Going Deeper 10-3-19

The second reading for Pentecost 17…

2 Timothy 1:1-14    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.  I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.  Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.  For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.  Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.  This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.  For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, and for this reason I suffer as I do.  But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him.  Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

 

We can see a very important progression in this opening section of Paul’s second letter to young Pastor Timothy.  First, the foundation: “relying on the power of God, who saved us...”  Salvation by grace is where it all starts.  Secondly, note what follows grace: “who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.”  Some might say that only pastors like Paul and Timothy receive this “holy calling.”  I do not agree at all!  Throughout the Scriptures all “believers” are called to become “followers” who live out their faith and share it with others. 

 

Which leads to the third element of our progression: we must always “Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.”  It is easy to get sloppy.  We can become misled by false teachings, or slip into taking it all for granted and being distracted from our calling.  That is why Paul writes earlier in this reading of the need to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you.”  This is a vital ongoing work. 

 

“Kindling” might make us think of what we need in order to get a fire going.  Re-kindling would suggest that this ‘fire’ of our faith needs constant and consistent stoking, which happens as the Spirit works through the written word (in the context of individual and group Bible study), as well as through the sacraments and the fellowship of the family of faith.  This also happens through prayer and contemplation, and as we discover, develop, and deploy our unique gifts, talents, and abilities in our serving of others.  This is something we are called to be intentional about, which Paul points to as “self-discipline.”

 

So with Paul, I urge you to continue to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you.”  We are all here to help.  And, most importantly, the Holy Spirit of God is always ready to help.

 

With You in Him,

 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington, Colorado

 

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”