2 Timothy 3 & 4

Verses 1-4
"1You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God."

Paul gives Timothy a glimpse of what the last days will look like. Doesn't this sound a lot like people today? We should make sure we are prepared to stand before our Lord and be judged according to our lives lived here on earth. The end could come at any time, and I need to stay on my toes and make sure I am ready for it.

I also want to try my best to avoid becoming like the people Paul speaks of. He says that they will love only themselves and their money; I need to be caring and giving and not put too much weight in money. Paul says that these people will be boastful and proud and scoff at God; this means that I need to be humble and give all glory to God, not myself. Paul says that they will be disobedient to their parents and be ungrateful; I need to obey my mom (and all authority figures, as long as they don't conflict with what God commands me to do) and I need to be grateful for all that I have, whether little or much. They will consider nothing sacred; I need to remember that God is holy and that everything on this earth belongs to Him. They will be unloving and unforgiving; I need to love (not the feeling of love, but the action... putting others ahead of myself and doing what I can to help them) and I need to be forgiving (no grudges, bitterness, or resentment!). These people will slander others and have no self-control; I need to be careful not to partake in gossip and I need to continually practice self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good; I need to be compassionate, sympathetic and merciful, and I need to always try to do what is good in the Lord's eyes. They will betray their friends; I need to be faithful and loyal to my friends. They will be reckless; I need to be careful, cautious, and responsible. They will be puffed up with pride; I need to be humble (notice that Paul mentions twice that these people will be proud...). They will love pleasure rather than God; I need to remember that life with God is eternal and the pleasures of the world are temporary.

Verses 2-5
"2Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. 3For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. 4They will reject the truth and chase after myths. 5But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you."

God tells me that I should spread His word. Until Christ comes again, my work for Him is not done! I need to be ready to serve him at any time, even if it's not convenient for me. Also, rather than turn a blind eye to people who are sinning, I should patiently and gently help them to turn away from their sins. This is not something that is easy, and I personally need God to give me the courage to do this. I know that He will provide, I just need to make sure I'm willing to go there.

Paul warns Timothy that there will come a time when people are not willing to listen to what God has to say, and they will seek out leaders who will only tell them what they want to hear. This sounds very much like America today. It saddens me that this is what it has come down to. I feel like I easily know more people who reject God's truth than people who accept it. This can be very discouraging, and it's really easy to lose hope for all those who reject Christ. I just need to have faith and keep trying to reach those who are lost.


2 Timothy 2

Verses 3-7
"Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don't get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. Think about what I am saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things."

First, Paul is telling Timothy to be like a soldier. Through this, God is telling me that I should not allow myself to be overcome by the things of this world. I can't please God if I let myself get caught up in the things of the world (read: materialism). It's okay for me to own things and like things, but I can't let them rule my life. I need to remember that the things of the earth are temporary, but my life with God is eternal.

God is also telling me that I can't "win the prize" unless I follow the rules. In order to follow the rules, I need to know what the rules are. The only way for me to learn the rules is to read God's Word (the bible). Once I find out what the rules are, I need to put them into practice and try my best to follow them.

Last but not least, God is telling me that I will be rewarded for my hard work for the Lord. I may not always see those rewards in this life, but I know that God will reward me in my next life. I don't know exactly how it will happen, but He has promised that there will be rewards.

Verse 10
"So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen." (Italics are my own for emphasis)

Wow. Anything? Talk about a serious love for God and His will!

Verse 12b
"...If we deny him, he will deny us."

If we deny Christ in this life, He will deny us in the next. This is a really sad thought for me, because I know so many people who have chosen to deny Him up to this point. I can only hope and pray that their hearts will be softened and they will turn to Him instead of away from Him.

Verse 13
"If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is."

This verse provides me with hope. It is really good to know that even if I am unfaithful to God (which is bound to happen at times), He won't turn His back on me. He still wants me to return to Him, and He will accept me with open arms. God is so wonderful!!!

Verses 25-26
"Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people's hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil's trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants."

These verses tell me a lot. First, they are reminding me that when I try to spread God's truth to nonbelievers, I need to do it gently. I'm not supposed to be condemning or harsh or argumentative. I'm supposed to be gentle. It's so easy to get into heated arguments involving religion and beliefs, but this doesn't accomplish anything. If I want to reach nonbelievers, I need to speak gently to them about God. Also, I don't need to do the convincing. God simply wants me to bring it up and share Him with these people. God is the one who will do the convincing, but I need to provide an opening by sharing Him.

Here are some examples of what I mean:
-I could invite a nonbeliever to church. Sure, they may turn me down... again and again and again. But I should always keep the option open to them. I never know what God is doing in someone's heart, they may change their mind one of those times.
-If I help someone out, I should be open about the fact that my actions are a result of what Jesus has done for me. I should offer to share His news with them. I can share my personal experiences and my point of view without coming off as pushy. Like I said, I don't need to convince them, I just need to open it up to them.

I just came to another realization when reading these verses. Nonbelievers often think that they are "free" because of their choice not to believe. They don't have to answer to God, and they can do whatever they want. These verses tell me that they are not free at all! They are being held captive by Satan, and they don't even realize it! They think that they are free to do whatever they want, but they are really trapped into doing what the devil wants them to do. Freedom only comes through Christ; only He has the power to break through the sins that hold us captive!

Amos 5

Amos 5 (NLT)

Verse 14
"Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven's Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed."

This verse seems simple enough, but I think it has a lot of information in few words. Not only am I told to do what is good, but I'm told to run from evil. This seems pretty extreme, but it makes a lot of sense to me. Evil can be very cunning and persuasive. It's easy to get pulled in without even realizing it. It's also easy to think that we can be around evil and still resist its temptations, which may be true some of the time. However, we're all human and we have been born to sinful nature. Satan knows this, and he knows how to use it against us. It seems to me that God doesn't even want us to take the chance of getting sucked in. Turn, and run from evil!!

This verse also states that you should do these things "so that you may live." As simple as those few words seem, they speak volumes to me. This tells me that if I don't turn from evil... if I let it live inside of me... if I willingly take part in sinful deeds... etc, etc, etc... I am DEAD. Whoa. Extreme? Maybe. But God makes it clear that we are to turn to Him and REPENT of our sins in order to be saved. I can't really live for God and love Him and still choose to live in sin. Sure, I may slip up (because I'm human, and I'm destined to sin no matter how hard I try not to), but God is just asking that I acknowledge that I messed up, ask him to forgive me, and try my hardest to turn away from my sins. Now that doesn't sound so extreme. Even more, I know that if I do this, "God will be your (my) helper." He will help me. It's great news to me that I don't have to do this on my own (because I would surely fail)! I am so thankful that God has allowed me to truly LIVE!!! (If you haven't experienced life through God, you are missing out!!!!)

Verses 21-24
"I hate all your show and pretense--the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living."

The Israelites were living horribly sinful lives apart from God, but they were acting like they were religious. Sadly, this happens way too often. God is telling the Israelites (and us!!!) that he doesn't want a big show of fake religious ceremonies and such. He doesn't want me to go to church on Sundays and live a life apart from Him the rest of the week. He doesn't want me to make sacrifices and sing hymns and praise Him if it's all an act. He wants me to truly turn to him and live a life that is pleasing to him.


2 Timothy 1

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.

Verse 3
"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.

Verse 8
"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.