February Blog – 2nd Timothy

I was chatting with a new believer the other day about how intricate the Bible is yet simple enough for a child to understand. I love digging deep in study because it shows us the heart of God. This book is no exception. It is one of Pauls’ most intense and most likely his last letter.

The background  is a struggling new church system that needs updates from Paul, but he is in prison for preaching the gospel. His young apprentice Timothy has received this letter from Paul telling him how to minister and correct this crowd. Timothy’s parents were immigrants – a mixed couple. One was Greek and the other Jewish. Let us think about this for a minute. Old Testament, New Testament, big differences and challenges– yet Timothy has grown up thinking these obstacles were normal. God certainly had a plan and purpose for his family.

We know from the text that Timothy’s grandmother Lois and mother Eunice had impacted his life for Christ. Paul also mentions Priscilla and Aquila as teachers in Paul’s life. The legacy left for Timothy is huge. We all expect this superhero kid to do great things, but Paul mentions that he is timid, sickly and intimidated. His voice is more a meow than a roar. You wouldn’t see him on TBN or Daystar. He was just –Human, like us. The one cheering him on in ministry the most is —in prison. How would you like to introduce  a mentor with those credentials? “Uhm, he’s a felon and currently locked up but you would really like him. Paul is a previous tyrant and persecutor of Christians but now he is the senior leader.”

Chapter One

We are exhorted in this chapter to “stir up the gift of God.” In the age of Covid many are not keen on laying hands on anyone for any reason, yet this is  God’s plan. “Stir up” means to keep in full flame, rekindle and  bring alive. It speaks to preparation, adding and paying attention to the temperature and height of a fire. We intentionally do this through prayer, worship, fellowship, etc. Dead, wet, cold fires can not warm anyone. Stir up the gift, fan the flame, bring on the kindling!

Chapter Two

Paul keeps exhorting Timothy to keep on keeping on – stay the course, continue. He is calling Timothy to more than polite sermons and shepherding the sheep. He is calling Timothy to engage, to FIGHT. He then spells out exactly what is at stake and gives Timothy a refresher course in how to war for the church of the living God. He tells him he needs to be like these three occupations that war for the
WIN :

  1. Soldier – one who endures hardship, not entangled and  is living to please the one who enlisted him (Jesus). Distractions ruin soldiers. My husband Joe, a  previous Navy sailor says the Navy would tell their crew “ A soldier must be ready and put his devotion to the country above everything else. “If we wanted you to have a wife, we would have assigned one in your seabag,” A soldier is focused with one goal. As Christians we need to know who enlisted us and for what purpose. Do we have the mindset of a soldier or are we distracted and entangled by worldliness, sin, and cares?
  2. Athlete – One who competes for a crown (a victory) and follow the rules. Athletes train and then train some more. How much discipline will we endure to be who we are supposed to be? Do we practice our part, do we prepare ways to help others? I watched the chief’s game last weekend and Harrison Buttker was filmed stretching his leg and kicking.- over and over.  He was not looking at the crowds, the cynics, or the chaos around him. Winning and doing his part was his ONLY aim. They were given one shot to get the time to turn the game around and with 13 seconds on the clock – they did. This athlete did not just decide to practice in that moment. He had repeated that kick multiple times over multiple months so when his moment came – he was ready. Trained like an athlete. What is your moment? What is coming that you need to be trained, and disciplined to accomplish? When it comes– it is to late to get ready, by faith we get ready in advance. That is called preparation. Timothy, my son, train like an athlete. Muhammad Ali used to say, I am the greatest. I’m so mean I make medicine sick. I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t’ quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”
  3. Farmer – Hard working and first a  receiver of the fruit. A farmer doesn’t pull up the turnips nightly in hopes of seeing something produced. He faithfully plants, waters, cultivates, and brings in the harvest. I love where Paul calls Timothy to do the Work of an evangelist. Not all are called to be an evangelist, but we are all called to share our testimonies and testify to the hope within us.  The farmer eats the fruit FIRST so he can adjust the soil, the water and note the sweetness or bitterness of his harvest. He is first a partaker, a follower, someone who has received firsthand and knows the benefit of the crop. He is invested in the cycle, the work, the harvest. Work the soil Timothy, water it and fight for something to grow. WHY? Because the world is hungry,….. and they are counting on what  you produce! 

 

What does God do with the fruit?   This was my question all month.

How do we fight for a victory, for the win, for the haul  of a  harvest? We know now. It’s in this chapter. We keep focused, enduring suffering, we train and then train some more, we plant  in spite of weather, hardships or cynics and …..we wait longingly and lovingly. This is war! It is time to go for the GOLD.

I’m originally from North Dakota and I remember our school year starting later in the fall so the guys (and gals) could help their dads bring in the wheat and harvest. Their  arms would be scratched up and their eyes red. They were tired and  had sore muscles but it was a priority to bring the crop in. It cost them something. No one rests until that harvest comes in. What is produced – jams, breads, pies, and much more.  Hard- working farming is a process and what keeps the community jworking together and focused. 

 

Chapter Three – Two lover comparison

Paul’s wish is that all would be lovers of God. He points out to Timothy the love that will dominate end times – people will be lovers of themselves. We are reminded in this chapter that ALL who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus WILL (not might) suffer persecution. If you are not slandered or labeled, you may not be following Jesus full tilt. You may be mentallly assenting to His Title but it is only when you actively follow that things heat up. To enter into Christ’s suffering means we step out for Him and there’s a cost to that. Paul made that statement while sitting in jail. Shackled in body – but free in spirit. Many times, God had protected and delivered him. Many times, he did not deserve it. In this final letter one would expect a miraculous deliverance. Instead the Deliverer shows up and the greater miracle is the absence of fear and PRESENCE of One greater than a lion. Definitely a game changer.

Timothy recognized that Paul was persecuted because Paul was full of the Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. His identity came from God – not his accusers or prison guards.

Fear melts when there’s  a Fire within.   Fire melts fear. More Fire, more Fire Lord.

Paul tells Timothy his source of restoration – all scripture, “that the man of God may be complete thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I know it’s the month of love and Valentines but seriously what completed Paul? It was not a sweetheart , spouse or even the taste of freedom on the outside. Paul was complete In Christ Jesus and equipped for every good work from being in Christ and His word. Married or single today – what completes you?

We recently grieved for some friends who  lost a relative. She was a mom, grandma, and great grandma. She slipped off into eternity, her race was finished, she had fought the good fight.

I only knew her thru their lives. It was impressive how much she had impacted her family and church and community. Her trophies are living  believers who carry  on her message and ministry. She fulfilled her purpose and when her life work was tallied –it caused others to praise Him. In the moment we do not realize history is being made, hell is being drained, lives are being impacted but over the course of time those lives that sacrificed, made a difference and fought their fight will never be forgotten. Timothy struggled to support Paul and risked much being his friend, not knowing that Paul’s suffering would produce much of the New Testament and forever impact the church. Important for Timothy to be mentored? Absolutely. Important to pass on leadership and godly heritage? Absolutely. Important to fight for those who come after us in spite of persecution – without a doubt.

 

Weary warrior, you have been given more than a call or message. You have been given the Spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. You have been exhorted to keep the flame burning brightly and to be a lover of God in a world that loves only themselves. You have been challenged to fight with the endurance of a solider, the discipline of an athlete and the hard work of a farmer. However, it is the last two verses of this letter that I implore you to memorize – you will need it in the days ahead:

 

“At first no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. But the LORD STOOD WITH ME and strengthened me so that the message might be preached FULLY through me and that ALL the Gentiles might hear. Oh –and I was delivered from the mouth of the lion. (Also see Psalm 31 and John 16:32). I guess lions are insignificant  if one has been in the presence of someone bigger and greater.  No need to worry about the Lion, when the Master Lion Tamer is in the house.  Oh the stories Paul must have shared with young, timid Timothy! 

 

The One who enlisted you, the One who called you –is the SAME  One that will keep, preserve, and establish you. HE STANDS WITH YOU today and every day after. You matter, your work matters and the people coming after you — need for YOU to stand and to FIGHT.

 

Loving and fighting with you, Renae Roche 2022