Legacy

5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well (2 Timothy 1).

Saving faith cannot be transferred from one generation to the next, yet it indeed can be caught. Timothy was a follower of Christ—not through his ancestors, but in large part because of them. He grew up learning what “sincere faith” was, as he observed his “grandmother Lois and … mother Eunice” and their daily walk with God. And because of their faith, those two faithful women did not simply have a progeny—they had a legacy.

Which would you rather have, a progeny or a legacy? Which are you striving for, a progeny or a legacy? If only a progeny, then you will coddle and spoil your way into selfish misery. But if it is truly a legacy that you desire, then you will pursue personal godliness with every ounce of strength which God gives you, praying all the while that your progeny will catch at least a small portion of it along the way.

Lord, help us This Day to be all we can be in Christ Jesus—that our progeny might become our legacy. Amen.

Unfeigned Faith

5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you (2 Timothy 1).

Our English word “sincere” reflects a positive meaning of “heartfelt genuineness or wholeheartedness,” while the word in Greek (“anypokritos”) reflects a much more negative meaning of “being without hypocrisy or disguise.”  How very interesting that Paul would choose to describe “faith” in terms of a negative, rather than a positive.  He could have chosen the word “eilikrinḗs” (from “heilē—shining of the sun”), which would have been very positive and uplifting indeed (and no doubt much more acceptable in our “Political Correctness” culture today).  Yet instead, Paul chose a word with a more negative connotation.

Why? Because there are times when we need to be warned, and not just uplifted. How very sad it is that something as wonderful and crucial as faith can be faked—that it can be simply donned as a mask to disguise the very absence of what it portrays! And what is worse, and even tragic, is how this happens so frequently!Paul had seen so much hypocrisy in terms of personal expressions of faith, that he felt even his encouragement to Timothy must be veiled in a warning. 

Lord, may the faith we express in our lives This Day be seen either as sincere and heartfelt and genuine and shining like the sun, or as without hypocrisy or disguise—depending on the need in the hearts of those who see our faith. Amen.

True Love and Affection

2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy (2 Timothy 1).

There is no doubt but that Paul considered Timothy as his adopted “son” in the faith, with whom a deep and mutual affection existed. This is evidenced by the blessing Paul gives of “grace, mercy and peace,” his gratitude to God for him (“I thank God”), his constant “prayers night and day” for him, and his “longing to see” him.

How do you know someone really loves you? They bless you and want the very best for you; they are truly grateful for you; they pray for you all the time; and they always really, really miss you when you are separated. How do you show real love to someone? You do the same.

Lord, help us This Day to show true love and affection to those we say we love. Amen.

Messengers with the Message

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1).

Paul’s apostleship was based upon three inextricable attributes of God: His sovereign providence, His absolute righteousness, and His unfailing love and goodness. In other words, Paul was an apostle because it was God’s “will” for him to be one; he was an apostle because God had kept his “promise” to send the Messiah to save him; and he was an apostle because God had given him “life in Christ Jesus.”  

In the sense that the word “apostle” in its broadest sense means “one who is sent out,” the same can be said for all of us who are also saved in Christ Jesus—we have also been “sent out” to proclaim Him among the nations. No less than to The Twelve, the statement/command of Acts 1:8 applies also to us: “You shall be My witnesses ….”  

Lord, send us out This Day with the same assurance as Paul—that we are Your messengers with the glorious message of salvation in Christ. Amen.

Praying, Greeting, Reading

25 Brethren, pray for us. 26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss. 27 I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you (1 Thessalonians 5).

Prayer, greetings, and readings—these are the closing requests in this epistle Paul made to God’s people. Not a bad thing for them to do. Not a bad thing for any of us to do. Every time we pray for our spiritual leaders, every time we greet one another in love, and every time we read the Scriptures together, we are fulfilling this final request of perhaps the greatest Christian who ever lived.

And in these things we find “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” being manifested in our lives and in His Church.

Lord, help us This Day to pray, greet, and read. Amen.

The Great Finisher

23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass (1 Thessalonians 5).

Here is yet one other biblical text concerning the security of the believer. God is “faithful,” and He will indeed “bring … to pass” what He has begun in our lives. He who “calls” is He who will also “sanctify” so that every part of us will be “preserved complete” on that great day when Jesus comes back for His own.

Here’s the bottom line: God always finishes what He starts; He just doesn’t ever go halfway. You can take that to the bank. He placed His Spirit within us in order to work His Son out of us, and nothing will deter Him until that is accomplished. In fact, even while He is making it happen, He already sees it as if it already has.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness! Help us This Day to be faithful to You. Amen.

As Far Away As Possible

22 … abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5).

Some think of sin or “evil” as something to play with, as in seeing how close you can stand to a fire without getting burned. Or, seeing how near to the edge of a cliff you can inch without falling off. Yet the word “abstain” here is just the opposite of such foolishness. It means “to hold one’s self off or away” from something. 

It’s not that complicated. The further we can keep ourselves away from evil, the better off we will be. Yet, too often we are like bugs drawn to an enticing glow of a lamp and getting zapped. 

Lord, help us This Day to stay as far away from evil as we can. Amen.

Taste Tests

20 … do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully … (1 Thessalonians 5).

The best way to honor those who deliver “prophetic utterances” is to “examine everything carefully” they are saying. The Apostle Paul commended the brethren in Berea because “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They did not just swallow whole everything Paul taught them, but checked the Scriptures to make sure his words aligned with God’s Word.

This is what it means to “love God … with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37)—you value God’s Word above all other words and use your mind to analyze things taught by religious people. Any truly devoted pastor desires a congregation that checks out the spiritual food he has prepared for them before swallowing it.

Lord, help us This Day to love You with our minds by performing taste tests. Amen.

When Cold Water Is Not Good

19 Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances (1 Thessalonians 5).

When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost the Bible says it did so as “tongues as of fire” that “rested on” those gathered (Acts 2:3). We also read where God is described as “a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). Even as we quench a fire by throwing water on it, so can we “quench the Spirit” by throwing cold water on “prophetic utterances” from the mouths and pens of His servants.

The word “despise” means “to make of no account” or “to give no value” to something. It essentially means to ignore something, to brush it off as having no importance. It means not to listen, and not to be attentive to those who teach and preach God’s Word. Or, it means to read God’s Word (or even this attempt at explaining it) without engaging the heart and mind to find its meaning and personal application.

Lord, thank You for all the prophetic utterances You give us. Help us This Day not to come to them with cold water. Amen.

A Distinguishing Mark

18 … in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus … (1 Thessalonians 5).

This command falls naturally on the heels of rejoicing always and praying without ceasing. For to “give thanks” to God is a prayer in itself either as a result of joy, or resulting in joy. To be “in Christ Jesus” is to walk in an attitude of joy and thanksgiving being expressed to God. This is His will for us and it will never change.

According to Romans 1, all “ungodliness and unrighteousness” is characterized by those who do not honor God “nor give thanks” to Him. Thus, ingratitude to God puts us in the same company of ungodly and unrighteous people, and this is certainly not “God’s will” for us.

It is also important to see that this gratitude is not necessarily for everything—but it is always “in” everything. We must be grateful to God no matter what comes our way. This truly distinguishes true believers from ungodly and unrighteous people, whose religious attitudes produce gratitude only when things are going well.

Lord, we give You thanks for every blessing You have bestowed on us in Christ Jesus. Help us to live This Day with an attitude of gratitude. Amen.