The Found Prophecy for You

“In accordance with the prophecies previously made about you…”
(I Timothy 1:18 (ESV))

Until recently, I don’t know that I had ever really paid much attention to the verse listed above.  It is something we normally just gloss over as we read the letter to Timothy.  Still, it has tremendous value; at least it did for Timothy.

Paul’s first letter to Timothy was written to encourage this young pastor to faithfulness in his calling, to stand against the false teaching that had crept into the community of faith, “to wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.”  Timothy had a lot going against him.  He was young – even Paul kept referring to him as “my child” – and so might have had a hard time being received with authority and respect.  He was from questionable lineage; his mother was a Jew, his father a gentile.  In a church that had been plagued with a false teaching preoccupied with myths and genealogies, Timothy’s heritage didn’t help his reception as a pastor.

So Paul writes to encourage Timothy.  In one of the most wonderful treatments on the grace of God in Jesus Christ Paul shows how, if he, who once persecuted the church in his ignorance and unfaithfulness, could now be considered worthy and faithful for the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God, then it is no stretch of the imagination that Timothy should also be entrusted with this calling.  Timothy’s age, heritage, or brokenness neither supports nor negates his calling.  Rather, his sufficiency is from God, “who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant” (2 Cor 3:6).

But there is one other thing that Timothy had going for him: he had a prophecy.  There is not account of this, no record of what was said.  We see in Acts how prophets were instrumental in calling and sending individuals in the church.  When Paul/Saul is blinded on the road to Damascus, Ananias receives a prophetic word from the Lord to share with Paul (Acts 9:10-17).  When Paul and Barnabus and others were gathered in Antioch for prayer, the Spirit of God gave them a prophetic word that Paul and Barnabus were to be set apart for the work to which God had called them (Acts 13:1-3).  Apparently, there was a prophetic word concerning Timothy (actually, more than one, since the word is plural).  It would be pure speculation to try to guess what was said, but it was received as a word of the Lord.  For Paul, this prophecy should have been the driving force behind Timothy’s ministry.  He had been called to this.  In accordance with the prophecies, Timothy would wage the good warfare, hold faith and a good conscience.  The road ahead would surely be difficult; there would be opposition and frustration.  However, considering the nature of his call, the charge with which he was entrusted, and the prophesies concerning his faithfulness, Timothy had a treasure of encouragement and strength to equip him for anything he could possibly face.

But what about you and me?  Wouldn’t it be nice to have a prophecy about you, something to say, here’s how you’ll fare?  Harry Potter had one, look how he turned out.  Neo, from the Matrix, had a prophecy about him, and sometimes learning to believe the prophecy in spite of all the evidence to the contrary gave him the confidence to become what he was supposed to be.  Is there a prophecy, a promise, something out there to give us strength and encouragement for these days?  Wouldn’t it be comforting to have a word from the Lord that we could fall back on when we feel like giving up?

We do have such a promise.  The word of the Lord might not mention you by name, but it is yours nonetheless.  Consider the following verses:

  • Jer 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
  • Rom 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
  • 2 Cor. 4:1 “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”
  • 1 John 5:4 “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”

I could go on, but there is no end to the promises afforded to us in God’s Word.  Whatever you may face today, God’s word for you will bring peace, contentment, joy, satisfaction, hope, and encouragement.  Won’t you take it up and read?

May you be strengthened and encouraged by the time you spend before God in His Word.

SDG

The Greatness of God’s Love

“When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers…
what is man that you are mindful of him. ” (Psalm 8:3-4 (ESV))

The question was asked last night at confirmation class, “If you wanted to convince someone of the greatness of God in creation, where would you take them, what would you say?” There were many good responses. One student brought a small Christmas tree to represent real trees. Her response was, “God makes the trees grow just like God gives us growth.” A great answer. Other students talked about going out in nature to watch the sunset (I notice none of them said sunrise), holding a newborn baby – all of these were excellent examples of the greatness and wonder of God in creation.

Psalm 8, I believe, is the psalmist answer to the question, “how would you convince someone of the greatness of God in creation.” Like my student’s answers, the Psalmist looks to the heavens – the stars in their glory and splendor – and hears the cry of newborn children, and turns to praise the greatness of God.

I am sure you have shared the experience. The vista on a high mountain pass; the roar of the ocean tide crashing against the shore; star gazing in an open field far away from city lights. One has to intentionally remind themselves of their disbelief, blinding themselves to the wonder of it all, to not be overwhelmed by the majesty and greatness of God in His creation.

But there is an even more convincing argument. The majesty of God is clearly evident in His creation, but it is not fully revealed in His creation. There’s more. There is a greater revelation. There is a deeper truth which will radically change your life – if only you will listen.

The Psalmist, looking at the heavens, suddenly turns to himself, “what is man that you are mindful of him?” Have you thought about that one? Consider the heavens – out there, deep in space, millions of miles away, stars are rotating around other stars; each formed and spun into motion and held together by the hand of God. Consider our own planet – orbiting at just the right distance from the sun for life to flourish, with its seasons bringing sun and rain, intricate complexities revealed in the beauty of simplicity – this is the work of God. God creates at the atomic level a work that requires the entire universe as His canvas, and still God above all things is chiefly mindful of man, of you, of me!

This is what really drives home the greatness of God. When you consider how small and insignificant we are in comparison with all of creation, God has proven over and again His love for us. In love God created us, that we might love and worship Him, finding our satisfaction in the praise and glory of God’s goodness. In love he has set us apart from creation, forming us in His image, crowning us with dominion, wisdom, and righteousness. In steadfast love God treated us with mercy and long-suffering when we sinned and rebelled against Him, thinking His love and His goodness something we could do without. In love He sent His Son, Christ Jesus our Lord, to redeem us from sin and death, that we might once again live and move in His love and worship and adore His name.

More than any other act in creation, this love which seeks out the lost and terminal sinner should convince us of the greatness of God. It is humbling; it is healing; it is encouraging; it is inspiring; it is life giving to be loved with such a great love.

SDG