Go to the source

Understanding what a message or document is really about takes work.  It’s not enough to rely on what someone else tells you.  You have to do your own digging and work it out for yourself.  If you don’t and rely instead on what other people tell you then you only know what they want you to think.  You don’t even  know what they think and so are open to manipulation.

The apostle  Paul underscored the need for careful study of Scripture by preachers and teachers; “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Without this ‘diligence’ a church  could become mired in worthless arguments about nothing; “But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.” (v. 16) The net result of sloppy preaching and teaching is ungodliness which drags down many a church today.prophets

The Bible tells us that we are living in a time when many will use God’s Word to their own advantage; “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)  We live in a time were a lot of money can be made by peddling false religion.  How do we protect our hearts and integrity?

We have to go to the source to understand the Gospel message. The best way to protect yourself is by doing your own ‘homework’. Study the Word yourself.  Jesus gave us the promise that we would have the best tutor available; “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)  You have to read the Gospels to learn what Jesus said and then the Holy Spirit will teach you what it means as you continue your studies.

We live in a time when we no longer need a particular person or celebrity preacher to teach us.  God will do this through the Holy Spirit.”I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more..” (Jeremiah 31:33,34)  No more petty intermediaries!

Jesus declared; “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from Him comes to Me.” (John 6:45)   Go directly to the source.

Posted in 2 Timothy | Leave a comment

A message that can’t be chained

Messages are all around us.  Some are true.  Many are not.  Messages can go viral and be passed from person to person and computer to computer across the world-wide web.  There is one message that has gone on for thousands of years, spread by all kinds of technology from  parchment to fiber optics and has never quit because it’s True.  Many have tried to suppress the Gospel and failed.

The apostle Paul speaks of  the power of God’s Word; “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.” (2 Timothy 2:8,9)  Lies come and go along with the liars who utter them but the Gospel will always continue. Jesus said; “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) Truth is everlasting because it cannot be changed to anything else and still be true.lovers-of-lies

Truth always draws a line and demands a choice; People hate that. That makes Truth dangerous and Truth tellers troublemakers in a world that prefers ‘nicer’ lies. Paul took many bruises for telling the truth to others. Paul confronted the Galatians when they wanted to return to the religious falsehoods of the world; “But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?” (Galatians 4:9) Paul asks; “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (v. 16) Yes, the Truth will make you an enemy of the world not because you want to be but because the world rejects the Truth. Anything that passes away will always want to reject the eternal.

Every Christian will have to make a choice – love the Truth or love the world. Some ‘almost-Christians’ believe that you can do both. The Bible says different; “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) Jesus warned His followers; “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:22)

Stand firm!

Posted in 2 Timothy | Leave a comment

The affairs of this life . . .

Living in this world means you have to get involved in it.  We are good neighbours, earn a living, pay our bills, and do our civic duty.  This doesn’t mean that you have to obsess about what’s going on.  Nor should you place any faith in the solutions that the world offers to its problems.  Common sense tells us that a solution can never arise out of part of the problem.  Worldly politicians and celebrities are part of the problem and are of the same failing substance of the very situations that they purport to save us from.  To place our faith in them would be to entangle ourselves with the world.we-need-heros

The apostle Paul advised Timothy; “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. . . . You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2: 1,3,4)

When Jesus stood before Pilate accused of all kinds of lies, Pilate urged Him to speak in His own defense.  Pilate thought Jesus should speak up for Himself in His crisis. This was the world’s point of view – a carnal evaluation of reality. Jesus didn’t see it that way; “Pilate replied. ‘Your own people and chief priests handed You over to me. What have You done?’  Jesus answered, ‘My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, My servants would fight to prevent My arrest by the Jews. But now, My kingdom is not of this realm.'”(John 18:36) Jesus wasn’t going to be entangle Himself in the world.

light-of-the-worldIn all the turmoil and trouble of the world our response must be to speak the Gospel Truth. Paul tells Timothy; “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2 Timothy 2:8-10)

Paul was following his Saviour’s example.  Jesus told Pilate; “For this reason I was born and have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to My voice.” (John 18:36) The solution to our problems will never arise out of their worldly sources. Only the testimony of Jesus Christ will save us.  .Ythe world hates that truth and will always try to drag us back into carnal entanglements.

Abandoning our hope in Jesus for celebrities or politicians or both is a disaster; “If indeed they have escaped the corruption of the world through their knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, only to be entangled and overcome by it again, their final condition is worse than it was at first.” (2 Peter 2:20)

Posted in 2 Timothy | Leave a comment

Hanging on

When your beliefs  become counter-cultural it gets very hard to hang on to them unless you really believe in them.  Sometimes when we think we believe wholeheartedly we are fooling ourselves.  We may be  tested by life and required to either stand on our beliefs or abandon them for a more socialy acceptable common ground.  When that happens we surprise ourselves to find that what we thought we were committed to wasn’t what we were willing to hang on to when times got tough.hold-on-to-hope

If you suffer for your beliefs, they truly are your beliefs.  The apostle Paul knew this and encouraged Timothy to hang on; “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel . . . .”(2 Timothy 1:8)  And Paul suffered for the Gospel; “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)  The world resists the Gospel and those that believe in it.

What was Paul’s strength?  His faith; “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) And what was the source of Paul’s strength and conviction? The Holy Spirit; “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” (2 Timothy 1:13,14)

Sometimes all you can do is hang on. And Jesus gives us that strength; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)

Hang on!

Posted in 2 Timothy | Leave a comment

The spirit within . . .

People will often talk about the spirit in which something is given; be it a praise, criticism advice or a gift.  Usually they mean this in a positive way, hoping to convey a feeling of care and concern along with their message.  The idea that a spirit inhabits the  words and actions that we make doesn’t make us incredulous.  It’s not difficult to believe that a spirit can inhabit our mind and emotions as well.  Where would such a spirit come from?spirt-of-love

The apostle Paul tells us; “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  How would such a spirit be ‘given’ to us?  When we are born again we receive a new spirit.  Paul explains; “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit, who dwells within you.” (Romans 8:11) Jesus told Nicodemus that being born again is essential; “Flesh is born of flesh, but spirit is born of the Spirit. Do not be amazed that I said, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:6,7) Our new spirit comes from God when we are ‘born again’.

The seed of this new spirit given to us by God is found in His Word. The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Word made flesh. (John 1:14) The Gospel carries this seed to everyone who hears and accepts it. Jesus through His parable of the sower explains how the seed is transmitted and how new life is conceived within us; “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” (Matthew 13:19-23)

The devil hates the Gospel because it is the Word that bears fruit in us. He’ll try to change it, twist it and stop it any way he can. That is his spirit. In contrast, Paul loves the Word; “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, . . . who has saved us and called us with a holy calling.” (2 Timothy 2:8,9)

Who gave you your spirit?

Posted in 2 Timothy | Leave a comment

Instructions for ‘the rich’

There are poor people and there are rich people.  And there are people in between. We in the middle tend to focus our sympathies toward the poor end of the spectrum and our envy towards the opposite end.  The poor need help and the rich should pay for it (not us). We forget ‘rich and poor’ is a relative scale and we are richer than we think! What does the Bible say?

hqdefaultPaul gives these instructions to Timothy regarding the rich; “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17) Good instruction – rich or poor we should all take heed. Jesus gave this parable to us; “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)matthew-25-40

Paul following Jesus’ teaching advises the rich; “Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Timothy 6:18,19) It’s a question of investing for the future by sharing with others today. By doing that those who are rich become rich where it really counts – with respect to God. Jesus taught all of us not just the rich; “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

It’s not wrong to be rich. It’s wrong to be selfish. We can all practice generosity with our neighbours – someone we know will always be much ‘poorer’ than we are.

Jesus takes this personally: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

Posted in 1 Timothy | Leave a comment

Pursue what?

We are taught to pursue many things in this life.  I was taught to pursue a good education, a steady job, a  career and the independence all this brings.  Life was all about work and achievement!  Many children today are taught to pursue sports, social activities and any opportunities they can find that will make them feel good about themselves. Life is all about feeling good! Was one teaching better than the other?  A great thinker once summed up life this way; “For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Like the fool, the wise too must die! . . . All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 2:16,18)img_2401

The apostle Paul tells Timothy; “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11) Flee what things? The things of the world. Why? “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” (v. 7) Flee the fixation on stuff and the money needed to buy it that we will have to let go of in the end. This doesn’t mean that we should stop working or being responsible. What it does mean is that we need to see work, paying the bills as well as having fun and material possessions within the perspective of eternal life.

327e86bffa22ca2645942747e7ce7268We go on, but our professions and possessions have to be left behind well before the grave. Our faith in Jesus sets our eyes on something greater than the ‘here and now’. There is one thing that we can carry with us out of this world into eternity; “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (v. 12) We can take our faith with us because it is who we are in Christ.

Jesus taught that God and His righteousness is the first priority; “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Jesus asked two very important questions that put everything into perspective; “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Mark 8:36,37) Don’t sell yourself short. Take God up on His offer.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Posted in 1 Timothy | Leave a comment