PARALYSED BY FEAR

Bible Reading: Psalm 34:1-22 

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and a personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]” (2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified Bible)

In seeking to encourage Timothy, Paul puts his finger on one of Timothy’s problems – fear! The word translated, as “fear” is the Greek word ‘deilia’, and is always used in a bad sense. The Greek word derives from ‘deiliaō’ that has the sense of ‘to shrink for fear’ and hence running away or cowardice. This kind of fear is negative and does not come from God.

Paul calls this fear a spirit. The Bible says what it means and means what it says. An evil spirit of fear had attacked Timothy. Because it was an evil spirit it was powerful. It was more than just a feeling of being afraid, but was gripping and controlling his thought life. Timothy had to give an opening to the spirit of fear in order for it to rob him of a heart on fire for Jesus. In a similar way, Elijah allowed a spirit from Jezebel to pierce his spiritual armour, and as a result ran in fear for his life (1 Kings 19).

We cannot be sure what the opening was to the spirit of fear in Timothy’s life but there are several possibilities. Some people in the church at Ephesus rejected Timothy. Rejection often results in a fear of rejection that can open the door to the enemy. It may have been a fear of suffering for Christ, or feeling inadequate to handle the church situation in Ephesus. Perhaps it was the fear of confronting people. Whatever it was, it had opened a door to the enemy. Job said, “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25 NKJV). If we do not deal with our fears then they will increasingly paralyse us and give a foothold to the enemy in our lives.

This spirit of fear was hindering Timothy from using his God-given gift. It had to be faced up to and dealt with. Tomorrow we will look at how this spirit of fear attacked Timothy, but sufficient today to say that God is able to set us free from fear and the torment that it brings. King David knew what fear was, and his testimony was, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Questions:

Has fear caused you to be tormented, and not to fulfil your real potential? This is a time to face up to those fears, and bring them humbly to the Lord. Will you bring your fears to him now and ask Him to set you free?

David said, “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?” (Psalm 56:3). How do you respond to these words of David?

What do you think of the statement, “When we fear God, we need fear nothing else”?

THE BURNING HEART

Bible Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3

“That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]”  [2 Timothy 1:6 Amplified Bible]

Paul specifically encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift that is within him. Timothy was discouraged and Paul had tried to encourage him not to neglect using his gift. Someone has said that discouragement flourishes in loneliness. It was when Elijah felt that he was alone that he became discouraged and depressed, and God had to remind him that there were still seven thousand people in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal [1 Kings 19:14,18].

Timothy was a single man, facing a difficult task, opposed by false teachers, criticised by believers who thought that he was too young, and missing Paul, his mentor and father figure. Paul had mentioned already Timothy’s tears, and longed to see him [1 Timothy 1:4]. This sense of being alone, coupled with fear [2 Timothy 1:7], struggling with suffering [2 Timothy 1:8-12] and possibly being attracted to the world [implied in 2 Timothy 2:3-4] were quenching Timothy’s passion for Jesus and the fire in his heart. Against this background Paul is constantly trying to encourage him not to give up, and now he encourages Timothy to fan into flame the gift of God within him.

In Indonesia we enjoy eating chicken satay cooked on a charcoal grill. It sometimes appears that the flame and heat are snuffed out but then the satay seller fans the charcoal and the warm glow of the fire returns.

The fire comes as we draw close to Jesus. Jesus drew near to two disappointed disciples on the Emmaus Road. They did not recognise Him but as they walked He opened God’s Word to them, and then He broke bread and gave it to them and their eyes were opened. They said to one another, “Did not our hearts burn within us” [Luke 24:32]. The fire in their hearts had been rekindled as they were with Jesus.

What is the result of the fire going out? It is ashes! Isaiah writes, that God gives “beauty in place of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness” [Isaiah 61:3].

Has your passion for Christ dimmed and the fire that once burned so brightly been almost extinguished? Would you pray this prayer, which is part of a hymn written by Charles Wesley,

O Thou who camest from above
The pure celestial fire to impart;
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for Thy glory burn
With inextinguishable blaze,
And trembling to its source return
In humble prayer and fervent praise

 

If you prayed this prayer would you now find a Christian friend and share this with them. It will strengthen you and encourage them.

TIMOTHY’S GOD-GIVEN GIFT

Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 1:3-18

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands” [2 Timothy 1:6]

Paul had laid hands on Timothy and a gift from God was imparted to him. What exactly was the gift that he received? It is usually understood that Timothy should “activate” his charismatic gifts, which he had received through the laying on of hands. However, there may be something else that Paul is meaning when he speaks of Timothy’s gift.

Throughout both of Paul’s letters to Timothy we find various commands to preach and teach. In 2 Timothy 2:2 he writes, “The sound words that you’ve heard from me, commit to faithful men.” In 2 Timothy 2:15 he says, “Be diligent to present yourself as rightly dividing the word of truth.” In 2 Tim. 4:2 Paul says, “Preach the word… Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching,”
and in 2 Timothy 4:5 he says, “Do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.” Timothy’s ministry gift was to teach and preach.

Paul had charged Timothy to remain in Ephesus to correct those who were wrong, and to basically preach and teach [1 Timothy 1:3]. This word had come through prophecy to Timothy [1 Timothy 1:18]. Paul repeats this later in the epistle and reminds him that a gift was given to him by the laying on of hands of the eldership [1 Timothy 4:14]. The recurring theme through Paul’s letters to Timothy is that he should teach and preach the gospel. It is interesting that Paul says so much about teaching and preaching, and nothing in this epistle about charismatic gifts such as healing, prophecy, and words of knowledge. This would indicate that teaching and preaching was Timothy’s primary gifting, and the gift that Paul says that he should fan into flame.

Somehow Timothy had lost his way in the ministry that God had given him through the prophetic word and laying on of hands. He had lost his cutting edge and was not doing as well in the ministry as Paul might have hoped. In

1 Timothy 4:14 Paul had to exhort Timothy not to neglect the gift that was in him, and in today’s reading Paul has to challenge Timothy to stir up the gift that is within him.

Questions:

Do you think that God still imparts gifts to people in the way that we read in Paul’s letters to Timothy, through the laying on of hands and prophecy?

If God has given us a particular gift to serve Him, how should that gift be developed? Should we simply wait for God or is there something we can proactively do in order to use our God-given gifts more effectively?

Has God given you a gift to serve Him with, but somehow you have neglected it?  Read through today’s chapter and see if you can identify some reasons why Timothy was told by Paul to stir up the gift that was within him.

A PURE CONSCIENCE

Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:19-25

“I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day” [2 Timothy 1:3].

Paul says to Timothy that he serves God with a pure conscience, as his forefathers did. The dictionary defines conscience as “an inner voice or sense of right and wrong that guides a persons actions.”

Many years ago someone loaned me a BMW car to use whilst I was in Singapore. On a particular Sunday morning I had to speak at two meetings and arrived late for the second meeting. A young pastor met me at the door and offered to park the car for me. In doing so he damaged the outer sill on the underside of the car on a raised pavement. He didn’t tell me about this, and I didn’t see the damage. The owner of the car did not mention it to me when I returned the car. Seventeen years later the young man who damaged the car, now himself a senior pastor, confessed to me what he had done. For all those years he had a guilty conscience.

Paul writes about a good conscience, and a pure conscience [1 Timothy 3:9; 2 Timothy 1:3]. The conscience can be defiled and not function as God intended [1 Corinthians 8:7; Titus 1:5]. The conscience can be seared as with a hot iron”[1 Timothy 4:2]. The word “seared” in this verse is ‘kauteriazo’ [Greek], from which we get our English word “cauterized.” It is a conscience that is insensitive to right and wrong.

Paul’s philosophy was very simple. He said, “I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and everyone else” [Acts 24:16 NTL]. It is very possible to have a damaged conscience and a value system that is not in tune with God, but the writer to the Hebrews declares the wonderful truth that the blood of Jesus can cleanse our conscience from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God [Hebrews 9:14 NIVUK]. This same writer gives us an invitation to, “draw near to God, with a sincere heart, and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” [Hebrews 10:22]. Our conscience can be cleansed and be retuned to God’s value system.

Questions:

Why do you think that the conscience is an important part of our human make up? Why is it important to maintain a clear conscience before God and men?

What are things that defile the conscience and cause it to become insensitive?

Can you say, with the Apostle Paul, that you have a pure conscience? If not, what is it from your past that condemns you? Would you now accept God’s invitation draw near to Him and let Him cleanse your conscience?

WHO YOU ARE IS IMPORTANT

Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14

“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” [2 Timothy 1:1].

In his introduction to his second letter to Timothy Paul makes a clear statement in the very first verse. “Paul” – that’s who he is; “an apostle” – that’s his work; “of Christ Jesus” – that’s who he serves; “by the will of God” – that’s his authority; “according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus” – that is his hope! What a remarkable introduction – who he is, what he does, who he serves, his authority and his hope all in the first sentence!

Who he is comes first. What we do and whom we serve flows out of who we are. At the heart of the Christian message is the issue of our identity – who we are. When we know that we will be secure, unafraid of what people think, and comfortable with ourselves. Many people spend their whole lives doing something different from who they are, but when their activities are an expression of who they are, then they will really begin to enjoy their life!

When a person is born again their old sinful nature dies and they receive a brand new nature. Satan attacks our mind and seeks to speak lies about ourselves, so that instead of believing what God says about us we believe the enemies lies. Thoughts like “I am no good,” “I am worthless,” and other unhealthy fears do not come from God but from our enemy who accuses us and lies to us. That is why Jesus said that Satan was a liar from the beginning. We have the righteousness of Christ. We no longer have a sinful nature but are called saints.

The issue of our identity in Christ is so important because only when we are comfortable with who we are, will we be able to help others find their identity.

Questions:

Read Ephesians 1:3-14. What does Paul say about our new identity in Christ? Underline all the positive things that God says about you in this passage, and then speak them out, believing that what God says about you is true.

The Bible says that we have been crucified with Christ and that our old nature is dead. Why do you think it is that many Christians still believe that they have to battle with something that is already dead?

Why is it important that we find our identity in Christ and not in other people’s opinions of us, or in the things that we do?

News From Michael Ross-Watson

I am so grateful to the various people at Kerith, our church in Bracknell, who have contributed a blog message each Friday over the past few weeks whilst Esther and I have been taking a break and travelling overseas.

It has been a wonderfully refreshing time. We visited Singapore twice, Brunei and Surabaya in Indonesia.

I preached several times in Singapore including our own home church in Singapore, as well other churches, including three services at St. Andrews Anglican Cathedral. In Brunei there were nine meetings in four days, but also great time to relax and visit the “water village” where 35,000 people live in houses on stilts on the water. They are an amazing community with fire station, schools, and medical centre all on stilts. Then there was an amazing trip by speedboat into the rain forest area, where we saw wild life including crocodiles on the riverbank.

It wasn’t all ministry, but also catching up friends, and family. We enjoyed so much being with our son, Tim, and his lovely girlfriend Audrey, and also spending time with our foster daughter and her brother and their families in Indonesia. It was so much fun.

We arrived back in the UK last Wednesday and have rested, got over jet-lag and spent our first day back at the Kerith Academy, our Bible and ministry training school.

I have been amazed at the number of people who have told me that they have missed reading the daily blog over the past few weeks, and also testimonies of how God has spoken to people through the blog. For me personally, it has been important to take this break after writing every day for ten months, and I now feel thoroughly refreshed and ready to write again. The first episode will be on line on the blog Monday, 26th October at michaelrosswatson.com. We will take a daily look at Paul’s second letter to Timothy. You might perhaps find it helpful to read through 2 Timothy over the next day or two in order to get an overview of its contents.

May the Lord richly bless you,

Michael

Leadership Matters

Leadership Matters – Guest Post by Simon Benham

Today is the first day of Kerith hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This is an annual leadership development gathering which takes place at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago every August, and then is taken via video to over 250,000 people around the world in 120 countries. If you’ve never been before then please plan to come next year, or to one of the events running around the country later in the year – you own’t regret it.

Leadership matters. Wherever in the world you find a successful church, football team, charity, company or nation then you will invariably find great leadership. Not great as the world might define it. Probably not chest thumping, gladiator style, hugely charismatic, alpha males who conquer all before them, but the sort of leaders Jim Collins describes in his book Good to Great. Leaders with a deep personal humility, but at the same time a steely resolve to do whatever it takes to make their venture succeed. Leaders not worried about who gets the credit as long as the work gets done, without a huge ego or chip on their shoulder but with a deep inner resolve that won’t allow them to be deflected from their call, whatever the opposition.

 

All of us who follow Jesus are called to be leaders, because we are called to follow the greatest leader who ever lived. One who was willing to give up all of heaven’s riches and pick up a serving towel to wash us clean, who died a criminal’s death in order that we might live the life of a prince, who started a movement with 12 of the most unlikely leaders on the planet which has turned the world upside down. We may not lead a church, a company or even a nation, but we are called to give a lead in our homes, our streets, our schools and our offices. To show people a different way – the Jesus way.

 

For years I disqualified myself as a leader. Not bold enough, not self confident enough, not charismatic enough, not popular enough. I’ve come to realise that none of those things are what defines a leader. Now I focus on finding my boldness in knowing who I am in Christ, my confidence in knowing that Jesus said He would build his church, my charisma from being full of the Holy Spirit and instead of seeking popularity seeking to live a life worth imitating. That seems to me like the Jesus way.

 

Simon is married to Catrina and has three children, Zach, Jacob and Alice. For the last 8 years he has lead Kerith Community Church in Berkshire, longing to build a community which will make God visible to the world we live in. He has two labradors and is a long suffering fan of Newcastle United.

Thoughts about Unity

Thoughts on Unity – Guest Post by Liam Parker

Below I have listed 10 thoughts I have about unity. I have a big passion to see unity in the local church and with local churches! It is absolutely vital to building the church. In the same way a mother and father stand united as one voice in order to create a strong household we must stand with one mind and one spirit (Phil 2:1) so that we can build a strong church. I wrote the points without much explanation, I did this in order to create discussion. Unity is a subject that will always need addressing as it is so easy to let dividing mindsets creep into church life. So read, enjoy and discuss.

Thoughts about Unity.

1) Any community not unified is already ruined.
2) If you are not unified then sort it out before you do anything else.
3) Competition and comparison are enemies of unity
4) If you are not for unity you are automatically against it
5) Unity doesn’t mean a state of no conflict or disagreements. We must learn how to deal with conflict and disagreements properly.
6) We are always more powerful together.
7) We have different roles (leaders, organisers, ideas people, action people) but everyone is equal. One body, many parts.
8) Complete honesty is key when maintaining and creating unity.
9) Unity is everyone’s responsibility
10) Small unity equals big unity. We must sort out disagreements with individuals because disunity can escalate.

Liam Parker, youth pastor for Kerith Community Church, is passionate about reaching every young person in Bracknell and growing them in the love of Jesus.