Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All will suffer... - October 26th, 2011

10 But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:10-17

History and Context:
2 Timothy is the last letter Paul wrote before he died in approximately 67 AD. In the letter he seems to know that he is about to die and wants to make sure that he leaves Timothy prepared to continue his ministry. Throughout the letter Paul admonishes Timothy to "not be ashamed", to stick to the truth no matter what. Timothy was Paul's disciple and now Paul is passing on the mantle. He gives him specific instructions as to how he should run his church and also what to watch out for.

The Text:
Paul is writing his last words to one of his most trusted disciples. He commends Timothy for doing well in following after him and through his description we see a very clear picture of what it means to be a disciple. Timothy followed Paul in everything, all the way up to Paul's persecution and affliction. Paul then makes a statement that for us western Christians may seem a bit puzzling; Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. For us western Christians this may seem a bit puzzling because we claim that we try to live Godly, yet many of us have never truly faced persecution. Paul is making it clear here that if you live the life that Jesus called you to people will come against you. It will cost you something.

He then goes on to explain how we are to persevere through these times of persecution and affliction. We are to continue in and cling to that which we have learned, specifically the Word of God. When Paul is talking about Scripture he is referring to the Hebrew Scriptures, but of course we as Christians believe that God has added the new testament to the scriptures. It is the Word of God that we are to cling to in the times of difficulty.

The Challenge:
First question, has following God cost you anything? Has your desire to live Godly caused persecution or affliction in your life? Or have you simply lived a comfortable Christian life? The Bible makes it clear that a truly committed life will cost you something.

Secondly, when you find yourself in the place of persecution or affliction, know the Word of God. It is the Word of God that will be there to give you comfort and strength no matter what happens.

The Prayer:
Lord, I want to follow you no matter what it takes. Help me to stand on your Word and be strengthened and encouraged by it. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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