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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Well-Compassioned

276 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Tim 3:12) I think we all need to let this statement sink in. We should pay special attention to the word “will!” It's not “might” suffer persecution, it's will! Who “will” suffer persecution? Those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus. Let's break this down a little bit. Those who “desire” to live godly are those who are “determined” to live godly. This “determination” (which we are able to resist by exercising our free will) is a gift from God and it comes from the Holy Spirit, and those who follow the Spirit's leading instead of resisting it, are spiritually alive! (That's what the word “live” implies). When one is spiritually alive, he is “godly in Christ Jesus.” The idea is that such a person is “well compassioned,” He or she takes on the compassion that earmarked Jesus. Just a quick word on compassion. The classic example is the story of the good Samaritan. He had compassion on the man in the ditch, and the word compassion means “his bowels yearned.” Now I know this is a little crass, but I don't know how else to say it, When my bowels yearn I am compelled to act and I look for the nearest restroom! One of the earmarks of a born-again Christian is they are well compassioned, and why not? The most well-compassioned person who ever existed now lives in them! They can't help but listen to the Spirit who prompts them to take action. The compassion of Jesus is summed up in the term “agape love.” Agape love is giving people what they need, not necessarily what they want, and this is where the persecution will come from. People need to know that Jesus is the only way to salvation, but they will come after you for being intolerant. People need to know that sexual sin is harmful, (and yes, that includes sex outside the bounds of marriage) 1Co 6:18 says, “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.” But they will come after you for being an old-fashioned prude. People need to know that abortion is murder, but they will come after you for sticking your nose into their body, conveniently forgetting that there is another body involved. People also need to know that there is forgiveness for these sins and all others, but their flesh keeps looking for other ways to deal with their guilt. Being “well-compassioned is to stick to speaking the truth....in love no matter what! Keep responding to human need around you, (that's love) but never weary of proclaiming biblical truth. It's something we all need! If you do this, you will likely not be appreciated by the world, but neither was Jesus!

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Persecutions of Paul

275 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:10,11, “ But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 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 Tim 3:10,11) Timothy has not only observed the character of Paul and his deep commitment to his calling, but he has also seen the price Paul paid. In Antioch of Pisidia, Paul was opposed by the Jews who sought to contradict everything he was saying about Jesus and they spoke evil of Paul. We read about it in Ac 13:45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul.” Not content with their ugly use of words they raised up further persecution against Paul and Barnabas and kicked them out of their region: Verse 50: “ But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region. Then in Iconium, The Jews and the Gentiles went after him: Ac 14:5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,” Paul and Barnabas then fled to Lystra where they preached the gospel, but their persecutors followed them: Ac 14:19 Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” Yes, Timothy had seen all of this and Paul mentioned it to the Corinthians as well as we read in 2Co 1:9,10, “ Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us,” Finally Paul quotes this reassuring verse for Timothy from Ps 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all. My friends we have not yet been pressed yet to the sentence of death, but isn't it good to know that no matter the persecution, no matter the trial, no matter the suffering, we have this great promise of deliverance. If not from the immediate circumstances, but the ultimate deliverance into the life to come! Hold onto that promise today and endure whatever hardship you may be facing. God will deliver!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Love Them Anyway

274 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, (2 Tim 3:10) We've talked about Paul's doctrine, manner of life, purpose, and perseverance in presenting the gospel, today, let's talk about Paul's example of love and perseverance. Timothy had witnessed Paul's dedication to loving on people no matter what! The love spoken of here is agape love, which is defined as giving people what they need, not necessarily what they want. The people wanted a King to rule in a physical kingdom on earth to deliver the people from the yoke of oppressive governments, but God gave us a sacrificial Lamb to deliver us from our sin problem, which is our deepest need! It's funny, unless God opens our eyes, we are almost never happy with this kind of love! Give us what we want! Look how the people turned on Jesus when they realized He was not going to be the earthly Messiah they wanted. But God “agaped” them (and us) anyway! People were not happy with Paul's message of salvation by grace versus salvation by works, and look how he was treated, but he persevered in agapeing them anyway. A poem entitled “Anyway” found framed on the wall of Mother Theresa's children's home in Calcutta began with these words: People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered....love them anyway. This kind of love demonstrated by Paul was observed by Timothy and served as a model for him and it ought to be a model for us. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine was having a difficult time at work. It the sort of thing that happens to all of us sooner or later. And whereas I am apt to go in with guns ablazing trying to fix the situation, my friend's plan was quote: “I'm just going to go in to work tomorrow and love on people.” What a great solution! Love on people and let God do the rest! It is as Jesus said in Lu 6:35 "But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. This kind of love can only come from God! Ask Him for it! Use it! And patiently wait for His results.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What If I'm Fifteen?

273 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, (2 Ti 3:10) Timothy has carefully observed Paul in all these different aspects of his life and ministry. Paul is setting these before Timothy now, so that he will use them as his own pattern once Paul is called home. Today, let's talk about Paul's pattern of faith and longsuffering. In a nutshell, he was convinced of the truth of the crucified and risen Christ revealed to him on the road to Damascus and all the other revelations given to him by Jesus and he stuck to his guns. He didn't waver on the doctrine of Christ! It is as he wrote earlier to Timothy in 2Ti 1:12, “ for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” The longsuffering that Paul speaks of here is that of being patient with people. It is closely related to the patience and perseverance that God mercifully holds out to unbelievers as we read in 2Pe 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.' So Paul reminds Timothy here to be patient as it relates to the gospel producing fruit. Not everyone gets it the first time around. As I reflect back on my own prodigal days, and occasional exposure to the gospel, I realize that the gospel was always presented when I happened to attend church, I just didn't get it! So, persevere in presenting the faith! Fruit will come! There was a Greg Long song that was popular a few years ago called “Fifteen,” and the chorus went like this: “If it takes 15 times, to hear about Jesus for someone to believe, wherever I stand in line I've got to make a difference in case it comes down to me. Cuz I may be the 3rd, maybe the 7th, there may be years in between, but what if I'm 15, what if I'm fifteen!” Don't give up on the gospel. Today may be the day someone hears it from your lips and finally gets it!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Your Purpose

273 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, ( 2 Tim 3:10) We've talked about Paul's purpose and Timothy's purpose, but what about your purpose? What are God's plans for your life? Paul had the advantage of a face to face encounter with Jesus. Timothy had the face to face tutelage of Paul. What do you and I have? We have the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, and it is more than enough to shake out our personal purpose in the kingdom. The Bible is a very personal book. The Holy Spirit speaks to you and I through it's pages. Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. God is the Potter and we are the clay and He fearfully and wonderfully made us. He knows what we are best suited for and He created us for participation in His kingdom. We are saved by grace for a purpose as we read in Eph 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” How do we discover these good works? How do we uncover our purpose? It's fairly simple. Respond to the Word of God as you meditate on it. Trust the Holy Spirit to speak to you through His Word and then seek to comply with it. Ps 37:4 says “Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The word delight here, means be pliable, like clay. Let the Word of God shape you. Believe it! Obey it! Stop worrying about your purpose, It will unfold for you as God gives you the desires of your heart. He knows those desires better than you because He created you! There's no magic trick here. Be pliable in God's hands and you will eventually find yourself smack dab in the middle of His purpose for you. Try this simple prayer on a daily basis from Rom 12:1, “Lord by Your mercy I present my body a living sacrifice to you. Here I am, what is it that you would have me to do.” Then simply watch for opportunities to respond to situations that come your way in accordance with what God the Holy Spirit has spoken to you through His Word. It may not be what you imagined, but think about it, who has the better imagination? You or God?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Timothy's Purpose

272 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, ( 2 Tim 3:10) Last time we talked about Paul's purpose which was made crystal clear to him by His face to face meeting with Jesus. But how about Timothy's purpose? How about yours? Let's look today at Timothy's purpose. Although he had no face to face encounter with Jesus to spell out his purpose in the church, he had many face to face encounters with Paul....who did. Perhaps the best way to describe Timothy's purpose would be to say he was like a relay runner, taking the baton from Paul and handing it off to future generations of leaders in the Christian church. His purpose was put in writing for all to see! Paul wrote in 2Ti 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. In one sense, his purpose was to tag along with Paul on his missionary journeys and learn to emulate Paul, because he would be the Paul of the next generation! He traveled with Paul and at times was sent by Paul to other churches to encourage and guide them in the ways of Christ handed down to the Apostles and Paul. But Timothy's purpose took the spread of Christianity and the planting of churches to the next level. Paul's letters to Timothy gave him specific instructions on how to run the church in regards to the care of the flock, including the qualifications for leaders, the conduct of the members and ministers, the administration of the church, the order in which the church should be conducted, and how to deal with the false teachers that would surely arise in the church. All this put in black and white for Timothy and for our church leaders of today. His purpose made clear as the Holy Spirit moved Paul to write these letters with these instructions. It would be wise for all of us to review these instructions for our churches today, it seems they would help us remember our own purposes as a church. Timothy didn't have to guess about His purpose. It was there for him written in ink by the Apostle Paul who was guided by Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Do we have to guess about our own individual purposes? We'll address that question next time.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Paul's Purpose

271 - Today's Prime Time Devo comes from 2Ti 3:10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, ( 2 Tim 3:10) Timothy carefully followed Paul's purpose. Okay, here's some fair questions: What was Paul purpose? What was Timothy's purpose” For that matter, what is your purpose? What are the plans that God has for you? This is something that kind of gnaws at all of us! First of all, let's look at Paul's purpose. Don't we wish we had it laid out before us as clearly as he had it laid out for him by Jesus! Paul recounted his purpose as he spoke to King Agrippa about his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus: Ac 26:16-18 says, “ 'But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, (there's that word again!) to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 'I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 'to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.'' No mistaking that charge from Jesus! Shortly after his encounter with Jesus, Ananias was told by the Lord to give him similar instructions: Ac 9:15 But the Lord said to him, (Ananias) "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." Then in Ac 13:2 we read of the church at Antioch sending Paul and Barnabas out to fulfill Paul's purpose! “ As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." The green light. Let the plan be put into action! Paul's purpose was (1) received directly by him from Jesus, (2) attested to by Ananias ( a second witness) and (3) triggered after a time of fasting by the Holy Spirit. Oh if it were only that simple for us today....but it is! And I hope we can explore God's purpose for you in the days ahead, beginning with Timothy's purpose next time on the Prime Time Devo!