Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I want you to know that we are working on establishing an online Bible Study through "Zoom," that will help facilitate our ongoing discipleship during this time when our ability to congregate has been effected by the current COVID-19 crisis. In the mean time I hope you will join me as I am working through the Book of 2nd Timothy.
Now yesterday I talked about Paul admonishing Timothy to "join him in suffering for the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:8 NIV).
As you may remember Paul is in prison, in Rome, waiting to be executed under Emperor Nero. Timothy is in Ephesus ministering to a church that is starting to come "unglued" due to the pressure the Roman empire is putting on the newly formed worldwide followers of Christ. Under this pressure, new immature believers are returning to their former pagan way of life. The new Church is much like the Nation of Israel (in the desert), wanting to return to the fleshpots of Egypt even after God rescued them from the oppression of Pharaoh. WHAT A FICKLE BUNCH, GOD'S PEOPLE ARE!
Because of the oppression Israel received under their Egyptian Slave Masters, God tells Moses:
"The Lord said, " I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt, I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of the land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:7-8 NIV).
And as soon as God set them free, through Moses, by the numerous miracles he performed in Egypt, and they saw Pharaoh's army pursuing them at the Red Sea:
"They said to Moses, 'was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert" (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV).
After God swallowed up the Egyptian army in the Red Sea and safely delivered Israel out of Egypt Moses writes after only three days:
"Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water......So the people grumbled against Moses, 'What are we to drink" (Exodus 15:22, 24 NIV).
Now, after God provided water for them at Elim with "twelve springs and seventy palm trees" and after Israel left Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, Moses writes:
'In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the Lord's hand in Egypt! There we sat around the pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly" (Exodus 16:2:-3 NIV).
Moses and Aaron's response:
"You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord" (Exodus 16:8b NIV).
Paul knows that Timothy is dealing with a similar problem as Moses as he lead the nation of Israel out of Egypt. Timothy has his Church (he is known as the Bishop of Ephesus) and Paul knows the time is short and he wants to strengthen Timothy to carry on after Paul's departure from this life. So he encourages Timothy to continue to perform the duties of an Elder, to:
1. "fan into flame the gift of God" (1:6).
2. "join Paul in suffering for the gospel" (1:7).
3. "keep a pattern of sound doctrine, with faith and love in Christ Jesus" (1:13).
4. "Guard the good deposit" (1:14).
5. "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2:1).
6. "endure hardship with us like a good soldier) (2:3).
7. "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David" (2:8).
8. "keep reminding them-the church) (2:14.
9. "Warn them before God against quarreling about words" (2:14).
10. "be a good workman..who correctly handles the word of truth" (2:15).
11. "Avoid godless chatter" (2:16).
12. "flee the evil desire of youth" 2:22).
13. "pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace" (2:22).
14. "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments" (2:23).
15. "continue in what you have learned" (3:14).
16. "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction" (4:2).
17. "keep your head in all situations" (4:5).
18. "endure hardship" (4:5).
19. "do the work of an evangelist" (4:5).
20. "discharge all the duties of your ministry" (4:5).
21. "Do your best to come to me quickly" (4:9). *A personal note.
Please start reading 2nd Timothy and pay particular attention the the (21) admonitions Paul gives Timothy in Paul's final letter. These instruction are primarily written to those in leadership (Elders), but they are also a helpful list for all believers to know as a Church body as we work together, "toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14 NIV).
May God Richly Bless You My Beloved,