Lord, make me the kind of disciple who can keep the faith and finish the race well.
Read 2 TIMOTHY 4:1-8
 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge:  Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.  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. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat confidence does Paul have as his life ends, and why?
“Tell my brothers I died well and am living with Christ”: the final words of a Nigerian pastor before being beheaded by terrorists last year. They were spoken to encourage fellow believers to stay true to their faith in face of persecution. Paul faced a longer drawn-out end to his life, but writes from his prison cell with the same goal in mind (4:6-8). There is confidence as he looks back over a race well run, and looks forward to what lies ahead. He longs for Timothy (and us!) to copy his example.
Since ministers have a key role in helping us finish well, Paul’s encouragements to Timothy are relevant to us, too. In v. 1 he reminds us that the coming King will have the final word in our lives, not our enemies or the popularity polls. Every minister is called to be Bible-faithful, Gospel-urgent and people-tender (2). Then Paul warns of the dangers of selective listening (3,4). The danger is that we won’t listen to ministers’ messages when our cultural norms or political correctness are opposed. This will not only leave us deaf to God’s Word, but also encourage the false teaching that is such a threat to us.
How can you avoid being one who can’t or won’t hear God’s Word when it opposes your dearly held beliefs?
Lord, I pray for spiritual ears to always hear Your Word rightly, and for those who speak it to me.
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