December 11 Advent Devotional
December 11, 2019
Scripture: 1 Timothy 4:10-15
That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
In Paul’s letter, he gives practical advice to Timothy as a leader in the young church at Ephesus. This is advice that we can benefit from in our lives as part of our congregation today. Paul offers three suggestions that are still applicable to us 2000 years later.
First, we are advised to use our hearts in valuing our youth – both our young people and adult members young in their faith journeys. My faith has deepened as I taught 7-year-olds in Sunday School and then later served as a mentor for our confirmands. The questions the young children and youth confirmands posed and the ways in which they answered questions asked of them helped me to think about many familiar Biblical teachings in fresh and simple ways. Stripping down the well-known Bible stories and theological concepts to their most basic elements provided both challenge and meaningful moments for me as I tried to help young disciples by being an example and using my heart in teaching. I believe I learned as much from them as they did from me.
Second, Paul tells Timothy (and us) to use our heads. I’ve found no substitute for reading scripture in my continuing faith formation. I experience deeper understanding and mini-epiphanies as I participate in an H3 group, read scripture along with the preacher in worship, study with my Circle members, engage in conversations about thought-provoking books, and discuss Sunday School lessons with others. The connections of ideas and concepts discussed in different settings deepens my understanding and allows me to integrate new ideas with what I already know. The more I read scripture, the more frequently these things happen.
And third, Paul tells Timothy (and us) to use our hands. Using the gifts God has given me is a way that I can contribute to our congregational family of faith and of God’s kingdom on earth beyond our congregation. The numerous service projects at FLPC provides us all ample opportunities to do as Paul suggests. “Knowing” is good, but “doing” is faith in action. My head and my heart are important parts of my faith formation, but my hands allow me to put my faith into visible and concrete practice.
Prayer: Loving God, savior of all, we put our hope in you. You have given us the young who are eager to learn, the scripture that guides and teaches us, and our individual gifts that we can use to further your kingdom on earth. Thank you for leading us to this congregation where we can deepen our faith as we learn, study, and act using our heads, hearts and hands. Amen.
Submitted by: Stuart Hunter