Friday, February 28, 2014

Two Choices

In the Spiritual world there are two fathers or masters; Satan and God (2 Timothy 2:28; Romans 6:16; John 8:42-47).  Satan is a created being that rebelled against the creator and he and his servants come to damnation (Revelation 20:10), but those who serve God will enter into his heaven (Matthew. 25:23; Revelation 7:9-17).

 These are not equal masters.  No created being can be compared to God in strength or any other attribute (Psalm 89:6; Exodus 15:11-13; 1 Kings 8:23; Psalm 113:5-9; John 10:29).

We serve the victor or the defeated, the infinite or the finite, the One who is love or the one who hates.

Who have you chosen (Joshua 24:15)?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Creating Trouble

The King James translation of verse 25 is very interesting.  "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves;" (2 Timothy 2:25).

When we oppose sound teaching, we bring trouble into our lives.  We are working in opposition to what is best for ourselves.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Dangerous Operation

"A servant of The Lord must be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition" (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

Correcting is a delicate operation.  There are many dangers but one of the greatest is pride in the one doing the correction.  There are several warnings in scripture about this.

 "Brethren if anyone is overtaken by a temptation, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted" ( Galatians 6:1). "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18).  He that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except as is common to man..." (1 Corinthians 10:12-13a).  

It is our duty of love to correct, but we never forget that we too could fail and have done so in the past. Our goal in correcting is not to show ourselves righteous, but to rescue the fallen (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

With Whom do We Join in the Pursuit?

Paul told Timothy to "pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace" (notice this next qualifier) "with those who call on The Lord out of a pure heart" (2Timothy 2:22).  Attempting to pursue peace with those who use The Lord as a cover and are not sincere often results in anguish, turmoil, arguments and anything but peace.  Paul tells the believers in Rome to avoid such people (Romans 16:17-20).

Arguing scripture leads to strife.  Discussing scripture leads to life.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Not Just A Hobby

Living life without a purpose leads nowhere and ends badly.  Having goals to reach saves men, not only from financial poverty but from an empty existence.  Men and women who become attorneys, doctors, dentists, Olympic gold medalists, professors, business owners, ministers or members of other professions do not reach their goal by sitting on the couch wishing life were better.

Neither do we become godly men and women simply by wishing we were.  People of faith not only receive the gift of salvation; they pursue God.

 "Flee youthful lusts but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on The Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 3:22).

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ways to Flee

How does one flee temptation?  Here are a couple of simple rules.

1.  Never place yourself in its path.  I.e. If you have trouble resisting alcohol, never go into a liquor store.  Stay away from the isle in the grocery store where shelves are filled with alcohol. If you are single and dating, never park with your date in a dark alley.  Always go out with friends or park under a street light.

2. Fill your thoughts with good things.  I.e. Make it your goal to memorize passages of scripture.  They will come to your mind just when you need them.  Memorize worship songs, then use them to worship The Lord throughout the day.

3. Call on the Lord for his strength to resist, then focus your mind and thoughts on an  entirely different subject than your temptation.  I.e. Get involved in art, music or sports.

4. Surround yourself with strong believers.  Ask them to pray for you, then be accountable to them for your decisions.

5. Soak each moment of your day in an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving (Psalm ch 91).

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path" (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Where Are You a Headed?

On days I am leaving the house to enjoy time in a park, or going to breakfast with a friend, my husband will say, "We need half and half," or "Would you mind stopping by Costco to pick me up some Pepsi?"  Before I can get out the door and into my car, my day is half filled with errands.

Paul kind of uses this principle of killing two birds with one stone when he says, "Flee youthful lusts but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on The Lord out of a pure heart" (2 Timothy 3:22).

While you are using your energy to flee temptation, you might as well use that same energy to seek after these godly traits.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Youthful Energy

When we are young, we take our energy for granted.  We think nothing of staying up till after midnight, being active all day and spending hours laughing, talking and sharing with our friends.  All this energy created by active hormones makes sexual temptations particularly stronger on the younger generation.  But all of us face temptations to fulfill our own desires when they conflict with God's commands or principles.

The way to be victorious can sometimes be relatively simple. "Run like the Dickins."  Or as Paul puts it to Timothy, "Flee youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22).

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

We Also Work

We know that God forgives the sins of those who confess to him (1 John 1:9).  We know that none of us would seek God unless God put it in our hearts to seek him (John 6:44,55; Romans 3:11; Hebrews 12:1-2).  We know that God the Father, through the working of Jesus and the Holy Spirit are working in us to make us into the image of Christ (Hebrew 10:14, 13:20; Romans 8:28-29; Philippians 2:13).

Yet we too have a responsibility to cleans ourselves.  Paul writes to Timothy, "if anyone cleanses himself of the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).  He write to those in Philippi, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).  John writes that those who look for Christ to return to purify themselves (1 John 3:1-3).

Jesus prayed that we would be one with him and the Father (John 17:20-23).  Since they are righteous, then we too seek righteousness.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Empty Coffee Tins

When I was in Bible School, I traveled with the school's singing group on the weekends.  We gave our testimonies in between songs and prayed with individuals in the congregation.  I recall one small white country church surrounded by snow.  There was no indoor plumbing, which was very unusual in the early seventies. If you had to use the restroom, your choice was the outhouse about hundred or so yards from the church, or the coffee tin hidden behind a curtain in the basement.

I imagine the coffee tin grew in value depending on the circumstance.

Paul writes to Timothy, "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor" (2 Timothy 2:20).  His point, however, is not the usefulness of vessels of dishonor (empty coffee tins) but getting rid of unhealthy things in our lives.

"Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).

Friday, February 14, 2014

Six Good Reasons

The Holy Spirit says, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19).  My tendency is to think about the punishment for sin that either I will suffer or Christ suffered for me.  Here are additional reasons to live righteously.

1. The Lord tries the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hates. (Psalm 11:5)

2.  For the righteous Lord loves righteousness; his countenance beholds the upright.(Psalm 11:7)

3. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.(Psalm 1:6)

4. For You, Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor will you encompass him as with a shield (Psalm 5:12).

5. He lays up sound wisdom for the righteous: he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly.  He keeps the paths of judgment, and preserves the way of his saints. (Proverbs 2:7)

Take note of this one!

  6.  For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.(2 Chronicles 16:9)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Destructive Debate

Have you ever got into a debate over doctrine so that you could feel your pulse racing and anger seething just beneath the surface?  That happened to me more often as a young person than it does now, perhaps because I had more energy.  But it was not pleasant even then and did not bear any spiritual fruit.  There are those who take joy in wrangling up the emotions of others.

Paul warns such debates only prove to destroy, not only participants but onlookers (2 Timothy 2:14).  The doubt infested by empty debate spreads like a cancer causing individuals to lose faith.  We must resist the temptation to join in the fray.  If someone is asking us an honest question, we gladly share with them the truth.  But if the goal is merely debate, we avoid getting entangled in the trap.

Rather, we study God's Word so that we rightly understand what scripture is teaching.  Then when we share with others, we will be sharing life, not death (2 Timothy 2:14-18).

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

One of Satan's Devices

It amazes me that the enemy of our soul continues to attack our faith no matter how many years we serve God.  One would conclude, since he has not succeeded thus far, that he would stop trying the same old tactics.  However, we are not ignorant of Satan's devices (2 Cor 2:11).  As the old saying goes, to be forewarned is to be forearmed.

For instance, Paul knows that Satan uses threats to our physical life to challenge our faith.  Both Paul's and Timothy's lives were threatened.  So he warns Timothy, "If we deny him, (Christ) he will deny us" (2 Timothy 2:12).   Paul immediately adds, " If we are faithless, he remains faithful; he cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:13).

Paul is reminding Timothy that in spite of our weakness toward lack of faith, Jesus will sustain our faith.  As the Holy Spirit pointed out to the Hebrews,  Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-3).

When life is threatening, when your faith is weakening, call out to him who gave you your faith.  He will make you victorious (Romans 14:4).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Faithful Saying

If we throw a baseball into the sky, it will fall to the earth.  If we shoot a bullet into the air, it will come back to the ground somewhere.  Gravity is one of those laws of nature that consistently holds true.  We can count on it.

Paul is talking about that kind of consistency when he writes "this is a faithful saying.
"For if we died with him,
     We shall also live with him
If we endure,
    We shall also reign with him
If we deny him,
    He will also deny us
If we are faithless
   He remains faithful
   He cannot deny himself (2Timothy 2:11-13).

There is a lot to ponder in those words.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Put in Chains for the Truth

Remembering Jesus' resurrection reminds us that there is life after death.   The apostles and Timothy were preaching the truth in the face of real physical death.  Timothy needed that reminder of the resurrection to maintain his spiritual strength (2 Timothy 2:8).

Paul was put in chains for preaching the truth (2 Timothy 2:9).  People who do not practice the truth hate the truth and will persecute anyone who confronts them with it (John 3:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:9).

Jesus said to his disciples as he was preparing to go to the cross, "Peace I leave with you.  My peace I give to you.  Do not allow your heart to be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).  "I have spoken these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Sometimes it is more difficult than others to remain in his peace. But the old proverb holds true, "Practice makes perfect."

Friday, February 7, 2014

Remembering the a Resurrection

"Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead" (2 Timothy 2:8).

Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus (John 11).  God used Peter to raise Tabitha from the dead (Acts 9:36-43).  There were a smattering of others in the Bible who were also raised from the dead.  Even today we hear of testimonies of individuals being raised from the dead.  But all of these died a second time and remain in their graves.  Jesus, however, remains alive and will never die again (Romans 6:9-11).

Why remember Jesus' resurrection?  Because his resurrection reminds me that He is God, consequently, 1. Jesus is with me (Matthew 28:20; John 14:23) 2. He gives me power to witness (John 16:5-15; Acts 1:8) 3. He will return to take me to be with him (John 14:1-4) 4. It puts my troubles in proper perspective (Romans 8:18) 5. The Spirit of Him who raised Christ from the dead is able to give life to my mortal body (Romans 8:11).

What does remembering Jesus' resurrection do for you?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Mystery of Farming

I find Paul's example of the farmer to be a little mysterious.  He simply says, "The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops."  Then he adds, "Consider what I say and may The Lord give you understanding" (2 Timothy 2:8-7).  His only hint at sowing seed, watering the fields or how to harvest the crop is to call the farmer hardworking.  Why the emphasis on being the first to partake of the crop?  What is his message that he hopes God will reveal to Timothy?

Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, "I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ has not accomplished through me, in word and deed..." (Romans 15:18).  In order for us to teach others accurately, we must first live what we teach.

That is not to say teachers have every spiritual gift or are used by God in all types of ministries.  But to say, as teachers we are required to live a consistent righteous life before we attempt to shepherd others.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Breaking the Rules

If you cheat when playing a game, you did not win even if you finish first (2Timothy 2:5).

The same holds true in our daily walk with Christ. God has given us "rules" to live by.  He has provided all we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and demands full obedience to his Word (John 14:23-24).

The Holy Judge searches the heart and knows the mind of every creature.  Nothing is hidden from his sight, so why do we attempt to fool ourselves and others?  We need to be as honest with ourselves and God as we can be. Even then there will be imperfections that will blind us to our faults.  But these will not keep us from the love of God (Romans 8:31-39).

We can have confidence in God that he will reveal to us at the exact moment he knows we will be ready to comprehend and repent (Romans 8:27; Hebrew 4:12-13; 1 John 3:19-24 1Corinthians 4:3-5).

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Involved but Not Entangled

Paul tells Timothy that no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life (2 Timothy 2:4).  We are in a continual spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12-18) and we must deal with things of this life, like jobs, responsibilities, children, people and possessions.  So how do we battle and yet not become entangled with the affairs of this life?

We do not get caught up in gossip (Matthew 12:36; 1 Timothy 5:13).  We do not take revenge into our own hands (Romans 12:14, 17-21).  We guard our hearts so that they remain true to God, (Philippians 4:7) and we determine that whatever we are involved in, our purpose is to glorify God (1 Corinthian 10:31).

Having made these commitments, we trust God to work out in us what he wants accomplished in and through us (Hebrew 13:20; Jude 24-25).

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Soldier, The Athlete, The Farmer

Paul uses three illustrations to teach about endurance; the soldier, the athlete, and the farmer.  Each must prepare, be committed to their goal and do what it takes to succeed.

The soldier must put his family affairs behind him while engaged in warfare.  He must obey his superior officer, work as a team with fellow soldiers, and be willing to die for his companions and his cause.

The athlete must know the rules of his sport, must practice consistently and must participate in the competition in order to be crowned the winner.

The farmer must plow the soil, remove the large rocks and boulders, plant the seed, fertilize,   Irrigate, and fight off pests that would destroy the crop.  The farmer is confined to his neighborhood during harvest so that the entire crop may be brought in from the fields.  Then he and his family are the first to taste the produce.

We will suffer, but we will also reap great reward (2 Timothy 2:3-7; Hebrews 10:36-39; John 16:33; Romans 8:18).