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             Memory is important. To the extent that you lose it you realize that is not a good thing. Memory is our tie to the past – it defines who we are to some extent. We don’t want to live in the past. Neither do we want to forget the past. After all, those who forget the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them. Right? We live in today, and move forward every day.
            Memory is a funny thing. It is like a grammar lesson: the past is perfect and the present tense. We may not remember things the same way others did who were also there. We may not remember things the way they really were at the time.             Memories can play tricks on us. We rarely see ourselves as others did, or as God does. We can embellish the good things of the past. We can intensify the bad things of the past. We are tempted to concentrate on a few particulars of our lives. We can be selective of what we choose to remember and recall ourselves always at our best. If we examine our past closely enough, we may find that it was not all that it should have been.
            Churches have memories. The history of the Mabelvale church involves many people whose memories live on to this day. Some Mabelvale members have fond memories of this church that go way back. You have memories of the church in which you grew up. I would like to think that those memories are always good. Sometimes they are not so good.
            2 Timothy 1:1-7 is an interesting passage because it is the apostle Paul reflecting upon some memories. The setting of 2 Timothy was Paul’s second Roman imprisonment shortly before his death in the year 67. He had time to think and to reflect.
            1.         Paul remembered his family heritage: “I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience” (Vs. 3). Paul says he served God as did his ancestors. Paul had a strict upbringing in a dedicated Jewish home. He was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:5-6).
            The force of the present tense verb “whom I serve,” combined with the retrospective “as did my ancestors” is to stress the continuity of Paul’s service to God. The key idea here is Paul’s spiritual heritage in view of his Old Testament upbringing. His ancestors believed in the concept of resurrection. So did he. His forefathers looked for the coming Messiah. He preached that Messiah.
            Everyone is the product of their family heritage to some degree or another. We are all warming by fires built by those who have gone before us. We often follow the courses we were taught by our parents. Some stray from those courses. Sometimes we are right in doing so. Sometimes we are wrong in doing so.
            2.         Paul remembered Timothy in his prayers: “As I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day” (Vs. 3). This is a phrase we often hear: “Remember so & so in your prayers.” Paul had many people on his prayer list:
            “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all…” (Rom. 1:8).
            “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).
            “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you” (Col. 1:3).
            Remembering someone in prayer is an appealing concept. I have never known anyone who preferred to be forgotten in that regard. Do you have certain people that you remember in prayer night and day? Parents? Children? Fellow Christians? Overseers? Friends? Don’t forget your preacher!
            3.         Paul remembered Timothy’s tears: “As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy” (Vs. 4). This remembrance marked a close personal bond between the two men. We do not know the occasion alluded to here. Do you have someone with whom you have shared tears in times past? You remember them because you share a special bond with them. Have there been traumatic times in your life when someone was your “rock”?
            4.         Paul remembered Timothy’s spiritual upbringing: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwell in you as well” (Vs. 5). Timothy’s father is not in the picture here. See, Acts 16:1-3. Perhaps most of us are reminded of the “fingerprints of faith” left on us by either one or both of our parents. Sadly, the father is not in the picture of far too many people’s lives. Some of us know women who are rearing their children without the assistance of a husband. Yet, these mothers bring their children to classes and worship services. They labor day and night trying to provide for their children the kind of spiritual upbringing Timothy received from his mother and grandmother. The job is never easy.
            The credit for Timothy’s spiritual vitality goes to the women in his life. How often are women the sole spiritual giants in our lives? Statistically women outnumber men in attendance at Bible classes and worship services. This has always been the case (to my knowledge anyway), and that trend shows no signs of turning around.
            5.         Paul reminded Timothy to stir up the gift that he had: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (Vss. 6-7). The “gift” Paul mentions here is not identified. It is, however, consistent with the promise of Acts 8:18, where miraculous gifts were bestowed by the apostles. Paul himself being an apostle. See also 1 Timothy 4:14, “Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.”             Paul simply urged Timothy to utilize the miraculous gift that he received from Paul. Spiritual gifts did not make zombies out of those who possessed them. It demanded the proper motives and consent of those who had the gift. This is suggested in the statement, “and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” (1 Cor. 14:32). We do not have miraculous gifts, but we do have natural gifts. Stir up the natural gift that is in you! Use it in the service of the church here at Mabelvale, or wherever you may worship!