Your testimony is a powerful tool. The Lord can use your testimony to help point others to Jesus. It’s your testimony. But it’s also God’s story. It’s the story of how God transformed your life. It puts flesh on the story and the power of God.
Yesterday at Ebenezer we heard a powerful testimony from a new young minister. Matthew (Sporky) Andrews gave a testimony of his calling to ministry. It’s been awesome to see him grow in his faith these last few years and now head out to seminary to step out into his calling. It’s this sort of story that reminds me so much of why Paul was writing these two letters.
1 & 2 Timothy are letters from Paul to the young minister, Timothy. Paul is using the letters to encourage Timothy to serve well, stay the course and be a bold witness of the power of Jesus Christ. So, he begins this first letter by sharing his story with Timothy. What better place to start? Here is Paul’s testimony in his own words found in 1 Timothy 1:
“I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry — even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” — and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Timothy 1:12-17
“But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing good.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:13
Paul spends the third chapter of this letter encouraging the church to press on and continue sharing the Good News. He talks about people in the church who have stopped laboring in the Lord and who have gotten lazy. He encourages the church to be faithful to the Lord and to work hard.
No matter what other people do – don’t lose heart and stop sharing the truth. Work hard, serve others well and be a great witness of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Have you ever misunderstood someone? Especially when it was from a letter, email or text? This second letter to the Thessalonians was a letter to help clear up confusion from the first letter. Paul was writing them to assure them that the Day of the Lord had not yet come and that they had not missed it.
But before he talks about that (in chapter 2), he encourages them for their faithfulness in the midst of tough physical persecution. Many in the church were being persecuted – even physically – because of the cause of Christ.
Following Christ is not easy. We may never face physical violence because of our faith in Jesus, but be sure we will face persecution. Though we have freedom of religion in this country, there are many who will be ostracized for following Christ. In those moments, take heart and count it joy that you would be among those who are persecuted for following the King of Kings.
“Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches — about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring.” – 2 Thessalonians 1:4