2 Timothy

Captive

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~Colossians 1:15-20~

Jesus: Our Source of Peace

Before we knew Jesus Christ, our life was full of godlessness and wickedness – we had self-seeking ways and stubborn, unrepentant hearts (Romans 1:18; 2:5, 8).  Like our strife-filled world, we clamored for peace and tried to find it, but our efforts failed.

When we came to faith in the Savior, all of that changed.  We were rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into Christ’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13).  Every one of our sins – past, present, and future – was forgiven.  Divine justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice, and God’s wrath upon us (because of sin) was removed.  We became a new creation, washed clean by Jesus’ blood (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Now that sin’s power over us has been broken, we can become members of God’s family rather than His enemies (Romans 5:10).  He sent His Holy Spirit to be our personal guide in this new life, helping each of us experience Christ’s peace (8:6).  We also can look forward to an eternity spent in heaven, where righteousness, tranquility, and joy abound (14:17).

The story of the Prodigal Son’s return is a picture of our reconciliation with the Lord (Luke 15:11-32).  The young man had chosen to leave his father, living instead to please himself.  Repentant, the son eventually returned home; his father joyfully greeted and forgave him, and there was harmony between them.  God has done all this for us.

Our unity with the heavenly Father came at a great price – the sacrifice of His only Son.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, November 30, 2017.

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Know what you believe

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~2 Timothy 1:12-14~

All people have a belief system whether they realize it or not.  Even those who claim there is no God have faith that He does not exist.  What we believe affects every area of our life and shapes each decision we make, yet few of us take the time to really think about what we accept as true.

All belief systems have a foundation.  Some people base their convictions on what fits their lifestyle, reasoning, and desires.  But that is not to be the case with Christians – Jesus calls His followers to adapt life to their faith in Him and the authority of His Word.

Anytime we add other philosophies or ideas to Scripture or pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe, we create our own version of faith, based on personal reasoning.  God’s Word is the only true and reliable foundation for belief, because it contains the recorded thoughts of an eternal, omniscient God.  All other concepts must be measured against Scripture to determine their validity.

Knowing what the Bible says is essential for developing a sound system of beliefs founded on the truth and wisdom of the Lord.  This world offers many philosophies that sound good but are laced with lies.  A faith anchored in what Scripture teaches is your protection against deception.

Each time you face a problem or decision, search God’s Word for the answer.  Begin your day by reading the Bible and asking God to help you understand what He is saying.  He loves communicating with His children and as you spend time with Him, He’ll open your mind to know His thoughts.

Commentary from Charles Stanley’s In Touch devotional, November 26, 2017.

Choose

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“No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life” (2 Timothy 2:4).  The word for “entangle”, which also occurs in 2 Peter 2:20, means to be so wrapped up in something that movement is hindered.  This is the term the Greeks would have used to describe a rabbit ensnared in a thorn patch.

Peter’s letter admonished followers not to return to past sins, but Paul was emphasizing a different lesson: He was warning Timothy against allowing essential daily pursuits to supersede a commitment to Christ.  Paul himself at times worked as a tent-maker while carrying on with ministry; however, he realized there was potential for an occupation to become all-consuming, to the detriment of a person’s spiritual life.

Growing and managing wealth, providing for one’s family, and taking advantage of leisure time are important activities.  In fact, God encourages all of them.  However, these blessings are not to become distractions that draw believers away from church or regular prayer and Bible study.  Nor are we to compartmentalize our life into “Christian ministry” and “regular work/play”.  We are Christ’s soldiers, no matter where we are or what we are doing – there is no such thing as a part-time warrior.

It’s important for believers not to draw artificial boundary lines between the secular and the sacred.  Everything God gives – from vocation and wealth to leisure activities – is to be used for His glory.  By keeping priorities straight and activities in balance, you can prevent hobbies and interests from becoming a snare.

Commentary from the In Touch Devotional by Charles Stanley, June 7, 2017.

To: Would-be terrorists

As you continue your attempts to purchase the favor of your god with the souls of men, consider:

For the entire law is fulfilled 

in one statement:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Galatians 5:14

and this:

Therefore, whatever you want others

to do for you,

do also the same for them-

this is the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12

You must really hate yourselves.  

It appears that you hate God as well, because you do not fear Him.

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Foundational

There are fifteen specific behaviors mentioned in the Bible that have to cease should you decide to follow Christ.

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Now the works of the flesh are obvious:
sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance-as I told you before-that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21

It’s not easy to walk away from the things our human nature loves.  Oh, how I wish it were!  But then, I wouldn’t be weak.  If I weren’t weak, I would not need to rely upon my God.  This actually would not be a good thing, since God is on such a higher level than I am, and at the same time wants what is best for me.  I have learned that I don’t know what is best for me.  How could I?  I have a fallen nature that desperately needs saving, and I don’t know everything.  A lot of people I meet want to be ‘religious’, but they prefer to straddle the fence between heaven and earth.  I even did that for awhile, not fully understanding I had one foot still in the world.  God has taught me and guided me every step of the way, that I was still not fully committed to Him.  He has shown me that choosing to be lukewarm toward Him is choosing the world.  I don’t want this world.  I only want my God.  I choose Him.

Christians are not perfect, but they are sensitive to the Spirit’s conviction and are quick to return to the Lord in repentance.  In fact, they are actually grateful for being corrected and praise God for drawing them back to obedience.