Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture (2 Timothy) – Introduction 1:1-7

Right click on audio player to download mp3 or to change listening speed

Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture


2 Timothy 1:1-7

Bruce A. Hess

Well, if you would, please take out your Bibles and turn in them to 2 Timothy. If you don’t have a Bible, you should have one under a chair in front of you and you can take that Bible and turn to page 165, in the back, and you would be at 2 Timothy.

What I want you to do right now is, I want you to trust me enough to close your eyes for a second. As you are closing your eyes, I want you to think. I want you to think about the person who had the most positive impact on your life. If you were just going to name one person, who would that be? It might be a parent, it might be a grand-parent, it might be a teacher, it might be a friend or a spiritual leader who led you to Christ or maybe poured into your life spiritually.

Do you have the person in mind? Here is what I want you to imagine second, I want you to imagine that, that person you are thinking of, has recently become aware that they will soon be leaving this planet. They will soon be headed to heaven and they have decided to send along to you, their very last communication.

Let me ask you this question, how much would you treasure that communication? How much would you anticipate reading it or hearing what they had to say? Well, men and women, that is what we have in our hands when we look at the book of 2 Timothy, because Timothy is the one who had been so deeply impacted by the person of Paul. Paul is the one who had left that deep spiritual impression in his life, had the most positive impact of anybody, apart from the person of Jesus Christ.

Some people have called 2 Timothy, Paul’s last will and testament or Paul’s swan song [final act just before death], or Paul’s epitaph. What we have in 2 Timothy are the final words, the final perspective, the final counsel that Paul gives to Timothy. It is especially riveting counsel when we realize that Timothy was living in a shifting culture. Things were drastically changing in that culture, much like our culture today. He writes him, wanting to help Timothy and other followers of Jesus, Maintain their Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture.

This is a new series we are starting today. I think it is especially practical because we face a very similar situation today. We are beginning to quickly sense that the sands of change are definitely moving. Things are happening differently in our culture.

As you open up the book of 2 Timothy, it doesn’t take very long when you flat out realize, this is a pertinent and practical book for everyday life. It is current, it is contemporary, it is relevant. But, then again, the Word of God always is, right?

Here is our plan today as we begin this study on “Traction.” Number one, we are going to spend some time looking at some background of this book. Before we actually get into it, we want to have a sense of what was going on around it. Then, we are going to look at an overview of 2 Timothy, then the third thing we are going to do is, we are going to look at the opening verses of 2 Timothy.

So, that is our plan. Let’s begin, first of all, by looking at some background and in particular, I want to begin by looking at some background that reminds us of Paul’s situation as he writes this letter. As he writes, Paul is in prison. Some of you might be thinking, ‘It seems like Paul is always in prison.’ Someone said Paul was really into stocks and bonds. But not the kind of stocks and bond you want to be into.

It has been estimated that maybe 25% of his ministry, he spent imprisoned. Five years before this letter is written, he was involved in what is called his first imprisonment. His first imprisonment involved being under house arrest. As you come to the end of the book of Acts, you don’t need to turn there, but, in Acts, chapter 28, it tells us what that first imprisonment was like. It says in verse 16 that Paul was allowed to stay by himself with a soldier guarding him and in the last couple of verses of chapter 28 it says that Paul stayed two full years in his own rented quarters. He basically rented an apartment and had a guard, guarding him. But, while he was there, he was welcoming all who would come to him. It was just open, come and go, and he was preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.

That was his first imprisonment. Eventually Paul was released and he had several years of freedom. Earlier in the year in which this book was written, he was re-arrested. You see, the culture had shifted, even in those few years and it had become very anti-Christian. Tradition tells us that in his second imprisonment, Paul was in a…not in a rented apartment, where he could have people come and go…he was in a dungeon environment. It is possible that he was even in a basement-like dungeon that was originally a cistern, where they would store water and it only had this steel grate at the top of it. You can imagine being in that kind of basement-like dungeon environment, that one of the things you would battle, you would be cold.

It is kind of interesting, some of the facts that are sprinkled through 2 Timothy. Look at chapter 4 of 2 Timothy for a moment, in verse 9. In verse 9, Paul says to Timothy, “Make every effort to come to me soon” But, he goes on to say, in verse 13, “But, when you come would you bring the cloak which I left at Troas?” Many people believe that was where he was arrested, because he left behind his coat, he lift behind his books, he left behind his parchments. ‘Please, come see me Timothy, don’t forget my coat. I need my coat.’ Then, he adds, in verse 21, “Make every effort to come before winter.” ‘It’s cold in here year round, but boy, it gets nasty in the winter, please bring my coat.’

It is interesting, these two different imprisonments that Paul underwent, in his first imprisonment, he doesn’t really know what the outcome is going to be. In Philippians 1, he says, ‘I don’t know whether I am going to depart and be with Christ, if I am going to be executed, or if I am going to be released and have the opportunity to come and minister again to you.’ That is his first imprisonment.

But, in his second imprisonment it is very, very different than that. Paul knows that his fate has been sealed as he writes this last letter to Timothy. In fact, the end is in view. Look at chapter 4, verse 6, he says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering.” What a beautiful picture that is. And, he says, “The time of my departure has come.” It is coming soon. In fact, in the same year in which he wrote this letter, later that year he was beheaded and went directly to heaven.

So, that is just a little bit of background. I just want you to have a feel for some of this as we launch into our study on “Traction.” Then, the second thing I want us to look at, in terms of background, is just the shifting cultural environment that was going on.

How many people know who the Roman Emperor was at this time? Does anybody know the name of the Roman Emperor? Nasty guy, it begins with an “N.” Nero, exactly. Nero was the Roman Emperor.

I want to tell you about an event that happened three years before 2 Timothy was written. It happened in July of A.D. 64. Nero, who was a very nasty guy, even executing members of his own family, looked around at the palace that he had in Roman and said, ‘You know what? This is outdated, this is old. I want to build a new palace.’ Ultimately, he wanted to build a monument to himself, but he realized that he would not be able to get the Roman government to agree to that, so he had a plan. He conspired, he said, ‘I think we are going to do this, here is what we will do, by night we will set fire to my palace, and then, when it burns down, everyone will agree, the Roman assembly and everyone, that we need to build a new palace.’ So, that is what Nero did. That fire burned for seven nights and six days, it actually burned one half of the city of Rome to the ground.

Now, when half of your city is destroyed, people get irritable. Nobody knew, openly, that he had planned to set fire, he did this by night, it was a conspiracy, but, he realized somebody needed to be blamed and obviously he felt pretty guilty about the whole thing. So, do you know what he decided to do? He said, ‘I am going to blame the Christians. I am blaming the Christians, the Christians are the problem, the Christians are the enemy, the Christians are the ones we need to get down on.’

It is kind of interesting, how we are beginning to move, as a culture, in the same way. Suddenly, it just seems like we are the ones that are the problem, we are the ones that are narrow minded, we are the ones that don’t think openly enough. So, he began to order the Christians to be arrested. And, that is part of the governmental shift, because, you see, while the Roman Empire, now, the Jews had been very against Christianity, but the Roman Empire had largely been neutral. But, now everything changed. The government became hostile towards Christians and they began to label Christians as enemies of the state. The problem is Bible Christian people. Any of that sound vaguely familiar of what we see going on today?

That began three years before 2 Timothy was written. Eventually, it resulted in what is called the Neronian persecutions, which turned very, very ugly. The Roman historian Tacitus, tells us that one of the things they would do when they arrested Christians is, they would tie them up, drape animal skins over them to attract wild dogs and allow the wild dogs to rip them apart. One of the things he tells us they would do is, they would take flammable material and put it on some of these Christians who had been arrested and then nail them up on crosses and light them at night as torches so as you moved around Rome, you would have streetlight to see.

See, the culture was collapsing as Paul writes 2 Timothy, and he is really motivated here because he wants to give a spiritual B12 shot to Timothy. He wants to give some counsel to all of the followers of Jesus Christ as they find themselves living in a shifting culture, as they live in a hostile culture.

I think he was very concerned about a whole new generation who would rise up and know how to live in such a culture. So I think, especially young people, this is a tremendous book for you, great lessons to be learned as we are in this ever growing hostile culture.

So, the fist thing we want to do is just give you some background, just a feel for what is happening. The second thing we want to do is, we want to look at an overview of the book. You will find, tucked inside of your bulletins today, a yellow gold sheet that is an outline that I put together of 2 Timothy. Again, the theme is Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture. I want you to see, by looking at that, we have basically divided the book into two halves. The thrust of the first half, chapters one and two, is on spiritual steadfastness. The thrust of the second half is on doctrinal soundness. Now, in a shifting culture, spiritual steadfastness is vitally critical. In a shifting culture, doctrinal soundness is vitally important.

Notice in those first two chapters, we have summarized chapter 1 by saying the thrust there is on honoring God and there is a key verse in chapter 1, it is chapter 1, verse 14, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

The theme in chapter 2 is around the idea of making choices. In a shifting culture there are a lot of choices to be made and the key verse there is chapter 2, verse 8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

The theme in chapter 3 is on staying anchored. As the sands begin to shift underneath us, we need to stay anchored and the key verse there is chapter 3, verse 14, “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.”

Then, the theme in chapter 4, of 2 Timothy, is around the idea of finishing well. The key verse is chapter 4, verse 2. “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.”

One of the themes that comes through this book is that he is presenting to us a combat manual. Notice chapter 2, verse 3, notice what he says there, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” He is saying, ‘As you are in this shifting culture, we are in combat and I want you to join me in being a good soldier of Christ.’ Notice a lot of the exhortations throughout this, he says to Timothy, “Do not be ashamed,” chapter 1, verse 8.

He says, “Retain,” in chapter 1, verse 13.

He says, “Guard,” in chapter 1, verse 14.

He says, “Be strong,” in chapter 2, verse 1.

He says, “Be diligent,” in chapter 2, verse 15.

He says there are things we are to flee from and there are things we are to run after, to pursue, chapter 2, verse 22.

He says you are to “endure hardship,” chapter 4, verse 5.

Then, he says, in chapter 4, verse 15, “Be on guard.” Because he is saying, ‘We are going to be in some combat in this shifting culture.’

There are some very interesting pictures he draws of the Christian life. What is the Christian life like? Well, one of the pictures he gives of the Christian life in this book, as we just said, is that of being a soldier. We see that in chapter 2, verses 3 and 4.

Another picture is being a farmer. We learn something about the Christian life by looking at a farmer in chapter 2, verse 6.

Another picture, being a skilled worker in chapter 2, verse 15.

Being an athlete, in chapter 2, verse 5.

Being a vessel that God can use, in chapter 3, verses 20 and 21.

Being a servant, in chapter 3, verse 24.

Being a drink offering. What a beautiful picture that is. We will talk about that in the future. Chapter 4, verse 6.

There is a shifting culture going on and if you look with me, in chapter 3, what Paul is going to say is, ‘You know what? There is a shift going on that is not an upward shift. It is a downward shift.’ There is a downward drift to the culture.

Look at chapter 3, verse 1, he says, “Realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men” (people) “will be lovers of self, lovers of money,” this sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it? “Boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good.” Man, I tell you our society is fast moving to that. What is really good they don’t like. “Haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited,” and I can’t think of a phrase that is a better description of our culture today than, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

We wanted to do three things today. One thing we said we wanted to do is just give a little bit of background, what is going on. The second thing we wanted to do is to do a little overview of the book. Hopefully, you have a little better handle of where we are going.

The third thing we want to do today is, we want to look at the opening verses of 2 Timothy. So, we are going to look at verses 1-7. I would invite you to read along in your Bible as I read these opening verses.

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy, my beloved son; grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

You know what strikes my mind when I read those verses and I understand the background of what is going on with Paul and the background of what is going on in the culture? You know what strikes me? Paul is not having a pity party [extended period of feeling sorry for yourself]. Think about it, he is in this dark, dark dungeon. He can’t reach, directly, the believers that he loves, to lead more people to Christ. He is in a cold environment. He is probably shivering every night, he is anticipating winter coming, he knows his time on the planet is very short. His fate has already been sealed, but what do we see? We see someone with his head up. We see someone whose confidence is in the person of Jesus. We see him say, in the middle of verse 12, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day I see Him face to face.”

Given everything that is going on, how does he do that? I mean, if you put yourself in the same environment how do you avoid having a pity party right then? I think there are, embedded in these verses, four keys to avoiding pity parties. Anybody else here ever struggle with having a pity party? Let me see some hands. I feel guilty, I have two of them up right now. Come on now, how many people have pity parties from time to time? Alright, I feel better now.

Four keys to avoiding pity parties…I think these are helpful, you ought to write these down…the next time you are on the verge. Key number one is gratitude for your spiritual heritage. Notice in verse 3 he says, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did.” When you are in really dark difficulty, what do we tend to do? Let’s be honest. What do we tend to do? We tend to become riveted on our self. We become riveted on our situation. We become very self-focused. Do you know what happens when you do that? When you become riveted on yourself and riveted on your situation and you become self-focused? You set the table for a very, very expensive pity party. That is not what Paul is doing.

We see coming from him, gratitude for his spiritual heritage. Notice he says, ‘I sought to serve God with a clear conscience,’ the way he lived his life. You know, when you violate your conscience, you lose divine perspective and you also open the door for the enemy to get his foot in there.

He said, “I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did.” Who is he talking about when he talks about his forefathers? I believe he is talking about his Old Testament forefathers, he is talking about Abraham, he is talking about Noah, he is talking about Joseph, he is talking about Moses. He says, ‘When I look at that spiritual heritage, I saw a pattern and that pattern is, as they face difficulty, as they were involved in struggles, as they suffered, they kept on trusting God.’

Keep your finger here and turn with me to Hebrews, chapter 11, a few pages to the right. This is the kind of spiritual heritage he was remembering. You see it all the way through the chapter. We don’t have time to go through it in detail, but it says in verse 4, “By faith Abel operated.”

Verse 7, “By faith Noah operated in his life.”

Verse 8, “By faith, Abraham operated.”

Verse 23, “By faith, Moses operated.”

And notice is says in verse 25 that he “chose rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.” Remember he had all this wealth open to him.

Verse 31. “By faith Rahab operated in her life.”

Then, if you even look at verse 36 and 37, we are just jumping through this real quickly, it says other people that I haven’t even listed “experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, and they were afflicted and they were ill-treated,” but they operated by faith in God’s promises to them.

So, thus, you come to verse 1 of chapter 12, “Therefore since we have so great a cloud of witnesses, since we have this spiritual heritage out there, see we need to remember we are part of a bigger picture. Life isn’t just about me and even my own Christian life. There is a bigger picture. He said, “Let us also, the way our spiritual heritage did, lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of faith.

No wonder it says in Romans, chapter 15, verse 4, “Whatever was written in earlier times,” this refers to the stuff that is in the Old Testament and for us, the New Testament, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

I love the way the New Living Translation takes he last part of that verse, it says, “They give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises.”

We’re part of a bigger picture. This is about more than me and my difficulty that I am having.

He reminds (back in 2 Timothy) Timothy of his spiritual heritage, in verse 5, he says, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother and your mother.” See, Timothy was a third generation follower of Yahweh God. And, he had this heritage of his grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice. We learn from chapter 3, verse 15, of 2 Timothy, that they had taught him the Bible. They had taught him Scripture when he was a young man.

Gratitude for your spiritual heritage. It is one key to avoiding a pity party.

Let me ask you this question, whose spiritual DNA lives in you? Whose faith lives in you? It may be part of your physical family line. I remember being a little boy growing up and my mother would often tell me about her father, my grandfather. While he was never able to actually get it done, there were multiple times he came oh, so close to becoming a pastor. It is part of my spiritual heritage. That had an influence on the way that I thought.

Maybe part of your physical family line, it maybe part of your spiritual family line, maybe it is the teacher you had or the pastor you had or the leader or the mentor. What Paul is saying is, you have gratitude for that spiritual heritage. We need to continue in that spiritual heritage. Part of a bigger picture.

Let me ask you a second question, what spiritual DNA are you laying down right now for your own family, for your kids, for your friends?

Four keys to avoiding a spiritual pity party. The first one is gratitude for our spiritual heritage. The second one is an interesting one. That is, commitment to affirm others. What is the strongest temptation you have when you are involved in a pity party? You focus on yourself, right? Woe is me, woe is me, woe, woe, woe, woe, woe. One of the keys to avoiding it is a commitment to affirm others.

Look at verse 3, he says to Timothy, “I thank God for you, Timothy. I thank God for you.”

Who are you thankful for? When was the last time you went up to them and said, ‘I am thankful to God for you and here is why?’ Commitment to affirm other people.

Look again in verse 5, he says, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you.” It was in your grandmother, it was in your mother and I am absolutely certain it is in you as well. What is he really saying to Timothy? He is saying, ‘I have seen authentic faith in you, I have seen you trust God when it wasn’t easy to trust God.’ He was affirming Timothy.

He affirms Timothy, also, in verse 6, he was affirming Timothy’s gifting from God. He says, “For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

Apparently, some special spiritual gift was given to Timothy by the apostle Paul. We know, from the New Testament, that the norm is that we get a spiritual gift, every one of us, at the moment of the new birth. But, he is affirming his gifting. We all have gifts and we all need affirmation of our gifts. Sometimes people say to me, ‘Well, Bruce, I know you have been teaching for a long time, it just must feel normal.’ You know what? I need affirmation of that. It is amazing how many doubts come my way. I’ve shared before, sometimes I go on vacation and I come back and think, ‘I can’t do this.’

So, we need to affirm one another in our gifting, the abilities that God has given us. He says in verse 6, “Kindle this afresh.” I think the NIV says, “Fan it into a flame.” There seems to be a picture here. In those days, when all their warmth came from a fire, they would have the fire going at night, then you would come in the morning and the fire would have died down, so one of the things you would do is, you would go blow on those coals to get them going again as you anticipated the new day.

I think, really, what he is saying to him is, ‘You’ve got a gift and you need to keep developing that. You need to keep excelling in that.’ He is affirming Timothy here. Do you see that?

Four keys to avoiding a pity party. Number one, gratitude for our spiritual heritage. Number two, commitment to affirm others. Number three, consistent intercessory prayer. Intercessory means you pray for somebody else.

Look at verse 3, “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.”

Now, we’re not going to spend a lot of time on this, because I think everybody knows this is important. Again, you get in a pity party. Why? Because I am just focused on my world. One of the keys to avoiding that is consistent intercessory prayer, being a faithful intercessory for others. I just want you know, part of the process I go through, when I was studying through this passage this week, I was actually driving across town thinking about this, and I came under incredible conviction. In fact, it was almost like God popped my head against the window. Because you see, there is something I used to do, I did this for many years, anytime I was driving across town, I would pray for other people. Somewhere along the line, I’m not even sure how it began to happen, I started to listen to the radio a little bit more. Sometimes it’s just listening to the Christian radio, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I suddenly realized, ‘You know what? A lot of that intercessory prayer time…oh my gosh.”

Gratitude for our spiritual heritage, commitment to affirm others, consistent intercessory prayer. There is a fourth key. Before we look at that, I want to remind you that I am old. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and one of my favorite things was the original TV Superman show with George Reeves. Anybody remember that? If you go on the internet, if you haven’t heard the audio of the beginning of this…

Faster than a speeding bullet

More powerful than a locomotive

Able to leap tall buildings in single bound

He could bend steel in his bare hands, he had x-ray vision and he was involved, as it said every week at the beginning of the show, in a never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way.

I loved it because he had power beyond a mortal. A lot of times I would find myself standing with my fists on my hips and my elbows out, just thinking about how cool it would be to have power beyond a mortal. The truth of the matter is, we do.

That is the fourth key to avoiding a pity party and that is daily dependence on the Holy Spirit. You say, ‘Where did you get that from?’ Look at verse 7, it says, “For God has not given us a spirit (with a little ‘s’) of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

Now, the translators think that the best way to translate the word ‘spirit’ here is with a little ‘s.’ It is very possible that you could put a capital ‘S’ there, referring to the Holy Spirit. But in one sense it doesn’t make any difference because the capital ‘S’ Spirit, that works inside our little ‘s’ spirit, is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who strengthens our spirit.

Again, we are just being transparent today. All of us, I don’t care, there are none of you left out, even if you won’t admit it publicly, but all of us, at times, have these flashes of inadequacy, our confidence begins to wane, especially when the circumstances start to press in on us and fear raises its head and the challenges of ministry can loom way too large, challenges of our situation. Where do you go when you know that you need resources beyond the resources you have? Because our own competence is not going to cut it [not going to work, not be sufficient].  Well, that is where the Holy Spirit comes in.

Notice he says to Timothy, “Our God has not given us a spirit of timidity,” Where we just go, ‘It is just too hard, it is too intimidating, I don’t think I can handle this, it is going to get tough here in the coming decades, I don’t know, I think I’ll just shrink into the background.’ No, no, no. It is not a spirit of timidity, it is a spirit of power, supernatural ability that God has given to us and we need supernatural ability when we have to face difficult circumstances.

It is a spirit of love, that is that agape love, the fruit of the Spirit, a commitment of my will to your needs and best interests, regardless of the cost. We need that kind of spirit in the face of having to deal with difficult people. It is a spirit of discipline, sound thinking and self-control and we need that when we have to face difficult temptation.

Someone has said this, ‘The problem before us is never as great as the power within us.’ Listen to that again. ‘The problem before us is never as great as the power within us.’ Do you believe that? Remember what Paul said to the Philippians? “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You see, every believer really has an ‘S’ on his chest, but it stands for Spirit-filled. Now, having looked at all of that, we want to walk away from our text today with some life response. I am going to suggest two things that you need to do, beginning today and into this week.

Number one is to read. Number two is to respond.

Number one, what do I mean by read? I mean read 2 Timothy, three times this next week. As you are reading, you are asking yourself the question, ‘God, what do you want to teach me?’ You might read it in the New Living Translation or a translation like the Voice, that just brings a little bit of newness to us. So, we read.

Secondly, we need to respond to what we’ve looked at today. Remember, we talked about gratitude for our spiritual heritage? Respond to that. There is somebody that you need to write a note to, you need to send an email to, you need to give a phone call to.

We’ve talked about a commitment to affirm other people. Do that this week with at least one person, where you say, ‘I thank God for you. These are the strengths I see in your life. Keep doing what you are doing. You are doing it just the way it needs to be done.’

Then, consistent intercessory prayer. Do that. One of the things that I freshly committed myself to is, whenever I am driving across town or I am driving to Oklahoma City, it is going to be intercessory prayer time again for Bruce. I am re-engaging in that.

We talked about daily dependence on the Holy Spirit. I might suggest that you memorize Philippians 4:13, it is not very hard to do, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

When you recite that verse back, do it with your fists on your hips and your elbows out okay?

Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You for the Word. It is a great Word from You and we need this. Where our culture is going, we need to hear what You have to say. We would pray that You would keep changing our hearts, keep growing us into the spiritual heritage that many of us have received. We want to be a spiritual heritage to other people. We want to honor Jesus Christ. And we pray that would happen with our life and we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Questions for Reflection: (week one)

  1. What intrigues you most about the study of 2 Timothy?  Which parts are you most eager to dig into?
  • If you were to list those who significantly invested in you spiritually, WHO would be on the list?  WHY are they on the list?

(don’t forget a note or call of thanks and encouragement)

  • What overall spiritual heritage would you like to leave?  What needs to develop in your life to align with that goal?
  • If you knew you had just weeks to live, what specific spiritual encouragement would you seek to convey to others?  WHO would be on your recipient list?
  • Honestly…how aware are you of your daily need for the ministry of the Holy Spirit?  Read out loud (maybe from the New Living Translation or The Voice) Ephesians 5:18-21 and Galatians 5:16-23.  Take special note of the effects of being filled with and walking by the Spirit.

Maintaining Spiritual TRACTION in a Shifting Culture 2 Timothy Chart

Spiritual Steadfastness Chapters 1-2
Chapter 1 – Honoring God 1. Be thankful vs. 1-5 2. Be courageous vs. 6-12
3. Be faithful vs.13-18 Key Verse 1:14
Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.
Chapter 2 – Making Right Choices 1. Remain steadfast in the face of hardship vs. 1-13
2. Steer clear of spiritual catastrophe vs. 14-26
– Things to avoid vs. 14, 16-19, 22-23 – Things to embrace vs. 15, 20-21, 24-26
Key Verse 2:8
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.
Doctrinal Soundness Chapters 3-4
Chapter 3 – Staying Anchored 1. The drift vs. 1-9 2. The stark reality vs. 10-13
3. Our vital anchor vs. 14-17
Key Verse 3:14
Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them.
Chapter 4 – Finishing Well 1. The solemn challenge vs. 1-5
2. Focus to the finish vs. 6-8 3. Keep community a priority vs. 9-16, 19-22
4. Jesus can be counted on! vs. 17-18
Key Verse 4:2
Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Bruce A. Hess

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *