October 23, 2018
CHRIST OUR STRENGTH
Paul’s second letter to Timothy is a letter of encouragement from a father to his spiritual son. The affection Paul has for Timothy is evident, yet so is his desire to see him strengthened in his walk. Paul had learned to depend on the grace he received from abiding in Christ to be his strength when all else failed him. As he wrote to the believers in Philippi, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Yet, how do we call on this strength?
It has been my experience that the strength of which Paul speaks is available at the very moment when I make myself available. I have gotten up from a sickbed on many a Sunday morning, taken a shower, dressed and arrived at the church weak as water. Yet, when I stepped into the pulpit a power beyond my own radiated and surged within me, enabling me to preach. If I had not shown up, I would not have experienced this power. I have found that the strengthening of Christ lies just at the point where my strength has run out. The way to tap into that power is a decision to “be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power” (Eph. 6:10) when your strength is gone.
If we are to experience this strength that comes from abiding in Christ, we must attempt things that are beyond us, trusting that we can be strong in Christ.
October 22, 2018
WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS IT TO MAINTAIN MY SPIRITUAL ZEAL?
This is the second letter the apostle Paul wrote to his spiritual son in the Lord, Timothy. Here, we see Paul boldly reminding Timothy, as a father would a son, to take personal responsibility for his own spiritual zeal. He reminded Timothy of his calling into the ministry and the spiritual gift he had received at ordination, when Paul had affirmed God’s call on his life through the laying on of hands. Having reminded him of his calling and gifting, Paul urged him to “fan into flames” his spiritual gift from God. A fire can’t just be started and left to itself. It must be tended. It needs to be stirred, fresh fuel added, and the bellows used to increase the oxygen that feeds the flame. The gifting of God is like fire. It burns in those called. Yet, the fire must be maintained. Paul reminded Timothy to maintain his fire for God.
The more we pour out in ministry, the more we must pull away to fan into flames our spiritual gifting, so we do not lose our boldness and zeal. Are you fearful or discouraged in your calling? Fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you. Be reminded of the passion you once had for God and lean into Him in Scripture reading and prayer until you feel the flames rise anew.
October 23, 2017
There are so many voices vying for our attention. To whom do we listen? Whose approval should we seek? The apostle Paul advised the young pastor Timothy to focus on God’s “approval.” He told him to “be diligent” in this, studying to hear God’s voice and please Him above all others. This rightly required “shunning” (2 Tim. 2:16) voices that competed with or spoke contrary to God’s Word. He told Timothy to work at the study and preaching of God’s Word like a tentmaker who cuts straight the thick camel hides of his craft, “rightly dividing” the Scriptures. Don’t water it down. Cut it straight!
This is still good advice for today. Work diligently to fulfill the calling God has on your life. Focus on it. Live for the approval of God, not man.
October 22, 2017
Paul encouraged Timothy, his “beloved son” in the Lord, to overcome fear, knowing that it didn’t come from God. Timothy was Paul’s young protege, but he wasn’t yet as bold and confident as Paul. Even though Paul had left him in charge of the church at Ephesus, it seems he sometimes struggled because people looked down on him because of his youth. So, Paul reminded him of his spiritual heritage, his ordination and of the “power, love and sound mind” that was his in Christ Jesus.
The word “fear” that Paul used might also be translated “timidity,” or “fearfulness.” The weight of responsibility and the constant challenge of pastoring a church in one of the largest cities in the Roman empire was no doubt heavy on young Timothy’s shoulders. The “spirit of fear” that assailed Timothy was not from God. It may have been from the evil one, but more likely it was of the fleshly kind, the kind that comes from self-doubt. This kind of fear is the opposite of faith and must be put off. Paul told him to rely on the “dunamis power” that had raised Christ from the dead and now belonged to him. He told him to draw on the “agape love” of God that had motivated Him to send His only Son. Finally, Paul told Timothy to think clearly with a “sound mind,” which is the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16) when considering the source of his fear, so that the fear would evaporate like a mist.
Are you suffering under a “spirit of fear” today? Put off fleshly fear and put on the power, love and wisdom of Christ!
October 25, 2016
Paul wrote to Timothy that he should preach while the people were receptive, for a day would be coming when they would not “endure sound teaching.” In many cases, this time is already here. Many pulpits already pour out a feel good gospel that is no gospel at all. Yet, do not despair. There are still true preachers and there are still those ready to hear and obey. So preachers, keep preaching, “in season and out.” And hearers, keep supporting the preaching of the gospel that calls all to repentance and salvation in Christ Jesus.
October 25, 2015
Paul’s final charge to Timothy: “Preach the word!” Pastors wear many hats, but preaching is job number one. And not just preaching anything, but preaching the Word of God. Not politics or philosophy, nor self-help tips, but Word proclaiming, Christ-centered, gospel preaching. Pastors are to “be ready.” This means they are to prepare. To study and pray, so that they are always prepared to preach. They are to use every tool in an effective communcator’s toolbox to proclaim the Word which is able to lead people to salvation. Their preaching is to be “convincing” (using argumentation, persuasion), “rebuking” (correcting sin, illustration), and “exhorting” (application, calling out) and this with great patience and a willingness to teach and explain. Do you support the preaching of the Word?
October 24, 2015
Paul told Timothy that there is a time to retreat and a time to advance. As it regards “youthful lusts,” the command is to “flee.” Unlike the instruction to “stand firm” against the devil (Eph. 6:11), lust is not defeated by direct assault. It is to be avoided. When an image in a movie or magazine causes arousal, turn it off or throw it away! When the stomach growls for the apple, get out of the orchard! Run away! And run towards “righteousness.” “Pursue” it. Chase after it. Pursuing righteousness leaves less time for lustful temptation. Pull your affections off your idols and put them on Jesus. Pursue Christ!