Walk in love, as Christ loved us” (Ephesians 5:2).

·       Doing what is right: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1).

·       Part of human duty: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

·       This world is not our home: “I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh” (1 Peter 2:11).

·       To win over our neighbors: “Keep your conduct among the nations honorable… so that they may see your good deeds and glorify God” (1 Peter 2:12).

·       We were created for good works: “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

·       Out of love of the Lord: “If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

·       Since God lives in us: “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12).

·       As part of our worship: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1).

·       The folly of sin: “If you hear my words and do not do them, you are a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26).

·       To avoid the devil’s snares: “Do not sin;… give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27).

·       For love of Christ: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

The pursuit of godliness is a biblical command: There are lots of good reasons for the pursuit—earning God’s salvation is not one of them!

For this week in worship, read 1 Timothy 4:6-16.

1. What “things” are we to “put before the brothers”? (vs. 6). In other words, how does this passage connect to the one before?

2. When you think of a “good servant of Christ,” what do you think of? What marks a “good servant”?

3. In verse 8, Paul gives some reasons for the pursuit of holiness. How would you summarize them?

4. How might you understand the end phrase in verse 10, “especially of those who believe”?

5. Make a list of all the things Timothy is to do in verses 11-16. How might each apply individually to you in your life?

6. What might it mean to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture” (vs. 13)?

Monday, June 13, 2022

Dan Weightman

This Sunday’s message will be given by guest speaker and Hebron mission partner, Dan Weightman. Originally from Pittsburgh, Dan has served as a youth pastor both stateside and abroad. A position with Young Life is what brought him to the Bahamas in 1999. He has lived and served the Bahamian youth for 13 years on Long Island, Bahamas. After finishing a master's thesis on responsible missions and indigenous ministry, God led him and his wife to start the Caribbean Youth Network.

As an ordained minister with the Evangelical Ministerial Association, he continues to live in Nassau, Bahamas, where he directs the ministry and works heavily in developing the partnership with the Bahamas Youth Network, which he helped to plant years ago. In 2013, he initiated a new college campus ministry in Nassau and works diligently to partner with other organizations of like-mindedness and network people together for the furthering of the Kingdom.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Reality of the Spirit World - Henry Knapp

Like a lot of youngsters, I went through a phase of seeking out scary situations. I drove too fast around winding roads, climbed too high on spindly trees, and mouthed off at the class bullies till they responded. There was a certain thrill in pushing the limits, going just a bit too far, terrifying myself. This phase corresponded to an obsession with horror films—for a period of time I sought out every opportunity to frighten myself silly. Largely through scary movies, I was introduced to “the spirit world.”

In lots of horror flicks, “the spirit world” factors in somehow—a demon, ghost, or some kind of otherly-world creature lies at the heart of our fear. The material world creates enough spooky moments for us, but toss in something “spirit-ish-y” and things can get really creepy. It is easy for us to associate the spirit world with something unfamiliar, kind of “off,” odd, and more than a bit scary.

But, of course, that is not the biblical picture. Hollywood might find the spirit world to be a freaky place, but, according to the Bible, the spirit world is God’s world, as much as a part of creation as the earth around us. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). What did God create? Both earth AND heaven—the material world AND the spiritual world. It is natural, I think, for most of us to think of God’s act of creation as making the physical world, and just assuming that the spiritual world, the heavens, were already around. But, before creation there was God and God alone—nothing but Him, including no other spiritual beings. When God began to create, He made both physical and spiritual beings. Where do angels come from? God made them. What about the “heavenly creatures”? From God’s creative power.

And the demons? The devil? Yes, they too exist only because of God’s creation. Taking that which was a gift from the Lord—their existence—the demons rejected God’s love, care, and plan, and they turned against their Creator. In some ways, fear is a good response to these spiritual beings—they represent all that which is so common to us all: rebellion. We should be scared of demons… but, not for fear of what they might do to us, but for fear that we might become like them! The spirit world has its fair share of wickedness, sin, and evil… just like our physical world. In the spiritual world, these wicked beings are demons, following after the pattern of Satan. In the physical world, all too often we are the ones betraying our Creator. Demons are a danger to us, not because they exercise excessive power to make us do evil, but because we are so prone to follow in their footsteps, embracing teachings, actions, and attitudes that lead us away from the love of the Lord.

The Bible is not shy at talking about the existence, the rebellion, or the deceitful work of the evil beings in the spirit world. Demons exist, and they really are out there, working against God’s Kingdom. Of course, that is the point so often missed—the target of demonic activity is God and His plan, we are merely tools that Satan and crowd use to try and undermine God’s redemptive work. In our passage this week, we get some insight into how the demons attack God’s plan, how they strive against us, and the consequences for us who follow Christ. It is a sad, sad picture. But, (and this is a big BUT), but, Paul’s teaching here is not to scare us, his goal is not to make us afraid of the demons. His goal is to encourage us to fight off the demonic influence. And, how are we to do that—through the teaching, the preservation, and the promulgation of the truth! What is true? The Gospel of our Lord. What is real? The goodness of our God. What do we hold to? The love of our Savior. No fear, but steadfast faith, hope, and love. This is how we respond to the temptations of the devil.


For worship this week, read 1 Timothy 4:1-10.

1. What do you think Paul might be referring to in verse 1 with “the Spirit expressly saying…”? Where does the Spirit say that?

2. How do some depart from the faith? Paul lists three or four different steps. Can you identify with any?

3. Verse 3 details the false teachings that the demons put forward. Verse 4 provides a counterpoint. Where might there be similar teachings today? How does the response of verse 4 still provide a good answer to those false teachings?

4. How should a “good servant of Christ Jesus” respond to these teachings? What is most important here would you say?

5. What is the danger of “irreverent, silly myths”?

6. Paul provides a contrast between physical training and godliness training in verses 7-8. How does this parallel reflect on the process of growing in grace?

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

"Leadership in Christ’s Church" - Henry Knapp

Leadership in the Church

There can be little doubt about the importance of effective leadership in our world. On a political level, in business, within the family, on sports teams… in almost any venue you can think of, leadership is a key component to the health and success of any venture. God’s Church is no different. Jesus Himself stressed the role of good leadership when He appointed Peter as the rock upon which the Church would be built (Matthew 16:18). Moses (Exodus 18:21), Solomon (Pro 29:2), the prophets (Jeremiah 23:1), and Paul (Acts 20:28) all speak to the value and importance of godly governance. And, this is something that is woven into the very fabric of our world—as testified by many insights into good leadership.

“Where there is no guidance, the people perish.” – Proverbs 11:14

“You know that the rules of this world lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve.” – Matthew 20:25-28

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” —Max DePree

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” —John Maxwell

“Leadership is lifting a person's vision to high sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” —Peter Drucker

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists; when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” —Lao Tzu

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” —Aristotle

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” – 1 Peter 5:2-3

Finding good leadership is a challenge for any institution or group, and Christ’s Church is no exception. And yet God promises to raise up the leaders He will use to further His Kingdom. As we eagerly seek the fulfillment of all His promises, so too do we look for His blessings of leadership—trusting always in our ultimate Leader, Christ Himself.

In preparation for worship this week, read 1 Timothy 3.

1. What does it mean and/or imply when something is “trustworthy” (vs. 1)?

2. Make a list of the qualifications for an elder. Then, a list of the qualifications for deacons. What do you find? What’s similar, different?

3. Why would each be a qualification? Why is each important in godly leadership?

4. Why would one have to be warned against putting a young believer in a position of leadership? Why would anyone be tempted to do so?

5. Given what is listed here, what are the job responsibilities of the elder and the deacon? What can you tell from the absence of a real, live job description?

6. Notice how the Church is described in verse 15. What do the metaphors imply about the Church? What do “household,” “pillar,” and “buttress of the truth” mean?

7. Read the poem at the end of this chapter. Obviously, Jesus is the subject here. What is said about Him? And, why is it phrased in this way? What line strikes you as most instructive? Confusing?