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    Prayer and fasting 21 days – 1 Tim 4 

    By Ps Simon Smailus

    Paul again focuses on truth – a theme interwoven through this letter to Timothy. Remember Jesus’ statement in John 8:32-33 that the truth will set us free. But truth is not just ideas and words – Jesus Himself is the Truth.  Truth brings us into freedom when it is obeyed. Paul mentions a number of times the uselessness of arguments. It is truth declared, believed and put into practice that sets us free, not arguments.

    Lord, help me keep a close watch on my life, not suspiciously but joyfully following the leading of Your Spirit.  Give me grace to remain true to You in all circumstances.

    Further reflection

    There are three verses I want to focus on in this chapter: 4, 7 and 12.

    Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. —1 Timothy 4:4, NLT

    Paul had obviously been asked by Timothy about how to deal with the false teachers.  They were likely to include Jewish Christians wanting to impose the Law (or part of it) on Gentile Christians but there were clearly some who were being “super-spiritual.”  They were either getting lost in weird and complex “interpretations” of scripture or they were adding religious practices and teaching physical things were evil.  In fact, everything God made is good if we handle it directed by the Spirit.

    Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. —1 Timothy 4:7, NLT

    The internet is a marvellous thing and we could spend all our time surfing the web, using social media and sending and replying to emails. There are many things that can take up our time. Yet here is an exhortation from the great apostle Paul, “train yourself to be godly”. Have you ever thought what this means? We talk about healthier lifestyles by improving our diets and taking more exercise. How about improving your godliness? How would you go about doing that? What kind of “diet” would you need? What kind of “exercise” does this require?

    In verse 6 Paul talks about us being, “nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed.” This hints at how we can achieve godliness. We feed on Christ’s message.  We devour the teaching that we get in our churches and trust in God to work this out in our lives as we pray alone and with others and as we make choices that cooperate with him. However, this won’t happen if we don’t set our minds to train ourselves to be godly. This connects to the last verse I want to focus on:

    Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. —1 Timothy 4:12, NLT

    This has often been used to emphasise that being young is no disqualification for leadership and that is certainly true.  However, more importantly, the second part of this statement is that we are to set an example. What kind of example? Well, the example we set is in our speech, lifestyle, love, faith and purity. It’s not our age that counts but our godliness. If we train ourselves to be godly we will set an example in the above mentioned areas. Each of the areas mentioned is a key area of our lives. Let me encourage you to study the scriptures and put into practice what you learn. 

    Simon Smailus, 17/09/2017