SUNDAY'S COMIN: Timothy was a young pastor, and these two letters bearing his name that we've been reading comprise the advice Paul, who at this point is near the end of his life and career, has provided. Today there's no shortage of advisory books for pastors written by the full gamut of authors, some of whom have had amazingly successful churches, other who never got much traction. While many of the ideas presented in these tens of thousands of pages of books are good, none of them can surpass the brilliant simplicity of what Paul commands Pastor Timothy to do in v2: Preach the Word, whether people want to hear it or not.
JUST TELL ME WHAT I WANT TO HEAR: We're a deeply independent type of people, which is often a really good thing. But one danger of being independent is that we develop what is referred to as a 'confirmation bias.' That means we believe and accept things that fit our preconceived notions, and reject things that don't. This becomes a big problem when we read the Bible with a confirmation bias. Our 'itching ears (v3)' love to hear the parts of the Bible that fit our preferences, but reject or ignore the parts that don't.
Make sure you don't fall in that trap. Once again, we're reminded why we need to read all of God's Word in chapter sized chunks, so that we can see how our favorite verses fit into the larger message. Follow the advice that Paul gives to Pastor Timothy: "keep your head in all situations... (v5)" Let God's Word guide your understanding instead of trying to guide God's Word to fit your understanding.
FINISH WELL: The way Paul summarizes his ministry is a very familiar verse:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (v7).
Most of you are not likely near the end of your life or work. But if you keep going on the track you're on now, will you be able to say the same thing when you get near the end?
REAL PEOPLE: Sometimes it seems that Biblical characters like Paul and Timothy are just that: characters in a story who lived a long time ago in a far off place. This is especially the case when we read the names of other people they interacted with, because so often their names are complex and hard to pronounce, as they are in the final passage of this chapter. But these are real people who lived real lives. They had character strengths and flaws, and some held strong to their faith while others went after worldly pursuits. These final paragraphs remind us that we're not the only people who've struggled with doctrine, faced temptation, underwent hardship (it's hard to call our trials 'hard' compared to theirs!), and watched friends fall away from faith. Yet God was faithful to Paul & Pastor Timothy, and He'll be faithful to you as well.
Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God & Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead and who are bringing their Kingdom (v1)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for strength to keep your head, endure hardship and to do the work God has called you to do (v5)
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: