Trumpets are one of the oldest of instruments. In the book of Numbers, we find that God instructs Moses to make two silver trumpets – perhaps somewhat similar to this one.

1 The LORD said to Moses: 2 “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out. Numbers 10:1-2

So the idea was, they would sound the trumpet to assemble the people and they would sound the trumpets to tell everyone that it’s time to move out. With a crowd of two million people and no cell phones or walky-talkies – trumpets were an effective way of communicating simple instructions to a massive crowd of people.

And after thousands of years of history, not much has changed. Right up until the invention of the radio, the military still used bugle calls to communicate with the troops.

You probably even recognize a couple of calls today.

[Play mp3s]

Today we begin a series on the book of 1 Timothy and the series’ title is “Call of Duty – Our Responsibilities as Christians”.

Through this book of 1 Timothy, Paul is giving Timothy his marching orders. In it, He lays out his (and our) responsibilities – in our personal lives, as leaders in the church, and in our community. It is as if Paul is sounding the horn, calling us to action. So as we go through the book of 1 Timothy, I want you to think of it as your call of duty. I trust that as we look at what God has to say to us through this book, we will hear the call, accept the responsibilities that God has given us, and then act accordingly.

So let’s get started.

1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus, who gives us hope.
2 I am writing to Timothy, my true son in the faith. May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord give you grace, mercy, and peace.

3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions. 7 They want to be known as teachers of the law of Moses, but they don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently.
8 We know that the law is good when used correctly. 9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.
15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:1-17

Now there are a whole lot of sermons packed into that first chapter of Timothy, but I’m going to leave some of them for you to discover on your own. In fact, I would challenge you to begin your own personal study of 1 Timothy as we go though it together for the next six weeks or so. My plan is to tackle about one chapter each week, so if you try to do the same in your own Bible reading – or perhaps even get together with someone else and go through it together – I think that would really help you get the most out of what God is saying to you though this book.

But for today, I want us to focus on verses 3-6.

“3 When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth. 4 Don’t let them waste their time in endless discussion of myths and spiritual pedigrees. These things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.”
1 Timothy 1:3-6

How many of you have had a meaningless discussion with someone? How many of you have argued with conviction over a point that really doesn’t matter? That sort of stuff happens in marriages all the time. Should the toilet seat be left up or down? Some people have very strong feelings about this. Or how about “Does it really matter how you load the dishwasher?” We were with some friends the other day and we were discussing laundry. (I’m not really sure why we were discussion laundry, but for some reason, we were…) The ladies said you had sort out everything into colors and according to the type of material – whereas the guys would just throw it all in the machine at once and get ‘er done with. It’s those types of discussions that people feel very strongly about, but either way, it’s really not a life-impacting issue.

And those kind of debates are common in our churches today. In some churches there’s the endless debate over hymns vs. courses. In some churches it’s the issue of drums or other instruments. There are all kinds of different denominations because we all hold to a slightly different theology. We disagree over methods of baptism. We disagree over speaking in tongues. There are all kinds of these non-essential issues that we seem to get stuck on.

But Paul is telling Timothy, “Don’t let people waste their time in meaningless discussions that don’t help people live a life of faith in God.” Now, is that to say we should never discuss these things? No. It’s important to talk about these things. But let’s not dwell on them. As Paul says in verse 6 – let’s not miss the whole point. There are other discussions that we need to have. Things that WILL help people live a life of faith in God.

That’s why Paul says in verse 5…
“The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”

This is what being a Christian is all about. It’s not about discussing our baptism methodology or arguing about what instruments we can play in church. It’s about being “filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”

So let’s not have a meaningless discussion this morning. Let’s talk about things that will help people live a life of faith in God. Let’s have a conversation that will help you have a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

This past week we started going through a DVD series at our men’s time. And the key verse that we talked about was Proverbs 27:17.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

So as we talked about that verse, one of the things that came out was that as men in the church, it is our job to  keep each other on track. We need to be accountable to each other. We need to sharpen each other. We need to challenge each other – and sometimes, if necessary, confront each other. But usually, we’re a little timid to do that. We don’t want to cause conflict. We don’t want to ruffle the feathers. So instead of the discussions that really matter in life, we talk about the weather. Or we talk about work. Or we talk about cars or fishing. And those are all fine things, but in the big scheme of things – it’s a meaningless discussion. Today’s weather won’t matter in 1000 years. But, a Christian brother or sister’s spiritual well-being is a discussion that has eternal ramifications.

When was that last time that someone in the church came up to you and asked you “Hey, is your conscience clear? Is your heart pure? Are you being genuine in your faith or are you just faking it?”

These are the questions that we need to ask. These are the discussions that we need to have. Let’s care enough about people to ask them the hard questions. Let’s be bold enough to get beyond the chit-chat and discuss the things that really matter in life.

If you have someone like that in your life – someone who asks you the hard questions – you know how valuable the are. They are like guardrails along a steep mountain road. If you start to go off track, they’re there to catch you before you go completely off course and have a huge wreck.

I didn’t share/already shared during our sharing time earlier, but I’ll tell you what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful that I have at least three good Christian friends who are not afraid to come up and ask me “Hey, is your conscience clear? Is your heart pure? Are you being genuine in your faith?” They ask me those kind of questions on a regular basis – and they play a huge part in keeping me on course. They keep me sharp – like iron sharpens iron.

So I would challenge you in two ways this morning – this is your “Call of Duty” if you will:
Find a trusted Christian friend and give them permission to ask you the hard questions. Give them permission to ask (and then answer them honestly) the questions that really matter in life. Is your conscience clear? Is your heart pure? Are you being genuine in your faith?
Be that trusted Christian friend who is not afraid to ask the important questions. Be that friend that will get beyond the chit-chat and discuss the things that help each other live a life of faith in God.

This is your responsibility as a Christian. This is your call of duty.