2 Timothy 2.8-13 – He Is Faithful

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.

Paul continues with encouragement and reminders for Timothy the young pastor, and reminds him to continually remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…It could be said that without the resurrection, the Christian faith has nothing to set it apart from any other worldview or faith tradition that man can create (1 Corinthians 15.14). Paul is preaching this then first and foremost, and tells Timothy that he is bound with chains as a criminal for doing so (v.9).

Even though Paul is bound, even though throughout history Christian have been and are still persecuted and killed in staggering numbers, the word of God is not bound. This should give us all encouragement; that no matter what government, man, religious fanatic, heard-hearted atheist, or pseudo-believer can do the word of God is not bound and will endure forever (Isaiah 40.8).

Paul then bursts into an early Christian hymn and reminds Timothy of the promise of resurrection (v.11), of the eternal rewards of following Jesus (v.12a), and of the fact that our words and ways can actually lead to the truth of Matthew 10.33 being realised.

The overwhelming comfort here for Paul, for Timothy, and for you today is that even if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.

Your relationship with the living God does not rest on you, your salvation does not rest on you, the conversion of others does not rest on you, the forgiveness of your sins does not rest on you, it rests on Him alone and friends, He has promised this and He cannot deny Himself. He is so faithful and will walk with you as you live for Him today and every day.

2 Timothy 2.1-2 – Encourage Your Pastor

You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

Paul starts this passage by encouraging Timothy in his pastoral duties; be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. If you have ever known a pastor personally you will know that they need this encouragement to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Their burdens will be plentiful and privately carried, they will work tirelessly yet be chronically misunderstood, and they will forever try to see the best in people despite being let down by many, often. For this reason, friends, encourage your pastor!

After this initial encouragement, Paul hits Timothy with a pastoral responsibility that we can all either put into action or receive; what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

This has got to be right up there on your pastor’s list – taking the core and right doctrines of the faith and entrusting them to faithful men and women (ἀνθρώποις can refer to men or women depending on the context) who can then teach others also

Here is a point with which you can encourage your pastor; we know that not everything in church is your job. We know that it is your job to teach with words, ways, actions, and reactions the right and proper doctrines of the faith. We know that the call on your life is a holy and sacred one and you are given to our church as a gift from from God (not sure about that? Read Ephesians 4.11 and notice who ‘he gave’ is referring back to…vv.8-10), and we know that we must join you as the many witnesses and the faithful men and women who [are] able to teach others also.

Take a moment today to encourage a faithful pastor in your life, perhaps someone who is rightly dividing and handling the Word of Truth, someone who is passing on the orthodox teachings that Timothy heard from Paul, and someone who you can partner with in ministry to teach others also.

2 Timothy 1.1-5 – Encouragement

2 Timothy is generally held to be Paul’s last letter, written from Roman imprisonment and full of urgency and passion, which you might expect given his incarceration and impending execution. 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved child:

Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

He begins by stating that he is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. This was the role Paul was given in the Lord’s master plan, and Paul often began letters by stating this (1 Timothy 1.1, Galatians 1.1…). Unique to 2 Timothy however is him saying according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus. Again, given his impending execution at the hands of the Romans, the promise of life in Christ Jesus must have seemed especially important.

Paul then offers grace, mercy, and peace to Timothy, and interestingly he only offers mercy when writing to Timothy and Titus (1 Timothy 1.2, Titus 1.4), the two pastors/ministers to receive letters from Paul. In his general letters to Christian congregations, Paul usually offers grace and peace, but reserves the mercy for the ministers. 

We see that Paul is praying for Timothy night and day, and that he longs to see him, that he may be filled with joy. He thinks of Timothy’s faith, Timothy’s family, and is encouraged.

Paul is such a staunch supporter of Timothy, and we all need someone like this in our lives, don’t we.

Who is that person for you? Who is that person who is praying for you night and day? Who is that person who thanks God for you? Who is that person who takes great joy from being with you? We all need someone like this in our lives, don’t we. 

But think about this – who can you be that person for

Who can you pray for, night and day?

Who can you thank God for?

Who can you bless by simply being around?

We all need to be that someone for another, don’t we. 

Today then, no matter whether you are being blessed by that someone, or whether you are filling the role of that someone, let us rest easy in the role that God has given us according to His will, let us do our best to manifest to others the life that is in Christ Jesus

A Prophetic Christmas

What are you planning to give people this Christmas?

Did you buy them the latest or greatest — ?

Maybe you’re a person that thinks of gift ideas so easily that this time of year is no problem for you.

Maybe you have no idea what you can give people, and so Christmas is a time where you worry about over/under gifting.

How about a word of prophecy?

Perhaps you hear this word and think of the Old Testament guys and gals who predicted (accurately and without fail) future events concerning God’s people and God’s coming Messiah (Micah 4.8, 5.2, Isaiah9.2-7 for example). Let’s be clear: that is not what we are talking about. That ministry is no more.

However, we do read in 1 Corinthians 14.3 that those who speak a word of prophecy speak to someone for their upbuilding, their encouragement, or they consolation.

On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.

In contrast (on the other hand) to the gift of tongues which is personal and private (1 Corinthians 14.2, 5b, 6, 9, 19), prophecy is for others, prophecy is using your words in accordance with God’s Word to build people up, encourage people, and to console people.

So, this Christmas season, many people are so concerned with many things. Be a person who gives a word of prophecy, a word of upbuilding, a word of encouragement, a word of consolation. Second only to the unmatchable gift of God’s expressed love to you in the person of Jesus, I’m not sure there is anything more we can give people than love, upbuilding, encouragement, and consolation. 

Surrounded (Fight My Battles)

Some worship songs are so theologically rich and full of weighty substance that they simply must be sung in corporate worship when the church gathers together. Others are wonderful examples of Ephesians 5.19-21 wherein we read that we are to encourage one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.

Surrounded is a great example of an encouraging song that we can take into the day on repeat in our head to make melody to the Lord.

There are basically two lyrics sung over,

This is how I fight my battles

It may look like I’m surrounded but I’m surrounded by You

The song represents the victory that we have over our battles before we know the earthly outcome by trusting that God is going before us and He wins (NRT). This is how we fight our battles.

We can face our daily battles with more courage and strength because we know that the outcome is guaranteed to be based on His promise in Romans 8.28:

God works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”.

Michael W. Smith, who recorded this version, said this about the song,

When I hear the song I go back to the 2nd Kings Scripture and how Elisha prayed for his servant’s eyes to be opened. It’s so incredible that the song has only a few lines and it catches fire and I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to record it. It lights up the room when you sing it. He’s got your back. He said He’ll never leave you or forsake you. He’ll never leave you. God’s at work and we don’t understand it all. Even in the valley, He’s working for our good.

This is an attitude we must take forward into today and everyday; the blessed assurance that God will never leave or forsake us, that He is working all things together for the good of those who love Him, and that because He is outside of time, He is already there in our future having made a way, won the victory, and having fought our battle.

If you are walking through a season of difficulty and trial, please, listen to this and take comfort from knowing the Lord is walking ahead of you, fighting your battles, and that He loves you.

1 Timothy 5.1-2 – In The Family

Here Paul continues writing to Timothy on the church and how it should be structured and run. Again, given that we are all called to be the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.27), the exhortation and instruction is valid for us all in application.

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

Timothy is told, in the original language, not to strike at an older man…so if he needed to challenge the behaviour or conduct of an older man, to do it with respect, as you would a father. It is an unavoidable part of the work of the pastor, to encouragingly rebuke and realign conduct that has strayed from the Word of God.

The same instruction goes for rebuking anyone in the church for Timothy, and it also goes for us now. Older men, younger men, older women, younger women, no matter, we are to treat everyone with respect, as fathers, as brothers, as mothers, as sisters, and to interact with them in all purity

Rather than cut people down with words, the instruction is to encourage those around us as if we are one family. 

Functional and fruitful families build each other up, they don’t tear each other down with words.

Today then, rather than seeking to rebuke in the harshest way possible, let us seek to interact with our church families in a spirit of mutual encouragement, encouraging one another in all purity.

Eggs; the inner egg and the outer shell

In Romans 8.2 we read that the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. We are no longer bound by meticulous religious rules covering everything from our dietary intake to our haircut (good news for some…).

This freedom is liberating, we are now bound only to live the life of the Spirit, in the Spirit, for Christ. If we want to mix milk and meat in a meal, that’s fine. If we want to cut our hair short on the sides and round off the corners of our beards, that’s fine. If you want a tattoo, or to pierce your ears, fine too. If the ladies don’t want to wear a head covering in church, that’s fine too. We are no longer under the law as a heavy yoke, which invariably we would break, which leads to sin, which leads to death. Bad. Now we are living under the Spirit of life. Good.

This means, in a strange sort of way, we are like an egg.

We are free to associate with whoever we want, go wherever we want, eat and drink whatever we want, watch anything we want on the tellybox, be friends with anyone we want. Jesus was not concerned with His outer shell or its appearance, was He? He hung out with some pretty down and dirty people during His incarnational ministry (His time on earth living as fully God and fully man, incarnation literally means ‘in the flesh’).

Like a toddler at meal times, Jesus’ outer egg shell was covered with all sorts of things that people thought it should not be; don’t talk to her, don’t touch them, don’t stay at his house…

Jesus trashed His outer shell, ultimately breaking it for us, but never compromised His inner self.

Therein lies the lesson for us; we are free from the law as a heavy yoke and now have a wonderful liberty as Christians. But, as Jesus ultimately broke His body for our benefit, we need to use our liberty for love, for the benefit of others, not to simply have a good time. 

So yes, we are free to eat, drink, watch whatever we want, but the bigger Christian principles still apply; who is being glorified through what you are doing? Things too, like Philippians 4.8,

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

So, yes, we can dirty up our outer shell, but we must never compromise our inner egg. And, if we are dirtying up our outer shell, let us make sure that it is for the benefit of others, using our liberty for love, not lusts.