But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance. 2 Timothy 3:10
NASA has incredible machines—rovers—that are designed for work on Mars. One is scheduled to land on the planet next month, and its name is PERSEVERANCE. The other is an earthbound copy that will perform the same tasks on earth to help engineers analyze the work and fix any problems with PERSEVERANCE. The machine on earth is named OPTIMISM, which is an acronym for Operational Perseverance Twin for Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars.
What a lesson!
We have a Savior in the heavens who persevered for us and won the victory, and that is why we can be optimists down here on earth. Whatever is discouraging you today, remember that your Savior is not discouraged. He is on His throne keeping all His promises and guiding your life by His providential power. Whatever is troubling you, take the most optimistic viewpoint possible.
Christians, of all people, ought to have the most positive outlook on life. The reason Christians should be positive is not that we are blissfully unaware of the pains of life, but in the midst of pain and confusion, we have a hope grounded in the promises of God.
Ashley Strickland, “Meet OPTIMISM, the Perseverance Rover’s Twin on Earth,” CNN, September 9, 2020.
55 2 Timothy 3-4 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series
Because the hand of the Lord my God was on me, I took courage and gathered leaders from Israel to go up with me. Ezra 7:28
The little Bible college in northern Ghana didn’t look impressive—just a tin-roofed cinder-block building and a handful of students. Yet Bob Hayes poured his life into those students. He gave them leadership roles and encouraged them to preach and teach, despite their occasional reluctance. Bob passed away years ago, but dozens of thriving churches, schools, and two additional Bible institutes have sprung up across Ghana—all started by graduates of that humble school.
During the reign of King Artaxerxes (465–424 bc), Ezra the scribe assembled a band of Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem. But Ezra found no Levites among them (Ezra 8:15). He needed Levites to serve as priests. So he commissioned leaders to “bring attendants to us for the house of our God” (v. 17). They did so (vv. 18–20), and Ezra led them all in fasting and prayer (v. 21).
Ezra’s name means “helper,” a characteristic that resides at the heart of good leadership. Under Ezra’s prayerful guidance, he and his protégés would lead a spiritual awakening in Jerusalem (see chapters 9–10). All they had needed was a little encouragement and wise direction.
That’s how God’s church works too. As good mentors encourage and build us up, we learn to do the same for others. Such an influence will reach far beyond our lifetime. Work done faithfully for God stretches into eternity.
By: Tim Gustafson
Reflect & Pray
Who is your primary spiritual mentor? (If you don’t have one, who might you ask to mentor you?) Why is mentoring in Christ something vital for you to receive and extend to others?
What words come to mind when you think about a valley? The first part of Psalm 23 paints a picture of green pastures and abundant waters. It’s a restful, sheltered, and restorative place where every need is met and God’s care is evident. Some valleys, however, are inhospitable passages with deep shadows and restricted views of what lies ahead. In the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4), travelers feel vulnerable to all sorts of dangers.
For the Christian, green pastures and dark valleys are both a part of life. There are times when God’s abundant outward blessings are obvious, and we respond in joy and gratitude. But on other occasions, we’re surrounded by darkness, loss, and pain. Obscured by shadows, the path to the future is filled with fearful uncertainties—the way seems long, with no end in sight.
However, the same Shepherd who cares for us in the green pasture also remains by our side in the dismal valley and leads us though. No circumstance can keep His goodness and lovingkindness from us. We can count on His comfort and protection throughout life’s journey—until we safely reach our Father’s house.
“And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26)
We are in a great battle for the minds of young people today. The battlefield may be the classroom, or the home, or the church, or the family television, or any place else where teaching—good or bad—takes place.
It is significant that one of the greatest verses on teaching and one of the greatest on soldiering occur together. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:2-3). Thus, it seems clear that a faithful teacher is a good soldier in the battle of Jesus Christ against the devil for the minds of those we are trying to teach.
The battle is not to be fought with bullets, however, or even with ballots, but with “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Furthermore, our battlefield strategy is not to strike down our enemy with a sharpened tongue or to bludgeon him with a superior intellect. “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6). Our text for the day gives us reason to continue, for it promises that those whose minds have been ensnared by the devil may yet be recovered. The words just preceding this verse describe our tactics: “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Not even Satan can stand before the mighty sword of the Spirit, wielded by an apt soldier-teacher. HMM
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. —Proverbs 4:23
Every person is really what he or she secretly admires. If I can learn what you admire, I will know what you are, for people are what they think about when they are free to think about what they will.
Now, there are times when we are forced to think about things that we do not care to think about at all. All of us have to think about income taxes, but income taxes are not what we want to think about. The law makes us think about them every April. You may find me humped over Form 1040, just like everyone else, but that is not the real me. It is really the man with the tall hat and the spangled stars in Washington who says, “You can’t let it go any longer!” I assure you it is not consentingly done! But if you can find what I think about when I am free to think about whatever I will, you will find the real me. That is true of every one of us.
Your baptism and your confirmation and your name on the church roll and the big Bible you carry—these are not the things that are important to God. You can train a chimpanzee to carry a Bible. Every one of us is the sum of what we secretly admire, what we think about and what we would like to do most if we became free to do what we wanted to do. FBR096
Lord, may the secret thoughts of my heart be pure thoughts, pleasing to You, completely under the control of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.
Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin….Create in me a clean heart, O God. —Psalm 51:2, 10
Let me venture an opinion here. Jesus was in harmony with nature in this world and I am of the opinion that the deeper our own Christian commitment becomes the more likely we will find ourselves in tune and in harmony with the natural world around us.
Some people have always scoffed at the habits of St. Francis as though he probably was not in his right mind. I have come to believe that he was so completely yielded to God, so completely and fully taken up with the Presence of the Holy Ghost that all of nature was friendly to him….
Brethren, I am not ashamed of his world—I am only ashamed of man’s sin. If you could take all of the sin out of this world, suddenly extract it, there would be nothing in all the world to be ashamed of and nothing to be afraid of. CES075-076
The heart of the Holy Spirit is intensely concerned in preserving us from every stain and blemish and bringing us into the very highest possibilities of the will of God. HS037
Do you ask how God can make sorrows into blessings? I will tell you. He can use them to soften the heart. A tender heart is a great treasure. What hard, unfeeling creatures men and women would become if they had one continual run of prosperity! In health and comfort and plenty, men grow careless about everyone’s interests but their own.
Sanctified sorrow is favorable to humility. God hates pride; He beholds the proud man afar off. Trouble brings the lofty spirit to a true knowledge of itself and helps to lay it in the dust.
Sorrow makes men sympathetic to the sorrows of others. If I want sympathy I go to those who have suffered themselves.
Sorrow loosens our hold on the things of this life. The tendency of the human heart is to settle down and find its happiness in the things of earth. Sorrow weakens the cords that bind us to this world and draws the spirit to seek its heaven in the next. Sorrow opens the heart for the reception of all the blessed salvation of God. In prosperity, men can do without God—at least, many do not want Him. When affliction and bereavements and death come to them, they cry after Him.
Sorrow will work out far more precious things for us in the world to come. Of these momentary afflictions, Paul confidently says: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
What must you do to turn your trials and sorrows to good account?
Ask God to forgive all the murmuring thoughts and words of the past. Give yourself up fully to obey His every command in the future—live a life of trust. Take hold of your Father’s hand, and believe that He has hold of yours.
Tell Him that in the dark as well as in the light, in joy as in sorrow, you will trust Him to guide and lead you safely home. Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).