Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture (2 Timothy) – “Last Days Survival Guide, pt 3, Focus on Finishing Well” 4:5-8

Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture

Part 12

Last Days Survival Guide, Part 3

2 Timothy 4:5-8

Bruce A. Hess

We’re glad you are here today. We are going to have a great, great morning together. If you would, please take out your Bibles and turn in them, in the New Testament, to the book of 2 Timothy, chapter number 4. If you don’t have a Bible with you, there should be one under a chair in front of you and you could grab that Bible and turn in the back part to page 167, and you would be at 2 Timothy: 4.

Matt Proctor tells part of the story of William Lane. William Lane was a very noted New Testament scholar, who at one point in his career, taught at Western Kentucky University. One of the students he had at Western Kentucky was a gentleman by the name of Michael Card. Many of you would recognize him as a contemporary Christian musician. Even though he was a student to Dr. Lane, they became friends and it really developed into a discipling relationship. Michael Card would say that he learned how to study Scripture, how to treat his wife, how to serve the church, how to love God by watching Dr. William Lane.

Of course, eventually, Michael graduated and later on Dr. Lane moved to another institution, but they stayed in touch. Now fast forward to many years later and Professor Lane was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The Lanes decided that they were going to move to Franklin, Tennessee, which is where Michael Card and his family lived. One day a phone call came to Michael Card, it was Dr. Lane and this is what he said to Michael on the phone, “I want to come to Franklin. I want to show you how a Christian man dies.” Indeed, they moved to Franklin and a number of months later, Card’s beloved friend and mentor died, but he left behind a powerful lesson on finishing well.

That is what we want to talk about today. We want to talk about focusing on finishing well in our life race. You know what is interesting about finishing well is, finishing well is actually more important than starting well. When we talk about running the race of our life, it is the picture of a long-distance race. All of us have known people, they are people who started well, when it came to running the Christian life, but somewhere along the race path they took their eyes off of the Savior. Maybe it was the appeal of the world to them. Maybe it was hard circumstances they faced. Maybe it was becoming entangled in a pursuit of money or a pursuit of sex, but somehow, even though they started well, they drifted off-course.

Before the end of his letter, Paul is going to mention an example of that in this book. When we talk about focusing on finishing well, I find tremendous encouragement from the Scriptures. What I find when I look in the Bible is that some who finish strong previously had fallen into sexual immorality in their life. Yet they finished strong. Rahab would be an example of that.

I look into the Bible, it is so encouraging to see someone who, at the mid-point of their life, was basically considered a failure and yet they finished well. Moses would be an example of that.

I find it encouraging to look into the Bible and see individuals who were finding their life mired in hard circumstances that were really not of their own making, yet they finished well. The apostle Paul is an example of that even as he writes this book.

I find encouragement because I look into the Bible and I see people who overcame great personal failure, really tremendously disappointing personal failure, and yet they finished well. Peter would be an example of that. So, there is great encouragement for us to be found in the Word of God.

We’ve been involved in a series of messages on the book of 2 Timothy, that we have entitled, “Maintaining Spiritual Traction in a Shifting Culture.” As we close the book out, we have been looking at a Last Days Survival Guide that I believe Paul lays out for us. If we are going to survive the last days, when things go from bad to worse, there are four things that he says in this section that will help us.

The first thing, if we want to survive in the last days is, we need to learn from a consistent, godly example. We saw that in chapter 3, verses 10-13.

Secondly, if we are going to survive the last days, we should nourish our life and others with Scripture. We saw that in chapter 3, verse 14 and chapter 4, verse 4, through that section.

Today we are going to look at the third element in the Last Days Survival Guide, and that is, if we are going to survive the last days, we should focus on finishing well. We see that in chapter 4, verses 5-8. I invite you to follow along in your Bibles as I read from chapter 4, verse 5 down through verse 8.

Paul writes to Timothy, and he is writing to us, and he says, “But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing.”

How do we survive in the last days? Well, one thing we do is focus on finishing well. I have laid out an outline of these verses and if we want to take a look at that now, number one we are going to see Paul’s directives in verse 5. We are going to see four directives he lays out.

Then, we are going to look at Paul’s reality in verse 6. It is a reality that all of us, every one of us who are breathing, will face one day.

Then, we are going to see Paul’s reflection in verse 7, Paul’s confidence in verse 8 and then we are going to close our time today by looking at the pivotal key to finishing well.

So, that is where we are going. Let’s get started. As we get started, I want to back up a couple of verses in 2 Timothy, chapter 4, to verses 3 and 4. He warns us that a time is going to come, in the future, when people, “will not endure sound doctrine, (healthy teaching). But, wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires and they will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

That is where the culture is moving. That is where the people that we live and work with are headed. Even inside the church some will be like that. But then I want you to notice verse 5. He says, by way of contrast, “But you,” and that, in the original is that little phrase “su-de” s-u d-e. Three times in fourteen verses he uses this phrase. He says, ‘This is where everything is going, but you,’ by way of contrast, ‘should be different.’ And, he says it again here, they are going to start piling up these teachers in accordance with their own desires, they are going to turn their ears away from truth and will turn aside to myth. But you should be different as followers of Jesus. In other words, he is saying, by way of contrast, ‘Don’t get sucked in to where they are going. Don’t be just like them.’

Then, he gives four rapid-fire directives that are vital to finishing well and that is what we want to do. So, let’s look at these four rapid-fire directives.

In verse 5 he says, “But you, be sober in all things.” The New Living Translation translates it, “Keep a clear mind.” When he says, “Be sober in all things,” he is not saying, ‘Don’t drink alcoholic beverages.’ He is saying, basically, ‘We need to have a clear head with everything that is going on in the culture. We need to be vigilant; we need to be aware of what is going on inside the culture.’ In other words, we need to keep our discernment up. We need to be alert to temptation, we need to be aware of our own weaknesses and tendencies. Do you ever think about that? Where are you weak, where are you more prone to get off-course as you run your race?

We need to keep our discernment up; we need to resist the pressure of the culture that wants to push us in a direction. We need to resist the pressure of people that want us to be just like them. If anyone, if anyone in this universe should be aware of the current of the culture, where it is trying to push us, where it is taking us as a culture, it ought to be the followers of Jesus Christ. We ought to be the ones who would go, ‘Yeah, I see what is happening. It fits in with what the Bible has to say.’

Let your eyes go back to chapter 3 for a moment, verses 2-5. We have a description given to us of where the world is going, where the current of the culture is headed. It says, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents,(they will be) ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, (they’ll be) brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, (there is this mirage of godliness they have) although they have denied its power.”

That is where the culture is going and we need to be aware of the current that wants to push us along in that direction. Because the culture is out to bend morals. I find it fascinating, we live in a college community with a lot of young people and I find this, as I speak at FamilyLife marriage conferences, it is fascinating to me how many followers, confessed followers of Jesus Christ, live together. Where did they get that from? That is where the current of the culture is pushing us and we need to be sober in all things.

We need to be alert; we need to keep our discernment up. The culture is just, more and more every year, chasing after money and chasing after pleasure. We need to be aware that is where the culture’s current wants to push us.

We saw that description here in chapter 3 as we read through those verses just a moment ago, how people will be lovers of self. I mean, how else can you explain people who would loot and cheat storm victims? Other than they are just lovers of self. That is where the culture is pushing us and we need to be clear-minded about that, we need to be sober in all things.

Then he goes on to say, the second rapid-fire directive, “endure hardship”. We need to be sober in all things, we need to endure hardship if we are going to finish well. I want you to know, just let your eyes rest on those two words there, “endure hardship.” That is not an empty motto or a trite slogan that he delivers here. It is reality if we are going to finish well.

We all have a course to run that is providentially been chosen by God. What is interesting about the course of life we have been chosen to run is, you don’t get to select the course. It has been prepared by God for us to run. The courses are not all the same. The life course that God has chosen for some of us have been marked by different things.

Some of us have a life course that has been marked by cancer. I would be one of those. Some of us have a life course that is marked by a killer tornado or the loss of a child. Some of us have a course that is marked by an unwanted divorce or a job layoff or an unwanted move or an addiction. Some of us have a course that is marked by the rebellion of a child or an aneurism or a stroke or dementia or an auto-immune disease. Some of us have a life course that has been marked by a major financial set-back, the betrayal of a friend, perhaps rape, perhaps robbery. Some of us have a life course that is marked by a special needs child or a suicide in our family or rejection for a spiritual stand that we took. You don’t get to select the course. It is providentially given to us by the God of the universe.

But, all of our courses, all of our life courses, no matter what they may be, have all been marked with hardship. The choice we have is not the course we are going to run; the choice is how we are going to run the course. Our choice is, are we going to run it by faith, are we going to run it in reliance on His power, remembering that God will provide the grace for whatever place He may put us into? Whatever it may be that goes on in our life, His grace will be there for us. His grace is sufficient is what Paul said in another place.

When he says, “endure hardship,” it is not an empty motto, it is not a trite slogan. It comes from one whose track record [a record of accomplishments or performance] of a life course rivals anyone’s who has ever lived.

You can go back and you can look at his life course in 2 Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 23-28. You ought to go read that and then ask yourself the question, with the things that you maybe have been through, would you be willing to switch life courses with Paul? Even as he writes this, “endure hardship,” he is writing from a dungeon with death lurking before him.

If we are going to finish well, he says, “Be sober in all things, endure hardship,” and then, thirdly, he says in verse 5, “Do the work of an evangelist.” That word that is translated ‘evangelist’ just means, literally, ‘a proclaimer of good news.’ Do the work of being a proclaimer of good news. Why is that necessary? Because people are perishing.

We are reminded of this when a storm comes, that people are perishing, but the truth is, that people are perishing every day of every week of every month of every year. The people you work near are in the process of perishing, the neighbors who live near you are in the process of perishing. People are being swept along by sin and selfishness. But the truth is, this is the exciting part, every person you work with, that you live near, everyone has a God shaped vacuum on the inside that can only be filled by the person of Jesus Christ, the living God Himself.

If we are going to finish well, he says, “Do the work of an evangelist,” look for the opportunity to share the Good News with people. Take the opportunities as they are there to share the Good News with people. Sometimes it is interesting, our emotional response, because we hear those words, “Do the work of an evangelist,” be a proclaimer of good news, and we think, ‘Oh, do I have to do that?’ It is not a have to, it is a get to. We get to actually, potentially introduce people to their Heavenly Father. That is pretty exciting. We have the opportunity to perhaps introduce them to our best friend, Jesus Christ Himself, that He might become their best friend, and He is a great friend.

“Do the work of an evangelist.”  Now, I think there is one thing we need that is so vital if we are going to do the work of an evangelist. It is a word that begins with the letter, ‘B’ and that is the word, ‘boldness.’ Just because of the pressure of the world and the pressure of the enemy, and the pressure of sometimes maybe being rejected, we just hold back. Even the apostle Paul, in Ephesians 6: 19 said, “Would you pray for me as I do the work of an evangelist, that I would have boldness to speak?”

In his autobiography, entitled Just As I Am, Billy Graham tells of being on a golf outing with President John F. Kennedy. Those of you who are younger may not know, but John F. Kennedy came out of a Catholic background. So, they are playing golf together and John Kennedy turns to Dr. Graham and says to him, “Do you believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ?”

Billy said, “I most certainly do.”

Then, President Kennedy said to him, “Does my church believe it?”

Dr. Graham said, “Yeah, it is in the Catholic church creeds.”

To which President Kennedy immediately said, “Well, they don’t preach it, they don’t tell us much about it. I would like to know, Billy, what you think about that.”

So, there they are on the golf course and Billy is explaining the Bible and about Christ’s return and after he had done that for awhile, President Kennedy said, “That is very interesting. We will have to talk more about that some day.”

The last time, Billy Graham says, that he was with Kennedy was at the 1963 National Prayer Breakfast and Billy Graham said, “I had the flu. And after we both gave our talks, we walked out of the hotel to the President’s car together. At the curb,” he said, “President Kennedy turned to me and said, “Billy, could you ride back to the White House with me? I would like to talk to you for a few minutes.”

Billy Graham replied, “Mr. President, I’ve got a fever and I don’t want to give you this thing. Couldn’t we wait and talk some other time?” I mean, it was a cold and snowy day and Billy Graham says, “I was freezing as I stood there without my overcoat.”

President Kennedy replied, graciously, “Of course.” Then came November 22, 1963 and Billy Graham never saw President Kennedy alive again. Reflecting back on that, this is what Billy Graham says, “My hesitation at the car door with Kennedy’s request haunts me still. What was on his mind? Should I have gone with him? It was an irrecoverable moment.”

If we are going to do the work of an evangelist, we need some boldness. Let me ask you this question, even as we are speaking right now, could it be that the Holy Spirit has been identifying someone in your mind that you know He would have you share more information with about life and death and Jesus Christ? Could it be there is somebody that the Holy Spirit is prompting you and saying, ‘You need to go ask them a question about spiritual things.’ Or maybe you need to share your spiritual story with them.

If we are going to finish well, we must “Be sober in all things, (we must) endure hardship, (we must) do the work of an evangelist,” and then, in verse 5, the fourth rapid-fire directive he gives is, “fulfill your ministry.” The New Living Translation translates it, “Complete the ministry God has given you.”

This is not just for pastors, this is not just for elders, this is not just for church leaders. If you have been around Wildwood for awhile, you know that we say the Bible clearly teaches that all of us are in the ministry and all of us have a ministry. All of us are called to serve the needs of people, their spiritual needs, their physical needs, their emotional needs. It has been so encouraging to see so many people mobilized in the face of the storm. It has been a great illustration of that. All of us have a ministry and all of us have been shaped by God, providentially and supernaturally and sovereignly to serve Him and to serve other people.

We like to use this acronym S.H.A.P.E to emphasis this. The S stands for Spiritual gifts. Everyone of us who know Christ have received a spiritual gift.

The H stands for Heart passion. What really motivates us? What makes our heart beat when it comes to other people?

The A stands for our Abilities. Every ability we have has been given to us by God.

The P stands for our Personality. God wove your personality a certain way because he wants you to serve other people.

The, the E stands for Experience. Every experience, every experience we ever been through, God uses to shape us for ministry. Paul says to Timothy, “Fulfill your ministry.”

By the way, Timothy’s ministry was not exactly like Paul’s and Bruce’s ministry is not exactly like yours.

We are going to see as we conclude this, Lord willing, next week, Paul mentions in verse 9 and following fifteen other people who were ministering in some way. And, it stresses the fact that no ministry is too small, no ministry is unimportant. When you see people being mobilized to meet the needs of storm victims, you get the idea that everybody is playing all these different roles and that is the way ministry is. So, don’t underestimate how God wants to use you.

Now, let me ask you this question, right now, freeze-frame, time, space, history, are you serving Him, right now? It is a vital part of finishing well.

As we said we were going to look at Paul’s directives, secondly, we were going to look at Paul’s reality, we see it in verse 6. Go there. He says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.” The reality that he was facing there in verse 6 one day is going to be a reality for each one of us, I don’t care how young you may be. What he uses here are some very vivid word pictures.

First he says, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering.” What was a drink offering? Well, there were provisions in the Old Testament law for drink offerings, it was one way to make an offering to the Lord, but if you actually track it back, it dates back before the law, all the way back to Jacob in Genesis 35:15. What they would do with a drink offering is, they would have red wine in a container and they would pour that red wine out on the ground as a sacrifice to the Lord. Later on, when the law talked about a lot of different offerings that could be made, the drink offering was usually the last in a series of sacrifices that you would make. Isn’t that an interesting picture?

As Paul is coming to the very end of his life course, he says, “I am already (in the process of) being poured out as a drink offering.” In reality, if you think of that red wine, picturing our own life blood, we are all in the process of pouring out our life blood.

Come July, I will have been here for thirty-four years. I love this state and I love the people here and I have always had the perspective that spending all those years here is simply more than anything else, an act of worship to the living God, where I am pouring out my life blood on this soil with this people. “I am already,” he says, in the process of “being poured out as a drink offering.”

Then, there is another picturesque phrase, he says, “The time of my departure has come.” He is seeing death on the horizon. The word that is translated ‘departure’ is a very picturesque word, it is a word that was used of a ship that would weigh anchor and then the winds would carry that ship to a new destination. Basically, what he is saying is, that is what is happening to me. “The time of my departure has come,” I am beginning to weigh anchor and the winds are going to carry me on a journey right into the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the cool thing about being a follower of Jesus, and death. In death, a believer doesn’t leave home, a believer goes home and the ship moves right to our future, permanent home.

The word, ‘departure’ was used in another sense. It would be used of, when you had a tent set up and you would strike the tent and you would pull up the stakes. It is interesting that Paul describes our bodies that we have during this life as an earth tent and he is basically saying that the time of my departure has come; I am basically getting ready to pull up the stakes of my earth tent. I am getting ready to leave the land of the dying and to go to the land of the living.

This is great perspective on death. For a follower of Jesus Christ, death is not a period, it is just a comma, because the best is yet to come. As Paul said to the Philippians in chapter 1, verse 23, “To depart,” same terminology, “and be with Christ,” he says, “is very much better,” than being here.

The third thing we see in verse 7 is Paul’s reflection. Look at it with me, please. He says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”  Now in the original language the New Testament was written in, most frequently the verbs come at the first part of the sentence, it is a little different than English. When you begin to play with word order, you are doing so for the sake of emphasis and that is literally what he does here in the original language. He reverses the normal word order. He says, literally, “The good fight, I have fought.” And it has been a hard fight, it has been an exhausting fight, and just like us, there are times when Paul was on the verge of giving up. But he kept thinking about finishing well.

He says, “The course,I have finished.” He had been running a spiritual marathon for three decades and remember every course, whatever our life course may be, it is going to have its twists, it is going to have its turns, it is going to have its steep hills that we must go up. Remember, we don’t get to select what the course is going to look like, it is a God thing, providential thing. Not only that, we don’t get to select what the course looks like, we don’t get to select the length of the course.

My friend, Craig, his course ended at the age of 24, when he rolled his car in a car wreck. My friend, Todd, his life course ended at the age of 35, due to cancer in his life. My good friend, Stu, his life course ended at the age of 57, after battling Multiple Myeloma for many years.

We don’t get to choose the course, we don’t even get to choose the length of the course, but we have been given by God a course to run and not only that, but a baton to hand off to other people. That is why we build into even our babies here at Wildwood, that is why we build into our children at Wildwood, that is why we build into our students at Wildwood, because we are handing off a baton. We never know when the course could be up.

Then, he says, in verse 7, ‘The faith, I have kept, I’ve held to the truth, I’ve lived the truth, never perfectly, no one ever does, I’ve defended the truth.’ There is just this sense of satisfaction when you approach the finish line and we can make those statements.

I want you to see, in verse 8, Paul’s confidence. Look at verse 8. He says, “In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me,” aren’t you glad it says that? “But also to all who have loved His appearing.”  

“There is a crown of righteousness,” he says, “that is laid up for me which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.” In the original language of the New Testament there are two words for ‘crowns.’ One word refers to what we might call a ruling crown. Another term, which is the term used here, refers to a laurel wreath, that would be awarded in the Olympic Games. It is a victor crown. In the future, there is laid up for me the victor crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day.

In the New Testament there are several crowns mentioned. One of them is the crown of life, we see that mentioned in James 1:2 and Revelation 2:10. It is a crown that is awarded as a victor’s crown for enduring suffering. Have you endured some suffering?

Then, we have the crown of glory that is mentioned in 1 Peter 5, verse 4, a crown, a victor’s crown, that is awarded for shepherding other people, spiritually.

Then, we have mentioned here the crown of righteousness. I am so grateful that it says the Lord is going to award it to me on that day and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. The New Living Translation puts it, “All who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.”

You see, men and women, here is the way…the truth about the return of Christ is designed for us to use it as a motivation to live our life righteously and faithfully. The fact that He is going to return in all of this power and glory should make a difference in how we live our life.

I want you to jot down some passages, you can look them up later, you should read them and reflect on them. They are passages on the fact that Jesus is coming again. We see it in Matthew 24, verses 29-31 and chapter 25, verses 31-34. We see it in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1, verses 7-10. We see this description of His return in Revelation, chapter 19, verses 11-16. We are to be embracing all of that because it is a motivation to live differently, to live righteously and faithfully.

Now, scholars disagree a little bit, some scholars say that these crowns are literal crowns, some would say that they are not really literal crowns, they are just a picture of reward and commendation that could be given to us from Jesus. But, I find it interesting that in Revelation, chapter 4, verses 10 and 11, we see there the twenty-four elders who are in heaven, and many scholars believe that is a picture of the church, are casting their crowns at the feet of Jesus. You see, that tells me that a crown, a victor’s crown, is not about, ‘look at me, look what I’ve got on my head.’ That is not the idea. The idea is, that the crown gives us an opportunity to praise Jesus Christ, to praise Him for His grace in my life, to praise Him for how He worked in me.

Sometimes people say to me, ‘What is the secret to staying at the same church and being there for 34 years? I am going to tell you, there is really not a secret other than…God. God working. And, I know when I get to heaven it is going to be so apparent, more apparent than it is even now, it is His grace that was working in me. His grace empowering and leading and guiding.

We said we were going to do several things today. We wanted to look at Paul’s directives in verse 5, Paul’s reality in verse 6, that is a reality that we will all have one day, his reflection in verse 7, and his confidence in verse 8. But we said there was one final thing we were going to do and that is we want to look at the pivotal key when it comes to finishing well. That pivotal key is found in Hebrews, chapter 12, verses 1 and 2. I am going to put the verse up on the screen.

Men and women, this is the pivotal key to finishing well. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” it is the course that God has given to each one of us, but here is the key phrase, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith.”

Do you know that Oklahoma City, this is pretty amazing, for our area, has become one of the premier centers of competitive rowing in the United States of America? Do you know what I am talking about when I talk about rowing? I’m talking about the rowing teams that are in those shells and they are doing the synchronized rowing together. What is really interesting, they are just really, in one sense, regular people like us, and while they are rowing, think about this, they are rowing with their backs to the finish line. You see that picture there, it is just like all of us, regular kind of people, and this is like our life race and we’re rowing and we really have our backs to the finish line, we don’t know exactly where the finish line is. Where is the finish line going to be for your life race? My life race?

There are a lot of parallels with the way we live our lives. So how are you going to finish strong? How do you row an effective race? Well, what they do is, they focus on the coxswain. The coxswain is the guy who is sitting on the end of the boat and as they are rowing and they are running their race, they are rowing with their backs to the finish line, but they are facing the coxswain and the coxswain is the one who knows where the finish line is and it is critical, if you want to run the race well and finish strong, that you look to the coxswain. That you listen to the coxswain, that you obey the commands of the coxswain, that you let the coxswain coach you to the finish. And, you have to trust the coxswain to bring you across the finish line in the strongest possible way. You see, it is the coxswain that is the one who enables that crew to finish well.

And that is what Jesus Christ is for us. He is our coxswain. If we are going to finish well, we need to look to Him. We need to listen to Him. We need to obey His commands; we need to let Him coach us to the finish line. We need to trust Him to lead us to finish in the strongest possible way, for His glory and for His honor.

As we close, I simply want to say this, and I think this is encouragement for all of us, because sometimes at this point we are maybe even thinking about some regrets we may have, I simply want to say this, it is never too late to start living right. It is never too late. It is never too late to aim at finishing well.

Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You again for this truth from the Word of God. Hundreds of years ago, centuries ago, these words were written to Timothy and they are just as relevant as they were the day they were written, because these are the words of God. Father, the last days mean a lot of different things, the current of the culture is going to pushing us, pressuring us, may we remember that if we are going to survive, one thing we must do is focus on finishing well. We would pray that we would keep our eyes riveted on the coxswain who wants to coach us all the way in to the finish, which will give Him great pleasure and glory. Even if we have to limp across the line. We would pray that we would honor You and pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Questions for Reflection: (week 12)

–Who do you know who finished strong in their life?  What can you learn from them?

–Share some of the hardships that have marked the “race course” of your life.

–For you, what do you think would be the biggest threat to finishing your race strong?

–If you could choose it (and in reality we do), how would you want your life to be remembered?  No one finishes strong by luck or by accident.  What practical choices can you make tomorrow, next week, and next month to make such a finish a reality?

–It is interesting that there were 12 Spies who were sent on the mission to spy out the Promised Land.  How many can you name? ?  (After you name them, look at the full list in Numbers 13:4-16).  Why do you think today we don’t name our children Nahbi, Shaphat, or Palti?

–What are some of the ways God has called and shaped you to serve Him and others?

–Who do you know who still needs to hear more about Jesus and Salvation?

–Have you ever brought up the subject of Jesus with a neighbor or roommate?  If so, elaborate.    If not, why not? (what are the honest reasons?)

Remember, the best place to start is to share your life experience with Jesus.

–As a reminder of the reality of Jesus 2nd Coming, read out loud Matthew 24:29-31; 25:31-34; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 19:11-16.

–Thank God for His promise that because of Jesus when we depart this life, we don’t leave home, we go home.  We leave the land of the dying for the land of the living.  Pray for those you would love to have join you.