2 Timothy 1.6-7 – Fan Into Full Flame

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

Paul begins by saying for this reason, so we know we need to look back a few words. So, because of the faith that was in Timothy (v.5), Paul encouraged him to cooperate and communicate with the Lord and for this reason…fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands…It seems that Paul had prayed over Timothy, laid hands on him, and conferred and confirmed the Lord’s gifting in Timothy.

Paul then goes on to say that the reason Timothy should do this, the reason he should take the faith that lives in him and boldly fan into full flame the gifts God has given him is because God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control

David Guzik writes on this,

In 1 and 2 Timothy there are no less than 25 different places where Paul encouraged Timothy to be bold, to not shy away from confrontation, to stand up where he needs to stand up and be strong. Because of who Timothy was and the responsibilities he had to bear, this was what Timothy needed to hear.

The chain of connection is clear; faith > gifts > boldness > power-love-self-control.

The Word of God speaks clearly about the fact that we are all gifted by the Lord (Ephesians 4.10-16). This gifting is to be used boldly because God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control.

The giftings of God are not to be hidden away – we have been given a spirit of power.

The giftings of God are not to be used to control others – we have been given a spirit of love.

The giftings of God are not to be abused and misused – we have been given a spirit of self-control.

Pause and think – what has God gifted you to do?

What are you good at? How do you best serve people?

I would encourage you today to think on this, then with the faith that dwells in you fan it into full flame with the spirit of power and love and self-control that God has given us. 

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. 

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.

1 Timothy 1.5-7 – Know and Grow

Yesterday the main idea was that Timothy as the newly installed church leader, and us by extension of principle, need to focus on the right things, not the wrong things.  

If you missed yesterday you can catch up here. 

Today we see why.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion,desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

These are lofty goals, aren’t they, love that issues from a pure heart, a good conscience, a sincere faithThe problem in Ephesus seems to have been that certain persons were not focusing on the fundamentals of love and faith and instead desired to be teachers of the law, without understanding. This is one of the reasons why Timothy was told to stay in Ephesus, to charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine (v.3).

What do we take from this then? Are we all to be running around stopping people who don’t know what they are teaching? As noble as that may sound, no, we aren’t. 

I’d suggest that first and foremost we focus on those fundamentals – love and faith. Then, as we do, let us build ourselves up in the faith (Jude 1.20), and let us not be like those who wish to teach without knowing, let us know and grow in our faith, and our knowledge of the faith. Let us be confident in what we believe, sure on that which we stand, let us learn more about the faith that we possess.

As we do, as we commit to learning more about God, His Word, His ways, we will discover more of His will for our lives. We will help ourselves and others to stay away from false teaching and error, we will stay away from vain discussions. We will see the Bible as the grand narrative of God’s redemptive love that it truly is, and we will see Jesus at every turn in our lives. 

In Memory of Jarrid Wilson

This morning I woke up to the terribly sad news that a Pastor in the U.S. took his own life and went to be with the Lord. He was not old in any sense of the word, barely 30. You can read the story here


Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

 

 

 

 

 

Photo from Harvest Christian Fellowship.


Jarrid Wilson served at Harvest Christian Fellowship and started a ministry aimed at helping those with mental health issues called ‘Anthem of Hope’. He spoke out many times about depression and was open and honest about his ongoing struggles. 

When things like this happen we have so many questions;

Why did this happen?

What went wrong in this person’s life?

If we knew the person we think could I have in any way prevented this?

Society can often be quick to call suicide a sin, mental health issues a sin, depression a sin. But think, would you convict a cancer patient of being in sin because their body does not work according to its intended design? Yet somehow mental health issues are quick to be cast aside as iniquity, depression as something you can just think away, and suicide as the ultimate and unforgivable sin. The Bible does speak of an unforgivable sin, but friends, suicide is not it.

Dealing with grief and loss brings many emotions to the surface. We feel deep, all-encompassing sadness, we feel anger, we feel anxiety, we feel guilt, we feel lost, and we feel confused. Why did this happen Lord?

At times when we do not understand, we must fall back on things we do understand. 

We know that God loves us.

We know that He sent Jesus to redeem us from this fallen world we live in.

We know that He proved His love for us by offering Himself as a ransom for many, for all, whilst we were still sinners. 

We know that nothing can separate us from the love of God, not now, not ever. 

Larry Taylor, whose son tragically took his own life in 1986 wrote this,

I know the sorrow of loss, but I also know the comfort of the Holy Spirit. I know God’s forgiveness, and I know first hand that God can take a broken and ruined life and transform it into a thing of beauty and grace.

He goes on to say

Our society is plagued with the scourge of sin, not least of which is the horror of suicide which appears to be on the increase…The answer is a personal relationship with the living Jesus who loves you and can forgive you, restore you, comfort you, and heal you. When He returns, may He find us bringing His healing love to others. 

The Wilson family, and every other family who have dealt with this unique type of loss need the healing love of Jesus today, and every day from now until He returns or calls us home.

Join me today in praying for Jarrid’s wife, children, and family. 

Jude 1.22-23 – Save Others

Earlier in this short passage we focused on have mercy on those who doubt, now let’s look at the rest. 

22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

Here Jude continues his instruction as to how we interact with those stuck under the false teaching of vv.8-13. To those who have doubts of the heart we are to have mercy, but some situations require a stronger response. Jude writes save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. The response is different to show mercy, and the response is stronger too. 

The crux of it all is that we should indeed be others-focused. Looking outwardly to others and the direction they are heading shows that we care and shows we are valuing our brothers and sisters in Christ. If people are being taught a different version of Jesus than is orthodox and shown in Scripture, we ought to be stepping in to lovingly correct them (Ephesians 4.14-16). 

I read recently that “Christians should not abandon a friend flirting with false teaching. They should help him through it in love.

So, if people are flirting with false teaching, be that from an individual pastor who teaches ever so slightly away from Scripture to tickle the ears of those who listen, or if an entire church and movement is founded on principles and teachings that are not explicitly demonstrated in the Bible, we should help them see the truth of the Word of God, but always in love. 

In doing so, as Jude writes, we will save others. Not in that we become their Saviour, but we will redirect them to the One who is. 


Point to ponder – Would I know how to lovingly give correction? Am I humble enough to receive correction?


Prayer – Father we thank you for your timeless and true Word to us that we carry in our Bibles, and we thank you that this Word became flesh and lived here among us temporarily to point us to you. Give us a spirit of humility and the right words if we need to be in this situation, and help us to always keep our eyes fixed on the message of your Word, not the words of those who deliver it. Amen. 

Jude 1.22-23 – Is It Ok To Doubt?

Jude has so far told us to be different to those around us, and to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. Today, what do we do in relation to those who are stuck under the false teaching detailed in vv.8-13? What do we do in relation to those who doubt that Jesus Christ leads to eternal life?

22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

There are a couple of things that come out here – one is to have mercy on those who doubt.

Doubt, inherently, isn’t a bad thing. 

Doubt is human and doubt is universal, says Os Guinness. We live in a broken world and to doubt is sadly just a part of life.

Very simply, all that can be believed can be doubted, and it is no surprise then that our faith, the most holy faith that Jude has written about can be doubted. To doubt means to have two minds, and rather than suppress doubt, we should look into the questions we have in our minds. 

Some doubts come from the will – do I want to follow Jesus?

To this, the Bible has a strong response – James 1.6-8.

Some doubts come from the mind – can this be proven?

To this, the Bible has a softer response – Isaiah 1.18.

Here, Jude is talking, it seems, about doubts of the emotion – how do I feel about all of this?

Coming off the back of talking about mercy and love and eternal lifeJude then says have mercy on those who doubt

Psalm 73 also speaks of the response to doubts of the heart.

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

So, is it ok to have moments of doubt? Yes.

How do we interact with those facing emotional doubts about their faith? With mercy

Author Charles Hummel said that a stronger faith can emerge through doubt, and that holiness and faith are strengthened in the fires of temptation. 

It’s ok to doubt, it’s not ok to reject, but it’s ok to ask questions, it’s ok not to know all the answers. There is mercy waiting.


Point to ponder – What do I have doubts about?


Prayer – Father, we know we have moments of doubt. We know we want to follow you, and sometimes we have doubts of the mind or the emotions. We know too that when this happens, your loving kindness and mercy are there waiting for us to strengthen our faith, to uphold us, and to show us that our faith is one of steadfast hope. Thank you. Amen.