- The Explore the Bible lesson for August 4 focuses on 2 Timothy 3:12-17; 4:1-8.
Growing up in church conjures up memories of triumphant Bible stories involving awesome characters such as Moses, David, Jonah, Esther and, yes, Peter. We may have heard notions of Christianity and the intersection of struggle, persecution and having to endure. Yet, for this church girl, those concepts were not internalized.
Embedded in my Christian DNA was the idea that God can use me like he used Moses. If I remain good and faithful, I can be great like David. I must be obedient so as not to get swallowed up in the belly of a whale like Jonah. Stand for what is right, and God will be on my side, like he was with Esther. Further, when I make mistakes, God is faithful to forgive and favor me, like he did Peter.
While all the above is true, it also is true that we Christians have a cross to bear, a struggle to help us grow, persecution to endure and troubles to face (John 16:33). Still, we are called to endure. Like a full circle, it is in the Bible stories of our youth where we can gain strength. When facing persecution and difficulties believers must remain faithful. Like Moses, David, Jonah, Esther, Peter and others, we are called to an enduring faith.
Persecution (2 Timothy 3:12-13)
Paul share with Timothy the dire situation he is in and lets his young protégé know people of faith living for Christ will be persecuted. It is so important to share the concepts of persecution and struggle with our young, not to frighten or discourage, but rather to prepare them for the inevitability of living in a fallen world. Sharing these concepts also will heighten our awareness to have faith when the persecution, evildoers and imposters come.
Our joy should also be heightened, as well, and overflowing as we experience victories with the Lord. To be clear, yes, Christians young and old will face persecution, and such harshness will likely intensify. Yet, the persecution Paul speaks of is not the bullying of young people we see happening in today’s schools. That type of behavior is to be dealt with swiftly by parents and school administrators, because it does not lead to a godly strength that builds up Christians. Bullying and oppression of any sort are evil tactics from the devil to destroy lives.
How were you prepared for persecution? How will you prepare those young in age and in the faith for persecution?
Get Equipped (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Part of being equipped is the pursuit of knowledge from godly men and women. We are to trust what we know and have learned. Through our knowledge of God’s word and obedience to it we will be saved and able to remain faithful. We are to use the Bible (basic instructions before leaving Earth) as our tool to survive life’s storms. God’s word is our instruction book, our guide and our anchor. God’s revelation knowledge is imparted to us through his written word. With this book of faith, we are equipped. Further, we are prepared for the good work God has for us.
How do you use the word of God to equip you or to stay equipped?
Preach His Word (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
Timothy, in the presence of God, is to prepare the people for Christ Jesus’s judgment by preaching God’s word. At every opportunity, Timothy is to correct, rebuke and encourage. Sound preaching and teaching are needed to offset false doctrine and teaching. People want false teaching in order to satisfy their personal lifestyles and preferences. As Christians, we must always be ready to present the good news of Christ Jesus.
Finish Well (2 Timothy 4:5-8)
Timothy and all Christians are to remain faithful and share the gospel. Further, we are to be unwavering in enduring hardships as an aspect of the work. We are not to compromise the fulfilling of ministry duties. Paul sees his work on Earth coming to an end. Even so, he still pours himself out (fully shares the word of faith) under dire circumstances.
Paul followed the Lord despite facing death and other difficulties. Now, as life seemingly is ending, he keeps the faith by holding onto promises and rewards stored up for him in heaven. Belief, commitment and thanksgiving appear to be the hallmarks of Paul’s journey. As such, righteousness and rewards are now reserved for him and all believers who long for the Lord’s appearing, Praise God!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for being a good God. While we are called to endure hardships and to face persecution you are still a good God who is faithful to equip and help us finish well. Thank you, Lord, Amen.
Lisa M. Rainey, PhD., is a member of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield, Texas.