…in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began. Titus 1:2
How many people can you genuinely count on? People that will without a doubt be there, and never lie under any circumstance? I’m guessing very few, if any. I think this might be part of why we have such a hard time believing just how good and reliable God really is in our lives. It is hard to grasp perfection…perfect holiness, perfect truthfulness, perfect righteousness, perfect justice, perfect mercy, perfect sacrifice, perfect love. It is beyond our understanding. We look to the person we know the best – ourselves – and we fall so very short.
In Paul’s opening words to Titus, he speaks of the hope of eternal life we have; hope that was promised before the ages…and he inserts this truth of God, “He never lies.” Never. Ever. God keeps His promises.
This hope promised before the ages began is manifested in His word THROUGH the preaching of His word. Paul had been entrusted to preach the word. We have been entrusted to preach the word. And we can know without doubt that it is true. God never lies. His word never lies.
In our “Post-truth” world, we struggle with the idea of truth. Real, at the core truth. Not perception, hope, gut, emotion, wishful thinking…but TRUTH. Smooth words and eloquent rhetoric by gifted speakers claiming to be enlightening and empowering preach things like truth is relative. Your truth is your truth, and my truth is my truth; there are no absolutes. But what a weary world really needs – whether our visceral human flesh will admit it or not – is TRUTH. Because everyone’s idea of truth based on their current desires, needs, circumstances, emotions, surroundings…will never lead to healing. It may feel good and affirming and tolerant and loving at the time, but it will lead to a path of confusion and destruction.
If we love; if we seek healing; if we desire restoration; if we long for salvation, we must preach truth. And there is only one truth…that from the Creator of truth; the One who can never lie.
Questions: Do you believe in absolute truth? That God’s word is Truth?
…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control 2 Timothy 1:7
If you struggle with fear, this is likely one of your go-to verses.
In this context, it is part of an encouragement to Timothy to pursue his calling boldly. David Guzik 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 into 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 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, and 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.
Questions: What flames have you been neglecting, either from fear or from waiting it out for God to make the next move? What is one thing you can do today to fan the flame?
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
Let no one despise your _________. In this letter Paul tells Timothy to let no one despise his youth. What is the blank for you? The thing that may make you a little insecure and afraid to step into your calling? Age, experience, pedigree, personality, education, resources, past mistakes, other opinions?
I believe in all of us are things we want to do – things we feel the Spirit nudging us to do. We start off so passionate, but then doubt creeps in. The whispers of the devil telling us we can’t do it. We think things like…
When I get a little older
When I get more experience
When I pay off this debt
When I have more support
When I graduate
When I get married
When we get that house
When I get that better job
When the kids get older
When the opportunity falls in my lap
If only I started sooner
If only I were younger
If only I didn’t have all these commitments
If only I didn’t make all those mistakes
We are paralyzed by the “when” and “if only.” But Paul says, “Do not neglect the gift you have.” (1 Timothy 4:14) These gifts are from God. Don’t let them gather dust and never bloom into what God gave them to you for. Make today the day you say, “I will no longer neglect the gift I have!” Do your thing. Do it even if you are scared. Do it even if you think others will mock you. Do it even if you don’t feel experienced enough. God will equip you for what He calls you to.
Questions: What keeps you from stepping into things God is calling you to? What are your “if only/what ifs”?
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:15
Our God is so big and merciful and indescribably good.
Paul writes a letter to his young protégé essentially saying, “Timothy…look at me! Look at what God has done through me and KNOW that nothing is impossible. No one is too far gone for God to reach. Me -- the blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent of Jesus – God judged ME faithful and appointed me to his service. It is simply incredible. Hear me, Timothy, this good news is trustworthy and true: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. We are all worthy because He is worthy for us. Jesus took me – the most aggressive person fighting against Him – and called my name. He saved me. And if that wasn’t enough, He allows me to be His ambassador. If God worked through me, He can work through anyone.”
God is so good to us. Some of us are unsure about God; some are outright hostile to Him. Some of us hide in the shame of our sins; some seem to delight in them. God sent Jesus to die for it all and to restore us. Some believe it and receive it; some continue to fight it vehemently. He is patient with us. No one who still has breath is too far gone for God’s love and mercy to reach. Nothing is impossible for God. No one’s sin is bigger than our God. The blood shed on the cross is for us all.
If you have a loved one or friend who seems so lost and far from God, or even hostile to God, don’t lose hope. Paul’s message to Timothy is to you too. No one is too far gone for God to reach.
Challenge: Write the name of someone you love who doesn’t know Jesus as Savior. Commit to pray for them daily.
But we urge you, brothers, to do this [love] more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you… 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-11
Paul’s plea to the Thessalonian church (and TO US) goes something like this: “You know how much you love one another; how you have been taught by God to love one another? Do that! And then do it MORE and MORE.”
You might be surprised how Paul says to go about this Gospel-sharing, people-loving, soul-saving life… Live quietly. Mind your own affairs. Work with your hands.
As we study Paul’s life, we know this in no way is an exhortation to forget the plight of those suffering, compromise truth, or silence the Gospel message. Paul is all about the needs of others, proclaiming truth, warning of false teachers and cultural traps, and above all sharing the Good News. But this is a check on how we are living it out.
What is the opposite of living quietly? Seeking All. The. Lights. And. Sparkle. And. Fanfare. And. Praise. Loud, obnoxious, attention-seeking, panic-inducing, fight-picking and nit-picking. It is the flipside of a posture of peace and oneness with God who is in control. Paul is not talking about living ineffectively or silently or unproductively, but instead quietly. Humbly.
What is the opposite of minding our own affairs? Getting all up in everyone else’s business when you have no business being there. Meddling, comparing, critiquing, tearing down, gossiping, speaking for.
What is the opposite of working with our hands? Laziness, idleness, entitlement.
Live quietly; humbly; purposefully. Mind your own affairs. Work hard with your hands in all that God has called you to. Love others well.
Questions: How effective are you at living quietly? Minding your own affairs? Working with your hands? Loving others?
For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 1 Thessalonians 2:1
Though Paul only had a few short weeks teaching the Thessalonians before being run out of the city, his impact was anything but short-lived. Paul shares a beautiful example of the foundation for true, lasting, and impactful ministry. Because the truth is, as believers, we all have a ministry….to our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors. We are all called to share the Gospel and make disciples.
What we don’t do is often as important as what we do. Paul starts with the “did nots” – the things he DID NOT do.
They did not… Come with erroneous words, impurity or an attempt to deceive. They did not seek to please man or try to win them over with words of flattery. They did not come with a pretext of greed, making it all about them. They did not seek glory from people.
And the “did nots” are crucial because they are the things that all too often hinder us. The things that blemish our testimony. The things that create conflict, skepticism, and cynicism. The things that ultimately tear down, rather than build up, the body of Christ. They are the seeds the devil sows to throw us all off track.
Instead, Paul came with… Boldness IN God. Seeking to please God. Gentleness. Desirous of them to know God. Sharing not only the Gospel, but themselves. Loving and serving. Toiling and laboring, working night and day to not be a burden. Exhorting them. Encouraging them. Charging them to walk in a manner worthy of God. Reminding them that God calls them into the kingdom of God.
Think of what could be accomplished for the kingdom with this purity in message and delivery. When it is all about God and others, not us. When we love and submit and serve others rather than ourselves. God, let it be so in our lives for always.
Questions: Do you believe you have a ministry where you are? How can you implement Paul’s do/do nots? Which stand out to you?