Leaving a Legacy

March 10, 2013  II Timothy 1   Leaving a Legacy 

      Two families from the state of New York were studied very carefully.  One of the families was Max Juke family and the other one was the Jonathan Edwards family.   The thing that they discovered in the study was remarkable; like reproduces like.  Max Jukes was an unbelieving man and he married a woman of like character who lacked principle.  And among the known descendants over 1,200 were studied.   Three hundred and ten became professional vagrants, 440 physically wrecked their life by a debauched lifestyle; 130 were sent to prison for an average of 13 years each; 7 of them for murder.  There were over 100 who became alcoholics; 60 habitual thieves; 190 public prostitutes.   Of the 20 who studied the trade 10 of them learned a trade in a state prison.   It cost the state 1.5 million and they made no contribution whatever to society.      

       In about the same area the family of Jonathan Edwards came on the scene.   And Jonathan Edwards, a man of God, married a woman of like character.  And the family began and they became part of this study that was made.   Three hundred became clergy men, missionaries, and theological professors; over 100 became college professors; over 100 became attorneys, 30 of them judges; 60 of them became physicians, over 60 became authors of good classics good books; 14 became presidents of universities.   There were numerous giants in American industry that emerged from this family.  They became United States congressmen and one became a vice president of the United States.   J. Oswald Sanders a spiritual Clinic.  

   Many people have different ideas about what a good legacy is.  I recently attended a funeral and there was quite a bit of talk about the legacy of the man who passed away.  He was a good man and loyal husband.  They had raised children.   John worked many years for the State of NH in the highway division and was a senior department head.  There was talk about his service to the community and to his family.  That is very good but for some people it is how much money is accumulated and the things of the world.   For some it is the trucks and boats campers and so that count.   There is less concern about people and more about the physical things of life.   For the Christian though it is always spiritual I would think.   Yes it is important how the family has turned out.  But also there is the spiritual element.  

    Paul planted many churches and many people were led to Jesus through Paul’s life.   Paul also invested himself in a few good men and one of them is Timothy.   We are introduced to Timothy in Acts 16.  Paul travels to Lystra where a disciple lived who was Timothy.   The Christian brothers speak well of him and Paul invites him to travels with Paul on his second missionary journey.  Paul may have led Timothy to the Lord on his first missionary journey.   Timothy’s mother was a Jew and Timothy’s father was a Greek.   Paul circumcised him because of his father being a Greek so that Timothy would be more acceptable to the Jews.   Circumcision is a lot for a young man to endure.   So we see that Timothy is willing to endure that and Timothy is willing to travel with Paul.  So Timothy’s whole life is now turned upside down or right side up.   We need to remember that Paul was often beaten and thrown into jail on these missionary journeys.   He even at one point survived a Jewish stoning and was left for dead.  Often he was hungry and he had danger from his countrymen and from robbers.   But God was always with him. 

    This is a huge commitment for Timothy but he steps up to go with Paul.  He wants his life to count for God.   That is amazing.  We really cannot appreciate what persecuted Christians go through or what it meant to walk with Paul in those days.  It speaks very well of Timothy to go with Paul.  These are the kinds of people that you pray that your children will become.  Many young people will not even go to church.   They would not embark on a trip with Paul.   I read once that the Christian Korean women prayed that their sons would become pastors while American women pray that their sons will become doctors, lawyers and engineers.   There is not much of a view of eternity in that kind of a prayer. 

    This letter of II Timothy contains the last recorded words of the Apostle Paul.   It is believed that Paul was imprisoned twice and that at the end of his second imprisonment he was martyred.   Paul when he writes this is in his last days of his life.   We get a flavor of Paul’s thoughts in chapter 4.   For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith.   Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.  Paul knows that his time is short.   Paul is passing the mantle to Timothy.     This is graduation day for Timothy.  He has always been able to rely on Paul and now there is going to be a change.     It is graduation time for Timothy. 

     Things are kind of dark for Paul at this point.   Have you ever felt things were kind of dark?   He knows he is going to die.  All of the work that he has done is over.  He is done planting churches and preaching.  In AD 64 Nero burns Rome and blames it on the Christians.   It is believed that Paul is in Rome during this time frame in prison.  Nero burned Christians at the stake and used them for torches in his gardens.   But Paul does not express any regrets.   He is not whining or complaining.  But he is pretty much alone.   Chapter 4 tells us do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.   Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.   Only Luke is with me.   So Paul is in jail and he knows he is going to die and he is pretty much alone, locked up miles from home in a Roman jail.   That can be kind of depressing.   But Paul is not just focused on himself.   Paul is concerned about Timothy. 

     Perhaps this illustration was in a way Paul’s testimony.  "I asked God for strength, that I might achieve. I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey…I asked for health that I might do great things.  I was given infirmity that I might do better things…  I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise…  I asked for power, that I might have the praise of others.   I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God…   I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life.   I was given life that I might enjoy all things…   I got nothing I asked for, but everything I had hoped for.   Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.   I am, among men, most richly blessed!   I think Paul saw himself richly blessed and content. 

      This is a wonderful letter of encouragement and challenge and a letter of memories and love.   Paul opens this letter with to Timothy my dear son.   It is not good for us to be totally focused only on our self.     In chapter 1 we read I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.     I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.    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.   Paul’s mind is on God.   Paul writes I thank God.   The Corinthian church had lots of issues and troubles but Paul wrote to them and said I continually thank God for you.   The Paul tells Timothy that he constantly remembered Timothy in his prayers.  God blessed and answered Paul’s prayers.  Paul prayed fervently.   We just preached on prayer and here Paul says I constantly pray for you.   Paul constantly prayed for Timothy.   Paul is facing death and he constantly prays.   Well that is far more productive that having a pity party.   There are givers in the world and there are takers in the world and Paul was a giver and Paul was a man of prayer.   Parents here is a huge important aspect of raising children – pray for them.   Give them to the Lord and pray for them.   Pray for them in the morning and during the day and in the night.  

    Paul gave thanks and he recalled Timothy’s tears.   Paul remembers his heritage.   There is the sense of celebration and joy here.  Families need to celebrate and have those precious memories of times together.   The Jews knew how to celebrate.   God taught them how to celebrate when they left Egypt.   The Chuck Swindoll study bible lists 12 feasts they observed.  Several are mentioned in Leviticus 23.  I came across this article this week and this is a quote.    Some of us don't even know that is what we are missing and he is talking about our relationship and celebration of God.      Like children who grew up in homes where mom and dad never exulted in anything.   They never rejoiced or praised or verbally admired and treasured anything.    They were always flat and unenthused (except when they got angry).   You couldn't tell if anything really moved them deeply and positively.    So the kids grow up not knowing what they are missing. That is what many people in the church are like who have never tasted true preaching.   The author continues:

     God exists to be worshiped — to be admired and treasured and desired and praised.   Therefore, the Word of God is written primarily to produce worship.    This means that if that Word is handled like a hot-dish recipe or a repair manual, it is mishandled and the people will suffer.    The Truth of God begs to be handled with exultation.   Our hearts yearn for this and need it.    Something in us starts to die when precious and infinitely valuable realities are handled without feelings and words of wonder and exultation.   That is, a church starts to die, without preaching.   That is an interesting comment by him.       I hope I preach the word of God in such a way that it creates wonder and love and joy and exaltation in God.   Yes God’s word should convict us but we can never afford to lose the wonder of God and the joy of God’s word.  

    Paul knew that Timothy’s faith was sincere.   His faith was real.  Timothy had been tested and his faith was proven.  Timothy did not run when things got tough.   Timothy had been around Paul for a few years.  Timothy had turned into a church leader.  He worked with Paul in setting up elders and leading churches.   Paul sent him to the troubled church in Corinth and he was the leader in the Ephesian church.  He not only traveled with Paul but he worked in the church.   Paul sent him to different churches to fill in and to meet needs.  Paul trusted him. It is good to have a person like that.  I trust Bill and I know I can count on him.  

    Paul tells him to stir up the gift and do not be afraid.   What is Paul saying here?   Do not hold anything back.  Give it all to God.  Step out in faith and embrace change.   Everyone is tempted at times to throw in the towel.    II Timothy reminds us that the gospel is worth the battle, that God is faithful to equip us, strengthen us, and uphold the truth of His word and that we can finish well. .  Every believer has a spiritual gift and we need to stir it up and use it.   Use the gift or gifts that God has given you for His glory.   At times we may feel like drawing back but we can’t.   Paul tells him do not be timid and do not be afraid.   God is with us.  God will provide.  God will take care of you.   The Holy Spirit will empower us to serve Jesus.  Timothy was Paul’s legacy and Paul is encouraging him.  Paul is instructing Timothy.  God has given us the spirit of power and a sound mind.  Not a double mindedness but a sound mind. 

    Timothy’s gift came from the apostle laying hands on him.   Lots of folks like to lay hands on others in a spiritual sense and I would say be careful.   I would say do not let any ole person or Christian lay hands on you.  Typically we open our self to whatever is in the other person.   Good things can happen from laying on of hands.   God can use it when God is in it.   But bad things can be transferred also.   Some Christians are very relaxed about this but I am not.