Christian, Searching

A Spirit of Timidity?


Thoughts on 2 Timothy 1:7

The author of the letter is the Apostle Paul who is Timothy’s mentor. Paul  sees great promise for Timothy as a minister of the Gospel. However, it appears Timothy needed some inspiration, a reinvigoration.

In 1 Timothy Paul had given Timothy a lot of instructions regarding the church structure, relationships and expectations of behavior. He also encouraged Timothy to live up to his calling.

In 2 Timothy 1 the Apostle Paul tells his mentee, Timothy, to remember his heritage through his mother and grandmother. Then Paul tells Timothy he needs to stir up the Spiritual gifts within him, and, by the way, you have everything you need to minister the Good News. Paul writes:

2 Timothy 1: 6 I’m writing to encourage you to fan into a flame and rekindle the fire of the spiritual gift God imparted to you when I laid my hands upon you.

2 Timothy 1:7 For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.(The Passion Translation)

The word fear as used above is a translation of the Greek word deilia which Strong’s Concordance says denotes cowardice and timidity.

Being timid in life causes us to miss a lot of opportunities. We don’t know what prompted Paul to remind Timothy that he did not need to be timid. However, the same reminder can speak to us. Paul reminds Timothy that he had received an impartation from Paul through the laying on of hands. In verse 7 Paul defines the power pack combo that was imparted. That combo is available to the church today. As followers of Jesus, have we become timid, intimidated by the culture around us? When we showsome fearlessness, it is often towards the wrong target with the wrongexpression, but that discussion is reserved for another blog post.

Paul tells Timothy, and us, that the impartation of the Holy Spirit did not give timidity. What was imparted, though, was quite powerful and still is today.

What was imparted?

Power – not just any power, a power from indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Greek word is dunamism which speaks of miraculous power, more than just human power. It is the same power that raised up Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11).

Love – the Greek word used is agape which is the love that comes from God, the love Jesus told us to have for each other, the love God has for the whole world, such that He sent His son to die for the world, the love that is the indicator of the group of people called Christians and by which they will be known.

Sound mind/self-control – the Greek word is sophronismus and self-control is the better translation for me, the rhema revelation. We can stay on topic and respond appropriately to any situation. We can ‘act’ and not ‘re-act’. We are called to act unilaterally and not return attacks in-kind.

I have used 2 Timothy1:7 as a declaration regarding soundness of mind and it certainly fits that use. However, as I meditated on this verse and the preceding verses, I could see that Paul was giving Timothy a strong pep talk reminding him of his heritage, how much had been invested in him.

Maybe Timothy was in a dry spell. Maybe ministering was not as successful or easy as when he first stepped out to share the Gospel. That early emotional energy was no longer as intense. Basically, Paul was telling Timothy that he was armed and dangerous. He was filled with the Holy Spirit which meant he was empowered to demonstrate the power of God and manifest the love of God. That same empowerment also gave him the ability to minister that power and love guided by the Holy Spirit and to make appropriate responses to any objections. Putting verses 6 and 7 together, is the message “you were given what you need to do the job, you need to keep the fire burning”?

We are enabled with a powerful combination – the love of God and the power of God. We have been given spirit enabled self-control. That is a winning combination.

Father, make these words of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7 to be rhema to us. May we truly understand the magnitude of what we have been given by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Amen.

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Christian, Searching

The word ‘Identity’ has been in my thoughts recently.  Dictionary.com gives these definitions.

1. the state or fact of remaining the same one or ones, as under varying aspects or conditions
2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is; the qualities, beliefs, etc., that distinguish or identify a person or thing
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time
6. exact likeness in nature or qualities.

Of particular interest is ‘personal/unique identity’ which could be the first three definitions given. How do we see ourselves in our existence as one distinct entity among 7+ billion people? Is my distinctness lost in the mass of humanity? Is my uniqueness appreciated? Basically, who am I and who cares?

Tough questions and the answers are fundamental to how we approach our day to day lives. The answers affect how we relate to the world around us. These questions are not easily answered. However, there is an answer and the understanding of that answer is key to survival in this life.

When we are born we start to take on our identity as we relate to our new environment. Hopefully that initial experience is positive and continues as such. However, the world is seldom perfect. Our environment contains the imperfect. It contains others seeking to understand their identity. We are thrust into a world that we would ideally like to be fundamentally strong, constant, safe and in which we have a place of importance. Our internal hope, which can not be fully expressed in our early days of life, is that where we place our trust is dependable. However, over time, even in the best of situations, we discover that we are surrounded by imperfection and that our expectation of prominence is not assured. How we respond to each revelation of imperfection molds our identity.

As we age we add temporary and permanent characteristics to our identities. Some of these are by choice where we look positively at a characteristic and take that as part of our identity. For example, we can identify strongly with our school or Boy/Girl Scouts or our particular religion/sect in that religion or our chosen career or employer. Maybe a particular community activity is embraced as part of our identity. We can have a strong sense of family but that identification is not by choice. Some identity characteristics may not be intentional. Family is one. There could be some aspects of the family life that are undesirable but there could an emotional constraint that requires you to keep that relationship as part of your identity. You may be part of a religious group whose dogma you don’t really want to identify with but your participation is demanded by family tradition. Perhaps your grandparents and parents have always been part of a particular political party so you feel pressured to maintain that relationship by tradition and family. Perhaps you have been involved with what might be called a fringe political group on the far right or far left of the political spectrum.

All these potential attributes to your identity can actually be a love & hate relationship as your sense of belonging varies based on interpersonal relationships that have their ups and downs. Possibly some activities of a group cause uncertainty and negative feelings.

Another set of characteristics of our identity are formed by how we see ourselves. A particular physical attribute may prompt us to make that part of our identity, part of who we say we are. We could identify by the color of our skin or hair and that becomes part of our identity. This identity could be culturally enforced or it could be by choice.

While all these aspects of identity have great importance and influence,  there is one not mentioned that is of the utmost importance. If fully understood, it overrides all the others. It is one that we have by virtue of our existence. However, its importance depends upon how we choose to recognize our individual connection. We are born as children of God. Can we see our identity as a child of the creator of the universe? God says He knew us before we were conceived. Psalm 139:16:

“You saw who you created me to be before I became me!” (The Passion Translation)

The story of God’s history with man is written in the Bible.  There is much God has to say about our identity but the starting point is knowing that He loves us with an unconditional love. Jesus said in John 17 that God loves us, each individually, as much as He loves Jesus.

There is much more written that tells us our true identity throughout the Bible. I like the Gospel of John as a starting point, then the Book of Acts and then the epistles. The Psalms and Proverbs tell us much about who we are, also. We have a history that does not show in a genealogy report but must be derived from the Word of God. See my post in this blog on In the Beginning, but first see this. This is a love letter to us from God establishing who we are to Him God’s Love Letter.

God is at the top of my true genealogy report and even though it is quite a full report, He knows my name and loves me. He knows you also. He has your photo in his wallet and on His refrigerator. His cloud is full of photos of you. Our position with Him is our most precious identity. For more on this subject see your favorite hardcopy or softcopy Bible, desktop or app.

My Identity-what is it?

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Beginning, Christian

Who chooses?

There was an article in today’s news about a court ruling in The Netherlands. There was a person who decided their birth gender was wrong and wanted to change to the other gender. Then after awhile the same person decided they did not want to be identified by either of the birth genders. They wanted to be able to use both. So the court ordered that the legislature should create a third gender. Don’t you love it when courts decide to create something and then toss the ball to let society work it out, especially when its contrary to God’s Word and the history of creation.

There is some confusion in some people in the world regarding their sexual identity. Fortunately it is a very small percentage of the population. Giving into the concept of a third gender is a mess the world should not entertained. The world does need to legitimize something contrary to God’s Word that will be abused forever. Let’s call this potential new gender ‘3G’. Can a shoe manufacturer be sued for not making a line of ‘3G’ shoes? They make men’s and women’s so how can ‘3G’ be discriminated against? So the manufacturers start making ‘All Genders’ shoes with new size parameters. We already know how the public bathroom/school locker rooms/retail changing rooms situation plays out. More could be said but I think we all see the potential difficulties. Of course, the main and dominating issue is that humankind can not function with all the blessings God intended when humankind decides to take another path, a path that is contrary to what God intends. Peace comes when we accept God’s plan and walk it out.

What does God say about this subject? Two scriptures came to my attention immediately and the Word speaks for itself. The first defines humanity including genders. The second notes that we are God’s creation molded as He intended from conception to birth. We are perfectly designed by the Creator of all the has been created.
I am using The Message translation, copyright:
1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 Eugene H. Peterson by NavPress Publishing.

Genesis 1:26-28
God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female. (my emphasize)

 

Psalms 139:13-16
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.”

 

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The Simple Theme

We have been reading in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians, in Chapter 5. Earlier in this letter Paul had chastised the Galatians for having given up their freedom from the law so quickly after finding their freedom in Christ Jesus. In Chapter 5 he repeats a theme expressed several times by Jesus in Word and Action. Jesus said the only commandment He was leaving us was “Love God, Love your neighbor.” Paul helped us with the definition of ‘love’ in the 1 Corinthians 13 so we have clarity about what Love means. Jesus had demonstrated this definition many times leading up to His ultimate demonstration on the Cross. Jesus’s Love cut across many legalistic and traditional separations in the culture of His time on earth. Peter and Paul, as leaders of the early church, also learned to work across these same type of separations (See Acts of the Apostles).

Back to Galatians, we learn that the global congregation of believers was already forming groups that differentiated themselves based on diverse understandings of teachings and how much of Judaism they needed to observe. In my life time I have been involved in various groups with quite a range of understandings of Scripture. Each group had devised a set of ‘laws’ to codify their beliefs. Some were quite detailed and packaged in hard bound books. Others very loosely based on various writings of various teachers. Some had a crisp hierarchical structure. Others just loose relationships. In each uniqueness, self-proclaimed uniqueness, made up the identity. The effect was to put a boundary that separated or limited the relationships with other believers. A lot of time was wasted on learning to be unique. The Apostle Paul cuts across this division in Chapter 5 verse 6, noting that none of the points of separation amount to anything. What matters is our faith in righteousness through Jesus Christ, expressed in Love.

The Message translation Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.”

English Standard Version Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

The assignment given is to demonstrate our faith through love. Nothing else matters. Nothing else survives. Do we accept the assignment? A question asked by many in the last 2000 years. Some have accepted and then missed in implementation. Some have seen the light and taken the challenge and gone to the ends of the earth.

“Lord, fill us with your love and peace and rest. Don’t let us miss opportunities to show how great, how unfathomable, your love is. Breakdown the barriers that separate us.  Work through us, Father, to fulfill your plan. Help us to keep our focus on you. Help us to be so close to you that we can do as Jesus did, by doing what we ‘see’ you doing. Let your Love emanating from us demonstrate your love for all people. We ask in Jesus Name.”

 

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Beginning, Christian

In the beginning

The phrase in the beginning as been in my thoughts lately. What I am sensing is God is wanting to make sure my understanding of in the beginning is firm and a sure foundation. There are two places in His story, the Bible, where this phrase has related significance. Affirming foundational beliefs is a door opener to further revelation.

Everything has a beginning. Well, almost everything. God has no beginning. He just is. The record of His story of His relationship with man starts in Genesis 1:1 with In the beginning God…. God defines immediately a foundational belief for all who choose to walk with Him. Our acceptance of this foundation is essential to enabling our access to revelation of who He is and who we are to Him. God further emphasizes His role with the next word – created. This is most important to us as it defines His role as Creator and, therefore, our role as the created.

In another use of that phrase, in the beginning, the Apostle John starts his account of God’s visitation in human form in the Gospel of John. John gives us a flashback to Genesis 1:1. He tells us that God has another representation at the first in the beginning. That representation, the Word, was also in the beginning and was with God in the beginning. The Word’s relationship to God is so intertwined that they are essentially the same, two members of the Trinity. Then John reveals it was through the Word that God created everything.

John 1:14 declares that this same Word became flesh and dwelt among the people as Jesus Christ.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sometimes when we struggle to make sense of things we must go back to the foundational teachings and re-confirm our beliefs. The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy, said don’t worry about what is going on in the world, stick with what you know. In 2 Tim 3:14-17 (The Message):

But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.”

What are our foundational beliefs? Are we the potter or the pot? Did Jesus as Christ, God in flesh, walk this earth? Is the Bible just a set of stories someone consolidated, or a God-breathed record protected over time for our benefit? There are many things we do not understand yet. However, when the world challenges our beliefs do we get fuzzy thinking and faith challenged, or can we say, with God given faith, I chose God and trust Him to resolve my lack of understanding. It is not necessary for me to have all the answers because I have God and He is the Answer. He is my Creator and His Son Jesus is my Savior and my Peace. The Holy Spirit is my companion and guide. Together we go forward.

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