“You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.”
Acts 17:27 tells us that the Lord is near—He is not far from each one of us. Although He is near, He must be found.
Now at first read, that might sound like a contradiction. But there is a difference between knowing that someone is around and knowing where they are. Jesus isn’t hiding when times are difficult, but He is drawing us in to deeper fellowship with Him. We must seek Him so we can find Him.
But what does that look like? Where do you get to know Him? Prayer and Bible reading. It’s really that simple.
Talk to Jesus and read your Bible. Pour out your heart to Him—tell Him your hopes and fears and concerns and burdens and joys and sorrows. Ask Him to answer your questions…and then read His answers in Scripture—not just to obtain information or attain spiritual status, but so that you can know Him.
But maybe you’ve never met Jesus. Maybe this reality of Him being near is new to you. Maybe you don’t know where to begin. Friend, you can start your search for Him right now! Call out to the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
In times of uncertainty, we can run to Jesus for safety and security. He is our refuge and strength. He is ready to help when we need Him.
But how? How do we find a strong and safe shelter in Jesus in the midst of the storms of life? How is Jesus our refuge and strength? How is He helpful in our times of trouble?
These are good questions for us to ask—and to keep asking until we find the answers. And so, we asked them of the Lord during our time of worship this past Sunday. And we found the answers in Psalm 46.
Watch a replay of our live stream or listen to the audio of our study as we considered the refuge we have in the Lord.
He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
We’ve had quite the journey through the book of Revelation. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostle John records “the things which [he has] seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:19).
Because John was faithful to this task, we are blessed by reading and hearing and heeding this amazing book of prophecy (Revelation 1:3). We catch a glimpse of what John has seen—Christ, triumphant and glorified. The King of Kings, the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.
We read about the things which are—the letters to the churches at that time. Through them, we see the heart of our Good Shepherd and His longing for His sheep to know His voice and follow Him.
And then, we see the things which will take place. We read of beasts and Babylon and battles. We read of the future—a time unlike any other in human history as the Lord makes one final plea to humanity to turn away from sin and death.
“Even so…” our desire is the same as John’s—come, Lord Jesus! Until then, we wait—but we do more than that. We work, we worship, we make the most of every opportunity He gives us to broadly cast the message of hope and life that is in Christ Jesus. We are His ambassadors—official representatives of our Heavenly home country in this foreign land. Will you ask the Lord this week where He is calling you to take this message, friend?
As ambassadors for Christ, let us point others to Jesus “as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20). If you are not yet reconciled to God, you can be! Simply confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
Last Sunday, we talked about the new heaven and the new earth. We imagined what our resurrected bodies would be like as we walked through gates made of single pearls and walked on streets made of pure gold.
As awesome as all of that will be, what will we be doing for all of eternity? This Sunday, we continued the description that the Bible provides of what our resurrected lives will look like.
Watch a replay of our live stream or listen to our final study in the book of Revelation as we imagine just a bit of what we’ll be doing forever, knowing that it will be so much more than anything we could ever imagine.
Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
–2 Peter 3:10-13
At the resurrection, God will transform the lowly bodies of believers to be like Jesus’ glorious resurrected body. But before that, our earthly bodies will die and be sown in the ground like a seed. The Apostle Paul explains it this way:
Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
–1 Corinthians 15:42-44 (NLT)
Our current bodies (of flesh and blood and bone) are just the seed for a body more amazing, more alive, and more real. The heavens and this earth will also pass away and God will transform them into a glorious new heavens and new earth. Just as our resurrection bodies are going to be physical (flesh and bone—just like Jesus’ resurrected body), so too will the resurrected heavens and resurrected earth be physical.
What you see here right now is just the sketch, the seed of something far more wonderful and beautiful. We will see things like we’ve never seen before. Hear sounds like we’ve never heard before. Sing like we’ve never sung before. And enjoy unhindered fellowship with the Lord forever in a land and universe untouched, unblemished, and untainted by sin and death.
Do you have that hope? Are you looking forward to that day? Eternal life can begin for you right now. The goal isn’t just to get to Heaven someday (although there is no greater benefit!). The point of your existence is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. That can begin right now! God’s word makes it clear—if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. You can do that right now! Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
Then continue the grand adventure of getting to know Jesus through His word, through loving Him, through serving Him, and through being His body on this Earth—for He is coming soon!
The One who sat upon the throne said, "I make all things new!
Write down the words that you have heard, for they are firm and true.
It is all done, and by my power is paradise restored.
I am the First, and I the Last, the one eternal Lord.”
There’s a lie that’s been circulating for quite some time. It’s a lie that hinders the gospel and makes God appear unjust. It’s a lie that seems innocent and many believe, but when held against the truth of God’s word, it quickly unravels.
This lie says that humankind is basically good.
But in His word, God makes it clear: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
We all like to think that if we were Adam or Eve, we would make the right decision. But we have enough proof in our past that we really wouldn’t. And so, something has to be done with our sin, for God is a righteous judge. One day we will all stand alone before Him and give an account for every sinful thought, word, and deed—without any excuses.
That is where we found ourselves in our study this past Sunday. Watch the replay of our live stream or listen to our study of the first part of Revelation 21 as we begin our time together in front of the great white throne.
The first portion of Revelation 20 reads like a three-act play. Satan is bound for 1,000 years. Jesus rules and reigns on earth for those 1,000 years. And then Satan will be released. But make no mistake, this is not theater—this will be reality! God emphatically promises (six times!) that there will be a specific 1,000 year rule and reign of Jesus, during which Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit.
Let your holy imagination entertain that for a moment. 1,000 years of Jesus on earth, ruling as King and reigning over creation. While simultaneously the devil is bound—unable to steal, kill, or destroy. Jesus will rule as King as His believers administrating His Kingdom without any influence or attack by the devil. Our imaginations just can’t grasp just how amazing that time will be!
But then…Satan will be unbound at the end of 1,000 years. But why? One reason is that God wants to make something very clear about humanity. Human beings like to blame others for their sin (remember the Garden of Eden?). If we can’t blame an individual, then we blame our environment. During this 1,000 year period, God will reverse the curse and remove any ability to blame others or our environment so that humanity will be without excuses. Even after this amazing time of peace, many will succumb to temptation and follow the devil.
But what about today? What about now? Do you lay excuses before the Lord in regard to your sin? Do you blame others or your environment to dodge responsibility? We’ll never exhaust excuses to use, but they will never be sufficient to explain our sin away.
Come to Jesus—today! Paul Tripp said, “Grace calls you away from excuses and blame-shifting and invites you to confess your sin with the assurance of forgiveness, not condemnation.”
God’s word makes it clear—if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. You can do that right now! Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
A thousand years shall roll around,
The church shall be complete,
Call'd by the glorious trumpet sound,
Their Savior Christ to meet,
They rise with joy, and mount on high,
They fly to Jesus' arms,
And gaze with wonder and delight,
On their beloved's charms.
–That glorious day is drawing nigh (John Leland)
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
These were some of the things Jesus told His disciples to pray for when they asked Him how to pray. We experience a portion of that prayer on a daily basis, but there will come a day when that promise is fully realized. The kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven, and deliverance from evil.
As we continued our study of Revelation this past Sunday, we see that God will one day answer this prayer. In Revelation 20, we read about the future reign of Christ on earth and the imprisonment of the devil during the same time.
Watch the replay of our live stream or listen to our study of Revelation 20 with child-like faith and child-like awe and wonder as we consider what these fulfilled promises of God will one day look like.
“Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns!”
The word “Alleluia” is used only four times in the New Testament—all in Revelation 19. It’s such a beautiful word that comes from Hebrew, meaning “praise the Lord!” What a glorious exhortation to do what we have been created to do—praise the Lord!
Words are never wasted in the Bible. There is significance in this word being used only in this chapter. Something wonderful must happen that would prompt a great heavenly multitude to praise the Lord—four times! And there is—the proclamation that salvation belongs to the Lord; the destruction of Mystery Babylon; the invitation to unhindered worship of the Lord; and the announcement of the marriage of the Lamb—the coming of a King to receive His bride! And not just any king—the King of kings. And not just any bride—His Church, holy and unblemished.
He will come—after years of anticipation and preparation, He will come. He is Faithful and True. He wears many crowns. He judges in righteousness. And He makes war. The description of the final battle to come is not a pretty picture. But the fact that God has restrained His wrath is a testimony to His amazing grace and patience. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires all men and women and children to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Turn from your sin today and turn towards the Lord to receive forgiveness and cleansing and healing and white robes of righteousness. You can do that right now! Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
Crown him with many crowns, the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of him who died for thee,
And hail him as thy matchless king through all eternity.
“Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Our study of prophecy should always lead to a deeper walk with Jesus and help us grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus—for prophecy is all about Him! Since the goal of prophecy is to worship God, we must beware of turning prophecy into a search for special knowledge that no one else has or to find a demon behind every bush. If anything else becomes the focus of our study of prophecy, something’s wrong.
So as we continue our study this book of prophecy, our understanding of Jesus deepens as we receive the full counsel of God’s word concerning Christ’s character. Remember—Jesus is not only the Suffering Servant; He will return as the Avenger of Blood. His first coming was the Lamb slain; His second coming will be the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
Watch the replay of our live stream or listen to our study from this past Sunday as we see even more of Jesus Christ revealed in Revelation 19.
Revelation 18 shows us what will become of Mystery Babylon—the mixture of every false religious system that has taken advantage of people for centuries.
In his attempt to deceive, Satan will construct something that seems religious, but in reality is devilish and demonic. Wrapped up in religious robes and self-righteous pomp, it will hide an evil beyond human comprehension.
But if you were to pull back the veil, you would see, “…a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!” (Revelation 18:2).
That’s what false religion is—a demonic prison that appears to be from God, but instead uses the guise of religion to profit off of the people it imprisons. For centuries, civil leaders have entered into a mixed marriage with false religion in an effort to rule over people. For centuries, merchants have seen false religion as a way to profit off of the religious fervor of the people. And Mystery Babylon includes all of these—government, economy, and false religion—mixed together to exploit people.
God will only endure all of this for so long because He wants our total loyalty. He wants us to be wholly given to Him, not to any other leader or movement or organization. So when any of these demand loyalty that’s due only to Jesus, it’s not a time to stay the course and stick it out. It’s a time to leave! Just like the voice from heaven said in Revelation 18:4—“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light—for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness, righteousness, and truth—testing what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what is done by them in secret. Everything exposed by the light is made visible, for what makes everything visible is light.”
Think of the few times in the Gospels when Jesus was truly angry. You know, those times when He flipped over tables and swung a whip around.
Jesus never got angry in response to a personal insult. No, His righteous anger was aroused when He saw corrupt religious leadership profiting from religious roadblocks that prevented people from worshipping God. Roadblocks that were never commanded by God, but enforced by the religious rulers to extort loyalty and money from people who just wanted to worship.
And Jesus hated this! He got angry—angry enough to call out the religious leadership of the day (see Matthew 23:15 and Luke 11:46). Angry enough to do something about it (see Mark 11:15-17).
It still angers Jesus when religious corruption takes advantage of people and keeps them from worshipping God. And, as we read in Revelation 18, it will continue to anger Jesus in the future. He will someday flip over more than tables—He’ll flip over Mystery Babylon and put an end to this wicked religious system once and for all.
Listen to or watch the video replay of our study of Revelation 18 as we consider the future ultimate destruction of Mystery Babylon in vivid detail.
We might not be able to destroy false religious systems in spectacular fashion with fiery hail from heaven, but we can learn an important lesson from Revelation 17. As strange as it seems, there is a lesson we can live out in our lives today from this snapshot of things to come.
History, prophecy, and current events this morning show us that earthly empires use religion—not to worship, but to expand their rule and reign. Civic rulers will appear to submit to a religious system—not out of reverence, but to gain favor and power.
As that happens, heed this word of warning: be careful. Be very careful with aligning yourself with a movement that uses religion as a means to their end. It might be exciting for religious leaders to influence powerful political leaders, who might give the impression that they are submitted to the same Jesus you serve. But power corrupts. Once religion has served its purpose, those in power will turn on it and tear it to pieces.
So be careful! God cannot be confined to any political party or movement. He is not defined by the ever-increasing list of causes and chaos that cycle through the 24/7 news feed. His concern reaches beyond these moments and movements, beyond the heart of the issues to the issue of the heart—the Gospel.
The Gospel is central and must remain central. Politicians, political parties, and political movements will come and go, and one day be no more—but the Gospel, the everlasting Gospel, will always be God’s focus to fulfill the desperate need of sinners for the Savior.
“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.”
–D. A. Carson
It’s been 15 long weeks since our last study in Revelation. In that study, we ended with thoughts from these verses from Psalm 13:
But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me. (Psalm 13:5-6)
If you remember, we were thinking about the tribulation saints singing after losing their lives and worshipping the Lord because they knew that no matter what happened to them on earth, God had already given them victory in heaven.
And so it can be said of saints today—no matter what might happen to believers here and now, we can be confident in the victory God has already given believers in heaven.
That is something to remember as we look back and reflect on the past 15 weeks. Little did we know how our lives would be upended. We have gone through just one wave of many waves to come. Waves that will increase with frequency and intensity. And yet, we can still sing and worship because we know that God has already given us victory in heaven.
So let’s not waste a single wave—with each crest and trough that comes, let’s cling to the Lord as we ask Him these questions: “What do you want me to learn during this time? Of what do you want me to let go? Of what do you want me to repent?”
Make no mistake—the waves will continue to come and we don’t know how our lives will be affected in the next 15 weeks. But this is what we do know—no matter what, God is good, God will be good, and God has been good.
But perhaps in your stubbornness, you still refuse to repent…even now before the day of God’s wrath. Maybe you think you can continue to enjoy the pleasures of sin and repent just before God tips the bowls of His wrath upon humanity. If anything, these past 15 weeks have taught us to ask God to number our days (Psalm 39:4). We are not guaranteed tomorrow. That is why today is the day of salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:2). “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).
His Word is clear—if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. You can do that right now! Ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as Lord.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4)
People can be stubborn. Perhaps you have noticed. Sometimes stubborn people need incentive to turn away from their sin, to repent, and to turn towards the Lord. And sometimes, the Lord (in His grace and His mercy) gives people this incentive.
One day, God will give humanity all the incentive we could ever ask for. He will pull out all the stops and pour out all of His wrath for the purpose of producing repentance so that humanity might receive the greatest gift of all: eternal salvation.
This time is described in great detail in Revelation 16. It is the final opportunity God gives people to repent from sin and to receive salvation. And we shouldn’t be surprised to read how intense this time will be when it happens. God, in His great mercy, endeavors to produce repentance because He loves those who will be left at the end of the tribulation. He doesn’t want any of them to perish, but all of them to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Watch or listen to our study of Revelation 16 and hear how God will pull out all the stops to pour out His wrath for the purpose of producing repentance. Then read ahead in Revelation 17 for our study this Sunday, at the Regency or online.
“But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire.”
– 1 Thessalonians 2:17
Oh, how our desire will soon be fulfilled! After a significant amount of prayer and preparation in light of the lifted restrictions for large-group faith-based gatherings, we have made the decision to resume our in-person gatherings starting this Sunday morning (June 14th, 2020)!
Depending on your comfort level, you will be able to participate in worship in six different settings:
We look forward to seeing you, face-to-face! We ask for your prayers and patience as we navigate the new challenges in this unprecedented season we are all walking through. We are thrilled to see you and to serve you!
You need to know God’s word.
You need to know ALL of God’s word.
Because it’s the living out of God’s word in difficult times that develops maturity to the glory of God. When we begin to see trials as opportunities rather than wasted suffering, we start to develop spiritual maturity that brings glory to God. And that is what this life is all about—God’s glory.
The book of James says it this way:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
In 2 Timothy, we’ve discovered the great and precious gifts we’ve been given. We’ve been given mercy, grace, and peace; life, breath, and a heartbeat; power, love, and a sound mind—and so much more—so that we can glorify God as we grow more and more like Jesus.
This Godly growth is produced when we hear and apply God’s word in difficult times. As we mature, the Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruit in our lives that causes us to overflow with the love and grace of God.
Maturity to the glory of God.
“We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephesians 4:14b-15)
Maturity to the glory of God.
That’s 2 Timothy in a nutshell.
Oh, this book has been such a good word from the Lord during this season of difficulty! Just think of how we’ve been encouraged throughout these four chapters. What a difference we make when we wait on the Lord instead of whining and wiggling out of testings and trials. For it is the tests and trials we encounter that produce patience, endurance, and perseverance in our lives—maturity, to the glory of God.
This is the maturity Paul encouraged Timothy to develop. He knew the difficulties Timothy faced every day as he followed Jesus, and every week as he pastored his church. He knew these challenges were opportunities for Timothy to mature as he fulfilled his calling.
And what was Timothy called to do during his season of difficulty? Watch our live stream from this past Sunday, our final study in 2 Timothy, to find out.
If we are to be the light of the world—if the world is supposed to look at our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)—then we can’t live for ourselves or pursue sinful desires.
We were set free from that—so why would we return to it? Out of gratefulness for God’s grace, we are to use our freedom to serve others and to lay down our liberties in love. This is how the world will know that we follow Jesus. But if we are not very careful to continue to follow Jesus, we could find ourselves somewhere in this list from 2 Timothy 3:
“…lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:3-5)
Remember, this list is specifically talking about people who claim to be believers and followers of Jesus, but choose to continue to live like this. People like this will be the source of the perilous times in the last days.
So what should we do if we are on this list?
Give your life to God. Surrender your soul to Jesus. If you continue to live like this are you a believer? Were you ever really saved? And if those questions scare you—that’s good. Let them lead you to Jesus. You don’t have to wonder anymore—God really wants you to know that you are saved.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come…”
– 2 Timothy 3:1
Perilous times—that’s an appropriate description for 2020 (and it’s only June)!
Along with Timothy, we are warned that perilous times are coming. The word ‘perilous’ in the original language can be defined many different ways—difficult, dangerous, furious, hard to take, hard to bear, troublesome, harsh, fierce.
Yep, that sums up most of 2020 so far!
And yet…there is something comforting in this verse that can give us peace in dark times. Against the bleak backdrop of current events, there is a glimmer of hope we find here in this Scripture.
You see, in the midst of our mess, in the midst of our “mean time,” God is already speaking to us. God knew, and God knows…and God is able to strengthen our hands so that we can serve Him and represent Him faithfully and courageously here and now.
Watch our live stream replay and hear of the hope and peace that only God can provide in perilous times. Then, read ahead in 2 Timothy 4 in preparation for our time this coming Sunday. We’ll open up the live stream at 9:45am (CDT) for a brief time of fellowship before starting our study at 10am. If you'd like to participate in the chat feature, you'll need to view the live stream in YouTube and be logged in to your YouTube account so we can see who you are.
What an exciting time to be alive! How good has God been to us? He’s given us life and breath a heartbeat the hope of heaven…AND He’s given us the opportunity to serve and represent Him in the meantime.
Or is it the mean time?
It seems like the meantime has taken on a new meaning as insecurities are rising to the surface during this season of difficulty. People are scared and angry—fearful of losing everything. We see this anger and insecurity manifest in unnecessary meanness, unkindness, and roughness.
And yet…as a follower of Jesus (who endured such hostility and brutality from truly wicked men and yet responded in love) what are we to do? How then shall we live in this mean time?
As Jesus did—with love. Love that comes from eternal security. Love that is first patient, and then kind, and not arrogant…and not rude…and not easily angered. Love that suffers long. Love that goes the extra mile.
God’s word that says, “a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all.” This is what Paul tells Timothy in the section of Scripture we looked at this past Sunday. Watch the replay of our live stream from Sunday. Then read ahead in 2 Timothy 3 for this Sunday! We’ll open up the live stream at 9:45am (CDT) for a brief time of fellowship before starting our study at 10am. If you'd like to participate in the chat feature, you'll need to view the live stream in YouTube and be logged in to your YouTube account so we can see who you are.
Remember Jesus. Consider Jesus. This will allow you to endure hardship honorably and represent Jesus well.
When times get tough and division is all around you, “consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Hebrews 12:3). Remember Jesus and how He is kind to the unthankful and the evil. Remember that we are His followers and His representatives. Remember that we are His distributors of grace, mercy, and peace—especially to those who don’t deserve them. Remember to not become weary in doing good.
When we remember Jesus, we naturally stop doing and saying things that might undermine the faith of those who witness them. We stop striving. We stop fighting over words. Such arguments don’t do anybody any good and they only ruin those who hear—or read—them (2 Timothy 2:14). Remember Jesus, who endured such hostility from sinful men; who is kind to the unthankful and the evil; who daily pours out His grace, mercy, and peace upon us (who definitely don’t deserve it).
Please, dear friends—please be careful about quarreling over words.
Instead, let’s remember and return to the only words worth our time, energy, attention, and devotion—God’s Words. God’s Word, which is unshackled (according to the extremely shackled Apostle Paul). Think that through. Paul in a prison. Paul in isolation. Paul in chains says:
“Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.” (2 Timothy 2:8-9)
The Word of God cannot be chained, shackled, bound, or imprisoned, no matter what happens.
Lift your eyes from the word of man and remember and return to The Word of God.
In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, the Apostle Paul writes, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
This past Sunday, we remembered Jesus, as Paul instructs us in 2 Timothy 2:8. We considered the work that God is doing right now in the unseen during this time of light affliction.
Paul was very familiar with suffering—yet he held on to the hope of heaven. How did he learn to have such grit and such grace in the face of such adverse circumstances? He remembered Jesus. It’s what enabled him to persevere and endure. It’s what he encouraged both Timothy and us to do in the midst of our light and momentary afflictions. It’s the memory of Jesus in our minds and the hope of Heaven in our hearts that gives us the strength to endure suffering while pointing others to Him.
Consider Him with us and watch the replay of our live stream from this past Sunday. Then read ahead for this Sunday! We’ll pick up starting in 2 Timothy 2:15 during our live stream this coming Sunday at 10am (CDT). If you'd like to participate in the chat feature, you'll need to view the live stream in YouTube and be logged in to your YouTube account so we can see who you are.
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
–2 Timothy 2:1
Without the first verse of the second chapter of 2 Timothy, we might read the following six verses as an exhortation aimed at Timothy. We might think that Paul points to three examples of how Timothy should be working harder, smarter, and better than he already is.
But that’s not what Paul is saying. Paul started with something altogether different. He started with an encouragement that would give Timothy so much more than an exhortation to work harder, smarter, better.
“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”
Did you catch it? Grace. Paul starts with grace.
But what is “grace”? Grace has been defined as “God’s Righteousness At Christ’s Expense” (G.R.A.C.E.). It’s unmerited favor from God—but so much more! Grace is also God’s enabling agent to do what He calls us to do.
To quote the modern-day sage, Rocky Balboa: “It’s not about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.”
This is why we need grace—we need God’s gift and ability to get back up again, and again, and again, and again. Because His grace is sufficient for any and every season—whether that be a season of suffering, a season of blessing, or anything in between.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends