Jesus, our High Priest

Hebrews 5

“For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.” Hebrews 5:1

When the priesthood was established the high priest was chosen from among men, the high priest acted on behalf of man to offer gifts and sacrifices to God for the sins of man. But the high priest was just a man yet and still. 

“He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people.” Hebrews 5:2-3

The high priest would not only offer sacrifices on behalf of men, he offered sacrifices for his own sins as well. The high priest could identify with the people he represented simply because he had his own weaknesses to contend with. He was just a man. 

“And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.” Hebrews 5:4

The high priest was appointed by God, not by man. Back in the old testament he was born into the lineage. The high priest would come from the lineage of Levi. But much the same way today he was appointed by God. Pastors have a calling on their life. A lot of the pastors I know would never say, “I grew up wanting to be a preacher”. In fact many of them have the story of the last thing I wanted to do was to be a preacher. But there is a calling that they can’t deny. 

“So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’” Hebrews 5:5

Jesus was also appointed by God to become a high priest. Jesus became flesh and walked this earth so that when He became our high priest He would also identify with our weaknesses much in the same way that the high priest in the old testament could identify with the people because he too had weaknesses. 

“In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 5:7-10

Jesus cried in anticipation of what was about to happen to him. He cried out to God, who could have said ok nevermind, we won’t do it this way. But Jesus suffered for us. He felt every whip, he felt the nails go into his hands and feet. He not only is our high priest, he is the sacrificial lamb. He is fully man and fully God all at the same time. Therefore he is our ETERNAL high priest called by God! 

The last few verses of this chapter warn us against spiritual immaturity. 

“About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:11-14

Notice here that the audience of Hebrews had become dull of hearing. They were not learning, they were simply sticking with the basic principles of christianity. Let’s be careful to always be sure that we are growing in our faith. We need to be sure that we are moving from milk to solid food when we are studying the word. Knowledge of the word, feeding on the word will give us the power of discernment so that we can distinguish good from evil. 

Oh Lord, let us not become dull of hearing but may we always feast on your word so that we will build our faith. 

Enter His Rest!

Hebrews 4

“Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.” Hebrews 4:1

Our “therefore” here refers to the Israelites unbelief being the reason they did not enter into the Promised Land. We may not physically have the promised land in front of us but we do have the opportunity to enter into his rest no matter what is going on around and with us. But we can also allow our unbelief to cause us to fail to reach it. I see it this way, rest is a gift from God that He has been trying to give us since the beginning of time. Yet we seem to have such a hard time grasping and living in His rest. When God created the world on the seventh day He rested. He tried to give the Israelites rest as He wanted to lead them right into the Promised Land, yet they fell short of it. Psalm 46:10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Jesus said in Matthew 11:29 “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” God does not desire for us to live this life filled with angst and despair and anxiety. But He desires for us to enter into His rest. We can only do that by placing all of our trust in Him. 

So how do we live in the posture of this day and time and enter into the posture of His rest? The world is surely not a very restful place these days. But think on the Israelites, packing up their belongings and their families to set out for the Promised Land. They did it quickly. They left the only homes they knew but they were also supposed to be leaving a burdensome lifestyle behind. They were to keep their eyes on the prize, on the Promised Land on what God had promised to deliver them to not just what he was delivering them from. Why did they not get to see it? 

“For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.” Hebrews 4:2

They were not united in their faith. That’s why they didn’t get to enter that rest. And they lived out the rest of their years falling in the wilderness. 

“Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:11

I don’t know about you but this puts a whole new twist on my need to have faith and to live and walk by my faith that He holds the keys to my future and all the things that are on my heart and mind. I want to enter into His rest that he can handle whatever concerns me. I know based on past experiences that He can, but I guess in some ways I did not think of my anxiety, on whether He’s got this one, as disobedience. This next verse falls under my favorite category. But I can say that this is probably the first time I have ever studied it in context of the entire chapter. Because of studying the entire context I am going to include the next verse as well. 

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

This Word is what will bring us into His rest. This Word can do surgery of the heart like nothing else. It will lay bare the intentions of the heart. Nothing or no one is hidden from this Word. We can put our trust and our faith into this Word and into the power that lies within it. And we can let that power lead us into His rest. Through this Word we know Jesus our great high priest. 

“Since then we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16

No matter what is on your heart and your mind today, come to the throne of grace with confidence, receive His mercy, find grace and he will help you through whatever it is. And you will be able to enter into His rest! 

Consider Jesus!

Hebrews 3

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house.” Hebrews 3:1-2

“Therefore” – because of what we learned about Jesus, because he is greater than angels. “Holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling” – if you know Jesus you are his holy brothers and sisters in Christ and we share in a holy calling with Jesus. So what does this author want us to do? “Consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house” – we are to consider Jesus, we are to think on Him, everything we do comes back to Jesus. The word for consider here is a Greek word “katanoein” it doesn’t mean simply to look at something, it means to fixate on it. It means to give it your full attention! When the author here says “Consider Jesus” he is saying let Jesus be the starting point for all you think or do. So why mention Moses? Moses was faithful. Moses was called a friend of God and he spoke with God.

“For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses – as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:3-6

Moses was a servant to God, Christ is God’s son. He is faithful over God’s house and is in essence the creator of the house. The builder, the creator is more honorable than the house or the servants of the house. Where do we place our confidence and our hope, in the house itself or the builder of the house?

“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years.’” Hebrews 3:7-9

Therefore, because we put our confidence in Jesus, don’t harden your hearts like the Israelites did in the wilderness. I am often amazed when I study about the Israelites at how they saw miracle after miracle and yet still rebelled against God. I hope if I had been there I would be a Joshua or Caleb and remain faithful. But think on how God has used that story through the ages. Nothing even the rebellion of the Israelites is wasted with God. 

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12

We have to take care of our heart. We have to hold fast to Jesus, the builder of our house. The enemy is standing close by waiting to lead us away from the living God. 

“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:14

We are here to share in Christ. Let us hold fast to him. The Israelites saw those miracles, they heard from God through Moses, yet their bodies fell in the wilderness and they (the ones who actually left Egypt with Moses) did not see the Promised Land because of their unbelief. (vv 16-19) 

Oh Lord, please help our unbelief and please help us to hold fast to our confidence in You, the builder and creator of our house!

Great Salvation

Hebrews 2

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1

When you see therefore, you know it is talking about what was previous. What the author is saying here is, because of what you already learned, you should pay close attention to it so that you don’t drift away. Away from what? Away from your salvation. If we pay such close attention to prophecy from angels and learned from them, how can we neglect what Jesus has said to us. 

“For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.” Hebrews 2:2-4

The word was spoken by Jesus, attested by eyewitnesses and proven by signs, wonders and miracles and gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit. How could we not pay close attention?  God has never given angels any dominion over anything. As we said in Hebrews 1 Angels are ministering spirits. The writer here quotes Psalm 8:4-6

“‘What is man, that you are mindful of him or the son of man, that you care for him? You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.’ Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him.” Hebrews 2:6-8

Who are we? That you God would even think of us. Man is lower than the angels and yet Jesus took on flesh and became human just like us. Nothing is out of the control of Jesus. We may not always see it, but it is under his control. 

“But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9

Jesus was fully man, made lower than the angels, yet he was fully God, crowned with glory and honor yet he took our place and tasted death for us all. 

“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.  That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” Hebrews 2:10-11

“It was fitting” I struggled a bit with that phrase. Why should I think it was fitting for Jesus to die on the cross? But God added humanity to his deity through Jesus coming to earth so that Jesus could show us real love what real sacrifice looks like. And through it all, Jesus calls us brothers. 

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps but he helps the offspring of Abraham.” Hebrews 2:14-16 

Jesus shared flesh and blood with us and then He took on death in order to destroy the power of death. In order to destroy any power the devil has or thinks he has and through it He delivers us from the fear of death. Jesus did this for us, we are the offspring of Abraham. 

“Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:17-18

Jesus became like us, became flesh and blood so that he could be a high priest who could identify with our temptations and our sufferings. He is our high priest and because of the cross He knows suffering. You know how when you are going through something and you talk to someone who is going through something similar it makes you feel a little better or you at least have someone to identify with. It’s the same thing, we have a high priest, Jesus, who knows suffering and we can take anything to Him. 

Oh sweet Jesus, we can never thank you enough for what you have done for us. You put on flesh, you walked this earth and you suffered and died for us on the cross. 

Please pray for the medical professionals today. Please pray for our country. 

The Radiance of the Glory of God!

Hebrews 1

No one is completely sure who the author of the book of Hebrews was. Some early scholars say Paul, however those who have more knowledge than me say that is unlikely because of the way the author writes when compared to the letters known to be from Paul. Some say Barnabas, Martin Luther thought Apollos, while others have said Priscilla along with her husband Aquilla. But no matter who wrote it, we know that all scripture is God breathed and this book has a lot to tell us over the next few days/weeks. 

The first chapter of Hebrews is simply explaining to us the difference in Jesus and the angels and the way God communicates with us now versus the ways he communicated in early Bible times. 

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” Hebrews 1:1-2

Before Jesus came to earth, God spoke through the prophets, although this also points out that Jesus always was. Many stories and events that happened in the Old Testament were always pointing to Jesus. Jesus was there when the world was created and He was always part of the plan. I love how the next verses refer to Jesus. 

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” Hebrews 1:3-4

I love that term he is the “radiance of the glory of God”. His nature is fully, completely, exactly the imprint of God’s nature and he upholds the universe by a word. That is all it takes. And after he was sacrificed on the cross for us, after the purification of sin, he took the throne with His Father, at His right hand. Many people make the mistake of worshipping angels. However, angels are not meant to be worshipped. Ever. Worship is reserved only for God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, the trinity. Angels are around the throne, they are never part of the throne 

When you read the first chapter of Hebrews you can see the distinction between Jesus and the angels. The angels are ministering spirits. They have no other choice but to be ministering spirits. That is why they were created. And while Jesus ministers to us and to our needs, that is a posture that He takes on for us. It was His choice to serve. His place is and always was on the throne next to His Father. He came to earth as a baby, grew in wisdom and stature and learned and taught as a child, ministered as an adult and was sacrificed for us on the cross. He chose to exemplify servanthood by washing feet and healing but at any given time as He says in His last earthly days He could have said enough is enough and taken the throne. Jesus chose to see the plan through because of his love for us. Stand in awe of that today! 

“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” Hebrews 1:10-12

Please pray for our president and our country today! 

Meeting by Chance?

(Repeat)

Philemon

This little book is the only letter of Paul’s that is in the Bible that is a letter to just an individual. Actually it is to Philemon and his family but it is not meant for a community. After reading commentary what can be gleaned from this letter is that Philemon had a slave that had fled his household and maybe went to Rome and met up with Paul. It is not known if he knew Paul before or if this was a chance meeting that they came to realize they had a mutual acquaintance in Philemon. Paul and Philemon were obviously friends. 

“I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers,”  Philemon 4 

This verse lends to believing that Paul and Philemon have a history with Paul saying always. In fact it is believed that Paul had led Philemon and his family to Christ. At any rate Paul was in the habit of praying for Philemon. It wasn’t just a one time prayer. I had a friend once who really opened my eyes to prayer and she pointed out how many times someone may say “I’m praying for you” in passing and yet do they, do we really do it when we walk away? She also stated how many times does someone come back and say “hey thanks for praying” yet in the back of your mind you think “oh, I forgot”. Prayer is serious business. If I tell you I am praying for you, I’m going to pray for you. Sometimes it may be that I say “I’m going to say a prayer for you.” Then it may not go on my prayer list, (believe me it’s a long list) of the people I pray for on a regular basis, but I can assure you that if I say I will say a prayer I am going to say a prayer. Paul was in the habit of praying for Philemon so there was relationship there. 

Paul is appealing to Philemon and his family in this letter to forgive and to open themselves back up to Onesimus who had found Christ through his encounter with Paul and was returning to them possibly to make things right after having fled them and for anything he may have taken from them when he left. Now back in those days what Onesimus had done could have been punishable by death, even possibly being crucified. But Paul was appealing to Philemon because now Onesimus was more than a worker to him, he was a brother in Christ. Paul points out that Philemon, as a christian has to ‘do what is required (v 8) but he wants Philemon to forgive and accept Onesimus back out of love. 

“Yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you – I Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus – I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.” Philemon 9-10

The things I love about this story is the underlying story. It never is clear if Onesimus knew Paul before he fled to Rome. But the people who have spent way more time than me studying seem to suggest that the meeting between Onesimus and Paul was a chance one. Onesimus fled Philemon as a different person than he was returning to him. In Rome he possibly went to work for the Roman officials who were guarding Paul while Paul was under house arrest. Paul apparently befriended him and led him to Christ. Even if he did know Paul before, it would be a stretch to think that he was seeking Paul out, I think. This gives me great comfort in the way I know God works behind the scenes. I have experienced myself chance meetings that turned out to not be so chance. That later I could look back and see God’s hand on it. I think, and I have told you before I am not scholar, but I think that God orchestrated this meeting. We never find out exactly how Philemon handled the return of Onesimus, I hope he handled it the way Paul appealed to him. I hope I will do the same if I am faced with people who I feel have hurt me in some way when and if they return for forgiveness. 

Please pray for the small business owners and the service industry. Also, please continue to pray for our country! 

Only by Grace

(Repeat)

Titus 3

This is my favorite chapter of the book of Titus. It starts out with Paul telling Titus to “remind them”. To me it seems that Paul is telling him to just keep on keeping on, keep telling them about Jesus but that also that they have to be submissive to the authority around them and to be prepared to do the work of Jesus. He tells him to avoid quarreling. This doesn’t mean to roll over, but to avoid it and to be gentle and to show courtesy to everyone. In other words BE KIND! But my favorite part is coming up. 

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” Titus 3:3-7

We have been talking a lot in these chapters about how bad the Cretans were and how bad people are today and how bad the world is. Paul is telling Titus here remember what we came from! You see I know deep in my heart and in my soul that if I didn’t spend a little time with Jesus every single day that I would be a wretched wretched woman! That if left on my own and not reminded I also could get very pious very quickly. It feels like I could be walking a tight rope every day between thinking too much of myself to thinking too little of myself. I can be quick to get all spiritual or spiraling down a slippery slope to who knows what because of my wretchedness. We all need to remember what we came from. What did Jesus save us from? What path could we have taken? It’s real easy to get, as I said yesterday, on a spiritual high horse and if we aren’t careful to look down from it at those bad ole Cretans and think small of them. But that is not showing the love of Jesus. And when I really stop and think about some of the choices I made before I knew Christ and started walking with Him, I realize that where I am today is only by grace! That I was saved by His goodness and loving kindness and His mercy. And I have this hope only because of Him and who He is in my life. I never want to forget where I came from because it only proves to make me so grateful to Him. And out of that gratitude of what He has done for me makes me want to be a light for Him. I don’t want to sit up on a spiritual high horse. I want to remember, and I pray that I never look down on anyone for their choices and decisions because I realize how very close I was to making choices that could have destroyed me. I pray that I can be a light to show them Jesus’ love. Because I am who I am only by His grace. 

Lord Jesus I pray never let me forget, never let us forget what we came from. Help us to be kind and to be a light in this world and to show Your love and Your goodness to others Lord. Keep us off that spiritual high horse and walking with You Lord. Help us to remember who we belong to and that is only by Your grace and mercy! 

Please pray for your pastor and your church today.  Also, please keep praying for our country. 

Lead by example!

(Repeat)

Titus 2

Paul is giving directives for living, as well as teaching in this chapter. He is telling Titus first of all to teach sound doctrine. This is the first and foremost. He was to teach the older men and women how to live rightly with God. At first glance some of the directives we would think might have come along with age and wisdom anyway but we have to remember that he was in Crete and was there to teach the Cretans, who we have already pointed out had their own sets of issues. Then he tells him how the older men and women should train the younger men and women. One of the things that he points out is that in these things, in living upright self controlled lives we are bringing credit to the word of God. Or at least we are not bringing discredit to it. Basically as christians we are supposed to try to live in such a way that the outside world has nothing bad to say about us. We are to teach and to live by example. 

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned so that an opponent may be put to shame having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7-8

This just keeps reminding me of Jesus words. 

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  John 13:35 

I find myself as I am trying to explain this chapter afraid that it is coming across very legalistic and I am always much much more about relationship than I am legalism. I feel like that if you get your relationship right with Christ, and if you spend time with him that He will show you what needs to change. However, there are things that are very important for us to remember as the world looks on us as christians. And some of the things that Paul points out to Titus here are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and steadfastness, the women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers nor “slaves to much wine”. This can sound like a list of do’s and don’ts, however when you dig a little deeper you know that the Cretans had been living pretty much however they wanted to. Titus was sent to be an example to them and to teach them how to live godly and upright lives. 

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. Titus 2:11-12

If ever in my lifetime did the church need to be setting itself apart living godly lives and being an example to others I believe it is now. It is always to be this way but now especially. There is so much going on around us and the christian church is being persecuted while we (generally speaking) are sitting up on our spiritual high horses. We are to be living by example, in love, in faith, steadfast. We should be loving our fellow man. I have reached a point I can hardly even watch the news because of all that is going on in the world. I wrote a few weeks ago about how easy it would be to hole myself up in my little corner of the world and just let the rest work itself out. But there has to be a balance. How can I show the love of Christ to the world even in the midst of the crazy stuff going on? I can start with a smile, with the opening of doors and a you go first attitude. I can embrace people for who they are and if given the opportunity teach sound doctrine, the love of Jesus. I can love and lead by example, hopefully trying to live in such a way that no one can find anything bad to say about me. I can watch my mouth and not slander or gossip (ohh I know this one is probably the hardest one for me). I can do my best to live self-controlled and upright and godly so that this present age and those around me will hopefully see Jesus in me and want what He has to give me and know that if He will help me through every day that He will help you too. 

Please pray for the educators and students today. Also continue to keep our country in your prayers. 

Preach the Word!

(Repeat)

2 Timothy 4

This is the last chapter of Paul’s letters to Timothy. He starts this chapter giving Timothy a charge. Not a request, not a suggestion, a charge. Preach the Word!

“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, preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 1-2

Many times we tell our children “remember whose you are”. This is in essence what Paul was telling Timothy when he tells him “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus”. He reminds him that Jesus is the only one to judge the living and the dead, that by his appearing and his kingdom “preach the word”. Yes that is a charge for pastors, to be ready in season and out of season. But I think it is a charge for all of us. We should all be studying the word in order to be ready in season or out of season. For we never know when we may have to defend, or to tell a seeking person, what we believe. It is our responsibility to study the word so that we can know good doctrine when we hear it.

Paul goes on in this chapter talking about a day when people will have “itching ears” to hear what they want to hear. Well I think we can say that we are living there too right now. People will turn away from truth and wander away into myths. Sound familiar?

I think this letter is beginning to sound a little like maybe Paul isn’t so sure He is going to be rescued from this prison. In the next paragraph Paul tells Timothy he has already been poured out as a drink offering. What he is saying here is I have given all I can give. I have nothing left in me to give. But he also lets it be known that when it’s his time he is ready.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Paul is letting Timothy know that if this is the end of his earthly ministry that he is ready. He is claiming his crown of righteousness and acknowledges that there are others who have and worked and loved also.

Paul also goes along to request a face to face with Timothy. He asks him to come to him and to pick up a few things along the way. He asks him for a cloak that he had left behind and his books and scrolls. This tells me that Paul is not finished learning. He may know that he is nearing the end of his life but he still hungers to learn. As we should all do. I pray that the Lord will allow me to learn right up until the day he takes me home.

“The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” 2 Timothy 4:22

The commentary I read made it sound like this may have been Paul’s last written words. I am not sure if they are but I can tell you that should be our prayer for all people. So for today I leave you with this.

The Lord be with your spirit and Grace be with you! What more could we ask.

Please pray for our President, our country and tomorrow’s election.  And if you haven’t already be sure to vote! 

Last Days?

(Repeat)

2 Timothy 3

Who knew that 1 and 2 Timothy were so fully relevant to the times we are living right now? I sure didn’t when I started this. But then the Bible is always relevant isn’t it? This chapter starts out talking about the last days. But this is not just talking about wars and rumors of wars as is pointed out in scripture as signs of the last days. This one is talking about people and their hearts..

“For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Sound familiar? We have a lot of crazy stuff going on in the world right now, but I can’t help but think there have been other times in history that people had to think they had a lot of crazy stuff going on. I am no scholar so I can’t tell you this is it, the Lord is coming back soon. And scripture says that no one knows the time but God alone. But what I can tell you is that God is not surprised by the things that are happening. God still has a purpose and a plan and whether this is the last days and Jesus is coming back tomorrow or a hundred years from tomorrow we have things to learn about the times and yes we can identify with what Paul is saying here. Paul tells Timothy to avoid such people. He also gives an example here from Moses day and the people who opposed him. And as he is telling Timothy to avoid them he also assures him.

“But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.” 2 Timothy 3:9

Our take away from that is this, that as we look at the people who follow the descriptions in verses 2 – 5 we can know that those people will not get very far and their folly will be plain to all. I know that it seems like they are getting very far but remember who is still on the throne and none of this can happen without filtering through His hands. Next Paul is very emphatic with where Timothy’s focus should be.

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra – which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.” 2 Timothy 3:10-13

Paul is talking about how the Lord has rescued him from prison in the past. Mind you, Paul is sitting in prison and telling Timothy of his rescue yet at the very moment he is in chains. Paul no doubt is realizing that Jesus can rescue him again, but at this point he doesn’t know if he will or not. He went on to tell Timothy that if you are going to be a believer in Christ you will be persecuted for it. So why are we so surprised by the persecutions that come now? What are we to do with them? Paul tells Timothy to hold on to the heritage of his faith. Timothy has the benefit of having a legacy that dates back to his childhood. But not everybody has that. But I think, and this is just my thoughts here that once you become a Christian we all have a legacy of faith that has gone down through the ages. You may not have a library of scriptures in your head but you can start where you are with learning and memorization and God can and will use them for comfort and peace.

The last two verses are my favorite of this chapter and have been favorites for a long time.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17

No matter what kind of people you come up against, no matter the last days or not, no matter what kind of crazy you come in contact with today, you hang onto God and the scriptures and you will be complete and equipped for the work He calls you to do. If you are just starting the library in your head that one might be a good one to memorize!

Please pray for the service industry and small businesses. They have been hit hard this year. If you can shop local and if you can, tip well.