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Thursday, March 27, 2014
Our friend Jeff Worrall took this photo of an Adams County PA farm yesterday.
"What You Have Learned"
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"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:14-15).
Earlier this week I was discussing current events with my older brother, Pat, who like me, discerns that we are indeed entering into a period of great apostasy. Now at nearly 67 he continues to pastor a congregation in the Lehigh Valley north of Philadelphia. We have both spent our adult life in service for Christ. Pat received Christ while in the military service in Europe as a young adult. After leaving the service he trained for ministry and has now faithfully pastored for 40 years. I continue to be challenged by a statement I quoted yesterday by Bible teacher William Kelly who observed "It is no small feat to remain faithful to God's eternal Word throughout one's lifetime and many there are who have left its ranks." Look around today and honor those who have stayed faithful. (1 Corinthians 4:1,2, Hebrews 13:7)
Pat and I were specifically discussing the high price that we as true disciples will likely pay to live out our Christian life and convictions, including an increasingly easy to project scenario of persecution. He said to me, "I'm not so concerned about myself but I am deeply burdened for my children and grandchildren." We likely have many readers who express that same sentiment. Our goal is to encourage and challenge you today.
Yesterday's message focused on just the beginning part of today's verses, "But as for you, continue..."
Today let us consider the phrases that follows, "in what you have learned" and "you know those from whom you learned it." (We will examine the phrase "and have become convinced of" tomorrow).
Timothy had learned under Paul's teaching and surely many others. He came to know Paul as an adult but his early learning, "from infancy", was from his mother and grandmother whom Paul had mentioned earlier in the book. "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well" (2 Timothy 1:5). This is very instructive in light of the verse that introduces Timothy in Acts 16:1: "A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek." The contrast between "believer" and "Greek" is quite pointed indicating almost certainly that Timothy's father was not a believer.
His spiritual influence was primarily from his godly mother and grandmother. That should connect with a lot of people all these centuries later, although God's ideal design is that mothers and fathers both spiritually influence their children. But we know plenty of grandmothers and mothers who are assuming the primary role of spiritual leader due to absent and negligent fathers. The reverse is true as well with fathers assuming this role without the mother's participation (though less common). But we also believe Timothy likely had some other influences as well that go unnamed. That's usually the case.
I consider again my brother's heartfelt concern for his children and grandchildren. Consider parents raising children in Judea back in about 620 BC. We can read about that turbulent period in 2 Kings 25 and 2 Chronicles 36. It was a terrible time as God's judgment finally came upon the apostate nation. Jeremiah was a prophet during this period and of course we know him as the weeping prophet. He poignantly wrote in Lamentation 2:11, "My eyes are spent with weeping."
Stop and consider with us the Godly remnant raising their children during that time period. What about the grandparents who would have greater perspective about the political and spiritual attitudes and changes of the day? Surely they must have despaired at times. Yet God always has a remnant, those who remain faithful regardless of the severe conditions.
Following the destruction of Jerusalem and as the people entered captivity some of this remnant is identified (I am convinced there are many others who remained faithful but unmentioned). The Bible books classified as "historical" end with three smaller books that chronicle this period (Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther). But the prophetic books also have history and today we consider the well-known stories of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah who are identified as devoted followers of God in Babylon, the latter three youth more commonly known by their Babylonians names, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
We can receive great inspiration from their faithful stand. But let's consider the phrase from our daily text as it pertains to them, "Continue in what you have learned" and "you know those from whom you learned it."
Someone taught and prepared these young men for their godly stand. As in all generations it was likely their parents and grandparents and other unnamed disciplers.
Today we have a mission, all of us. It remains the Great Commission. Early this morning I was visiting with Phil, a man a few years younger than I, who for many years has discipled youth. I write his name here, but apart from his local church, like the scores of people now serving Christ in local settings, he is essentially unknown. But being unknown or unnamed does not make us unimportant in the kingdom of God. Let us faithfully continue to follow and serve Christ and teach others to do the same!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, it has been written that he who stands for nothing will fall for anything. Most within our generation stand for very little that has eternal value, in great part because they were never instructed in the Scriptures and had no godly example to follow. We want to fill in that chasm by being hearers and doers of the Word, leading men and women, boys and girls into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus. We are convinced of these teachings by the Holy Spirit, by men and women of deep faith who led and instructed us, and by our own defining experiences in life. Help us to stand unashamedly and fearlessly as people of deep conviction so that we can. Amen.
Yesterday we began our message by referring to the movie "God's Not Dead" and shared the plot. We heard an interesting testimony from Anthony, a reader who was just beginning college in 1962: "Ironically I had a similar situation very many years ago when I started college. My Philosophy professor was an atheist, and he said on the first day of class, "How many of you students are Christians?". After most of the class raised their hands he then said that he would ask the same question when the class was finished. He did, and mine was the only hand up. He asked me why I still believed. I told him we all face a leap of faith when we reach the "believe or not" stage. He chose to not believe, but my leap was belief. He became not only one of my favorite professors but we were friends as well. I am not sure I ever changed his belief, but he didn't change mine. God is good! This event changed my life so far as knowing who I was and what my life should be. It made me who I was to be and still am today."
Last night Jeff Worrall, a long-time friend of over 30 years, joined us for dinner. Jeff is a forester who now works for an insurance company teaching safety courses. He was a part of our church in northern PA and for a number of years led our Royal Rangers boy's program. His daughter visited Ester for several days. They live in upstate New York near the Canadian border.
Two days ago I showed a photo I took in an Amish barn that is a forge-like device used for making horseshoes. Last night Jeff showed me this photo that he had taken in the course of his work yesterday. Any ideas what they are? Answer here.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Tell Me the Story of Jesus/I Love to Tell the Story" Video Homecoming Singers
"Wonderful, Merciful Saviour" Video Selah
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
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