Episode 1. A Different Perspective
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Ask anyone you lie what their purpose is in life … and no doubt we’ll get quite a variety of different answers. But let’s take a look at that question from a different perspective. What’s …
Ask different people, what their purpose in life is … and no doubt you’ll get quite a variety of different answers. But let’s take a look at that question from a different perspective. What’s God’s purpose for our lives? And that … that might just have a few people stumped.
It’s such a blessing for me to be able to join you again today, not just for the beginning of a new week but at the beginning of a new series of messages. I’ve called this series “Rekindling The Flame” because I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired.
I mean I love doing what I do, I absolutely love it but even when we love doing what we’re doing, even when we’re serving God with all our hearts sometimes we get tired, sometimes we get run down. Sometimes so many things around us seem to be going wrong that well we lose our drive, our sense of direction, our determination, our purpose in life. Have you ever found that?
Just this morning I was sitting praying feeling as though I was getting close to running on empty and asking the Lord to fill me afresh which He did but this reality of being drained by life, by service, by all the things that we go through is a reality that pops up again and again for the most of us. Have you noticed?
So that’s why we’re going to spend the next few weeks on the program in God’s Word, letting Him speak to us, letting Him into the deepest and darkest places in our hearts to rekindle the flame and there’s no better place to be doing that than the Apostle Paul’s second letter to his young protégé Timothy.
So let’s have a look at how Paul opens up his letter to young Tim. See Tim has served with Paul all over the place, in Ephesus as a courier, they wrote a few of the letters in the New Testament together. So Paul was obviously Timothy’s mentor and as any mentor has for his protégé Paul had a special place in his heart for Tim.
So why is this significant? Well as you and I spend the next couple of weeks in this letter my prayer is that in this fatherly warmth that we discover from Paul to Timothy we too will experience the fatherly warmth from our Father God who is speaking to us through Paul’s powerful words.
So how does Paul kick this letter off? 2 Timothy chapter 1 beginning at verse 1:
Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus. To Timothy my beloved child grace, mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
I am grateful to God whom I worship with a clear conscience as my ancestors did when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. Recalling your tears I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy.
I’m reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now I’m sure lives in you. For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self discipline.
What a fabulous start. Remember Paul’s been through so much in his life, he’s been beaten, reviled, he’s lost his position and status. He’s had a murder plot against him or two, riots, been run out of town, he had to flee for his life. Unbelievable stuff and he starts out with a statement, a feisty statement if you will of his central purpose in life. To be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus.
Why does he do what he does? To bring the life that comes only through faith in Jesus out into a lost and hurting world. The easiest thing in the world when you’re travelling through difficult times is to lose your focus but nowhere, not once in any of his letters do we see that of Paul. He is called by God to be an apostle, one sent out to do the will and the work of God and as we’re going to come to see this whole tension between trials and temptations and tribulations that we go through on the one hand and the call of God on our lives on the other can throw us completely off course.
That is, as it turns out, is what this letter to Timothy is all about because Paul wants something special for Timothy. He wants a special blessing for this young man:
To Timothy my beloved child grace, mercy and peace from God the father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Do you see that? Paul wants Tim to experience grace and mercy and peace and this letter is all about showing him how. Paul’s been praying for him even though he himself is going through some really, really difficult times. And Paul recalls the tough times they’d been through together in Christ’s service – the tears. And now he takes the opportunity to get Timothy focused on his purpose, focused on his mission.
Rick Warren of Saddleback Church is perhaps best known for his book and teaching series “The Purpose Driven Life”. But this isn’t something that Rick somehow invented in the 21st century, he discovers it right back here in the 1st century through Paul and others who would not be shaken from the purpose that God had for their lives. And God had such a purpose, not just for Paul but for Timothy.
So Paul reminds him of three things. First the trouble that God’s gone to … to hand a deep powerful faith down to Timothy. Have a listen to this:
I’m reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now I am sure lives in you.
When we go through tough times we do well to remember the amazing things that God has already done in our lives. The faith that He’s placed in our hearts. Do you ever go through tough times and then all of a sudden God reminds you, “Look at the trouble I took to bless you. Look at the trouble took to get you here. Look at how I’ve protected you over all this time.”
It is an awesome thing friend, to look back and see the things that God has done in our past, and so we’re going through some tough times and we remember those and they give us strength. “I’m reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that came from your grandmother to your mother to you.”
Secondly in light of this faith Paul calls Timothy to do something amazing:
For this reason (he says) I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.
We each have a gift, something that God’s given us that we can do better than just about anyone else we know. And how easy is it for that gift, that ability, that dream to become obscured by the cares of this world, by the sheer grind of living out our lives day after day after day. Friend you have such a gift, you have such a dream and when you think about it back there in the 1st century rekindling something wasn’t easy.
When there were just smouldering embers left there lying in the fireplace it would require a careful gathering of dry kindling, placing it delicately over the few remaining embers then fanning the flames, seeing the flames catch to the kindling, placing slightly larger pieces of wood onto it then even larger pieces before it again became a raging fire.
This is what Paul is calling Timothy to do, to rekindle the gift within. This is what I believe God is calling us to do. Is it hard? Is it scary sometimes? Yeah sure it is. We can only gather here because of what Paul is saying to Timothy that young Tim was at risk of losing his way, at risk of losing the purpose of God placed on his life, at risk of forgetting the dream. That’s what Paul writes and says:
I remind you because of all the trouble Gods gone to to rekindle the gift within.
And Paul knows that what he’s asking Timothy to do is hard so the very next thing he says is:
God didn’t give you a spirit of cowardice but a spirit of power and of love and of self discipline.
Friend, over the coming weeks we’re going to be chatting about rekindling the flame in your heart because I believe that many, many people have been drawn away from the purposes of God for their lives by this imposter of the world called success. And I believe with all that I am that God wants us not to waste our lives. He wants us to fulfil the destiny and the plans and the purposes that He set out for us before any of our days yet existed.