“PAUL, A bond servant of God and an apostle (a special messenger) of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) to stimulate and promote the faith of God’s chosen ones and to lead them on to accurate discernment and recognition of and acquaintance with the Truth which belongs to and harmonizes with and tends to godliness, [Resting] in the hope of eternal life, [life] which the ever truthful God Who cannot deceive promised before the world or the ages of time began. And [now] in His own appointed time He has made manifest (made known) His Word and revealed it as His message through the preaching entrusted to me by command of God our Savior;” Titus 1:1-3 [AMP] -> me: Well, I started Titus today and only get 3 verses in. This salutation by Paul is the longest of his letters. I believe it fully envelops the charge of the church and its teachers. 1) Bond Servants who carry a message from God Himself -> Not arrogant men but humble servants of the Most High God and chosen teachers of the inerrant word of His hand. 2) Teaching the body of Christ straight from the word of God so that they are equipped to discern and recognize TRUTH which produces godliness. 3) Teaching the church that their hope is in eternity; not in this life under the sun. 4) Teaching that God’s promise of eternity to us is genuine and forever. 5) That the gospel has power; it is God’s perfect plan of redemption. Our duty while here on this earth, is to share this good news and pray that God would call those who hear it, to Himself.
“At my first trial no one acted in my defense [as my advocate] or took my part or [even] stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the [Gospel] message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was delivered out of the jaws of the lion. [And indeed] the Lord will certainly deliver and draw me to Himself from every assault of evil. He will preserve and bring me safe unto His heavenly kingdom. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen (so be it).” 2 Timothy 4:16-18 [AMP] -> me: Today I finished up 2nd Timothy. Tomorrow I am onto Titus. These three verses from today’s reading have some disagreement between scholars because of the juxtaposition with verses 6-8. However, I choose not to get wrapped up in that discussion and simply look at how what Paul is saying speaks directly into my life today. What it made me think of is those times that I feel alone and unsupported in the execution of my ministry. The truth, by what Paul says here, is that the Lord my God is with me…and not only is He with me but He is there to strengthen me when I feel weak. Why is this? So that through me the Gospel message might be fully proclaimed to those unbelievers around me. Additionally, it is clear here that Paul has his sights set on the glory that is to come, so his present circumstance seems so much less important. This is the attitude I need to keep -> I am not alone, God Almighty is with me…and He is strengthening me; and my heart and hope are set on an eternal glory with Him in His Kingdom. So, I press forward in love for those around me and a loose grip on my belongings because my treasure in heaven is so much more valuable.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:6-7 -> me: Here at the end of Paul’s letter to Timothy, he is heralding his own end. However, even in his impending death he is still worshiping through sacrifice and the Greek word used for Departure is one speaking of a release like a soldier being released of his duties and is now packing up his tent and moving on to being unrestricted. I hope that I can be focused in saying I have fought the good fight. Notice Paul doesn’t say he won the race. He was content to have stayed true to his course; the one the Lord set before him. Kept the faith; he stay true to his love of Christ and belief of what God had him there to do; and the hope of what was to come…the use of that releasing word->departure.
“As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:5 -> me: Today Paul takes a turn to tell Timothy about what he will witness in people’s lack of stomach for the gospel. Paul says that these people will actually seek out teachers that preach to them what they ears want hear. If I try to apply this to today, it would be the believer who feels that the gospel and God’s Truth is not in line with the culture of today…so they seek out a church and pastors who will preach progressive unbiblical ideologies that conform better to the societal norms of the day. I can easily think of multiple supposedly Christian churches that fall into this bucket. God’s word is inerrant; you cannot believe part of the bible without believing the whole…and you cannot say that something God says to be true about His character in biblical times is not true about Him today. Then we come to Paul’s instruction to Timothy –> Stay CALM, stay in the TRUTH, stay deliberately FOCUSED on what you have been taught and know to be true. Weather the hardships and keep trudging along with consistency. I think what Paul was telling Timothy was to keep his hand to the plow and don’t look back until his ministry was complete. If I look at where God has me today in this time and place, this teaching is directly relevant. Stay calm, stay in the truth, and stay focused on eternity. The HOPE of my Christ’s return is before me!
I John 3:17-18, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”
These two verses dig down to the depths of my bottom line theology and challenge the fundamental truth of that theology, which is SOVEREINGTY. If I hold the conviction that God is sovereign and in charge of all things (material, spiritual, and emotional) and if He has blessed me with the “world’s goods” why would I withhold them from another in need? How/why would I “shut up” my heart? That type of withholding comes from selfishness, pride, and being my own master. Many times I have felt the judge and jury over whether another was in need because they squandered, were foolish, and in essence “didn’t deserve it.” Do I deserve the lavish gifts of God? “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the children of God.” (Also I John) This is the EXACT manner of love that should be overflowing out of my heart. Love given to the undeserving…esteem placed on the unworthy. If I can’t love in this way then I don’t fully understand God’s love for me. Love, this boundless love, is only truly shown in our actions and in the risk of truth. I have a long way to go in this department but I KNOW this is the key to so much living “as Christ” and I must allow God to have His way here in my heart in this area.
“Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2 -> me: Today my verse of the day is the verse referenced on the front of Pastor Steve’s pulpit at church -> “Preach the Word”. In verse one, Paul says that he ‘Charges’ Timothy with these following 5 exhortations. He says that he charges, really nothing short of orders, Timothy in the presence of God and Jesus Christ. Paul would never say this unless he serious meant Timothy to take to heart and take proactive action to engage on what Paul has said. The five exhortations are 1) Preach the Word 2) Be prepared in and out of season 3) Correct 4) Rebuke and 5) Encourage. The last quiet time was about the fact that God’s word is profitable for these 5 things. There is so much focus on speaking God’s truth, not trying to twist His word in working for us and our needs. This is so hard today, because a lot of what we read in God’s word flies right in the face of what the world is trying to tell us is right. But no, we are to correct and rebuke. However, look how Paul follow up after the ‘correct’ and ‘rebuke’ -> encouraging them with inexhaustible patience and teaching. Correction and Rebuke can never come without instruction and teaching…in other words, you better know your stuff…know your stuff through your own study and meditation on the TRUTH.
“Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].” 2 Timothy 3:12 [AMP]-> me:Yesterday and today my reading was 2 Timothy 3:10-17. Two areas of this passage stand out to me. Verse 12 (the one for today) and verses 16 & 17 -> “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.” [ESV] Put these 3 verses together and you have a glimpse in what it means to walk in way of a Christian in Fellowship with his Savior. There are more awesome verses in this passage but I am struck by what it being said -> 1) If I am not under persecution by the world, then I am not doing something right. I cannot shy away from sharing who I am in Christ. 2) When I study, recite, and meditate on God’s word, I am hearing His voice. Paul says it is profitable — it always produces a return. It will gains in teaching, reproofing, correction, and righteousness. It will make me complete and at the ready to launch into God’s work when called upon. This is powerful! So what is the cost again? Persecution through devotion and dedication to knowing God’s word….I mean, come on…I know from experience that God is so faithful to show up in my heart and life when I pursue Him this way. I just need to be reminded….how?….that’s right, by reading God’s word…like today. 🙂
“[They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them].” 2 Timothy 3:4-5 [AMP] -> me: Here in chapter 3 Paul start to describe the moral decline that will come. I am reminded of Romans 8:21 where Paul talks about the bondage of decay and corruption; this is the course of events, over and over again, that we can expect in this fallen word before Jesus returns. Paul is telling Timothy to watch out for these shallow, shell of religiosity, people he will run into…that they look pious on the outside but their motives are earthly focused; focused on their sensual desires, love of money, and love of themselves. They have no interest in the Power of the Gospel, they only operate in the scope of shallow righteous living in order to serve their own needs. I believe that Paul is telling Timothy to be on the watch for these types of people and not only turn away from them but to also not allow them into church membership. The sobering final thought in verse 9 is that these people will not get far operating this way as ultimately, their rash folly will become obvious to everyone.
“Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart. But refuse (shut your mind against, have nothing to do with) trifling (ill-informed, unedifying, stupid) controversies over ignorant questionings, for you know that they foster strife and breed quarrels. And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending). Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong.” 2 Timothy 2:22-24 [AMP] -> me: This passage today really resonated with me. It calls out personal instruction, actions toward fellow Christians, and then our witness to EVERYONE. Personal Instruction – flee youthful passions. I would read this as immature earthly desires. Instead, pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Fellow Christians – we pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace along with our fellow Christians. This is our accountability group, our church, our Christian community in Life Groups and friendships. Then it follows on, in regard to fellow Christians, that we should refuse controversies over non-heretical doctrine/theology. To me I see Paul telling Timothy that this provides an opening for the evil one. Everyone – finally we are to be kind to EVERYONE (non-Christians, enemies, persecutors, etc.) and not quarrelsome or argumentative. We must be ready to teach with God’s word in our hearts and patiently endure evil. What a passage for me in the world today. This world of diametrically opposed views to our Biblical Christian beliefs. I needed this today…
“But the firm foundation of (laid by) God stands, sure and unshaken, bearing this seal (inscription): The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names [himself by] the name of the Lord give up all iniquity and stand aloof from it.” 2 Timothy 2:19 [AMP] -> me: Finally have time to write my thoughts down!! It has been a stressful week but God, through His grace and mercy, provided success in our efforts here at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. Tonight as I was meditating on this passage, it led me to Numbers 16 -> God dealing with Korah and others who wanted to be more than workers in the Tent of Meeting and be Priests. Please go read this chapter as it is very sobering to see how God deals with those who not content in their position of service and seek more for themselves as well as grumble and complain. Moses and Aaron, more than once, fell on their faces asking God for leniency for the ‘Assembly’. The application is found now in our 2 Tim 2:19 verse. We are to stand tall in knowledge that as a believer in the Son of God, we are ‘KNOWN’ by the Father. So then, if I call myself a Christian, having been purchased by the Blood of the Lamb, then I must not only flee the sinful desires of this fallen world but actually turn away and leave them behind as I would a forsaken land. When I live with my sight set on the glory that is being IN the Son of God and the inheritance I am afforded as an adopted child; the old ways and things of this world become small and unappetizing; because I crave the future of Eternity with the One Who saved me and strengthens me.