Focus on the Goal

13 while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 2 Timothy 3:13-14

I’ve been saying all along, the Christian life is simple but it is not always easy. The fundamentals of the faith are simple: pray, praise, share, fellowship. But we live in a fallen and deceptive world. The world tries to pull us apart any way it can. People try to bring you down with them to wallow in the mud they’re wallowing in.

Our job is to keep doing what we’ve always been doing, to keep a steady pace and live life. Avoid the distractions and circus clowns around you.

Look straight ahead.

Ignore the sideshows.

Focus on the goal.

“I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:14

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This Problem Called Paul

10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 2 Timothy 3:10-12

Verse 12 should be troubling to us, shouldn’t it? The flip side to that verse is that if you’re not living a godly life in Christ Jesus, you won’t be persecuted. Persecution obviously comes to us in a lot of different ways. Of course, the worst is imprisonment, beatings, and even death. We are ostracized, laughed at, mocked, and ridiculed for what we believe. Sometimes you’ll lose your job because of stances you’ll take. It’s obviously a milder form of persecution than beatings or death. The bolder and “in your face” you are the more substantial those persecutions will be.

Paul endured some of that harsher persecution. Paul was a bold preacher and teacher. He ruffled a lot of feathers wherever he went. God’s hand was on Paul because there was no shortage of people who wanted to eliminate this problem called Paul. Without God intervening, Paul undoubtedly would have been taken out early in his ministry.

Whether it’s a harsh word about our beliefs, imprisonment, or beatings, God promised He would be with us. I know, it’s easier said than done in a comfortable, air conditioned office, but true nonetheless.

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Truth vs. Falsehood

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. 2 Timothy 3:6-9

In every era and generation, false teachers will come to the front. They have different reasons for deceiving people but they prey on the vulnerable. Keeping close to the Word of God enables us to discern truth from falsehood when we hear it. Unfortunately, as Paul said, they’ll worm their way into women’s homes but also to church settings if we’re not careful. As he also stated in the previous verse, they appear Godly but they deny its power. I fear that as we approach these latter days we’ll see more and more deception in our churches. The Emergent Church movement is one major deception that has infiltrated our pulpits.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is just so simple, so why does someone need to add anything to it or spruce it up so it’s not so painful to hear?

This is a good time to pray for your church leadership. Pray that they will have discernment when they hire and bring in volunteers. Pray that they will stay true to the Word of God.

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The Powerful Christian Life

having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:5

These are certainly strong words to consider. I believe he was warning us in no uncertain terms about professing one way of life and living another. It’s certainly not reserved for someone down the street, but for us.

But there’s also a bit of comfort from this verse. He was telling us that we can have the power of God on our side instead of going through life alone. We can have godliness and the power that comes with a godly life.

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People Will Be Lovers of Pleasure Rather Than Lovers of God

[people will be] lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 2 Timothy 3:4d

Millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997, are commonly called the Me generation. It’s all about them and has been since they were kids. Of course, parents catered to their every whim and they were rarely allowed to fail. You could make a case that they epitomize this verse, but they’re only part of the problem. Americans, and the west in general, has been “lovers of pleasure than lovers of God” for some time. In fact, a book was written about this phenomenon called “Amusing Ourselves to Death.” It’s not so much that people are against God – though that does happen – but they are for themselves.

The Millennial generation will have some problems to be sure. What will the Church look like in 20 years when they are fully in charge of leadership? I still think there will be an element that honors and obeys God, but they’ll have major obstacles to overcome.

Pray for the next generation of Christian leaders to begin rising to the challenge of ministering to their own generation. Pray that they will realize the wisdom in Godly counsel from those who have gone before them.

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People Will Be Conceited

[people will be] conceited 2 Timothy 3:4c

This character trait needs no explanation. We see it all around us. And sometimes we display it. But among the ungodly, conceit is apparent and increasing. As people get more sure of themselves and their solutions in life, they have no need of God. Of course they replace Almighty God with fame, fortune, sports, drink, drugs, hedonism, and anything they can think of.

Still, though, even the hardest of heart and proudest of proud must sleep at night. What goes through their head right before they nod off? They think about life and where they’re at in life. Not always but sometimes.

We all know conceited, arrogant people. Pray for those you know who are conceited. Pray that their blinders will fall off and see the true and living God.

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People Will Be Rash

[people will be] rash, 2 Timothy 3:4b

People who are rash do not think things over. They are abrupt and reckless. Again I point to what happens at political protests and riots. People destroy things and burn down buildings. Those are not clear thinkers, especially if they have to live in the community when the smoke clear.

Youtube is full of videos where people are completely reckless. Bones get broken and worse.

People also do reckless things in relation to Godly as well. They say they’ll wait until their death bed to get close to God. That’s reckless and dangerous because none of us know when we will pass.

Perhaps you know reckless and rash people. You’ve been praying for this person for a long long time. Your prayers are not in vain. If He’s put this person on your heart for so long, He’s going to resolve the issue. Count on it. Otherwise, why would He put this person on your heart for so long. Continue praying for this person with the knowledge and newfound hope that He will answer your prayers.

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People Will Be Treacherous

[people will be] treacherous, 2 Timothy 3:4a

This has the idea of being traitorous. We haven’t come to those days quite yet, but there will be times when fellow “brethren” betray their friends. It will probably be much more subtle than that though. We see it already in the mainline denominations regarding major social issues of the day: abortion, feminism, homosexuality, transgenderism. When persecution comes to the United States, we’ll see much more betrayals within our own ranks. Sadly.

Know that it’s coming, and recognize it as such. Pray that those in your immediate circle of influence will also be able to recognize it and prepare against it. Of course, in doing so you’ll be regarded as a conspiracy theorist. In other parts of Scripture, the Lord said there would be “a falling away” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Recognizing it is important.

Keeping close to God is our only course of action to take when we see it happening. And it’s our only course of action now as well.

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Not Lovers of the Good

[people will be] not lovers of the good, 2 Timothy 3:2l

As I go through each of these I see its prophetic words. When people call evil good and good evil, there’s a serious problem. Look at modern art. A dot on a canvas is art. A cross in a jar of urine is art. It boggles the mind at times. They’ve made a mockery of true art while calling reasonable and beautiful things ugly. We live in a very mixed up world.

We should come to expect this though we may no like it. One of our jobs is to continue to call good things good things, and to call profane things for what they are: profane. It’s not going to get any better.

Appreciate the beauty around you, whether it’s creation, art, music, or just fantastic people. Thank God for his creation and the beauty he’s created.

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