August 18, 2020
2 Timothy 1:6-7
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
New International Version (NIV)
What makes you cry?  I came around a corner in my car and saw my daughter headed to college.  Rolling down the window, I was surprised to see her tears.  I pulled over, jumped out and asked her why she was crying. Tears streaming, she explained that she hated to leave the dog. We will miss her.  She has been such a blessing to us this summer.   Reading in Acts and in this chapter I am reminded that tearful goodbyes are not new.  Timothy cried when Paul had to leave him.  Mentors mean so much to us.  I still have voice recorded messages from former mentors on my phone from years ago.  Sometimes it is good to hear their voices, even though they are gone.

Timothy could hear Paul’s voice in this letter.  Paul wrote to encourage Timothy who may have been prone to discouragement and dyspepsia.  Whether or not he knew it, this was likely Paul’s last letter that made it into the New Testament.  He certainly makes the most of it.  Remembering the roots of faith in Timothy’s own mother and grandmother, Paul reminds him to fan into flame the gift which came to Timothy as Paul prayed.  God’s greatest gift is the gift of himself through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit does not make us afraid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

I can hear the crackle in Roger Duck’s voice and the earnest look in his eyes as he quoted this verse to me from time to time before we prayed together on Wednesday mornings.  The whole world lives in fear these days.  What makes us afraid?  Are we afraid of catching the Coronavirus?  Or are we afraid we won’t come back together in worship soon enough?  Do we fear catching the virus and asymptomatically sharing it with someone more vulnerable?  Do we fear the economic impact of the virus?   Do we fear further disruption of our lives?  Do we fear that others won’t do what we want when we want them to?              

Anxiety operates on so many levels.  If we are not careful our anxiety will turn to anger.  Fight and flight go together in the amygdala, the lowest level of our brains.  But God has given humans a cortex in our brains with the ability to operate at a higher level.  Created in God’s image, we can think instead of just reacting.  We can pray instead of venting.  We can come under God’s control instead of trying to control others.  As my first chairman of deacons, Roy Hudson used to say to his teen-aged pastor, “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”  Best of all, the Holy Spirit himself lives within us and helps us take our anxious thoughts captive before they lead to harmful words and actions. 

So let us rejoice today!  In the Holy Spirit we have the power to trust God and live under Christ’s lordship.  We have the ability to love God and others.  God has given us self-discipline so that in the Spirit we can choose to change.  So as Spirit-filled believers, we don’t just say, “That’s the way I am,” and stay that way.  God is transforming us.  Now:  no more fear, no more anger and blaming of others.   God’s Spirit gives us so much more.  Let us receive it and find his strength today.  Someday God will wipe every tear from our eyes.  Right now he wants to wipe every fear from our hearts.

Pray with me:         
Father, as we pray today we remember that Jesus himself intercedes as our high priest at your right hand.  The Spirit also speaks on our behalf when we find ourselves spiritually speechless.  Lift us above anxiety and fear today.  Fill us with deep trust in you.  Help us to love each other well and encourage each other, bringing out the very best.  Help your people to be at our very best in the worst of times.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.
Join us in memorizing the Word.  Scripture for this week:    
Matthew 6:25-26
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Our 2020 Every Day with Jesus readings will follow the Foundations New Testament reading plan.  Copies of the reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download your copy at REPLICATE.ORG 
We would love for you to join us as we read the New Testament through this year, five chapters a week.  In addition I will continue my long-standing practice of reading one Psalm a day through the year.  Use Robby Gallaty’s H. E. A. R. plan to study each chapter (also found at REPLICATE.ORG). Highlight verses which speak to you, explain what they mean in your own words in a journal, apply them to your own life, then respond by doing what God tells you to do.  

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