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Monday, April 11, 2016

Northern Flicker (Photo by Marion Maxwell)
Northern Flicker feasting on our neighbors deck
(Photo by Marion Maxwell)

"A Lesson From Trophimus"

Message Summary: Today there are many of you who are in a waiting period regarding some issue in your life, much like Joseph as he sat in prison or Paul as he left his friend Trophimus sick. Overcoming faith in the life of the believer compels us to believe and praise God even in the midst of the wait and mystery.

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"Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick" (2 Timothy 4:20).

When grief has left you low it causes tears to flow
When things have not turned out the way that you had planned
But God won't forget you, His promises are true
Tears are a language God understands.

Yesterday in our Sunday School class we discussed the many ways the Lord works in our lives using Joseph (from Genesis) as an example. Joseph certainly had his setbacks and mystery times which we may tend to overlook since Bible students already know the "rest of the story". During discussion a class student, Mike Book, pointed out that our faith must continue to grow and praise fill our lives even when we are in a mystery period such as praying for a loved one who has an illness and waiting for the outcome.*¹

In our rather obscure daily text Paul is here writing what most Bible students consider his last letter.  He was soon to meet His Maker. He had had a fruitful ministry and he could honestly say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7). Reading about his life we see that God had often used him in miraculous ways through healings, deliverances, and other extraordinary circumstances. (e.g. Acts 28:1-10)

Today's verse is so straightforward and bluntly honest. Trophimus was a ministry associate of Paul who had traveled with him. He is first referenced during the third missionary journey. From two passages we can glean that he was an Ephesian from Asia (Acts 20:4, 21:29).

Yet here Paul candidly states "Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick". In reading a verse like this we must avoid two extremes:

1) Ignoring it or seeing it as having no significance whatsoever. Earlier in 2 Timothy Paul had written that, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (v.16). This portion, in the providence of God, is part of the inspired Scriptures and is useful.

2) There are those who make a doctrinal mountain out of this verse. Some extreme dispensationalists*² assert this tiny verse "proves" that God had stopped healing late in the apostolic period and Paul was no longer used in healing, thus he left Trophimus sick.

Let us seek to glean several truths out of this short passage:

1) This verse indicates Paul's honesty and this strengthens his credibility elsewhere. Here, in what turned out to be his final chapter he candidly writes something that must have been a disappointment to him for surely he had prayed for Trophimus to be healed before he left.

Let's speak the truth today. Let's especially be on our guard against forms of lying that are so frequent in our age, particularly exaggerations and misrepresentations. (It's absolutely nauseating to see this in the political world, and even less forgiving toward those in ministry.) About twenty years ago I wrote an article regarding the tendency by some in ministry to exaggerate and misrepresent attendance figures as well as bogus claims of the miraculous. Someone, I can't recall whom, wrote in response:

"This is a disturbing practice, but my guess is that a lot of preachers fall into the habit of embellishment as a general way of speaking, and attendance figures are only one manifestation of that. The interesting part about this is that I doubt most preachers would classify their embellishments as lies. The statements are not intentional deceptions. However, when one gets into the habit of embellishing the truth, then the line between truth and falsehood becomes stretched to the point that it is 'no big deal' to take the next step and turn embellishments into outright lies (a big danger). My feeling about all of the above is; God doesn't need our embellishments when we talk about Him! His attributes, His creation, His every-day blessings are praiseworthy enough." Absolutely, Amen.  Let's worship this great God today and let's tell the truth!

2) The candor of this verse can be an encouragement to us as we face life's disappointments. I don't think Paul had stopped praying for people or ceased believing that he served a miracle-working God. There were mysteries in God's dealings in the Bible period just as there are now. Things didn't always work out the way they surely would have desired, just as we also experience today. Just a few examples follow:
  • Why was Stephen stoned just as he began his ministry and, several chapters later, James beheaded (Acts 7,12)? Of course God was able to prevent this from happening but He didn't. These are the first Christian martyrs mentioned in the Bible, but millions have suffered or been martyred for their faith since then. We hear of it happening right now on a daily basis.
  • Why did Paul deal with a "thorn in the flesh", some type of persistent affliction that he had prayed might be removed? (See 2 Corinthians 12). Instead of removing the affliction, God gave him assurance that "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."
Today there are many of you who are in a waiting period regarding some issue in your life, much like Joseph as he sat in prison or Paul as he left his friend Trophimus sick. Overcoming faith in the life of the believer compels us to believe and praise God even in the midst of the wait and mystery.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, many challenges, disappointments and quandaries fill our hearts as we live out our days here on earth, even if we are saved and walking daily by faith. The original sin committed by Adam and Eve has left a permanent stain on so much of what we encounter from day to day. But in Your compassion You provide us with ample Scripture that directs us, sustains us, and encourages as we encounter these bumps and unexpected potholes along the way. Most notably Isaiah 41:10 teaches us to hold steady and trust You: "Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." We know that trust will stamp out fear since we are upheld by Your righteous right hand. Thank You for caring, loving, and providing for our every need. Amen.

*¹ I spoke to Mike this morning and he verified this is the essence of what he was seeking to convey to the class.

"Dispensationalism is a theological system that teaches Biblical history is best understood in light of a number of successive administrations of God's dealings with mankind, which it calls 'dispensations'." Through the years of my ministry and study I have often benefitted from teachings of those holding to this view. It is a view that is generally held by those having a high view of Scripture. However, I do differ on the point above concerning our daily text used as a proof text.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Tears are a Language God Understands"  Video   The Booth Brothers

Rend Collective (Photo by Ester Weber)
The other night Ester assisted at the Rend Collective concert in Lancaster.
This video has a great message and is quite interesting to watch!

"Build Your Kingdom Here"  Video   Rend Collective

"My Lighthouse"  Video   Rend Collective

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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