2 Timothy 2.3-7 – Soldier, Athlete, Farmer

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

Here Paul encourages Timothy to take the attitude of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer

The soldier willingly takes orders from his or her commander-in-chief. As a believer in Jesus, He is yours (Joshua 5.14). The soldier is brave, courageous, singularly focused on the task at hand, and gives all of himself or herself to the task right until the very end. A good soldier will not quit when things get tough, they will double-down and work even harder.

An athlete prepares rigorously for their chosen task. They take care of their bodies, they take care of their time, and they take care of their activities based on how they want to compete when the big day comes around. As a believer in Jesus, we ought to be doing the same; building our lives around the opportunity to compete for Him in a culture that seems to be detaching from objective truth faster and faster.

farmer is hard-working and doesn’t seek external recognition. Just think – do you know who the best farmer in the world is? Do you know or follow on Instagram the world champion farmer? Didn’t think so…The farmer is hard-working, unassuming, but unrelenting in his or her approach and application to the task at hand. They value their flock/herd/land highly, and will stop at nothing to do what is best for whatever it is that they are caring for. As a believer, the work ethic of a hard-working farmer must be present in our lives.

If we are to join with the Lord and His pastors in teaching others (see yesterday – 2 Timothy 2.1-2) then we simply must be dedicated to His task like soldiers, we must be building our lives around Him like an athlete preparing for an event, and we must have the work ethic of a hard-working farmer to ensure that we leave no stone unturned in our witness.

Are you a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer for our Lord?

What Is Coming?

10 days and Christmas is here. If you are a believer in Jesus, you should be able to pull back the heavy curtain of the secular Christmas and see what it is really about, and maybe (hopefully) you have even heard your Pastor talk about the fact that Jesus is the greater and greatest gift ever given. But…have you ever stopped to think why? What is really coming at Christmas? What do we celebrate and commemorate?

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called 
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Isaiah 9.2-7

We read that He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This child, the son, took on humanity to become our kinsman redeemer (Ruth 3.9) and our perfect High Priest. 

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of counsel, the only person fit to guide and direct our lives. 

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of God, the only person to have seen and to be able to show us the Father.

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of life everlasting, the only person to have walked the earth that is truly eternal, having no beginning nor end of days, and the only person able to restore us to right relationship with God.

This greater and greatest gift is the gift of peace, not as the world thinks of peace, but true, lasting, inner peace with God. 

Jesus brings a great light (v.2), complete and total victory over the power of sin and its consequences in our lives (v.4), and a great peace (v.5). The best thing is, He invites us to be a part of all of this! He is the gift of a fresh start, a chance to live the life you were made to live, a chance to have sins past, present, and future forgiven. 

That is what is coming, and that is why He is the greatest gift.

Have you taken it, will you take it?

1 Timothy 6 – Final Words

This is adapted from a session I taught at a conference in South Asia recently to a group of pastors and Bible college students.


We are wrapping up the letter today with a final word to the pastor, to the church leader, to the potential church-planter, to the person in ministry, to the believer, to Timothy.

I am not Timothy, you are not Timothy, our churches are not where this church was, but we can learn from what Paul wrote to Timothy. So this says what it says and means what it means, there is one interpretation, yet many applications.


Why do I need to be like this?

Why do I need to live like this?

Why do I need to live humbly as the leader, as a believer?


Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. 2 Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved.

Teach and urge these things. 

The church is the place where we leave our worldly status at the door, who the world says we are at the door. Why? So that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.

In Bahrain, we have lots of military people -senior generals and enlisted men who fellowship and worship together.

As the leader, as the church planter, as the believer, you need to model this. 

Who did Jesus talk and interact with? Everyone. 

Leaders. Slaves. Priests. Sinners.

The church itself was a place where slavery was destroyed. It was not uncommon for a master and a slave to go to church together. This teaching was especially important in the ancient world, where slaves might be treated very differently from master to master, and where there was sometimes intense racism and hatred between slaves and masters.

This cannot be present in the church, in our churches.

These verses, and these first few chapters, this is the kind of life we are to live, to model. Then, in vv.3-10, things NOT to do…

3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

Do you know the worst thing? Notice with me the end of v.5

…imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

While not ignoring the blessings of following Jesus Christ, we must proclaim the need to follow Jesus because He is God, and we owe Him everything as our Creator. What is right before God, and what glorifies Him, is more important than whatever benefit we may gain (Enduring Word).

We need to be Christians who are more concerned with what glorifies God than with what benefits me.

The main point for the minister seems to be in vv.11-16.

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

Timothy, as a man of God, was to do the opposite—to flee from all this, flee these things…

The same is true for you as a man of God, a woman of God, but as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses

Is that you?

Maybe the characteristics sound familiar…

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires

Galatians 5

Back to Timothy…

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Charles Spurgeon said that it is the same as God feeding the birds;

He provides the seeds,

But does not throw them into the nest.

It is the same with us;

The faithfulness of Jesus is there,

The doctrine, the teaching of and about Jesus is there,

The life of Jesus is there,

Fight for it.

Take hold of it.

Will you fight for it?

Will you teach it?

Will you live it?

Have you taken hold of it with two hands?

Paul then gives Timothy a charge, an instruction.

13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

So, in the presence of God, and of Christ Jesus, 

Live this life.

Keep it unstained.

Be consistent.

The life you live is just as important as the words you use to teach.

Being questioned by Pilate in Matthew 27, Jesus said only a few words, but His life spoke so many words.

If you say lots of things about Jesus, but do not live like He is real to you, you are doing more bad than good.

That is not unstained.

That is not above reproach, as we read of in chapter 3.

So Paul wrote about slaves and masters, about the poor, and now about the rich…

17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith.

Grace be with you.

I once read that being a believer and being blessed with financial prosperity is only for the purpose of being generous and ready to share. It’s not for you. God gives it to you, but as Christ did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but added humanity to His Deity and came to live among us for our benefit, material riches are given to us for others.

As Paul wrote, we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.

We are taking hold of the eternal life on offer to us through our faith in the faithfulness of Jesus

Even if we feel we are not good enough, He is, and through faith in Him, we are counted righteous in the eyes of God.


Why do I need to be like this? Why do I need to live like this? Why do I need to model this teaching and teach this teaching?

Because, to your people, your church, your family, you are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Why do I need to live like this?

…to show Jesus to your people.

…to introduce your people to Jesus…

…with everything that you say…

…and everything that you do…

The life you live is just as important as the doctrine you teach.

One last thing…

Maybe you feel like you can’t do this, I can’t do this, I am not strong enough…Remember Zechariah 4.6,

…not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit…

Think about this – Jonah – do you know story?


Think about this then – God’s plan for Nineveh was one man – Jonah.

God’s plan for humanity was one man – Jesus.

God’s plan for your city, your village, your church, your nation, needs only to be one man…is that you?


1 Timothy 4.11-16 – As for Timothy, As for You…

We’ve said before that 1 Timothy was written to the new Pastor, Timothy, with instructions on how the church should be run and structured. But does that mean that the personal qualities that your Pastor possesses are only for him to have, and nobody else in church should be displaying them?

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

We see some pastoral prerequisites that we should all really be taking to heart;

Command and teach these things – the teachings and truths of Jesus (3.16) are to be incontrovertible in the life of the Pastor, in the life of the church, and in your life too.

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in… – if Timothy was God’s man for that church, then his age was irrelevant.


As for Timothy, as for you;

if God wants you to do something for Him, you are never too young or too old. 


Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching – we should all be constantly evaluating ourselves in light of the teachings and truths of Jesus, and asking the Holy Spirit to work in us to change what needs to be changed.

The teaching here refers to the full counsel of God’s Word, all that is taught about Jesus, all that refers to Jesus, all that guides us to Jesus. The main job of the Pastor in your church is to present the teaching, the doctrine, the truths of the Word of God. We should all, today and every day, seek to live in the light of the teaching, and each of us should be concerned with both ourselves and our Christian brothers and sisters. 

Charles Spurgeon told this story whilst preaching on a Sunday evening, the 19th of June, 1870,

I have been thinking while I have been preaching to you, this evening, of my own self awhile, and I shall turn my thoughts to myself and any others who are preachers or teachers, and who try to do good to others.

Years ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself.

Oh! do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you become lost yourselves. Do see that you have the godliness which has the promise of the life that is to come.

And now, you who really desire to find godliness, remember, it is to be had in Christ, and only in Christ.

Jude 1.20-21 – We Must

Hot off the heels of the kind of criticism and challenge believers are to expect, and the kind of person this will come from, today Jude hits us with another contrast.

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Straight away we see the contrast, don’t we, but you, beloved. There needs to be a marked difference in your life when compared to the lives of those around you who are not walking with the Lord, who don’t know Jesus, who don’t believe that God raised Him from the dead. This will be our actions, and maybe even more importantly, our reactions. 

Jude tells us to keep yourselves in the love of God, to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life, and we do this by building ourselves up in your most holy faith and by praying in the Holy Spirit. 

There is such a personal element to this short sentence, isn’t there. David Guzik writes on this, 

“…we are responsible for our own spiritual growth. It means that we cannot wait for spiritual growth to just happen, or expect others to make us grow.”

We must keep ourselves in the love of God, we must wait for the mercy of Jesus, we must build ourselves up in faith, and we must pray in the Holy Spirit.

One of the wonderful things about our faith is that it is lived out in community. The things we must do and the things we are responsible for may seem difficult or even insurmountable some days. This is where a committed, caring, and challenging church family will come into play.

They will be committed to caring for you as you wait for the mercy of Jesus, and they will encourage you and help you to build yourself up in your most holy faith. They will challenge you to do all of those things, and more, all to the ultimate glory of God, and all to the ultimate praise of Him who saved us from darkness to light. 


Point to ponder – Am I an active part of a church family? Am I getting this kind of help? Am I giving this kind of help?


Prayer – Father, help us to be different. Help us to live the love that you showed us when you sent your Son to die for us. Empower us today through your Holy Spirit to build ourselves up in our faith, and to support those around us doing the same. Amen. 

Jude 1.10-13 – But These People…

So far in Jude we have been encouraged to contend for the faith, we have seen the importance of how we relate to Jesus, and we have been given the example of the Archangel Michael as one who fought for what he deemed important and wholly within the will of God. Today, things take a turn for the serious. 

10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

So, Michael would not even speak ill of the devil in his own power (v.9), yet these people blaspheme all that they do not understand…Those who do not understand find it easy to speak poorly about something. We find that it is easy to trash something with our speech when we are ignorant of it, don’t we. 

Jude goes on to say that these people (v.4, 7, 8) are in for a shock, woe to them! They have walked in the way of Cain (Genesis 4), abandoned themselves to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 22-25). Simply, these people are jealous, angry, selfish, prideful, arrogant, greedy, self-centred, self-promoting, and did not respect the structures and leaders put in place by God (Numbers 16.3).

Jude then goes on to say that, simply, these people are pointless, useless, and not using what God has given them for His purposes (vv.12-13).

For us, herein lies the point; we are to use what God has given us within the guidelines He has given us, for His glory, for His purposes, and for His people. 

These people lived for themselves and thought they knew best. The ultimate destination of these people is the gloom of utter darkness…forever

Living for self will always end up this way. Being the ultimate authority in our own lives will always end up this way. We can never work our way to God by rejecting what He provided and going it alone. We must rest in the finished work of Jesus to get us there, we must live for God and not self, we must not be like these people, but be more like Jesus; for His glory, for His purposes, and for His people.


Point to ponder – In what area of my life today do I need to stop being these people?


Prayer – Father, we know that this task to live for you and not for ourselves is not something we can simply choose to do and accomplish alone. We know that we need to live this life by faith in Jesus, we know that we need to live this life in the power of your Holy Spirit, so today we pray for faith and filling; faith in Jesus and filling with the Spirit, to empower us to live the life you desire of us. Amen. 

Jude 1.5-7 – The Long Haul

Today we see that past status is no guarantee of anything for the future.

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

What a wonderful thing to start this passage with, Jesus saved a people out of the land of Egypt…We see that when God’s people were saved out of Egyptian slavery and bondage, the Lord Jesus was at the heart of the Exodus (Exodus 3.14, 13.21-22).

But, as is sadly common with lots of people, the miraculous, heroic, life-saving acts of God that bring many to the inescapable conclusion that He is real, He is present, and He loves us faded into memories past and we read that these same people were then destroyed because of unbeliefJude gives more examples of unbelief and turning away from a God who has given us so much (vv.6-7), and names angels, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding cities.

The point is that coming to Jesus for salvation is not a short term thing.

It is not a bandaid to put over a deep wound. 

Ours is a common salvation that brings us into community, that we must wrestle for, fight for, and contend for, for the long haul.

Ours is not a one-and-done salvation, where we simply sit around and wait to either die or see Jesus’ triumphant return. The work needed to guarantee our salvation is done, but our lives here on earth are not. 

Ours is a faith that acts (James 2.14-26), ours is a faith that contends, and ours is a faith that equips us for the long haul. 

The dangers of forgetting who we are and in Whom we are are serious (v.7b), so we must day by day take our faith seriously and seek to contend for it, and strengthen it, at every opportunity. 


Point to ponder – Am I prepared for the long haul of a life lived by faith?


Prayer – Father, we thank you that everything we need is found in Jesus, we know your Word tells us that in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and we pray today by the power of your indwelling Holy Spirit that we can access this wisdom and knowledge in order to equip ourselves for a life lived by faith. Help us to avoid the pitfalls and traps of forgetting who we are in you. Amen.