Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The grace of God has appeared

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. – Titus 2.11-14

I know I say this a lot, but this is one of my favourite passages of scripture. There is a lot packed into these four verses. Not the least of these is the phrase ‘the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.’ I am almost tempted to break that phrase down into two or three thoughts all by itself.

But the ‘grace of God that brings salvation to all me has appeared’ needs to be considered all by itself.

The grace of God – that amazing grace that Newton wrote about – has appeared. We couldn’t create it, stir it up, or make it appear. Where would we be in God's amazing grace that brings salvation had not appeared? We would be lost and without hope in this world.

Praise God that His amazing grace salvation appeared  to all men – including me.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
and mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.

--John Newton, 1725-1807

Monday, 29 September 2014

Work hard and do right

Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. – Titus 2.9-10 

The Bible of course is full of spiritual advice and counsel. It is, after all, God's word, and tells us how to live our spiritual lives. 

But it is not limited to the spiritual stuff. There are also a lot of plain, practical, everyday things that tell us how to deal with daily life. But even these have a spiritual application. 

Paul lived in a different culture. Some people were slaves in the sense of the word as we know it. Some were contracted labourers. Some were indentured servants. The bondservants here could have fit into any of these catagories. 

It was a tough place to be. People found themselves in situations where there very well might be working in unpleasant situations. In these situations their testimonies were important. If Christians could handle these situations people, especially their 'masters,' would know the reality of their faith. 

So how should they act? And, by inference, how should we act at work? Of course, we have the option to leave work, but if we stay what should we do? 

We ought to be the best workers in the shop. We fulfill our job requirements. We are pleasent in our attitudes and actions. If we have an issue we deal with it properly. We don't steal, not only things, but we don't steal our boss's time. We are loyal. 

And we do all this so that our actions adorn our words about our Saviour. 

Work isn't always busy. Bosses aren't always pleasent. Fortunately today we do have recourse. But whatever we do we work hard, we do right, and we deal with problems in a way that Christ always looks good. 

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Sound speech

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. - Titus 2:6-8

Our speech is one of the clearest indicators of our character. Our speech is one thing that sticks in people’s memories. We can’t take back our words. Their impact is permanent. Speech can ruin our testimonies because once we have said them they are there for everyone to remember. In this age where literally everything we say is recorded for posterity through social media and blogs and such it it even harder to correct our uncontrolled tongues. 

Speech is the easiest thing for people to condemn. It is the easiest way to give people an excuse to say evil about us. James writes about of the tongue when he says that it is an ‘unruly evil’ and about how it causes ‘great fires’ and how it ‘cannot be tamed.’ Paul writes about how our words should always be ‘full of grace and seasoned with salt.’ Paul wrote to Timothy, another young church planter that he should, be an example with his lifestyle and with his words so that no one could despise him.’ 

Sound speech is vital. May we learn to watch what we say so that our own sound speech so that we give one occasion to speak evil of us. 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Young men

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, - Titus 2:6-7

Every group in the church has responsibilities. We have seen the older men, the older women, and the younger women. Now we come to the responsibilities of the young men. The young men are important. These are the future pastors and leaders of the Christian homes. If they don't get it right the future in pretty uncertain.

Young men are often the ones who get the most blame and the least respect. People are quick to despise their views and opinions because, after all, 'what do they know?'

Believe it or not I remember what it was like to be a younger man in the church. I was saved in 1974 in the midst of all the craziness of those days. I was going to and living at a college that was setting trends for all the changes of those days. Being a Christian and standing for Christ in those days was a challenge. The kinds of character Paul writes about here were in great contrast to the world I lived in.

Forty years on the way of life in that college have become the way of life in the world in general. By the time you get a few years under your belt and get a little experience in making poor choices and making mistakes it does become a bit easier to do these things. When you are still young and 'everyone else is doing it' it can be tough to 'be a good pattern, show integrity, be reverent, and not be corruptible.' 

Let’s pray for our younger men – it is hard to stand out from the world and it is harder when you are young. Let’s be sure we encourage them and not despise their youth. 

Friday, 26 September 2014

Teaching the younger

the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. - Titus 2:3-5

I may get in a little bit of trouble for this, but I think this is a perfect chance for me to brag a little bit about my dear wife. She is far from an ‘old woman’ but she is indeed older than most of the women in our circles.

When I read these verses I certainly picture Mary as a great illustration of the kind of woman they talk about.

Let's see what the older women are to do.

Be reverent in their behaviour
Not slanderers
Not given to much wine
Teaching good things
Admonish young women to
Love their husbands
Love their children
Be discreet
Take care of their homes
Be good
            Obey their husbands

When I look at the list and look at my wife they seem to pair up pretty well. Not only does she have the character in the first part of the list, but she has a brilliant heart for teaching the younger women. Mary can teach these things because she lives them. The world teaches young women one set of values. God's word teaches another. And God expects the older women to teach the younger women His standards for life – love your husband and your children, to control themselves, to take good care of their homes, to be good, and to obey their husbands.

Thank God for a wife who not only lives these things, but teaches them by word and example. 

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The older men

The older men

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; - Titus 2:1-2

As much as I don't like the idea I guess the time has finally come to admit that I qualify as on of the 'older men' that Paul writes about. I am quickly coming up on sixty years of age and I am forty years a Christian. What is the church supposed to expect from a guy like me? Fortunately, God sent instructions on how we should live to set the proper example. 

So what is that test for me as one of these 'older men?'

Am I sober (self-controlled)?
Am I reverent?
Am I temperate (even-keeled)?
Am I sound in faith?
Am I sound in love?
Am I sound in patience?

I think a lot of these come with age and maturity. Some of them come naturally with the putting away of the exuberance and the excitement of youth. At the same time even with ageing some of these still ruin discipline. No matter what all of them are attainable with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

I like this description of the older men because at my age they all seem reasonable enough. None of them mean that our lives needs to be dull or boring or less than fun. They simply describe the kind of life that younger people can see. They describe the kind of life that is reasonable and balanced. In fact, they describe the kind of man I want to be. If we older men could set this kind of pattern I wonder what kind of impact we could have on the church. Most of the problems that younger folks have with the church is the rotten examples that the older men have been in the past.

Lord, help me to be the kind of older man that draws people to follow Christ and not the kind of man who turns them away. 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

The pure and the defiled

To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work. - Titus 1:15-16

If one thing is clear in the Bible it is that our lives and actions are not to be determined by the outside but by the inside. It is the spirit of the law and not the letter. Our choices are a matter of the heart. Our heart determines who we are and what we do. Our actions do not make us who we are.

The setting is simple enough. There was a huge debate in the early church about foods and special days. The squabble was between the Jewish believers, who tended to hold on the Law and associated traditions, and the Gentile believers who had no such connections. Paul was constantly trying to break down those barriers and help people to focus on their unity in Christ and their freedom to differ on the minor stuff. Paul lets us know here that some of those who still held to the Law were unbelievers who thought they could somehow use the Law enter the Kingdom.

Paul writes that ‘to the pure all things are pure.’ What Paul was saying is that if hearts are pure whether or not meats were sacrificed to idols didn’t matter. There were no clean or unclean meats. Observing certain days on the calendar didn’t matter. When our hearts are pure we seek to honour God in all we do so what we do honour Him. We don’t do things to dishonour Him so if we are truly pure in heart we act purely.

On the other hand no matter what the ungodly do they are still ungodly. No matter how they try to worship, what they eat or don’t eat, what days they do or don’t observe their religious practices mean nothing.

It is not what we do on the outside that matters. It is what is in our hearts. The pure in heart do purely. The defiled, sadly, can’t do anything right to please God. Christ makes all the difference. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The insubordinate

For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.  – Titus 1.10-11

I chose to skip over the qualifications of pastors and deacons because Paul wrote to Timothy about them. But as we pick up here we see why those roles are established. We know that those positions were designed partly to equip all of us for our ministries and now he warns us about the opposition. We have elders and deacons to lead because not everyone out there is a ‘good guy’

There are going to be opponents to the word of God. Paul uses all kinds of names for them, but here he calls them 'insubordinate.' The old King James called them ‘unruly.’ These are folks who just refuse to be under any kind of authority. They are ‘idle talkers’ and deceivers. They undermine homes and families and churches. They are so dangerous that they need to be stopped. They are false teachers and they teach purely for their own gain.

It is wonderful to be inclusive and at peace and unified. The Bible stresses those things all the time. But at the same time we need to be aware that sometimes we have to deal with error. These insubordinates ‘must be stopped’ before they destroy lives and families and local churches. False teachings must be dealt with.

That is hard to do. Most of us don’t like to confront people. But we must be willing to stand for the truth. We must compare what with hear with what the word of God says. Love. Be compassionate. Don’t argue over the silly stuff. Seek peace.

But at that same time stand for truth. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Through preaching

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Saviour; Titus 1.1-3

Being a preacher this may sound like a little bit of a self promoting post. But the verse would say what it does whether I was a preacher or not. 

God, who cannot lie, promised the hope of eternal life before the foundation of the world. He presents it through His written word. But he doesn't stop there - he tells us how is word in manifested in the church age. 

'In due time [God] manifested His word through preaching.'

When I first think of preaching my first thought is what the guy behind the pulpit does on Sunday morning. You know, it is what happens after 'let's open our Bibles...'

And that is surely a part of it. But this is a little more. It is any kind of proclaimation of the Bible. It is preaching from the pulpit, studying the Bible, teaching a Sunday School class, or giving words of comfort over a cup of tea. 

Think about it for a second. God could have chosen any number of ways to make His word known. He could have done a type of heavenly skywriting by shaping the clouds. He could have made a morning audible announcement from heaven. He could have whispered quietly in each of our ears. 

But He didn't do any of that. 

God chose to show His word to the world though our proclamation of it. It is our job to do it. If we don't do it we miss out on the chance to take part in the great work of getting God's word out to a world who so badly needs it.

God have us his word. He didn't do it for us to keep it to ourselves. He gave it to us for us to share. 

Are we doing it? 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

My hope

Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, - Titus 1.1-2

Titus was another of Paul's 'preacher boys.' Paul had sent him to Crete to plant churches there. This letter is another one of those sent to a church planting leader telling him what the local church should be and how it should function. 

Paul had a real mentor's heart. Before he began to give Titus his instrcutions he gave him some encouragement. 

I like the fact that he prefaces his letter with the words 'truth which accords with godliness.' Truth and godliness go hand in hand and you can't have one without the other. If we are walking in the truth we are going to walk in godliness. That's pretty clear. 

But on to the encouragement. Paul writes to Titus that he serves God with an assured hope for the future. His hope was, when all  is said and done, there will be eternal life. He was assured that God promised it before the world began. What makes it extra special is that God cannot lie. So if He promised eternal life so our hope is not a vague wistfullness, but an absolute assurance. Our God always keeps his promises. 

I love this old gospel song that surely expresses Paul's hope: 

My hope is in the Lord
Who gave Him-self for me
And paid the price
Of all my sin at Calvary

For me He died;
For me He lives,
And everlasting life
And light He freely gives.

No merit of my own
His anger to suppress,
My only hope is found
In Jesus' righteousness.

And now for me He stands
Before the Father's throne
He shows His wounded hands
And names me as His own.

His grace has planned it all
'Tis mine but to believe
And recognize His work of love
And Christ receive.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

But the Lord stood with me

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen! - 2 Timothy 4:17-18

Paul realised a very sad truth. When the going gets tough we find out who really stands with us. When Jesus went to the cross his disciples fled. When Paul was facing death most of his friends and co-workers abandoned him. 

In the face of all the abandonment Paul wrote these simple words. 

But the Lord stood with me
The Lord strenghtened me 
The Lord delivered me from the mouth of the lion
The Lord will deliver me
The Lord will preserve me

It is tough when we can't depend on man, but far too often men are going to let us down. Men are going to fail. We let others down and we fail them. 

But the Lord will never let us down. 

We have the same job before us that Paul did  - to preach the gospel so that others will hear it. As we go about that we must remember the promise that Jesus made when He said 'I am with you always.' We are never alone because He stands by our side and gives us all the strength we need. 

But I really like the thing Paul says near the end - 'He will preserve me for His heavenly kingdom.' It is not my job to preserve my eternity. It is Christ's job and He has already accomplished it for us. 

Christ. who has begun a good work in us, will stick with us and preserve us until the very end. 

What can we say but what Paul said - 'to Him be all the glory. Amen and amen. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Feeling alone

Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry. And Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come—and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defence no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. - 2 Timothy 4:9-16

This is one of the saddest passages I know of. Paul was about to die and he felt all alone. I think the saddest thing is where Paul says 'please bring my coat' because just a little later he writes 'please do you best to get here before winter.' He says 'bring my books and parchments.' We have seen a man who was bold and strong and forceful and full of courage and now he says 'please bring my coat before it gets cold. Be diligent about getting here. Make it a priority.'

But lets see why he felt so alone. 

Demas forsook me - he loved this present world too much.
Crsecens and Titus have left me
Alexander the coppersmith hurt me - watch out for him
At my first trial no one stood with me
Everyone forsook me

How sad to read that 'only Luke is with me.'
Tychicus was here, but I sent him to Troas

I really like one other comment - 'Get Mark and bring him with you.' Do you know who this Mark is? It is the same John Mark that Paul once refused to work with. Paul's heart had softened to the point that he admitted he was wrong about Mark. 

Praise God for faithful men like Paul. Praise God for faithful friends like TImothy and Tyhcicus and Luke. May their example be the kind that motivates us to stay faithful to the very end. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ready to go

I have fought the good fight

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4.6-7

Paul knew his time was short. He knew that he was going to be executed for his faith. He knew that the government officials had had enough.

I wonder how I would do if I was in Paul's sandals? I wonder if my stomach would be knotted with anxiety. I imagine so, because I get that way any time I have to deal with any kind of officials, even with things like doing my taxes. My stomach was in bits planning for a departure to the UK. I don't really like change - and Paul was in for the ultimate change. His life on earth was just about over.

In fact he said that he was already being offered - it was his time to go. I don't know enough Greek to know the difference, but the old King James translation has 'I am ready to be offered up.' No matter how it is worded one thing is clear - Paul had no regrets about going.

Paul knew that he had done all he could do. It was time,

He fought the good fight
He finished the race that God laid out for him – he was looking to Jesus as the Author and the Finisher of His faith
He kept the faith

I don’t know how long I have left. I could die tonight. I could have a week, a month, a year, five years or 40 years, but I want to always be ready. I don’t want to finish my course and be sorry that I had done less than fighting the good fight, raced less than my best, or been weak in the faith.

May God grant me the grace to leave in the same confidence that Paul had when the day of my own departure is at hand. 

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. – 2 Timothy 4.5

It was important that Timothy know the truth. It wasn't a time for false hopes or painting a rosy picture of the future. There was no 'prosperity gospel' to be offered. Things were tough and they were going to get tougher. I think both Paul and Timothy knew that the time was short for Paul. I don't think the next words were any surprise. 

So what does Paul tell Timothy to do? 

Do the work on an evangelist
Complete your ministry

I think it is pretty clear that the road Paul is describing is not going to be easy. The very idea that Timothy is told that he must endure indicates that there is going to be something that requires endurance and that inplies it is something that is going to be negative. 

So while we are enduring whatever comes our way we have a couple of things we need to keep doing. We need to keep evangelising the world around with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don't just sit back grit our teeth, and endure - we stay busy while we endure. 

How long do we endure? Till we complete the ministry God gives us - and that ministry that all of us have is the ministry of reconciling men to God. 

Don't give up. Stay at it. Endure hardness, even as a good soldier. 

One day it will be woth it all. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Preach the word

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. – 2 Timothy 4.2-4

There are all kinds of suggestions and ideas about how to build or grow your church. Have the right facilities. Use the right music. Survey your area to see what people are looking for in a church. Paul however left a pretty instruction with Timothy - 'preach the word.'

In this section we are going to find out that Paul knew that his time on earth was short. He felt compelled to prepare Timothy for his departure. Paul knew that it was not going to be easy. He was burdened for his young son in the faith and didn't take time for a lot of complicated instructions. He put it simply.

Preach the word
Be ready
Be patient

But it is all precipitated on the first phrase - preach the word. Don't preach your ideas or agendas. Don't preach your hobby horses. Don't preach political reformation - just preach the word.

We may adapt on the non-essentials. We may change man-made traditions. We might change our styles. We may make cultural changes.

But there is one thing we must always do and never change - preach the word.
No matter how bad the opposition gets - preach the word.
No matter how the world around us changes - preach the word.
No matter how great the pressure to change the message - preach the word.
When people are looking to have their ears tickled, don't give in - preach the word
When folks don't endure sound doctrine - still preach the word

So what are we to do? Get involved in politics? Sure. Work for social reform? Fine. Feed the poor? Of course, we are told to do that.

But, ever and always – PREACH THE WORD. 

Monday, 15 September 2014


All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:16-17

This verse is one of the interanal evidences for the reliability of the scriptures. For those of us who trust God and have faith that He wants to communicate with His people this is a verse that comfirms the authenticity of the scriptures this is a passage that builds our faith. 

All scripture is given by the inspiration. Literally, all scripture is given by the breath of God as He breathed His word into men who recorded it for us. 

If that is indeed true, and I trust that it is, then it is certain that His word is profitable for us. There may be any number of helpful resources. There are books and websites and commnetaries and sermons and seminars and Bible colleges and seminaries and all those are good and proper. But unless all of these things are based on the scriptures the profit is limited at best. 

The study of the scriptures is what matures us and completes us. It corrects and reproves and teaches us in order to complete us. 

And it is what equips us to do God's work. Since it is alive and powerful and sharper than a two-sided sword it is the tool we need to separate truth from error and hypocrisy and faithfulness. 

We cannot over use the scriptures. We cannot have an overdependence on the scriptures. 

Our problem is the opposite. For a lot of folks the only time they hear the scriptures is for a half hour or so on Sunday morning. 

If things are profitable we normally go after them. Why is it any different with the scriptures? 

Sunday, 14 September 2014

From your childhood

and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. - 2 Timothy 3:15

I think is it so wonderful to think about young Timothy who had heard about the Scriptures since childhood. Some folks think that the Bible is too much for children. There are some who think that we waste our time when we minister to children. I once heard, second hand mind you, about a supporting pastor who supposedly said ‘why are we wasting that money on a bunch of kids.’

Timothy’s scripture teaching started while he was young and it continued through his life. We know that it was primarily his mother and his granny that taught him in the early years.

Children have always been important and God has always seen them that way. Back in the days of the Law God told fathers to teach His words to their children at every opportunity. When the children came to Jesus the disciples tried to stop them. What did Jesus do? He said ‘let them come. Don’t stop them. The Kingdom is made up of people like them.’

We never know who we are ministering to when we minister to children. We never know if there is another Timothy out there. Our children are our future. Timothy’s mother and granny knew that when they taught that little boy.

Our children are worth it – well worth it. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

What to do when things get bad

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,  - 2 Timothy 3:13-14

As much as we might wish differently things are not going to get better. The evil men and imposters in the visible church are only going to get worser and worser. Deception is only going to deceive more and more people. To be honest, unless God sends revival, there is not much hope in the here and now.

But, funny enough, our responsibilities are not going to change. We don't have the option of saying, 'things are so bad I'm just going to give up.'

‘You must continue’ Paul says, ‘in the things you have learned and been assured of because you know where they came from.’

When I we consider all that God has done for us and all that He has taught us and shown us we really ought to be ready to just keep plugging away.

The vast majority of us are never going to be standouts. Most of us will never be superstars. Very few of us are going to be published authors and even fewer are going to going to have books written about us.

For most of us one word sums up our task as the world falls apart – continue. 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Those who desire to live godly

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3.12

'Since we are talking about persecution,' Paul says, 'let's be clear about something. Anyone who desires to live godly in Christ will suffer persecution.' 

A lot of Christians talk about various aspects and various forms of persecution today. Tragically there are many, many places where real persecution does take place today. There are Christians who are arrested, imprisoned in brutal conditions, tortured, and viciously executed simply because they profess Christ. These are the people that we are told to pray for as though we were in bonds with them. 

But then there are Christians, mostly those who live in the West, who also talk about persecution. Their 'persecution' is a whole lot different. These are the folks who say it is persecution when a hotel chain stops supplying Bibles in every room. They call it persecution when a school student is forbidden to talk about Christ in a speech. They say it is an attack on faith when school sports teams cannot put Bible verses on signs and banners or Christian clubs are not allowed to meet in school facilities. I just saw where an American football was banned from put crosses on their helmets in memory of dead team mates. 

That's not even real persecution, and yet there are plenty of people who yell and complain and post on Facebook about how they are persecuted like it is something unusual. 

I don't know why people are so surprised. There has never been a doubt that the followers of Christ are not going to be well received. Jesus said 'if the world hates you don't be surprised - it hated me first.' 

And so it starts and Paul makes it clear that it is not going to stop. Those who desire to live godly are going to going to have it tough. The world is going to be against them and some members of the visible church are going to oppose them as well. 

We might as well get used to it. If we are going to follow Christ and do it regularly and consistantly we can't expect the world to jump on our side. SO we might as well quit complaining and get our to serve our Lord. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Setting an example

But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. – 2 Timothy 3.10-11

There was a very special loving relationship between Paul and Timothy. Paul was Timothy's spiritual father and his mentor. They travelled together and Timothy had seen a lot and stuck with Paul. He had followed Paul's teaching. He followed his manner of life and his purpose. Timothy was fully aware of all Paul had seen and stuck with him though it and adopted those things as his own. He followed Paul's faith and long-suffering and perseverance.

That's great - it is wonderful that Paul mentored and discipled his son in the faith and that Timothy took the lessons to heart and applied the traits to his own life.

But Timothy also followed his persecutions and his afflictions. Of those persecutions Paul wrote 'I endured them' but he also wrote 'the Lord delivered me.'

The trials and persecutions went on. I don't know exactly how long - but for that time Paul endured those trials. I think there was a lesson for Timothy and for us there. Trials and afflictions are part of the Christian life and we had better be ready to stick though them.

Those of us who have been around a while now need to remember that there are young folks watching us. We need to be sure that we set the right example in all the areas Paul mentions. We need to be sure that we let them know that God will be them even in the worst times. And we need to share with them how God has delivered us through our struggles so that they can live in confidence that He will do the same for them. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Always learning, but...

For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  – 2 Timothy 3.6-7

The people that Paul talks about in the previous passage are those who put on a show of godliness, but never allow the power of godliness to work in their lives. At the end of the passage he says to stay away from them and today he tells why.

Paul says that they creep into homes and capture gullible women who are laden down with their sins and led astray by their desires. Now I know it says women - but I have seen many men in the same boat and may have been there once or twice myself.

But I want to key on this one phrase - ever learning and never able to come the the knowledge of the truth.'

I will be honest here. I don't know why Paul specifically addresses 'silly women' here. Maybe it was a local problem that Timothy had to to deal with. Maybe women tend to be just inclined that way. Maybe 'silly women' is an illustration of all who are easily turned aside. Either way there is a warning here for us.

All of us, 'silly women' or not, need to be careful of those whose godliness is only a show. Satan can use them to cause great harm to the church. It is these folks who are happy enough to ‘learn’ but never do anything with the ‘learning.’

And all of us need to be aware of this whole idea of learning and learning and learning and never doing anything with the learning. It is far too easy to sit in church or Bible study and get full of learning, but never use knowledge to change our lives. 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A form of godliness

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!  - 2 Timothy 3.1-5

‘Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear…’ So starts a great gospel song called ‘Jesus is Coming Soon.’ No matter what your eschatology (unless you are a preterist) everyone can identify with the truth of these words. We are in perilous days.

A big problem of those perilous days is not outside the church – it is on the inside.  There are plenty of examples where there is a 'form of godliness' without the power of godliness. The sins here are not necessarily the 'biggies.'  These are the things that even people within the visible church can do and get away with. I am not going to go through the whole list - just go back and look at the words one at a time.

The form of godliness that some present is not enough. It denies the power of God to work in a life.

Paul makes it pretty clear that we are not to keep company with those who only have the form of goliness.

But I think it is also important that we check out our own lives to see if we are manifesting true godliness or just a show. We may go to church and sing the songs and say the amens and do all the 'right things' and still have the form of godliness. What about you and me? Is our godliness real, or is it a show?  True godliness is powerful enough to effect change - does mine show that change? By the grace of God may our godliness be true godliness.

Monday, 8 September 2014


But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. – 2 Timothy 2.23-26

I realise that this might be getting a little repetitive, or at least sounding like it. I am finally convinced that what Paul is talking about here really is a big deal. It is a big deal that I am afraid I have not taken seriously enough.

And from that I can see I am not the only one. It seems like there is a lot of what Paul is talking about going on in parts of the church today. In the interest of ‘iron sharpening iron’ and debate and discussion we end up doing a lot of what Paul writes against here.

Avoid foolish and ignorant disputes – they only lead to more trouble
Don’t quarrel
Be gentle

Even if a brother is in biblical error the words sound the same:

Be ready to teach
Be patient
Humbly correct
Pray that God uses our teaching to bring repentance
Pray that they will know the truth
Pray they come to their senses
Pray they escape the devil’s trap

Me, most of the time when I have been in the wrong kinds of debates, I only have one goal in mind. I want to win the debate – at all costs. I am finally learning that there is no defence for that attitude. 

We are going to disagree about all kinds of things. That is going to happen because we are people and we have our own opinions and ideas and thoughts. We have strong feelings. And people like me like to be right.

It is how we deal with disagreements that matters. Our goal ought to be to win a brother, not win an argument.

We are not always going to agree. It is how we choose to disagree that matters. If it is a not a matter of Biblical truth we really should just leave it alone. If it is a matter of Bible truth we need to deal with it lovingly with a desire to restore. 

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Flee youthful lusts

Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. – 2 Timothy 2.22

‘Flee youthful lust.’

How clear can that be? It doesn’t require a theology degree or a DVD series or a YouTube recording or a Facebook group to get that one. Just simply flee youthful lusts. As a kid’s songs put’s it ‘put on your running shoes mate!’

The injunction to 'flee youthful lusts' is especially important because sadly those youthful lusts can last a lot longer than youth. Youth, middle aged, and even older folks are affected by those youthful lusts all through their lives.

I think most of us - even people as old as me - recognise when those lusts first make their appearance. We know that little twinge of appeal. We know the draw. We know that little bit of excitement. I know myself that there are more times than I like to admit when I hang around to see just how far I can go before I cross the line.

But, do you what God has to say about it in one little word?

Here you go.

Are you ready?


Did you get that? Change the channel, close the book, put down your phone, close the laptop, turn off the modem, do whatever it takes.


Don't linger. Don't look back. Don't hesitate. 


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Approved workers

Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. - 2 Timothy 2.14-16

I missed a passage a couple of days ago so I need to go back and include these thoughts.

I really, really want to be considered one worker who approved for God's service. To be approved one normally submits himself or some product for examination and once the examination os completed the person or product or food or whatever is seen as approved.

This passage gives us a few hints about what it takes to be seen as approved for God's work. Amazingly a couple of these things are the same things that Paul has mentioned to Timothy a few times already:

Not fight over profitless words - they only ruin the hearers
Rightly divide the word of truth
Be diligent in seeking God's approval
Avoid profane and idle babblings

That reminds me that there are a couple of things that God does not approve of. I am about to become convinced that God does not approve of His workers getting together and wasting their hours fighting over discussions that have no profit or that a profane (dirty) and idle babblings. We have a lot better things to do with our time and our words than to get involved in stupid, petty, silly, and wasteful conversations. Those kinds of things have been a real draw to me, but I am getting more and more convinced that I need to stay away from that stuff.

Be diligent about all this stuff. It is a battle. It requires our effort.

Rightly divide the word of truth. That means that teaching God’s word and even living by God’s word takes careful study and application. To rightly divide God’s word we must find out what God is saying and not try to make it say what we want it to say.

Do our lives reflect God’s approval on our service? 

Friday, 5 September 2014

Fit for the Master's use

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honour and some for dishonour. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. - 2 Timothy 2.20-21

'In a great house, 'Paul writes, 'there are two kinds of vessels. There are good solid valuable vessels that are useful and worthy of honour. There are also some less valuable vessels made of wood and clay and whose use is limited and not honourable.' In other words, some of the things in our house are useful and some are useless.

And so it is in the visible church. There are vessels of gold and silver which are precious and able to endure fire. There are those of wood and earth that are worthless and fragile.

Some have said that 'not all professors are possessors' and so it is true in the visible church. Those who are able to endure trial and fires and heat are valuable and honourable. Those professors who are burned up with fire and trials are not worthy of honour.

The false professors in the visible church will be found out. When hard times come they disappear.

But disappearing may not always be the worst thing to happen for the church. Sometimes, as pointed out here, the professors who don’t possess may hold back the work.

Let’s check it out and make sure that each of us is truly a possessor who can endure through the trials and that we are indeed ‘fit for the Master’s use.’ 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

This foundation

Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” - 2 Timothy 2.19

I think it is interesting when we read things like 'the foundation of God stands.' That tells me that there is something pretty important here. This is vital. This is a foundational truth.

When I read that I figure I ought to pay special attention. We read that here and then we read 'it has this seal.'

What is the seal of this foundational truth?

The Lord knows those who are His.
Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

I can see why these are so important. One of them speaks about who God is and the other about what we should do.

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust in Him. You have tested me O Lord and You know all about me. My sheep are known by Me.

When we belong to God we can rest in assurance that He knows us. He knows all about us. He knows our 'down sittings and our uprising.' He knows our thoughts He knows every word of our mouths.

What comfort it is that God well and truly knows what we are going through. When we think that nobody gets it - God does. At the moment we are going through what is, in the light of so much, a minor struggle. But even now it is nice to know that God does know.

He knows us - so what do we do?

Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from evil.

God knows us - and because God knows ue we ought to demonstrate His knowledge of us by departing from evil.

That's putting it pretty simply isn't it? It is our job to simply leave evil aside. Remember Job - the man who feared God and eschewed evil? From the very start the people that God knows stay away from evil. Like Joseph, when sin is knocking at our door we flee run it. Timothy was told to flee from youthful lusts.

We ought to be grateful that we have a God who loves us.

We ought to show our gratitude by our rejection of evil 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. – 1 Timothy 2.9-10

This is sort of a tough area for me as a man to address. But, on the other hand, I am a man so maybe it is good that I write on it.

This is a topic we read a lot about and that I fear men think about more than women. That’s because we are different.  This passage is written to women, but it certainly impacts men.

Women are told here to dress themselves in modest apparel. Of course when I think of modest my first thought is of things that are not revealing or sexually appealing. That is of course part of it - but there is a lot more to it and it is a lot more demanding. I guess the best way to break it down is that modest apparel is simply not dressing in a way that calls attention to oneself. It is proper and moderate and not overly fancy.

Of course the call to modesty is for all believers – no one should dress in such a way that it draws attention to their bodies.

I am not a woman so I can’t speak for them. I don’t know how women respond to immodesty. But I do know that despite being a Christian for 40 years and married to a woman I adore for 36 years I still notice immodestly dressed women. It shouldn’t still distract me, but it does. And I know that I am not the only one.

As a man I would like to ask my dear sisters in Christ for a favour. Please, think about us weak men and help us out remembering the call to modest dress. Godliness and good works will always encourage us and build us up.

The article below says it a lot better than me. And it was written by a woman.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Praying everwhere

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;  - 1 Timothy 2.8

Prayer is one of those areas that is a faith tester. After 40 years I still don’t understand where some prayers get answered and some ‘don’t.’ I don’t understand why sometimes bad things happen when I do pray and sometimes good things happen when I forget to pray or just don’t pray about it.

I don’t think we really have to ‘get it’ all the time. I think we just need to do what Paul says and simply pray.

We ought to pray with uplifted holy hands. Those uplifted holy hands can he literal or figurative, but they must be holy. This idea of holiness means hands ‘which have committed no impiety, and observed every sacred duty.’

Our praying must be done from hearts that strive for holiness and piety. We know from other places that prayers can be hindered by sins we refuse to deal with. Prayers should be offered up in holiness.

Prayers must also be offered without wrath. There is no room for anger or wrath or bitterness or clamouring when we pray. We can’t expect God to hear our prayers when we are not right with others.

And then we should pray without doubt. Without doubt means that we have no doubt that God is going to do what is best no matter how it turns out for us. We may not get what ‘we want’ but we need to be sure that we are in no doubt that what God does is exactly what we really need.

Pray everywhere
Pray in holiness
Pray without anger
Pray without doubt

We don’t really have to understand all the theology – just do it. 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Teaching in faith and truth

for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. – 1 Timothy 2.7

Every time I read about teachers in the scriptures I pause and take notice. Jesus was, of course, the Master Teacher. Teaching was, and I think is, one of the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gives to His church. I love teaching. I know that I am serving now in the role of a church planting pastor, but even there teaching is what I love.

Paul knew that the Holy Spirit had called him as a preacher and an apostle to the Gentiles. He then went on to explain what he meant by a ‘preacher.’

He said 'I am a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and in truth.'

As a teacher, especially as a Christian teacher, I have grown to realise the importance of teaching in faith and in truth. Those two elements are vital for teachers.

We must trust that what we are teaching is true. If we don’t believe it is true then we can’t teach it. To teach the word of God we must, have the faith to know it is true.

But I think there is another side. Paul was convinced that he was teaching the faith and he was teaching the truth. If I didn’t believe that what I teach is the faith and the truth I don’t think I could continue because sometimes that is all that keeps me going.

I have the faith. I have the truth. I am a teacher.

What else can I do?