Poh Fang Chia
2 Timothy 2:1-6
Always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. —1 Corinthians 15:58
Chinese proverbs are common and often have stories behind them. The proverb “pulling up a crop to help it grow” is about an impatient man in the Song Dynasty. He was eager to see his rice seedlings grow quickly. So he thought of a solution. He would pull up each plant a few inches. After a day of tedious work, the man surveyed his paddy field. He was happy that his crop seemed to have “grown” taller. But his joy was short-lived. The next day, the plants had begun to wither because their roots were no longer deep.
In 2 Timothy 2:6, the apostle Paul compares the work of being a minister of the gospel to that of a farmer. He wrote to encourage Timothy that, like farming, making disciples can be continuous, hard labor. You plow, you sow, you wait, you pray. You desire to see the fruits of your labor quickly, but growth takes time. And as the Chinese proverb so aptly illustrates, any effort to hurry the process won’t be helpful. Commentator William Hendriksen states: “If Timothy . . . exerts himself to the full in the performance of his God-given spiritual task, he . . . will see in the lives of others . . . the beginnings of those glorious fruits that are mentioned in Galatians 5:22, 23.”
As we labor faithfully, we wait patiently on the Lord, who makes things grow (1 Cor. 3:7).
Dear Lord of the harvest, help us to work faithfully as
we wait patiently on You for the fruit. Encourage us
when we are discouraged and strengthen us when we
are weary. Help us to persevere, for You are faithful.
We sow the seed—God produces the harvest.
Timothy is first introduced in Acts 16:1. Paul and Silas had been working their way through the provinces of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) sharing the gospel of Christ. When Paul and Silas arrived in Lystra, they met Timothy (a follower of Christ) and Paul invited this young man to join them. Timothy became a student of Paul’s and a pastor who, according to tradition, shepherded the church at Ephesus. Eventually, he received the two letters from Paul that bear his name. Each of those letters was intended to instruct and encourage the young pastor in his work with the congregation he served.
Bible in a Year:
Exodus 31-33; Matthew 22:1-22
Today I am reading day 117 of Joseph Prince’s Devotional:
Don’t Sweat Over Loss Or Waste
Luke 15:22–23 22“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry;
What would you say if your son, whom you had given a large inheritance to, came crawling home one day after wasting all his money on riotous living?
In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–24), the father did not say one word about loss or waste, though his son had indeed wasted his inheritance on riotous living. The father only saw his son’s homecoming as an opportunity to show him how much he loved him and to restore to him what he had lost.
Like the father in the parable, it is your heavenly Father’s desire to embrace you and show you how much you are loved. And it is His good pleasure to restore to you what you have lost. A119
Perhaps you have lost something recently, or you are frustrated that something has gone to waste due to a bad decision you made. My friend, God does not see the finality of the loss or waste the way you do. When you come to Him with it, He sees it as an opportunity to restore to you what has been lost or wasted.
Even if, like the prodigal son, you feel far away from your heavenly Father, or you feel that you have disappointed Him, don’t despair. The truth is that the moment you come to Him, He immediately restores to you the robe of honor to clothe your nakedness, the ring of authority to declare your position of power and dominion, and the sandals on your feet (which servants do not wear) to reinstate you as a son in His house.
He reassures you that you had never lost the position of sonship. And He celebrates your return to Him with the killing of a fatted calf because you are His beloved child whom He cherishes.
Beloved, in your Father’s house, you not only come under His complete protection, but you also enjoy His inexhaustible provision and unconditional love!
Thought For The Day
It is your heavenly Father’s desire to show you how much you are loved and to restore to you what you have lost.
Today I am reading day 361 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Sometimes God Says “Not Yet’
Hebrews 10:36-37 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.
If you’re discouraged because of God’s delay in answering your prayers, understand the delay is NOT a denial. Just because the answer hasn’t come – YET – that doesn’t mean God isn’t going to answer or that he’s forgotten you or that he doesn’t care about you.
It simply means “not yet!”
Part of becoming spiritually mature is learning the difference between “no” and “not yet,” between a denial and a delay. The Bible tells us, “He who is coming will come and will not delay.” (Hebrews 10:37 NIV)
God’s delay may be a test of your patience. Anybody can be patient once. And, most people can be patient twice. And, a lot of us can be patient three times. So God tests our patience over and over and over.
Why? So he can see how patient you are? No!
He does it so you can see how patient you are. So you’ll know what’s inside you, and you’ll be able to know your level of commitment. God tests you so that you can know he is faithful, even if the answers you seek are delayed.
If you’re discouraged, turn it around by remembering God teaches you patience during delay. Ask him to transform your discouragement into patience.
Today I am reading day 356 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
God is Never Too Busy
Act 17:27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.
Psalms 145:18 The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Matthew 7:11 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Psalms 34:18 The L ord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
A lot of kids today grow up with absentee fathers. Their father’s are never home, always gone, never there for the important dates. Even when their father’s are home, they really aren’t there. They’re detached, reading a newspaper, watching television, or working. They may be physically there but they’re not mentally or emotionally at home.
That’s why it’s important to remember three encouraging facts about the closeness of God:
God is never too busy – “The Lord is near to all who call on him.” (Psalm 145:18 NIV) He’s never too busy to talk to you. He’s always near. He never says, “Some other time.”
God loves to meet your needs — He’s not annoyed by your request. “If you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 NIV)
God is sympathetic to your hurts — “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and rescues those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NLT) When you hurt, God hurts. When you grieve, God grieves. He is there. And He cares. That is the Good News.
Today I am reading day 256 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Times of Distance
Friendships are often tested by separation and silence; you are divided by physical distance or you are unable to talk. In your friendship with God, you won’t always feel close to him.
Philip Yancey has wisely noted, “Any relationship involves times of closeness and times of distance, and in a relationship with God, no matter how intimate, the pendulum will swing from one side to the other.” (Reaching for the Invisible God; Zondervan)
To mature your friendship, God will test it with periods of time when it feels as if he has abandoned or forgotten you. St. John of the Cross referred to these days of spiritual dryness, doubt, and estrangement from God as “the dark night of the soul.”
David probably had the closest friendship with God of anyone. God took pleasure in calling him “a man after my own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14)
Yet David frequently complained of God’s apparent absence:
“Lord, why are you standing aloof and far away? Why do you hide when I need you the most?” (Psalm 10:1 LB)
“Why have you forsaken me? Why do you remain so distant? Why do you ignore my cries for help?” (Psalm 22:1 NLT)
“Why have you abandoned me?” (Psalm 43:2 TEV)
Of course, God hadn’t really left David, and he doesn’t leave you.
Today I am reading day 218 of Rick Warren’s Daily Devotional:
Managing Your Time
Jesus experienced enormous stress and pressure, yet it didn’t seem to disturb his peace of mind. In spite of opposition, constant demands, and little privacy, his life reflected a calm sense of balance.
What can we learn from Him?
Know who you are (John 8:12) — Eighteen times Jesus publicly defined himself. There was no doubt in his mind as to who he was. Trying to be someone you’re not causes stress!
Know who you want to please (John 5:30) — Jesus never let the fear of rejection manipulate him. No one can pressure you without your permission. You can’t please everyone. Even God can’t!
Set clear goals (John 8:14) — Jesus said, “I know where I came from and where I am going.” Preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it. You work by either priorities or pressures.
Focus on one thing at a time (Luke 4:42-44) — Jesus knew how to handle interruptions without being distracted from his primary goal.
Don’t try to do everything yourself (Mark 3:14) — Jesus enlisted twelve disciples. We get tense when we feel it all depends on us.
Make a habit of prayer (Mark 1:35) — No matter how busy Jesus got, he found time to get alone and pray. A daily quiet time is a great stress decompression chamber.
Take time to enjoy life (Mark 6:30-31) — Balance is the key to stress management. Work must be balanced with fun and worship.