When You’re All Used Up


We just finished 2 Timothy. I’m headed to Jonah next. Four chapters. Four days. Another entire book of the Bible.


2 Timothy 4

What happens when you’re all used up? I have a second cousin. He’s lived a long life. Now at 92 years old his health is in decline. He was shocked to learn his kidneys are slowly beginning to fail. When the doctor told him the news he asked, “But why!? Can’t you fix it?” His doctor was both calm and understanding. Patiently he responded, “Sir, you’re 92. At some point your body wears out.”

It’s not a terribly encouraging thought, but it’s something we will all face someday. There will come a time when our bodies wear out. They say the mind is the second thing to go…I can’t remember what the first thing is! I wonder if you’ll be ready for that day.

In 2 Timothy 4 Paul faces that day. He doesn’t face it because of old age, but because he’s a prisoner of the gospel. He’s received the death penalty for telling people about Jesus. Paul’s response? “As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God.” (2 Timothy 4:6) Certainly Paul was as human as you and me. Being a martyr wasn’t his purpose. Being faithful to God was. And those two things were on a collision course Paul would not avoid. As Paul reflected on his life’s work he realized he was all used up. He was spent. He poured himself out for something he believed mattered. He poured himself out for something that had eternal value. He emptied himself and had no regrets. Listen to his words, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

Earlier, in his life Paul wrote to the Philippians. He used similar language, Philippians 2:17, “But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God…” Do you see the pattern? 2 Timothy 4 tells the story of the immediate future. Paul was headed to his execution. Philippians reveals the attitude, actions and intent that got Paul there. He understood that one day he would be all used up. Like a drink poured out, all he had to offer would be spent. He made the deliberate choice to pour his life into a mission that had eternal significance. It was his determined purpose to one day be all used up for something that mattered.

My day is coming. So is yours. We will be all used up. Physically our bodies will wear out. Mentally our minds will slow down. On that day when our life flashes before our eyes will it be a life worth watching? You can pour yourself out for something that matters. You can write a story with your life and your choices that has significance beyond this moment. But that doesn’t happen by accident. Like Paul, it happens because of a deliberate choice. It happens because of a determined purpose. It happens because you intend to finish your life all used up, poured out for something eternal.

Will you be surprised when things get worn out or, like Paul, will you have the confidence to say, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”?

This isn’t a decision for later. It’s a decision for now. Today you will make a choice. You will spend your life. You will use up part of the time you have left. You will write your story.

Make it a good one.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the life you’ve given me. I hope I use it well. Today, I give my life back to you. I want to pour myself out for your glory. I want to use who I am and what I have for the benefit of others. At the end of the day I want to be completely spent, worn out, not because of misuse and abuse, but because I serve an eternal purpose and I’ve used what you’ve given me well. At the end of my life I want to be like Paul. I want to say with confidence, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.” In that moment when my life flashes before my eyes I want it to be a story worth watching, a story worth telling, the divine story of Your relentless affection for me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Promises from God I Could Live Without


I love the promises of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “All the promises of God have their ‘yes’ in Christ Jesus.” It means God keeps his word. He proved it through Jesus. I like that. It’s comforting to know that when God says, “I forgive you,” he means it and won’t take it back.  When I’m afraid, anxious, or worried I can trust that he is with me and working all things for my good because in his Word he says so. But there are some promises from God I could live without.

2 Timothy 3:13 says, “But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” That’s a promise I’m not too thrilled about. There’s another like it, “In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33). I don’t need trouble. I prefer the other thing! How about John 15:19, “…because…I chose you out of the world, the world will hate you.” Isn’t it nice to be in the ‘popular’ crowd? What about 2 Timothy 3:12? “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” These are all promises I can live without.

I don’t like the idea that evil people and impostors will flourish. I hate to be lied to. I don’t like to see the people I care about conned by self-deception or by the clever half-truths of others. My sense of justice comes out. It bothers me to think that with pure motives and good choices I could do all the right things and still be disliked, hated or even persecuted for it. Shouldn’t doing the right thing make things easier? If it doesn’t make life easier or better, why bother?

But there’s a difference between God’s promise of salvation and this promise of persecution. The former comes from God’s overwhelming desire for you and me. It’s an active promise initiated and paid for by God through Jesus. He made the promise and has moved heaven and earth to keep that promise. The promise of persecution isn’t about a word to keep, but a fact to recognize. Like the laws of nature, there’s no active promise here, just the unwavering confidence that what goes up must come down. Gravity’s effect will always keep you down to earth even if your head is in the clouds.

The promise of persecution isn’t God’s way of punishing or provoking. It’s a simple statement of fact. “This will happen. Get ready, watch out, plan your response, trust me.”

It’s an old cliché, but it’s true, “When you’re squeezed, what’s in you is what comes out.” God warns us of persecution, he tries to communicate to us a reasonable expectation for how people will react to Him and His people. He doesn’t candy-coat it. He doesn’t oversell it. He simply says, “This will happen.”

As difficult as living through that kind of pressure may be God doesn’t stop there. He makes deeper promises. John 16:33 ends, “…be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” 1 John 4:4 reminds us, “…greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” The end of 2 Timothy 3 outlines the tools God has given to help us remain faithful. He’s given us his Word. We have one another. We can remain faithful, we can hold on, even when holding on is hard or painful. I’ve always thought that faithfulness gives us a front row seat to all the promises of God. It’s through the pain and persecution that God writes the epic story of salvation in you and me.

When you face the promise of persecution will you trust God to keep His word? Hold on and experience your front row seat to all the promises of God.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Help me hold on. Thank you for the promises you’ve made and kept. Thank you that I know for certain you can be trusted. Help me to be trustworthy as well. When I face opposition, rejection, pain or persecution, allow me to respond in a way that honors you and adds value to others. Help me encourage those who are being deceived. Help me fight those who are deceiving. Help me enjoy this epic story you’re writing in me.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Christian First World Problems


First World Problems2 Timothy

SCRIPTURE

2 Timothy 2:10, “So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

You may be familiar with this, perhaps not. Third World countries experience poverty on a level that’s difficult for us to imagine. We live in a First World country. By Third World standards even our poor are quite wealthy. Our friends at WaterIsLife.com produced a video about first world problems, take a look.

The idea isn’t to make people like me and you feel guilty over the things we have, but to help us recognize how remarkably blessed we are. We are so blessed that our complaints and problems sound petty compared to the life threatening challenges of clean water, sustainable food sources and severe medical needs faced by Third World populations.

The Bible tells us that too whom much is given, much is required. If you’re reading this blog, you have been given much. How will you give out of the abundance of what God has given you? That’s not really a money question. It can be, but you have so much more to offer than just money.

Christianity has it’s own set of First World problems. 2 Timothy 2 talks about some of them. Paul repeatedly tells Timothy not to get involved in foolish arguments. He tells Timothy to remind people to stop fighting over words. It’s easy to see Believers today side-tracked by the Christian equivalent of First World problems.

Insert your choice of words here:

  • The music at church is too…(loud, quiet, traditional, contemporary, inauthentic, unprofessional).
  • The preacher at my church preaches…(too long, too short, too deep, too shallow, without enough meat, without enough application, without enough stories, with too many stories).
  • I could never share the gospel with them they…(would be offended, might think I’m weird, would never believe that really matters to me, would hold me to a higher standard).
  • I’m switching churches because my kids…(don’t connect here, like the program over there, need more personal attention, need a larger group with more activities).
  • I’m thinking about going somewhere else because my church changed…(locations, Sunday School, Small Groups, Sunday night services, visitation, the free coffee they serve on Sunday morning).

To be honest, none of these ideas are inherently wicked. We have a responsibility to carefully consider the group of people God intends for us to grow with, be accountable to and partner with in ministry. We should be diligent to make certain our practice of faith in the church we attend closely aligns with the principles of Scripture. That said, too often these are the comfortable problems debated by people privileged enough to have the time, energy and resources to argue about why my preferences are better than yours. These first world Christian problems lead to broken relationships, declining church influence and the splintered strength of the body of Christ.

Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:10, “So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.”

APPLICATION

What are you willing to endure in order to share the gospel? What first world christian problems do you vainly cling to? Have you willingly abandoned significant relationships with family, friends or your church family because you cherish your preferences more?

It’s amazing how on the mission field, in countries closed to the gospel, these first world Christian problems simply don’t seem that significant after all.

What are you willing to endure in order to share the gospel?

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

I am tremendously blessed. Show me what and how to give to others out of the abundance of what you have given me. When I’m tempted to fight to get my way give me the discernment to know the difference between Biblical principle and my personal preferences. I want to fight for Biblical principle. I want to fight to keep strong and healthy relationships with my family, friends and church family. Help me to willingly lay aside my preferences in order to keep my relationships strong. Give me the strength and courage to willingly endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad

Flames: Time to Heat Things Up


Flames2 Timothy

SCRIPTURE

2 Timothy 1:6, “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…” (NLT)

OBSERVATION

What are you waiting for? What’s holding you back? Why haven’t you done that thing you know you can do? All your life you’ve been waiting, but waiting for what?  Are you waiting for enough time, enough money, enough education, enough support? When will conditions be perfect?

It’s time to heat things up.

God designed you with a purpose. He’s given you and those around you a need. He delights in meeting those needs. He wants to involve you in the process of meeting those needs. That’s why he’s given you skills, talents, resources, and experience. What is the flame inside of you? What will you do with what he’s given?

APPLICATION

Will you fan the flames of what God’s given you into the roaring fire that will provide warmth and energy to a world in desperate need of what God wants to give through you? Or will you ignore what’s in you and let the fire die? What a tragedy that would be. You would miss a blessing. The world could miss so much more.

God wants to do something in you and through that can’t be explained because of you.

He’s given you everything you need. It’s time to do something with it.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father,

Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by the needs I see all around me. I have friends whose marriages are in crisis. I know people whose kids are making life-defining choices that will take them places no one wants their child to go. Everyone seems to be under so much pressure. Sometimes it feels like your sea is so big and my ship is so small. I don’t know where to start or how I could possibly make a dent in all these problems. Thank you for reminding me that you have given me everything I need for life and godliness. Thank you for giving us these needs. Thank you that meeting these needs is your delight. Thank you for choosing to use me and others to meet these needs. Fan into flames the gift you have given me and allow me to use that gift for your glory and the good of others. Heal these marriages. Bring these kids to their senses. Provide for these needs. Do what only you can do and let the world stop and take notice.

I love you, in Jesus name –
Chad