“The Living Holy Spirit”
2 Timothy 1:1-14, October 6th, 2019
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
World-Wide Communion Sunday
“Hear now these words from the Apostle Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy, chapter one, verses one thru fourteen.”
2 Timothy 1:1-14
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I am grateful to God – whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did – when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.
6 For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7 for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 8 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 For this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher, 12 and for this reason I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that day what I have entrusted to him. 13 Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.
“Let us open our hearts to these ancient writing written to remind us, one and all, of God’s gift of Faith through the Living Spirit of Christ.”
“The Living Holy Spirit”
Turn to God in all your affairs, allowing God to be involved in all areas of your life! A tremendously powerful thought! Acting on this is crucial to living a full life – in the Spirit of God’s grace! Learning how to do this is key to making the connection with the peace, the love, and the inspiration of the power, the Spirit of the universe in which we have the privilege to live in. Many have never felt the presence of God in their lives, yet millions have indeed been in the presence of the Holy One. It only takes a touch, a moment to be transformed by the love and grace of God. Have you felt the hand of God, or heard the whisper of God’s voice deep within the recesses of your spiritual mind? If, and when you have, you will intuitively know that something special has changed you in ways that you may not have ever considered. So how do we, how do you get some of this? This is what many want to know! Well, today is a really great day to get some insights into how one might approach this.
World-Wide Communion Sunday, which is today, is the celebration of Jesus and his ministry. As we do so today, we shall acknowledge that millions of Christians throughout the world are sharing in the celebration of the last supper Jesus had with his disciples before he was crucified. The Spirit of the Communion meal is all about being welcomed by Jesus to be with him. Starting right now, right here at this our Communion table, we can acknowledge that Christ has welcomed us to eat and drink of the fullness of his life and the fullness of his death, thereby fully participating in the saving grace of God. As we gather at the table today, we shall be reminded that everyone whom seeks to know God through Christ are welcome. Let us always remember that Jesus welcomed the sinners and the nonbelievers to sit with him and eat with him as well. We must never forget that God our Creator continues to love us.
So, what else do we need to do other than come to the table? It would not hurt to come with a little faith. It only takes a little. Just like a mustard seed a small seed of faith, properly nourished can grow and grow and become all that God has envisioned for you and for me! With that seed of faith, sincere faith, we can begin inviting God into our lives. Not just on Sunday mornings. Not just during formal or special times of prayer and meditation that you may or may not be utilizing; invite God into all areas of your life. If you have a high-pressured job consider saying a prayer, inviting God into your consciousness as you enter, as you go into that dreaded and stressful meeting or situation. Do not go it alone! Invite God to help you.
Consider these words, these thoughts from others whom have come before us. From Matthew Henry’s Commentary we learn what early reformers felt about our scripture passage from the Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy. It is imperative that we acknowledge that this letter has been used to instruct all of us in how to continue onward as followers, as disciples of Christ. Paul, via his letter, is instructing we the listeners on our faithfulness. “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of courage and resolution, to meet difficulties and dangers; the spirit of love to him, which will carry us through opposition.” Did you catch that? Did you hear what is being said? God ‘will carry us through times of opposition!’ That works at home when things get challenging and you need to debate and ponder differing solutions to life’s situations with the ones you love. It works at the office when a competitor for your job, your position, challenges you in a very public way. God will be there with you even in that type of situation. And even at church when we find ourselves disagreeing with the choices that our leaders are making. We can ask God to come into our discussions helping us to see both sides, all sides of how we might move forward, how we might resolve our misgivings.
Many of us are unsure about how to connect with a God that is so mystical and mysterious. When we receive communion today, your pastor will bless the table drink and the sustenance, the food, the bread. A great many theologians, including myself, firmly believe that when we invite the Living Spirit of God into our midst, that the Spirit will come. We know the man Jesus died on a cross. Yet, we also believe based on the countless testimonies to its truth, that he arose from the grave and lives in our hearts. Once a year on Pentecost we celebrate the scripture accounting of the coming of the Holy Spirit as it entered the hearts of those gathered and came into groups of early believes, disciples of Christ. Hear what has been written about ‘the Gift of God,’ which the Apostle Paul eluded to, spoke of to Timothy in his letter. The Geneva Notes, written by the early reformers, these notes came from the Bible of the Pilgrims – the Geneva Bible. One of these notes speaks to ‘the Gift of God.’ “The gift of God is as it were a certain living flame kindled in our hearts, which the flesh and the devil go about to put out: and therefore we as their opponents must labor as much as we can to foster and keep it burning.” /The Geneva Note/ This gift, this ‘living flame,’ this is the Spirit of God, the Living Spirit of Christ which lives within each of us when we ask and accept the Deity, the Divine presence of the God of our understanding into our lives, our very hearts and spirits!
Dr. Alan Brehm, author of the ‘Waking Dreamer,’ at Hickman Presbyterian Church, he encourages us not to narrow our focus, our understanding of God’s presence. He tells us how “St. Paul reminds discouraged believers of all times and places that we are not called to “succeed,” but rather to keep the faith. And God’s powerful and loving presence is always there to inspire us as we strive to present a compelling alternative to all the cheap tricks and silly slogans out there.” Take a moment to breathe in what this writing truly means. The Apostle Paul is saying, and I and a great many theologians, including Dr Brehm believe we will not be judged based on our successes. But rather God has ‘called’ us to be faithful and to keep the faith! That’s a powerful statement and one we really need to take a moment and allow that to sink into our minds, but more importantly to fully internalize this. If you are feeling discouraged or perhaps you are just stressed out trying to be successful and doing everything you think God wants you to do, you need to take a step back. That’s not up to you. God calls each one of us and we as a church to be diligent in the faith. That is not the same as succeeding based on, our beliefs, regarding what success is in the eyes of God!
In verse nine of our reading we hear Paul say to Timothy that we are not judged based on our works, nor our completed and successful tasks or duties. “God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.” That’s correct, it is God’s purpose and by God’s grace, by which are we called and saved! Trust me, if you have not grappled with the implications of this at a deep level, you perhaps need to. I would suggest prayer and meditation. Talk to God about this – then listen for God’s response. If your heart is open, you will come to grasp this concept. We are not chosen or judged by our works. This is very different then how we are viewed by those in our society, our community and even in our church family.
In closing I need to confess just how near and dear to my heart this passage of scripture is to me. My mother’s name is Lois. My oldest sister was named after her, she is Lois. My beloved wife of twenty-two years is named Lois. Coupled with the fact that my parent’s chose my name. Timothy, from the New Testament, it is hard for me not to take this writing personally. When I read verse five, it is the Apostle Paul saying to me:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you.” Therefore, I take seriously verse fourteen also. “Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.” (pause) The Holy Spirit living in us; we all can take this to heart and seriously, as we sincerely cling to the faith, knowing The Living Spirit of Christ is within us all!