I was reading II Timothy and wanted to share some things with you. The letter begins by saying, “This letter is from Paul [who I hope we all love and admire], chosen by the will of God [yep! God chose him alright and a good choice it was!] to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I have been sent out to tell others about the life he has promised through faith in Christ Jesus.”
Now that is interesting. He is unashamed to say, “The message is about the life offered to anyone who has faith is Jesus Christ!” He is not embarrassed to say that. In fact, in another letter he says that he “Brags” about it, and exalted the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul preached salvation that was solely through a faith and confidence in Jesus and the finished work of the cross. He always preached that those who are to be saved by grace must identify themselves with this bloody cross. He preached that men need to believe in Christ, and that the result of believing is an identification with the cross.
Then he goes on to encourage Timothy by saying, “I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. I long to see you again, for I remember your tears as we parted. I will be filled with joy when we are together again. “
Now that is encouragement! I love it when people sincerely say, “I am praying for you.” Now notice I said, “sincerely” praying. I continually hear people say, “I will pray for you brother.” But they never do, and I know they never do. When someone is truly praying and interceding for you, you will know.
Paul continued, “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice [see how their faith influenced Timothy? Don’t lose hope for your child]. I know that same faith continues strong in you.”
[Now why wouldn’t Timothy be encouraged by reading that?] “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
We used to sing a simple chorus about that:
God’s not given us a spirit of fear,
But of love, and of power . . .
and a sound mind
[I guess it means more when I sing it for you]. How encouraging is that for someone who is accused of not having a sound mind? Huh?
Paul continued, “So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. Don’t be ashamed of me, either, even though I’m in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News. For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.”
Isn’t that interesting? According to the Amplified Version, Paul refers to Yehoveh as, “He Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness.” I find that fascinating. His calling us to Salvation is, in itself, a Holy act . . . and that leads to holiness! This is referring to a life of consecration; a vocation of holiness! Not only that, He didn’t do it because of anything we have done, it was because of His own purpose and Grace which was given us in Christ Jesus (and here is a key) “before the world began” (see II Timothy 1:9).
Every person who is “in Christ” is called by the Lord. He picked up the phone and called your number! Aren’t you glad and excited that you picked up the phone? Each of us now has the same mandate: to hear God’s voice, to proclaim his Word, to never fear man, and to trust the Lord in the face of every conceivable trial. Now that is important! The secret of our faith is Christ in us, not me in a different set of circumstances. Did you catch that? Regardless of your situation or circumstances you can delight and worship your Lord!
Our Father made this promise to his prophet Jeremiah when he called him (see Jeremiah 1:1-10). Like Jeremiah, we don’t need to have a message prepared to speak before the world. He has pledged to fill our mouths with his Word, at the exact moment it is needed. But that will only happen if we trust him—and fill our hearts with the Words of God. We need to meditate on it day-and-night.
Paul tells us that many are appointed as preachers, some as teachers and some as apostles, etc, and that they are all going to suffer for that reason. If you are going to accept the appointment, you will have to accept the responsibilities that come with it! Paul accounted himself as one of those: “I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am” (II Timothy 1:11-12). He was saying, “God has given me a holy work to do, and because I have that calling, I am going to suffer.”
Scripture shows that Paul was tested unlike most ministers have ever been. Satan tried to kill him time after time. The so-called religious crowd rejected and ridiculed him. At times even those who supported him left him abused and forsaken. But during all of this, Paul was never confounded before men. He was never dismayed or put to shame before the world. Paul never burned out. In every situation he had an anointed word to speak from God, just when it was needed.
The fact is, Paul simply would not be shaken. He never lost his trust in the Lord. Instead, he testified, “I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep whatever I have committed to him against that day” (II Timothy 1:12). He is saying, “I have committed my life fully to the Lord’s faithfulness. Live or die, I am his.” And he urged his young charge Timothy to do likewise: “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 1:13).
As Elisabeth Elliot wrote,
“There is only one classroom in which to learn:
- The work of God.
- The will of God.
- The trustworthiness of God.
- The presence of God.
This classroom is where I am now. This is the place appointed by God for my instruction and sanctification – even here:
- where it seems God is doing nothing (He is, in fact, at work in unseen ways);
- where His will seems obscure or frightening (He will surely give me peace at last);
- where He isn’t doing what I want Him to (He is doing something better – preparing bread for me when what I asked was in actual fact a stone; or perhaps, He is doing the very thing I prayed for, but in a way incomprehensible to me);
- where He is most absent (yes, even there His promise holds: I will never leave you or forsake you. My faith must size that written word regardless of the enemy’s taunt, “You’ve been abandoned.”).”
This morning I suggest that you sincerely search your heart. Are you willing to worship, irrespective of your situation or circumstances? If you are . . . begin to worship Him now.
With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
The trail is long, but there’s no hurry. Though we do need to stock up on supplies for the way, and that’s where I need your help. If you enjoy these messages, please consider becoming a contributing member of this tour group. It will be very much appreciated.