Best of Days
Dear Brothers and Sisters, As we enter into another week, I'd like to impart a few thoughts to hopefully help you and I be more equipped for the days to come. According to news reports the White House has elected to extend social-distancing guidelines to the end of April. This means for the next 5 weeks: 1. A great many Americans will still need to shelter in place. 2. Many businesses will still be required to temporarily keep their doors closed. 3. Other businesses will be required to limit their customers and staff. 4. Schools and Day-cares will remain closed. 5. Millions of Americans will be laid off or furloughed. 6. Freedom to meet and congregate will be curtailed. 7. Supply chains will be strained. 8. Uncertainty will prevail. For many, this will be a tough time, to say the least. BUT, for the Believer who is thinking rightly, this should be the BEST of days! May I explain? In 2nd Timothy we find Paul writing to his "son in the faith" Timothy. Times are tough! Paul is in prison about to be executed. Timothy is ministering to an ungrateful church in Ephesus. Timothy is discouraged, he wants to throw in the towel, as one commentator said, "Timothy faced tough times: persecution, hostility, animosity, resentment to the message, resistance to the truth, it will not go easy." Paul wanted Timothy to know that he was not alone and so the letter touches on many things; but the one thing it addresses primarily is that suffering goes hand in hand with preaching the Gospel and living the Christian life. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me His prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life---not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time" (2 Timothy 1:7-9 NIV).
Please notice that Paul asks Timothy to join him in suffering. What an odd sounding request? The Methodist Theologian Adam Clarke makes this insightful observation regarding Paul's request to Timothy: " No parent could love a child better than Paul loved Timothy; and, behold! he who could wish him nothing but what was great, honorable, and good, wishes him to be a partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel! Because, to suffer for Christ, and suffer with Christ, was the highest glory to which any human being in this state could arrive. The royal way to the crown of glory, is by the cross of Christ." So you see my friends and family, the Bible says we are a peculiar people. Yes, we embrace suffering, for we know that in this life it is where we are most like our Lord, Savior, God and Friend--Jesus Christ. The Hebrew writer puts it this way:
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart" (Hebrews 12:2-3 NIV). Please take the time to read 2nd Timothy as I will come back to it in my next message to you. May God Richly Bless You My Beloved, Pastor Brad