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The Third Chapter – 2 Timothy

2 Timothy 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. [ESV]

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Oh Lord, save us from ourselves and heal us!  We have met the enemy…and he is us!a  The changes of culture have affected, and sometimes infected, our minds. The infection is so subtle we no longer are able to recognize unacceptable behavior is actually sin.

  • “Lovers of self” cover their selfishness behind a guise of self esteem.
  • “Lovers of money” are no longer greedy. They’re considered to be economically savvy if they find ways to scheme for “more.”
  • “Proud, arrogant, abusive or disobedient” are no longer unacceptable and unhealthy behaviors. They’ve become an acceptable form of personal expression.  
  • “Ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit” are excused as the byproduct of bad life circumstances rather than the loss of personal integrity.

These bullet points are shocking symptoms in these “times of difficulty.” We’re in a pandemic of immorality and the infection is getting worse. Our minds have been infected but we’re still not sure we’re sick. We are not immune. Even believers can become “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” We have met the enemy…and he is us!a Oh Lord, save us from ourselves and heal us!

aCartoonist Walt Kelly’s 20th century parody for his character Pogo of an 1812 naval commander’s quote

The Third Chapter – Mark

3:1 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.  

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This story seems odd to me.  Why was the man with the withered hand there on the Sabbath?   Had he just gone to the synagogue because it was the expected thing to attend?  Did he know Jesus would be there?  Did he want to hear what Jesus had to say?   Did he hope for healing?  He must have known of the hostility the silent group of Pharisees had toward Jesus.  He cetrtainly knew that healing on that day would be breaking the law even before he heard Jesus say “stretch out your hand” 
– Lesson 1: It takes faith to even consider there might be answers to your questions but from that faith comes the courage it takes to be willing to reach out to Jesus when you hear him speak.

Healing may have happened in a miraculous moment but the destruction of Jesus required a plan, and thankfully for us, even evil plans require time.  The Pharisees chose to leave the synagogue determined to use their spiritual power along with the political power of the Herodians to destroy Jesus…but God had a different plan so Jesus could continue his ministry
– Lesson 2: God can,and will, even use evil men and the time they spend planning destruction.   Jesus has the power of God that redeems men and their misspent time.  Through Jesus, evil will be overcome with good that accomplishes God’s plan for a future and a hope for us.

TAKE Time

2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Life is like a calendar.  It’s a fixed schedule of “wasting” [the prettier word for aging.]  Those 24 hours in every single day seem like a vast sea of opportunity for renewal but by the time you fall into bed at night you realize the “light and momentary troubles” we call daily life have been like the outgoing tide sweeping away all the moments and hours available.  You can’t count on the efficient management of a calendar to insure renewal.  In fact the calendar is basically only the confirmation of the “wasting” part. 

Time continues to march on.  Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. You’ve heard those before right?  Here’s the secret no one wants to hear; the blessing of renewal is more like exercise. “Finding” time in those 24 hours is an illusion that can waste away your renewal as surely as lack of exercise and aging waste your body.  It’s awful isn’t it?   BUT “we fix our eyes not on what is seen [those 24 hours], but on what is unseen [our need for renewal] since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  It’s your calendar!   You’ll never “find” time, TAKE time for renewal.

Be Worth the Price

TLB Romans 3:27 Then what can we boast about doing to earn our salvation? Nothing at all. Why? Because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds; it is based on what Christ has done and our faith in him. 28 So it is that we are saved by faith in Christ and not by the good things we do.

The mystery of salvation is that giving everything to Christ is really we have “nothing at all” to give. Even our “faith in Christ” is a gift he’s given us. We’re just returning what we’ve been given, a little worse for the wear, so that solves the boasting problem too.

Thank God that he saw something worth saving…be worth the price!

Being Still

Psalm 46:10 NIV
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Today’s Thoughts:
We just started out on a nearly 4500 mile road trip and five stops to visit relatives and celebrate a grandson’s high school graduation. It’s busy and there’s a lot of driving and my normal routine has given way to new time tables, new renewals of valued relationships and new adventures, even on Sunday.

This verse is a perfect reminder that routines and daily sameness aren’t the necessary components to this definition of Being Still; it’s in our “knowing” that God is to be exalted. Stillness may only be one moment from a disrupted day that counts as exalting. This has been my moment.

Off for an exciting morning at the Estes Park Wool Market.