Good morning and welcome to Monday. My name is Alan and I have the privilege continuing our journey through 1 Timothy with you through the week immediately after Easter.
Today’s reading is 1Timothy 4:1-5. I’m going to focus on verse 1.
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
Once upon a time you were happy with a notebook and pen. You could write things down, you could do calculations, if you wanted to communicate with someone in a far off land you could write a letter and pop it in the post. If it was truly urgent you could pick up a telephone and make a call. Then one day a man was sent from the future. This man’s name was “Steve.” Steve spoke about the future, and creativity. He promised you the world and sold you a computer, a shiny, colourful computer. You could write things down, do calculations (a whole lot quicker) and if you wanted to communicate with someone in a far off land you could write an email! If it was really urgent and you wanted to see someone’s face he gave you FaceTime. He gave you music, and wearable devices, glasses that did clever stuff but they didn’t quite work, but we will overlook that because Steve was a guru. He gave his Apple and we tasted and saw and it was good.
But then came a young upstart, his name was Google and he began to draw people away. He whispered in the ears of those who were young and impressionable. He promised cheaper goods with higher spec. He opened up this new world to other creative types and promised more and better and quicker and shinier… and the people were deceived!
I am playing with you a little. But what I am talking to you about today is loyalty and fidelity to a brand. Apple users are sold on Apple products and they fill their lives with the best. Android and Google users can be just as loyal.
In this passage Paul writes: some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
Faith is a word in the church that we know all too well. It is very familiar and sometimes familiarity can breed… well… misunderstanding.
Faith is about loyalty, trust, fidelity. We as Christians have chosen to put our trust in Jesus. We have chosen to fill our lives with him. We have chosen to trust him, to take him at his word and put into practice his teaching. We have sworn allegiance to him and seek every day to lean in to him and follow his instruction. To switch to another way of life, to be drawn away from him, is an even bigger deal than to switch from Apple to Google, Android, Windows… whatever!
But the deceiving spirits are subtle. It’s rare that we even notice the erosion of our faith, the whispers of the world trying to lure us away. Perhaps that’s why Paul, the writer of these words, is able to see what’s happening more clearly than Timothy, who is the leader at the centre of the church to whom Paul is writing.
So how can we spot these deceiving spirits? Put simply, the deceiving spirits will always try to push Jesus out of the focus of the centre of our lives. The deceiving spirits will always try to put the focus back on us. “It’s what we want that is most important.” “It’s what we think that counts.” “It’s what we are achieving through our hard work that matters, it’s about us providing for our family, it’s about us coping or not coping with all the world throws at us.” “It’s about us praying enough or working really hard to be holy.” “It’s about what I can achieve and not what God is wanting to do through us!”
That is a slippery slope to abandoning the faith…
No! Our focus is Jesus. Our work is Jesus, our following is of Jesus. Our lives, they are surrendered to Jesus, the one who through his phenomenal love has won our affection and our allegiance. We have willingly given him our today and tomorrow. We have willingly handed over our futures, our past and our present into his hands, convinced that he has the very best for us. And, as it goes on to say, we receive everything with thanksgiving. Everything is a gift. A gift from God, not for our own benefit, but for Jesus to use through our lives for the benefit of others.
Take a moment right now, you are faced with making a big purchase… will it be a new Apple? Will Jesus still command your loyalty or will it be the next, greatest fad that would steal his crown? Choose this day whom you will serve; as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!
Jesus, you are the centre of our lives. Jesus we have happily, willingly surrendered everything that we are, that we will be, in to you loving care knowing that you have the best for us and lord that you will use us to change and impact the world around us. So Father, today we choose you, we choose to follow and we choose to surrender all that we have in to your hands, Amen.
READING: 1 Timothy 4:1-5
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.