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mother and son shopping December 21 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: 2Timothy 1, 2, 3, 4

Endure!

It is just a few more days till Christmas. All the parties, shopping, wrapping, baking, Christmas programs, travel, and family visits - how can we endure? It is a race against time and we get so exhausted. Some of us might like to quit.

In a different vein of thinking, perhaps you have had to endure many hardships that are much more stressful than the holiday season. You have a much heavier load to carry than Christmas packages or holiday preparations. What will you do- quit or press on to victory? How can we endure hardships in this race of life?

When the Apostle Paul wrote the book of 2Timothy his life was almost finished. He wrote this letter to Timothy, his son in the faith, to encourage him to keep pressing on in his Christian ministry. Timothy was the pastor of the Ephesian church but had a timid nature and was persecuted. Paul encouraged Timothy to use the gifts God had given him (fan the flame), endure hardships, and keep going. He further told him, “… do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God,” (2Timothy 1:8, NIV).

Paul had made a long time investment in Timothy. He wanted him to endure and to pass on the baton. He exhorted him,

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, 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… Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others, (2Timothy 1:13-14; 2:1-2, NIV).

Timothy was weak, but Paul knew he needed to be strong for the battle that would be waged against him for preaching the gospel. Paul instructed him, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs-- he wants to please his commanding officer,” (2Timothy 2:1-4, NIV). Do we want to please our commanding officer, Jesus Christ? Then we must be careful not to get too attached or involved in the things of this world. When we engage in battle there must not be conflicts of interest.

Like soldiers, Christians should steel themselves for suffering. Soldiers must be strong. Soldiers must endure strict discipline and training for obeying orders and engaging their adversaries. Soldiers must sometimes endure harsh weather and living conditions. They must fight battles with enemies. Sometimes they fight to the point of exhaustion. They may be injured or even killed.

Timothy needed to be strong but could not be so by his own strength. We may feel the same way. We may say, “I know I need to be strong, but I just don’t think I can do it.” Paul instructed Timothy to be strong (the literal meaning is to be “empowered”) in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and to get help from the Holy Spirit. Jesus would empower Timothy to withstand suffering. If we are faithful to God, Jesus Christ will also empower us to withstand suffering. All Christians should expect to engage in conflicts. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2Timothy 3:12, NIV). God be praised - the Holy Spirit will help us in our time of need.

Some things in life can weaken our commitment to Christ. We can develop lustful and other harmful behaviors. We can get into arguments that have no value. We can become involved with godless chatter and gossiping. We can let those who are discontented and those who are deserters discourage us. Personal malevolent behavior and dissention discourages our ranks. Paul instructs Timothy (and us by application)

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.

Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels, (2Timothy 2:22-23, NIV).

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 man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work, (2Timothy 3:14-17, NIV).

Spiritual leaders need to preach and teach the Word of God. They need to keep reminding their people to be faithful, and endure the struggles and persecutions of this life. We will be rewarded for our faithful endurance (2Timothy 2:12).

Paul’s fight was about finished. Paul said,

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, (2Timothy 4:7-8, NIV).

Will we fight the good fight and finish our course? Do we anticipate the Lord’s coming and awards for faithful endurance?

Lessons to live by:

  • Most people suffer in some parts of their life. Do you have Christ in your life to help you endure? (more...)
  • Suffering is a part of life's racecourse for the Christian.
  • We must endure, not in our own power, but by the power of God in our lives.
  • Christians must continue the race and fight the battles of the faith if we are to be rewarded at the end of our lives.

Today’s Bible Memory Verses:

2Timothy 2:3: “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

2Timothy 2:12a: “If we endure, we will also reign with him.” (NIV)

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