Sincere Faith

Tuesday, February 7, 2017, 9:58 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “I Will Lift My Eyes.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Timothy 1:1-14 (NASB).

Recalling Your Tears (vv. 1-7)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

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, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 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. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

It is believed that Timothy’s tears were related specifically to the tears he had shed when Paul had to leave him, as Paul and Timothy were like father and son. Some also believe that Timothy’s tears were shed on behalf of Paul and his suffering, as Timothy would have been concerned, caring and compassionate regarding Paul’s suffering. Also, in context, it could be that Timothy was experiencing some of his own anguish, perhaps related to his own ministry in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, it appears Timothy had also been experiencing frequent illnesses related to his stomach, which could have also been still weighing on him (See: 1 Tim. 5:23). Yet, no matter the reason for the tears, it would seem that Timothy may have been experiencing some kind of feelings of depression or discouragement. And, so Paul was writing to encourage him and to build him up in his faith.

We all need encouragement, don’t we? Most all of us suffer in various ways, sometimes in silence where no one really knows the pain that is in our hearts. Sometimes this is because we lack genuine Christian fellowship of the kind that would lift us up in the Spirit and that would spur us on to good deeds, and so we cry, longing for close Christian companions who can encourage us in our walks of faith. There is so much worldliness in the church and so many professing Christians shy away from conversations about Jesus and his Word, and would rather talk about what the world talks about. Many, too, live in abusive relationships and lack genuine Christian companionship in their marriage relationships or in family relationships.

Many of those who are walking in holiness, though not in absolute perfection, are being ostracized even by the family of believers because of their seriousness of faith and spiritual walks and commitments to obedience to Christ and to his word, because they love God. They don’t have to go out into the world to be persecuted for their faith, for there are many within the church, or at least within the worldly institutional church, who are persecuting them because of their stand on the truth of the gospel and their strong biblical and spiritual convictions in the Spirit of God.

Too much of the church has gone the way of the world here in America, and thus they are focused on winning the world to the “church” via worldly means and methods, and have thus diluted the gospel to make it more appealing and acceptable to the world. And, they don’t want anyone saying anything that might offend the people of the world, because they want them to keep coming back to their “churches,” i.e. to their places of business.

In such a worldly church environment, those with sincere faith in Jesus Christ might experience isolation and may cry out to God longing for the kind of fellowship they once had in years past, which seems to be fading into the darkness. And, if they are, too, suffering abuse, persecution, illnesses, opposition, and apathy, because of their sincere faith, and because of their stand on the truth of the Word of God and the gospel of our salvation, they may have need of being refreshed in their spirits and of being encouraged to fan into flame the gift of God within them so that they don’t suffer discouragement and give way to fear, loneliness, and opposing forces. Yet, we must know here that if no one else cares, and if no one else reaches out to encourage and build us up in the faith, God always cares, and he never leaves us or forsakes us, but he is there to lift us up, if we will let him, and to spur us on to good deeds even if, in our emotions, we lack the strength.

I Suffer These Things (vv. 8-14)

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Suffering is part of the Christian life. God brings suffering into our lives or he permits suffering to take place in our lives as part of our maturing process in Christ – to make us holy, to conform us to the image of Christ, and to prune and purify us so that we can be even more fruitful for God’s eternal kingdom. Suffering can also help to make us humble, to get us to call on (to rely on) God more, and to get us to draw closer to our Lord in fellowship with him and in obedience to his word, especially during times when we may be getting too comfortable in this world, too complacent, and/or too lazy about our spiritual walks. And, so suffering serves as a kind of shot in the arm to wake us up and to get us back on track, if we have gotten off track even a little bit.

Or, suffering works to grow us even deeper in our faith, sometimes in preparation for specific areas of ministry for which God is preparing us, which may involve even greater suffering and persecution to come, and thus we will need this lighter or lesser suffering now to strengthen our resolve to not give up and to not give in to discouragement when the going gets really, really tough, which sometimes it will.

So, when we take a stand for godliness and holiness in a world and in a worldly church where so many are making excuses for continued and willful sin against God, we should expect to be hated, rejected, persecuted and ostracized for our sincere faith in Jesus Christ and our genuine faith in the truth of his Word. When we choose to walk in holiness, in the power of the Spirit within us, and thus we do separate ourselves from what is worldly, and we do come out from the world and are separate in attitude, thought, belief and actions, we should not be surprised if even worldly Christians or family members also persecute and reject us, and even snub us and ignore our testimonies of faith and our love for our Lord because they disagree with our stand on the Word and our commitments to our Lord and to his service. They may even try to persuade us to come more their way because they may feel that is more “normal” and acceptable.

So, when we go through such times, and when true Christian fellowship may even seem to be scarce, our dependency needs to be on Jesus Christ and on his promises and on the truth of his Word. We need to get our focus off of people, and we need to get our eyes on the Lord, following him always.

I Will Lift My Eyes / An Original Work / December 12, 2012

Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

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