Timothy was a good man. He genuinely cared for people. He was an effective Bible teacher and church leader.
People didn't take him seriously because he was young, and he was a bit timid.
Timothy needed to know that the Lord was with him, if he was to be effective.
So Paul, the experienced leader, writes to him and reminds him that the Spirit of God is on him. It's time for Timothy to overcome his natural timidity and fan the gift that God has given him into a blazing fire.
It's not our job to start the fire of God in us, but it is our job to maintain it.
The Spirit of God in our Spirit brings love, power and self-discipline. We need all three. This is one of those cases where two out of three is bad, or at least inadequate.
More on Sunday .....
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Paul's letter to the Romans 15:13, NIV)
I suggest that you read the text a few times. Slowly. Let it sink in. Read it a couple of times more.
When I was a child I used to hope that my team would win the Scottish Cup. They never did. I got really excited the year the made the quarter finals but that was as good as it got. (They did win the Scottish League Cup in 1994, but that's a different story.) At a certain age I realised that they would never match Celtic or Rangers and my interest waned.
Hope on its own is pretty useless when it has to face the facts. Reality kicks in.
Yet here we are being told that we can overflow with hope, not by trying hard or by avoiding reality but by the Holy Spirit. This is not an instant work. Paul, the great first century missionary, wrote that hope comes through suffering, perseverance and character building, and above all the work of the Holy Spirit in us. The person who truly hopes is a masterpiece, and masterpieces take a while.
Even so, let's bless each other with the words of our text. Speak this text out for the people you love, for the people who need it. Paul believed that these words would make a difference. So do I. Try it and see.
The Lord Jesus Christ - slow down for a second and think. It is an amazing title. If you come to Mills Hill you are asked to say it just about every week at the end of the service.
We believe that Jesus is Lord. He is generous; that's what the word 'grace' means. But he is also Lord. The Bible say that we must all appear before his judgement seat, so that we may receive what is due to us. That's why we make it our aim to please Jesus.
So here's the big question: what pleases Jesus? The writings of the early church warn us that it is easy to make up a different Jesus. Easy to do, but not good.
The Baptist Union Declaration of Principle says:
That our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, is the sole and absolute authority in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and that each Church has liberty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to interpret and administer His laws.
So here are a couple of thoughts:
* If Jesus liked something 2000 years ago he will probably like it on the day of judgement.
* If Jesus didn't like something 2000 years ago he will probably not like it on the day of judgement.
So what did Jesus like? What did he dislike?
More on Sunday ...
Blessing is about becoming small so someone else can become big.
It's about kneeling down before someone. It is good to kneel down before God, good to remember that he is bigger than greater than we are, too wonderful for us to understand. It's good to get lost in the vastness of God.
There are lots of songs that help us to bless God. 10,000 Reasons has become a classic. If you don't know it please do check it out. It will do your soul good, as will any way that you bless the Lord.
Now here's the bit that may surprise you. Blessing is a two way thing. We bless God and God blesses us. He becomes small so that we can become big. He comes down to our size and welcomes us into his vastness.
Many years ago the priests were called to pray God's blessing on people: 'The Lord bless you and take care of you. The Lord shine his face on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face to you and make things go well for you.'*
Try to imagine it for moment: God stooping down to us, giving us favour, shining his light upon us.
Sounds good, doesn't it? We are going to explore this at our all-age service on Sunday. We'll start with 10,000 Reasons and take it from there.
* Numbers 6:24-26
'The one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.' (Hebrews 2:11, NIV)
We are of the same family as Jesus. That's what the early church said, and it's what Jesus said to Mary Magdalene just after the resurrection. He calls his disciples his brothers and sisters. He calls his Father their Father, his God their God.
There isn't much difference between us and Jesus. We share his life. He is in us; we are in him. The love God has for his Son is in us.
Pretty good, isn't it?
I'm not sure I can describe it much further, except to say that a good look at Jesus will open you up to all sorts of possibilities. The resurrection of Jesus looks weird, but it's a weirdness that draws us in to the one thing that makes sense.
Blessed are those who have not seen but have believed.
We celebrate the resurrection this Sunday from 9:00am, with breakfast, communion and all age worship. We will take a good long look at Jesus. You are invited.
John's gospel tells us that a soldier pierced Jesus' side and out came a sudden flow of blood and water.
Jesus was dead. But water and blood were already flowing from him.
It's what he said - if we ask him he will give us running water, and if we drink that water we will never be thirsty again.
The water he gives us becomes a spring that wells up to eternal life.
You may think I'm talking a load of jargon here. But it's not really hard; it's about recognising Jesus as the source of eternal life and receiving it.
Jesus cried out from the cross: 'I am thirsty.' The one who promised running water was drained dry. He stands alongside all who are drained dry today. But from deep within flows life that has no limit.
He calls us to drink his blood. We act that out in our worship. The life of the body is in the blood. And we receive his life in the ultimate blood transfusion.
Ask Jesus for life this Easter. We'll look further at our Good Friday service, this Friday at 10:00am.
It's a small detail in the gospel story but it is an important one. After the events of Psalm Sunday some Greek people went to Philip who went and told Andrew who went and told Jesus. Their request was simple. They wanted to see Jesus.
It's important because it was what Jesus' opponents feared. It seemed to them as if the whole world was going after Jesus.
It's important because Jesus was about to be 'lifted up' on a cross so that he could draw all people to himself.
Read that last sentence again, until you get it.
The cross is a big signpost. Look here! You will see who God really is. You will see love poured out beyond any limit. It becomes a sort of magnetic attraction or, perhaps better, a voice gently calling us home. Our accusers are defeated. Love has won.
God didn't send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save it.
The bread of God has come down from heaven and given life to the world.
God reveals himself in many ways but this is the ultimate.
I can't prove it. I can only ask you to look until you get it.
Sometimes we human beings get it spectacularly right.
We often get it wrong and the wise know it deeply. If you know the Easter story feel free to compile a list of people who got it spectacularly wrong. Start with Judas and take it from there.
But the Easter story also tells us about people who got it spectacularly right:
"I don't feel strong. I don't feel courageous. And it doesn't help if you tell me that I ought to be."
This week's 'awkward text' comes from Joshua 1, where Joshua is told to be strong and very courageous. It becomes awkward when we feel scared and we can't do what it says, or maybe we don't want to.
So let's get one thought out of the way quickly: these words were spoken to Joshua when he had a specific job to do and when God had promised him success. It requires a different sort of bravery when we don't know know how things will turn out. And that's the bravery that is usually required of us.
It takes a different sort of bravery to be like Jesus the son of Mary rather than Joshua the son of Nun.
Christian bravery is always about strength in weakness. It is about finding God's strength when we have none of our own. It is about following the one who was crucified in weakness and raised in power. It's about courage to announce a gospel of peace, not the Joshua-like news of warfare.
More on Sunday ...
"You say the Lord heals the broken-hearted, but he doesn't seem to be healing me."
This week's 'awkward text' (Psalm 147:3) seems to put God in the dock. Does God really live up to this amazing claim? What does this text say to those whose heart is broken?
Many of us can tell stories of times when we were broken hearted but slowly, gradually, God comforted us and restored us. Some will say that they are now in a better and deeper place than they were when everything went wrong. We need to hear these valuable stories.
This Psalm does not tell us to believe so that our hearts will not break; it tells us that God is there when it all goes wrong. It tells us to look up and to look out. It says that God lives and dwells in his creation. He dwells in outer space, in weather systems, in the food chain, in the growth of plants and animals. He lives in things we think are unclean.* He is there when our hearts break.
This Psalm says that God has ultimate understanding. A city, once crushed, is being rebuilt. This is part of God's plan to put everything right. This is the bigger story that the Bible tells us, which we believe.
More on Sunday ...
* That may be the point of verse 9, as ravens were considered unclean according to the Law of Moses.