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February 2008

The Verbs of Paul's Final Instructions

I have spent the last couple of weeks reading through the book of First Timothy in the New Testament.  I need to read through it again.  The Apostle Paul’s two thousand year old words of encouragement and instruction to Timothy, the young pastor at Ephesus, are some of the same words that I have needed to hear in my heart and life this past week.  It is amazing how the Holy Spirit does that.

I spent the bulk of my devotional time last week reading and rereading the last few verses of chapter six in First Timothy.  The subheading in that section of my Bible labels the Apostle’s comments as “Paul’s Final Instructions.”  Verses 11 through 21 of First Timothy chapter 6 are some of Paul’s last words to his friend Timothy, the church, the world and . . . to you and to me. 

Last words are important.

I noticed in my reading that Paul’s last words in verses 11 through 21 are not only words of wisdom and direction but they are also words of action.  Specifically, Paul leaves Timothy with nine verbs—

  • Run
  • Pursue
  • Fight
  • Hold
  • Obey
  • Teach
  • Tell
  • Guard
  • Avoid

Throughout the New Testament the words of Paul ring out in foundational Biblical truths and upon his words sound theologies have been built and traditional creeds constructed.  In Paul’s last words we see a call to action. Over the past week I have become convinced that these words of action are relevant to my life as one who serves as a leader in the church and ultimately as one who is a follower of Jesus Christ.

Last words are important—especially the Apostle Paul’s last words.  Over the next nine Sundays I will endeavor to post thoughts and reflections on the nine verbs that Paul uses in his final instructions to his friend, protégé and fellow preacher, Timothy.

I invite you to join me in a study of and meditation upon the Biblical passage of First Timothy 6:11-21.  I hope that this will be a time of growth for all of us as we consider the Word of God together and meditate upon its message throughout the week.

Here is the scripture passage:

I Timothy 6:11-21 (NLT)

11 But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. 13 And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 15 For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. 16 He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

17 Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. 18 Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. 19 By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.

20 Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. 21 Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness.

May God’s grace be with you all.

Scripture taken from © Copyright 1995-2008


Dressed in Gentleness
By Henri Nouwen

“Once in a while we meet a gentle person. Gentleness is a virtue hard to find in a society that admires toughness and roughness. We are encouraged to get things done and to get them done fast, even when people get hurt in the process. Success, accomplishment, and productivity count. But the cost is high. There is no place for gentleness in such a milieu.

Gentle is the one who does "not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick" (Matthew 12:20). Gentle is the one who is attentive to the strengths and weaknesses of the other and enjoys being together more than accomplishing something. A gentle person treads lightly, listens carefully, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence. A gentle person knows that true growth requires nurture, not force. Let's dress ourselves with gentleness. In our tough and often unbending world our gentleness can be a vivid reminder of the presence of God among us.”

We need more gentleness in our world.  I need more gentleness in my life.  It is my prayer that this precious fruit of the Spirit will begin to bud in my heart and life.

Running Reflections

"Believe what you saw when you were in the light, and when you are in the ploughed field and God’s moral seasons are going over you—the remainder of the cold, hard winter, the beginnings of the strange, painful stirrings of spring—keep abandoned to Him. He knows the seasons to bring to your soul as He does in the natural world."
.--Oswald Chambers, Run Today's Race, January 7

Reflections by Ryan:
In the light of the summertime, the fields are alive, the crops are abundant and the work is immediately rewarding.  Yet, just on the heels of the rich time of harvest is the constant of change.  The fall colors give way to the cold stillness of winter and the green growth of the springtime seems only a memory.  Just as the hand of God is realized in the stages of growth and the harvest, so is His presence active in the seasons of change in our lives.

However, the grace of God in your life is not subject to change like the seasons.  You might change, but his loving grace remains constant.  He is present and working--not only in the vivid summertime of your faith but also in your cold winter of waiting.  With God, when it seems like nothing is happening--something is happening.

The presence of a plowed field speaks of the promise of new life.  Plowing is unsettling but needed.  The plow prepares the ground for the sowing of seed and is the prerequisite to new growth.  Let the blade of sorrow, struggle or the conviction of sin penetrate the soil of your soul.  Let it turn under the pride, worry and selfishness and then yield yourself to God, knowing that the moral seasons of cold, rain, snow and ice are working to transform the old ways of your life into new growth in Him.  Wait upon the Lord.  Submit yourself to His working in your soul. 

When the green of new growth begins to push up through the tilled soil of your heart and life, hold tightly to God.  Know that in the midst of the spring rains and cool nights God is working--sustaining you as the warm light of summer inches closer.  Growth happens as the winds of the Spirit blow and the seasons of change move over your soul.

We must wait upon the Lord, the creator and sustainer of all things--believing in faith that He is working to bring about a rich harvest in our lives.  Keep abandoned to Him--trusting that as surely as the sun rises on a summer morning He is lovingly present and working in your life.

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” 
,--Isaiah 40:8

Run Today’s Race: A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year. Copyright © 1968 Oswald Chambers Publications Association Ltd.
Scripture: NIV

Tennis In February

Tennis_pic Thanks to you faithful three that check and read my blog regularly.  Sorry about my absence in the blogosphere this past week.  I don't know what happened.  It doesn't seem like I have been too busy and I do have things to write about and post--it just never happened.  For now I am back.

On Sunday I found myself playing tennis in 20 degree Fahrenheit weather.  (Maybe that is why I haven't blogged--my brain is frozen)  It was a good time to hang with my friends: Brent, Jamie and George.  George took the picture with his cell phone.  We needed proof that we were all really dumb enough to play tennis in February.

Yep, we are.