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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Snowy path with Proverbs 12:28
"Come Before Winter"

Message summary: The man who had given so much ministry and encouragement to others was now in a place of need.

Listen to our message on your audio player.

"Make every effort to come before winter" (2 Timothy 4:21).

For a few days of warm weather last week we had a taste of the imminent spring season. Even Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow! (Interesting fact: Back in the late seventies my brother Pat, who is now a retired pastor, served his first church in Punxsutawney, PA.)

But winter has returned with snow yesterday and freezing rain this morning. However, overall we have had a relatively mild winter, especially compared to Oymyakon Siberia, the coldest inhabited place on earth where the coldest recorded temperature in 1933 was
-96°F. So next time we are tempted to complain about the cold we need to remember this place!

The first reference to winter in the Bible is part of a promise to Noah.

"As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease."
(Genesis 8:22)

Today's Scripture portion is found in the final chapter of Paul's final book (chronologically). This epistle, though specifically written to Timothy as the torch of faith was passed, has in the providence of God come down to us and is in the body of inspired Scripture, including this very personal appeal. This small portion of a verse is surely among the most personal of all Paul's words. We may wonder what possible value it may have to us.

Many spiritual and practical insights have been gleaned from this brief letter for Christ's followers in each generation. It is especially encouraging to those in pastoral ministry, so let's consider this little phrase, "Make every effort to come before winter".

Paul sits in a cold, damp prison. He doesn't get the blues or have a pity party, instead he writes some letters. Do you wonder if he had the slightest idea that these letters would become a part of the Holy Scriptures and be treasured by people from each succeeding generation?

He essentially cries out for Timothy to hurry it up. Just a few verses prior to this he had written, "Make every effort to come to me soon" (4:9).

Several reasons for the urgency of his appeal can be found in the text. He knows "his time of departure" is near (4:6). He needs his cloak as winter's coming and his books since he still wants to study (4:13). Others had deserted him, most notably Demas (4:10,16).

However, we believe he fundamentally wants Timothy's presence. Earlier in the letter he had written, "Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy" (2 Timothy 1:4).

The man who had given so much ministry and encouragement to others was now in a place of need.

Can you identify with Paul? Consider people who are like Timothy to you. Their very presence brings comfort and assurance.

Consider people you can be a "Timothy" to today. People who, like Paul, have discipled and nurtured you in the faith but now are in a place of need. Perhaps it's your parents, a Sunday School teacher, a youth leader or a pastor. They're probably not in prison, but they might be in a nursing home or some other lonely place. Why don't you give them your presence today? Some day you may be where they are!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, each of us has opportunity to touch another's life as we come alongside them in their time of need. Likewise, we benefit from one who gives freely of their time and resources, their wisdom and love as they see us in need. We are reminded throughout Scripture that we have a duty to help and encourage those around us, especially our brothers and sisters, while sojourning here below. Help us to be mindful of those in need as we fulfill the Christ's command, "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." We want to "bear one another's burden and so fulfill the law of Christ". Amen.

Matthew 7:12, Galatians 6:2

Brooksyne's Note: As I reviewed our message today I considered Paul's request for Timothy to come to him before winter. He was anxious for his fellowship though it might be brief and unnatural since their visit would likely be under the surveillance of prison guards. Surely Paul's heart was overflowing with questions about his brothers and sisters back home as well as Timothy's ministry. No doubt he wanted to tell Timothy how God was working in his own heart there in the prison setting and how he was seeking to influence others even while in chains.

This brought to mind our brothers and sisters in captivity who are being persecuted for their faith, the same circumstances as Paul found himself in. We have been praying for Pastor Raymond Koh of Malaysia for nearly two years now who was kidnapped in broad daylight due to his stand for Christ. There has been no word of his whereabouts since he was taken. He is representative of hundreds of thousands undergoing persecution whose families are grief stricken and fearful that their loved ones are suffering or even worse, that they may not be alive. Though these dear persecuted believers are not allowed to visit with their loved ones, no authority on earth can keep us from praying for their safekeeping, their release and for their witness of Christ to bear fruit in their godless settings. Though we cannot visit in person we can faithfully pray for them as well as their loved ones.

Kember Scripture prints Kember Scripture prints
James from Pulaski, Virginia shared these photos of Kember prints he had brought to his house for safekeeping after his parents moved. He had read our article about Kember prints. "Ten of these were grouped over the sofa at my parents' previous house, and I remember others displayed around the house and in my dad's study. He has served as a pastor here in Pulaski since 1966."

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"In Christ Alone"  Video  The Booth Brothers

Visiting the coldest town in the world - Chilling Out  Video  (14 minutes) The locals prefer winter since in summer it's very muggy and buggy!

-71°C (-96°F) World's Coldest Inhabited Place: Oymyakon, Siberia  Video (3 minutes)

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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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