Wednesday 1st August
1 Timothy 5:17-18
In verse 18 of today’s passage, we have a very important verse which tells us that there are two categories of elder: those who direct the affairs of the church and those whose work is preaching and teaching. In the history of the Church of Scotland, these were referred to as ruling rlders and teaching elders, the teaching elders being what we normally call ministers. This is a vital distinction. It means that ministers are simply elders who devote themselves to preaching and teaching. They do not have some higher status or authority. In every other respect they share the same responsibilities as the other elders.
Pray for Hector Morrison and all the staff of Highland Theological College, as they enjoy a summer break.
Thursday 2nd August
1 Timothy 5:19-20
Paul also notes that accusations against an elder were to be taken seriously only where there were two or three witnesses. If anyone accuses an elder of sin, there must be proper evidence. Paul is simply applying the Old Testament teaching about witnesses to the matter of elders who stand accused of some offence. When a minister or an elder is accused of some wrongdoing, it is important that we do not gossip, jump to conclusions, or accept whatever anyone says on the matter. Instead there must be a semi-judicial process, using proper principles of evidence, to ensure that a proper judgement is reached. If an elder or minister is found guilty, then he is to be publicly rebuked ‘so that the others may take warning’. Paul says very firmly that there must be no partiality and no favouritism. Whatever status an elder or minister may have within the church, all must be treated the same and the same standard of evidence and judgement must be used.
Pray for EMMS and its work in Malawi and in other parts of the world. Pray for James Wells the chief executive of the organisation.
Friday 3rd August
1 Timothy 5:21-25
When Paul says ‘Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands’, it can have two meanings. It might mean, do not be quick to ordain men as elders until you are sure of their character and qualities, so that you do not end up with these situations of discipline. Or, it might mean, do not welcome back to full communion in the church those who have been disciplined until you are sure of their repentance. Either way, Timothy is to be sure that he himself does not fall into sin. As Paul says, ‘Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure’. Paul recognises the weakness of the flesh and realises that even strong and committed Christians can fall into sin. In judging others, Timothy must be sure that he himself remains pure before God. At the same time, Timothy is told: ‘Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses’. Was Timothy following a very severe and ascetic life, like some of the early monks, depriving himself of food and drink as a way of demonstrating his holiness? Paul might be saying, Timothy, a good life will be obvious to everyone. You don’t have to deprive yourself and live an extreme, ascetic life to prove yourself as a faithful leader of God’s people.
Pray for Neil and Rachel Rae and their children, serving with the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in Manila, in the Philippines.
Saturday 4th August
1 Timothy 6:1-2
This is not a justification for slavery. It is simply dealing with a situation that existed. Slavery was a fact and it raised issues which had to be addressed. How should Christian slaves treat their masters? Paul is at pains to point out that a good Christian witness was imperative. If a slave was known to be a Christian but was surly and hostile and failed in his duties, this would damage the reputation of the church. Rather, the slave must do everything possible to commend Christ by the diligence and thoroughness of his service. It may be that Paul was addressing a particular issue, namely, how Christian slaves should treat Christian masters. Perhaps there were some Christian slaves who believed that Christian masters should set them free from their obligations and so refused to treat their masters well. Perhaps they had heard Paul’s injunction that in Christ there is neither slave nor free and believed that this absolved them from responsibility to their masters. Paul makes it clear that in these cases they should serve their masters ‘even better’.
Pray for the wok of the Scottish Bible Society and for its Chief Executive, Elaine Duncan. Pray that many Bibles, Testaments and Scripture portions will be distributed and read and that they will make a difference to people’s lives.
Sunday 5th August
1 Timothy 6:3-5
As the pastor or teaching-elder in that place, Timothy was to make sure that those in the Church held to sound doctrine. It is clear from this passage and other places in Paul’s letters that doctrine is vital. What we believe must be the truth, based on God’s Word and that doctrine must be guarded against error. Christian doctrine is not negotiable and cannot be compromised. The selfishness of these false teachers becomes evident when Paul says that they were men who thought ‘that godliness is a means to financial gain’. Hendriksen suggests that they charged exorbitant fees for their ‘instruction’. Money and the desire for money is often a characteristic of false teachers.
Pray for the Minister as he takes both services in church today and for Alex Stephen as he takes the Raigmore service.
Monday 6th August
1 Timothy 6:6-10
Having spoken yesterday of the false teachers who thought that godliness was a ‘means to financial gain’, Paul goes on to write more generally on the subject of money and contentment. In verses 6-8 he lays down the basic Christian principle: ‘godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.’ That is a wonderful statement, which ought to be the attitude of every Christian. We can compare this with the attitude of Job in Job 1:21. In verse 9 we have a vivid description of those whose desire for money leads to their downfall. Notice in verse 10 that ‘the love of money’ is ‘a root of all kinds of evil’. This is important. It is the ‘love’ of money which is a root of evil, not money itself.
Pray for those Ministers who are off ill, many with stress-related illnesses and pray for those congregations which are struggling.
Tuesday 7th August
1 Timothy 6:11-12
When a Minister is inducted to a new church, someone is appointed to ‘give the charges’. This involves a word of encouragement to the new Minister to be faithful to his calling and encouragement to the congregation to fulfil their duties and support their new Minister. A charge, then, is a call to duty, a call to faithful obedience to Christ, a call to trust in God and to persevere to the end. It is just such a charge that we find in this passage. Paul is told to ‘pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness’. This is a very good list of the qualities which ought to be seen in the believer. How do we match up against this?
Pray for the office bearers of the congregation: for Donald MacVicar, George Campbell, Marlene MacRae, Duncan Fraser and Calum Campbell.
Wednesday 8th August
1 Timothy 6:11-12
In verse 12, Paul urges Timothy to ‘Fight the good fight of the faith’. Paul says something similar in 2 Timothy 2:3, ‘Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.’ As Christians, then, we are to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. As Christian soldiers, we are recruited and chosen by God. The Bible tells us that he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. We were marked out for service through the sovereign action of God. When by the Gospel we call people out of darkness into the light of Christ, we are God’s recruiting agents, bringing into the Lord’s Army those whom he has already chosen. We need training to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. We need to know how to look after ourselves as Christians, how to grow as Christians and how to be prepared for whatever Christ might lead us to do. We need to be trained in the study of Scripture and in prayer, we need to be trained in personal evangelism. Are we serving as soldiers of Christ?
Pray for the churches in South Korea during this period of tension and uncertainty over the nuclear ambitions of North Korea.
Thursday 9th August
1 Timothy 6:13-16
Having spoken about the need for commitment and dedication in the cause of Christ, Paul now drives the point home in these verses. Timothy is to keep the faith until the day when Christ appeared or called him home. Christian faith is not a temporary commitment, it is for life. At the end of our lives, we should be able to say what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:7-8. The passage finishes with Paul writing about the God who has done all of this. Listen again to what Paul says about God in verses 15-16: ‘God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no-one has seen or can see. To him be honour and might for ever. Amen’. What a wonderful description of who God is.
Pray for Raigmore School and for the school assemblies which the Minister will take during this coming session.
Friday 10th August
1 Timothy 6:17
Paul tells Timothy that he should encourage people to put their trust in God and not in money. Jesus said the same thing in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6:19-34. To serve God and money is impossible because both of these make a totalitarian demand on us. They demand our entire devotion. Those whose goal in life is to serve God will look at everything from God’s perspective and will make all their decisions based on that perspective. Those whose goal in life is to make money will view everything from that perspective and will make all their decisions based on that perspective. We can sum it up like this. These earthly treasures are so powerful that they grip the entire personality. They grip a person’s heart, mind and will; they affect the spirit and indeed, the whole being. Whatever realm of life we may be looking at we shall find that these things are there. We must trust in God, not in money.
Pray for the many vacant churches and particularly for congregations which have been vacant for a long time and are beginning to lose heart.
Saturday 11th August
1 Timothy 6:18-19
How do we lay a secure foundation for our lives? Well, Paul tells us here: we must do good, we must be rich in good deeds and we must be generous and willing to share.
If we do these things, we will take hold of the life that is truly life’. Paul is building on the teaching of Jesus. For example, in John 10:10, Jesus says, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full’. One of the tricks of the devil is to persuade people that following Jesus means a dull life, full of rules and regulations with no joy and no freedom. The truth is the exact opposite. Those who follow Jesus have the fullest kind of life precisely because it is the life which our loving God always intended for us. Are we following Jesus and living life to the full? Sometimes Christians try to follow Jesus but, at the same time, follow the world. The result of this is that they lose their joy and the fulfilment which comes from following Jesus alone.
Pray for the Trustees of Rutherford House and for the Rutherford Centre for Reformed Theology which is soon to be established.
Sunday 12th August
1 Timothy 6:20-21
Paul tells Timothy to guard what he has received and warns him against false knowledge. There was a heresy in the early Church called ‘Gnosticism’. The word Gnosticism comes from the Greek word Gnosis meaning ‘knowledge’. For the Gnostics, salvation was to be found by wisdom or knowledge. Early monasticism was heavily influenced by a Gnostic view of the body and the flesh. They developed what are called ‘ascetic’ views, namely, that Christians must severely discipline the body in order to be spiritual. They subjected themselves to cold and weariness and lack of food, all to get closer to God but this was a perversion of the Christian Faith. Real Christianity does not believe that the body is sinful and that salvation means escape from the body. Quite the reverse: real Christianity says that even our bodies will one day be saved, through resurrection and transformation. Jesus Christ himself, took a real human body in which to save us from our sins and his resurrection was not simply a spiritual escape from the tomb, he rose with a resurrection body.
Pray for the Minister as he takes morning and evening services today, for Donald MacVicar as he takes the Raigmore service.
Monday 13th August
2 Timothy 1:1-7
Today we begin Paul’s second letter to Timothy, his young friend and fellow evangelist. Paul again affirms his apostleship and offers a benediction. Then he immediately goes on to thank God for Timothy, who was clearly very dear to him. It becomes apparent that Timothy’s mother and grandmother were believers and that he grew up under this godly influence. How many could testify to the great advantage in life of having been brought up by those who took God and his Word seriously, where the life of the home included Scripture, prayer and worship. Paul then urges Timothy to be bold and not timid. Was Timothy a reserved and nervous young man, rather timid and afraid? Paul reminds him of the power of God at work. Timothy has no need to be timid because God is at work in his life, ever since he received a gift of the Holy Spirit through Paul’s ministry.
Pray for the churches in China and for the huge number of Bibles being produced and read. Pray for the Christians, asking that they will grow in faith, in zeal and in the knowledge of the Lord.
Tuesday 14th August
2 Timothy 1:9-10
In verse 9 of our passage, Paul helps us to understand our identity as Christians. There are five elements of our Christian identity described here. First, God has saved us. Second, this salvation is by grace. Third, this salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ. Fourth, this salvation was part of God’s eternal purpose for our lives. Fifth, as a response to God’s grace, we are called to be holy. Sometimes I hear people say that a Christian is someone who attends church, or someone who is ‘on a journey,’ or someone who accepts the moral teaching of Jesus, or someone who lives in a Christian country and so on. Over against all of that, we must affirm with scripture that a Christian is someone who has been saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ and who is called to live a holy live.
Pray for the Girls’ Brigade and for the faithful team of officers and helpers, led by Jennifer Morrison and Sheena Fraser. Pray that in this coming session, the girls may hear and understand what they are being taught and may learn to seek, serve and follow the Lord.
Wednesday 15th August
2 Timothy 1:11-12
Paul describes his ministry in three ways. He is a herald (someone who goes ahead to make an announcement), an apostle (someone who is sent) and a teacher (someone who explains). As a result of this ministry he has suffered a great deal. He offers a description of those sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27. Despite all that he has suffered, however, he is not ashamed to be called a Christian. He knows Christ and he believes that Christ is able to keep him until that great day when he will see him face to face. Many Christians throughout the centuries have suffered in similar ways, with their heads held high because they knew that Jesus was able to keep them safe and secure until the end. May God give us faith to live like that.
Pray for the church in Brazil today, especially for the Presbyterian Church of Brazil and its Mackenzie University. Give thanks for their faithful service to Christ.
Thursday 16th August
2 Timothy 1:13-14
Timothy is charged with two responsibilities. First, he is to hold on to sound teaching; and second, he is to guard the good deposit entrusted to him. The first charge means that Timothy is to pass on what he has received from the apostles and what he has read in the Scriptures. He is not at liberty to make up the Gospel as he goes along, or to invent new doctrines or teachings. The preacher of the Gospel has no authority to peddle his own opinions, if these are at variance with the clear teaching of Scripture. The second point is that Timothy, with the help of the Holy Spirit, is to ‘guard the good deposit.’ As far as can be determined from these two letters to Timothy, Paul means something like this: Timothy, you have received the gospel together with an explanation of its meaning and significance. Protect that gospel against all who would change it, or deny its truth, or seek to undermine it in any way.
Pray for the World Reformed Fellowship, which seeks to help Reformed churches, institutions and individuals to work together across national boundaries and to support one another.
Friday 17th August
2 Timothy 1:15-18
Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot. Then, when was arrested, all of his disciples deserted him. On top of that, Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus. This must have made his suffering even worse. In today’s passage we find that Paul had a similar experience. All the believers in the province of Asia deserted him. Perhaps they were afraid that they too would be arrested. Yet there was one exception, a faithful disciple called Onesiphorus. He searched hard for Paul until he found him and cared for him. He ‘was not ashamed of my chains’, says Paul. There is nothing more encouraging that to have a brother or sister in Christ who sticks with us through good times and bad.
Pray for Open Doors today and for Bob Matheson and his team. Pray that God will draw people in and that the team will be able to listen, help and pray.
Saturday 18th August
2 Timothy 2:1-7
The theme of these verses is dedication. Paul tells Timothy to be strong in the cause of the Christian gospel and to endure suffering. He tells him that he must be willing to do what it takes to serve Christ no matter how difficult it might be. He gives three illustrations: a soldier, an athlete and a farmer. The soldier must not be distracted from his main task. The athlete, in order to win, must follow the rules. The farmer, by working hard, gets the first share of the crops. Paul is making the point that following Jesus requires effort and commitment. Many athletes are engaged in punishing regimes. The thing that stands out is their dedication and commitment. They need to learn the skills of their own discipline, be it running, swimming, cycling or whatever but they also need to do endurance training. It is hard to imagine what they put themselves through in order to win a medal. Paul is telling us that we must be like those athletes. After all, if they do all that just to get a medal, we should be prepared to do much more to win the price which Jesus has in store for those who follow him. Our dedication to Christ, our commitment to follow him, should be every bit as determined as the athlete preparing for the Olympics.
Pray that all of us in the East Church, that we would have a deepening hunger for the Scriptures and a real desire to know God better.
Sunday 19th August
2 Timothy 2:8-13
In verse 8, Paul makes a very important statement: ‘Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel’. His life’s work is to preach that gospel but he is restricted at the time of writing this letter. He is in prison and chained up. Then he makes this statement: ‘But God’s Word is not chained’. This is a remarkable man. Even although he is in prison with an uncertain future in front of him, he does not forget his calling. Above all, he knows that God can work through him even in such a situation. In verses 11-13 we have what is probably a very early Christian hymn. It testifies to the promise that if we endure in the faith we shall reign with Christ. This is our great hope.
Pray for the Minister as he takes both services in church today and for Bill Flett as he takes the Raigmore service.
Monday 20th August
2 Timothy 2:14-19
It would seem that the Christians in Ephesus were in danger of arguing over words. Sadly, there are many even today who are more concerned to play theological word-games than to follow Jesus Christ and submit themselves to God’s Word. Timothy, by contrast, is told to be quite different. He must show himself to be a man who handles God’s Word properly. What we need above all in Scotland today is preachers who will take God’s Word and handle it properly: preaching it, teaching it, applying it and so on. The task is really to rebuild the foundations. There were some people who did not handle God’s Word correctly and indulged in godless chatter. Indeed, they had wandered away from the truth. They said that the resurrection had already taken place. In other words, they did not believe in a future bodily resurrection of believers.
Paul tells Timothy to stand firm in the face of such opposition.
Pray for the Minister as he attends a Council of Assembly meeting in Edinburgh today, to begin developing a radical three year Strategic Plan for the Church of Scotland.
Tuesday 21st August
2 Timothy 2:20-26
Notice here the pastoral wisdom that Paul passes on to Timothy. Timothy is to flee away from the evil desires of youth and to associate instead with those whose hearts are pure. He is to have nothing to do with stupid arguments because they only lead to quarrels. Instead, Timothy is to be kind and able to teach others. When people oppose him, Timothy is to deal with them gently, hoping that God will grant them the grace of repentance and that they will ‘come to their senses’. If they do not, they will be in the clutches of the devil and do his will instead of God’s will. What good advice this is and not just for Timothy! We can all benefit from these words of Paul.
Pray for the Christian Institute and for all the work they do to promote biblical principles among politicians and through lobbying on parliamentary legislation. Pray too for them as they help Christians who fall foul of ‘Equalities’ legislation.
Wednesday 22nd August
2 Timothy 3:1-5
Paul says that there will be ‘terrible times in the last days’. This has been interpreted in various ways but I think it means that, before Christ returns, the church will face great trouble and persecution. It may be that prior to the last days there will be times of great blessing. Some passages of Scripture indicate that there might be times of revival before the end, including the conversion of the Jews as prophesied in Romans 11. Yet, as Paul says here, at the end there will be terrible days. Men and women will have no interest in the gospel and will be concerned only for themselves. This self-centredness will manifest itself in various ways. Paul says that people will be ‘lovers of themselves’ and ‘lovers of money’. Could it not be said that we are experiencing this already? Is this not a good description of early 21st century human beings? Can we not describe the culture of our day as ‘boastful, proud and abusive’?
Pray for FEBA (Far East Broadcasting Association) which is able through media to get the Gospel into remote and difficult areas and also into countries which are hostile to Christianity.
Thursday 23rd August
2 Timothy 3:1-5
Paul describes these people as having ‘a form of godliness but denying its power.’ Is that not the case today? Aren’t there many people who go through the motions of Christianity, who attend church, but who are strangers to the grace and power of the living God? It is all too easy to be part of a religion without knowing the heart-changing power of that religion, to know about Jesus without having met him personally. Despite this dreadful situation, Timothy was not called to retreat into some ghetto with a small group of believers and to hide themselves from the world. He was called to communicate this gospel to a world which was full of people who loved pleasure more than they loved God, and who had a form of religion but were not true believers. That remains our calling today.
Pray for the refugee situation in Europe and pray that wisdom, mercy and compassion will be at the heart of any policies developed by the politicians.
Friday 24th August
2 Timothy 3:6-9
The people who are described in verses 1-5 are involved in all kinds of evil. They oppose the truth, their minds are depraved and they have been rejected by God. Ultimately, however, they will not be successful. It is not possible to stand against God and to oppose his truth without consequences. We could look back over the Old Testament and see the many people who tried to stand against God and failed. Whenever arrogant human beings imagine that they have the capacity to do as they please without consequences, they inevitably come to a bad end (either in this world or the next). God is not mocked and his judgement will stand. We must beware of those who oppose the truth and have nothing to do with them.
Pray for Gordon MacDonald, the Parliamentary Officer for CARE at the Scottish Parliament; and for Nigel Kenny, Scottish Director of the Christian Institute.
Saturday 25th August
2 Timothy 3:10-13
Paul contrasts his own life with that of those who are lovers of self rather than lovers of God. He says to Timothy: ‘You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance…’ Timothy had watched Paul as they worked together and knew him very well. He knew that Paul was a man of God and could be trusted to speak the truth and stand for the truth. He had also seen Paul’s sufferings. Paul then makes the bold statement that, ‘everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted’. He is gently reminding Timothy that the young man himself may have to endure suffering for the Lord. He will also have to face the evil men who ‘will go from bad to worse’. We today live fairly sheltered lives as Christians but the day could come when we will have to suffer as Paul did.
Pray that the Holy Spirit would move across our land tomorrow, as people gather for worship, bringing renewal to the churches.
Sunday 26th August
2 Timothy 3:14-15
Paul tells Timothy to continue along the path he has been following. He is to continue to believe the things which he has been taught. Paul gives two reasons for this. First, he can trust the people from whom he received the teaching. Second, he knows the Scriptures from which that teaching is drawn. This should surely resonate with each of us. We too have received the teaching about Christ from others, be it parents, Sunday School teachers, minister, friend or whoever. We trust them not to tell us lies and we see the difference it has made to their own lives. We also have the Scriptures and we know that they can be trusted. We have seen over our lives how what they say has proved true and valuable. Above all, we have discovered that the Scriptures are able to make us ‘wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’.
Pray for the Minister as he takes both services in church today and for Ian Challinor as he takes the service at Raigmore.
Monday 27th August
2 Timothy 3:16-17
The reason that the Scriptures are at the heart and centre of the life of the Christian believer is because of their origins. Paul says that the Scriptures have been ‘breathed out’ by God. Although it was men who wrote the Scriptures, they wrote under the guidance and supervision of the Holy Spirit, so we can think of them as having been breathed out by God himself. This does not mean that God dictated and the authors wrote it down. No, they composed the books themselves in their own words. Yet, in some mysterious way, God overruled, so that the end product was as God wanted it to be. Peter said something very similar in 2 Peter 1:21: ‘men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’. The Scriptures are like nothing else which has ever been written and we should value them and rejoice as God continues to speak through them by his Spirit.
Pray for the city of Inverness, asking that God would help and empower the churches to reach out to the whole city with the Gospel.
Tuesday 28th August
2 Timothy 3:16-17
We read these verses again today in order to identify the reasons why God gave us the Scriptures. We are told in these verses that the Scriptures are ‘useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness’. The end purpose is that we will be ‘thoroughly equipped for every good work’. We can each surely testify to what is said here. As we read the Scriptures day by day and week by week we are being taught but we are also being corrected, in both our thinking and our living. God also uses the Scriptures to rebuke us when we sin and to train us in righteousness. The preparation the Scriptures give us make us ready for God’s service and direct us in every detail of the Christian life. We must be sure not to neglect them.
Pray for Israel, asking that the Jews would discover Christ to be the Messiah and turn to him.
Wednesday 29th August
2 Timothy 4:1-5
Paul solemnly charges Timothy, ‘in the presence of God and of Jesus Christ’, to ‘preach the Word’. He is to be well prepared and he is to use his preaching to correct, rebuke and encourage. He is to do this patiently and to instruct people carefully. Nevertheless, he is warned that a day was coming when people would no longer put up with ‘sound doctrine’. It is amazing how accurately this portrays the modern-day situation. There are indeed many today who refuse to accept sound doctrine and they do, as Paul predicts, gather around themselves teachers who will say just what they want to hear. The truth is not what they want. Sadly the truth is the only message which will save them and so by turning away from the truth, they are utterly lost and without hope.
Pray for Andrew and June McGowan as they begin to look for a house for their retirement.
Thursday 30th August
2 Timothy 4:6-8
Paul is nearing the end of his life. He is in prison and he believes that the time has come for him to go to heaven. Here is a faithful man of God, who has done whatever God called him to do, no matter how much struggle and suffering this involved. Now he can testify in these powerful words, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’. It must surely be the hope of every Christian that we can echo those words when our own time comes. Paul then gives a picture of what he is expecting on the other side when he passes over: ‘Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’. May each of us look forward to that day with the same faith and hope.
Pray for the meeting today of the Trustees of Covenant Fellowship Scotland, as they work for the reformation of the Church of Scotland.
Friday 31st August
2 Timothy 4:9-22
Paul’s testimony here in these personal greetings is that many of his followers deserted him when trouble came. Some did it because they ‘loved the world’ (verse 10) and some because of their own strong views (verse 14). Paul says ‘At my first defence, no-one came to my support, but everyone deserted me.’ He prays that they would be forgiven (as Jesus prayed on the Cross) but then testifies that the Lord never deserted him. Indeed, the Lord stood at his side and gave him the strength, so that he could testify to the Gentiles about Christ. Whatever we might face in these uncertain days, when opposition comes from both outside and inside the church, we can be sure that the Lord will stand by us and give us the strength we need.
Pray for the Women’s Bible Study, the Gathering and the Fellowship Groups as they begin again after the summer break.