8/31/17 The Unfaithful & The Faithful

“You know that Phygellus and Hermogenes, along with the Asian churches, have now turned against me and against all that I have taught them.  But Onesiphorus has shown himself to be a true friend.  I pray that God would be merciful to his household.  Instead of turning against me, or even fleeing in fear for his own safety, he came to visit me here in Rome when he heard of my imprisonment, searching for me until he found me.   He came often to visit me, refreshing my spirit through the love he showed me, and the courageous disregard for his own safety and reputation in seeing to my needs as a prisoner, accused of treason against Rome.  As you know, this imprisonment is nothing like my last, where I was allowed to live in my own rented house with one soldier to stand guard, and given much freedom of movement within the city.  Now, I am heavily guarded in an actual prison.  But even so, Onesiphorus did not stop searching for me until he found me, and after that he visited me on many occasions.  God has called him home to Heaven now, and I can never repay him for his kindness to me, both here in my imprisonment, and previously in all that he did for me in Ephesus.  But I hope that on the day when Onesiphorus stands before God in judgment that God would remember his kindness and reward him for it.

 

2 Timothy 1:15-18

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8/30/17 You Hold The Keys To The Kingdom

“Hold on tightly to the exact words of the message of Jesus, as you were taught them, so that no one will be able to say you have deviated from the truth in any way.  This is especially important when you come up against false teachers, who will attempt to change things very subtly, hoping that they changes they want to make will be accepted as truth, unnoticed by any but themselves.  Remember the teaching and preaching we have done together, and strive to continue in that same way, in the faith and love that comes to you from Jesus.  Words are important and have a lot of power.  Do not forget, or fail to employ, the words and phrases that we have used from the beginning of our work, to teach and preach Jesus’ message.  God has entrusted to you the safe keeping of the message of our faith.  It is not a task to take lightly, but something you must dedicate your entire heart and soul to for the rest of your earthly life.  However, it is not dependent upon your faithfulness, but upon the Holy Spirit living within you, who will keep our faith safe and pure through you if you will depend upon Him.”

 

2 Timothy 1:13-14

8/29/17 Don’t Be Afraid To Suffer For Your Faith

“God planned His great rescue of sinners before the world began, because He knew from before there was Time, all that would ever happen.  He hid His plan from the beginning until the right time, and now has revealed it to us.  Jesus, though His suffering and death on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, has defeated sin and death once and for all, replacing them with sin-free eternal Life for any and all who will accept His free gift, proclaimed through the message that He has called us to teach all over the world.  He has called me to be a preacher of His message, an apostle, and a teacher to the Gentiles.  Because of this calling, I am now suffering alone as a prisoner in Rome, and am hated by many people all over the world.  But I am not ashamed, because I know my God, my Heavenly Father, to whom I have entrusted my life here on earth and my soul for eternity, and I know that He will take this deposit of my trust and keep it safe until the glorious day when He will make me a new and eternal creature in Heaven and I will begin my eternal joy of life forever with Him.”

 

2 Timothy 1:10-12

8/28/17 Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Faith

“Remembering the suffering and death that Jesus willingly and unashamedly endured for each one of us, remembering that God gives us power, love, and self control through His Holy Spirit, do not be ashamed of the true message and practice of your faith, and do not be afraid to proclaim it or to live it out publicly for all the world to see.  Do not be ashamed to be my friend, my disciple, my son in our faith, and do not be afraid to admit it.  Be ready and willing, as Jesus Himself was for us, to endure suffering and death for the sake of our Messiah, for you know that God’s love and power will sustain you and ultimately bring you into eternal life with Himself in Heaven.  God has called each one of us to live boldly for Him, and He has equipped us for the job.  We know that He will never leave us, will never turn away from us, but when we need Him most He will always be there, giving us exactly what we need to get through whatever trial is set before us.  We did nothing in and of ourselves to earn our salvation from sin’s death penalty.  God graciously gave us salvation as a gift.  In the same way, now that we belong to Him and are living our lives for Him, He will provide all that we need for the work He calls us to do, so that we work through His power, not our own.  God called us before the beginning of the world to share in the joy of eternal life with His Son, and that means sharing in the suffering of His Son while we are here on earth.  But He also provided for us all that we need to rise above the suffering we endure, through the sacrificial death of His Son for us, and through the giving of His Holy Spirit, before the beginning of the world.

2 Timothy 1:8-9

8/27/17 Courage, Not Cowardice, In Faith

“I have served my God with a clear conscience, just as my father and grandfathers did before me, though they knew nothing of our Messiah, and I thank Him for you, remembering you constantly in my prayers, day and night, for your love and your true faith.  I want very much to see you again, and I remember your tears when we parted the last time, as both of us knew that it was not likely that we would see each other again before we meet in Heaven.  But my heart is filled with joy when I think of your faith, such a strong faith that has been passed down to you from your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and now resides within you as well.  Stay strong in your faith, and don’t let the fire of your faith burn out, but stir up the flames by using the gift that God has granted you, which was given to you by the laying of hands upon your head, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, at your ordination.  Be bold and courageous in your faith, remembering that God has given us His Holy Spirit to live in our hearts, and within Him there is no fear or cowardice.  God gives us, through His Holy Spirit, courage, strength, ability, and desire to do all that He asks of us with His power, with love, with self-control.”

 

2 Timothy 1:3-7

8/26/17 Paul’s Last Letter To Timothy

Several years have passed since Paul’s letter made its way to Titus, and he is once again a prisoner in Rome.  This time, he is not expecting to be released.  He is, in fact, prepared for the end of his life here on earth and the beginning of his new adventure – being truly alive for the first time, in Heaven with Jesus.  He writes one final letter to Timothy, to strengthen him and remind him of his love.  “I, Paul, an apostle of Jesus the Messiah, not by my choice, but by the sovereign will of God, to teach the world about the promise of eternal life in Heaven through Jesus, write this letter to my beloved son in the faith, Timothy.  May the grace, mercy, and peace of God, our Heavenly Father, and His Son, our Lord Jesus, be with you.”

 

2 Timothy 1:1-2

8/25/17 Farewell Instructions

“I am going to spend the winter at Nicopolis.  I will send either Artemas or Tychicus to you there in Crete to give you a break, and once they arrive, I’d like you to come as quickly as you can and stay with me at Nicopolis.  Zenas, the teacher of the Law of Moses, ad Apollos will be coming to Crete soon, and I would like you use them as an example to show our Cretan brothers and sisters how to provide for the needs of travelers, to do good for others, to be hospitable and generous with what God has given to them, so that their faith may be fruitful.  Equip them quickly to continue their journey with everything they need so that they may get to their destination before winter.  Everyone with me here sends their greetings to you there.  Please greet all those of our brothers and sisters who are faithful to our Lord and who love us as well.  May God’s grace be with you all.  Amen.”

 

Titus 3:12-15

8/24/17 Dealing With Dissension

“I wrote to Timothy about a danger the Ephesian church has been facing, and it is one that I would like you to address in the Cretan church as well.  This danger is false teachings that are leading many in the church away from the true faith, namely the practice of endless debating and precise following of the Law of Moses, which prevents people from living their faith as Jesus wants us all to do.  It is also my hope that you might be a voice of reason against those who are trying to impose Judaism on Christianity by insisting on following the oral Rabbinical traditions and observing Jewish ceremonial laws.  This insistence on following the Law only creates dissention between brothers and sisters, and division between Jewish and Gentile Christians.  Dwelling on these minute details is impractical for Christians, because it does not allow for unity in the church, and it only wastes time and resources that could be used for doing the work that the Holy Spirit directs us to do in Jesus’ Name.  We are called by God to live out our faith, encouraging each other and building each other up in love, rather than engaging in controversial arguments that tear each other apart.  If anyone is known for sowing disunity in the church, or breaks away from the church and entices others to go with him, reprimand him and teach him the error of his ways.  But if you have done so twice and he shows no desire to change, he is to be avoided, and no longer to be regarded as a brother in the church.  He may have been well-loved in the church, but if he is willfully going against the structure and doctrine of the church, even after being reprimanded, he is willfully sinning and convicting himself.  Titus 3:9-11

8/23/17 Pay It Forward

“Yes, we were once just like the people who are governing us, lost in slavery to sin.  But then we learned about Jesus.  We learned that He is God’s Son, and that He came here to live the perfect life that no one in all of time could ever live, so that He could be the perfect, sinless sacrifice, willingly enduring torture and death to pay the penalty for the sins of everyone everywhere and through all of time.  There was nothing that we could do to earn this salvation from sin’s punishment.  It was a gracious, merciful gift, given by God through Jesus.  And when we heard this and believed it, we were baptized and He sent His Holy Spirit to come to us and live in our hearts, making us brand new people in Him.  And now, since we have been given a verdict of ‘Not Guilty’ for the sins in our lives, by His mercy and grace, we have become His children, and when He determines that our work here on earth is done, we will be taken home to the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity as our inheritance.  Since we have been given so much from God, how can we not give graciously in return, both to Him and to those who do not yet know Him?  Whoever believes in God and has been saved by His Son should live out his faith daily in doing good for others, and in doing so, he will benefit as well.  This has been taught so often throughout the churches that it has become a well-known saying, and a very true one that I would like you to use in the Cretan church often.”  Titus 3:4-8

8/22/17 We Should Help Those Who Are Lost, Because We Were Once Just Like Them

“Remind the brothers and sisters that before Jesus saved us from our sins and gave us new hearts, we were all much like these people in government over us.  We had no understanding of God’s plan, or even His truth.  We were not willing to serve God, but only to serve ourselves, seeking after only what made us feel good in any particular moment, whether those things were actually “good” or not.  We allowed Satan to lead us away from God, succumbing to the temptations thrown in our path.  We were slaves to sin.  Because we were selfish, we were jealous of others, despising them because of what they had that we wanted.  We cared nothing for anyone else, only ourselves.  Since we were this way, how can we, now knowing the truth and having been set from from this slavery, hate those who are still enslaved to sin?  How can we not extend mercy to them and help them in whatever way we are able?  Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and teach everyone about Him, and the best way to do that is through the example we set in our daily lives.”

 

Titus 3:3