Morning! Ugh. I am not a morning person. But then I’m not a late night person either. My husband says my best time of the day is 8:00-8:15 a.m. He’s probably right.
On this particular morning, I opened my eyes to the dim morning light, shut off the electric blanket, and climbed out of bed. My feet hit the floor and the day immediately started. Grabbing coffee and having my devotions, I then booted up the computer and got to work. Work for me was (and still is) from home, where I have spent anywhere from 10-15 hours each day for many years doing online work. For the most part it has been a combination of stress and enjoyment, made necessary when it became imperative to find something to do while I kept my mom, who suffered for several years with advanced dementia, as contented as possible. She had passed only months before this particular morning.
Because I was now slightly more free to come and go, I went out for errands. My husband, retired, also chose that day to do some necessary chores away from the house. The sky began to look overcast, and so I hurried home, arriving within five minutes of his pulling into the driveway as well–both unplanned.
Just as we parked, the wind picked up with gusto, blowing a tree down onto the electric lines, and within seconds the bedroom was encased in flames. The electric had doubled in the wires going through the house, and finding a path of least resistance, went through the electric blanket plug, even though it was not turned on, and set the bed on fire. Had I still been laying there, I would have been electrocuted, I was told. Death could have called me home quickly! The conductor–the metal frame within the box springs–would have been enough to have fried me. For whatever purpose, God spared me, but my time on earth could have ended that day.
We hear it said so often, “You are not promised tomorrow!” How true that is! We have both had too many brushes with death in the past five years, and amazement fills our minds at the incredible mercy God keeps showing in keeping us here. Obviously we have more rivers to cross!
The sermon topic for Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA, this past Sunday was “Unfinished: The Time Is Now.” Pastor Jonathan Falwell encouraged the congregation to take every opportunity to tell the story of the love, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ while there is yet time. Get your notebook, a cup of coffee or tea, and click on http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and click on the “select” button for the sermon for October 16, 2016. If you have someone who can share the time with you (a friend, family, or group), you can discuss the message, applying the principles Pastor Falwell taught. Jesus, the Son of God, gave a command to the believers of all ages to go into all the word and spread the good news of His grace and mercy available to all people. Do the study as quickly or as slowly as fits your schedule, and enjoy delving deep into His word, learning how to make the most of the time you have.
Saying goodbye to a loved one, whether because of imminent death, military deployment or for some other reason, is so very hard. We try to include everything that is exceptionally special into those final words. Do you have an instance you can think of?
We are nearing the end of the series, “Unfinished,” as Paul tries to leave nothing unsaid that Timothy—and future believers—will need as they stay true to Jesus Christ in the face of whatever persecution they may encounter in their lifetime. He gives a heartfelt exhortation regarding the task of living out life as a faithful believer. These words are particularly pertinent to us today.
Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Think About or Discuss:
- Whose responsibility is it to share the news of the Gospel (verse 2a)? What other scriptures do you know that lay the duty for telling the story of Jesus on all believers?
- “Preaching” is the word used, meaning to proclaim the Gospel to the world. Why do believers think this is for pastors only, considering passages like Matthew 28:18-20?
- How do you prepare yourself to “be ready”? What does that “readiness” consist of?
- Being commissioned for a certain duty is a serious and solemn action. So much so, Paul’s word of “charge” means plead, beg or urge followers to carry out the command. What does he say your commission is, in verse 2b? How is this parallel to being commissioned in the military, and serving where you are told to go? What is involved in the military aspect? Go back and read Chapter 2:3,4 and see how Paul uses this activity as a comparison.
- Look at the verbs in 2b, and think deeply about each word; describe how it would be done in love? (A description of each word’s Greek meaning will be at the end.)
The Time is Now!
- What are some of the signs of the end times regarding the people who are in churches in verses 3 and 4? Which of these traits are you seeing now, and can you think of an example?
- This does not refer to the world, but to the church. Why will they feel this way toward Jesus Christ and living the Christian life?
Our Time Is Now
- How does Paul begin verse 5? Why does he expect you to be different?
- Read Phil. 2:14-16. How can you guard your walk?
Paul is now just a few days—perhaps a few hours—away from his execution. Every word is measured for the value it will mean to Timothy and the church, both at that time and in the future. Therefore, all believers should take these words to heart, knowing that they are God’s words through Paul to everyone. Now we are living in a time when persecution is getting worse, and the time to make believers may be short. We don’t know but what our own personal time might be close! In that light, be diligent to carry out the charge of telling people about the love of God for them, because you might be the only person who will share the story of God’s grace with your own extended family, friends, co-workers or community. Pray fervently that you will stay strong through all tribulations, and be bold to confess Jesus as Lord.
Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 4:5: “But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 4:1-5; Romans 10:13,14
Verse 2: “Be ready”: to continue activity in the face of opposition, in spite of the state of the world; to continue to practice what you have been doing for Christ on a constant basis. “Convince”: to implement or help someone see truth, and win them over with love. “Rebuke”: to disapprove of actions, or call sin by its right name. “Exhort”: to encourage strongly by helping someone understand. “Longsuffering”: emotional calm in the midst of provocation (again, done in love). “Teaching”: to provide instruction to one who needs it; to be able to disagree with their actions without being disagreeable.
Have a blessed week, getting spiritual exercise by walking with God daily!
Photo: copyright, Sandra Day