Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stir up, Retain, and Guard.

“Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”  2 Timothy 1:13

Yesterday, we considered the Apostle Paul’s charge to Timothy that he “stir up” the gift of God within him…To rekindle a cooled faith fire, if you will.  Today, we rejoin that charge where Paul encourages his reader to “retain the standard of sound words” heard from him.
Coffee cans and boxes
I have very fond memories of trolling through my grand father’s shop and garage.  It was a wonderland to me.  Dusty toolboxes and mason jars filled with various cleaners and chemicals.  Carpenter’s tools and other items were carefully stored in their cubbyholes or hanging on hooks.   As I surveyed his workbench, I tried to imagine what he would do…what he would build or fix there.  I was always fascinated not only by the things he had, but by the things he didn’t throw away.  There were coffee cans and small boxes full of old screws, odd bolts and nuts, washers, small bits of copper wire, or a square of tin; even used nails and pieces of lumber.  I asked him once why he kept all of that stuff and he replied: “Well, someday I might need it.” 
My grandfather was not of this consumer age.  You kept just about everything you bought, because you couldn’t buy much.  Flour came in sacks, and the sack could be used to make clothing.  You threw away only that which could not be repurposed.  You retained.
Back to the Future
This day is not that day.  Practically everything in our world is conceived and created with a planned obsolescence.  Cars are not built to last, but be replaced.  We pick our cell phones knowing that in a year or two, we have the option to upgrade, and we mentally factor in the cost.  Computers have a functional life span of only a few years, and must be replaced to stay practical in the workplace and home…even if they are still essentially functional.  We have become a consumer society.
This can bleed into our spiritual lives as well.  Long gone are the days where the people of God had no Bibles, but had to go to the temple to simply have any knowledge of faith at all.  Only the priests had access to the scrolls.  There were no sermons on the radio, no Bible programs on their computers, no teaching DVDs, or MP3s.  No church services on the radio or television…or Internet.  They had to retain every word they could…test every new teaching against the words they had heard before.
We are virtually bombarded by information on every side of our lives.  The Internet has actually become a frequently referenced and largely respected source of information on Christianity, although much of its content is written and edited by individuals who may or may not adhere to our own system of beliefs or values.  I’ve observed that many Christians in our society base what they believe not upon what the scriptures say, or how the church has traditionally stood on an issue, but upon the conclusions of their own conscience and reasoning.  While the Lord has given us great minds and mental faculties, without the guidance of His Word and Holy Spirit, we are quickly lost!
The call is all the more valid for us to “retain the standard of words…” which we have heard and believed. 
Scripture to Claim: “Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22

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