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

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

Hebrews 9-10: 4 Keys about Stirring Up One Another

Many churches hear a lot about Hebrews 10:25. They are told repeatedly how important it is to attend the assemblies of the congregation. Sadly, in our haste to convince Christians they should attend assemblies (which they should) we often miss Hebrews 10:24

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (ESV).

Notice four aspects of this verse.

1. Our goal is love and good works.

I Timothy 1:5 says the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is what we are striving for in everything we do. We want to produce love in ourselves and in others. But this love is not some mystical, ethereal vapor of emotion. It is an active love that is meted out on a practical level by the good deeds we do every day. Ephesians 2:10 says God created us to walk in good deeds. Titus 2:14 says Jesus redeemed us so we could be a people zealous for good deeds. Christ’s goal for us was not merely our forgiveness. That was not the end of His work. Rather, forgiveness is the means to the end. We are forgiven of our bad deeds so we may be set free to perform good ones.

2. We must stir up one another to love and good deeds.

This word picture blows my mind. In the NASB, the word stimulate is used. That one doesn’t seem quite as harsh. But I always get a picture of an electric prod stimulating a muscle. The ESV and NKJV say stir up. Usually, when we hear that phrase, we mean someone is causing trouble. The KJV says provoke. That word usually means to make someone angry. The NIV says to spur on. That provides a picture of someone taking a sharp object and jabbing into the flank of a horse so it will move faster.

These word pictures usually represent something we would say is negative. Here, they are used as a positive. We are supposed to stimulate, provoke, stir up, spur on each other so we can all love and do good deeds. It is the image of one Christian telling another, “I am not going to sit idly by and just let you be a loser, half-hearted Christian.” 

3. We must consider how to stimulate one another.

Before we just jump on someone and start prodding them, we need to consider how to stimulate each other. Take a step back and consider the person, their place in their spiritual walk, their personality, their gifts. Then based on that figure out the best way to stimulate them. Don’t just jump up in their face; stop and think it through first. Titus 2:14 provides three options for stimulus (though you can certainly turn to other passages and find more).

Speak–Sometimes we stimulate others by merely talking to them and sharing with them the truths of God.

Reprove–Sometimes we need to expose error in someone’s life in order to spur them on to the narrow path of God’s kingdom and righteousness.

Exhort–Sometimes we need to catch people doing things right and encourage them to keep it up.

No doubt there is also a great example of stimulus in Titus 2:7. We should be models of good behavior, exemplifying what it means to love and do good things.

4. We must stir up one another.

This doesn’t say preachers must stir others up. It doesn’t say pastors must stir others up. It doesn’t say deacons must stir others up. It doesn’t say teachers must stir others up. It says we must stir one another up. This is our job because we are Christians. 

This means two things. First, I must be stirring others up. Second, I must be willing to let others stir me up. That is contrary to our nature. Usually, we want others to leave well enough alone. If they start trying to hold us accountable, we get angry. We need to be humble enough to let others speak to us, reprove us and exhort us. Otherwise we will grow weary in doing good.

Let’s remember to stir up someone today and let’s find someone who can stir us up to love and good deeds.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Encouragement, Friends, Hebrews, Love, Relationships, Responsibility | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Acts 3-4: They Went to Their Friends

Why were Peter and John able to take such abysmal treatment from their Jewish opponents? How were they able to take threats and beatings but then keep on teaching? 

Obviously, they had amazing faith in Jesus. However, I want to comment on another benefit they had going for them. We can read it in Acts 4:23.

“When they were released, the went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them” (ESV).

When Peter and John faced their enemies, they had friends upon whom they could rely. They could go back to others who would encourage them, praise them and lift them up. Sadly, all too often, the reason we back off from boldly proclaiming the Gospel is because the friends we most rely on for support are the very ones we are afraid will abandon us if we teach the Gospel.

Obviously, we have to make friends with those who aren’t Christians, salt does no good if it never comes in contact with the unsalted. However, the friends on whom we rely the most had better be friends that will encourage us in what is right when the times are tough. Otherwise, we might end up caving along with our friends. We must choose our best friends carefully. Our souls will depend on it.

ELC

July 17, 2008 Posted by | Acts, Christian Living, Friends | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment