Podcast: 20 March 2020

Good morning and welcome to Friday’s podcast. This is my last podcast of the week. Next week Liam, our fantastic youth leader will take over and continue our journey through 2 Timothy.


Today we start Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his young apprentice. Our reading is chapter 1 v 1-7, you can hear it in full after this thought for the day, but for now I am going to focus on v1.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

When I was a boy, living at home with my parents, I would often meet friends or work colleagues of my parents. What I would remember most about those first encounters was that when they discovered who I was, Alan, the most common response was, “ah, the swimmer!”

It was this identity that went before me whenever I went where my parents had been. The swimmer, the swimmer…

It was obviously something my parents talked about with the people they knew… whether it was a good thing, proud of my achievements; or a not such good thing, the early mornings and the amount of time spent around swimming pools, I will never know… but there it was… “oh, you must be the swimmer.”

I wonder how your parents described you?

How would your friends and your family describe you now, what would be the reputation that preceded you?

And, maybe more importantly, how would you describe yourself?

Listen to Paul’s opening line again: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God

This is his description of himself, an apostle of Christ Jesus… and it is a powerful statement. To our ears it may even sound a little arrogant.

Hi, I’m Alan, Minister of Christ Jesus, by the will of God.

“Oooh get you! You’re a little up yourself aren’t you!?”

But turn this around. Paul has been through huge pressure, persecution, hardship and beatings… He has planted loads of churches, seen 100s converted, he has healed others and seen God move powerfully…

Sometimes it must have been tough to keep going, sometimes the temptation to give up, go home and opt for the easy life must have been huge.

What comes across here, loud and clear, is that Paul is sure. Paul is confident. Paul is unwavering, unquestioning of who he is and what he is supposed to be doing.

I am an apostle… I am a representative of Jesus Christ… hand selected by God to do his will.

This is a powerful identity, not reserved for those moments when Paul is writing letters, when he is at church or his small group. This is a statement of Paul’s every day, of his moment to moment existence here on planet earth.

I am sent by Jesus… end of message.

So let’s revisit our introduction… what we say about ourselves…

One of the things that Jesus had to do for me before I became a Christian was to deal with the label that I wore… and this label wasn’t even a particularly negative one.

But he needed to clear one identity out of the way so that I could embrace the new life that he had for me as a child of God.

What labels do we wear? Maybe it’s our jobs…Teacher, engineer, cleaner, barman, Baptist minister? Maybe it’s our relationships… Husband, wife, father or brother? Maybe it’s our sport or hobby… swimmer, footballer, painter or poet?

Or maybe it’s a label that speaks of a lack… no good, anxious, disorganised, or stupid?

We can carry these labels into every moment of our lives… and if we do then it will colour everything we put our hands to.

Now listen closely… This is not what God wants for us.

None of these labels are how God sees us or what defines us.

We are nothing short of God’s handiwork. We are his masterpiece. We have been called by name, included in his family. We are so wildly and extravagantly precious to him, of infinite value that it cost him the life of his son, Jesus.

And if being bought at a price, welcomed and accepted into his family were not enough, God has given us a job to do. Our identity, like Paul’s, isn’t just a title to write at the start or end of a letter. No, our identity is all wrapped up with our purpose as well.

Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus…

Paul sent by Jesus…

Alan, Tom, Helen, Mick… children of God… ambassadors for the kingdom, representatives of the king…

You see we are:

Loved to overflow with Love…

Blessed to bring a blessing…

Gifted to be gift givers…

Healed to be healers…

Today let God remind us of the identity he has given us. Let us listen again to who he says we are. Let us be confident in our status, in the label he has given us and let us live it out, whenever and wherever we find ourselves today.


Father, thank you that you have paid the great price for us. That we are no longer our own but yours. Thank you that you have welcomed us into your family and you have removed the old labels we once wore and have given us a power new identity. Help us to grow into who we really are and leave our old ways behind us, Amen.

BIBLE READING: 2 Timothy 1:1-7

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, in keeping with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus,

To Timothy, my dear son:

Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank God, whom I serve, as my ancestors did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.