Be Ready

2 Timothy 4:1-5

We live in a nation that has a number of unique characteristics. Many of them are good things, others are not good. One thing in second category, an issue of growing proportions, sets our country apart from rest of the world. That thing: obesity. Not confined to adults, affects ever younger children in growing numbers. TV show capitalizes on the problem, cities try to regulate soft drink sizes, diet schemes multiply, exercise programs seek to attract customers. At risk of being overly simplistic, let me identify root problem: for the most part, those who are obese eat what they want instead of what they need.

So what does that have to do with the Bethlehem candle and our text? Whether it’s physical or spiritual nourishment, people tend to act the same – consuming too much of what they want and not enough of what they need. Lord Jesus was born in Bethlehem; beth lechem, the house of bread. Later, during time of his ministry, Jesus had quite a bit to say about bread. He reminded Satan

Matthew 4:4 “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Day after performed miracle of feeding 5000 men plus women and children with 5 loaves 2 fishes, told those around

John 6.35“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

John 6:51 “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.”

People don’t need more Wonder Bread, need bread of life. Need to hear of their lost condition, the One who came to redeem them from sin and reconcile to holy God. Then need to hear how that holy God has a standard he expects his children to follow. Need to hear how God graciously equips and enables people to serve him wisely and well. To that end, Christ has given pastors and teachers to the church, those whose primary task is to declare the truth of God’s Word.

Timothy, pastor of local church in Ephesus is one Paul had foremost in view. However, Paul’s exhortation applies to all pastors and teachers. You’re probably thinking “I’m not one of them, guess I can catch a nap for next 20 minutes. Right?” Not so fast! Lord of the Church expects all his followers to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15) Means everyone who claims to be a Christian should be prepared to speak truth from God’s Word as he gives opportunity.

A. seriousness of the charge v.1

adminstering oath of office – solemn charge

two things that let us know what Paul is about to say is big deal: first, significance of verse 6 – “the time of my departure is at hand.”

not talking about leaving town; means “the time of his death is near”, doesn’t have long to live

makes 2 Timothy Paul’s last writing that we have; gives added weight to what he wrote, making sure he covered what was of most importance

second, Paul’s choice of words; speaks solemnly, with great seriousness, as if adminstering oath of office

implies both responsibility and accountability – duty to carry out particular task, obligation to do so in way that meets with witness’s approval

had already written about important church issues in chapter 3 – difficult days and difficult people; this is up few notches in importance

God is witness

reminder that even though all of life is lived in God’s presence, some parts of life more important than others

God is particularly interested when we are communicating his truth to others – must remember goal is God’s approval

sure, we’re interested in results: people come to faith, grow in their faith, are equipped to share their faith

all of that is secondary; of utmost importance is we do what God has called us to do in way that pleases him

in his role as universal judge

1 Cor. 4:1-2Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

not a call to be successful as man measures success; is call to be considered faithful steward of what has been entrusted

B. content of the charge v.2

preach the word – proclaim the message, loudly, confidently; pastor’s primary task is proclamation, not suggestion or discussion

incumbent on all believers to speak truth of God whenever there is need and opportunity – should do so without arrogance or apology

must be ready to do so whether convenient or not, whether well-received or not

declare what’s right – for people of God to live pleasing to God, must be taught right way to live; God’s Word says much about what God expects, his people need to hear it

correct what’s wrong – declaring right is only half of what is needed, correcting wrong is just as necessary, maybe more so; far more sources of error than of what is right – means lots of opportunities for being misled

rebuke sin and error – this is part people like the least, unless it’s the other guy the preacher is talking to; but,…since all of us still have tendency to sin, we all need to be warned about sin and its consequences

exhort to do right – even though we’re redeemed sinners, we live in fallen world; doing right is hard, takes great effort and much encouragement to live godly life day by day

with patience – we live in fast-paced world, are accustomed to getting results quickly; often don’t see immediate results when God’s Word is proclaimed and applied, true regardless of setting

must be patient, allow time for Word to penetrate, Holy Spirit to convict and work in heart and mind of believer

overcoming sin is process, not an event; more than halfway through Paul’s ministry, said he hadn’t yet arrived but still needed to press on (Phil. 3:12)

with instruction – simply declaring truth is not enough; must be followed by explanation and application

Nehemiah 8:8So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.

if people of God are to be “doers of the word and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22) must know how it applies in daily life

C. necessity of the charge v.3-4

people want affirmation, not correction; entertainment, not exhortation

first choice to hear what you’re doing right, not how you got it all wrong; don’t judge me, don’t tell me what to do

too many want to leave worship feeling good about themselves rather than good about God; if that’s result, may have been worshipping something other than God

if we love brothers and sisters, if we love the lost – must tell what they need to hear, whether comfortable or popular or not

they grow resistant to the truth when it requires change – “the time will come”

those who hang about the meetinghouse out of habit, for social reasons, will reach saturation point: I’ve heard this enough, don’t need it anymore, all it does is make me feel uncomfortable

temptation is to back off, be less bold in declaring truth, applying truth; stick to safe topics, things everyone can agree on

follow myths even when they know it’s a lie

had opportunity to visit Baikal Museum; tour guide waxed eloquent on wonders and mysteries of evolution, thoroughly perplexed by how salt-water critters ended up in fresh-water lake! speculations got more and more outlandish, made it hard to keep straight face. Couldn’t hold it any longer, laughed out loud; he got embarassed, didn’t want to discuss; just picked up the pace, hurried through rest of exhibits.

D. response to the charge v.5

how did Paul expect Timothy to respond to his charge? and, how should we respond in 21st century?

don’t be distracted by hype – keep your head

don’t focus on church down the street, ministry in next town, the results they claim to be getting – multiple campuses and services, hundreds of people, live stream on internet, etc., etc.

remember God’s expectation: faithfulness; proclaim God’s truth confidently and humbly, leave results to God

side note: most measures of success people use have little or no connection with measure God uses

don’t be surprised by hardship

truth is often resisted, sometimes violently or cruelly; Jesus spoke the truth, look what happened to him

many who followed for a while abandoned him – church members, friends and even family can do that to us

some aren’t content to “let it go”; have to make issue out of it, ridicule the messenger and the message

more challenging – some try to force acceptance of their beliefs

season your preaching with the Gospel

all people need to hear the Gospel, repeatedly; keeps our attention on Christ, reminds us we can find forgiveness and reconciliation in Him

should also be true of day to day conversations – season all we say with God’s truth, make sure principles we express and promote are biblical ones

do all that God has called you to do

your calling: to be a faithful steward of what has been entrusted to you – both understanding of biblical truth and ministry gift given for benefit of others

called to model godliness before others, to serve one another, to give witness to hope we have of eternal life

It’s time of year when people expect to hear something about the baby in the manger. Ask God to give you opportunities, boldness, right words to clearly communicate his truth to those who need to hear. Regardless of what people have on their shopping list, everyone needs the “bread of life”. We know where to find it in unending supply. Our task is to keep ourselves supplied, regularly going to Christ for our needs; our task also to point others to the Savior, that they may receive what will abundantly satisfy their need.


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