Apostles Get Lonely, Too

Episode 31

II Timothy

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Orlando MassacreOk, take a breath. How in the world are you?  This is the second week in a row that I’m not recording until Wednesday. Sometimes, the urgent simply usurps the important. Our time together is one of my favorite parts of the week and I really look forward to it, but recently there have simply been so many pop up showers, as it were, that my schedule is way off. On a side note, I wish there were some LITERAL pop up showers around here.  It is beyond dry.  Our little farm would be a great location for a remake of The Grapes of Wrath.  But I digress.

We’re going to look at Paul’s second letter to Timothy today, but before we go there, I want to say something about the terror attack in Orlando early Monday morning. First, it was just plain awful.  It was a despicable act and I grieve for the families of the victims and for the survivors who will be scarred for a long time, maybe for life.

The second thing is, I am angry at the press and politicians who were politicizing the deed before we even knew all the facts. Heck, before we knew half the facts. And I’m not singling out left or right, both were way out of line.  Sadly, that’s become the norm.  One of the most stupid things I heard was a debate on whether it was an act of terror or a mass shooting or a hate crime.  Really?  Is there such thing as a terrorist attack that ISN’T a hate crime?  Is there a mass shooting that isn’t an act of terror?  Oh, my gosh.   Somebody slap me.

The other thing I want to say is, here in the USA, we no longer listen to other arguments.  Listening is a lost art.  We no longer discuss or logically debate, we spew. We name call.  It makes me sad to watch the devolution of humanity.

I want to encourage the Christ Followers who listen to this show to commit to taking a different road.  Anybody remember WWJD?  There were books and studies, a movie and even bracelets. Apparently it was just a fad. I urge you to take a minute and pray before you hit send on Facebook or Twitter. Does your comment glorify God? Does is promote unity or solutions or will it simply add fuel and oxygen to a fire that is burning down our country. Will readers or listeners think more highly of Jesus as a result of your rant?  I’m begging. I’m pleading for wisdom and guidance during a difficult era here in America. I’m not saying don’t enter the fray, merely to do as Jesus said, ‘Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.’

Ok, rant over. Please pray about what I just said.  If you’d like to share your own thoughts, email me or use the comments section on the show notes.  I really want to hear from you.

Alright, let’s get to II Timothy.  There is a term from my youth about significant personal Bible passages that we used to call, “Life Verses”. II Timothy has several of them for me. I can’t describe how much this little letter has meant to me over the years. It strikes me as the most passionate, heartfelt plea in all the new Testament.

These 4 chapters are the last words of Paul recorded in the Bible. You can almost hear the exhaustion and loneliness dripping from every thought. Paul is in prison and he is aware that his days are numbered. He’s been locked away for a while now. Most of his companions have left him. He is extremely lonely.  Word has reached him of people abandoning the faith, of false teachers and of false congregations.  Because of his incarceration, he is unable to confront, correct or encourage the Churches, so he is looking to protégés like Timothy to intercede in his place.   He knows it’s going to be difficult, so he encourages Timothy along the way.

Let’s look at some of the key passages. I admit that I will pay special attention to my Life Verses in this letter.

The book is oozing with personal thoughts and feelings. I love Chapter 1 verses 3 and 4 in the Good News Bible.  “I thank [God] as I remember you always in my prayers night and day.

2Ti 1:4  I remember your tears, and I want to see you very much, so that I may be filled with joy.

Can you feel the friendship? The Pain, The love?  Have you been there? I sure have.

10:00 As Paul begins to conclude the first chapter, he begins to encourage Timothy to stay strong in the face of so many others abandoning the Faith. In the midst of that he utters one of those life verses I keep talking about.  That’s verse 12.

Paul says that despite all the hardships and heartaches, “I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I’ve committed unto Him against that day. “

Sometime, when you read through Paul’s letters, pay close attention to all the remarks he makes about standing firm and trusting God when the days are dark and the times are hard.  It’s so much like many of the Psalms David wrote.

Chapter 2 reads like a continuation of First Timothy. It is dedicated to urging Timothy to stand firm in a shifting world.  I remember telling my son repeatedly during his school days when he would tell me how frustrating it was dealing with things like peer pressure.  There were times he felt like an island. I would tell him, “Doug, be right. Do right. Even when everything around you is wrong. You are not and island, you are a light.”

Paul’s encouragement contains another of my life verses, In 2:15 he writes: ‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of Truth.’

That advice is my heart’s desire. I crave hearing the words, “Well done good and faithful servant.” As a Bible teacher, there is an immense responsibility to handle the scripture wisely. I never take that lightly. Eternity is at stake.

Chapter 3 reminds me very much of II Thessalonians 2 where Paul speaks of the great apostasy that usher in the last days.  In II Timothy 3: he goes into detail about it. We don’t have time today to spend on it, but go back and read it. It is heartbreaking and scary, especially since it truly reads like Paul wrote it this morning.

After describing the abandonment of God’s truth, Paul reminds Timothy to stand in the truth regardless of it’s popularity. He finishes chapter 3 with one of the strongest endorsements of the Bible ever given. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

2Ti 3:17  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Bible is not man made it’s from the breath of God. BTW, the word breath is the same word as Spirit, as in Holy Spirit. God’s word is, as it were, the printed version of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. The Scripture is not to be taken lightly or treated as a menu.

Paul begins Chapter 4 with another of my life verses. It is not possible for me to read this without getting choked up  17;59

2Ti 4:1  I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:

2Ti 4:2  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

2Ti 4:3  For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

2Ti 4:4  and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

2Ti 4:5  As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

From the time I was a boy, I have heard those words ringing in my ears as a personal charge to me.  I don’t know why God called me, but I am humbled and honored that He did. Being His mouthpiece has brought me grief without measure and joy unspeakable.

Paul doesn’t promise Timothy and easy road, quite the opposite. The day is coming, and I believe it’s at hand, when the great apostasy is upon us and those who stand for God will feel like we’re spitting into the wind. But Paul says, As for you always be sober minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

It’s the very same message as given to Joshua. Be strong and courageous.

Starting in verse 6 of chapter 4, we have one of the most heartbreaking and lonely things I’ve ever read.

Paul says, ‘My time is almost up. Please come see me. Please come soon. I’m so lonely. Everyone except Luke has left me. Please come before winter and bring my coat. Bring my books. And please bring Mark. I miss him. He’s such a great partner.

Isn’t that remarkable? This is the same Mark with whom Paul was so frustrated that it led to a breaking of his partnership with Barnabas. But somewhere along the way, God did a work in both Mark and Paul. Now, the Apostle wants Mark by his side.

Grace is truly amazing.

21:54I am so happy the letter ends this way.  Not because Paul is lonely, but because his loneliness can best be eased by companionship with the two young protoges from his earlier journeys. Remember back in I Timothy when I contrasted Mark and Timothy from their time travelling with Paul. Now, at the end, Paul wants them both.

Some of our relationships are strong to the core, but even a broken one can be restored. Here we have the Prodigal Son and the other brother, in harmony. That’s the Gospel in a nutshell. God calls and He heals all that’s broken by sin. And I am living proof of His Grace and His mercy.

 

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