Hello and welcome to Wednesday’s Podcast.
We come today to the end of Paul’s second letter to Timothy. So far this week, we’ve been considering some of the things which spur us on in our faith, that help keep us close to Jesus. We’ve looked again at the importance of building spiritual foundations into our lives such as reading the Bible, prayer and worship (all of which are included in these 8 minute or so podcasts). Yesterday, we focussed on the importance of friendships, especially with those who part of our church communities, those that encourage us in our faith.
However, I’m mindful that as I write these podcasts, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s all about us. That through my own efforts – spending more time in the Word, through playing more worship music as opposed to secular music on my iPod, or carving out time with people who encourage me – that I can keep going, and pressing on for the Lord. That if I just did a little bit more this or sorted that area…then I’d feel closer to God and I’d stronger in my faith. And in a sense that’s true, there’s loads of stuff we can put in place to help us live as a disciple…but at the same time it isn’t.
The truth of the Gospel is that it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus and what he did for us. It’s about living in his grace. Paul ends his letter to Timothy, as he often does, by saying ‘Grace be with you all.’ A final reminder to know and live in God’s grace. This is something that has been spoken about in many of the podcasts in recent months and it’s something which we’re all learning how to do.
I’ll be honest – it’s a personal challenge for me, as someone who considers themselves to have a reasonably high capacity. For me, there is a danger that I can often feel like I can do everything in my own strength, though my own capabilities and at times through my sheer will and determination. The thing is, though – there will be times in my life, in each of our lives, situations we find ourselves in – which we can’t seem to sort out ourselves.
Paul, as he ends this letter, is in one of those places. He’s been abandoned by some of his friends when he really needed them. He’s imprisoned. He’s soon to be executed for his faith. As holes go, they don’t get much deeper or darker. Who could blame this man for not feeling a little bit despondent, or worse – jacking in his faith altogether and looking for an out?
But Paul writes this in verse 17: But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.
Paul here is recalling the Lord’s promise that we see throughout the Bible that he will never leave or forsake us. That whatever situation we find ourselves we can know that God is with us, that he will not leave us or abandon us. That we will never find ourselves alone.
The Lord strengthened Paul and despite all the difficulties he faced, he was able to persevere and fulfil the call that God had placed on his life. God has placed a call on each of our lives also. Yet, we all know that, like Paul, we will face obstacles along the path that God has marked out for us – poor health, financial struggles, a lack of resources or ideas, people who stand against us – and we can feel like no matter what we do, we can’t sort it out, that it’s just not going to get any easier or any better, that it’s simply insurmountable.
Yet it’s in those times when we can, like Paul, remember God’s promises. That he won’t leave us or forsake us. That the one who calls us is faithful. And we can be strengthened, we can persevere, we can stand. Because it’s not about us and how much we can do, it’s about Jesus. It’s about the Spirit of the Living God – the one who overcame death itself – reminding us of who God is and that his resurrection power lives in us. That he is Lord now and that he will continue to be so into eternity.
It’s remembering, perhaps as Paul was maybe also remembering as he wrote this last section of the letter, that it’s in our weakness that God’s power is made perfect. That God’s grace is sufficient for us – it’s what we need to be able to stand firm, and to not be shaken. To give us the resolve to move forward, and to press on, despite the circumstances we may find ourselves in, to take hold of that for which Jesus has taken hold of us.
Lord, we come before you this day and we ask that we may know your grace. That whatever situation, or circumstances we find ourselves in- now or in the future – that we may know the Spirit of the Living God is at work in us so that we seek to continue to love you, to walk with you and to serve you. Jesus, in your name we pray. Amen
READING: 2 Timothy 4:16-22
At my first defence, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus ill in Miletus. Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters.
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.