A Daily Dose of Good News
Monday, November 23, 2020
At 10:30 today, this devotional will be offered online at https://youtu.be/_5H99pkht8I
A printer-friendly version of today’s devotion is available at DDGN 20201123
Good morning everybody! It’s November 23. It’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News and that is from 2 Timothy 2:8-13, which Paul wrote while he was in prison, awaiting trial, and expecting death. I thought it’d be a good one for us to look at today.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. The saying is sure:
If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him;
if we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He will also deny us;
if we are faithless, He remains faithful—
for He cannot deny himself.
Here ends the reading.
You might wonder, why did I pick that for today? But, I think we can all potentially relate to feeling chained and potentially imprisoned at the moment. With the advisory, we’re being advised and encouraged to hunker down, to stay in our spaces, and those might start to feel like prisons, as nice as our homes are…Even while we’re thankful that we have a home- because many don’t…. Even while we might appreciate the home, we might also feel bound by having to stay in it. And particularly this week, as Thanksgiving approaches and it’s going to look really different this year than it ever has, probably ever before in your life. You may not be seeing any of your family for Thanksgiving, or you may be seeing limited portions of your family, you may have friends whom you’ve done a Friendsgiving with every year who you’re not seeing. You may personally feel- very much- in prison and bound in chains right now. And not just the physical chains of restricting your movements, but there is probably the additional weight of some emotional chains right now, too. Some social chains that are feeling super heavy, of not being able to engage with people you care about. Some emotional chains of feeling this pandemic continue to drag on and the weight and the burden of that may start to feel immense for you. So, I can picture us, as individuals or as a community, kind of dragging these chains around. What Paul says in this letter, is that he does suffer hardship. So, I think when that happens, it’s important to own it, it’s important to name it. It may be helpful to name it some today, even if there are lots of tears in that. Even if there’s pain in that. The naming of it’s real and it is hardship and not minimizing that. And bringing that to God, that it IS hardship.
But what Paul also says, in this letter, is the Word of God is NOT chained. I would say God, Godself, is NOT chained. I think that’s a big component of who God is. God is one who is not chained, who is not bound, and who doesn’t want us to be chained either. While these current burdens and chains are real, they also are temporary. Because in God, a chained existence is not who God is, or who God calls us to be, or where God calls us to be.
I love the line of: even “if we are faithless, He remains faithful—for He cannot deny himself”. God is life in abundance. God is faithfulness, even when it’s so dark that we question if God is even there. God is faithful and true and loving. And God can help you carry any burdens and chains that you have, because God is faithful and with you in it, always. God is present and walks alongside of you, and holds those chains off of you, and wants to break you from those chains.
But the point in this text for Paul, is Paul says: “I endure everything for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus”. I think about right now, in some ways, you all and we all, are doing the same thing. We are suffering hardship for our neighbors, for trying to keep everyone as safe as possible. That is part of the Gospel of loving one another. Loving God and loving one another. That is something that shares the love of God across the world, even if it’s a hardship for us. It affirms the worth and value of others, it affirms the need to love across all boundaries and across all situations.
Paul in this, focuses on God throughout it. It’s about salvation in Christ Jesus. It’s about focusing on God, even in the midst of hardship, that’s the Gospel. So I encourage you today, as you all suffer hardships today and this week, to remember that you are sharing the Gospel as you do it, by loving God and loving your neighbor. And that God will be with you in the midst of your hardships because God is faithful, because it’s who God is. That doesn’t mean the hardship isn’t there. But it means you have a faithful God by your side. So, I encourage you to hand those chains over to God and we’ll talk about that some more tomorrow. Take care everybody. Bye-bye.