SEEMS TO ME: It began with Adam

When does life begin? How should it end? 

Life began with Adam.  Adam was crafted on Day 6 of creation’s story in the Bible.  God began human life and made him in His image (Genesis 1:26-17; 3:21-23).  Now, when I say Adam, I don’t just mean males.  Yes, the male gender came first, but from that male God created female.  Male and female are of the very same flesh.  God created ADAM (humankind) and Adam and Eve (human male and human female).    

Human life started with Adam.  Everyone born after Adam shares in the same breath of life and image-bearing status.  In this Adam (human), life is passed forward with the breath of God.  The breath of God is the animating force for living creatures.  A living being is dependent on this breath. The visible-created is dependent on the invisible-Creator. 

So, seems to me human life multiplies into new personhood at the point of conception.  We might more modernly say, DNA shared to form a new person.  In addition, the new person also bears God’s image because the breath of the Creator is passed forward.  

This was so when God brought forth Eve out of Adam.  Her new personhood was brought forth with the purpose fulfill the command to multiply and rule over earthly life by more human persons from the same human-life (Adam). The status of “image bearer” is present within all human life due to the fact it has nothing to do with ability, but everything to do with God’s design to rule through love. It is also true that ability can be used by humans to reveal the depths of God’s person and character. As important as that is, my point is that all human beings are equal in status as created in God’s image and have that status at conception.  

Life started with Adam, but “life” is more than consuming the necessities of bodily viability.  As Jesus once said, “life is more than food the body more than clothes” (see Luke 12:23 and Matthew 6:25).  “Life” is more than worry for physical survival or having the pleasures of earthly life. Instead, it is the giving and supporting of what lives. It is not holding on to what you have in fear, but the giving away in the hope of God’s glory. The more is about being in right loving relationships knowing and reflecting the One within whom life rests… namely Jesus.   

To thwart the multiplication of human life, is selfishness.   

To dismiss innocent human life, is neglectful.    

To ignore God’s command, is rebellion.  

Those who worry foremost about their quality of lifestyle, even the needed things of daily life, should heed Jesus words “life is more” (from the above quoted passage).  He is saying life is in Him and continuance is found in consuming His character.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end. 

Finally, human life began with Adam (here I mean the first man by name) and in Adam, all humans. The breath of life first given to Adam is present with all necessary information for physical development at inception and is passed to a new individual just as it was shared from Adam to Eve.  Therefore, the status of bearing God’s image is not an issue of partial or full physical development, but in fact, all humans are image bearers. So God’s image, I think, should be recognized as present at conception.  What follows is the developmental potential.  It seems to me to thwart God’s command to multiply and co-rule over earthly creation is a bad idea. 

BMD 

A Serious Charge

2 Timothy 4:1-22

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage– with great patience and careful instruction.  3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.  7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day– and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  9 Do your best to come to me quickly,  10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.  11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.  12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus.  13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.  14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done.  15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.  16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.  17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth.  18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.  19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.  20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.  21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers.  22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.”

Chapter four Paul states “I solemnly charge you.” Those are heavy words meaning “take this seriously.”

Timothy is to take serious that he will be judged by his preaching the message… even if it is troublesome to do so. A time would come when people caught up in the world wold not listen to God truth. I take it Paul thinks it will be in Timothy’s life (or perhaps for those Timothy teaches) when people will not listen to the true word of God.

Paul knows his days are numbered. He knows with his death others will move in to fill the void of his earthly presence. Nevertheless, Paul tells Timothy his authority is in the Word of God. He is to abide in nothing other than the Word. He is to tell others to do the same.

Therefore, those who seek a pleasure filled lifestyle will follow false teachings. Those that long for the appearing of Jesus will follow God’s Word as passed on to all through the apostles such as Paul.

What about you?

BMD

Just Say No to Straying Away

2 Timothy 3:1 – 17

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,  4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–  5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.  6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires,  7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.  8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth– men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected.  9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.  10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance,  11 persecutions, sufferings– what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.  12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,  13 while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.  14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,  15 and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

The Apostle Paul begins by referencing “the last days.”  This begs the question… Does Paul expect Timothy to be someone living under the opposition spoke of in Scripture?  It is quite possible.  Paul was always expecting Christ to return even though he counseled wisdom in such matters (1 and 2 Thessalonians). 

Paul is speaking to Timothy and telling him what to look for in the world while he is waiting for Jesus to return (“the last days”).  The list of characteristics in verses 2-7 is quite a list!  He is to watch for those who claim to follow God, but live differently than he was shown.  He will be mixing with these folks and he should be aware.  Paul wants Timothy to know what is true and teach it.  More importantly… Paul wants Timothy to live his faith and to endure whatever opposition comes because of his faith in Christ.

Timothy in these verses is given details by how to structure his way of life and what to look for of those that will stray.  Others may not “stray” so much as they are simply evil and will have influence with people around them.

Paul emphasizes leaning into godly living during persecution.

The Apostle Paul seems to lump together evil folks, charlatans (those who appear as believers but are not), and deceivers (those who appear as believers, but are not on purpose).  In the face of these types of folks, Paul tells Timothy to stick to the Word.  If Timothy sticks to the Word and what he has learned thus far, then in the midst of hard persecution he will endure.

Deceivers, Paul states, want to be deceived themselves in order to hold on to their pleasures.  Thus, their hearts and minds are dangerous. Though they appear religious, they in fact want pleasures and seek to fill their desires.  They are no different than Adam and Eve who ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  What was good in their eye is what they were after… same with these folks.  They want to be blessed, yet they don’t listen to God.

So, such people find teachers that say what they want to hear.  Those deceiving teachers say they can have what their eye desires rather than what God says is good.  I might add God, says He is good.  We reflect God through good works as we acknowledge Him in our daily action.  Paul tells us to aim our actions based on Scripture.

In the end, he tells Timothy to hold fast to the word of God.  Holding fast to the Scriptures is the one trustworthy means of living life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  By way of the word, Timothy can guide and direct himself and others.  He can be rebuked by God and honor God and the same goes for people around him.  He can help others and himself conform to the living way of King Jesus.

BMD

Farmers for Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-7 

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs– he wants to please his commanding officer.  5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.  6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

There are two applications for this particular verse about farmers and crops.  The first is an application about disciples of Jesus and the expectations of being a good disciple.  The other application has to do with people who are working full-time for the Gospel and how they should be paid.  As a full-time evangelist, this makes sense for Paul and Timothy to talk about.  It is the first application that we are focusing on today.

The key word in this verse is the word “hardworking.”  I hope it makes sense that only a farmer who works the land, toils the field, keeps equipment working is a farmer that has a crop to harvest.  The principle is that hard work in the ground produces a harvest.  We see this principle not just here, but in other passages as well. 

Genesis 3:17-19 says, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”  Since sin entered into the world, farming is a hard task.  The ground does not always cooperate.  The weather is not always conducive to growing.  Most of the time hard work brings harvest.

Proverbs 20:4 says, “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.”  Again, the Bible tells us that planning, working the ground, and planting seeds produces a crop.  In Proverbs, King Solomon points out that if you do nothing, you get nothing.  That principle is true in many aspects of life:

Finance: A person that invests nothing gets a goose egg and not a nest egg.

Family: A family that ignores each other ends up being strangers.

Work: A person who does not work diligently will be fired and have no job.

Sports: A person who does not practice will lose every game or be cut from the team.

Diet: A person who eats what they want and does not exercise will lose no weight.

Farming: A farmer who does nothing with the land will go out at harvest time and find empty fields.

Being a Christian is not just floating through life with God working for us. Rather, it is us working for God.  It is possible to have the attitude, “I’ve become a Christian in order to get God to bless me, and work for me. If he doesn’t do it the way I want, I’m out.”  That is the very attitude the Apostle Paul is warning against.  Being a Christian takes a lifetime of faithfulness.  A Christian is called upon to reprogram the computers of our mind to think differently than the world. That is not accomplished easily. It takes hours of reading the Bible and studying the Bible, until you see life the way God sees it.

TMB

Athletes for Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-7 

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs– he wants to please his commanding officer.  5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.  6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

CHRISTIANS ARE COMMITTED TO SELF-DISCIPLINE

            In the Apostle Paul’s day, athletes were highly respected.  In fact, in the writings of Paul in the New Testament, he makes references to athletes or sports more than twenty times.  In Paul’s writings overall, he uses the athlete to highlight self-control and determination.  When he thinks of perseverance, he thinks of an athlete.

            In verse 5, Paul says that an athlete cannot receive victory unless they follow the rules.  What is he talking about?  In Paul’s day, before athletic games, there were many rules and oaths athletes would adhere to.  Not following rules means no competing.  That is why in 1 Corinthians 9:27 Paul says, “No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”  An athlete had to be self-disciplined or they could not even compete for the prize.

            The Apostle Paul knows that the Christian life is one that requires faith, but also requires us to be self-disciplined and self-controlled.  Self can definitely get in the way of being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.  Self can get in the way of us faithfully living for Jesus Christ.

Paul says elsewhere in 2 Timothy: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (1:7).

Paul tells the Thessalonians: “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled” (1 Thessalonians 5:6).

Paul tells Titus: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” (Titus 2:11-12).

In verse 5 of this chapter and in many of his other letters, the Apostle Paul set’s up the truth that being a disciple of Jesus Christ takes self-discipline, self-control, and determination to be successful and deeply faithful.

TMB

Soldiers for Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-7 

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.  3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs– he wants to please his commanding officer.  5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.  6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.  7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

2 Timothy 2:1-7 is a powerful passage about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.  The Apostle Paul wants to impress on Timothy how important following Jesus Christ really is.  Paul wants to give Timothy words to anchor his soul when Paul is gone from this life.  In this passage, we are given three pictures of what it looks like to be a disciple of Jesus.  The Apostle Paul pictures for us the solider, the athlete, and the farmer. 

Paul mentions two things about soldiers that relate very well to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

SOLDIERS ENDURE HARDSHIP

Paul tells Timothy that part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is enduring hardship.  For the Apostle Paul, he assumes that following Jesus will include hardship.  He thinks and believes that this is a “given” for hardship to come spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  How do I know that?  Paul writes about it elsewhere.

Romans 8:35-37 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

1 Thessalonians 2:8-9 says, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.  9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.”

Over and over again Paul links spiritual struggle, emotional attack, struggles mentally, various woes, and physical hardship with being a real follower of Jesus.  Keep in mind Paul is only echoing what Jesus taught in Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:44, Luke 21:12, and John 15:18-20.

Why is hardship assumed when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ? 

Following Jesus is the narrow road and most people take the wide road.

Following Jesus is walking in the light in the midst of a world that wants to be dark and stay dark.

Following Jesus is stepping holy steps forward in an unholy world that only goes backwards.

Following Jesus is submission to God-rule instead of self-rule.

SOLDIERS PLEASE THE COMMANDER

Paul tells Timothy that part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is pleasing the commander.  What pleases the commanding officer?  Following orders.  Taking initiative.  Upholding the values of a soldier.  Achieving victory.  I can summarize all of that in my own mind by saying what pleases the commander in an army is the soldier being the best soldier they can possibly be.

As I was thinking about this, I wondered… what pleases my commander?  What pleases God?  What pleases my King of King and Lord of Lords?  I looked up the word “pleases” “pleased” and “pleasing” in the Bible and found verses that directly relate to what pleases God.  There are some verses that say “do what pleases God,” but those verses do not answer my question exactly because I want to know directly what pleases God!  Are there verses in the Bible that say what direct thing, actions, or attitudes God is pleased with?  I am sure you and I can agree that God is pleased with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control when it comes from His people… but is there something specific?  Is there something specific the Bible says pleases God our Commander? 

There are four things actually that the Bible states directly that God is pleased with.  May I submit to you this morning that if God is pleased with these actions and attitudes, you and I as soldiers under His command need to be all over these things.  This is what should mark a disciple.

First, God is pleased when children obey their parents.  Colossians 3:20 says, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”  Children that obey parents and honor them are people who are doing what the Bible directly states pleases God.  God has set up an order in the family in terms of obedience in the family: God, Parents, then Children.  When God’s plan for the family is followed, God is pleased.

Second, God is pleased with integrity.  1 Chronicles 29:17 King David says, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.”  Integrity is doing what is right when it hurts and when no one is looking.  Integrity is   God is pleased when truthfulness permeates all parts of our being.  When we are people of integrity, God is pleased.

Third, God is pleased when we pray to Him.  Proverbs 15:8 says, “The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him” and 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone– 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior.”  Prayer from His people pleases Him.  Communication about our hearts, our lives, and our desires pleases Him.  Praying for our country and leaders pleases Him.  Praying so that we live in peace, godliness, and holiness pleases Him. 

Fourth, God is pleased when we do good and share with others.  I know that sounds a little bit like a kindergarten lesson, but you know what they say, “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten.”  Hebrews 13:16 says, “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  God is pleased when we do good and put others first in our lives.  It pleases Him when we sacrifice and put others first.  When we are people who sacrificially love others, God is pleased. 

Endurance for Christ

2 Timothy 2:1-26

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. 8 Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, 9 forwhich I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. 11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctlyhandles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. 21 If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 22 Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

The Apostle Paul continues his encouragement for Timothy. He loves Timothy. He has poured many hours into Timothy. He wants the best for this young man and sees hardship on the horizon for him. So in chapter 1 he encourages him to remember the eternal life gifted to him through Jesus Christ. He then speaks about endurance in chapter 2.

Timothy endures so that Jesus Christ is declared as risen and therefore is the defeater of sin and death. Jesus offers salvation. The preaching of Jesus’ Gospel offers salvation. The preaching of God’s Word brings salvation. In 2 Timothy 1:12 Paul says he endures because of the Gospel. He states the same reasons here again. Paul reminds the reader (first Timothy and then us) that though the person preaching the Gospel may be imprisoned, the message will not be imprisoned. Though the person preaching might suffer hardship, the message will never suffer defeat.

The reason is that Christ is the message!

The most basic message of Paul: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8, NIV1984).

Paul adds then the trustworthy saying of verse 11-13. Perhaps it was an early church song or poetry written by believers:

“If we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us.If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself” (NET).

The saying is in line with how the letter to Timothy began in chapter 1. Remember, 1:9 states that before the ages began the faithful God assured the continuation of life for humanity by way of His steadfast nature. God is the source of life. This is the story told in the gospels directing us to Jesus Christ… the way of eternal life. This means that our lives should be lived within the context of Jesus Christ if we want to continue to live. We will only continue to live if we have faith in Jesus and partake in the life He gives. We must live faithfully reflecting God’s glorious nature or we will fade away. This means we are to be vessels that rid ourselves of sin and fill ourselves with Christ (not us, but He does this in us).

We fill up with Him by building ourselves morally.

We fill up with Him by prizing submission over personal gain.

We fill up with Him by cherishing blessing over being blessed.

All of this is given to God’s chosen people.Questions to Ponder:What minor things of this life distract us from eternal life with God? (check out verses 16-26)

Look over chapter 2…

What are the characteristics or Godly traits we should move towards?

List them.

How can I endure hardship and remain strong in faith?

BMD

A Bit About Immortality

2 Timothy 1:1-18    

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,  2 To Timothy, my dear son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.  4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.  6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.  8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,  9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life– not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,  10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher.  12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.  13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you– guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.  16 May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.  17 On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me.  18 May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus. 

The Apostle Paul is writing to his “son” in faith (meaning Paul led him to Christ) and wants to impart wisdom to him that will carry him through some of the situations he will face.  Paul does not talk about theology or points of knowledge that are useless, but rather are based on things that give Timothy confidence in his faith and in his work.  In verse 6, the reminder is not theoretical, but a practical command to “fan the flame” of the faith and gifts God has given Timothy.  Paul does not want his fire (desire or intensity) to wane for Christ. 

There is a theological gem found in verses 9-11.  Paul explains to Timothy (or more probably reminds Timothy of the truths he already knows) that Jesus Christ existed before time and all things came from Him.  Jesus has always acted in a life-giving manner.  In fact, the Gospel of John says the same things poetically, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was with God in the beginning.  3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:1-3, NIV1984).   

The life giving nature of Jesus did not stop once He became a human being.  When God became Jesus of Nazareth of the Scriptures, He continued to provide life.  In fact, He became the only way of life in God.  In perspective, God the Father brought life to humanity.  Jesus the Son brought immortality to humanity.   

God Himself came and successfully lived as a human being. Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, lived as a human and revealed the means for “continuance” (eternal life) by imaging God in the flesh, So, showing His divine nature to humanity. He infused humanity with His divine nature forever and in so doing condemned sin and defeated death. Jesus was a human found to be without sin. Therefore, under His Lordship, He has brought immortal life to us (the Apostle John calls it ‘light’ in John 1:4). Through the risen Christ immortality is possible… but only in Him.

The word “immortality” (verse 10) (Greek – ‘aphtharsia’) is only used five times in the New Testament. When   used, it is always about what God possesses and/or what Christ possesses.  As in 1 Corinthians 15, immortality is shared with those that are in submission to Christ.  We cannot find where ‘aphtharsia’ is shared with freewill creatures not in submission to Christ.  Accordingly, immortality is His alone to share with whom He judges worthy.   

The worthy are repentant. 

The worthy are contrite souls following the Gospel. 

The worthy are those who believe the Gospel of Christ. 

Romans 2 reminds us who those are that are assured of having eternal life… those who have faith in Christ.  Faith in Christ is the condition.  Romans 2:5-7 says, “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  6 God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”  7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life” (NIV1984).   

Timothy is following in Paul’s footsteps in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ that gives eternal life.  This has led to suffering for the Apostle Paul (verse 12).  It will lead to suffering for Timothy as well so he needs to be firm in the “pattern of sound words” he’s learned so he will persevere.  The end result of his preaching well and remaining in faith is eternal life in God. 

It is most definitely the same for us. 

BMD

Questions to Ponder: 

God is the source of all life and through Jesus Christ we can have eternal life.  Based on this theological fact, how much should we trust in God’s way of living? 

What does it look like for you to increase your level of belief in the Gospel to ensure you follow proper patterns of faith you have been taught? 

What does “God gives me eternal life” mean when daily living is hard or tedious or painful? 

How do you live (what actions) show that you are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? 

Prayers from Some Dead People

Prayers from “Orthodox Daily Prayers” by Anonymous (public domain)

As you read through these brief prayers below, the idea is not to just copy them. You could, but I believe they would be hollow prayers. Don’t copy them because words like “thee,” “thou,” “givest,” and “woe” occur and most of us don’t speak that way. We should speak to God in the manner we normally speak and not make up some language to speak to God.

Please do read these prayers and see what sorts of things you should be praying about and how we can address God. Look for the heart behind what is prayed! Learn to pray by looking at the prayers of others… this is acceptable! No one was born knowing how to pray (except maybe John the Baptist, Luke 1:15) and so the rest of us need to observe, learn, practice, do, and improve in our prayer lives. After the prayers, there are some questions to ponder to help you process the prayers.

Some prayers for your consideration:

“1st Prayer, by St. Macarius the Great. O God, cleanse me a sinner, for I have done nothing good before Thee. Deliver me from the evil one, and may Thy will be in me, that I might open my unworthy lips without condemnation and praise Thy holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

“3rd Prayer, by St. Macarius the Great. Having risen from sleep, I run to Thee, O Master, for Thou lovest mankind, and I rush to accomplish Thy work. Help me, I pray Thee, at all times and in all things. Deliver me from every evil thing of this world and from works of the devil. Save me, and lead me into Thine eternal Kingdom. Thou art my Maker, The Provider and Giver of everything good. All my hope is in Thee and I glorify Thee, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

“7th Prayer, also by St. Basil. We bless Thee, most high God and Lord of mercies, Who ever doest great and unfathomable things for us—glorious and awesome things without number. Thou givest us sleep for the repose of our frailty, relieving the labors of our over-burdened flesh. We thank Thee for not destroying us in our lawlessness. Instead, Thou hast shown Thy usual love for mankind, and raised us, as we lay in despair, to glorify Thy Reign. Therefore, we implore Thy boundless goodness: enlighten our thoughts and eyes, and awaken our minds from the heavy sleep of laziness. Open our lips and fill them with Thy praise, that we may unwaveringly hymn and confess Thee, the God glorified in all and by all, Father without beginning, with Thine only-begotten Son and Thine all-holy, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.”

“O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will. At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will. Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee. Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone. O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.”

“Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me! O woe is me, a sinner! I am the most wretched of men! There is no repentance in me! Grant me tears, Lord, that I may weep bitterly over my deeds.”

QUESTIONS TO PONDER

What words or phrases jumped out at you as important in the prayers?

What are the emotions expressed in the prayers and how was that done?

Is there something you should add in your times of prayer based on these example prayers?

Is there something you should subtract in your times of prayer based on these example prayers?

How do these prayers address God or describe Jesus and how can you add these thoughts humbly in your own prayers?

What do you still want to understand about prayer and when will you look up a proper resource to help you?