Give Attention to Reading

Read through the Bible with friends

2 Timothy 4-Titus 1: I Need the Support of God and Men

One of my all time favorite stories is of a little boy who cried out in the middle of a stormy night. His mother came to check on him and he pleaded with her to stay in the bed with him for comfort. 

“Oh, honey, you know I need to sleep with Daddy.”

“But, Mommy, I’m scared.”

“There’s no need to be scared, sweetheart. You know that God is here with you.”

“Yeah, I know, but sometimes I need someone with skin on.”

 

That describes me. I know God is with me, but I also need someone with skin on. Sometimes I feel a bit unspiritual for saying that. But today I read II Timothy 4:9-18. In the past, I simply noticed Paul’s great faith in God. Even though everyone abandoned him, God was still with him and God would deliver him. Clearly, Paul had a great faith in God.

However, in this reading I noticed something else. Even with this great faith in the presence and deliverance from God, Paul was asking Timothy to hurry up and come to him and bring John Mark because all these people had been abandoning him. 

Do you see it? Paul had great faith in God. He was able to endure his imprisonment alone because he knew God was with him. But he also needed someone with skin on. He needed the encouragement that came from like-minded people who could edify and uplift him. In fact, I think we see that relying on God means relying on His people.

The take away for me is keep praying, keep relying on God. At the same time, keep bringing brethren around me who will also encourage and strengthen. It’s okay to need and want someone with skin on.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

Advertisements

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Encouragement, Friends, II Timothy, Relationships, relying on God | , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Timothy 6-2 Timothy 1: Timothy’s Fears Comfort Me

Ancient Rendering of Paul and Timothy

Ancient Rendering of Paul and Timothy

 

 

II Timothy 1 is actually a great comfort to me. 

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. However, in this chapter it appears to me that Timothy has been having some struggles. He has been dealing with some fears regarding doing his work as an evangelist. Paul is lifting him up and encouraging him to stay on track.

Paul lets Timothy know about how much he has prayed for Timothy. He reminds him of his legacy of faith. More than that, instead of shaming Timothy for any seeking lack of faith, Paul affirms he knows the faith really is there. Timothy just needs to rely on it. He reminds Timothy of the miraculous gift of the Spirit he has through the laying on of Paul’s hands. That is, Timothy is not alone but the Spirit is working through him therefore he does not have a spirit of fear but a Spirit of power, love and self-control. He reminds Timothy that there is no need to be ashamed of the suffering of the Lord or of Paul. This suffering is no reason to think Timothy has ended up on the wrong side. Rather, he is on the winning side and needs to join in the suffering because despite all the suffering, Jesus Christ can be trusted with what Timothy and Paul committed to Him, that is, their souls.

This gets into II Timothy 2, but Paul reminds Timothy of the grace that is in Jesus.

Of course, all this information is really good. However, what comforts me the most is knowing I’m not alone. Even a great evangelist like Timothy had times of struggle. He had times when he needed to be provoked to love and good deeds by the likes of Paul. How easy it is for me to hit moments of despair because I don’t have a 24/7/365 powerful motivation to do what is right and do my work. Sometimes I have fears and struggles with preaching the truth, talking to others about the gospel and just generally doing the work of the Lord.

Don’t misunderstand, this chapter doesn’t give me permission to wallow in that. Rather, it simply lets me know that I’m not a loser because I have struggles. Rather, I’m like every other person who works in God’s kingdom. We all need encouragement at times. We all need to be stimulated, stirred up, spurred on and provoked. I may have struggles, but those struggles don’t mean I’m lost. They just mean I’m still living on earth. 

Therefore, this passage has a twofold help for me. First, I see that Timothy went through what I go through and I don’t have to feel alone. Second, I can also read Paul’s encouragement and be provoked to love and good deeds myself.

Hope this encourages you as well.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Encouragement, Evangelism, II Timothy, perseverance | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

1 Thessalonians 3-4: Comfort One Another with These Words

There were a couple of things in today’s reading that stood out, but how can I bypass these chapters without following the command at the end of them to comfort and encourage you with these words:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to me the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

I Thessalonians 4:13-17 (ESV)

There are two things that comfort me in this passage. 

1. If we live by faith, we can die by faith.

We do not have to face death with fear. We believe Jesus died and was resurrected, we know we will be as well. We know death is not an end, but merely a transition. We are not abandoned by Jesus when we die. Rather, we go to be with Him and will always be with him. What a comfort.

2. There is more than this life.

Some days life is just frustrating. I wonder why anyone would remotely want to keep on dealing with it. The reason…there is more to life than this life. There is something worth striving for when this life is over. I don’t want to give up because a victory is coming and I want to be on the winning side when it happens. 

Be comforted. Life is tough, but the goal waiting for us is worth everything we go through. Death may be hard, but for us it is a victory.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

October 8, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Death, Encouragement, I Thessalonians, resurrection | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 2-3: Comforting the Penitent

“For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

–II Corinthians 2:6-7 (ESV)

As best I can tell (and I think this is pretty consistently considered to be the case), Paul is referring to the man mentioned back in I Corinthians 5:1 who had been committing sexual immorality with his step-mother. I think most of us would admit that was a pretty vile thing going on there. Back when Paul wrote his first letter, the Corinthians were acting like it was not a big deal. He rebuked them and told them to discipline the man that he might have shame and repent. Apparently he did. 

However, as Paul writes his second letter, the Corinthians had gone to the opposite extreme. They now had a penitent man and they would not accept him back. Paul had to rebuke them again. They needed to forgive him and more than forgive him, they needed to comfort him. This, of course, demonstrated the true nature of his penitence. He needed comforting. He was mourning over his sin now. 

I know I have had to let my brothers and sisters know about my sins. Up to the moment I confessed, I feared rejection and isolation. But my brothers and sisters did not reject. I was mourning and fearful. They embraced me, drew me in closer and then lifted me up. What a wonderful experience that was. I can hardly imagine how awful it would have been if I had tried to overcome sin while believing my brothers and sisters hated me. I would likely have given up. Instead, they loved me and that made all the difference.

Now I have to remember that when I see others who are penitent and confessing. They may have committed extremely vile sins, sins at which even the Gentiles would blanch. But when my brothers or sisters repent, I should not hold them at arms length. I do not put them on trial to see if their penitence is real or if it will stick. I need to forgive. I need to comfort. I need to embrace, lift up and help forward. I need to see them as my equals in Christ, not my underlings because their sin has merely been admitted more recently than my own.

Certainly, we must not coddle sin. We must not let it slip in unnoticed. But at the same time, we must not ignore the penitent. Isn’t that all of us?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Comfort, Encouragement, forgiveness, II Corinthians, Judging, Love | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment