God wired us to be relational people. We’re not only wired for it, we’re given opportunities galore to relate. My daughter’s phone call from the top of a remote glacier in Alaska more than 1,000 miles away reminded me of the extreme smallness of today’s world. We have parents, siblings, husbands, children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow students, pastors, teachers, doctors, dentists, grocery and bank clerks, the guy who fixes our tires, the gal who remembers our usual coffee order…the prospect of human interaction multiplies with everything we do, every place we go.
When you think you are having an alone moment you probably aren’t, even if you go to extremes to create one. That weekend getaway? Maids, gas station attendants, waitresses, toll booth operators join you on your trip. That wilderness excursion into silence and solitude? Rangers, fellow hikers, photographers have been there before and often find you.
People are everywhere.
For some that thought is incredibly depressing. The answer is not that this planet is becoming too populated. God created an immenseness about this world that is His to control and fill. The answer is simply that people are magnets for people.
Think about this. You were uniquely created. So were billions of others, all from the template of the great Creator, Himself. Amazingly, the Almighty is vast – infinitely so – more than the entire universe, so there is a lot of personality, skill, talents, and dreams to go around. As humans, we were created to represent a small and unique portion of who He is. Therefore, the more people we know, the more people we have around us assuming their God-given purpose, the clearer our picture of God.
But so many people have wandered from the path. Our desire to touch them for God should deepen. If it hasn’t happened already, He’s going to bring you to a place where you are about the business of meshing with people.
So, how are you meshing? The bus driver in a town you visit a thousand miles from your home will probably only talk with you for a few moments. Intentionally be in the moment, even if your ministry to him is a smile and a word of thanks.
And how are you meshing in your mentoring? That young gal with the four children sitting in the back row who began coming to church two months ago would probably talk with you for several minutes after service is over. Intentionally be in the moment, maybe bringing the small family home for lunch or getting her phone number for a longer talk later in the week.
God gives us the opportunities. Are you willing to take them?
Paul is concluding his final letter to Timothy this week. Last-minute advice, words of wisdom, people to seek out, people to avoid, repeating earlier counsel, these final few dozen verses seem to snowball with urgency and variety. You can almost hear the firmer, slightly more frantic scratching of the pen as Tertius (Romans 16:22) or even Luke try to keep up with Paul’s dictation. There isn’t much time, yet the Holy Spirit is using every word to speak afresh the Father’s big picture into Timothy’s life, and consequently, into ours as well. The words written or spoken at the end of life often hold the greatest treasures and most-remembered lessons.
Don’t give in to skimming the last part of this week’s lesson. Finish strong as Paul often advised his various churches and mentees. Everything in Scripture means something, even if it’s simply the name of a loyal believer, about whom we will know nothing until we meet them in heaven. Paul is one of the great examples of how to operate in a people-are-magnets-for-people world. Intentionally immerse yourself this week into God’s Word and learn what that means for you.
DAY 1 and 2
I. Read 2 Timothy 3:10-15; skim Acts 13-14; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27.
Last week’s lesson ended with a warning to Timothy about the evilness of many in the end times, comparing these enemies of God to the Egyptian priests who went up against Moses. Now Paul wants to encourage Timothy in one of the best ways for him to safeguard himself and his congregations: knowledge of the truth.
We have a patch of mint plant thriving next to our house. Those who have grown mentha piperita know its tenacity. Year after year my husband and son hack at it, pull out the dead portions and try to tame the stuff. No matter how decimated it appears, in several weeks it’s back, thriving. Though contained in a concrete-bordered flower bed, over the last decade or so it’s found a way under the perimeter, new shoots looking for fresh outlets and water sources. It’s broken through the nearby rockery and we’ve found it sprouting more than 15 feet away in our garden which is separated from the mint patch by a concrete slab. The mint refuses to be contained and only gets stronger and more obstinate as we cut it back.
That’s the picture Paul has for Timothy – being so determined to search out God’s Word, so careful in remembering those things he’s seen and heard from Paul and personal experience, so steadfast in truth that nothing can hamper his growth.
1. 2 Timothy 3:10-11 lists things Timothy knows of Paul’s life. What are they?
2. Paul directs Timothy’s focus to three towns. Why did Paul focus on these in particular? (see Acts 16:1-2)
3. What were some of the specific sufferings listed in the Acts and 2 Corinthians passages?
4. Revisiting one of his recurring themes, what does Paul say is inevitable in verse 12? What hope does he give in the second half of verse 11?
5. Though unnamed in verse 14, list those people we’ve mentioned in previous lessons from whom Timothy most likely learned and gained spiritually. List all the people – beginning from childhood and even before you became a Christ-follower – who helped you solidify your knowledge of the truth. This could include people whom you never actually met except through their writing or speaking ministry, or through a biography about them. Who would you like to add to that list for future input?
6. What did Scripture do for Timothy according to verse 15? Remember that Timothy was operating mostly from knowledge of the Old Testament and what Paul was currently teaching and writing in his letters. What does that indicate about the Bible as a whole in your life?
II. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Deuteronomy 4:36; Nehemiah 9:20; Psalm 19:7-11, 119:9, 11; Proverbs 6:23; Matthew 13:52.
Sometimes very familiar passages of Scripture get lost as we read them or hear them cited over and over. These two ending verses from 2 Timothy 3 are vital for believers to understand the importance of and why we have God’s written word.
1. Dissecting sentences may bring back horrid memories of 6th grade grammar lessons. But this long, 2-verse sentence is filled with richness, each word bringing an added nuance to what communication expert Paul was trying to convey. Piece out – in your own way – each one- to two-word phrase and write what it means to you.
2. From your “diagramming,” rewrite this sentence in your own words.
III. Read Proverbs 15.
Proper mentoring can only be done with reliance on God’s Word and a clear understanding of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The heart focus with which we help apply Scripture in a younger woman’s life is vital. The goal is for us, as well as them, to be fully equipped for what God has in store.
1. Look for words, phrases or sentences in Proverbs 15 that emphasize proper ways to speak truth, teach, tutor, encourage, assist or discipline. How can you use what you’ve discovered to help you be a better mentor? (Try using two or three different colors to highlight those words or phrases you can use as a mentor and expressions God is using to mentor you.)
2. Which verses can you point to that would help a person you are currently mentoring?
DAY 3 and 4
I. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8; for “drink offering” read Exodus 29:39-41; Numbers 28:7, 14, 15, 21, 24; Philippians 2:17; also read Genesis 28:18, 35:14; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 23:16; 1 Chronicles 11:18; Matthew 26:7,12; Mark 14:3; Luke 22:20.
As we begin to read the final portion of Paul’s last letter, the opening statement has a formal tone befitting a coronation, a memorial dedication, or some other somber, great assembly. It almost seems as if Paul stood back, took a deep breath, and reached out to put his own mantle on Timothy’s shoulders, place his sword in his hand, and give a blessing of leadership to the young man who God had given him to mentor and love as a son. The baton is passed. Timothy must be ready. So Paul gives him a final charge.
1. What five things does Paul charge Timothy to do in verse 2? How are they to be accomplished?
2. What do ears of today itch to hear (verses 3-4), and what are some myths of today that people believe? Which are most likely to be a stumbling block for the church today?
3. What is Timothy to do in verse 5? How does this translate to what God has you currently doing?
II. Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8; for “drink offering” read Exodus 29:39-41; Numbers 28:7, 14, 15, 21, 24; Philippians 2:17; also read Genesis 28:18, 35:14; 1 Samuel 7:6; 2 Samuel 23:16; 1 Chronicles 11:18; Matthew 26:7,12; Mark 14:3; Luke 22:20.
Again, Paul has penned words for Timothy that reverberates through the ages, inspiring Christ-followers of every generation since the time of the Roman Empire. For Paul, to be gone from this world and finally home with the Father was constantly on his mind (Philippians 2:21-23). True to this anticipation of heaven, Paul again mentions his short time here on earth by likening his circumstances to the drink offering in verse 6. Though not fully explained in the Old Testament, the pouring of ¼ of a hin of wine (about 1 cup) onto the altar was the final act of various types of offerings and sacrifices. Not only did it represent a complete emptying of self, but the immediate vaporization of the wine on a hot altar gave a powerful portrait of giving everything for God’s glory with no drop remaining.1 This is the pinnacle of Paul’s life as he fulfills or completes the ministry God has given him (verse 5).
1. What three things does Paul “pour out” on the altar in verse 7?
2. How do the verse 7 phrases mesh with what Paul was talking about in 2 Timothy 2:4-6?
3. Pouring out sacrificially also occurs other times in Scripture. What did Abraham do and why?
4. What did David do in response to the actions of the three mighty men? Why was this significant?
5. What did the woman in the Matthew and Mark passages do? Why?
6. In the verses from Luke, what did Jesus say was being poured out? What was new and different about this particular Passover supper? How did this affect Him? How does it affect us?
7. What does this idea of a drink offering mean to you? How will the examples of people “pouring out” change your perspective this week?
III. Read 1 Corinthians 3:10-14 (rewards), 9:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10, 3:11, 4:4, 10.
1. What is waiting for Paul in 2 Timothy 4:8 as a result of this emptying? Who else can look forward to this prize?
2. That salvation is a free gift is clearly spelled out by Paul in Romans 6:23. But rewards – or crowns – are given by a loving Father to His children who did good works for His glory in thankfulness to Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit. And Paul is infectious in his anticipation of what the Lord has for him. What are some of the crowns mentioned in the New Testament?
3. What does it mean to “love His appearing” and how should that change our outlook?
4. How does this encourage you in your mentoring today?
I. Read 2 Timothy 4:9-22; for some background of a few of the people Paul lists, read Acts 12:12,25, 15:36-41, 18:2; 19:22, 20:4, 21:29; Colossians 4:14.
Paul rarely asks for things for himself. He would often go overboard to point out the things he didn’t ask for in order to prove a point in the face of false accusations.2 But as in the case of his letter to Philemon, Paul opens up to Timothy, showing himself humble, transparent and very human.
At the forefront of his mind are, of course, people. Some have left for other ministries. Some have simply left. A few are mentioned for Timothy to greet, several send their greetings through Paul. To the end, one of Paul’s purposes is the welfare of those he influences. And that mentoring is only complete when it is handed off to those the Lord has raised up under his ministry.
1. Scanning the verses from this passage, write out those personal things Paul requests. Why are they important?
2. Now make a list of the people Paul mentions by name. How do the lists compare?
3. Why do you think Paul says that only Luke remains with him (verse 11) and then proceeds to give greetings from several Roman believers (verse 21)?
4. What did Alexander the coppersmith do and what does Paul tell Timothy to do because of it?
5. What happened at Paul’s first hearing (verse 16) and what was Paul’s reaction? Which Biblical characters might his responses emulate? (See Acts 7:54-60 for one possibility. Can you think of more?)
6. Paul is handing over his mantle of ministry and mentoring to Timothy. Which phrases or concepts from this week’s lesson (2 Timothy 3:10 to 4:22) best depict that idea for you?
7. The very last words of the book of 2 Timothy are, “Grace be with you.” (NASB) Even though the book was addressed to Timothy, the “you” here is actually plural. Why do you think that is? What does that mean for you today?
Take two strong, heavy magnets. You can use lighter ones, but the effect isn’t near as dramatic. The magnets easily and eagerly attach to one another if you match up the right ends or poles. As soon as you try to push two of the same poles together – say north pole to north pole – you get resistance. A lot of resistence. No amount of pushing will get them to make contact. But if you put one of the magnets down on the table, and slowly bring the second one nearby, the magnet will automatically snap around to the right end, and they instantly come together.
Remember that illustration of people being people magnets? Sometimes we resist. God brings us someone to mentor – or even to be mentored by – and we make excuses. Often nothing valid, nothing pressing is in the way, we just don’t want to. We can push back, not allowing the connection, keeping the other person at bay. But it’s a lot of hard work to push against the Lord if it’s something He really wants for us – to teach us, mold us and use us. Fighting gets tiring and frustrating.
If we rest in Him, allowing Him to bring the right people nearby, we’ll find ourselves in a quick, strong grip of the people magnet. When it’s of the Lord, the fit is right. The bond is strong. Give in to His design for you and for the Body of Christ. Begin to explore mentoring for yourself – intentionally.
1. McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Vol. V. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville. 1983. Page 477.
2. 1 Corinthians 2:2-5, 9:1-12, 10:32-33; 2 Corinthians 12:14-17 are a few examples.
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