Titus chapter 1

“From Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God’s chosen ones and the knowledge of the truth that is in keeping with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the ages began.” – Vs 1 (NET Bible)

Three things jump out of this first verse to me. They set the stage for what is to come in his letter to Titus.

Paul’s role

He sees himself as a slave or bondservant of God. For Paul, this was obviously a privilege as he refers to himself repeatedly in this way throughout his letters. He starts off virtually every one of his letters with this description of himself. For Paul, it was a position of honor, not humiliation. And while it is difficult for us as modern Americans to understand this concept, it was not foreign to the average Jew. In fact, it was part of their heritage. According to the NET Bible:

“Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were ‘servants (or slaves) of the Lord.'”

Paul considered himself in good company when he referred to himself as God’s slave or servant. He was serving the God of the universe. What greater privilege and position could one man hold? Do we see ourselves in that same light or have we reversed the roles, viewing God as our personal slave or servant? The truth is, I often see God as my personal valet, asking Him to do for me what I want to have done. I want Him to bless my decisions, fix my problems, clean up my messes, answer my requests, do my bidding, meet my needs, make my happy. Those are not the roles of the all-powerful God, but of a common, everyday servant. I have somehow gotten our roles reversed. Paul didn’t suffer from that delusion.

Secondly, Paul refers to himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was a “sent one,” a messenger of Jesus Christ, with the responsibility of taking the good news of salvation through Christ to the Gentiles. He served God and represented Christ. Paul understood his role and responsibility and took it very seriously. He did not deviate from it or allow himself to be distracted from it. Yet how easily I can be detoured from my role as a messenger for Jesus Christ. I have the same message to share and the same role to play, yet I can easily forget the fact that I too have been sent into the world as Christ’s ambassador. Instead of representing Him, I can fall into the delusion that I represent myself. God serves me and I represent myself. Two very common mistakes for as Christians today.

Paul’s responsibilities

Grow in faith – Paul mentions his responsibilities as a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. First, he says that he is responsible to “further the faith of God’s chosen ones” (NET Bible). He understood that he had a responsibility to encourage believers to grow in their faith. Not only was he to share the good news of faith in Christ, he was to see that those who received Christ, grew in Him. Their faith was to increase and grow stronger. And we see this happening from the day the church began. “So the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number every day” (Acts 16:5). Paul praised the Thessalonian believers for their increasing faith: “We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater. He told the Corinthians believers: “we hope that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits (2 Corinthians 10:15). Seeing believers grow in their faith was a responsibility Paul took seriously.

Increase in the knowledge of the truth – Paul also knew he was responsible for helping believers grow in their knowledge of the truth. He was not content to simply share the gospel, but knew that believers would need to have a fuller understanding of God’s truth to survive and thrive in a hostile environment where falsehood and the lies of the enemy would surround them. Later in chapter two of Titus, Paul says that God  “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And God wants men to grow in their knowledge of the truth. That is the role of sanctification in the life of the believer. Paul was not content for any follower of Christ to remain as he was when saved, but expected them to grow. Peter felt the same way. “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). In his letter to the Hebrews Paul says, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1). Increasing in knowledge of the truth, pressing on to spiritual maturity, growing in respect to salvation. This was Paul’s charge and he took it seriously. Do we?

Focused on eternity – Paul’s perspective was eternal, not temporal. He kept his eye on the goal: eternity and eternal life. He knew this life did not hold all there was to have. There was more and it was yet to come. Anything he did in this life was focused on the life to come. It was all motivated by a future hope. All that he did was “in hope of eternal life” (Vs 1). We increase in faith and grow in our knowledge of the truth – in hope of eternal life. That is our motivation. If we lose sight of eternity, we lose any reason for growing in our faith or increasing our knowledge of the truth. We begin to live in the here and now. We obsess about the present. The world becomes our focus instead of the world to come. Paul knew perspective was everything in the life of the believer. Without it, we flounder and fail. But how easy it is for us to take our eyes off the goal. So Paul reminds us that he had a responsibility to keep those under his care growing in faith, increasing in their knowledge of the truth and focused on the future. We have the same responsibilities to one another today.

Father, let me have the heart and mind of Paul. Give me the mind of a servant, and the understanding that my role is to help those around me increase in their faith daily, grow in their knowledge of the truth, and place their hope in the reality of eternity. Don’t let me get distracted. Keep me focused on the goal and dedicated to the task at hand. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Timothy chapter 4

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.” – Vs 6-7

What an attitude! Here was Paul, imprisoned in Rome, facing trial and the final days of his life, yet he manages to give Timothy words of encouragement and make this incredible declaration regarding the confident completion of his life’s task. Rather than whine about his circumstances or complain about his life being cut short, Paul sees his situation as an offering to God. He is being “poured out” as a sacrifice to God and pleased to do so. In fact, the offering to which he refers is the drink offering found in Leviticus 23:10-14. It was part of the First Fruits offering. The drink offering consisted of about two pints of unmixed wine, which was poured on the grain offering as a symbol of joy. Paul seems to be saying that he is joyful to have his life poured out in the service of God.

But Paul speaks not only with a sense of joy, but with a sense of accomplishment. He has accomplished the assignment given to him by the Lord on the road to Damascus. He has taken the gospel to the Gentiles. He has planted churches, encouraged believers, debated the Judaizers, established leaders, taught sound doctrine, unified Jewish and Gentile believers, and established a solid foundation for the future spread of the church. And he can say, “I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

How about you and me? Can we say the same thing? Do we view our lives as a drink offering being poured out for God? If we knew these were our last days on earth, could we confidently say that we have fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith? Or would there still be things left undone? Would we feel regret for having set wrong priorities for our lives?

I am encouraged to follow Paul’s example. To increasingly see my role here on this planet as one of unselfish service to God. I do not here to make money, seek comfort, enjoy pleasure, pursue my own agenda, or satisfy my own desires. I am a servant of the living God who He has chosen to use for His service, but too often I find myself distracted by the things of this world. I get wrapped in the affairs of everyday life. I get sidetracked by the cares and concerns that crowd in and push aside the agenda He has for me. But Paul encourages me to refocus. He reminds me that I am here for something far greater than my own self-satisfaction. God has given me a job to do. May He find me faithful to do it until Christ returns or until He calls me home.

Father, I want to finish the course well. I want to keep the faith. I want to be faithful to the task you have given me. Forgive me for getting distracted and off course. Forgive me for setting my own agenda for my life. Help me see my life as a drink offering, joyfully poured out each and every day for Your service. Show me how to die to myself and my own will, and live joyfully and faithfully within Yours. Help me to remember that “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Timothy chapter 3

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” – Vs 16-17

The Word of God is more than just a blueprint for living or some kind of religious self-help book. Yet that is how many of us treat it. We go to it to find helful tips on everything from raising kids to personal finances. We pull verses out of context and twist the meaning of passages to get the answer we’re looking for or a confirmation for whatever it is we’ve decided to do. We fail to recognize that is the revelation of God Himself. It is a multifaceted story of God’s unfolding relationship with mankind. It is powerful and potentially life-changing. It is so much more than we give it credit for.

For teaching

There is no doubt that the Bible is a powerful teaching tool. But it is more than just an academic textbook or book of religious doctrines or dogma. It is a divinely inspired document that is filled with the teachings of God. It reveals who God is and His relationship with mankind. It teaches about holiness and sin, righteousness and immorality, condemnation and salvation. In its pages we are shown the truth about the meaning of life and the reality of eternity. And because it is divinely inspired, it is the only book that can miraculously teach us new insights and provide us with new wisdom each time we read it. The Holy Spirit can take a familiar passage and open our eyes to new applications that up until that moment had remained hidden from us. That is why it is an adventure to read and study it every day, because it never grows old and it’s truths are never exhausted. It is the living Word of God.

For reproof

One of the reasons the Bible can be hard to read is that it can be hard on our sin. The Greek word translated in these verses as “reproof” carries the idea of exposing someone’s sin in order to bring correction. And that’s exactly what happens when we read the Word. It shines a light on the sin in our life in order that we see it. But it not only shows us our sin, it gives us proof of it and convicts us about it, which should lead us to confession regarding it. The light of God’s Word shines into the darkest recesses of our lives to expose the hidden sins that we have grown far too comfortable with. But we can’t confess what we can’t see, and we can’t be forgiven of what don’t confess. Thank God for the exposing, convicting power of His Word.

For correction

With conviction should come correction. As we see our sin, we should want to change our relationship to that sin. Which is exactly what the Word of God helps us to do. It not only reveals our sinfulness, but shows us how to be restored to a right relationship with God. It gives us the steps we need to take in order to improve our conduct and character. God doesn’t just leave us in a state of hopeless conviction and guilt, but provides a way out, a way of change and transformation. It is about all about restoration and reconciliation. Which should make us want to read it more and more.

For training in righteousness

The Greek word used here is a multifaceted one that carries the idea of training a child. It includes “the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body” (NET Bible Commentary). God’s Word touches every area of our life and utilizes a range of techniques to accomplish its goal of righteousness in our lives. It encourages, commands, admonishes, corrects, rebukes, comforts, etc. It gives us just what we need right when we need it. It is personal, loving, and highly practical. And it always leads us to a life of increasing righteousness.

Adequate and equipped

God’s Word has an objective: The equipping of His people for service. It is designed to prepare us and mold us into the kind of servants He can use for His work in this world. That is why the Word is so important in our lives. We can’t live without it and we can’t serve without it. We cannot become what He has called us to become without it. So making the Word of God a regular part of our lives should be a non-negotiable for every believer who is serious about his walk with God. It is as necessary to our faith as oxygen is to life. God speaks to us through His Word. He transforms us through His Word. He prepares us through His Word. So that we might be ready to do His will.

Father, thank You for Your Word. It is a light that shines into the dark corners of my life exposing hidden sin and allowing me to confess that sin to You so that You can forgive me and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. Give me an increasing hunger for Your Word so that I might be a man of God, adequate and equipped to do Your will. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Timothy chapter 2

“…he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” – Vs 21

That’s my greatest desire. To be a vessel that God sets aside for His use. I want to be useful to the Master. But Paul says I must that for this to happen, I must cleanse myself of these things. What “things” is he talking about? Well, from a cursory look at the preceding verses it would appear that he has several things in mind.

No worldly entanglement

Back in verse 4, Paul warns Timothy not to entangle himself “in the affairs of everyday life.” In other words, he must make following Christ his highest calling and commitment. Like a good soldier, he cannot let the normal cares of life distract him from his duty. He must remain dedicated to his task and his Commander. Yet how easy it is to allow the cares of this world to take us away from the more important task at hand. We are constantly tempted to abandon our post and become enmeshed in the seemingly more important matters of life. Paul says we are to purge or cleanse ourselves of this tendency.

Compete according to the rules

In verse 5, Paul warns Timothy to live his life according to the rules or the standards established by God. This is not about keeping the Law, but about living life by God’s standards, not my own or the world’s. I must make the Word and God’s will my standard in all things. But the temptation for all of us is to bend the rules or to even ignore them altogether. We can think that we are somehow above God’s standards or that they don’t really apply to us. We cannot afford to play fast and loose with the requirements that God has placed on each of us as His servants. So we must cleanse ourselves of any desire to “play” according to our own rules.

Don’t get into senseless debates over words

In verse 14, Paul warns his young disciple that it is worthless to get into meaningless debates over words. Instead, he is to accurately handle the word of truth. The phrase Paul uses, “to wrangle about words,” is one word in the Greek. It is the word, logomacheo, and it means to wrangle about empty and trifling matters. How easy it is for us to get distracted from the Word of God by getting off on empty and meaningless debates, controversies, and arguments over issues that don’t really matter. The enemy loves to see the people of God waste their time arguing over issues that don’t really have that much to do with the Word of God. So he distracts us into debates over mindless points of obscure doctrine and dogma. In the meantime, we are failing to accurately handle the word of truth. So Paul says we are to cleanse ourselves from this kind of unprofitable activity.

Avoid worldly and empty chatter

Paul really hits a nerve in verse 16. This is an area in which most of us struggle, because we are surrounded by it. From the news to the entertainment media, we are bombarded with worldly talk. The Greek word Paul uses is bebelos and it means “profane, unhallowed, or common.” It is the talk of this world. It is vain, empty, meaningless, and highly distracting because it fills our ears and keeps us from hearing what God wants us to hear. But the dangerous part is that it distracts us by entertaining us. It appears harmless and fun, but while subtly taking our minds off the things of God. Paul refers to it as “empty chatter.” He uses the Greek word kenophonia which means “discussion of vain and useless matters.” So instead of discussing those things that lead to godliness, we waste our time discussing everything from American Idol to the stock market. We talk about our bracket for March Madness and our favorite TV show. We discuss our vacation plans or our latest purchase. But the empty chatter Paul is referring to can also include “religious” talk that is not based on a sound Biblical foundation, but is the result of the vain speculation of men. Paul says we are to cleanse ourselves of this kind of talk.

Abstain from wickedness

Finally, Paul tells Timothy to literally “flee” or “run away from” wickedness. That word wickedness means “unrighteousness of heart and life.” We are to make every effort to avoid and turn away from anything that would cause our hearts and lives to become unrighteousness. It doesn’t mean to stop being wicked, but to distance yourself from those things that lead to a life and a lifestyle of unrighteousness. And what makes this one particularly hard is that we are literally surrounded by these kinds of things. They are all around us. They come into our homes through the TV, Internet, and magazines. Our children are exposed to them through their peers, movies, and music. But Paul says we are to cleanse ourselves of these kinds of things. Why?

Because when we do, we will be vessels for honor. The kind of vessels that God sets apart for His purposes. He will use us to accomplish His will in our world. He will pour Himself into us and out of us in order to impact this world with His message of hope and life transformation. He will make us useful, instead of useless. He will make us vessels for honor, instead of dishonor. He will set us apart, make us holy, so that we might be used in His eternal plan to redeem a lost world to Himself. Now that’s the way I want to spend my life.

Father, show me what I need to do to cleanse myself from the impact and influence of the world. I want to be a vessel for honor. I want to be used by You. But I know that I have been influenced by this world and have allowed to become entangled by the things of this world. I spend too much time worrying about things that don’t matter, discussing things that are unimportant, pursuing things that can’t deliver. Cleanse me. Make me useful. Use me. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

2 Timothy chapter 1

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” – Vs 7 (ESV)

Here is the great apostle Paul writing to his son in the faith, Timothy. He refers to him as “my beloved child” (Vs 1). And in the first chapter of this letter Paul encourages his young disciple, telling him to “fan into flame the gift of God” (Vs 6 ) and to “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (Vs 8). Paul is in prison in Rome, awaiting trial and anticipating his ultimate death. Yet in spite of his less-than-perfect circumstances, Paul is calling young Timothy to a life of perseverance for the gospel even in the face of suffering.

No Fear

Paul tells Timothy that fear is not an option for a faithful servant of God. The word he uses for fear is deilia in the Greek. It refers to one who flees from battle, who is a coward or deserter.  It’s the picture of a soldier who abandons his post, letting his fear get the best of him. Not exactly how a follower of Christ should be characterized. But Paul knew that this would be a temptation for Timothy, just like it is for all of us. So he reminds Timothy that he has within him the Holy Spirit of God, and as a result, he has access to inexhaustable power, love, and self-control. Left to our own devices, we will always run in the face of trials and suffering. We will fear and flee. But God has equipped us with a new source of power. The Greek word for power is dumanis and it means “strength power, ability.” It is where we get our word for dynamite. We have an incredible power available to us that is beyond anything we can produce. It is divine power. So there is no reason for us to fear and flee.


But we also have love at our disposal. Not the kind of love the world obsesses with, but agape love. Selfless, sacrificial, lay-it-all-on-the-line love that doesn’t expect anything in return. It’s the kind of love we can’t produce in our own strength, but that can only come from the Holy Spirit who lives within us.


Finally, Paul tells Timothy that the Holy Spirit makes available a new source for self-control and self-discipline. The Greek word he uses is sophronismos and it means “an admonishing or calling to soundness of mind, to moderation and self-control.” It is the ability to process your circumstances objectively, seeing them from God’s perspective instead of your own limited point of view. And as a result, you do the right thing. Instead of fleeing, your practice self-control and remain right where you are, ready to watch God work in your, around you, and through you. Instead of panicking, you pause and reflect on just how great your God is. Instead of running, you rest in the knowledge that your God is bigger than your biggest problem.

Like Timothy, you and I have been given a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. So we can stand firm against the greatest of odds. We can show love even to those who hate us. We can practce self-control and moderation even when we feel tempted to  satisfy our own selfish desires. The Christian walk is not an easy one. And no one knew that better than Paul. He knew what Timothy was going to be facing in the days ahead. So he gently, but firmly reminded him to never forget the incredible resource that was within him. And that’s a message we all need to hear.

Father, think You for placing Your Spirit within me. Thank you for providing everything I need to live the life You’ve called me to live. Help me to remember that I have within me an inexhaustable source  of power,  love and self-control. So there is not reason for me to fear, flee, faint, or falter in my walk with You. Keep me dependent on You every day of my life. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 6

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” – Vs 6

Godliness and contentment. The two go hand in hand. They are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. That seems to be Paul’s message to Timothy in this chapter. There were those in the church in Ephesus where Timothy was ministering who “supposed that godliness is a means of gain” (Vs 5). These individuals were “men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth.” They were pursuing godliness for what they could get out of it, and most likely it was financial gain they were seeking. They were “those who want to get rich” (Vs 9) and whose lives were characterized by a “love of money” (Vs 10). But Paul tells Timothy that they were missing something in their pursuit of godliness: CONTENTMENT.

They had their priorities out of whack. They were seeking from a life of godliness what it was never intended to deliver – financial gain. But Paul stresses that there really is great gain from a life of seeking God, but it is must be accompanied with contentment. It will involve faith, not financial gain. There will be a realization that the things of this world are of no value when put up against the value of having a relationship with God. This is a common theme for Paul and one he expresses quite well in his letter to the Philippian church:

“I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him.” – Philippians 3:7-8 (NLT)

Paul was willing to give up everything and anything in order to make knowing Christ his highest priority. He was content with having food and covering, if he could have Christ. For him, it was better to run from the love of money and the things of this world than to risk having his faith compromised and his priorities skewed. He tells Timothy to do the same thing:

“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness” – Vs 11

He tells Timothy, and us to:

“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” – Vs 12

For Paul, this was serious business. Anything that distracts us from our pursuit of godliness – an intimate relationship of dependence on God – should be run away from like a dangerous predator. Anything that we seek other than God, in an effort to find contentment, should be seen as what it is – a dangerous diversion from the truth. And in our world today we are surrounded by all kinds of diversions. They distract and detour us off the path of godliness. They tempt us with offers of false contentment. They assure us that they can meet our needs and bring us fulfillment. These diversions take the form of financial gain, personal comfort, materialism, entertainment, power, prominence, and any other thing that we tend to fix our hope (Vs 17). Instead, we are to fix our hope on God, “who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (Vs 17).

Contentment. Do you have it? Are you enjoying it? It goes hand in hand with a life of godliness. They are inseparable. You can’t have one without the other. Is it enough for you to have God? Are you willing to let go of everything else, even run from it, in order to gain Christ? There is nothing inherently evil in money and things, but they can be dangerous to a serious-minded believer. They can become distractions and diversions that keep us from finding our contentment in a life of godliness. So, “flee from these things, you man (or woman) of God” (Vs 11).

Father, give me the strength to run away from the love of money and the temptation to find my contentment in anything other than You. Open my eyes so that I can see the truth behind the lies that surround me and bombard me daily. Don’t let me buy into their offers of satisfaction and fulfillment apart from You. Don’t let me become distracted by the things of this world. Help me pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness” and to find my walk with you accompanied by contentment. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 5

“…deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed” – Vs 25

In this chapter, Paul starts dealing with some very specific issues and groups within the church. He talks about neglected widows and neglectful husbands. He discusses the compensation for worthy elders and even the medicinal use of wine for Timothy’s ongoing stomach problems. But the verse that jumped out the most to me was the very last one in this chapter. He simple says, “…deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.” The Message puts it this way:

“The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.”

Paul has been dealing with a lot of relationship issues. Remember, chapter three talked about our conduct in the household of God. Chapter four talked about excersising spiritual discipline. Now he is getting into specifics of what conduct or behavior in the household of God should look like. He gets very practical and specific. But the bottom line is that our good deeds, like our sins, are very visible. They are right out there for others to see. When we do what is right, when we excercise godliness, when we do good deeds, others can see them. They are hard to hide. But our “bad” deeds, while hidden for a while, will also come to light. They’ll show up sooner or later. Just as our sins cannot stay hidden for long.

This is still all about conduct within the church. It is about relationships within the body. Paul is encouraging young Timothy and us to be discipline ourselves to live lives that exhibit good deeds. Not for any accolades or applaus we may receive, but because they are profitable for us as individual believers and for the family of God. Do them and they will be readily visible to all around. Fail to do them or do deeds that are selfish and self-centered, and they will become evident as well. But they will not be profitable for anything.

As we discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness, our deeds will become evident. Our godliness will become visible through our actions. Our heart transformation will influence our behavior toward one another. And the world will see.

Father, help me to be a man whose good deeds come from my pursuit of godliness. Let them be the by-product of a disciplined pursuit of You and Your Word. I want my actions to be the reaction of a relationship with You, not based on some self-effort that I try to manufacture in a lame attempt to look spiritual. I want what I do to be an outcome of who I am becoming in You, of who I already am in You. A son of God, a righteous priest in the household of God. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 4

“…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness…” – Vs 7

We are a hard-working society. Most people put in more hours per week on their jobs than any other generation before them. We even work hard at our leisure and recreation. Not content to have one hobby or fitness passion, many of us pursue a wide assortment of exercise options, putting in countless hours at the gym or working out at home. We bike, run, lift weights, do aerobics, Pilates, Yoga, and a range of other popular fitness fads. None of which are bad. But how many of us put the same level of energy and effort we put into work and recreation into our spiritual development?

Paul had to have been an exercise nut, because he refers to the topic quite a bit in his letters. Or it could be that he was writing within the context of a culture heavily influenced by Greek thought, that was obsessed with the human body. Exercise was a huge deal in his day. A well-formed, fit human body was considered a thing of beauty. And it was worth working for. So Paul took that same mentality and applied it to his reader’s pursuit of godliness. He says, “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (Vs 7). The word there for “discipline” is the Greek word gymnazo, which literally means, “to exercise vigorously, in any way, either the body or the mind.” It’s the same Greek word from which we get our words gym and gymnasium. It was a popular word with the apostle Paul.

Godliness is profitable for all things

Paul tells Timothy, and us, to discipline himself for godliness. He is to exercise vigorously both his body and his mind so that he might become increasingly more godly. Why? Because godliness is profitable. It is advantageous. Not just for the life to come (heaven), but for the present life. So it is worth laboring and striving for (Vs 10). It should become a high priority in our lives because it gives us an advantage in this life. Godliness is what allows us to navigate the rough seas and storms of this life. It is what gives us the stamina to take the next step, when we think we can’t go on. It is what provides us with the energy we need when we are feeling tired and ready to give up. Godliness is not just about more Scripture knowledge and religious platitudes. It is the key to survival in a very inhospitable place.

So if it is so important, why don’t more of us as believers spend more time disciplining ourselves in the pursuit of godliness? Because the world is screaming at us that it is NOT important. It is a waste of time. There are more pressing things to be concerned with. Like working more hours so you can make more money. Or increasing your weekly mileage so you can run a faster 5K. Or getting in better shape so you can look better in your bathing suit this summer. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those things, but when they become more important than our own spiritual growth, we have lost perspective. We have gotten our priorities mixed up. Paul says bodily exercise is only of little profit. It may make you look better, allow you to live a little longer, give you a bit more stamina, and improve your self-esteem, but time spent pursuing godliness has both short- and long-term implications. It is profitable and advantageous. It has lasting results that won’t diminish with age or time.

Father, forgive me for not spending more time exercising spiritually and for allowing myself to get out of spiritual shape. It leaves me spiritually lethargic and lacking in the energy I need to live the life you’ve called me to live. I get tired too easily. I run out of spiritual breath too quickly. I find myself lacking the stamina I need to run the race to win. Help me see spiritual exercise and the pursuit of godliness as a non-negotiable in my life. May I make it a priority each and every day of my life. Because it holds promise for this life and also for the life to come! Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 3

“…so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” – Vs 15

If you spend any time reading and studying the writings of Paul, you quickly discover that he was extremely passionate about the conduct or behavior of believers. It is a popular topic in all his letters. Partly because the church was young and the converts to this new faith called The Way were bringing a mixed bag of religious beliefs and pagan influences along with them. There was no written code of conduct. They didn’t know how followers of Christ were supposed to act. You had Jewish converts attempting to bring the requirements of the Law and mix them with their new-found freedom in Christ. You had Gentile converts trying to blend their pagan practices with the teachings of Christ and the apostles. So it was a confusing and potentially dangerous time for this fledgling band of brothers and sisters known as Christians or Christ followers.

The household God

Paul went out of his way to emphasize to his readers that they were members of a new household. This was God’s family. They had entered into a new relationship with God that was communal and not just individual. They were part of a family of faith that was going to rely on interaction and interpersonal relationships. It wasn’t just “you and God” anymore, but it was going to be about you as a member of the family of God. Like any family, how all the members get along is what will determine the health of the family. If everyone simply looks out for their own self-interests, you will ultimately have conflict. So interpersonal relationships and behavior are critical in the family of God.

The church of the living God

This new family is the church of the living God. It is HIS church, not ours. We represent Him on this earth. He started the church and He placed it on the earth so that it might reflect who He is. In the earliest days of the church, recorded in the book of Acts, we see that there was a sense of oneness, openness, community, and care that made the church attractive and vibrant. The love they had for one another was contagious. The community they shared with one another was infectious. They were the church of the living God and as a result, they drew people to God in mass, and so the church grew rapidly.

The pillar and support of the truth

But along with being a place of community and a representation of God on this planet, the church is to be the “pillar and support of the truth.” We are to hold fast to the truth of God as found in His Word. We are to teach it, preach it, believe it, and live it daily. When the church fails to do so, the foundations begin to quickly crumble. We can see this happening in our own nation as churches and denominations abandon their responsibility to uphold and support the truth of God. They bend the truth or simply manufacture their own version of the truth. The result is chaos and confusion. The community loses its moral compass. The nation begins to do what is right in its own eyes instead of what is right in the sight of God. The church is to stand as a beacon of light in a dark world. The church is to lift up God’s Word and model the power of its truth through godly behavior and loving relationships. We are to prove that His truth is true and that His ways work.

Live like you believe it

The world needs to see the church living out what it says it believes. We need men and women of godly character modeling the Christ-life for all to see. We are not perfect, but we do have a power present within us that allows us to live lives that are truly transformed. As elders who lead with integrity. As deacons who serve with dignity. As men and women who exhibit purity. As families that model Christ-like unity. As parents who know how to lead patiently and lovingly. As members of the church of God who support the truth faithfully.

Father, may I see myself increasingly more clearly as a member of this magnificent organism called the church of God. Help me to die to my self-centeredness and selfishness and see myself as part of a living, breathing community of faith. Together may we be all that You have called us to be. May we support and hold up the truth of your word as we live it out daily in every area of our lives. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

1 Timothy chapter 2

“First of all, then, I pray that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.” – Vs 1

Do you have any people in your life you just refuse to pray for? You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re those hard-to-get-along-with type of people who rub you the wrong way or who just make your life miserable. Maybe it’s your boss or a coworker. It could be a neighbor or even a family member. But we all have them. Then there are those individuals we don’t even know, but who we feel no real desire to pray for. They could be a politician, a prominent person in the community, or the corrupt leader of a third-w0rld country who lives in luxury while his people starve to death. Those are the kinds of guys I basically refuse to put on my prayer list. In my mind, they don’t deserve it. If I pray for them at all, it usually isn’t for their well-being. Then I run into 1 Timothy 2!

…on behalf of ALL men

There it is. No arguing semantics or hermaneutics. It is pretty simple. Paul urges us to pray for all men. Even kings and those who are in authority. That includes every politician from either party in our own country, as well as every corrupt leader in every nation on the face of the globe. Paul says that praying for these people is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.” God wants us to pray for all men and women everywhere. But what does He want us to pray? For their removal if they are corrupt? For their further success if they are of our particular political persuasion? For their failure if they don’t happen to come down on the right side of the political fence?

No, Paul makes no distinction. He just says to pray for all men. What makes this a particularly powerful statement is that the Roman Emperor on the thone as Paul penned these words was the infamous Nero. Here are just a few excerpts from Easton’s Bible Dictionary to describe the man in power while Paul was writing Timothy:

He became emperor of Rome when he was about seventeen years of age (A.D. 54), and soon began to exhibit the character of a cruel tyrant and heathen debauchee.

And in their [Christians] deaths they were also made the subjects of sport; for they were covered with the hides of wild beasts and worried to death by dogs, or nailed to crosses, or set fire to, and, when day declined, burned to serve for nocturnal lights. Nero offered his own gardens for that spectacle.

Nero was the emperor before whom Paul was brought on his first imprisonment at Rome, and the apostle is supposed to have suffered martyrdom during this persecution.

Quite a guy. Yet Paul encourages the believers of his day to pray for him. But what was Paul asking them to pray? From the context it would seem that Paul was encouraging believers to pray for nothing less than Nero’s salvation.

“This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” – Vs 4

Paul wasn’t praying for Nero’s downfall or removal, but for his salvation. Paul took every opportunity to try and introduce every prominent political figure he met to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – from Festus and Felix to Agrippa and probably even Nero, if he ever got the opportunity. But he more than likely prayed for each of these men every day.

Who should we be praying for?

Who are the Nero’s of our day? There are plenty of corrupt political power brokers out there who are taking Nero’s reign of terror to new heights. They are persecuting the church. They are imprisoning believers and putting many to death for their faith. And while we should pray for the persecuted church, are we willing to pray for the salvation of those responsible for the persecution? Paul would. Because Jesus Christ gave Himself “a ransom for all” (Vs 6). Jesus died on behalf of all men. He payed the price for not only my sins but the sins of the world. So Paul says, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifiting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” (Vs 8). The believers of Paul’s day probably felt like they had every right to be angry at Nero for his attrocities. But Paul said they were to replace their anger with prayer. They were to not allow “dissension” or reasoning within themselves to convince themselves not to pray. No, they were just to pray – for all men, everywhere. And leave the results to God.

Father, I confess that there are many in this world I do not feel the urge to pray for. I may want to pray them out of office or pray for their ultimate failure, but praying for their salvation just doesn’t seem right or fair. In some way, I feel as if they do not deserve it. But then You remind me that I did not deserve salvation either. The truth is, the only way men can live a “tranquil and quite life in all godliness and dignity” (Vs 2) is if they come to a saving knowledge of Your Son Jesus Christ. Put in me a growing desire for all men to be “saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (Vs 4), because that is what You desire. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men