BEHIND THE SCENES WITH TIMOTHY, GIVEN TO GOD FROM THE START
It’s Paul again. Pastor Zahn has been reported missing.
As someone whom the Lord sent out to spread the Gospel, I have met some interesting people. I have worked with interesting people. That’s what this sermon series is all about. Pastor Zahn wanted me to tell you about some. Yet there are far too many to cover.
After the Lord arranged “the come to Jesus meeting” on the way to Damascus, Ananias came to me. I was blinded from my meeting with Jesus. He was the first leader in Christ’s church to come to me. He told me he was reluctant to come because of the horrible reputation I had as a murderer of God’s people. He exhibited a great deal of faith when God revealed that I wouldn’t hurt him. I appreciated him.
Then there was Barnabas. I told you a lot about him. Two weeks I told you about him. When I decided to go to Jerusalem to meet Peter, no one wanted to say hello. Barnabas was the one who broke the ice. We were also called by the Church in Antioch to go out together to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. We went on a missionary journey together to Cyprus, to Perga, to Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe.
Then there was Silas. A solid disciple of Jesus from Jerusalem. He was a delegate to the Council of Jerusalem when we wrestled with the issue of circumcision Law in respect to one’s salvation. Some Jews, who came to know Jesus, demanded that all males be circumcised if they wanted to be saved. Such demands undercut salvation is by grace alone. Silas accompanied me on the second missionary journey.
Last week I wanted you to meet Lydia, that faithful servant of God from Philippi. She was the first convert in Europe and offered our mission team some good Christian love and hospitality when we stayed with her in the city of Philippi.
Today I want to tell you about Timothy. Many might find this hard to believe, but of all the people who were around me and ‘worked behind the scenes’ he was there more than anyone else. The Scripture says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Remember him.
Let’s begin at the beginning. I met Timothy on the first missionary journey in Lystra. Lystra was a real challenge for Barnabas and me. We found a man crippled from birth. God wanted him healed. He used me to do so. God used miracles to confirm that the Word we spoke was from him and that we were true prophets of the one and only true God. While we gave all credit to the Lord God, the citizens of Lystra thought we were their gods. Barnabas was Zeus and I was Hermes. They began to worship us and would not listen otherwise.
To make matters even worse, we had just come from Iconium and Antioch and the Jews from there had despised the preaching of Jesus and his resurrection. They followed us and stirred up the crowd against us suddenly and they began to stone us. A couple of them could have pitched for the Braves. Some one beaned me. I was knocked unconscious. Many thought I was dead. They carried me outside of the city and left me there for dead. My fellow brothers and sisters gathered around me. Prayer was answered. I came to and accompanied my brothers and sisters in Christ back to the city. The next day Barnabas and I left and went to Derbe. Timothy was from this city.
When we revisited Lystra on the second missionary journey, we were so impressed with Timothy and the gifts that God had given to him, we wanted to take him along for the rest. He came from an awesome family. His father was Greek but his mom was Jewish. His mom and grandma were great people who worshipped the Lord. His mother’s name was Eunice; his grandmother was Lois. From infancy Timothy was taught the Holy Scriptures. We shared how Jesus had come to fulfill the Scripture and was the Messiah of all. Lois and Eunice and Timothy believed.
I want to dwell on that, brothers and sisters today. The education of your children starts when they are born and will continue for their entire lifetime. Proverbs contains that well-known passage, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
From what I see things have changed so much since I was a child. When I was a child, we didn’t have any designer tunics like you have designer jeans. And can you even imagine a denim tunic? I see that your world is a lot different. You have so many things that we didn’t. I get lost in your world as I am sure you would have gotten lost in mine.
While I know I was young a long time ago and lived a lot differently, do you mind if I make some observations of what I see? I see lots of children and parents simply not spending time together. I see parents getting into their steel chariots and spending so much time at work. I see parents coming home and feeling so exhausted that being a parent to children seems to be a burden for many instead of seeing it as a blessing from God and a God-given responsibility.
I also see many times when entertainment and hobbies interfere with family time. I see lots of children being raised by others. I have wondered if many of those who do the child care are doing it to get a paycheck and have little interest in how your child turns out.
I see children spend a lot of times with friends because Mom and Dad aren’t home. It is good that they have friends but do Moms and Dads know who those friends are? I see family time often spent in front of a screen sometimes watching things that God would not be pleased with. Your society makes it difficult to be a family. Is there a better way?
Pastor Zahn gave me something to read. It was written by some people from a major city’s police department. It was entitled, If I want to raise a juvenile delinquent, this is what I would do:
1. Begin from infancy to give the child everything he wants. In this way he will grow up to believe the world owes him a living.
2. When he picks up bad words laugh at him. This will make him think he’s cute. It will also encourage him to pick up “cuter” phrases that will blow off the top of your head later.
3. Never give him any spiritual training. Wait till he’s 21 and then let him decide for himself.
4. Avoid use of the word ‘wrong’ or ‘no.’ It may cause your child to develop a guilt complex. This will condition him to believe later, when he is arrested for stealing a car, that society is against him and he is being persecuted.
5. Pick up everything he leaves lying around – books, shoes, and clothing. Do everything for him so that he will be experienced in throwing all responsibility onto others.
6. Let him read anything he can get his hands on. While we are careful that the plates and spoons he eats with are all clean, let his mind feast on garbage.
7. Quarrel with your spouse or friends frequently in the presence of your children. In this way they will not be too shocked when the home is broken up later.
8. Give a child all the spending money he wants. Never let him earn his own. Why should he have things as tough as YOU had them?
9. Satisfy his every craving for food, drink and comfort. See that every sensual desire is gratified. Denial may lead to harmful frustration.
10. Take his side against neighbors, teachers and policemen. They are all prejudiced against your child any way.
11. When he gets into real trouble, apologize for yourself by saying, ‘I never could do anything with him.’
12. If you follow all that has been said, prepare for a life of grief. You will likely have it.
I know that some of you are probably thinking that Paul is really negative today. Where does he get off? He was never married and didn’t have children. But I do know what I see and I do know what I saw in Lois and Eunice. They gave Timothy a godly home from the very beginning and most importantly taught him the Scriptures.
While your world was very different from mine, let me tell you where our worlds are exactly alike. The enemy hasn’t changed. The Devil is still here. Children are born the same way. I was sinful from the beginning from the time my mother conceived me. Everyone is born with a sinful nature that constantly wants to resists the Good Lord. The sinful nature is selfish and wants its own ways all the time.
Finally what Eunice and Lois gave Timothy is what every parent on this earth needs to give their child or children – God’s Word. While the Bible tells the truth about sin, it also teaches about forgiveness from where it needs to come – God. Every child needs to see himself as the object of Jesus’ love. That’s the reason for Baptism as we get connected with Jesus who provides His righteousness.
Pastor Zahn always talks about the Georgia Bulldogs all the time. Does it get on your nerves like it does on mine? He talks about offense and defense. Those were always war terms back in my day. Families need a defense. Many Christian families remain strong. It is evident that families here are strong and desire strength to stand against Satan. But help is needed to face that negative force he brings and all his unholy angels.
I see that you have Sunday School. Does each family use it enough? Sunday School is for all ages, not just kids. I see that you are planning a new building to help with Christian education. But are you planning to use that building for new classes to help with the defense of the truths you learn there? You should be thinking about plans now for when it is ready. What can help all families?
Usually where kids are, dirt is right behind. When your education building is built, I hope your building is in need of cleaning a lot. I hope you need to repaint it al the time from the use it gets.
You also need to go on the offensive too. Promote the values that strengthen the family. When the TV networks and the newspapers present something of value, shout it from the housetops. But we also need to go head to head with those who seek to undermine God’s command to hold sex as sacred and marriage as his gift that is to be honored by all.
On a personal basis show your own children that they are precious by giving them your time, your attention, your love and your discipline. Don’t flood them with material delights. Most of all, keep the Bible in front of them so they know the Law that shows their sins and how offensive it is before God. Tell them and reassure them of the comfort that Jesus loves them and saves them and assure them God wants them in heaven with everyone else.
Timothy was a son to me. He was the next generation. Silas and I took him along with us when we got to Lystra on our second missionary journey. He journeyed with me on the third missionary journey as well. He was with me when I was in prison the first time in Rome. I asked him to come. I needed his encouragement when Roman leaders didn’t want me around anymore.
He helped churches get over rough patches. I left him in Thessalonica on my second missionary journey, in Macedon, in Corinth. I placed him in charge of the church at Ephesus. Look what Lois and Eunice started when they did what God wants every parent to do - “Train a child in the way he should go…” Do the same for your children and grandchildren and members of your church. You just never know how the Lord might use them.