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Friday, July 22, 2016, 8:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Broken and Contrite.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 4:1-8, 16-18 (ESV).

Be Ready (vv. 1-2)

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.

Most all of us are teachers in one way or another, even though all of us don’t have the gift of teaching. We teach every day of our lives just by how we live our lives, by how we treat other people, and by what we say to them. If we have children and grandchildren, they learn from our examples and from the things we say to them, or from the instructions we give to them. So, we need to watch our lives closely, and carefully weigh the things we say to others. And, we need to guard our own hearts and attitudes, because whether we recognize it or not, we are teaching others, if by no other way than our own life examples.

Also, there are many different ways in which we teach others besides just standing or sitting in front of a group of people and purposefully and thoughtfully imparting to them some knowledge or wisdom or understanding. In other words, as followers (disciples) of Jesus Christ we are to be his witnesses in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who need to hear (Ac. 1:8). We are to make disciples (of Christ) of people of all nations, baptizing and teaching them to obey all of Christ’s commands (Matt. 28:18-20). We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16), and we are to proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9).

Paul instructed Timothy to preach the word; to be ready in season and out of season; and to reprove and exhort with complete patience and teaching. We read in 2 Tim. 2 that “if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (v. 21). So, we are to make ourselves ready spiritually for every good work God has for us, through repentance and obedience, in the power of the Holy Spirit now living within us, and in cooperation with the Spirit’s work of grace in our lives, including we should always be ready to share Christ and the truths of his word with others.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Be Sober-Minded (vv. 3-5)

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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

That time has already come when people will not endure sound teaching. In America, in particular, so many people are flocking after teachers who tell them what sounds good to their ears and what allows them to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. So many people who profess to be ministers of the gospel and teachers of the Word are teaching the philosophies of humans, instead. They tell people that they don’t have to repent of (turn away from) their sins, and that they don’t have to obey Christ and his instructions to us. And, then they convince them that God is pleased with them no matter what they do, and that nothing bad will happen to them, i.e. that God will never discipline them or chastise them for their disobedience. They convince them, too, that a mere confession of Christ as Savior gets them out of hell and promises them heaven.

But we are to be sober-minded, i.e. we are to take God and his Word seriously, and we are to follow (obey) Christ, being doers of the Word and not hearers only. If we continue in sin (in living sinful lifestyles), but we say we have fellowship with God, the Bible says we are liars and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:6). If we walk (conduct our lives) according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14). Jesus Christ died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (2 Co. 5:15). His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “NO!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). So, don’t be fooled! One day you will stand before God and many are going to hear, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”

So, for those of us who are Christ’s followers, we need to stand strong in our faith and on the word of God, and we should not give way to the devil’s evil schemes against us. We should never compromise truth to be accepted by people or to be liked, but we should continue to share what we know of God’s word with whomever will listen. And, we should be faithful to whatever God has called each one of us to do collectively as well as individually.

Keep the Faith (vv. 6-8)

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Many of us are suffering rejection and persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ, for our witness for him, for our testimonies of his saving grace, and for the sake of the gospel and the teaching of truth. We long for our heavenly home, but we know God still has a purpose for us on this earth. So, we will remain, and we will continue in Christ and in what he has called us to do until he calls us home.

As Christ’s followers, we are in a spiritual battle. Our enemy is Satan and his many hordes. They want nothing more than to destroy (obliterate) the gospel and to dissuade, discredit and/or to destroy its messengers. So, God has supplied his servants and messengers with spiritual armor with which to fight off our enemy’s evil schemes and attacks against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20). And, daily we must fight this battle for our own survival, yet we don’t fight it in our own strength or with our own resources. We fight in the power and strength of the Lord who has already won this battle for us. And, we use the weapons of warfare he has supplied to us. When Satan lies to us, we respond with the truth. When he tempts us to doubt, we respond with faith. When he twists the Word of God to his advantage, we pull out the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and we proclaim it with confidence.

We don’t give up, either, even when things get harder and harder. We don’t retreat out of fear of what humans might do to us. We will never make things better for us by shrinking back. Running away from God or trying to escape our circumstances so that we don’t get hurt doesn’t work. We only make things worse for ourselves, not better. The best place to be ever is right in the palm of God’s hand, doing exactly what he has called us to do and to be no matter how much we get hated, rejected and persecuted in return. There is no peace in this world like the peace that comes to a life surrendered to Jesus Christ and to his will for our lives. We keep running the race, keeping the faith, and fighting the good fight! And, one day we will see, if we don’t now, that it was worth it all to follow Christ and to impact other lives for Jesus Christ and for eternal salvation.

Trust in God (vv. 16-18)

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

I love these words! They are so encouraging to my heart. Even if everyone we know and love turns against us, God will never leave us or forsake us. Even if all desert us, he will stand by us and he will strengthen us, if we are his followers. Even if Satan throws all his darts at us and he threatens to undo us, we trust in God’s complete sovereignty over our lives, and we believe in his many promises to us, and we rely on his strength to see us through it all. Satan will try to get us to fear opposition, but that is when we put on our spiritual armor and we fight off his lies with the truth. No opposition against us can prevail against us unless God allows it, and he allows it for a purpose, and that he will equip and empower us to respond to it in a way that is fitting a servant of the Most High God.

Our God may not always deliver us physically from persecution. In fact, his word teaches that we are destined for it, and that, as his followers, we will be treated as he was treated. But, he will rescue us spiritually, and he will strengthen and encourage us in our faith, and he will supply all we need to persevere and to grow in our faith to maturity through these difficult times. We just have to trust him with our lives, believe that he has our best interest at heart, and be confident in his love, grace and mercy - that he will work out all things for the good (what is best) of those who love him. We just need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on our circumstances, and believe him to heal our broken hearts.

Broken and Contrite / An Original Work / May 13, 2012

I come before You, Lord, my Savior,
With humble heart and crushed in spirit.
I bow before You, I implore You,
Heal my broken heart, I pray.
Love You, Jesus, Lord, my master,
You are the King of my heart.
Lord, purify my heart within me;
Sanctify me, whole within.

Oh, Lord, I long to obey fully
The words You’ve spoken through Your Spirit.
I pray You give me grace and mercy,
Strength and wisdom to obey.
Father God, my heart’s desire,
Won’t You set my heart on fire?
Lord, cleanse my heart of all that hinders
My walk with You, now I pray.

Oh, Jesus, Savior, full of mercy,
My heart cries out for understanding.
I want to follow You in all ways,
Never straying from Your truth.
Holy Spirit, come in power,
Fill me with Your love today.
Lord, mold and make me;
Your hands formed me;
Live Your life through me, I pray.

The most difficult and important part of the "good fight of faith" occurs within ourselves. It isn't that we may not have learned all of the "rules" of God, assuming that He has a set of rules for us to memorize and obey. Rather we have not learned to surrender our will to His or to ask for His help so we can accomplish such a surrender. Surrender is what Jesus did. We must certainly follow His example:

"O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Matt 26:39

We will never win in the "good fight of faith" if we do not learn to surrender.