May Letter 2016

May Letter 2016

Hello Partners,

foc_website_highlight-2Loyalty is not a subject that is taught often in our culture today, especially when it comes to our faith, belief system, marriages, family and other relationships. Our culture resists aligning loyally to a specific person, idea, belief system or thing because in doing so, we feel like we lose independence of personhood. However, this resistance has resulted in a lot of disloyalty in this nation today. We see examples and results here lately as some Americans are turning over their loyalty or allegiance to ISIS, an extreme and brutal terrorist group.

Unfortunately, we also can see examples and results of disloyalty among believers today, especially where our faith is concern. Things we use to value and hold on to, we no longer protect. The things we use to share with others we no longer feel compelled to share. The actions and words of many reflect diminishing loyalty. However, there are some things we just cannot ever forget, stop valuing or cease to share.

Disloyalty is defined as deserting one’s allegiance; while being loyal is giving or showing firm and constant support or allegiance to a person, belief or institution. As Paul was facing death and passing the torch to Timothy as the defender of the faith, he shared vital information that remains true today. Paul had fought all kinds of heresy, specifically the legalism of the Jews and yet he was instructing Timothy to continue the fight, to remain loyal. Here in I Timothy 6:20-21 he said, “Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have departed from the faith.”

Another version translates Paul’s words as “keep that which is committed to thy trust”. A couple of verses later, Paul told Timothy to take the things he had learned from him and commit them to faithful men who would be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2). This is definitely talking about remaining loyal to the truths of the Gospel in word and deed. Several times throughout Paul’s letter, we find the phrase “hold fast” which is translated from the Greek word “ECHO,” meaning “to guard, to protect, to keep watch over and to keep guard”. In this use, it depicts fighting or being on guard to protect the Word of God – something precious that God has entrusted to each of us. This is the same concept Jesus taught in His parable of the sower. In Mark 4:15, Jesus lets us know the devil comes to steal away the Word that has been sown in our hearts. We must guard that Word! We can no more bear fruit without God’s Word than the ground can bear fruit without seeds.

Therefore, we must loyally “hold fast” the truths God has given to us from His Word. Later in II Timothy 1:13-14 the Apostle Paul charges his son in the faith with these words “What you heard from me, keep as (FOLLOW) the pattern of sound teaching (WORD), with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” The New Living Translation says it like this, “Hold on to the pattern of wholesome teaching you learned from me—a pattern shaped by the faith and love that you have in Christ Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, carefully guard the precious truth that has been entrusted to you.” Paul was in prison waiting to be executed. Within one week of dying and he write this letter, his final thoughts. Paul is making an appeal to Timothy as well as to each of us, to be loyal to the Gospel and our faith in God.

Knowing and remembering your heritage, where you came from, and knowing where you are going are both keys to keep moving forward and growing. Both of these vital links to loyalty are found in God’s Word. The Gospel should be guarded as a treasure; its words are sound, right, healthy and whole and therefore not to be tampered with. Lest anyone think he or she can adequately watch over such a precious gift, Paul reminds Timothy of the need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s help. Men and women of God, we must keep that which God has entrusted within and to us, being energized about it and for it. There is never an acceptable time to let your passion die. We must remain loyal in word and deed. One way to encourage yourself and others is to talk about where God has brought you from; one generation sharing with another the amazing love and work of God. Psalms 78:4 (NLT) says, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders.” Later we see an example of this as in Psalms 105:37-45, Israel remembers where God brought them from.

Take a moment right here and read II Timothy 1:3-14. You too will be reminded and encouraged to keep all that God has entrusted to you, to remain loyal to the faith, to your call, to God and His Word. As you are endeavoring to remain loyal there are five things I want to encourage you in:

1) Never be ashamed of the Gospel. That is echoed in the passage we have been studying as well as in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” There is power in the Gospel!

2) When you have times that you must suffer for the Gospel do not pull back, do not stop being loyal; continue to keep and guard what God has given to you, remain steadfast. Look at II Corinthians 11:23-28 if you think for a moment you are alone in your suffering for Christ.

3) Guard the Gospel! Remain vigilant and steadfast in your faithfulness and your loyalty! We must guard the Gospel that has been entrusted to each of us in all we say and all we do!

4) You are being imitated. People are watching and listening to you and what they are learning is shaping their lives. In 2 Timothy 1:13 the word “form” was translated from the Greek word “HUPOTUPOSIS,” which means “a sketch…for imitation”. Paul was saying that the doctrine he shared with Timothy should be a pattern to be imitated. The NIV renders this verse as “What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.”

5) In guarding and holding fast remember Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:13: “in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” True faith and love cannot be separated. Galatians 5:6 says, “Faith which worked by love.” Anyone who is professing faith but has no love isn’t operating in the true faith of God. Likewise, walking in love will cause faith to abound. They are like conjoined twins; they cannot be separated without risking death to one or the other. In our endeavor to remain loyal and protect what God has entrusted to us we must remember love is a vital part of that requirement.

It is an awesome responsibility to have God’s truths entrusted unto us. How can any of us possibly execute such a trust successfully? The answer is that we can only do it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our loyalty and commitment to “Guard our Faith” must be a priority in our lives! It is our honor and our privilege as well as our God given responsibility. I honestly want to encourage each of you to stay the course.

Janice and I appreciate you and the work you do in the Kingdom of God. Thank you for your faithfulness and loyalty to the assignment God has given to Richard B. Peoples Ministries.

Your Partner and Friend,

RBP-Signature1-275x40

Richard B. Peoples, Sr.

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