Saturday, October 6, 2007

Monday Morning Devotions.

II Tim. 1:6- "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." (NKJV)

There are times in our service to God when we exceed our limitations or fall into the trap of depending upon our own strength. These are the times that we become burned-out and we cease to pursue the purposes God has for our lives. Also, we can be tempted to quit our service to God and his Church during times of overwhelming persecution. From the context of the above verse, this seems to have been Timothy's problem that Paul was concerned about. Paul was writing Timothy from prison; he was arrested during Nero's persecution of the Church and he knew that he was soon to be executed. In his last letter to Timothy, Paul exhorted him not to cease ministering to the Church, proclaiming the Gospel and equipping the next generation of pastors. As an antidote to the temptations to quit serving God that persecution often brings, Paul commanded Timothy to "stir up the gift" that was in him. That command came with instructions, instructions that we often fail to follow in our own lives. Paul told Timothy to "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." (v. 13) Note here that Paul did not just tell Timothy to hold to Paul's teaching, but to do so "in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." These are the portions of scriptural instruction we are apt to forget. We know that we could not be saved without faith upon our part, and the origin of that faith is the Triune God. Yet when seeking to live as a disciple, or to stir up the gifts previously bestowed upon us by God, or seeking entire sanctification, we forget that the same faith required for salvation is required to live a life that pleases God. Or knowing that faith is required in these cases, we try to stir up our own faith within us, forgetting that this needed faith is found in Christ Jesus. The love Paul speaks about also has its source in God's Son. If the source of our efforts for God is a simply a sense of personal discipline, our efforts will result in frustration, boredom, powerlessness and ultimately, utter defeat. Yet if our motivation is love for God and man, then the results will be different. Yet just as faith cannot be manufactured from within us, neither can we stir up love within us. The love found in Christ Jesus was the only love capable of empowering Timothy's devotion; that same love is the only love capable of empowering ours. God is love, and when we first believe, the Father and the Son send the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, to abide in our hearts. This is the source of faith and love that are found in Christ Jesus. Other scriptures teach us that if we cooperate with the Spirit by obeying His commands, by not allowing sin to compete with the Spirit's work, then it is the Spirit who empowers us in all that we do. This point is and will be repeated often here, because it is of the greatest importance and is often forgotten, resulting in tragic ends to lives that had once seemed to going to be going well.

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