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Keep God's Word Central

1 Timothy 4:13-14
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you. (NIVUK)

Philosophers present human ideas with their own passion; but preachers should bring God’s Word in the power of the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 1:5).  Church leadership brings many pressures and Paul was concerned that Timothy should not drift into being a social coordinator or even concentrate on humanitarian aid to the poor.  His primary task was to bring God’s Word to the believers, and anyone who would listen, and apply it to their lives.   His first responsibility was to read the Bible publically and then explain how Jesus has always been at the centre of Scripture, and should be at the centre of their lives too.
Preaching the Scriptures is very powerful.  It is God’s way of speaking to people’s hearts as the Holy Spirit applies the truth He has inspired.  He uses inspired preachers to do this.  I do not mean celebrity preachers whose oratory can win and move a large crowd, but ordinary people who have been given the spiritual gift of explaining what God wants to communicate.  Timothy’s gift of inspired communication was recognised and had been confirmed by the elders as the Lord showed them how He wanted Timothy to serve Him (2 Timothy 1:6).  It was a memorable occasion; so, Paul urged the young man to keep on doing the job.

Interestingly, although the Rabbis taught the details of the Torah, the apostles were called to preach the Gospel.  Although there is some overlap in content, teaching presents essential information to be learned.  But preaching applies that information with the intention that people will make a personal positive response, a step change - to repent, to receive Jesus, to welcome the Spirit, to pray to the Father, to serve according to their spiritual gifts, to give and to sacrifice themselves. Evangelists, pastors and elders do not simply present nice thoughts or debating points, but a call to action in the Name of Jesus.  It was Jesus’ reason for being on the move (Luke 4:43), His command to the disciples (Luke 9:2; Acts 10:42), and the passion of the apostles (1 Corinthians 9:20-25).
There is a special place for public recognition of preachers and teachers: we should encourage them (1 Timothy 5:17).  Everybody who belongs to Jesus Christ also has the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) and has some spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 12:7). An important question is, ‘Who does God want to entrust with the responsibility of preaching and teaching the Bible?’  Some who are unemployed or want to change their financial circumstances think this is a way of getting a good job, home and respect.  Wrong motives!  Ministry is about self-sacrifice not self-satisfaction.  Whatever gift the Lord has given to you, use it. 

God of truth. Thank You for the Bible, inspired by Your Holy Spirit, and for those to whom You have given the gift of preaching and teaching. I am sorry when I have read the Bible but have not expected to hear You speak, or have listened to preachers without accepting and obeying the message You are giving to me. Help me to learn the truth, honour Your Word by doing it; and honour You by being willing to accept whatever spiritual commission You choose for me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams