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"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." --- Psalm 119:105

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2 TIMOTHY
 
In Times Like These

Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you. (2 Timothy 1:6)

No matter how strong you are or how firm your faith may be, there are times when even YOU need to be motivated. It happens to the most devout Christians. So when it happens to you, don't feel that something is wrong with your faith. It isn't!  Every Christian goes through a time of questioning and reasoning and rationalization and weariness. 

In times like these, you need an extra boost. In times like these, you need to rely on your reserved faith. That's faith that has been accumulated during good times to be used during times like these. No one can fly high every single day. Even eagles that were designed to fly need a push sometimes. And so do you. So what do you do in times like these when you are no longer motivated and you feel that you just can't go on?

The best advice I can give is the same as Paul gave Timothy, "Therefore, I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you." The gift of God is still in you when you are going through depressing times. The gift of God is still in you when you are going through tough times. With every fiber of your being, you must stir up that gift. Notice Paul told Timothy to stir up his own gift. He didn't pray that God would do it. You must activate that gift yourself. You must make that gift come alive. And before you know it, you will be back in gear, soaring higher than before even in times like these.
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Are Your Bored? Are You Boring?
For this reason I remind you to stir up the gift of God . . .  (2 Timothy 1:6)

Are your bored? Are your bored with life? Are you bored with yourself? Are you boring to others?  We are to keep our gifts active and constantly in use. Otherwise, we become bored and boring . . . even to ourselves.

What are you to do about your "boring" self? Paul told Timothy to "stir up the gift of God." Notice Paul did not tell Timothy to pray that his gift would be stirred up. There is no need asking God to do for you what you can do for yourself. Some versions of the Bible say "fan into flames the gift of God."  In telling Timothy to "stir up the gift of God" or to "fan into flames the gift of God," Paul was encouraging Timothy to get up and get going, to do something about his gift that was losing its flavor and was dying out. In order to make weak tea taste better, we have to put sugar in it and "stir it up." When a fire is about to go out, we can "fan it into flames" again with some effort. The same  is true with us. Unless we constantly use the gift God has given us, we become boring not only to ourselves but to others.

Remedy for boredom? Stir up the gift of God and/or fan it into flames!
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"Do It Afraid"
For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

FEAR is just False Evidence Appearing Real (F-E-A-R).  Whenever an angel appeared before biblical people, the very first thing said was, “Fear not.”  We are not to fear; for fear cancels out faith. “Fear not” is in the Bible 365 times. That means we are not to be afraid any day of the year.

No matter how strong we profess to be, there are times when we do succumb to a spirit of fear.  Joyce Meyer, a conference teacher, often says, “Do not let fear keep you from doing anything.  Do it afraid.” Last night Oprah Winfrey discussed on 20/20 the victory of her trial in Texas. She admitted she was afraid, but she concluded by saying, “The true test of fear is to do it anyway.”

Whatever you are afraid of doing today, know that THE WAY OF LIFE is to keep going in spite of your fear, and discover that the things you thought you were afraid of really have no power over you after all.
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Our Response to Intimidation
For the Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them.. (2 Timothy 1:7)

The above scripture from The Living Bible is the same scripture that most of us know as "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7, King James Version).  Intimidation or fear must be overcome by relying on the Holy Spirit. At the time, Timothy was experiencing great oppositions to his message and to himself as a leader. His leadership had come under attack from believers as well as unbelievers because of his youth.  In spite of this, Paul urged Timothy to be bold. We should embrace that same urgency. When we allow people to intimidate us, we neutralize and even counteract our effectiveness for God. The power of the Holy Spirit will help us overcome our fear of what some might say or do to us.  The Holy Spirit will guide us into all truths so that we may continue to do God's work.

When people come against us by words or deeds, our response to intimidation should not be a distraction. It should be the same for us as Paul told Timothy . . . "For the Holy Spirit, God's gift, does not want you to be afraid of people, but to be wise and strong, and to love them and enjoy being with them."
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Not Ashamed . . .
I am not ashamed because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have committed to him for that day.  (2 Timothy 1:12)

Are you ashamed to affirm your faith in God?  Can people look at you and know you are a child of God, that you believe Jesus died for your sins and the Holy Spirit dwells and is active within your life? 

The above scripture reveals five (5) things about Paul's attitude toward the gospel.  He told Timothy (1) he was not ashamed; (2) he knew; (3) he believed; (4) he was convinced; and (5) he committed.  You should be the same way.  Don't be ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Romans 1:16).  Know who you are in Jesus Christ (1 John 3:2).  Believe and trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5).  Be convinced and fully persuaded that what God said will come to pass (Romans 4:21).  Commit you way unto the Lord (Psalm 37:5).

When all these conditions are met, it will be almost impossible to hide your faith in God.
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"Forward, March!"
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. (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

If you have been in any branch of the armed forces, you know what to do when you hear the words, "Forward, March!" Some of us have seen movies on television where the drill sergeant calls out the commands for his troops and they immediately obey.

All Christians are soldiers in God's army, and God commands us to do certain things at the appropriate time. This is a new year, and God wants you to be a new you. He wants you to hang up those bad habits and get a new lease on life. God wants you to put away those childish things and move forward. God wants you to do what is meaningful for yourself and for the body of Christ. God wants you to be a good soldier. God wants to put you on the front line.

God wants you to move forward. Can't you hear Him now saying, "Forward, March!"?
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What's A Pericope?
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Seeing the word "pericope," one might think it is a misspelling of the word "periscope." The prefix “peri” is from the Greek meaning “about,” “around,” or “beyond.” The rest of the word, “cope” is from the Greek "kope" which means “a cutting.”  Therefore, a "pericope" is "a cutting-out." It is "a cut-out or a detached unit of biblical text."  Do not confuse "pericope" (pronounced pe-ri-ko-pay) with the word "periscope" which is a tubular optical instrument with lenses and mirrors.

Be careful to stay within a set of verses which form one coherent unit or thought. These scriptures form a short passage suitable for public reading, preaching or teaching. When reading or studying, start reading at the beginning of a pericope and stop reading at the end of a pericope. Otherwise, you will go into another thought pattern that will only confuse you and your listeners.

The beginning of a pericope is designated in most Study Bibles by a heading at the top of it or a defined space. In the King James Bible, the paragraph sign (¶) is a common marker for the start of a different pericope.

The Bible is made up of thousands of different units or pericopes. Some are short as Luke 15:8-9 about the lost coin or long like Luke 24:13-35 about the Road to Emmaus. To study a verse without considering the entire pericope or detached unit of which it is a part is to take it out of its immediate context.

Remember, a pericope is a detached unit of scripture. In other words, it is a distinct passage. Test it right now. Find a pericope in your Bible. Then read the pericope.
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Foolish or Stupid Arguments
Don't have anything to do with foolish or stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Timothy 2:23-24 NIV)

Paul gives Timothy good advice that we should all follow. He did not beat around the bush. Instead, he came right out and told Timothy, the young pastor, to refuse to engage in quarrels. Some people strive on debates and sharing their opinions to the point of quarreling about them. Paul tells us to have none of that.

The gospel of Jesus Christ should be proclaimed with confidence not with foolish or stupid arguments. The Lord's servant should see the signs of oncoming arguments and circumvent them without compromising the gospel. Quarreling is not of God even though it might be about God. Debating should not be an issue when everything is confirmed by the Bible. Some people would rather argue a point then to research the Bible to see if it is true of not.

Paul says to be kind to everyone and gently teach them what you know. However, when the foolish and stupid arguments begin, Paul suggests we walk away from them. Why? Because foolish and stupid arguments profit no one. They don't exalt God; they don't edify others and no one has ever been saved based on foolish and stupid arguments.
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Worthwhile Endurance
Stand steady, and don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Bring others to Christ. Leave nothing undone that you ought to do. (2 Timothy 4:5 TLB)

"Find a need and fill it" is a good principle of life. As Paul neared the end of his life, he could confidently say he found a need and filled it. He faced death calmly knowing that he endured to the end and would be rewarded by God.  Do you share Paul's confident expectation of being rewarded because of your endurance? Do you give up easily, or do you hang in there despite the odds?

Paul's assignment was not his alone.  It is for all of us.  We are to stand firm in our beliefs even if it means suffering for the Lord.  We are to live in such a way that others are brought to Christ.  We are to do whatever our hands find to do and do it unto God.  We are to leave absolutely nothing undone.  No matter how difficult the fight, we will discover our endurance is worthwhile.
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Quiet Gentleness
God's people must not be quarrelsome; they must be gentle, patient teachers of those who are wrong. (2 Timothy 2:24)

Gentleness is often overlooked as a personal trait. Power and assertiveness gain more respect than gentleness. Gentleness is love in action. Gentleness is being considerate of others' feeling. Gentleness is helping meet the needs of others. Gentleness is allowing time for others to talk and be heard. Gentleness is an essential trait for all but especially for Christians. Gentleness is not always being the loudest or having the most to say.

Gentleness is not a mark of weakness. Rather, it is a mark of wisdom. "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere." (James 3:17, TLB).

Is gentleness one of your traits?
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Paul's Charge to Timothy
Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, and my suffering. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, know from whom you learned it . . . (2 Timothy 3:10; 14)

Paul reminds Timothy, his son in the ministry about several things Timothy had observed.
  1. Timothy had observed Paul's teaching, the information Paul had imparted into Timothy. 
  2. Timothy had observed Paul's conduct, the way Paul handled himself under pressure.
  3. Timothy had observed Paul's aim in life. Paul set goals and he met them.
  4. Timothy had observed Paul's faith. Paul walked by faith and not by sight.
  5. Timothy had observed Paul's patience. Paul waited upon the Lord and relied on God's timing.
  6. Timothy had observed Paul's love. Paul followed Jesus' last commandment to love others as He had loved them.
  7. Timothy had observed Paul's steadfastness. He didn't give up when it came to things of God. 
  8. Timothy had observed Paul's persecutions. Paul was for Christ, but everyone was not for Paul. 
  9. Timothy had observed Paul's suffering. Paul preached about the suffering of Jesus. Paul himself suffered for the sake of the gospel.
After Paul reminds Timothy of these things, he tells Timothy to remember that the Lord rescued him from all of them. He advises Timothy to continue in what he had learned from Paul and to remember from whom he had learned these things.

Paul was a great leader. Hopefully, you are following great leaders. Perhaps you are a great leader yourself possessing the nine (9) traits listed above.

Paul gives Timothy good advice that we should all follow. He did not beat around the bush. Instead, he came right out and told Timothy, the young pastor, to refuse to engage in quarrels. Some people strive on debates and sharing their opinions to the point of quarreling about them. Paul tells us to have none of that.

The gospel of Jesus Christ should be proclaimed with confidence not with foolish or stupid arguments. The Lord's servant should see the signs of oncoming arguments and circumvent them without compromising the gospel. Quarreling is not of God even though it might be about God. Debating should not be an issue when everything is confirmed by the Bible. Some people would rather argue a point then to research the Bible to see if it is true of not.

Paul says to be kind to everyone and gently teach them what you know. However, when the foolish and stupid arguments begin, Paul suggests we walk away from them. Why? Because foolish and stupid arguments profit no one. They don't exalt God; they don't edify other and no one has ever been saved based on foolish and stupid arguments.
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Worthwhile Endurance
Stand steady, and don't be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Bring others to Christ. Leave nothing undone that you ought to do. (2 Timothy 4:5 TLB)

"Find a need and fill it" is a good principle of life. As Paul neared the end of his life, he could confidently say he found a need and filled it. He faced death calmly knowing that he endured to the end and would be rewarded by God.  Do you share Paul's confident expectation of being rewarded because of your endurance? Do you give up easily, or do you hang in there despite the odds?

Paul's assignment was not his alone.  It is for all of us.  We are to stand firm in our beliefs even if it means suffering for the Lord.  We are to live in such a way that others are brought to Christ.  We are to do whatever our hands find to do and do it unto God.  We are to leave absolutely nothing undone.  No matter how difficult the fight, we will discover our endurance is worthwhile.
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Quiet Gentleness
God's people must not be quarrelsome; they must be gentle, patient teachers of those who are wrong. (2 Timothy 2:24)

Gentleness is often overlooked as a personal trait. Power and assertiveness gain more respect than gentleness. Gentleness is love in action. Gentleness is being considerate of others' feeling. Gentleness is helping meet the needs of others. Gentleness is allowing time for others to talk and be heard. Gentleness is an essential trait for all but especially for Christians. Gentleness is not always being the loudest or having the most to say.

Gentleness is not a mark of weakness. Rather, it is a mark of wisdom. "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure and full of quiet gentleness. Then it is peace-loving and courteous. It allows discussion and is willing to yield to others; it is full of mercy and good deeds. It is wholehearted and straightforward and sincere." (James 3:17, TLB).

Is gentleness one of your traits?
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The Bible . . . Root Canal
ALL Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

It is shocking how many people still don't read, study or understand the Bible. The Bible is not a book that has revisions every year or sequels like some books and movies. The Bible has been around unchanged for centuries; yet some people still don't know its contents.

It disturbs me that some who profess to be preachers and teachers of God's word don't even know that some books exist in the Bible. They yell in church "I know that's right" and wave their hands at strategic points and even provoke people to shout when they use a worldly cliche, but when it comes to God's words spoken by God Himself, some don't even have a clue.

If a dentist examined your mouth and confessed he saw a tooth he knew nothing about, would you continue to let that dentist work on your mouth? Would you go to a dentist for root canal who hadn't studied every part of your mouth, gums, and teeth? I don't think so! Yet some people trust their spiritual lives to those who do not read, study or understand the Bible which is the authority and infallible word of God.

Read the Bible from cover to cover. Study its contents. Know what's there and what's not there. You will not be approved unto God until you do. And you should be ashamed of yourself for trying to preach or teach God's word unless you have studied.  "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman who needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
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Faith and Finances
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Last Friday was truly Independence Day for Larry Burkett, Christian money management pioneer who went home to be with the Lord following a long battle with cancer and other health problems. Larry Burkett, the founder of the world's first organization to teach biblically based financial management died of a heart failure. All this week Christian radio stations gave tributes to Larry who was saved at age 32 and died at 64. The Memorial Service is in Atlanta today, July 11, 2003, at 1:00 p.m.

Larry Burkett impacted million of lives through his books, tapes and radio broadcast, "How to Manage Your Money." He had a gentle spirit, and no one could say anything negative about him. He fought the good fight; he finished the race; he kept the faith. He believed the Great Commission could be carried out only through effective stewardship and giving.  He taught biblical principles about money management emphasizing faith and finances. He left an incredible legacy; one that we should continue.

In an interview two weeks before Larry's death, he said, "Giving is a by-product of a changed heart." We are empowered to embrace the biblical principles of giving only after our hearts have been changed. Let's continue the work Larry started by asking God to give us a changed heart so we, too, can manage our money the biblical way.
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Writing Your Own Eulogy
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)

Paul's eulogy is summed up in the above words in his second letter to Timothy. If you were to write your own eulogy, would you be able to say similar things about yourself? How do you want to be remembered?

It is amazing that some missionaries attend their own funeral before leaving the country. They do so in case they die in a foreign land. They do so to prove they are willling to die while working for the Kingdom of God. And some of them do die. And some never return to their family and friends. Unlike dead people, they get to hear their eulogy. They get to hear what people say about them. What will be said about you in your eulogy?  What will stand out in people's mind when you leave this world? Will the works you've done speak for you?  Or will people have a difficult time trying to find something worthwhile to say about how you have lived your life?

How will you be remembered? What legacy are you leaving behind for others?  In order to be remembered with pleasant thoughts after death, be loving and kind to people before death. Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Keep the faith.
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