Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Carefree and easy or molded by a pattern?

Good morning my friends. There is a wonderful lady I have met on Twitter who spends all her days serving the elderly of our society and she loves it. She takes them to doctor's appointments, she plays games with them, she sits and listens and does a hundred other things that they may need. She does it all in the name of Jesus with the understanding that they need Jesus as much as the next person. I admire her, a lot. Too often we allow the senior members of our society to fade away in every area of life, including spiritually. Many manage to hold on to their faith but others lose what they started off with because they let it go.

I know I have been bringing this up a lot recently but the Spirit keeps drawing me to it so it is an important message for us to pay attention to: we must finish the race that we have begun. Starting off well is important but so is ending well. We do that by not letting go of what we have come to believe. We hold on to what we have been given for dear life, reminding ourselves of it every day, growing in the knowledge and faith of Jesus Christ. In his last letter to Timothy Paul warns his friend:

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:13-14)

What Paul is referring to as "sound teaching" we call doctrine. This is the basic teaching that guides our lives as a rudder guides a ship. This doctrine does not change and was laid down for us by Jesus and the Apostles. All of what the Church is today is due to the doctrine (sound teaching) that the Spirit has given us through Paul. This doctrine is like a mold, helping us stay true to the form of Jesus Christ. Without this sound teaching we are thrown all over the place in various challenges to our faith due to life as well as people. If we are not holding on to sound teaching our faith depends on other people and that is always shifting ground to stand on. Do you know what Jesus taught? Do you know the sound teaching he gave to us? What about the Apostles? What is your life based on? What teaching are you anchored to and is it holding you in place?

Paul tells Timothy that he needs to keep as the pattern of his life the sound teaching Paul gave to him. The Greek word used for "keep" has the sense of grasping, desperately holding on to as if your life depended on it. It does. It will make the difference in what happens to you near the end, whether you hold on or let go of the faith. If your life is not set into a pattern then you are headed into failure. You need to not only know the Word of God but you have to understand it and live it. What do you believe and why do you believe it? Can you answer that question? If you can't then how can you defend it?

Many people are now saying that we do not have to defend doctrine and that doctrine is a bad thing. The "sound teaching", which is what doctrine means, of Jesus Christ and the Apostles is not only important, it is vital. It is important enough to defend and that is what Paul was telling Timothy he had a responsibility to do. We have to defend doctrine such as "salvation by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" and we must fend off any notion that we can earn that grace in any form. This is one example of doctrine out of hundreds that I could draw on right now. We were warned that there would be a flood of false doctrine in the last days. Are you in a position to be able to defend the sound teaching of the Church, its doctrine?

I admire anyone who ministers to seniors because they have taken on a noble task. They are the warriors who stand with them to defend against the enemy. They are there to encourage these aged warriors to finish the fight, to keep what they have always believed, to remain faithful and strong until the last days. It is just as important for an 80 year old to be  found in the Word, praying with passion and worshiping with all their heart every day as it is for a 21 year old just starting out in that walk. There is never a day we can rest, take a seat by the road side, and set aside our duty to the Word of God. There is a good warning in "The Pilgrim's Progress" about that. If we every decide to take a break, to have a seat, we will fall asleep in our faith, never to wake in it again.

Read the Word; study it; memorize it; understand it; teach it; pass it on; pattern your life after it. Know what Jesus taught. Know what the Apostles taught. If you don't understand it ask your pastor some questions. You will thrill him by your interest. If we are not holding onto this sound teaching for dear life and if we are not defending it against those who would try to corrupt and destroy it, then we will fade away and not finish the race that we had begun so well. Do yourself a favour and work out a study routine and maintain it for the rest of your life. Set up a routine to memorize the Word and don't give up on it for the rest of your life. Work at it as if your life depends on it because one day it will. As well, if you have some spare moments and even if you don't, take some time to spend with a senior and encourage them in their faith today.

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