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

It’s the end of the world as we know it…

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows,
not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

(Matthew 24:36 ESV)

“If the world were to come to an end tomorrow, what would you do today?” 

It’s a game we all like to play: “How would you live your life if you knew this was your last day?”  We talk about seeing great sights, making peace with all those whom we have offended or have hurt us; usually your answer indicates that which is of greatest importance to you.

You may or may not be aware, but there is a small but vocal movement that believes that the rapture of the church will take place this weekend, May 21, 2011, and that that God will completely destroy the world five months later on October 21, 2011 (there’s even an ad in the local paper).  This is the teaching of Harold Camping, a former elder in the Christian Reformed Church, and the president of Family Radio, a Christian broadcasting network out of California.  Using a complicated mathematical system, Camping believes that this Saturday God will take the true followers of Christ out of the world, and that utter chaos and turmoil will unfold until the world comes to an end on October 21.

Now I am not going to offer here a full rebuttal of Camping’s teachings and warning of the end times.  There is an excellent series of articles by Robert Godfrey who thoroughly traces Camping’s intellectual and spiritual descent, as well as the errors of his teachings.  Still, I think it is important to remember a couple of things.

First, we cannot know the day and hour.  As we are reminded in the verse above, we cannot know the date and hour of Christ’s return, not even the angels nor Jesus had that information.  While God has revealed Himself to His people, we have not been given to know the details of when the day of the Lord will be.  Throughout the centuries, people have thought they knew the day and time, Camping’s first prediction was that the world would end in 1994.  Remember Jesus said, “Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray.  And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains” (Mark 13:6-8).

I will be the first to agree that the end is near, but I am also writing my sermon for Sunday.

Second, there are no secret codes for us to interpret the Bible.  Ephesians 1:9 teaches us that  God has made “known the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time…”  Everything that we need to know about God has been revealed to us through Scripture, especially as the Bible leads us to the revelation of Christ Jesus our Lord.  There is no greater mystery for us to uncover than that which has been clearly revealed, thy mystery of God’s grace and love lavished upon us in Jesus.  There’s no abacus or calculator needed to understand this mystery, and there’s no algorithm sophisticated enough to measure the great love that God has for us.

Finally, we should be mindful that Christ is coming, and live accordingly.  If Christ is coming this Saturday to take His followers home, what a blessed day that will be, but I’m not going to sit and wait, I’ll keep working.  My heart grieves now for those who do not know of God’s great love for us in Christ, and I pray that by my faithful preaching and teaching from God’s Word, the Spirit will draw men and women to God in repentance and faith.  I don’t know if Christ is coming on the 21st, but I do know that I want Him to find me faithfully serving and making His glory known.  Hebrews 9:28, teaches that Jesus will come “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” I found the following line in a Puritan Prayer that I think helps keep this all in perspective,  

“May I speak each word as if my last word,
and walk each step as my final one. 
If my life should end today,
let this be my best day.”

The important thing to remember is (whether the day be this Saturday or the next, this year or 100 years from now) God is the Almighty One, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.  All time is in His hand, even the end, and nothing can separate us from God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid, be confident, be faithful, and may you be found ready when He comes. 

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surly I am coming soon.’ 
Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)

SDG