by Susan Sampson
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). As I asked the Lord for His help in writing this email, knowing that I cannot do it apart from His grace, I asked Him to show me what He would want me to write to you. This verse exhorts us to do our best in rightly handling the word of truth. Stephen, in Acts 7, is a perfect example. He did not shrink back in fear of man. He boldly proclaimed the truth, the gospel. He was a disciple of Jesus. Acts 6:5 describes him, “a man FULL of faith and of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 6:8 describes him as “FULL of grace and power.” The word “full” immediately stands out to me. How did he get full? How do we get full? Stephen was a disciple of Jesus. We too are disciples of Jesus.
In order to be full of faith, the Holy Spirit, grace and power we must first be emptied of self. Jesus did this very thing. Philippians 2:7 in the New American Standard translation says, ” but (He) “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Paul is calling us to flee our youthful passions. He calls us to “depart from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2:19) and to cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable (2 Tim. 2:21). He is calling us to repentance. If I am to flee my sins, I must turn from them. I must turn to Jesus by faith. I must go a new direction and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace.
This week I had to confess to the Lord my unrepentant heart. I do not want to turn. I do not want to flee my youthful passions. There are several that I still want to cling to in many ways- laziness being just one. So what hope do I have? None apart from Christ. He is our only hope. Praise God He has given us a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). He has given us the most precious gift we will ever receive, our salvation. Jesus became sin for us so that in Him we would become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).
We must go by faith to the only One who can fill us with His Spirit, grace and power. Practically speaking this means going to the Lord in prayer and spending time with Him in His word. Laboring in God’s word. It doesn’t happen overnight. Romans 12:2 says, “be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Our flesh wants to be filled with the things of this world. Our flesh cannot please God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
My prayer is that this week, everyone one of us would get ALL our homework done. That we would in fact do our best to rightly handle the word of truth. The Lord has given each of us a precious gift in this study – an opportunity to be transformed by the renewal of our minds, an opportunity to be filled with His Spirit, grace and power. An opportunity to know Jesus and become more like Him. An opportunity to proclaim the gospel with our lives. What will we choose? What will our priorities be this week? More sleep? More t.v.? More computer? More shopping? More exercising? More cleaning our houses? “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
We are the Lord’s servants. He is our Master. Will we spend time with our Master or our flesh? Will we serve the world or the One who saved our lives? I imagine for those who love to cook, if they had an opportunity to spend time with and learn from a master chef they would jump at the chance. You would make it a priority. Ladies, our Master rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13). He drew us up from the pit of destruction (Psalm 40:2). He demonstrated and proved His great love for us at the cross. While we were still His enemies Christ died for us. There is no greater love.
We ARE in a battle against the world, the enemy and our flesh. May the Lord give us the grace to be good soldiers and do our best for the One who gave us His all. This week Laurie reminded us that our greatest opposition is the enemy within. Let us ask for the grace to FLEE the flesh; FIX our eyes on Christ; FOLLOW God’s word; and go FORWARD in the Spirit. When we do this we will be like Stephen. We will be FULLof faith, the Holy Spirit, grace and power.
“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:38).