Friday, January 31, 2014

Grace to Speak

Someone teaches us.  We teach someone else.  Our class room may consist of one or a hundred.  But our words carry an eternal responsibility.

Notice Paul's instructions to "commit these to faithful men..."  In America, we tend to think we should be willing to take as much time as needed to help a person understand the truth.  If the individual is honestly seeking truth, then that principle is true.  However, if a person is consistently arguing against the truth and makes no progress toward change, then the relationship may not be designed from heaven.

We always speak truth, even to those who do not believe, but we only disciple those who are faithful to seek after God (2 Timothy 2:1-2).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Value of Things

It took a certain kind of faith to remain active friends with Paul after he was in chains.  The individual would have to have confidence that God's will would be accomplished in his own life, and not only Paul's.  It was not unusual for a friend of a prisoner to become himself incarcerated out of suspicion based on friendship alone (2 Timothy 1:15-18).

The author of the book of Hebrews writes, "You had compassion on me in my chains and joyfully  accepted the plundering if your goods, knowing that you have a better and more enduring possession for yourself in heaven" (Hebrews 10:34).  Either his friends sold their goods in order to financially support the prisoner, or the Romans plundered their possessions because of their association with a Roman prisoner.

Either way, to be a true friend may be costly in earthly treasures, but what are things compared to the compassion and love of God?  What worth do trinkets hold compared to eternity (Mt 16:26; Luke 12:15)?  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Friendships in Trouble

Paul's letter to Timothy turns very personal.  He is writing to his dear friend and shares his pain with him.  Some of Paul's friends left him as soon as he was arrested.  It was dangerous to be friends with someone who was in chains.

"Visiting a prisoner could be dangerous. A prison visitor was no longer one of the anonymous crowd. Someone might associate the visitor with the alleged crimes of the accused. The risk was even greater if the visitor was a slave. And if the prisoner was suspected of seditious acts or words—the leaders of the Roman Empire were anxious about this—a visiting slave might be required to witness to the conversations held with the accused. The interrogation would not involve simple questioning. The testimony of a slave was legally inadmissible unless it was given under torture. Thus, when early Christians obeyed their Lord and visited those who were in prison, they did more than perform an inconvenient or unpleasant act. Let down into the prison by rope, they left only at the pleasure of the guards" (Bob Fraser).

I can imagine the disappointment Paul felt when friends quickly forsook him, and how grateful he was for friends like Onesiphorus who purposely sought him out (1 Timothy 1:15-18).

Friendships are precious treasures.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Maintaining the Gift

"That good thing that was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us" (2 Timothy 1:14).

God has given each of us gifts to share with fellow believers as we gather together in his name.  He designed that no one has all the gifts so that we continue to need one another and love one another (Romans 12:3-13; 1 Corinthians 12:1-31).  He has given instruction on how to use these gifts (1 Corinthians chapters 13-14) and warned us against pride that destroys relationships and reeks havoc among God's people (Proverbs 28:25; James 4:6; 1 Timothy 6:3-4).

As Paul wrote to Timothy, the only way to maintain gifts of the Holy Spirit is by remaining in close relationship with Him (1 Timothy 1:14).  Remembering what we would be without him goes a long way in keeping us humble (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Monday, January 27, 2014


Paul wrote that he had confidence in God that God was able to keep what he had committed to him until that Day (2 Timothy 1:8-12).  "That Day" refers to the Day of Judgement.  The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote, "For God will bring every work into judgment, including the secret thing whether good or evil" (Eccl 12:14).  Paul wrote to the Romans, " In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my" (Romans 2:16).

There are things that should remain secret from men, which we have talked over with God (Hebrews 4:12-13).  There are issues we cannot solve, things we do not understand, so we commit them to God to either resolve them sometime in the future, or reveal his glory in them on the day of Judgment (Romans 14:10-14).

There are times when we need to commit something that is unresolved into God's care and leave it there.  We must then rest in him.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Everyone Raised From the Dead?

Yesterday we said that our bodies die, but we don't.   Everyone's body is dying (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 4:6) and everyone will raise from the dead (John 5:28-29).  If everyone's body dies and everyone is raised from the dead, what did Jesus mean when he said those who keep his word shall not see death (John 8:51; 2 Timothy 1:10)?  I think it begs the question, to what death is Jesus referring?

The most basic definition of death is separation (I.e. our spirit is separated from our bodies at the moment our body ceases to function).  Jesus' referral to death is the eternal separation from God (Isaiah 59:2; Mt 25:46).  The believer will never see (experience) separation from God.  The believer's eternal future is living with God in our eternal home (Mt 6:20, 7:21, 8:12) but eternal future of the unbeliever is separation from God (Mt 8:12; John 5:28-29).

I like the thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 8:12.  We will set down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Those will be a fun conversations.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Dead Yet Lives

Paul writes that Jesus Christ abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10). Though the Old Testament prophets spoke of heaven, (Isaiah 6:1; 2 Samuel 12:23) they did not understand eternal life as Jesus taught it.  He told the Pharisees, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death” (John 8:51).  

The Pharisees were incensed and “said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death. ’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be” (John 8:52-53). 

Look back at how they interpreted what Jesus said.  They used the phrase “will not taste death.”  Their words mean the person will not experience the death of the body.  Jesus words denote the moving of the spirit out of the body.  Now read what Jesus said to Martha, “He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).  

Our bodies die.  We don’t (Mark 12:26-27).

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Paul was appointed as an apostle to the Gentiles (2 Tim 1:11).  Peter was appointed an apostle to the Jews (Galatians 2:8).  To whom has God appointed you?

Don’t laugh.  God has set you exactly where you are.  Do you think he is not able to cause you to loose your job, offer you a new one or simply keep you where you are?  Is he not able to control circumstances so that your life changes in a moments time?  Maybe he will allow you to live where you are content in your life until he comes to take you home.  Or he may say, “Come with me, I’ve got something to accomplish through you.

God never waists a life.  You belong to him and are his servant.  Keep your eyes open and remain in an attitude of thanksgiving and a willingness for him to speak through you.

To God be the glory.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Then and Now

Though Grace was given to us before time began, it was not understood until Jesus Christ came into the world (2 Tim 1:10).

Before then we were focused on his Holiness and judgement, but now we experience his grace.

1. He has saved us from the bondage of separation from God.
2. He has abolished death giving us (our spiritual being) eternal life.
3. For the first time the world learned of life and immortality through the gospel of reconciliation.
4. Even the Gentiles were brought into this new family of Life in Christ Jesus.

All of this has been accomplished by God according to His purpose and His grace (2 Timothy 1:10-11).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Grace Before You Were Born

Scripture tells us God called us and saved us , "not because of our works, but according to his purpose and grace"...notice..."which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began" (2 Timothy 1:9).

Before the earth was created to go around the sun, before the sun existed, God gave us his grace.  How could he give us grace before we existed?

We are finite beings.  We cannot see beyond our current situation.  Our knowledge is limited to the here and now.  That is why we have a tendency to worry. But God is omnipotent.  He knows all things.  He knows every creature that ever existed, exists or will exist.  He knows what victory he has planned for us, what losses we will suffer and what glories with which he will crown us.

He has a specific plan and purpose for your life.  Since he purposed it before you were born, you know you have no credit for it.  You can enjoy it as his gift and praise him for whatever he chooses to do through you.

Friday, January 17, 2014

For us and Through Us

The results of standing up for the truth are not always pleasant.  The disciples were proclaiming freedom from bondage, eternal life and most important reconciliation with God.  Who does not want these things?  Yet they were beaten and put into chain because they preached the good news.

Paul writes to Timothy, "Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner:but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:8).

It is painful to experience repercussion for speaking the truth.  We can only stand firm if we are standing in the power of God, not in our own strength. If we try to fight relying on ourselves, we will either buckle under or take on the ungodly behaviors of our enemies. Thank God he fights for us and through us speaks the truth.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Our Weapons

God is not the one who has given us a spirit of fear.  Fear is a weapon of the enemy of peace.   Our adversary my shoot his arrow, but we have a shield of faith which we can use to deflect fear.

God has given us a spirit of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Clear Conscience

Paul writes to Timothy, "I thank God whom I serve with a clear conscience, as my forefathers did..." (1 Timothy 1:3).

We may have come from a family who have served God for generations, or we may be the first ones to know God.  In either case, we share the same forefathers, Abraham, Jacob, Isaac,  Moses, David, Daniel and many more.  We have joined the family of God, the family of faith.

We follow their example, laying aside the sin and weight that so easily besets us.  We run with endurance the race that is before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Whatever our enemies do, we choose to live with a clear conscience.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Defeating Self-Pity

As we discussed yesterday, the world was at war against believers.  Paul had been one of the persecutors, but now he was facing death at the hands of his former friends.  He does not focus on the break in relationships.  He focuses on God and the wonderful news of God's love.

He opens his second letter to Timothy in the same way he begins most letters.  After identifying himself he reminds the Timothy of God's gifts to his children.  "Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and Christ Jesus our Lord" (2 Timothy 1:2).

We may quickly live in self-pity, but it brings no solace and will deplete our strength.  But focusing on God's grace, mercy and peace will strengthen us, bring us hope and keep us filled with God's love even for our enemies.  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Paul has been arrested and is facing death.  He writes his last letter to his spiritual son Timothy while in chains.  I imagine he choose his words carefully since he most likely would not see him again. Everyone who preached Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead was in danger of losing his life. That meant Timothy's life was also in danger.

Knowing the emotional struggle of facing death, Paul writes, "for God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.  So do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Our natural inclination is to fear and the enemy of our soul is quick to use that particular weapon against us.  Our faith in God will quickly extinguish that fiery dart (Ephesians 6:16; Psalm 91:5-6).

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The End of the Letter

We now come to the end of Paul's first letter to Timothy.  He writes, "Keep what has been entrusted to you" (1 Timothy 6:20-21).

We have been given the greatest treasure on earth, the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Guard it with all that is within you.  Every trial you face, stand firm.  In every opposition to the Truth, stand firm.  Facing temptation, stand firm.  Dealing with sickness, stand firm.  Given great wealth, stand firm.  Living in poverty, stand firm.  Retired? Stand firm.  Working, stand firm.

In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path (Psalm 37:1-7).

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Wealthy Believer

Earlier God spoke to the poor instructing them not to covet money, but be content with the what they have (1 Timothy 6:6-10; James 4:1-6).  Now God addresses those who own wealth in this present time.

Do not be full of pride or treat the poor as though they are beneath us.  Do not trust in riches, because riches are uncertain.  They can disappear  in a single day, in a single lawsuit, in a economic crash or in natural disaster.  But, trust in God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).

If God has blessed us with wealth, we are to use it for his glory, to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters in Christ and to do good works (1 Timothy 6:18-19; James 2:14-14-17)

We can enjoy all things God has given us, because we do not trust them.  We trust in God (1 Timothy 6:17).

Monday, January 6, 2014

Do Not Smear the Truth

Jesus is the King of kings, The Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).  His name is above all names (Ephesians 1:20-23).  All things are submitted under his feet ( Ephesians 1:20-23; Hebrews 2:7-9, 10:11-14).  We may not be able to understand that yet, because the final results may be hidden from our particular viewpoint.  But our blindness does not change the truth.

From our disadvantaged point we are sometimes tempted to handle things according to our advantage, even if it colors the facts.  Our job is not to make ourselves look righteous.  It is to be righteous (1 Timothy 6:14).  If we are wrong, we must admit it.  If we are right and it looks bad, we stand firm.

These are not easy tasks.  But we do not do them in our own power.  We stand firm in the strength of the Lord (Ephesians 6:13; Philippians 4:13).  We do not stand for ourselves.  We stand for Christ.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Stand With Christ

"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, to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time..." (1 Timothy 6:13-14).

We live in the presence of God (Acts 17:28).  He hears every word we speak (Psalm 139:1-17; Matthew 12:6; Revelation 2:3).  He knows every thought and the motives behind our reasoning (Psalm 139:1-4; Hebrew 4:12).  He has given us spiritual life as well as physical life (Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 Timothy 6:13).

Jesus endured suffering at the hands of unjust men, yet remained faithful to the message his Father had given him.

We are admonished by the Holy Spirit in this scripture in 1 Timothy to remain faithful to the testimony of Christ regardless of what other people choose to do.  We may see the victory now, or we may not see it until Christ's return, but we will see it (Isaiah 30:18).

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Coats, Gloves and Boots

I have lived in North Dakota, in Illinois and in the mountains of Northern California, where the snow pills high, the wind howls outside your windows and snow gathers in wind drifts five feet high across your driveway..

Moving from your warm home out into the icy wind is not something most of us enjoy.  However, we need to make a living, so we put on our boots, thick overcoats, gloves and head out to the car.  We shiver while scrapping off the windshield; we may grumble while we pull out into the traffic; but as the car warms up while driving down the lane, we flip on the radio and become comfortable.  It's a quick dash into the office, a hot cup of coffee and our minds are ready for work.

When God suddenly shuts a door, or moves us through a new one, it can feel a bit like dashing through that icy wind.  It is uncomfortable until we get our bearings and warm up to the new task he has given us.  When that happens, remember Paul's words to Timothy. "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" (1 Timothy 6:12).

Perhaps the new move is not about you, but about someone God is sending you to meet.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year!

Each new year we tend to look back to the last 52 weeks.  We think about those who have left us, the babies that arrived, the new friends, the ones that moved away and all the changes a year brings.  Some were afraid of the year 2013.  If something negative happened they that year, they look ahead and wonder, what's next?

But are the events in our lives truly controlled by a year?  Calendars are arbitrary inventions of men.  Some cultures have had calendars with 260 days, others with 304, 364, or 365 days.  Some used a system of 10 months in a year, others had 12 months.  This New Years Day, 2014 for us, is not be a New Year's Day for someone else.  Calendars are simply a way of organizing our plans.  They help us keep track of appointments or days of celebrations.

It is comforting to know, our days are not ordered by men (calendars) but by God (Psalm 37:23, 139:9-10, 13-16).