THINK: When it comes to following Jesus, life can be an adventure. But because God doesn't often show us what's in store, it's easy to get anxious or even a bit fearful about what lies ahead. That's where faith comes in, though one thing is certain: where God guides, He provides. Whatever God gives you to do or calls you to endure, as you rely on Jesus, He will provide more than adequate power and capability to see you through.
RESPOND: In light of Paul's circumstances at the time, what's so significant about his plea for Timothy to remain faithful to God (v. 8)? (See 1:4 note.) What did Paul mean when he told Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God"? (See 1:6 note.) What does this imply about God's gifts to people through the Holy Spirit? What kind of spirit does God give us to serve Him? (See 1:7 note.) How do power, love and self-discipline enable us to overcome timid tendencies regarding our faith, service and witness for God? What confidence can you have about any task to which God calls you? Accord- ing to verse 8, what enables you to endure suffering for the cause of Christ? According to verse 9, why has God saved us and called us to a holy life? How has Jesus "destroyed death" and "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (v. 10)? How can something so powerful and wonderful as the message of Jesus bring suffering (v. 12)? How does Paul's attitude through suffering challenge and inspire you personally (v. 12)? What is "the pattern of sound teaching"? (See 1:13 note.) Why and how must we guard this message, and who helps us do it? (See 1:14 note.) What added to Paul's grief and hardship during this time, and what gave him hope and inspiration? (See 1:15 note.)
PRAY: Express thanks to God for those who have influenced you most spiritually, asking Him to bless them in a special way. Pray that you will be an inspiration to others through tough times. Ask God to help you fully develop and boldly use the gifts He's given you. Thank Him for empowering you to accomplish any task He gives you.
ACT: Consider your God-given interests, abilities and opportunities. Have you been faithful to develop and use these to the fullest? If you've hesitated for any reason to venture out and apply your gifts, exercise the power and discipline God has provided for you and take a step toward using your gifts to honor God and to benefit others.
THINK: Are there issues and temptations that constantly get the best of you? Many Christians live with a self-induced sense of frustration and failure because they give in to the same sins over and over. They feel that in order to prove their spiritual strength and maturity, they must eventually reach the point of being exposed to a troublesome temptation with- out caving in. But God never told us to put ourselves to the exposure test. In fact, if we foolishly keep putting ourselves in compromising situations, we are setting ourselves up for a fall every time. We never gain spiritual strength by toying with temptation. The Bible says to exercise the wisdom and discipline to stay away from or "flee the evil desires" (v. 22). That's how you develop strength to win spiritual victories, by leaving evil behind and vigorously pursuing what's right.
RESPOND: In what way does verse 2 describe the discipleship process? (See 2:2 note.) What makes people "reliable" and "qualified" to disciple others? Why and how must you prepare to endure hardship? (See 2:3 note.) In what way does this compare with how a soldier (v. 4), an athlete (v. 5) and a farmer (v. 6) must pursue their goals and tasks? (See 2:3 note.) Though Paul was chained like a criminal (v. 9), how and why was his message still advancing? What hope do you have if your faith and love for Christ endures to the end? (See 2:12 note.) What does it mean that even when people are faithless, Christ will remain faithful? (See 2:13 note.) How is this a comfort to those who remain loyal to Christ and a warning to those who reject or abandon Him? Whom in particular was Timothy to warn, and why? (See 2:14-18 note.) How can "quarreling about words" (v. 14) ruin those who listen? What must you do and what must you avoid "to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed..."? (See vv. 15-16.) What is "God's solid foundation" and why will it always stand firm? (See 2:19 note.) What must we do to be reserved for God's noble purposes, and what can keep us from being usable for the Master's "good work"? (See 2:21 note.) According to verse 22, what must you "flee" from and what must you "pursue" in order to serve God out of a pure heart? (See 2:22 note.) What deliberate choices does this involve? How can focusing on the positive pursuit of righteousness keep you from getting caught up in the evil desires you are to avoid?
PRAY: Thank Jesus for the strength He provides to overcome temptation as you flee evil desires and pursue righteousness.
ACT: If you are constantly giving in to the same temptations, make the changes necessary to get away from these things and quit exposing yourself to them. Then, put that time and effort into something spiritually productive.