God’s Provision for His Church
1 Timothy 4:11-16
June 12, 2022
In April of 2001, I received this email —
Greetings from California! This is Keith Palmer…
I heard through my in-laws that there may be an intern position opening up at your church this summer and thought I would write you to get some more information. Lisa and I have been praying a lot about what we will be doing this summer. We have a few possibilities but we both would like to immerse ourselves in ministry this summer.…I am not sure what you are looking for in an intern, but I am interesting in working in a church and would like to talk with you more about it sometime.
We are excited to see what the Lord does in the next few months. Lisa and I look forward to coming out to visit this June.…
Little did I know how the Lord would use that first email exchange from Keith in my own life, as well as in the life of our church body.
Keith did come to do an internship with us that summer. At that time, we were looking for an associate pastor and I told him when he arrived, “We are looking for an associate, but we need someone now; we can’t wait for next summer [when Keith would graduate]…”
By the middle of the summer of his internship that changed. We saw that while Keith’s training and spiritual gifts weren’t a fit for the job description we had put together, he was the right man. And having the right man of godly character, we could wait and we could figure out what he would do in ministry.
And here we are 20 years later, with so many unexpected blessings that have come through his ministry to us and among us. None of us envisioned 20 years ago what the Lord has been gracious to do — and isn’t that just the way the Lord works in all of our lives personally, and in the life of the church?
During the fellowship meal, we will offer some particular expressions of thankfulness to Keith for his ministry; during this hour, we look “past Keith,” at the One who has saved him, equipped him, and used him in our lives. We look at God, and His Provision for His Church.
To do that let’s look at Paul’s first letter to Timothy, chapter four. As we read this passage, you might be tempted to think, “this isn’t about God; this is about the pastor’s responsibility.” Yes, these verses contain 10 imperatives for the young pastor, Timothy.
But even while we see the responsibility of the pastor, we also see the provision of God in three ways:
- While these commands are Timothy’s responsibility, we understand that whenever God gives a command, He also gives ability to fulfill that command. He does not leave us powerless to be obedient to Him (which is something we learned in Romans 8, particularly 11, 31-32). [There is also an allusion to this reality in the middle of this passage.]
- In another letter to the same church, Paul says that “pastor” is not just a role someone fills in the church, but pastors and elders are God’s gift to the church — they are one of the ways God cares for us so that we will be equipped to serve each other ( 4:11-12).
- Additionally, Timothy had been given to the Ephesian church as a particular gift to that particular church (1 Tim. 1:2-3). Timothy was one of the instruments of God’s grace to those believers.
So pastors and elders are a gift from God to us; in our context we can say that our elders (and deacons, and teachers, and all our other members) are a gift from God so that we can thrive spiritually.
As we make our way through this passage, we can use it in two ways: those who serve in capacities of leadership can be reminded of our calling and responsibility, and secondly, all of us can use it as a means of gratitude to God for His gracious provision of individuals and leaders for the care of our souls. He has given lavishly to us. He has not left us alone in our spiritual journey. We thank Him for His gifts.
Give thanks for the faithful shepherds God has placed in our church.
While there are ten commands in these verses, we want to turn those commands into occasions for rejoicing and gratitude for all those whom the Lord has placed in spiritual authority in our lives. Here are five objects of thanksgiving for faithful shepherds.
- Give Thanks for the Instruction of Faithful Shepherds (vv. 11, 13)
- Give Thanks for the Example of Faithful Shepherds (v. 12)
- Give Thanks for the Spiritual Gifts of Faithful Shepherds (v. 14)
- Give Thanks for the Faithfulness of Faithful Shepherds (vv. 15-16)
- Give Thanks for God’s Particular Gift to Grace Bible Church
Download the rest of this sermon on 1 Timothy 4:11-16.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.