In early days of the Church (e.g. Antiochain era - Act 11:26 - 1st century AD), when the rich and mighty tide of divine grace was flowing in, and bearing thousands of ransomed souls upon its bosom; when all were of one heart and one mind (Act 4:32); when those outside were overawed by the extraordinary manifestations of divine power (Act 5:11), it was rather a question of partaking of the triumphs of the Gospel, than in afflictions (Act 5:41). But in the days contemplated in Second Timothy, all is changed. The beloved Paul is a lonely prisoner at Rome; all in Asia had forsaken him; Hymenaeus and Philetus are denying the resurrection; all sorts of heresies, errors and evils are creeping in; the landmarks are in danger of being swept by the tide of apostasy and corruption (if by “landmarks,” essential doctrines for receiving salvation are intended, they are: “belief that Jesus is the Son of God” (1Jo 4:15; 5:5); “believe that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh” (1Jo 4:2, 3; 2Jo 1:7); “believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead” (Rom 10:9); believe the He is the Savior (Acts 4:12).
In the face of all this, the present-day Timothy has to brace himself up for the occasion. He has to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2Ti 2:3); to hold fast the form of sound words (2Ti 1:13); keep that good thing committed to him (2Ti 1:14); to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2Ti 2:1); to keep himself disentangled—however he is engaged; he must keep himself free as a soldier (2Ti 2:4); he must cling to God’s sure foundation (2Ti 2:19); he must purge himself from the dishonorable vessels in the great house (2Ti 2:20, 21); he must flee youthful lusts; and follow after righteousness, faith, love and peace (2Ti 2:22). He must avoid foolish and unlearned questions (2Ti 2:23). He must turn away from formal and heartless professors (2Ti 3:5). He must be thoroughly furnished for all good works, fully equipped through the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures (2Ti 3:16, 17). He must preach the Word in season and out of season (2Ti 4:2). He must watch in all things, and endure afflictions (2Ti 4:5).
What a category for the child of God! “Who is sufficient for these things” (potentially every believer - 2Pe 1:3—NC)? Where is the spiritual power to be had for such works? It is to be had at the mercy seat in the presence of the Father. It is to be found in earnest, patient, believing and waiting upon the living God, and in no other way. All our springs are in Him. We have only to draw upon Him. He is sufficient for the darkest day. Difficulties are nothing to Him, and they are bread for faith—and the man of faith will develop and grow thereby. It is the privilege and responsibility of the true believer to rise above all the hostile influences which surround him, no matter what they are, or from whence they spring; and, in the calmness and brightness of the Father’s presence, taste and enjoy as rich and rare privileges as ever were known in the Church’s brightest days.
Every man of God needs to remember that there is no comfort, no peace, no strength, no moral power, no true elevation to be derived from looking at the ruins. We must look up out of the ruins to the place where our Lord has taken His seat, at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens. Or, rather, to speak more according to our true position, we should look down from our place in the Father’s presence upon all the ruins of the earth and the Church (many if not most believers are in an immature witness for Christ; “walk as He walked” - 1Jo 2:6—NC). To realize our position in the Lord Jesus, and to be occupied in heart and soul with Him, is the true secret of power to carry ourselves as people of God. To have the Lord Jesus before us—His work for the conscience, His person for the heart, His Word for the path, is the one grand, sovereign, divine remedy for a ruined self (possibly a reference to “the old man”—NC), a ruined world (possibly in reference to the unsaved, which is most of mankind—NC), and a ruined Church (not in reference to our redemption but to maturity and witness of many, i.e. “salt” and “light”- Mat 5:13, 14).
—C H Mackintosh (1820-1896)
MJS devotional excerpt for 3/24:
Mercifully, day by day, He unfolds before our startled eyes the evil depths of the self-life. It is thus we come to know Him as the “God who is rich in mercy,” and ourselves as “vessels of mercy.”
“Today sinful men, not angels, are entrusted with the preaching of the Gospel, and before they can be used of God must first of all have plumbed the depths of their own sinfulness, and have, therefore, discovered the heights and glories of God’s longsuffering. In this way they can become a pattern of His mercy, by means of which He can demonstrate His grace to others.
“The power effectively to present Christ as Lord, is by means of revelation deep within us, bringing into being an unshakable knowledge of His authority and might, and making us content to accept our weakness and nothingness in order that we may see the pleasure of the Lord prosper in His hand (Isa. 53:10).” -J.C.M.http://www.abideabove.com/hungry-heart/