2 Timothy 3.10-11 – In // Over

Today Paul draws a stark contrast between those with the spirit of the last days and his intended recipitient Timothy, and by application you and me.

10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.

Pau begins with you, however…Maybe your Bible has the words ‘But you’, drawing an even clearer contrast, but even if they don’t the point is clear – what has gone is not for the believer, what follows is.

As a man so totally sold out to the cause of Jesus and building His kingdom, of making Jesus known to all he could, and of full-life devotion, Paul could say with a clear conscience that it was good for Timothy to have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings…He could say this because Jesus was at the center of them all. Paul’s teaching was Christ-centered, his conduct was Christ honoring, his aim in life was to preach Christ crucified, his faith was unshakingly in Jesus.

Do you have a leader like that in your life? Is there someone who you can follow (Hebrews 13.7) with clear conscience because you know they are 100% sold out to Jesus and His cause and His kingdom?

No matter what Paul has been through and was going through at the time of writing, he knew that the Lord rescued him from all. This is an interesting thing to say whilst in prison awaiting execution, isn’t it. See, Paul knew the difference between being rescued and given victory over his circumstances or in his circumstances.

The Lord never guarantees to rescue and deliver us from every situation that trials us. He does, however, promise to rescue us in spite of them, to rescue us despite what is going on around us unto eternal life with Him. Paul had the proper perspective here, and believed in a God that can work miracles to deliver His people, but never guarantees it. Paul knew that even though he was in prison, even though he was awaiting execution, that the Lord would never leave nor forsake him, would always be an ever present help in times of need, and even if earthly circumstances seem to have defeated him, that his Lord and Saviour had overcome the world and had something far greater waiting on the other side. 

Is that something you know?

Do you know that regardless of what is going on around you, this doesn’t change the fact that you are known by God, loved by God, purchased by the blood of His Son, and that He so desperately desires to enter into a relationship with Him?

If your earthly circumstances are telling you otherwise, I would encourage you to listen to this message, and to rest in the truth that you are known, you are loved, and that no matter what is going on around you, this will never change. 

Finding God’s Will; 4. Circumstances

If we truly believe that God is omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and sovereign, then we will trust that our circumstances can show us His will. That is to say, if we believe God is all powerful, all loving, and in control of His creation, then He can and will direct our lives.

However, circumstance alone cannot show us His will. What if we make a bad choice and get involved with some things that God’s Word to us tells us He would never be involved with, is that His will for us? No. Rather, like building blocks in the hands of a toddler, circumstance must be added to the tower of truth we are building, added to what God reveals to us through His Word and through prayer.

Circumstance can be a powerful thing, though. If you are 6’ 4” and 120 kg, you come from a family of international rugby players, love contact sport, your circumstances would suggest that a career as a ballerina or a jockey is not on the cards. If you have a inbuilt innate interest for biochemistry, choosing to study law at university is not for you, is it. Circumstances would suggest your future lies elsewhere.

What is going on around us, if we pay attention, can help to reveal God’s will to us. At each point of my life for the first 20 years, I thought I was making the choices, I was deciding where I would go and what I would do. Deep down I had this desire to pastor, but never really did anything about it. Then, when I let go and asked God to show me what I should be doing and where I should be doing it, circumstances moved in such a way that I could not have chosen, planned, or even dreamed. The combination of the circumstances, His Word, and much prayer (plus the final element we will talk about next time) helped me to see what God wanted me to be doing, and where He wanted me to be doing it. So, how do we do it, how do we look at our circumstances from a God’s-will-finding-perspective? Henry Blackaby offers this;

Ask God to show you His perspective on what is already happening. Look back at your situation through the lens of what you know about God. The Holy Spirit will help you go to the Word and see the truth of the circumstances from God’s perspective. You adjust our lives accordingly, and begin the process again.

Looking back can be so helpful, both physically and spiritually. In Joshua 4 stones are set up as a physical reminder, but we can also look back to times when God has guided us spiritually, the direction we took, the outcome, and this can then help us move forward more certain of His will this time around.

So, if we focus solely on the circumstances, that’s not the entire truth of the situation. Circumstances are important, to be sure, but they are the third piece of the puzzle so far, along with His Word and prayer. Next time, we add the final piece to this – other believers and the church.