2 Timothy, Chapter 1 (NLT)
This is Paul's last letter written to Timothy. Imagine being in Paul's place. He has been put in jail for preaching the Good News of Jesus and the salvation He has to offer. Paul knows that he will soon be put to death for his beliefs, yet he still has the faith to continue believing and trusting in God. Not only that, but he has the courage to still be forthcoming about His beliefs. He didn't tone down his beliefs (or the preaching of those beliefs) just because persecution came his way. I can't even imagine going through the things that Paul (and other persecuted believers) have gone through. I say to myself that my faith is strong enough and nothing could make me deny my beliefs, but it's hard to really know without being in a situation to test that. I pray that God would give me the strength to profess my belief in Him no matter what my circumstances.
"Timothy, I thank God for you--the God I serve with a clear conscience, just as my ancestors did. Night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers."
I think this is wonderful. I love how Paul tells Timothy that he is constantly praying for him. This is something I really struggle with; I need to remember to pray for people much more often than I do. I also should not hesitate to let someone know if I'm keeping them in my prayers, because I could be withholding from them some much needed encouragement.
"So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. And don't be ashamed of me, either, even though I'm in prison for him. With the strength God gives you, be ready to suffer with me for the sake of the Good News."
No matter what, I should never be ashamed to speak up about the Lord! Before I was truly saved, I was ashamed to talk openly about God and my beliefs. I don't know why, but I was under the impression that it was something to keep quiet about. Then I met someone who changed my whole point of view on this. He was very, very open about his beliefs, to anyone and everyone. At the time I was really shocked by how open and forthcoming he was about it. It was soon after this that I was saved and now I understand. My relationship with Jesus is definitely not something to be ashamed of! Actually, it's quite the opposite! I love the fact that Jesus is in my life, and I would love to share that with anyone who is willing to listen. Unfortunately, what I want to do is not always what I actually do. I'm a shy person by nature, so it's often hard for me to share my feelings about anything, even my faith. I pray that when I am confronted with opportunities to share my faith, God will give me the strength and courage to simply speak up!
Also, Paul mentions that I will likely suffer because of my faith in Jesus. I admit that I have not encountered serious suffering for my beliefs. Sure, a lot changed in my life when I was saved. For example, I changed the way I was living my life, turning away from sin instead of letting it control my life. Sometimes it seems more fun to live in your sin, but this comes at a very high price (not worth it for me!!!). My change in lifestyle led to a change in friends. I grew apart from most of my friends, and although this has been hard, it's nothing compared to the suffering some people have encountered for their faith. Regardless of how severe my suffering for Christ is, Paul tells me to be ready for it. He also reminds me that I can get through it with the strength God gives me! I'm not expected to be able to overcome this suffering on my own.