Sunday, September 18, 2011

BIBLE PICK 'EMS - Famous Last Words

You know, "Bible Pick 'Ems" takes me on an interesting journey every week.

Sometimes I have to pick and tug, and ponder and mull over the verses that I find myself reading – like a miner digging away at hidden ore. I have to really search hard for the message God wants me to bring to you.

(Like the time I landed in Leviticus…)

Other times, I find myself smack dab in the middle of abundant riches – verses just full of golden nuggets from the Word.

Today would be one of the rich days.

I have landed in the beginning of 2 Timothy.

Let's start with a little background. The great apostle Paul finds himself in prison – yet again – arrested for preaching the Good News of Christ. Paul, one of the most knowledgeable, influential, and beloved men of history is facing death. He knows that he will soon be executed, and so he writes his final thoughts to his "son" Timothy.

Paul passes on the torch of leadership, reminding Timothy of what is truly important, and encouraging him in the faith. Because of the circumstances, this is the most intimate and moving of all Paul's letters.

So, as we read 2 Timothy, it makes a difference to know that we are reading the last words of this great man of God. And we are wise to pay attention to the words that the Holy Spirit gave him to say at the end of his life.

I love analogies – (I think that's a product of the little *English major* that beats in my heart.) And Paul is so very good at them!

In the first two chapters of 2 Timothy, he uses three images of the believer. Let's explore those a little bit.

First of all, he calls us to be good soldiers of Jesus. Have you ever noticed how the Bible is full of war imagery battles, soldiers, weapons? I think it does us good to remember that we are not just living life – we are waging war. We fight against unseen enemies, and they are led by the greatest enemy of God – the devil. It is crucial that we fight like a good soldier.

What does that look like?

Paul tells us – "Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them." (2 Timothy 2:4)

Hmmm…sounds like an admonition to have our eyes on heavenly matters – to be focused clearly on eternity. To concentrate our efforts on pleasing our commanding officer – our Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of our souls.

Second, Paul tells us to be approved workers. And he gives us an idea of what that means.

"Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

A good worker focuses not on the paycheck, but on the approval of the boss. To that end, a good worker works hard. He works with integrity and honesty. He pays attention to detail, and strives for excellence. He focuses on truth.

And finally, Paul revisits the imagery of being an athlete. He has previously called us to run the race before us with endurance – to press on to the finish line – to run the race to win.

How can we do this?

Paul says, "…athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules."
(2 Timothy 2:5)

The rules dictate the way the race is run. They make the runner effective. Sounds like we need the Guidebookthe Word of God. This is where we learn the rules – and learn how to follow them correctly.

These are great words at any time. But picture this – what if you were leaning in at the bars of a dank and dark prison cell? What if in the shadows you could just barely see a thin and haggard man? What if his voice was barely above a whisper, and you had to still yourself to hear what he was saying?

And you did this because you knew it was his last message.

Oh yes, Paul’s words resonate deeply, don't they?

And as you listen in, all of a sudden the voice grows stronger, and these words ring out loud and clear in today's "Bible Pick 'Ems":

"…the word of God cannot be chained. So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen…

If we die with him,
we will also live with him.
If we endure hardship,
we will reign with him.
…he remains faithful,
for he cannot deny who he is.

...God's truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription:
'The LORD knows those who are his…'" (2 Timothy 2:9-13, 19)

Famous last words.

Yes, Paul, I hear you loud and clear…


Read 2 Timothy for yourself – and heed the wise words of a man of deep faith, undying love, constant hope, tenacious conviction, and profound insight.

"When in doubt, search God out!"


  1. So true of who Paul was, Sharon; deeply committed in his love for Jesus and in spreading the message of Jesus. Famous great last words to live our lives by too; I think he was ready to go, so to speak, he knew he had tried to do his best with what God wanted him to do and he never waivered in that message. We need to remember to do the same ourselves!!


  2. Hi Sharon,

    Great words, you have posted here. Sorry my comment is a bit short, I have much going round in my mind at the moment and much to digest.

    Take Care, God Bless - Nita.

  3. I am not saying I am as good as Paul at all - but of all of the disciples I am closest to him - so many things he said got to my heart and I kind of understand him a bit better. sandie

  4. Hmmm - waging war . . . enduring . . . yes - guess I'm there.

    Thank you so much for your prayer support. I am humbled to be upon your lips to the Lord - and so very grateful. As last week wore on, I felt the under-girding. Friday was a good day - a half day - and then Ed and I were off for a getaway weekend to Lancaster PA - B&B and antiquing and just relaxing! WONDERFUL weekend!

    I shall be exploring through some future posts what I am considering in way of a mindset towards my situation. Things did not pan out as I thought - but God wasn't surprised. What is His plan for me in the middle of this and what IS the fight? I wonder if the Lord never intended for me to see this job as the top of the hill. Now that I've narrowed my time to this one thing - is this my tentmaking occupation that allows me to return to my passion to write for publication. Being so spread out like I was, I couldn't do that. But, now, with my job mandates taking away the creative investment on my part and putting me into the place of a facilitator of teacher work, I can treat the job as a job and write again! My husband really spoke into my life last week when I had a complete break-down Tuesday. Then, Wednesday night at church, two women ministered to me out of the blue - confirmation, it seemed, of what Ed said. All pointing to my call as a writer.

    Praying for God firmly establish me to know His call and plan in this time. Will He finally open the doors to publication for me? Do I even know the path to follow to find that door?
    Wisdom . . .


  5. I like Paul's analogies, too, especially the military ones. Makes me want to pay attention and stand up straight! Have a good week!

  6. Betty - Yes, Paul had a lot to say, and he's definitely someone I want to listen to. He ran a good race, and he stayed faithful to the end. Yes, we need to remember to do the same.

    Nita - Glad you enjoyed this. I've been thinking about you a lot lately. Know that God is close to you, Nita, in everything you're going through.

    Sandie - Yes, Paul is a special person. I love how he mixes humility with such a fiery personality. It's going to be so fun to meet him one day! In the meantime, we can learn so much from his words.

    Kathy - Oh, how my prayers are with you at this time. I have recently felt the Lord tugging at my spirit about a particular matter. And yes, like you, I'm trying to sort it all out. You may be so right - this job may be your blessing in disguise. And I for one, am VERY sure that you are destined to be a PUBLISHED writer. Go for it, girl!

    Mary - Yes, Paul does infuse us with an extra dose of courage, doesn't he? I just love these words of his - as he sort of *passes the torch* on to Timothy - and to us, too, in a way.



"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)