Archive for April, 2022

The Faith Factor: Part Two

Hebrews 11: 1- 3

In the fall of 1940 during World War II, the German Air Force, with an average of 200 planes per raid, bombed London for 57 consecutive nights. Many nights after the raids Prime Minister Winston Churchill could be seen in his suit and derby picking his way through the crowds, encouraging his countrymen.

Following VE Day in 1945, Sir Winston was asked what he had done during those interminable nights of the bombing. He responded that he had retired to his bomb shelter below Piccadilly Square and there before a map of Europe planned the invasion of Germany.

That is faith. He was making plans for victory while the enemy was at once building weapons for a siege by land and reigning terror from the sky. Maybe that is where you are now! You may have been driven into your own bomb shelter by fearful circumstances and doubt, a wonderful time to plan your spiritual victory.

Adversities besieged the Psalmist when he wrote: 

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”  (Psalm 119:71)  Wooo! He continued: “I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are right, And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”  (Psalm 119:75)

That is faith applied where it hurts — when it helps.

Our word substance comes from the Greek “hypostasis.” A scientific term opposite of theory or hypothesis.  It is used to describe a chemical which settles to the bottom in a test tube. It is the primary element in a formula. Thus, faith is seen as primary to all of life. Substance also means “the title deed.”

Faith is the evidence of things to come. Evidence means proof.  Our faith is in the unseen, but not the unknown.  A photon illustrates this. Scientists believe in photons. Yet, they have never seen one. They only exist when traveling at the speed of light, 185,000 miles per second. At that speed they have never been photographed. Though unseen, scientists still believe in photons.

Also, we see the world, but not that of which it is made — atoms.

Evidence translated “elegchos,” a legal term for that which is necessary for conviction. Faith convicts us that God will keep His Word.

This expression carries the first one further.  It is the outward evidence of the inward assurance.  Our life is committed to what the mind believes.

Unbelievers are like a blind man who refuses to believe there is such a thing as a light because he has never seen one.

We live by faith.  We drink water from a faucet, eat in a cafe, place our pay in a bank, fly in a plane, undergo surgery and take medicine by faith.

Man has become the measure of all things. Everything outside man’s experience or understanding is denied. Do you understand how a sheep, cow, pig, and goose can eat grass in the same field and one grows wool, another hair, another bristles, and the other feathers? Do you understand how a brown cow can eat green grass growing out of black soil and give white milk? No! Yet, we believe it.

God’s word is far more assuring and deserving of our faith.

Bring Back the Lifeboats 8/15/99

Luke 10:1, 2

Jesus Christ said, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Luke 10:2).

He later said, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35).

Jesus Christ spoke of souls as being like a crop ready to be harvested. When a crop is ready to harvest it has to be harvested then or it is lost. The window of opportunity is well defined. There is a limited time in which to act.

Christ’s appeal is to avoid letting opportunity pass you by.

Have you ever heard of the novel “Futility,” by Morgan Robertson? It is the story of the sinking of the ocean liner the Titan that sinks because of hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Perhaps you are thinking I miss spoke when I said the Titan and meant to say the Titanic. I didn’t!

The Titan was 1,800 feet long, the Titanic, 1882 feet.

The Titan displaced 66,000 tons of water, the Titanic 70,000. Amazingly similar.

Both ships were triple-screw ocean liners that could travel up to 25 knots per hour and transport 3,000 passengers.

Perhaps you are wondering why Robertson wrote a novel so nearly like the real life event. The thing that makes this story so intriguing is that the Titanic sank on April 14, 1912. The story of the Titan was published in 1898, fourteen years before the Titanic sank.

It is amazing to think that a story written a decade in advance could so nearly forecast the real event. What is even more engaging is the idea that Bible prophecy written so long in advance can be so exact. When the Bible speaks it speaks truth. When Jesus spoke of there needing to be laborers sent into the harvest He knew the need and asserted our responsibility.

America is rapidly becoming a pagan nation. Before being offended look up the definition of “pagan” and then look around at our society. “The American College Dictionary” defines pagan in the following ways: “a people or community professing some other than the Christian religion.”

Even if you drop down to the second definition pagan still fits America. The second definition is: “one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Mohammedan.”

Drive through our own lovely community on a Sunday morning between 11:00 AM and noon and note the numbers of person not participating in religious worship.

In our wonderful community 67% of the people are unchurched. That is, they do not have a local church where they are a member.

When Christ said the field is white unto harvest he meant the crop is ripe and if not harvested it will spoil.

When a pagan nation turns its back on God it turns back to the gods of decadence. Some of these gods are humanism, secularism, and materialism. These three are flourishing.

All the time churches have the potential of reaching the lost for Christ. The salt is too often kept in the shaker and the light on an immovable lamp stand. My prayer is:
Set us afire Lord I pray,
While the world perishes,
We go our way purposely, passionless, day by day.
Set us afire Lord, stir us I pray.

In an interview this week with a reporter from “The Wall Street Journal” we discussed the many undertakings of modern churches. In conclusion I commented the primary role of the church is to propagate spiritual truths. The church is the only organization founded by Christ who commissioned it to “Go … tell.” Because of a failure to fulfill this role by members of many churches our society is sick and souls lost.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That was His mission, that is our assignment.

The Biblical record of those He saved is a grouping of the most unlikely prospects. Abraham a liar. Jacob a cheat. David an adulterer. Rahab a harlot. Peter a coward. Joseph of Aramethea a religious bigot. All, like each of us, unlikely converts.

The time for response is now. A man retired after 40 years on a job that required him to catch a bus at 7:30 AM. The first morning after retirement his wife served him eggs as usual. He said, “Honey, I don’t like eggs this way!’ “But,” she said, “I have served you eggs this way for 40 years. Why didn’t you tell me?” His reply, “I never had time.” Take time and make your commitment. Accept His offer of a spiritual rescue.

Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

That is a mandate He placed upon the church. We are in the spiritual rescue business.

Millions have been captivated by the story of paternal neglect and an adulterous affair called Titanic. The movie captured the imagination and revived interest in this needless tragedy. The real life saga was even more intriguing than the story imagined in the film.

A trade magazine of the time, “The Shipbuilder,” labeled the Titanic “practically unsinkable.” On May 31, 1911, and employee of the White Star Shipbuilding Company said, “Not even God Himself could sink this ship.”

At the time of her launch the Titanic was the world’s largest movable man-made object.

The story of the sinking of the Titanic has striking parallel to the spiritual condition and pending circumstances of many people.

John Phillips was the radio operator on duty that April night. A nearby ship the Californian sent six radio messages to the Titanic warning of icebergs in her path. After the sixth warning he told the messenger from the Californian to “shut up.” Though warned the crew of the Titanic refused to change their course. Survivors say as Phillips faced death his arrogance disappeared and he was heard screaming,

“God forgive me … God forgive me!”

We Christians have heard the Bible lovingly warn of pending spiritual doom awaiting those not heeding its warning. Dare we neglect the loving warning to repent. Dare we refuse to change course spiritually.

Emotionally enter into that event with me. At 11:40 PM, April 14, 1912, a giant iceberg scraped the starboard side of the ship, showered ice on the deck, and ripped open six water-tight compartments. Even then most passengers remained unconvinced the ship was about to sink.

Suddenly resentment over an inconvenience turned to disaster. Passengers realized their peril when rescue flairs were fired in the night air.

Charles Pellegrino, a survivor, said, “The water sparkled for miles around. Lifeboats could be seen on it… In that cave of man-made light, minds, too, were illuminated. Everyone understood the message of the rockets without being told.”

860 members of the crew and approximately 3,500 passengers soon knew they faced potential death.

The wealthiest man in the world, John Astor, tried unsuccessfully to force his way into a lifeboat. His wealth could not save him.

Daniel Buckley tried to disguise himself as a woman in order to get into a lifeboat. His costume failed him and he perished.

Mrs. Isador Straus, whose husband owned Macy’s Department Store refused to leave her husband and refused to get in a lifeboat.

Bruce Ismay, part owner of the Titanic and the man responsible for putting lifeboats on the ship crawled into a lifeboat leaving women and children to drown.

Above the scrams and shouts of the panicky crowd could be heard the voice of John Harper shouting, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Many of the 1,522 men, women, and children left on board screamed their way toward awesome silence.

Amid the confusion most lifeboats pulled away from the sinking ship only partially filled as others struggled to survive. Over the speaker system could be heard the voice of the captain pleading, “Bring back the lifeboats!” They didn’t.

Today many are in no less peril spiritually than those passengers were physically. The job of the church is that of the lifeboats. Those in the lifeboat, the true church of Christ, are safe. Friends without Christ are spiritually perishing.

Circumstances give the impression those safe in the lifeboat appear satisfied and reluctant to rescue others.

Today the message to the church on behalf of the lost in society is, “Bring back the lifeboats.” It is an appeal to get involved in saving souls. The rescue mission of the church is to engage in soul winning.

The story of Christ’s saving grace is simple and illustrated many ways.

Our prosperous economy and highly entertaining society seems to provide security affording as much comfort as that professed by the makers of the Titanic. Never has the message of salvation been more available and ignored. The response is often the same as that of the radio operator on the Titanic, “Shut up!”

There is a double grief illustrated by the Titanic.

One, there were those on board who thought the ship to be unsinkable and therefore ignored the alarm warnings. They had a false trust. Some today think things will always be as good as they are now. A false sense of security exists in our society as many trust in materialism and secularism for security.

On the Titanic that night seven bells marked the hour of 11:30 P.M. as the newest, largest, and most luxurious ocean liner of all times plowed its way from Southampton to New York. Earlier in the evening a communication had come into the Marconi shack from the S.S. Mesaba up ahead: “Saw heavy pack ice and a great number of large icebergs. Also field ice.” The wireless operator on the Titanic was so busy that he shoved the message under a paperweight and their it remained unheeded.

The false sense of security of those on board, typical of those today who trust in material goods, is mirrored by the conduct of Charlotte Cardeza, Philadelphia banking millionairess. She and her maid, valet, 14 trunks, 4 suitcases, and three crates of minor luggage were comfortable in their $25,600 three-room suite when they felt the impact. They ignored the danger in light of their opulent quarters and perished. They failed to heed the warnings. Theirs was a false sense of security.

Days after the disaster the body of John Astor was recovered. In the pocket of the wealthiest man in the world was $4,250 cash. Trust in riches did not save him physically, nor will it save us spiritually.

Second, is the heartbreak found in the indifference of many in the lifeboats who are reluctant to attempt to rescue others. I want to appeal to this church, “Bring back the lifeboats.”

Archibald Gracie remembers the night this way: “The wails and groans of the suffering, the shrieks of the terror-stricken, the awful gasping for breath of those in the throes of drowning —– none of us will forget to our dying day.” Dare we ignore the signs of those spiritually perishing and not bring back the lifeboats. Collectively, let’s dedicate ourselves to the rescue mission at hand.

At 2:20 A.M. the Titanic began her slow descent to the ocean floor. The icy waters of the North Atlantic, in the dark of night, swallowed the ship as souls perished while those who could have saved many relished their own safety refusing to bring back the lifeboats. May it not be true of us.

Back in Southampton, England friends and family members awaited news from the reported sinking. Outside the offices of the White Star Steamship Company was posted a sign reporting on passengers. There were two columns headed: “Saved” and “Lost.” Every person’s name appeared under one or the other. In heaven there will be only two lists, no optional ones, only two: SAVED and LOST. Under which heading is yours presently?

Living in an agricultural society Jesus used familiar terms to describe the two groups: “And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25: 33, 34).

He continued, “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41).

In which group are you?

The Faith Factor: Part One

Hebrews 11: 1- 3

Jesus is presented as: a superior person. (Vss. 1 – 6)

He offers a superior priesthood. (Vss. 2 – 10)  

Now faith is shown to be a superior lifestyle. (Vs. 11)

In Hebrews 10:38 an exhortation is given: “The just shall live by faith.”

In Hebrews 12:1, 2 a challenge is given:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:1, 2).

Our faith is based on the loving life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Confidence in Christ’s character is the only eternal basis of ALL faith.

“Belief” and “trust” are two words used frequently in Scripture to identify how we should respond to the Lord.

One Hebrew word for believe is amen. It literally means “to use God as a foundation; to lean on Him.”

Another word translated trust is “batak.” It was originally a wrestling term meaning a “body-slam” or in modern parlance “suplex.” Applied to our faith-life, it means to pick up your problems and body-slam them before the Lord.

At the time of this writing Judaism had deteriorated into a system of works: self-effort, self-salvation, and self-glorification.

It was no longer the faith system God intended.  It was a corruption of what God had designed.  He had no pleasure in it. A new covenant based on faith was instituted.

Faith is spoken of as “the substance of things hoped for.” Our word substance is made up of two words meaning: “to stand” and “under.”  Substance is that which stands under.  It is the superstructure of life.

The faith in God of those spoken of in Hebrews 11 was so strong that they had such “assurance” that they responded as though the things promised were already a reality.

Moses had such faith in Messianic prophecies that he forsook all material things of Egypt which he could see for the Messiah who wasn’t to come for 1400 years (11:26).

Old Testament believers are described in 11:13. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  (Hebrews 11:13)

Now, reflect on these principles and evaluate your faith. Can it be described as giving you assurance to live by?

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the assurance of things to come.”

Did Jesus Go to Hell?

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.” (I Peter 3:18-20)

After the crucifixion did Jesus descend into hell?

The question usually arises from the King James translation of Acts 2:27, 31 (quoting Ps. 16:8-11), that the soul of Christ “was not left in hell.” More popularly, the idea derives from the clause in the Apostles’ Creed: Christ “descended into hell” (descendit ad inferna). “Hell” in both cases refers not to the hell of eternal punishment (Gehenna), but to the realm of the dead, the underworld (OT Sheol, NT Hades). Hence modern translations of both the New Testament and the Creed read “Hades,” “dead,” or “death,” not hell.

That coupled with I Peter 3:18-20 causes some to be misinterpreting the concept. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient….”

Regarding this I Peter 3 it means in the Old Testament time He, Jesus, by means of the Holy Spirit, went and preached to the people of Old Testament era, when Noah was building the ark, who were disobedient and didn’t repent and are now, that is at the time of the New Testament era, separate from God in hell forever. It was not that at the time of the writing of this text He preached to them in hell, but in the Old Testament era when Noah was building the ark, He preached to them.

Bottom line, He did not go to hell after His crucifixion and before His resurrection.

As an aside, why would Jesus have gone to hell after His crucifixion and preached to those there. It was too late for them to repent and be saved. Would it have been an “I told you so” message, or a “Na, na, na, na, goodbye” mocking? Neither are substantial reasons. Jesus died for our sins that we might not go to hell, where it is too late to be saved.

“For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6: 23)

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Timothy: A Conscientious Plodder 9/5/99

I Thessalonians 3:1-3

Jesus Christ has had a loyal legion of followers on every continent in every age. The Bible chronicles the experiences of some of the first century stalwarts. Our distance from them diminishes their flaws and dramatizes their favorable qualities. However, in every age loyalist have had one thing in common and Paul was the penman who penned the announcement of it when he wrote: “We told you when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation…” (I Thessalonians 3: 4).

We are blessed and made bold by their example in the face of deprivation, destitution, distress, disaster, and difficulty. They were plodders. They looked neither to the right nor the left but kept on course. Theirs was a long obedience in the same direction.

Jesus said, “If any man will come after me let him take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). What a purpose giving invitation this is. It frees one of boredom and relieves one of monotony.

Our identity with Christ is noted in the word translated “follow.” It means to walk so closely behind that when the person leading removes his foot from one spot the following person puts his foot in that spot. In that proximity there is room for only one cross. Christ said we are to take up our cross and follow Him. If there is room for only one cross and we are to take up our cross that means the cross Christ carried is our cross.

It is not unreasonable to envision Christ struggling under the cross and physically plodding along on His way to Calvary. When we follow Him we become members of the “Society of Plodders.” What a wonderful fraternal order it is.

One of my favorite plodders of a more modern era is George Washington Carver. He was born a slave near Diamond Grove, Missouri. As an infant he along with his mother were stolen by a band of night raiders. It is said his master bought him back in exchange for a horse. He plodded along paying his way through college at Iowa State College by doing janitorial work, taking in laundry, and cooking.

He started a collection of fungus that grew to over 20,000. This earned him national fame. He came to Tuskegee University in Alabama in 1896. His discoveries were numerous.

“When I was young, I said to God, ‘God tell me the mystery of the universe,’ but God answered, ‘That knowledge is reserved for me alone.’ So I said, ‘God tell me the mystery of the peanut.’ Then God said, ‘Well, George, that’s more nearly your size.’ And He told me.”

During his illustrious career this slave child made more than 300 products from the peanut. More than 118 products from the sweet potato and 75 from pecans.

In 1916 this plodder was named a Fellow in the Royal Society of Arts in London, an honor given few Americans.

In 1951 the George Washington Carver Monument was established on 210 acres of Missouri farm land in his honor. By the time of his death some 18 schools had been named in his honor. He was a productive plodder.

Contemporary sports figures are dramatic examples of plodders. Lance Armstrong overcame cancer’s death sentence to win the world of cycling’s most grueling contest, the Tour de France. He said, “I am responsible to tell my story. To encourage others to fight on.” He plodded the often debilitating path of cancer.

Jim Abbot was born without a right hand. Courageously he concentrated on his left and minimized the absence of a right hand. He overcame his limitation to become quarterback of his high school football team. He excelled in baseball batting 427.

In Korea he was a pitcher on the U.S. Gold Medal baseball team.

He broke into the major leagues with the Angels in 1989. He pitched in 263 major league games. In 1991 he was 18 – 11 with an ERA of 2.89. Most remarkably of all while pitching with the New York Yankees this one armed phenomenon pitched a no- hitter.

He said, “My career wasn’t always great, but it was wonderful.” What a productive plodder!

Plodders know toward what they are plodding. They have an objective, goal, or gateway. Create an environment that keeps yours before you.

Strategically placed post-it notes can be used as self-reminders. Post them on your refrigerator, in your bedroom, at your place of play, work, or business.

Record your statement of calling or goals on cassette tape and replay it for yourself often.

Put them on the screen saver of your computer.

Isaac Newton was asked how he discovered the law of gravity and replied, “By thinking about it all the time.”

What are the spiritual goals toward which you are plodding. State them, record them, and repeat them to achieve them.

For examples of traits of a conscientious plodder turn to your New Testament. Timothy is tracked in his faith from his childhood. From him we can learn additional traits of a plodder.

Timothy was evidently reared in a single parent home. His mother and grandmother are identified but no reference is made to his dad (II Timothy 1: 5). Both his mom, Eunice, and grandmother Lois were followers of Christ who served as his maternal mentors.

From infancy they taught him Scripture (II Timothy 3: 15).

Scripture is a curriculum for a course of a joyous life well lived. That is true because it comes from God.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God…” (II Timothy 3: 16).

Meaning, “Every single part of the whole is given by God.” I have studied textual criticism, form criticism, and higher criticism, which as most often taught are designed to destroy one’s confidence in Scripture. It only confirmed my confidence in it as God’s Word.

A perfect God would have had no problem giving us a perfect Bible. Every single part of it is given “by inspiration of God.” This means “every single part of the whole is breathed out by God.” As we exhale breath from our lungs so every part of the Bible proceeded from the mind of God.

If you want a faith that keeps on keeping on “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim 2:15).

HEAR God’s Word, READ God’S Word, STUDY God’s Word,

MEMORIZE God’ Word, MEDITATE on God’s Word, DO God’s Word.

Establish a personal program of daily Bible study. Set aside a time and place to go through this regimen.

Inevitably you will miss a day. If so don’t quit. If you miss a meal do you give up eating all together? No, you look all the more forward to the next one and resume. Do the same in Bible study.

Note the advantages of studying Scripture.

It is “profitable for doctrine,” that is it deals with forwardness.

It is affords “reproof,” meaning it relates to falsehoods.

It is suited for “correction.” Apply it for faltering.

It is reliable “for instruction in righteousness. It guides us in making God first.

Plodders need instructions on the right route.

Let God’s Word be your standard for life. Many people are looking and listening to learn what’s “in.” The “everybody is doing it” mantra is a mandate for meritocracy.

That sage, President Harry Truman, who defied the polls said: “How far would Moses have gone if he had taken a poll? What would Jesus Christ have preached if He had taken a poll in the land of Israel? What would have happened if Martin Luther had taken a poll? It is isn’t polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership.”

One plodding after the heart of God gets marching orders from the Word of God. Timothy did.

Paul describes Timothy as his “fellow laborer” (I Thes. 3:2).

In the day when the dignity of labor has been debased we do well to have a Labor Day on our national calendar to pay tribute to those who labor.

When a person sees his or her job as a ministry then it takes on a holy glow. When they conceive of themselves as doing what they are doing as though Jesus were their on job boss life sparkles. Then Colossians 3: 23 becomes a by-word for life: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

Perform and produce to an audience of one, Jesus.

Few figures are as much in the spotlight as athletes in America today. I am pleased to associate with many of the greatest athletes in the world by virtue of being Chairman of the National Board of Trustees of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Many of them measure their effectiveness not by boos or cheers of the crowds but by whether they have performed in a manner pleasing to Christ. They know Christ to be plodding every step with them.

John Wooden, perhaps the greatest coach of any sport, who won unprecedented number of National Championships with UCLA, said, “Sometimes I wonder if the Lord isn’t almost as much the coach as I am.”

Tom Landry observed, “Knowing your job isn’t the most important thing in your life relieves a lot of pressure. And because I felt I was doing God’s will in my life, I knew I didn’t have to do it all in my strength.”

Bobby Bowden who has enjoyed unprecedented success with his football program at Florida State, in speaking of his life growing “more Christian- patterned,” said, “At least I hope I have grown in my Christian life through the years. I’ve tried to be a better example to my players.”

Tom Osborne whose Nebraska Cornhuskers ranked among the top 24 in the nation for 30 years, from 1969 to 1998, and 21 times in the top ten, is a man of great personal faith. His newly released book, Faith in the Game, is punctuated with accounts revealing his deep personal faith in the sufficiency of Christ.

Grant Teaff, Executive Director of the American Football Coaches Association, told me he has made a long time study of the crucifixion of Christ because His was the ultimate sacrifice. Any sacrifice he asked of himself and his players was measured against that.

Like these men the labor of Timothy was to establish and encourage people in their faith. Everybody needs strengthening and encouraging. Modern behaviorist Dale Carnegie said, “Three- fourths of the people you will ever meet are hungering and thirsting for sympathy. Give it to them, and they will love you.”

Timothy and Paul, like many today, had an unusually difficult assignment. They were to be living examples of the sufficiency of Christ in adversity. Don’t read I Thess. 3: 3 with glazed eyes: “that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this.”

They were “appointed” to suffer for Christ.

Benjamin Franklin said, “The things that hurt instruct.”

Paul had a thorn in the flesh with which he lived. Timothy had digestive problems. For this reason he was counseled to “take a little wine for the stomachs sake.” Wooooe!

Many take this as license for consuming alcohol noting the Bible says do it. If you are going to be Biblical about it be Biblical about it all the way. The medical standard of the era is revealed in the word “little.” There was a formula for this. Sanitation and water purification in that era wasn’t good. To compensate for this they added one part wine to 20 parts water. So if you are going to use this as your proof text be sure to follow that formula and you won’t become an alcoholic.

Pollster George Gallup, Jr., concluded in his book Saints Among Us that approximately 13% of Americans live their lives out of deep, authentic, spiritual commitment. He found they are more compassionate, more conscious of God’s presence, and led happier and more joyful lives.

Throughout the Book of Acts Timothy is found being dispatched to a different difficult area to share the love of Christ. He was part of the vanguard that put out the altar fires in the pagan temples and light the gospel torch in the palaces of Caesar. We too have a similar assignment.

Eighty years ago England was the most churched country in the world. Today many churches are closed. Those who do reach people for Christ average baptizing 1?2 person per year.

In 1958 America was the most churched country in the world. Today, 40 years later, we are half-way to where England is.

Loyalist like Timothy must be raised up to plod into the fields that are indeed white unto harvest, over ripe.

Paul described Timothy as “my beloved and faithful son in the Lord” (I Cor. 4: 17). With such identity Timothy was sent to the divided church in Corinth to be God’s instrument of reconciliation. Plodders go where they are supposed to go and do what they are assigned to do.

Timothy’s message and life are confirmed as positive. Paul said, “Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by … Timothy—- was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (II Corinthians 1: 19, 20).

There is to be no vacillating. The expression “amen” is an expression of confirmation.

As a leader in the emerging church Timothy was martyred during the reign of Domitian trying to stop an indecent heathen act. Thus, this God-honoring plodded sealed his testimony with his blood.

“Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, riches take wings. One thing endures and that is character.” (Horace Greeley)