Tuesdays in II Timothy 4:12-22

Introduction:

I can’t believe our study of II Timothy is ending. What a rich gift in this letter Paul recited – mostly likely to his friend Luke – from a damp and dark prison cell. Mary Carmen reflected on the reality that the apostle finished the race of ministering the Gospel. Paul is keenly aware he soon will be “loosed” from the hardships of this earth to enter his Savior’s presence face to face. Now we turn to Paul’s closing words to Timothy which reveal his emotions and love for the believers who labored alongside him. As Beth Moore says in her study Entrusted: Paul not only kept his faith, he kept his heart.

Scripture:

12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen. 19 Greet Priscilla[a] and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus. 21 Do your best to get here before winter. Eubulus greets you, and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters. 22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.

Observation: What does the passage say?

Comparison- Paul sent Tychicus to Ephesus, left Trophimus in Miletus, Erastus in Corinth with the location of the other disciples mentioned earlier in the chapter (4:1-11)

Cause/Effect – Alexander the metalworker’s evil behavior toward Paul will cause the Lord to take vengeance (4:14)

Warning – Paul tells Timothy to stay away from Alexander the metalworker (15)

Contrast – All deserted Paul but the Lord stood with him and strengthened him (17)

Cause/Effect – the Lord stood with Paul and strengthened him so he could complete his ministry of preaching to the Gentiles (17)

Comparison – Paul talks about being delivered from the lion’s mouth, being rescued from every evil attack, being brought safely into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom (17-18)

Interpretation: What does the passage mean?

We are hard wired for relationship with God and people. Paul knows that Timothy will draw strength and receive comfort from the friendships of Christ followers they both know especially when his dear friend and father in the faith departs. Paul shares the location of those who are fulfilling the ministry; and provides a warning about those who are against the cause of Christ. Paul also reveals the hurts he continues to experience through the attacks of unbelievers and the abandonment of believers in critical times in his ministry. He exposes his human-ness in looking to the Lord to bring vengeance on those who have intended harm and to forgive people who failed to stand with him in the cause of declaring Jesus. His humanity is also present in his desire for the things he requested: his cloak, the parchments, and his hope to see Timothy before winter. When Paul left Trophimus sick at Miletus he reminds Timothy that brokenness continues to plague believers and unbelievers alike; while God can do the miraculous He doesn’t always choose to do so. Paul moved forward with how God was leading him in spite of leaving Trophimus in tough circumstances.

Application: How does the passage apply to me?

Extending forgiveness and letting go of grudges is a lifelong experience. We will never come to the place of things just “roll off of me” without having to work through our emotions and the hurt. I find myself recently processing another “layer” of forgiveness in a situation.

Is there someone you need to extend forgiveness? Is there a grudge you are holding? For further input see my post Making Peace With People Who Hurt You

When God asks you to make a transition, whether geographical or otherwise, how can you let go of the “undone things,” connect those who have come to count on you to other believers and entrust those you wish you could support in person to the Lord?

I remember receiving a card from a dear sister I discipled in college who is now a pastor’s wife. She thanked me for the time spent with her and the effort I made to build into her when we attended the University of Texas. I will always treasure her note and her love as a dear sister in the faith.

Who are the people in your story who have made a difference? Who are the people you have served alongside for the sake of the name of Jesus? How can you express gratitude?

I remain beyond grateful for you, my sacred sister. The Lord be with you spirit.

~Laura

Tuesdays In II Timothy 4:6-11

Introduction

Paul lived in a time not unlike our culture which bombarded people with false truth, causing many to turn away from the gospel and turn to self-absorption. Last week Courtney encouraged us to be ready to speak the truth whenever the opportunity arises while being willing to face uncomfortable situations when a rebuke or correction is appropriate. In such interactions speak clearly with patience and love. I do not know about you, but I could use a reminder of Paul’s message to Timothy in 4:1-5 weekly. Paul also reminds Timothy to urge listeners to believe and live according to the truth. So, what Paul is saying: speak truth and then share with people how it might be applied to their particular situations. Let’s now turn our attention to listen to Paul’s final words of encouragement to his friend before his impending death.

Scripture

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 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. Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

Observation – what does the passage say?

  • Paul compares his impending death to the pouring out of a drink offering.
  • Secondly, Paul speaks of his death as a departure.
  • In verse 7 reflecting upon his service to the Lord, he uses two metaphors:
  1. boxer or wrestler (I have fought the good fight) (I have kept the faith)
  2. runner (I have finished the race)
  • Paul uses another metaphor a “crown of righteousness” given as a reward for finishing the race.
  • The righteous Judge, the Lord will reward this crown of righteousness to him on that day and to all who have longed for His appearing.
  • He urges Timothy to visit him in Rome soon since Demas had deserted him, Crescens left for Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia (4:9-10).
  • Then Paul mentions that Luke was the only one still with him and instructs Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him to Paul because he is helpful to him in ministry.

Interpretation – what does the passage mean? 

Knowing that his death would be soon under King Nero’s orders, Paul wanted his last words to his dear friend Timothy to be ones of encouragement to remain faithful to God. He uses two expressions in verse 6 to describe his impending death. First, Paul compared his life being “poured out” to the pouring out of the wine of the drink offerings according to the Old Testament sacrificial system (Num. 15:1-10; Num. 28:4-7; Phil. 2:17). The pouring of the wine after priests offered a lamb, ram, or bull was the last act in this sacrificial offering that symbolized the believer offering his life to God as an act of worship. Paul had lived his life offering all he had to God, so the last offering was life itself. Remember Paul is a prisoner about to be executed, and does not speak of himself as a victim but as voluntary offering of his life almost completed spilled out. Secondly, Paul speaks of his death as a departure of a traveler who leaves one country for another, sailor loosing his vessel, or soldier breaking up camp. Death does not mean losing but loosing. Paul will be loosed from the pain and hardships of this life as a ship would be loosed from the tumultuous storms at sea and as a solider breaks camp.

In verse 7 reflecting upon his service to the Lord, he uses two metaphors of a boxer or wrestler and a runner. First, Paul has fought the good fight. I think that many of us can identify with Paul that life is a fight. Paul has spent his life fighting a spiritual battle with the Lord’s help. Secondly, he has finished the race. According to Dr. Constable’s commentary, Sonic Light finishing the race meant “that he had run in noblest race of all, namely, the ministry of the gospel, not that he had done his best in the contest.” This implies that not everyone is engaged in this particular race of ministering the gospel. This metaphor of a runner Timothy would have heard before in Philippians 3, so Paul uses the same metaphor here to encourage Timothy to rely on Christ’s strength in ministering the gospel. Lastly, he has kept the faith. Paul guarded the deposit of faith (2 Timothy 1:14) and lived according to his faith (Romans 1:17).

Next Paul uses another metaphor a “crown of righteousness” given as a reward for finishing the race. The crown is not diadem, a physical royal crown but a stephanos, a wreath (1 Corinthians 9:25) given to Christians, like Paul who lived by faith seeking to honor God in their daily lives and longing for Christ’s return. Not all Christians long for Christ’s return because they know that their lives demonstrate more of a longing for the things of this world than Christ’s return. Referring to Christ as the “righteous judge” reminds his readers any reward Christians might receive is by God’s grace and not based on their accomplishments.

In his concluding remarks, he urges Timothy to visit him in Rome soon since Demas had deserted him, Crescens left for Galatia and Titus went to Dalmatia (4:9-10). Demas, like Hymenaeus and Philetus (2 Tim 2:17) let the worries and pleasures of the world lure him away from following Christ (Matt 14:22). Crescens went to Galatia and Titus to Dalmatia on ministry assignments implied by the Scriptures. Paul speaks of Titus as “my true son” (Titus 1:4) and earlier in 2 Corinthians 7:5-6 he describes how he was comforted by Titus who brought good news to him in Macedonia about the church in Corinth. Then he mentions that Luke was the only one still with him from most likely his inner circle. Next, he instructs Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him with him because he is helpful in ministry. The choice of Mark might be surprising since previously during Paul’s 1stmissionary journey, Mark deserted Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13) and Paul refused to take Mark on his 2ndmissionary journey. Barnabas and Paul separated on that journey and Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41). In Colossians 4:10-11, Paul refers to Mark as “my fellow prisoner.” Mark is a great example of a quitter who made a comeback. God can work through our failure to restore us. Failure cannot take us too far where God’s grace cannot reach us.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me? 

Last week in two different encounters, I shared insight applying the teachings of the Bible to their individual situations. In both situations I was not sure how my insights might be received. In these situations often right before I am speaking I feel like that I am starting to hit the hills during a long run. The first appreciated the insights while the second sat quietly and did not receive it quite as well. I wanted to hear the response of the second person, but I realized that the person was really listening and that was the response, listening. I did not need to hear their thoughts at that time. Just remember that listening is a good response and sometimes words are not necessary.

* How are you handling conversations when they feel hard, like you are hitting the hills or mountains on a run?

* How can you develop more spiritual muscle to help you to share your faith and speak truth when an opportunity arises in conversations with friends or family?

* Where do you feel like you are constantly fighting or struggling in your faith? Look again at 2 Timothy 4:7. The first metaphor Paul uses in reflecting on his life is: I have fought the good fight. Paul knows more than anybody that life is a battle against spiritual darkness. He is saying: I stayed in the battle and did not give up. This first sentence is no coincidence. Paul is saying to us: stay in the battle and run spiritually the race of life with the Lord’s strength and guard the deposit of faith that God has given you.

* When have you not listened to the Lord because you thought you knew better than Him? How does Mark’s story of deserting Paul and Barnabas on Paul’s 1stmissionary journey and then Paul requesting Mark to help in ministry at the end of his life encourage you?

– Mary Carmen

Tuesdays in II Timothy 4:1-6

Introduction: Two weeks ago Brandi reminded us that we must continue to run our race even though we will endure all kinds of hardship in this world. The Lord protected Paul and delivered him repeatedly. We need to remember the Bible tells us all believers will face persecution (in some way, at some point) but the Lord is sovereign and faithful in the midst of it. God’s Word provides what we need so we will be “thoroughly equipped” to live out God’s will in our lives, even in the face of suffering.

This week Paul gives Timothy his marching orders. These instructions are not just for Timothy. They have implications for us all.

Scripture:

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near.”

Observation – what does the passage say?:

-Paul is giving Timothy his final encouragement soberly, in the presence of God and Christ Jesus

-Paul charges Timothy to: preach the word, be prepared, correct, rebuke, encourage

-Timothy is to do these things with great patience and careful instruction

-Paul gives warnings by revealing the consequences of turning from the truth:

1) people will not put up with sound doctrine (truth)

2) people will want to suit their own desires

3) people will gather teachers around them who tell them what they want to hear
4) people will turn away from truth and turn towards myths (false teaching)

-Timothy is to also: keep his head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist and perform his ministry duties

-Paul concludes, knowing his life will end soon

Interpretation – what does the passage mean?:

Throughout II Timothy, Paul repeatedly reminds Timothy of the need to remain faithful by clinging to the truth because the world preaches a false gospel. His letter culminates at the beginning of chapter 4 where he gives Timothy a clear charge (verses 2, 5):

  1. Preach the word– Timothy is exhorted to publicly proclaim the truth of God’s Word. This is important whether the hearers readily accept the message or not.
  2. Be ready “in season and out of season”– There are times when it is not particularly convenient or ideal to share the truth. Paul reminds Timothy that the Gospel must take priority above comfort and ease.
  3. Correct, rebuke and encourage (with great patience and careful instruction)- Truth does all of these things. It corrects, rebukes and encourages. II Tim. 3:16 tells us God’s Word is “profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” Timothy is charged with using God’s Word to show people the right way to live and ways they need to change. All of this must be done carefully and with great patience. If the truth is not preached in love, it always falls on death ears.
  4. Keep his head in all situations– It is obvious that Timothy’s message would not be accepted by all. Many would reject the message, argue and rebel. Paul’s encouragement to Timothy is to stay level-headed in the midst of heated dialogue, rejection and antagonism.
  5. Endure hardship– Timothy was certain to face all kinds of difficulties as he carried out his duties. Paul’s encouragement is to endure all kinds of trials for the sake of the Gospel.
  6. Do the work of an evangelist– Timothy is not just to proclaim the truth but to urge his listeners to believe and live according to the truth, accepting Jesus as Savior. Timothy’s hearers must know a decision is required to follow Jesus.
  7. Discharge all duties of his ministry– Timothy is to continue to do all the work entrusted to Him in order to fulfill his duties.

In between Timothy’s imperatives, Paul reveals the consequences of the heart of man without the Gospel in verses 3-4. Those who reject Christ will turn to others who will tell them what they want to hear. Many will walk away from truth when things get difficult but Paul is reminding Timothy there is no truth outside of Christ.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?:

You may not see yourself as a preacher. That is understandable. Paul and Timothy were both called by God specifically to preach the Gospel. However, whether we feel comfortable with the idea or not, we are all called to preach the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20, 2 Cor. 5:18-20). This happens in many ways. It happens when we stand for truth when it is uncomfortable. It happens when we reach out to neighbors in need. It happens when we engage in conversations about the real meaning of life. In the midst of all of this, we must all be able to articulate clearly the Gospel by spelling out the salvation Christ offers because of His death and resurrection. We are all called to preach the Gospel. While this may be intimidating, we can know the Lord is one in charge of converting souls, not us. Our job is to share the Good News and leave the results up to the Lord.

The world then and now wants to believe that purpose, satisfaction and peace can be found outside of Christ. This is evident today with a multitude of resources written by influential individuals who center their teaching around self-help through podcasts, books and articles.  While some of the information may be helpful, there is simply no substitute for the life-changing truth of the Gospel. The Gospel does not give us what our itching ears want to hear. The Gospel offends our pride, self-sufficiency and arrogance and reveals our desperate need for a hope outside of ourselves. None of us can save ourselves. Salvation is found in Christ alone.

Lately, I’ve wondered what it looks like to “preach the Gospel” in this season of my life. Currently our family is still out of our home since we are rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey. We are living in a condominium complex in close proximity to many older neighbors, most of whom are single. How can my family preach the Gospel? I’ve been burdened for one neighbor in particular and have prayed for ways to bless her. The Lord has opened a few doors for us to serve her and I’m praying for more. Perhaps in the remaining months we will be here there will be more. I need to remain prayerful for opportunities for conversations about the Gospel. I need to be “ready in season and out of season”–when it is convenient and when it isn’t.

Who needs the Gospel around you? Perhaps it is a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor? How has the Lord nudged you recently to “preach the Gospel” to this person. Pray for opportunities to point them to the truth found in Jesus. The Lord goes before us and we do not need to fear. He is the one who transforms lives. Our job is to share the Good News that changed our lives. Let’s pray for each other as we seek to point others to the life-changing truth of the Gospel.

~Courtney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesdays in II Timothy Leaving a Legacy

Hi sisters, I want to pause in our study of the book of II Timothy to consider what it means to leave a legacy. Myself along with eight women in my apartment complex are using these posts at Sacred Story as a guide to study the book of II Timothy this summer. I adore gathering with these women and talking about spiritual things. Their ages and seasons span from one sister who is a young newly wed to another who has seven grandchildren. Last week we bounced around what it means to leave a legacy as we live our stories.

I am a definition nerd so I looked up the word legacy in Merriam Webster’s, “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property.” The general definition of legacy centers on tangible things, focusing on giving direction when a person is no longer on earth. I would like us to think about leaving a legacy of gifts while we are alive. When drawing up a will of how your money and things are going to be passed down, you are intentional about spelling out what you want to happen. In the same way, I’d like to encourage my sisters to be intentional as we live our stories about passing down spiritual legacies which will benefit people while we are alive and long after we leave.

I would guess the apostle Paul didn’t have a lot of tangible resources to leave to those around him when he passed from this life to the next. Yet in II Timothy we encounter Paul purposely “willing” rich gifts to Timothy by the way he loved him and lived his life. Let’s consider some of those specific gifts which rise to the surface.

The gift of his knowledge of the truths in Christ.

The gift of friendship including fervent prayers for Timothy.

The gift of modeling how to love and sacrifice for others.

The gift of validating the strengths and spiritual gifts Timothy possessed.

The gift of listening.

The gift of warning Timothy about dangers and pitfalls.

The gift of showing him how to take risks for the spread of the Gospel.

The gift of focusing on Jesus while experiencing difficulty, suffering, and setbacks.

The gift of looking to God’s Word as the authority for living and serving.

The gift of saying good bye to his earthly life with his hope on seeing his Savior.

And there are more ways Paul passed on gifts. . .as you look at these examples, you may be tempted to become overwhelmed especially for those of us who are of the mindset that we need to do the perfect and right thing. Instead of thinking we need to tackle all of this in one relationship or at one time, think about the following for this chapter of your story while asking God to lead you in how to take action.

Who can you ask to explore the truths of the Bible with you?

Who can you go out of your way to show a kindness?

Who can you encourage about a spiritual gift, talent, or strength you see in his or her life?

Who can you pray for?

Who can you allow to disrupt your day and take time to listen?

Who can you ask to do something “scary or risky” together for the sake of the Gospel? (I took the leap to start the small group study with two other friends who live in my complex)

Who is sharing a problem or need with you? Point them to encouragement in God’s Word.

How can you help someone – assuming the person welcomes your input – become aware of a pitfall?

Who needs to hear about a hard chapter of your story so they can have hope in difficulty?

Who can you share this post with so another sister is encouraged about leaving a legacy?

I so appreciate being on the journey. YOU encourage me as I depend on the Lord to give strength and wisdom for leaving a legacy. Courtney will continue our in depth study next Tuesday in II Timothy 4:1-6. Dive in this week and see what God says to you! Study on sister~

~Laura

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesdays in 2 Timothy 3:10-17

Introduction

Have you ever felt inadequate to finish the race? You started out strong, but the competition is fierce, and you feel like you don’t have what it takes to finish. You’ve gone farther than most and maybe this is good enough for you. Paul tells Timothy, that’s not enough. The word of truth deep within him is for more than just his own salvation. It is all that he needs to finish well and lead others to salvation and holiness.

Last week, Mary pointed out Paul’s deep commitment and love for Timothy in how he helps him prepare for the dark days ahead. Paul describes the characteristics of the people; warning Timothy not assimilate with them. And, despite the growing darkness, God’s will is still sovereign and his plans unchanged. Like today, the self-centered culture was repulsive. I would have also been tempted to disengage. But Paul encourages Timothy that he must continue the race, and he has all he needs to finish well.

Scripture

2 Timothy 3:10-17  “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings–what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Observation – what does the passage say?

• Paul reminds Timothy that he has seen Paul’s life, his faith in action, many persecutions and deliverance from them all.
• Not just Paul, but everyone who follows Christ will be persecuted.
• Evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse.
• The Holy Scriptures will make you wise not only for salvation but also for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
• The Holy Scriptures completely equip the servant of God for every good work.

Can you find a few other observations? Please consider sharing them in the comment section below so we can continue to learn from each other.

Interpretation – what does the passage mean?

Paul provided warning, reminders and encouragement to Timothy. Paul warns Timothy that he and all who desire to follow God will face persecution and evil will increase. Paul points to his perils and his Deliverer, reminding Timothy that “the Lord rescued me from all of them.” Paul is inviting Timothy to face persecution with confidence.

Most importantly, Paul reminds Timothy that the Holy Scriptures are not only for his own salvation, but they equip him to chase after the lost, lead them to salvation, stand against evil, correct and train in righteousness. Timothy can’t stop now. His work is incomplete. He has all that he needs to continue in God’s Scripture, which is “God-breathed”.  Let’s take a closer look into what that means.

According to Dr. Constable’s commentary, Sonic Light, “All Scripture,” is divinely “inspired” (Gr. theopneustos, lit. “God-breathed,” cf. 2 Pet 1:21). This fact in itself should be adequate reason for proclaiming it. It does not merely contain the Word of God, or become the Word of God under certain conditions. It is God’s Word, the expression of His Person (heart, mind, will, etc.).

Take a few minutes to follow the link to read an online commentary called Sonic Light by a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. Include a few sentences in your notes describing the meaning of the passage after reading the scripture and gleaning insights from the commentary. Consider sharing your insights describing the meaning of the passage in the comments section too.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?

This letter from Paul is God-breathed, it is the expression of God’s heart, mind and will, not only for Timothy, but for you and me.  Will you go on a journey with me and let it come alive?  Let’s open your letter.

A letter from Paul to you:

Dear [insert your name],

Remember my story, my teachings, my faith, my hard-headed perseverance through many near-death perils and most amazingly, my deliverance from them all. I see what you are enduring. I know it’s hard to stand for righteousness. I know it hurts emotionally and sometimes physically. I understand your frustration when you see evil increase and applauded in this life. It’s hard when friends turn their backs and wrong wins. I know how weary you feel.

I also know your faith in the word of God and I know the temptation to receive salvation for yourself and let the world go. What you hold inside is beautiful. You hold in your heart the very heart of God. Why continue to share beauty for them to defame, reject and spit upon? I feel the accusations.  Blasphemy still rings in my ears and rattles my soul. Let it rattle yours. You are fully equipped to finish well and lead others to salvation and holiness.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. You were saved to serve. I know you won’t turn your back on the lost, even when you feel inadequate. Stand against it, empowered by the wisdom of The King. He’s got you!

In His Unfailing Love,
Paul

What do you think of Paul’s letter to you?

Tuesdays in II Timothy 3:1-9

Introduction

As I continue to read II Timothy, Paul’s deep commitment and love for his friend, Timothy blows me away. He cuts to the heart of what is most important for Timothy to hear by sharing truth to help prepare him the best that he knew how for the dark days ahead. What are the top qualities that characterize your good friends? Do you have on your list: share truth and help equip you to deal with the challenges in life with God’s strength and His Spirit? Would you say most of your friends agree with you or challenge you?

About a month ago I had a conversation with a friend about how she has noticed that she attracts a certain type of person as a friend. Many of these friendships are very difficult and have ended. She wants to figure out why she attracts them. I asked her: What are you looking for in a friend? She said that she had not seriously thought about it. I would encourage you to take some time to think about it and make a list.

Looking back at the end of chapter 2, Paul knew Timothy needed the encouragement to interact with gentleness and humility in those dark days that he speaks about in chapter 3. Let’s see what Paul has to say in chapter 3.

Scripture

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

Observation – what does the passage say?

  • Paul gives Timothy instruction about the terrible times in the last days. (v. 1).
  • Paul lists 18 characteristics of humanity in the last days: lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. (vv. 2-4)
  • The last characteristic of humanity is that they will have a form of godliness but deny its power. Paul says to have nothing to do with them. (v. 5)
  • Paul warns against the false teachers whom he described above who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women loaded down by sin. (v. 6a)
  • These women are swayed by evil desires (v. 6b) and are learning false teaching but not learning the truth of God. (v. 7)
  • Like these magicians, Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses, the false teacher’s folly will be clear to everyone (vv. 8-9).

Can you find a few other observations? Please consider sharing them in the comment section below as we always learn so much from one another.

Interpretation – what does the passage mean?

Paul begins his third chapter of 2 Timothy with a chilling account of the days ahead as he refers to the “last days.” Not wanting his dear friend to be unaware and fall prey to temptation, instead he reminds Timothy that God is still sovereign and His plans are moving forward despite the darkness burgeoning in culture. In the Old Testament, Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1, and Joel 2:28 refer to “the last days.” On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:17, Peter quotes Joel 2:28 affirming that the era of the “the last days” are inaugurated from Jesus’ death until He returns. In Philippians 1:6, Paul says “the last days” will continue until Christ’s return.

In verses 2-4, Paul lists 18 characteristics of humanity in those last days. From reading the list, none of the characteristics are new, just watch the news or talk to a friend. So, why does Paul have this seemingly common list here? The intensity and prevalence of these characteristics will spread like a fire or cancer through our bodies, homes, children, schools, communities, and governments.

As noted by Dr. Constable in his commentary, Sonic Light on 2 Timothy, the list of characteristics in verses 2-4 begins and ends with two groups of two words expressing misdirected loves. Then two groups with three terms focus on pride, hostility towards others, and unwillingness to reconcile with one another. The seventh through fourteenth characteristics begin with “a” prefix in Greek, and this prefix negates the word. Instead of becoming lovers of God, they have become lovers of themselves. In verse 5 Paul says that these people described in verses 2-4 will claim to be religious. They will say that they know God, but they do not believe in Jesus or believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The last part of verse 5 is very important. Paul does not say: never talk to people who demonstrate these characteristics. Otherwise, we would be avoiding everyone. He is saying avoid associating very closely with those whose lifestyle and actions are overcome with these vices. Remember this letter is all about instructing Timothy in his ministry and encouraging him in his faith. Paul is saying by all means share the gospel and love these people.

Then in verses 6-7 he addresses the issue of false teachers gaining access to homes through weak-willed women. Please do not think that the Bible is saying women are weak, or Paul is suggesting women are weak. Also, Paul is not describing all women; instead he is exposing the manipulation of these male false teachers in Ephesus who target women. Women who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by evil desires are the most vulnerable. A women loaded down with sin might be one who continues to give into her jealousy, greed, ambition, or seduction. Paul is saying when these passions have so infiltrated your lifestyle, you have become a slave to them. Our culture celebrates living according to your natural desires, while the Bible celebrates living according to healthy desires and redirecting our desires towards Jesus that He might change unhealthy desires and reorder good desires.

Lastly, in vv. 8-9 Paul mentions the magicians, Jannes and Jambres who opposed Moses in the plagues (Ex. 7:11; 9:11) to point out the fate of these false teachers. Like these magicians who opposed truth, these false teachers opposed God’s truth, and their foolishness will be evident when their power is inadequate.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?

* How am I a lover of myself above God?

* What sin continues to sway me away from God?

* Spend time confessing my sin and ask for God’s help. Seek instruction and direction in how to develop specific tools to fight that sin.

* Thank a few of my friends who encourage me spiritually and prepare me for the days ahead. I love you and thank God for you!

After sharing how God’s Word is impacting my heart, let me ask you:

  • How are you a lover of yourself above God?
  • What sin is loading you down or swaying you?
  • Talk time to unload your sins with Jesus.
  • Ask God to help you not deny His truth and to change your misdirected loves.

– Mary Carmen

Tuesdays in II Timothy 2:24-26

Introduction

In June and July we dug into the first and second chapters of II Timothy. We are half way through Paul’s final thoughts before he departed this sin ridden world and entered the untainted presence of his Lord! Sister, our prayer is that you are absorbing the treasure of God’s Word as you observe, interpret, and apply with us. Paul’s opening to his letter gives a glimpse of his kindred journey with Timothy while Paul urges him to carry on the divine calling entrusted in the Gospel. In chapter two Paul paints pictures of the attitude and focus required as a servant of the Lord – soldier, athlete, farmer, vessel – while also explaining the reward of perseverance in this life and the next. Last week Courtney reflected on using our giftedness and capacity for the Lord’s purposes, reminding us of the open invitation to pursue the Lord’s cleansing and receive His forgiveness when we are off track. An overarching theme in chapter two is to avoid distraction and the world’s chatter. Now let’s turn to Paul’s thoughts which tie up chapter two.

Scripture

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.  II Timothy 2:24-26

Observation – what does the passage say?

  • Contrast – the Lord’s servant is kind, not resentful versus contentious
  • Cause and Effect – opponents are dealt with gently in the hope that they will repent
  • Cause and Effect – repentance results in knowing the truth and escaping from evil
  • Contrast – coming to one’s senses versus being captive
  • Cause and Effect – the traps of the devil cause people to do his will

Interpretation – what does the passage mean?

Believers are to interact with those who oppose the truths of the faith and are caught in sin and error with gentleness and humility. Galatians 1:6 and I Peter 3:15 speak to gentleness and respect as the believer corrects a believer or explains the hope he or she has in Christ to an unbeliever. The motive in having these conversations is the hope that the person will understand what it means to be a true follower of Jesus. This means resisting the temptation to be right, put the person in his/her place, or have the last word. Prayer for the person to change his/her mind, or repent, and to be delivered from being a tool for the devil is paramount. God’s passion is for all to come to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy 2:4). The reality of the devil plotting traps and snares to take people captive to do his will stands out as a sobering reminder of the unseen battle.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?

*The mystery of God’s sovereignty and man’s choice in turning to Christ is a discussion that’s been debated for centuries among respected scholars. For our purposes we can remember that our part is to not shy away from interactions with those who oppose or stray but instead engage the person with gentleness. Pray for God to give you a spirit of wisdom, boldness, and meekness as you relate.

*How important is it to you to be right? I ask this because I struggle with wanting to be right. I remind myself to give up my “right” to be right.

*Praise God for being the One who can bring people to their senses and deliver them from doing the will of the devil – including giving you and me eyes to see. Think of a person or people you can pray for in regard to God’s work in their heart.

*Next week Mary Carmen will guide us through II Timothy 3:1-9. I encourage you to get a jumpstart and come up with observations before next Tuesday. As an incentive, share one of your observation in the comments below on next Tuesday’s passage and you will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of my study Capture My Heart, Lord. It’s not a problem if you have the same observation below as another sister as we trust we are looking at the passage for ourselves AND coming to similar conclusions. A drawing will be held next Monday so get on those observations this week and let me know how it’s going!

~Laura

Faith to Move Forward

“Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come, it will not delay…  the righteous person will live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4

Habakkuk and I share a similar rhythm of berating God with our questions and doubts, then receiving a divine response full of grace and long-suffering patience. Talk about humbling!  I have been in a season of pleading with God to move in my ministry much like Habakkuk was pleading with God to move on behalf of his people. I want him to move now, right this minute, in ways that I can see and feel. I want the results and success today and am frustrated by his perceived inefficiency. I want to see him reconcile injustice and solve problems created by generations of conflict by Friday. I want a booming ministry that is respected and thriving by July, and am confused why it is taking so long for the Lord to “get on it.”

Have you found yourself in a similar season?

We look around us and do not see the Lord’s hand, but a bleak future and painful present. It is unclear where the Lord is leading and uncertain what to do in the day to day. Confusion comes in waves as we survey the grey fog that seems to have descended into the landscape of our lives. The questions pile up, the doubts roll in, and the anxiety takes over. We either become too paralyzed to proceed, or we maneuver our way to the pilot seat of our lives, taking over where we feel God is absent.

Slow down, take a deep breath, for the Lord is on the throne.

The Lord is full of long-suffering patience for his people — for you and for me. He is patient with us in our questions and angst. He is not offended by our angry demands, honest doubts or self- centered plans. He answers Habakkuk and me with the same everlasting patience and compassion. He knows our eyes are not on eternity but what we can see right in front of us.

His pace is perfect. He leads with everlasting purpose in the grind of the day to day. God’s story is bigger than our story. God is moving in the present with the vision of eternity. He is reconciling all things to himself in his perfect timing. You and I are invited in to what God is doing if we will engage with what he is working on today. He is with us in the small tasks, the small moments, the small failures, the small victories. The small of today is part of a much bigger story, one spanning generations.

What is the next best thing you can do today with the information you currently have? It may be small, it may feel like moving in the dark, but by taking just one small step forward you are telling God, “I trust you when I cannot see.” You can have confidence that God has equipped you to make a decision in this moment. You can trust that the Lord is sovereign and will protect you if it goes poorly- a fear that often binds me. Moving forward does not mean you always have the right answer or direction but it does mean you start taking steps. We can move forward despite the unknown because we serve the One who does know. The Lord will move. He will come with the swiftness of the wind, the strength of heaven, and the splendor of fire. He will come.

Being an idealist, I struggle seeing the concrete steps I can take to solve a complex issue crowding my head space. I get lost in the ideal solution and subsequent confusion and need help breaking down the problem into actionable steps. I am learning to chip away at the mountain in front of me through the daily discipline of accomplishing the simple, small tasks of the present day.  I get up, go for a run, then go line by line down my prioritized task list repeating with every step “There is no need to panic when God is in control.” This way when the anxiety rushes in and threatens to overtake my day, I am not consumed because the Lord is with me in executing the next step.

There were once two farmers who desperately needed rain. Both of them pleaded with the Lord for the rain, but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive the rain. Which one do you think had faith? The one who got up and trusted that Lord would provide. Go out today and prepare your fields: make a list of three steps you can take today, then rest in the confidence that the Lord will bring the rain. Let us be a people who have the faith to move forward!

Sacred Story is honored to have Emma Abernathy as a guest contributor. Her passion to make an impact in this generation through the timeless truth of The Gospel led her to serve on staff with Young Life, a high school outreach ministry. Emma is a graduate from the University of Texas and will begin studying this fall at Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her husband Nathan live in Houston, TX and enjoy backpacking (not in Houston) with high school students, reading, and watching political dramas.

 

 

 

Tuesdays in II Timothy 2:20-23

Introduction

Last week Brandi reminded us that we need the foundational truths of the Gospel to be firmly rooted in our hearts. What we experience now has consequences later, both in this life and the one to come. If we are in Christ we always have hope. We must remind ourselves and each other of the truth and not fall prey to the “godless chatter” or “irreverent babble” that goes on around us continually.

This week Paul urges Timothy to be the most useful he can be for the kingdom and avoid the temptations and pitfalls that would hinder his effectiveness.

Scripture

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.

Observation – what does the passage say?

vs.20-21:

-Paul uses a metaphor of a “great house.”

-He mentions vessels of gold and silver contrasted with vessels of wood and clay.

-He contrasts honorable use and dishonorable use.

-Paul encourages being cleansed of what is dishonorable in order to become honorable.

-Honorable use is described as: set apart as holy, useful to the master, ready for every good work.

vs.22-23:

-Commands: 1) flee youthful passions, 2) pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace;  3) do these things alongside others who call on the Lord with a pure heart

-Warning: have nothing to do with foolish/stupid arguments = quarrels

Interpretation – what does the passage mean?

After imploring Timothy to cling to truth and what is trustworthy, He stops to use a metaphor to illustrate His point. Paul mentions in vs. 20-21 “vessels” in a “large” or “great house.” Dr. Constable in his commentary Sonic Light explains the large house as the church (based on his context in 1 Tim. 3:15) and the vessels as faithful and unfaithful Christians.

Not all Christians are useful in the same way. Some Christians Paul was referring to were turning from the truth and quarreling. This, in turn, was leading others astray. These Christians were not fit to be useful in the kingdom because they were distracted by wrong things. They were not “vessels for honorable use.” However, Paul’s encouragement was to “cleanse themselves” so that they could become set apart, useful, ready for every good work.

This would involve confession, repentance and pursuing the truth by repenting–fleeing evil desires and pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace. The key here is “along with.” There were those who were pursuing truth and Paul exhorts Timothy to run alongside others who were desiring the right things while turning from the wrong things.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?

When you read through verses 20-21, the tendency is to ask: “What kind of vessel am I? Honorable or dishonorable? Am I made of gold or silver? Wood or clay?” This is when Bible study methods is so critical. We can’t jump right to application without first looking at context and the overall message Paul teaching Timothy.

In looking at the context, Paul is imploring Timothy to realize that all believers have the capacity and giftedness to be useful to the Lord. We all have the same opportunity to be greatly used by the Lord. The key is whether or not we are going to faithfully pursue the truth and turn from what is evil. When we get off track and turn from the truth, we are limited in the ways God can use us; however, the wonderful promise in v. 21 is that those who cleanse themselves (turn, repent, confess) can become useful once again. We all get distracted, side-tracked and turn from the Lord at times. The Lord always stands ready to forgive and make us useful once again as gold and silver vessels. We have a Loving Father and it is His kindness that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4) and true life (John 10:10).

As we seek to live fruitful, obedient lives grounded in the truth, we must turn from evil desires and turn toward the pursuit of righteousness, faith, love and peace. It is not enough to turn from the wrong things. We must pursue the right things. All of this is impossible on our own. God gives us His Holy Spirit and the community of other believers so that we can encourage each other and spur one another on (Heb. 10: 24).

It is comforting to know that God wants to use each one of us uniquely for His purposes. Our gifts and talents look different but they are all useful. Our job is to walk faithfully with the Lord with truth as our guide so we can point others to true life found in Christ. There will always be temptations to walk away from the truth by believing the lies of the world. Let’s encourage each other to run hard after the Lord.

1) Spend time asking the Lord to reveal any area of your life that is not honoring Him. Is it a sinful behavior, your thought life, paralyzing fear? Confess these sins to the Lord and ask Him to make you useful (honorable) for His glory.

2) How practically can you pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace? How are you currently pursuing these things with others  (through friendship, a Bible study, your church community)?

Let’s continue to walk in the truth together!

~Courtney

 

Tuesdays in II Timothy Chapter 1:11-19

Introduction

Have you ever had a friend remind you of who you and urge you on towards your destiny with the very words you have used to encourage others? This Tuesday with Timothy, Paul does just that. He uses very familiar and trustworthy sayings to remind Timothy why the journey is worth it, that he will make it even if his faith fails, because he is sealed and compelled by a greater love that never fails.

Last week, Mary Carmen showed us how Timothy is not alone in his suffering. Paul encouraged Timothy like a good friend saying, “I have been there too.” This week Paul is pointing Timothy towards his eternal prize and how perseverance here impacts eternity. He has a great reward at stake. When the journey gets tough, as they all do, we need to be reminded of deep, familiar foundational truth. We must silence and turn away the temporary noise around us and press on toward the eternal prize.

Scripture

11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 14 Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Observation – what does the passage say?

* Paul provides comfort, motivation and warning through 4 trustworthy sayings:
1. If we die with Christ, we also live with Him through His resurrection power.
2. If we endure, we will also reign with Christ.
3. If we disown Him, He will also disown us.
4. If we are faithless, Christ remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

* Paul issues 4 commands to Timothy:
1. Remind the people of the 4 trustworthy sayings.
2. Do not quarrel about words.
3. Present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
4. Avoid godless chatter.

* Paul warns Timothy of ungodliness spreading like gangrene, causing people to fall away from the faith.

* Paul assures Timothy that nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”

Can you find a few other observations? Please consider sharing them in the comment section below so we can continue to learn from each other.

Interpretation – what does the passage mean?

According to Dr. Constable’s commentary, Sonic Light, Paul used a commonly accepted and used quotation that encouraged believers to remain faithful to their Christian profession. With the trustworthy sayings that are familiar to Timothy, Paul is reminding him of 4 things:

1. The comfort in knowing that whoever gives their life away to Christ will also experience the resurrection power of new life in Christ. Timothy can surrender his exhaustion and emotions to Christ and rise in Christ’s strength.

2. The motivation to endure in this life in order to reign with Christ in eternity. Dr. Constable explains the Bible seems to teach there are degrees of reigning, just as there are differences in rewards.

3. The warning that if the believer departs from following Christ faithfully during his or her life, Christ will “deny him” or her at the judgment seat of Christ. Sonic Light continues, the unfaithful believer will not lose his salvation or all of his reward, but he will lose some of his reward. Paul is urging Timothy to live a life that does not deny him any of his reward.

4. The comfort in knowing that if a believer is unfaithful to God, Christ will still remain faithful to him or her. “While we were sinners, Christ died for us.” Timothy’s weakness and temptations do not change the living God in him. We should be compelled by such faithful love to live faithful lives.

A sobering perspective from The Dake Bible: The 4 trustworthy sayings reveal that God is as true to His threats as He is to His promises. He cannot lie and act contrary to His Word or to Himself, so He is obligated to curse for sin and to bless for righteousness.

With this inescapable, convicting truth about God’s character, Paul is warning Timothy to remind the people of the trustworthy sayings, not to get caught up in meaningless arguments that have divided the church and spread like cancer causing believers to fall away and abandon the faith. Because, regardless of how many believers shipwreck their faith, God’s solid foundation stands firm with a seal. It is the only sure foundation on which believers should build their faith. They will be measured by it.

Take a few minutes to follow the link to Sonic Light by a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. Include a few sentences in your notes describing the meaning of the passage after reading the scripture and gleaning insights from the commentary. Consider sharing your insights describing the meaning of the passage in the comments section too.

Application – how does the meaning of the passage apply to me?

I find comfort in knowing my salvation is sealed, that my faith can waiver, and the Lord’s faithfulness will sustain me into heaven, because “He can’t deny Himself.” But, I want to more than make it into heaven. Is that selfish? No. Christ died for more than that. The reconciliation of sinful me to Holy God that happened that day the perfect Lamb decided to be tortured to death for me, who would continue to sin, and never made to choose Him, was for greater intimacy than simply walking through the gates of His Kingdom.

We are invited to also reign with Him and receive a full reward that He died to set up for us. Who am I to decide that getting just enough of Jesus to get into heaven is just enough? Who am I to decide that I’m not qualified to reign and receive reward?

Who would walk into their own birthday party, remain standing just inside the door and reject the gifts? This would break the heart of the host. We wouldn’t do that here on earth. That is exactly what I am doing with my relentless desire to reign here on earth.  Under the guise of strategic diligence, I engage in godless chatter, striving to win meaningless arguments that build on my foundation of pride and add to my collection of “reward” here on earth.  I refuse to continue breaking the heart of the Host.

There are levels of reigning in heaven. What do you think they look like?

Imagine your full reward set aside just for you in heaven. How does it compare to the world’s definition of success here?

How does Paul’s message move on your heart and stretch your expectation of heaven?

What is the godless chatter in your life?

Thank you for going on this journey through II Timothy with us this Summer. Like, Paul, let’s be vulnerable and share our hearts with each other. We can’t wait to hear from you.

In His Unfailing Love,
brandi