Today’s selected reading continues in the second New Testament epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto his spiritual son in the faith—Timothy. More specifically, today’s selected passage is found in verses three through eighteen of the first chapter chapter. How the apostle Paul begins and opens up this second epistle which was written unto Timothy is actually quite interesting and unique—particularly and especially when you consider what this young servant of Jesus Christ was facing and experiencing at the time this epistle was written. As the apostle Paul begins this second epistle which was written and sent unto Timothy it’s important to first note and recognize that the apostle Paul apparently saw a tremendous need to send a second letter unto this young minister of Jesus Christ and co-labourer in the work of the kingdom. As the apostle saw fit and felt the tremendous—perhaps even the overwhelming need to write a second epistle unto the congregation at Corinth, as well as the congregation at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul felt a tremendous burden to write unto Timothy a second time. We dare not quickly move past this particular reality, for I feel to do so would be to miss the incredible significance of the epistle itself. If we are going to truly understand the language and the text that is contained within this epistle it is absolutely critical that we first understand that the apostle Paul felt compelled and burdened to once more reach out to his spiritual son in the faith. As I have previously written—Timothy is the only individual in the New Testament to receive a second letter from the apostle Paul. Prior to our coming to this epistle, only the Corinthian congregation, and the Thessalonian congregation received a second epistle from the hand and heart of the apostle Paul. Now as we come to what I would describe as “the personal epistles” of the apostle Paul, we find that Timothy was the only one of the three individuals whom the apostle Paul wrote epistles to who received a second letter. Clearly there is something contained within this particular letter that was uniquely different from the first one the apostle Paul penned to Timothy, and clearly there was something that had taken place within the life—perhaps even within the ministry—of this disciple turned bishop of the church in Ephesus.
When you begin reading this second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto young Timothy the first thing you will notice is language similar to that which he used in previous epistles which were written unto the churches. In the third verse of this particular epistle the apostle Paul writes and declares the following words unto Timothy: “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day” (2 Timothy 1:3). The language the apostle Paul used in this particular verse is very much similar to the language he used when writing unto the various churches to which he wrote and sent letters unto. Consider if you will the language which is found in the second half of the epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Ephesus: “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15-16). When writing unto the saints which were at Philippi the apostle Paul penned the following words: “I thank my God upon ever remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5). In the first chapter of the epistle which was written unto the Colossian congregation the apostle Paul writes the following words: “We give thank to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints” (Colossians 1:3-4). Again in the first chapter of the same epistle the apostle Paul declares the following words: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9). This language is again found in the first epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Thessalonica: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3). Finally, in the second epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Thessalonica we find the following words written by the apostle Paul: “WE are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith growth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4).
IN the third verse of this second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy we find him speaking to him using the same language he used when writing unto specific churches unto which he had written epistles. IN the third verse of this particular chapter we find the apostle Paul declaring unto Timothy how diligently and how fervently he prayed for him both night and day. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto Timothy that his prayers for and toward him continued without ceasing. Pause for a moment and consider the weight and significance of those words, for not only did the apostle Paul pray for Timothy without ceasing, but the apostle Paul remembered Timothy in his prayers both night and day. I can’t help but be reminded of an event which took place in the life and ministry of Samuel the prophet when the children of Israel demanded a king that they might be like other nations around them. Immediately after Samuel had called unto the Lord to send thunder and rain during the wheat harvest, Samuel proceeded to speak very pointedly and powerfully unto the children of Israel after they had demanded a king. Consider if you will the words which are recorded for us in the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Samuel beginning with the eighteenth verse:
“So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a k ing. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; and turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit, nor deliver; for they are vain. For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed” (1 Samuel 12:18-25).
For the prophet Samuel, he felt he would sin against the Lord if he ceased making mention of and remembering the children of Israel in his prayers and intercession for them. The prophet Samuel even declared unto the children of Israel that he would and could not sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for the children of Israel, and would continue to make mention of them in his prayers and intercessions. What’s more, is that not only did Samuel declare that he would continue to make mention of the children of Israel in his prayers, but he would also continue to teach them the good and right way. This reality is actually quite astounding and remarkable when you consider it in light of that which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy in this second epistle. What’s more, is that the words of Samuel have even more weight when you consider that unto the churches in Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia, Colossae, and Thessalonica, the apostle Paul wrote unto them concerning his constant and continual prayers and intercession for them. Now, when writing unto young Timothy the apostle Paul would go on to write and declare unto him the very same words he had previously written to the churches in Asia. I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy—particularly and especially when you consider what it must have been like for young Timothy to know how often and how frequently the apostle Paul prayed for him. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous reality of what it’s like knowing there is someone in your life who makes it a priority to pray for you that often—not only without ceasing, but also night and day. Think about how much it would mean to you knowing that you had someone who so much in your corner that they devoted themselves in prayer to pray for you and to lift you up before our Lord Jesus Christ and His Father who is seated upon the throne in all glory. We know, and understand, and even appreciate the words which the author of the epistle unto the Hebrews wrote when he declared “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need;” however, this particular verse takes on a whole new meaning when we consider someone in our life coming boldly unto the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need—and not merely doing so for themselves, but doing so for you. It’s one thing to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our own time of need, but it is something else altogether to do so on behalf of another.
I can’t help but think of how many times we treat this verse so selfishly and with self-centered ambitions and desires, as we are willing to come boldly unto the throne of grace for ourselves, yet aren’t willing to do so for others. For the apostle Paul, he was not only willing to come boldly unto the throne of grace for himself, but he was willing to come boldly unto the throne of grace for the churches, as well as for others. The apostle Paul demonstrated his willingness to come boldly unto the throne of grace for the churches in the epistles he wrote and sent unto them, and now he is demonstrating the very same reality within the life of Timothy. WHEN PRAYER BECOMES PERSONAL! WHEN INTERCESSION BECOMES PERSONAL! It is one thing for the apostle Paul to make mention of the various churches in his prayers both night and day, and in all reality that takes place in the corporate realm. It is something else altogether when prayer and intercession takes places in the personal and intimate realm, as we willingly devote and commit ourselves to praying for someone else other than ourselves. In all reality it is absolutely and incredibly easy to pray for ourselves, and to come boldly unto the throne of grace that we might obtain mercy for ourselves, and to find grace to help in our time of need, but it is something else altogether to do so on behalf of another. As I am sitting here reading the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly struck by the fact that the same fervency and urgency with which he prayed for the churches was now being manifested on an individual, a person and an intimate level. WHEN PRAYER BECOMES PERSONAL! WHEN PRAYER BECOMES INTIMATE! What I find to be absolutely incredible concerning the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy is that prayer was taken out of the corporate setting, and was taking out of the realm of churches, and congregations, and bodies of believers, and it is dialed in to specific individuals. In all reality, it is one thing to pray for a specific group of people, but it is something else altogether to pray for someone specifically—by name, as well as by face. It is one thing to pray for a corporate body of believers, but it is something else altogether to pray for individuals which are present within our lives. What’s more, is that it is something altogether spectacular and wonderful when we ask the Lord our God to release mercy into the life of another individual, and to provide grace to help in someone else’s time of need.
Perhaps the single greatest truth that is found in this particular reality is the ability and willingness to move beyond and get past ourselves in order that we might impact the lives of those around us. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are truly willing to get over ourselves enough in order that we might come boldly unto the throne of grace in order that we might obtain mercy on behalf of another, and to find grace to help for someone else’s time of need. We would be incredibly selfish and native to think that we are the only ones who experience times of need, and find ourselves in desperate need of mercy. If the mercies of God are new every morning, and if mercies are indeed plural, then why on earth do we seem think that such mercies are available for us and us alone? If the grace of Jesus Christ was in facts sufficient for the apostle Paul, and if Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, than what makes us think that we alone should be the only recipients of that grace? I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Philippian congregation in the second chapter of the epistle. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul writes beginning with the first verse of the second chapter:
“If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:1-8).
I am also reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the saints which were at Rome in the twelfth chapter of that particular epistle. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of this epistle beginning to read with and from the ninth verse:
“Let love be without dissimulation. Ashore that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to not man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
As I sit here and read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, I can’t help but see a profound connection between his statement and declaration of remembering Timothy in his prayers without ceasing both night and day, as well as his desire to see young Timothy. If continue reading in this particular chapter you will find the apostle Paul expressing his great desire to see Timothy, for he was mindful of his tears. It is important that we not lose sight of that which the apostle Paul is writing and declaring in this particular epistle, for the apostle Paul knew that something was going on in the life of young Timothy. We aren’t given any clue or any indication as to how the apostle Paul was made aware of the tears which Timothy cried, but suffice it to say that he was aware of the tremendous distress and anguish Timothy was experiencing within his heart and soul. There is not a doubt in my mind that when I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto young Timothy in this epistle that Timothy was experiencing something incredibly difficult and challenging within his heart and life. Judging by everything I read in the previous epistle which was written by the apostle Paul and delivered unto Timothy, I can’t help but get the strong sense that Timothy was experiencing a great distress within his life, and was perhaps experiencing tremendous pressure and anxiety over the work for which he had been called of the Lord. We would be incredibly naïve to think even for a moment that ministry is always easy, and that it always goes the way we want it to, or even think and believe it should. We would be incredibly naïve to think that there won’t be struggles, that there wont be conflicts, that there won’t be battles and wars as we serve the Lord faithfully in the ministry for which He has called us to. What’s more, is that I am convinced that there are even times in the lives of countless servants of the Lord within the earth when the stress, when the pressure, when the weight, when the burdens, when the responsibility of ministry becomes so much for them to handle that they experiencing a deep sorrow, a deep anguish, and perhaps a deep depression within their hearts and souls. There are times when ministers of the kingdom come under such heavy pressure and burdens that they are unable to hold it all together anymore. There are times when the only thing they are left to do is communicate with their tears and let them flow forth like rivers from their eyes. In all reality, I am convinced that sometimes the single greatest thing someone can do is to cry and to just release the tears which they have been attempting to hold in and conceal for quite some time.
When I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy, I am not only struck by the fact that the apostle Paul earnestly made mention of Timothy in his prayers without ceasing both night and day, but also his tremendous desire to see Timothy. I can’t help but believe within my heart and spirit that the apostle Paul sought to visit Timothy in order that he might provide him with some type of encouragement. I previously wrote that there are certain times within our lives when one of the greatest things we need is to hear the voice of a father speaking directly into our lives. Sometimes there are times in our lives when one of the greatest blessings in our lives is to hear the voice of a father speaking directly unto us—whether it’s expressing divine pleasure in who we are, or in validating that which we are engaging ourselves in. When you consider the voice of the Father speaking from heaven concerning His Son, it is absolutely amazing to hear the Father’s pleasure in the Son, for the Son had not performed a single miracle, nor had He taught a single word before the crowds and masses. The Father’s pleasure and delight in the Son was not based on anything He had done, but was based solely in who He was as a person—based on His relationship to and with Him as a son with a father. As certainly and as surely as I feel there are times when we need to hear the voice of a father speaking into our lives—whether that’s an earthly and biological father, or whether it’s a spiritual or surrogate father, or even whether it’s the Heavenly Father—I am also convinced that there are times when we simply need to be in their company. There are times in our lives when words aren’t enough, but presence and company speaks so much louder than words. There are times within our lives when words aren’t even necessary, but just being there in presence is the only thing we need. I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Job after Satan had been permitted to touch his body and struck his entire body with sores and boils. Beginning with the eleventh verse of the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Job we find the following words: “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came every one from his own place; Elphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zohar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him. And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven. So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:11-13).
I believe with all my heart that there are times within our lives when we don’t need the words of others, but we simply need their presence and their company. I believe there are times in our lives when we simply need someone to come alongside us and put their arm around us and just provide comfort. I believe there are times in our lives when presence more than words can go further than anything else, and actually makes more of a difference. When we read the account of Job and his three friends we find that they made an appointment together to come and mourn with Job and to comfort him. Hearing all the evil that had come upon him, they all made an appointment together to come and provide comfort, encouragement and support during this difficult time he was experiencing. What’s more, is that Scripture even states that while they lifted up their eyes afar off, and did not know or recognize Job, they lifted up their voice and wept. Job’s three friends even went so far as to rend their mantle, sprinkle dust upon their heads toward heaven and associate with his grief and anguish. While much of the Old Testament book of Job seems to be controversial conversation and communication between Job and his three friends, I have to admit that I absolutely love what is found in the thirteenth verse of this particular chapter. In the thirteenth verse we find that Job’s three friends sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him because they saw that his grief was very great. Despite what we find and read in the remaining portion of this Old Testament book I am convinced that there are times in our lives when we simply need someone to come and sit with us on the ground in the midst of our grief. There are times in our lives when we don’t need lectures, we don’t need sermons, we don’t need anything but simply company and fellowship. We would be incredibly naïve to think for a moment that there aren’t times in our lives when we simply need someone to come alongside us and simply be there with us and for us. We don’t need another twelve step program, we don’t need more lectures, we don’t need more words, we don’t need more teachings, we don’t need more books, but what we do need is someone who is willing to sit down in our dust, and even get in our dirt when we find ourselves face down in it. I can’t help but be reminded of the account of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, and how instead of Jesus condemning this woman, and instead of Jesus casting a stone at her, He stooped down and got right down in her dirt. Consider if you will the account of this woman caught in the act of adultery, and not only brought into the house of the Lord to further compound her guilt and shame, but also brought into the presence of Jesus:
“Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none by the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thing accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).
In the Old Testament book of Job we find Job’s three friends getting down in Job’s dirt, and getting down in his dust and ashes. In the New Testament we find Jesus getting down in the dirt of this woman caught in the act of adultery—and not only getting down in that dirt once, but twice. I am utterly and completely convinced that we desperately need men and women in our lives who are not only willing to get down in our dirt, dust and ashes, but who are willing to sit down and remain in that place with us. I am convinced that there are times within our lives when we need someone who is willing to simply sit down alongside us in our dirt and ashes, and although the grief and sorrow is not their own, they directly associate with it. What I find so absolutely incredible about this second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto Timothy is that he wrote unto him to call him to remembrance the unfeigned faith which was in him—that faith which was first in his grandmother Lois, and also in his mother Eunice. What’s more, is that the apostle Paul also sought to bring him into remembrance the gift of God which was in him by the putting on of the apostle’s hands. When writing unto Timothy in this second letter, he began first by appealing to him as a father would appeal to a son. The apostle Paul then immediately reminded Timothy of his constant care and concern for him in his unceasing and unwavering prayers both night and day. The apostle Paul would go on to express unto Timothy his great desire to see him being made aware of the tears which he cried, in order that he might be filled with joy. If you go on to read that which is contained within this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul declaring unto Timothy how God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind. I can’t help but find these words to be absolutely and incredibly powerful, for there is not a doubt in my mind that fear might have attempted to gain ground and establish a stronghold within the heart and life of Timothy. We dare not forget that Timothy was younger than most, and could very well have been opposed by those who had crept into the church—those which the apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders of when he last saw them. Furthermore, we dare not forget the fact that the apostle Paul would go on to instruct Timothy to note be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor even of Paul His prisoner, and to be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God. In all reality, the apostle Paul was inviting Timothy to embrace the struggle, and to embrace the suffering which both he and even Jesus Christ experienced while on the earth. The apostle Paul invited Timothy to be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel which was according to the power of God, which is actually quite unique when you consider it. In the previous verse the apostle Paul declared how God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind, and in the very next verse the apostle Paul invites Timothy to not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, and to instead be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the fourth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto the diaspora. I leave you with the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the fifth chapter of this epistle beginning with the twelfth verse:
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified. But let non of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).