"Do your best to get here before winter..." 2 Tim 4:21
Heading into Advent, I preached a sermon on the above text in which Paul implores Timothy to get to him before winter. Paul was in a Roman prison at the time awaiting a trial that would end in his beheading. He knew full well that if Timothy did not act on his request quickly, winter travel on the Mediterranean would shut down and he would never see his protege again. These are actually the last words we have from Paul, and we don't know if Timothy made it. I'd like to think he did, but even so, it provides us with the needed nudge of the Holy Spirit to act NOW. There are things that we know God is calling us to do, but we mistakenly assume we have all the time in the world - as if time somehow belongs to us. We don't and it doesn't. For Paul, there were three things he knew he needed to do: take care of himself physically, reconcile with another personally, and express his sincere love to Timothy deeply. What is God calling you to do NOW in this Advent season? Time marches on and we wait to take care of ourselves physically, we let long simmering wounds fester without reconciling to another because our pride won't allow it, and we let those we love the most go through life seldom ever hearing those words from our lips. Why is it that those we love the most tend to be the ones we tell the least? Stop waiting. Stop thinking you've got all the time in the world. Do it today. The Christmas season is the perfect time for taking such steps.
"Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up." James 4:10
As the social fabric of our country slowly rips at the seams, our attention distracted by an ever-increasing need for belonging expressed through tribalism and hatred, I have marveled at the nationwide attention being given to EPC Missionary Andrew Brunson. For 27 years, he quietly and faithfully served Christ in Turkey, pastoring his church and loving the Turkish people. Two years ago, he was falsely accused of subversive activity and imprisoned. If you've spent any time reading Scripture, prisons and jails are often places where God shows up, and He certainly did in Andrew's. Finally freed last Friday, the nation was transfixed by a humble man who expressed no bitterness or hatred toward his captors, no hint of anger, but only love for God and country. Then as the nation watched, he humbled himself again and knelt before the President, laying hands on him and praying for him, his wife Norine joining in as well. It was a transcendent moment of ministry in which God brought honor and glory to Himself through the sufferings of a faithful servant. The Kingdom influence that Andrew will have in the coming years will as great as any current Christian leader – all because he was innocent, but willing to suffer for the sake of Christ.