Preach It!

2 Timothy 4

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A few of my children became very skilled at working the system: if I said no to their request, they simply asked Dad! It only took a few incidents for us to catch on, and from then on, my husband spoke an automatic reply: “What did Mommy say?” This, of course, would result in a frowning, drooping head as the child was forced to reveal Mom’s veto. “Then that is my answer too. We are one.”

As humans, we search for permission, validation, and affirmation from numerous sources. If we believe or want justification for (fill in the blank), we can usually find sources to confirm that idea, no matter whether or not the data are manipulated. Usually, we don’t even want to know the other side. 

I’ll never forget sitting in my college classroom as a nervous freshman, disagreeing with the biblical doctrine that was being presented as fact. Having strong beliefs to the contrary, I politely asked the professor a question about his belief that really didn’t make sense to me. Even though I believed his position was not true, I wanted to try to understand how he came to that conclusion. He was very polite in return, and we had a good dialogue as he allowed me to share my beliefs. I hoped that the discussion would spur my classmates to search the scriptures for truth as well, but my new friend behind me basically just said, “I’ve always been taught this, and I don’t really want to be confused with facts.” 

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul urges Timothy to keep on preaching carefully and patiently, always being prepared to correct, rebuke, and encourage. “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” Though people will turn from their faith and seek affirmation of their erroneous beliefs and desires, He reminds Timothy to keep focused on his ministry and push through the challenges. 

I think Paul was aware as he penned this letter that his time in this life was drawing to a close. He pronounced in verse 7: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” What a powerful epitaph! I, too, want to be remembered in this way, don’t you? Paul continues in verse eight the hope that we share as followers of Jesus, awaiting the Kingdom: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Keep focused on the goal, my friends. The challenges we face will pale in comparison to the reward waiting for us in the Kingdom. 

Though Paul was left alone many times, deserted by his friends and co-laborers, he did not harbor unforgiveness toward them, nor lose hope. Instead, Paul focused on the positive: “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (verses 17-18) 

May the Lord also stand by you and give you strength as you continue to share in this most important work of the Gospel. 

-Rachel Cain

Reflection Questions: 

Consider your legacy, how you will be remembered, your epitaph. How do you want people to remember you, and what steps do you need to take to create such a legacy? 

What are some things that your “itching ears” want to hear? Are you focusing on the Bible and God’s truth to guide you, or the ways of the world? 

Sunday – May 23, 2021

2 Samuel 21-22, Acts 20

In today’s Old Testament reading, 2 Samuel 21-22, we see David, a victorious king and man broken by sin, dealing with the legacies of previous leaders of Israel and the political unrest they left behind. In addition to this, we see fall out with the Canaanite peoples, who had remained in the promised land for a thousand years after Joshua and the Israelites were told to conquer it. The last few chapters of 2 Samuel function as an appendix; they list stories that occurred during David’s reign, in non-chronological order. 

In 2 Samuel 21, we find a brutal story that involves betrayal, sacrifice, and tragedy.  Earlier in David’s reign, there was a famine that lasted 3 years. David responds to this famine, recognizing it as discipline from God, by going to God in prayer. The reason God gave for the famine is because of Saul’s, the previous king, slaying of the Gibeonites – a people the Israelites had made a treaty with (Josh. 9:15-20). David goes to rectify the situation, and so the Gibeonites ask for seven of Saul’s male descendents to punish for Saul’s decisions. 

The seven descendents were handed over and killed. Heartbreakingly, Rizpah, the mother of two of the sons, goes to the place where her sons were killed and protected their bodies from the elements and birds from April to October. four months of a day-in-day-out vigil, through heat, cold, rain, and sun. Finally, David heard about what Rizpah had done, her love and dedication to her sons, and because of her actions, he decided to honor the memories of Saul and Jonathan – and Rizpah’s sons – by burying them in their family’s tomb. After all of this, the famine stops in the land. 

This story is hard to read, but it shows an important truth: Our legacy is determined by the small, everyday actions of our lives. Those small everyday actions build up into something that can make a profound impact on the lives of those that come after us. 

Because of Saul’s actions and his failure to consistently follow the law, he devastated the lives of both the Gibeonites and his own family. His legacy left a ripple effect of destruction that led to a famine in the entire land of Israel. That legacy of destruction was only stopped when another woman consistently showed love instead of violence, for both her sons and for God. Because of her actions, God answered the prayer for the land. 

What type of legacy are you building? How are you daily and consistently building up a legacy that honors God and provides hope and help to those around you?

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: Job 1-2 and 2 Corinthians 2 .

Affecting Future Generations

Gen 16 1
Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.” Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”  “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.  The angel of the Lord found Hagar near a spring in the desert; it was the spring that is beside the road to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where have you come from, and where are you going?” “I’m running away from my mistress Sarai,” she answered.  Then the angel of the Lord told her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her.” The angel added, “I will increase your descendants so much that they will be too numerous to count.”  The angel of the Lord also said to her: “You are now pregnant and you will give birth to a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery.  He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”  She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
Genesis 16:1‭-‬13 NIV
In this chapter, we see a choice that Abram and Sarai made, that still impacts the world today.  They were trying to fulfill a promise that God had made, by their design instead of waiting for God.  It’s easy for us to sit back and think, ‘Wow no way would I do that if God promised me something!’ Fact is though, we turn our backs on God’s promises all the time.  We force decisions in our lives based on our wants, instead of truly seeking God’s will first.  But what really gets me is the possible consequences of our decisions.
It isn’t always just us that pays the price, our families and friends can be significantly affected by our decisions.  If you’re a parent you see this all the time.  Might just be little things like choosing to stay late at work instead of going to a game, or it could be big things like how a divorce can change everyone’s life involved.  If you’re a son or daughter, you feel those decisions, but you also know that your choices affect your parents.  Could be something minor like not doing something you said you would, or something major like a DUI.  Point is that all of us have to realize that how we live our lives can affect how others live theirs.  And some of, if not many of,  the decisions we make affect future generations.
This is true for good decisions also, the legacy we leave on life isn’t just about our screw ups, it’s about our accomplishments also, all part of God’s design and his plan of grace.  So if you’ve screwed up, no worries, there’s forgiveness.  But that might mean the consequences are set, and we have to rely on that grace and work hard to make better choices moving forward.  Just remember next time you have a major choice in front of you, am I seeking God’s will or my own?  Does this choice honor the people around me as well as myself? If we take time to evaluate our choices like that, I think we’ll have fewer regrets in them.
Jerry Briggs

A Lasting Legacy

hebrews 11 4

One of the verses in the Bible that I love is in Hebrews 11 where Abel is mentioned. Genesis 4 mentions that he was born to Adam and Eve, gave his best as an offering to God, and was killed by his brother Cain. This seems like a tragic story but Abel is mentioned in Hebrews 11. This chapter is known as the faith chapter and the first person mentioned was Abel. Hebrews says, “By faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.” (Hebrews 11:4)

So many of us want to have a lasting influence. Some think education, work, family, sports, or any number of things we achieve will have a lasting impact. Matt.6 tells us to store up treasures with God and this will keep our heart devoted to him. The very little we know about Abel is important because the sacrifice he gave had eternal value. I once asked a 94 yr. old preacher from our area what advice he would give to our youth group. Preacher Ferrell said do one thing a day that has eternal value. What a challenge from a man who is still speaking to us through that challenge even though he is now gone.

Do you want to have a lasting legacy? We can start by accepting Jesus as our Savior and giving whatever is our best to him. What would Abel’s “fatty portions” be equivalent to in our lives. Is it your time, money or abilities. Give those in the service to God and our lives will speak even after we are gone.

-Joseph Partain

He’s Not Finished With You Yet

Jeremiah 46-49

Jer 46

Tuesday, March 14

These four chapters chronicle how Nebuchadnezzar and his armies defeated many different nations. It’s easy to get lost in all the war talk, but there is a little gem near the beginning of this passage on which I want to focus today. Check out chapter 46, verses 27-28 (from The Message):
“But you, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear.

    Israel, there’s no need to worry.
Look up! I’ll save you from that far country,
    I’ll get your children out of the land of exile.
Things are going to be normal again for Jacob,
    safe and secure, smooth sailing.
Yes, dear Jacob my servant, you have nothing to fear.
    Depend on it, I’m on your side.
I’ll finish off all the godless nations
    among which I’ve scattered you,
But I won’t finish you off.
    I have more work left to do on you.
I’ll punish you, but fairly.
    No, I’m not finished with you yet.”

Israel was God’s chosen people, and their future looked uncertain. However, God would not let their whole race perish! He still had great plans for Israel, and many prophecies to fulfill through them (SPOILER ALERT: including the birth of His Son, Jesus!). God is giving a reminder to his beloved children Israel that he’s got their back. Yes, he reminds them that they will be punished (fairly), but he clarifies to them, “I’m not finished with you yet.”

Even though these words were spoken to Israel and not specifically to us (though as believers in Christ we have been grafted into God’s family), I still like to take that promise to heart and remember that God is not finished with us yet. He wants to work in and through us to accomplish his will! I don’t know about you, but I want to leave a legacy for God – I don’t want the work he’s done in and through me to ever be finished! I want to teach others about God and his grace so they can grow to know and serve Him too, and therefore continue the work of spreading the gospel. I don’t have to be famous (in fact, as an introvert, I would prefer NOT to be famous!), but I want to leave a legacy from this life that will continue to grow God’s Kingdom long after I am gone… don’t you?
Philippians 1:6 – “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 
Pray and consider how you will leave a legacy. We are all called to be missionaries everywhere we go, every day in every way – at home, school, work, community, and beyond. Ask God to show you in what ways He is “not finished with you yet” so you can serve him every day in every way with your whole heart!
-Rachel Cain
(Photo Credit: http://www.quotescodex.com/p.php?author=jeremiah+46:27)
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