2 Timothy 4
Having fought the good fight. Having seen glorious highs and gruesome lows. From a prison in Rome shortly before his death, scholars believe 2 Timothy was Paul’s last letter and last communication to the churches. And these are his final penned words...
“Be diligent to come to me quickly,” Paul is eager to see his friend and protégé one more time.
“Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world and has departed for Thessalonica.” In both Colossians and Philemon, Paul speaks of Demas as a fellow worker. But now he has chosen the world. He lost his love for truth. How heartbroken Paul must be.
“Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia…and Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” Unlike Demas, these have left on mission; carrying on Paul’s ministry…but nonetheless, their presence is missed by him.
“Only Luke is with me.” Trusted, loyal Luke remains by his side. We need that one; the one who stays.
“Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” A beautiful picture of redeemed relationships. Mark, who caused the separation of Paul and Barnabas. Paul had refused to bring Mark along, still bitter about an earlier abandonment. Some friendships come in and out of season. Restoration happened between Mark and Paul, and Paul longs to see him.
“Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come, and the books, especially the parchments.” The simple things Paul wants in his last days...his friends, his cloak, and words...especially Scripture.
Paul, who boldly planted churches and preached the Gospel. Paul, who wrote the most powerful presentation and defense of the Gospel. Paul, who learned to be content in all things. At then end, it is his people, a little comfort, and God’s Word.
And here we get a peek into Paul’s tribe at the end of his life. Remnants of a strong and messy community. But aren’t they all?
Some have carried the baton to finish the work he started. Some are literally by his side. And some have painfully deserted him; have chosen another side.
Sometimes our tribe will lift us up, and sometimes people will let us down. We are human; we are sinners. But our tribe matters. We prefer to have them near. We covet their prayers and love and support. We are stronger and can do more together.
Paul’s final penned words are full of emotion. This author and apostle I admire so much values his people, but knows the true source of all comfort and contentment is when Jesus is by his side...
“At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:15-18
We need a strong, steady, loyal tribe, no doubt. But our most consistent, powerful, and important tribe member is Jesus. He will be the one standing with us at the end; He will be the one to usher us safely into His heavenly kingdom.
So, what does your tribe look like? Is Jesus invited?
2 Timothy 3
We remind ourselves often to root our identity in Christ, to remain near to Him, and to obey Him. But foundational to truly living out any of these things is knowing and believing God.
Without a solid view of WHO GOD IS, you won’t put much stock in who He says you are, and you won’t be able to muster up enough faith to believe what He says He can do.
A.W. Tozer says, “What comes to mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” It shapes your worldview, which shapes the subsequent decisions you make in all areas of your life.
There is a difference in knowing about God is — facts about Him; believing that He exists — and believing IN Him. Putting your faith and trust in Him as your Lord and Savior. You can believe your cell phone is a real thing that performs all of these useful functions, but you don’t believe it will save you.
Paul tells Timothy there are those who are “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 7). You can only go through the motions so long for something you don’t genuinely believe deep in your soul. Without a firm footing, you will fall away easily when challenged. And the world is full of attempts to challenge your beliefs.
Your view of God impacts your response to God. But we often spend so much time working on the response side -- trying to be good, going to church, trying to obey His commands– rather than grounding ourselves in who God is to us.
Don’t get me wrong, the response matters for sure. They are all good things. But what is your why? Why do you do these things? Is it because you don’t want to disappoint your family? Is it because you are afraid of hell? Is it because it is just what people tell you to do?
The why matters. It is far more valuable to focus on who God is than what you can or should be doing for Him. Because once your view of Him is right, the rest will follow. It doesn’t mean you know everything about Him or understand everything. No one does or will on this side of Heaven. He is far too big for our simple understanding. But it does mean you believe IN HIM, and you believe HIM.
Do you have a BIG view of God…that He is powerful, holy, good, in control, able, mighty, consistent, righteous, merciful, loving?
Do you believe He is who He says? That He keeps His promises? That He can do what He says He will do? Do you believe God created you and has good plans in store for you?
Do you believe that God is big enough to guide you, handle your burdens, forgive your sins, give you peace, have your good in mind, care about you?
WHATEVER is going on in your life, God is big enough- do you believe this?
Do you believe the Bible is His word to us; that it is true? In this portion of Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:16-17).
Proactively make efforts to put yourself in places where you can see and experience His glory and power. As one of the college girls I surveyed for my new book + Bible study advises, “Chase after God!”
If you need a reminder, click on the button below for WHO GOD IS Scripture verses. Take time to read them and reflect on His character. Ask Him to give you wisdom and understanding. He wants nothing more than for you to personally KNOW HIM.
2 Timothy 2
What do you see when you look around your room? Probably some useful things, like a bed and dresser, or a beautiful painting from a dear friend, or a box full of heirloom jewelry. Likely also some not so useful items, like old letters you shouldn’t have kept, books you shouldn’t have read, clothes that no longer fit, an empty water bottle and granola bar wrapper. Maybe there are a few dirty, dusty, who-knows-what under the bed.
In this chapter, Paul presents an image of a great house. This house holds a wide variety of things, some extremely valuable, and some quite common; some used for honorable purposes, and some for dishonorable purposes.
Do you know that you are a great house built by the Master Creator? And like this house or your room, you are a vessel containing a wide variety of contents… talents, gifts, ideas, quirks, dispositions, experiences, etc.
Sometimes we mix and match these contents for good purposes, but if we are honest, sometimes we also use them for the not-so good. Paul tells us we must cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable.
What does it look like to examine the things in our house/room/self? We will find some need to be cleansed from unholy use (do we use our words to tear down instead of build-up?). Some need to be dusted off because they have gotten dirty (did we at one time have a positive encouraging attitude, but have since become cynical and judgmental?). Some need to be taken for a few test drives to enhance their effectiveness (do we feel God nudging us toward something, but we have been afraid to take the leap?).
Here’s the exciting thing: as a result of the house cleaning, we will become vessels for HONORABLE USE, SET APART as HOLY, USEFUL to the Master of the house (God), and READY for EVERY GOOD WORK.
Oh, how I want to cease using the things God has placed in me for unholy purposes, or just as bad, left unused. Time for a little house-cleaning!
2 Timothy 1
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). As a girl who struggles with fear, this is one of my go-to verses. I preach it to myself at least once a week.
However, as I have been meditating on this chapter, I am struck by its context. It follows Paul saying, “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.” It is part of an encouragement to Timothy to pursue his calling boldly. David Guzik in his commentary says, “Going through 1 and 2 Timothy, you will find no less than 25 different places where Paul encourages Timothy to be bold, to not shy away from confrontation, to stand up where he needs to stand up and be strong. This was something that Timothy, being the kind of person he was, needed to hear!”
I don’t know about you, but like Timothy, I could use that kind of encouragement. To be bold and unafraid to do those things God is telling me to do. To fan the flame of the gift of God. The flame is there, but we need to tend to it, or will die out. Just because we have a gift or have heard a calling does not mean it will automatically come to pass. We have a part to play. God gives us the pilot light, but we have a role in fanning it; in keeping it going and growing.
Some of us just sit and stare at that little spark of a light. We wonder why God isn’t making something happen with it. Perhaps He is waiting for us to make something happen with it.
Fear is not of God. Fear is the work of Satan to keep us far away from that little light. Fear keeps us from fanning the flame. But we have something so much bigger than fear; something that can overcome fear. God has given us a spirit of POWER, LOVE, SELF CONTROL. When we step into God’s will, we have God’s power on our side. We have the love of God, love that suffered and died for us. And we have self-control. We don’t have to be ruled by fear and emotions.
What flames have you been neglecting, either from fear or from waiting it out for God to make the next move? Decide today one thing you can do to fan the flame.
P.S. I’m so sorry I’ve gotten behind on the #NTin2018 posts. I’ve been working on fighting fears and fanning the flame of a project God has given me. Going scared is kind of fun.
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