Saturday, August 15, 2015

Reflection - Useful to the Lord

Source (book): "Faithful to the end", Question 1, Page 80.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Useful to the Lord
PHOTO: Useful to the Lord
If we are to be useful to God, we have to be holy instruments. The biblical work "holy" means "to be set apart". A holy instrument is set apart for a particular purpose and used only for that purpose, such as a surgeon's scalpel is used to make incisions and not to drive screws or open cans. To be set apart also means that as holy instruments, we avail ourselves for the Lord's exclusive use. There cannot be more than one master, for Jesus did say: "You cannot serve both God and Money" (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
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How can the disciples of Jesus have the right attitudes towards life and ministry to be useful to the Lord? Reflect on the lessons you can learn from the devoted soldier, the disciplined athlete, and the diligent farmer. What are the implications for the church?

How can the disciples of Jesus have the right attitudes towards life and ministry to be useful to the Lord?
[1] Cleansed and made holy, ready to do good work for the Lord
If Jesus is indeed our Lord, our natural response would be to love Him and serve Him. We would be eager to be useful to Him. Paul described this usefulness in 2 Timothy 2:21: "If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work" (emphasis added). We are instruments meant to be useful to the Master. He wishes to work through us by using us for His wonderful ministry. For this to happen, we need to be cleansed and made holy, ready to do good work for the Lord.



Cleansed and made holy, ready to do good work for the Lord


PHOTO: Cleansed and made holy, ready to do good work for the Lord
Paul described this usefulness in 2 Timothy 2:21: "If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work" (emphasis added).
Picture posted by HubPages Inc. and respective owners on 30 August 2013, What must I do to work the works of God?
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The Lord cannot and will not use dirty or blunt instruments. In the early church, there were debates about whether the effectiveness of a sacrament arises from the act itself or whether it depends on the character of the priest carrying out the sacrament. Following Augustine, the idea that the efficacy (the ability to produce a desired or intended result) of a sacrament depends on the ritual itself rather than the ritualist (ex opera operato, as opposed to ex opera operantis) became quite established. While Augustine had his arguments for this idea, mainly to focus on God's promises and grace, it was abused in the medieval period. There were priests who were presumptuous of got drunk while presiding over the Eucharist (Christian service commemorating the Last Supper). Or they were living in sin and yet led in Holy Communion. Would God still work through the ritual and bless His people? This was theological as well as a pastoral question.



Set apart for a particular purpose and used only for that purpose


PHOTO: Set apart for a particular purpose and used only for that purpose
Saint Cecilia with an Angel
She is the patron saint of singers, organ builders, musicians and poets. She is remembered for the passion with which she sang the praises of God, and her legacy is considered to be the strong belief that great music is essential in worship. Martyr at Rome, c. 280
(c. for Latin circa means "around" and indicates an approximate date.), Cecilia sang in her heart to strengthen her witness to God, the makers of music who has been gifted with Pentecostal fire (baptism with the Holy Spirit). Those redeemed by Savior Jesus Christ to be with God, and the Holy Spirit, lives in everlasting glory.
Picture (1618), by Orazio Gentileschi (1563-1693), from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository - Saint Cecilia as organist, 17th-century paintings of angels with humans
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Set apart for a particular purpose and used only for that purpose
Here, we need to simply hold to a general and fundamental principle: If we are to be useful to God, we have to be holy instruments. The biblical work "holy" means "to be set apart". A holy instrument is set apart for a particular purpose and used only for that purpose, such as a surgeon's scalpel is used to make incisions and not to drive screws or open cans. To be set apart also means that as holy instruments, we avail ourselves for the Lord's exclusive use. There cannot be more than one master, for Jesus did say: "You cannot serve both God and Money" (
Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13). In the same vein, Paul exhorted the Corinthian Christians to "flee from idolatry" (1 Corinthians 10:14) and warned them of a careless syncretism  (schools of thought) that treated the lordship of Christ in a cavalier manner: "You cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons" (1 Corinthians 10:21).


Nun and pigeons
PHOTO: Nun and pigeons
MAKE MY HEART AND BODY PURE
By God's promises and grace, to be useful to God, we have to be holy instruments. We avail ourselves for the Lord's exclusive use.
Posted by DopePicz, Contemplation (
reflection, study) oil canvas (from Wikiart) by Eugene de Blaas - God's Creatures,1877
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hose with love for money had wandered from the faith
PHOTO: Those with love for money had wandered from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10-11)
"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
"
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The exhortation to be useful for the Lord is introduced by the phrase "You then" (2 Timothy 2:1). Hence we must link it to the preceding verses. In Chapter 1, we see Timothy was encouraged to remember his identity and calling. He is to be different. This idea is also expressed in the phrase "But you, man of God" which Paul used in his first epistle to Timothy. He was urging Timothy to be different from those who due to their love for money had wandered from the faith (1 Timothy 6:10-11).

In what ways was Timothy to be different so as to be a cleansed and holy instrument in the hands of Jesus? Paul offered three answers in his attitude to ministry and service, in his meditation and application of God's Word, and in his ministering to the lost. In all of these, we can draw lessons for ourselves so that we can also be useful instruments of the Lord.

The following is the first of Paul's three points: Proper attitudes.

Our Attitude to Ministry and Service [1]
Selection, training and deployment of His disciples
What Paul had in mind in this section is the specific ministry of mentoring those younger in the faith. This is a key aspect of Christian discipleship, the significance of which we see in the Lord's own earthly ministry . In all that Jesus did, He gave special attention to the selection, training and deployment of His disciples. While the crowds demanded and clamoured for His attention, Jesus was careful to set aside valuable time to teach and train His disciples. During a particularly busy period of ministry, He invited His harassed disciples, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31).



Priority is in teaching his disciples


PHOTO: Priority is in teaching his disciples
Jesus was careful to set aside valuable time to teach and train His disciples. During a particularly busy period of ministry, He invited His harassed disciples, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest" (Mark 6:31). Jesus wanted to have an opportunity to spend time with His disciples, so that He could teach them. It was a priority for the Lord.
Posted by Mustard Seed Faith on 27 January 2015
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Priority is in teaching his disciples
At another time, when they were passing through Galilee, Jesus saw the crowds coming and chose to go through the countryside in secrecy. "Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples" (Mark 9:30-31, emphasis added). The reason for the secrecy was to have an opportunity for Jesus to spend time with His disciples, so that He could teach them. It was a priority for the Lord.



Priority is in teaching his disciples
PHOTO: Priority is in teaching his disciples
"Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples" (
Mark 9:30-31, emphasis added). The reason for the secrecy was to have an opportunity for Jesus to spend time with His disciples, so that He could teach them. It was a priority for the Lord.
Picture posted by Association Jesus World Wide, The Exhortation to the Apostles. James Tissot, 1886-94
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Select disciples to continue the mentoring process
Paul displayed this mentoring ministry in his relationship with many younger Christians. He would also select promising young men and train them in discipleship and ministry. Timothy was one of them. Notice the term of endearment (love or affection) Paul employed in addressing Timothy - "my son" (2 Timothy 2:1). Paul was a spiritual father to Timothy. He had invested much in him - choosing him as a member of his missionary team, and disciplining him over the years. Paul reminded Timothy of what he had taught, referring to "the things you have heard me say" (2 Timothy 2:2). Now that Paul was facing death, he urged Timothy to continue the mentoring process with others so that the gospel and faithful discipleship can be preserved.



Select disciples to continue the mentoring process


PHOTO: Select disciples to continue the mentoring process
Paul select promising young men and train them in discipleship and ministry. Timothy was one of them. Now that Paul was facing death, he urged Timothy to continue the mentoring process with others so that the gospel and faithful discipleship can be preserved.
Picture posted by on 9 April 2013 (last modified) at 17:00
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Entrusted and entrusting the gospel
Paul had been entrusted with the gospel (2 Timothy 1:12; cf. 2 Timothy 1:14 and 1 Timothy 6:20). He in turn entrusted the gospel to Timothy (2 Timothy 1:14). Now Paul urged Timothy to entrust the same gospel to others. "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witness entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2). There is a whole series of entrusting going on here. It is like the passing of the Olympic torch from person to person till the last point, and requires effective and faithful mentoring.



Entrusted and entrusting the gospel


PHOTO: Entrusted and entrusting the gospel
There is a whole series of entrusting going on here. It is like the passing of the Olympic torch from person to person till the last point, and requires effective and faithful mentoring.
Posted by Paul Chappell on 24 October 2011, Trusted with the Gospel
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Proper attitudes to "endure hardship"
This is not easy task, for there are many obstacles such as laziness, self-centredness, preoccupation with the self's agenda, distractions, busyness, disappointments, lack of time, and persecution. In order to overcome these, proper attitudes are needed. Timothy is urged to "endure hardship with us" (2 Timothy 2:3). He is to stoutly withstand all the pressures and pain for the sake of the gospel, and in this he was not alone, for Paul and the other Christian leaders and ministers were facing the same challenges. There is comfort in knowing the truth of the gospel and being convinced of it, comfort in knowing the Lord's presence, and comfort in knowing we have the company of other faithful servants of God. It is important to develop proper attitudes towards ministry if one is to "endure hardship". Paul used three metaphors to illustrate the attitudes - the devoted soldier, the disciplined athlete, and the diligent farmer. [1]


 The proper attitudes - the devoted soldier, the disciplined athlete, and the diligent farmer


PHOTO: The proper attitudes - the devoted soldier, the disciplined athlete, and the diligent farmer
It is important to develop proper attitudes towards ministry if one is to "endure hardship". Paul used three metaphors to illustrate the attitudes - the devoted soldier, the disciplined athlete, and the diligent farmer.
Picture by Mars Hill Church (on Pin Interest)
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Reflect on the lessons (right attitudes) you can learn from the devoted soldier, the disciplined athlete, and the diligent farmer.
The Devoted Soldier [1]
Soldering is a favourite metaphor of Paul for Christian discipleship. Elsewhere Paul used this metaphor in reference to the faithful grasp of the gospel amid apostasy and unfaithfulness (1 Timothy 1:18-19), the struggle for personal holiness in a sin-saturated world (1 Timothy 6:12), the spiritual warfare against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:10-18), the struggle against heresy and sin in the church (2 Corinthians 10:3-6), and comradeship in ministry (Philippians 2:25). Consistent with his analogies, Paul declared with grateful triumph towards his end: "I have fought the good fight" (2 Timothy 4:7).



Soldering is a favourite metaphor of Paul for Christian discipleship


PHOTO: Soldering is a favourite metaphor of Paul for Christian discipleship
Paul used this metaphor in reference to the faithful grasp of the gospel amid the spiritual warfare against principalities and powers . . . .
Picture by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson - The Apotheosis of the French Heroes Who Died for Their Country During the War for Freedom
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In this passage, Paul employed the metaphor of the soldier to emphasise the devotion to Jesus that is required of every Christian. A soldier knows that hardship is part of his calling. If he is a good soldier, he will endure hardship (2 Timothy 2:3). The training camp for soldier is no holiday resort, as military recruits would quickly find out. The recruit is stretched to the limits of his physical and mental capacities. He could give up and leave the army, but if he persists and endures the hardship of strict and rigorous training, he would become a well-trained and useful soldier. Life in a real battlefield is even more difficult than in the training camp. A soldier may lose heart and become a deserter. On the other hand, the soldier who stands his ground in fierce conflict displays faithfulness and commitment to his commander.



A good soldier will endure hardship (2 Timothy 2:3)


PHOTO: A good soldier will endure hardship (2 Timothy 2:3)
Paul employed the metaphor of the soldier to emphasise the devotion to Jesus that is required of every Christian. A soldier knows that hardship is part of his calling. The soldier who stands his ground in fierce conflict displays faithfulness and commitment to his commander.
Artwork by Jean Keaton
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A good soldier does not mess around with civilian affairs but seeks to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:4). Soldiering requires commitment and focus. In applying this to the Christian life, we must not misunderstand that Christians are not to serve in civilian affairs. The point is that as a soldier displays single-hearted focus and devotion, so also must the Christian - whenever he is called to serve, and whatever he is called to do.



Soldiering requires commitment and focus


PHOTO: Soldiering requires commitment and focus
A good soldier does not mess around with civilian affairs but seeks to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:4). A soldier displays single-hearted focus and devotion, so also must the Christian - whenever he is called to serve, and whatever he is called to do.
Artwork by Jean Keaton
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Martin Luther, the great reformer, challenged the medieval notion that true service for God was done only in the church and monastery. Only the priests and monks had true vocations. All the others involved in secular work were not serving God. On the contrary, Luther insisted that whether we serve in sacred or secular professions, whether in church or in the farm, we are all serving God. He taught that a cobbler should do as well as a preacher in church, because both acts are in accord with God's purpose and governance and bring glory to Him. What is important is to do all for the glory of God and to keep our eyes focused on our true Master, and to remain faithful to Him and His calling.



A cobbler should do as well as a preacher in church


PHOTO: A cobbler should do as well as a preacher in church
Picture of Carey in his workshop during his younger days.
William Carey (1761 – 1834) was born in 1761 into the humble family of Edmund and Elizabeth Carey in the village of Paulerspury, Northamptonshire. Raised with a spiritual background in the Church of England, with his father appointed the parish clerk and village schoolmaster, he was an inquisitive learner since young. His interests ranged from subjects such as the natural sciences to languages, in which he was said to have mastered Latin in his younger days through self-teaching.

Carey was apprenticed to a cobbler in a nearby village at the age of 14 with his father’s help. It was during this time when he left the Church of England to form a small Congregational church in Hackleton along with other like-minded members. He also mastered Greek during this time with the help of a local villager, a Greek grammar book and the Greek New Testament. . . . .

In 1786, Carey raised the need for all Christians to be involved in spreading the gospel to the world and not to remain within the comfort zones of their local churches . . . . . he argued the need for obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission to spread the gospel to every nation in the world . . . .

Later carey proceed to become a full-time pastor with successful establishment of the Particular Baptist Society for the Propagation of the Gospel Amongst the Heathen (later known as the Baptist Missionary Society or BMS) in October 1792.
Posted by James Ang, Christianity in India
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Therefore, the soldier enlisted by Christ is not to be entangled in anything that is not related to the will and command of Christ. In his Address to Martyrs, Terrullian wrote: "No soldier comes to the war surrounded by luxuries, nor goes into action from a comfortable bedroom, but from the makeshift and narrow tent, where every kind of hardness and severity and unpleasantness is to be found." [2] Or as John Calvin asserted, "Everyone who wishes to fight under Christ's command must relinquish all the trifles and diversions of this world and devote all his energies to the fight." [3] This is the resolute attitude of the soldier of Christ who is committed and devoted to his Lord as he goes about serving Him.



The soldier enlisted by Christ is not to be entangled in anything that is not related to the will and command of Christ


PHOTO: The soldier enlisted by Christ is not to be entangled in anything that is not related to the will and command of Christ
"No soldier comes to the war surrounded by luxuries, nor goes into action from a comfortable bedroom, but from the makeshift and narrow tent, where every kind of hardness and severity and unpleasantness is to be found." [2]
Picture by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (1708-1787) Italian painter, posted on 4 October 2013 at 6:25 AM - War and Peace
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The will and command of ChristPHOTO: The will and command of Christ
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” ~John 13:34 (NIV)
"Everyone who wishes to fight under Christ's command must relinquish all the trifles and diversions of this world and devote all his energies to the fight." [3] This is the resolute attitude of the soldier of Christ who is committed and devoted to his Lord as he goes about serving Him and obeying His commands.
Posted by Debbie Richardson on 28 March 2013
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https://bystillwaters.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/live-with-a-christ-like-love/



Paul fleshed out this attitude in his ministry for Christ. He applied it in the way he mentored people with dedication and was an excellent model for them. He demonstrated by an unswerving faithfulness and clear focus in the work assigned by the Lord.



Unswerving faithfulness and clear focus in the work assigned by the Lord

PHOTO: Unswerving faithfulness and clear focus in the work assigned by the Lord
Paul fleshed out this attitude in his ministry for Christ. He applied it in the way he mentored people with dedication and was an excellent model for them.
Picture by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni (1708-1787) Italian painter, posted on 4 October 2013 at 6:25 AM - God the Father

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The Disciplined Athlete [1]
Another of Paul's favourite metaphors for Christian discipleship is the athlete (2 Timothy 2:5). During the time of Paul, athletic games were commonly held in Greece in places like Olympia and the Isthmus of Corinth. In games, some of the key events were foot races and wrestling. Paul drew on these two sports to teach spirit truths in his epistles.



The Disciplined Athlete


PHOTO: The Disciplined Athlete
Paul, one of God’s spokespersons, use athletic metaphors for Christian discipleship. The story of the famous Scottish runner and missionary, Eric Liddell, is also instructive. In the movie which tells his story, Chariots of Fire, Liddell has an argument with his sister who is fretting over his passion for running and competing in the upcoming Paris Olympics of 1924. She is worried that he is neglecting his call to missions in China. Liddell replies, “God made me for China. But he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” It is likely that Liddell actually did say something like this. Would not the God who made the gazelle and the cheetah rejoice to see one made in his image run like the wind?
Posted by Michael W Nicholson on 01 February 2015
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https://tidesofgod.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/does-god-like-football-2/



For example, Paul used the idea of the Christian life as a foot race. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24). Further, Paul used the image of athletic wrestling to declare: "I do not fight like a man beating the air" (1 Corinthians 9:26). He was not a  shadow boxer but engage in actual ministry, wrestling with spiritual forces and his own sinful nature. His discipleship and ministry were not for show but for real.



Paul used the idea of the Christian life as a foot race.


PHOTO: Paul used the idea of the Christian life as a foot race. "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24).
Posted by Michael W Nicholson on 01 February 2015
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https://mudpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/the_athlete.jpg
https://tidesofgod.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/does-god-like-football-2/



The successful athlete must have the right motive, habit, and value system. The athlete who runs must be serious about winning the race - this is the proper motive. Paul urged Christians to run in order to win. They were not to be half-hearted. Only the athlete who wins the race gets the victor's wreath. If the athlete in the Greek games took their races with seriousness and passion, then the Christian disciples should be even more serious about their discipleship, because unlike the perishable crowns in those races, the Christians who finishes his race wins "a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:25).



Christians must have the proper motive


PHOTO: Christians must have the proper motive
The successful athlete must have the right motive, habit, and value system. The athlete who runs must be serious about winning the race - this is the proper motive. The Christians who finishes his race wins "a crown that will last forever" (1 Corinthians 9:25).
Posted by Carrie Anton on 6 August 2013
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It is with this in mind that Paul was confident that he would win "the crown of righteousness" that the Lord would award to him because he had "finished the race" (2 Timothy 4:7-8). The difference between the Greek race and the Christian race is that the former had only one winner, while the Christian race can have as many winners as there are believers who complete the race faithfully. Hence Paul said that the Lord would award the crown of righteousness not only to Paul "but also to all who have longed for his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8).



Can have more than one winners in the Christian race


PHOTO: Can have more than one winners in the Christian race
The difference between the Greek race and the Christian race is that the former had only one winner, while the Christian race can have as many winners as there are believers who complete the race faithfully.
Picture posted by Takayuki Sko san on 1st December 2013
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VDiPBwQyoyc/Vc62-gagj_I/AAAAAAAAg-A/tnrL0bs3tFI/s1600/usain.jpg
http://nyuutarou.com/wp-content/uploads/usain.jpg
http://takayukisko.blogspot.sg/2013/12/vol2.html



In applying this motive in his missionary endeavour, Paul travelled extensively and often exhibited a deep desire to literally keep walking as far as he could to spread the gospel. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul expressed his desire not to preach where the gospel had already been preached but to go to distant regions; as a 60-year-old man, he was planning to go to faraway Spain (Romans 15:20,24). Paul did not go about his ministry merely as a duty; he had a view to be successful in his work. Like an athlete fixed on winning, he strained every muscle and all he had to press on with stamina amid hardship and persecution (Philippians 3:13-14).


Deep desire to spread the gospel
PHOTO: Deep desire to spread the gospel
Paul travelled extensively and often exhibited a deep desire to literally keep walking as far as he could to spread the gospel.  Like an athlete fixed on winning, he strained every muscle and all he had to press on with stamina amid hardship and persecution (Philippians 3:13-14).
Posted by Na początku on 06 April 2015, Paul gave testimony concerning his calling. After his arrest in Jerusalem and imprisonment in Caesarea, he stood before King Agrippa II and told the story of his conversion.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Imy3lXQDEAo/VXgAYRRRz1I/AAAAAAAAgRM/_29g9Fg2j8Q/s1600/512901857_1280x853.jpg
https://i.vimeocdn.com/video/512901857_1280x853.jpg
https://vimeo.com/123533367



The successful athlete must also have the right habit. He must be self-disciplined. One does not win the race without strenuous training. The glamour of an Olympic win is the result of years of persistent and lonely periods of training. The good athlete will strive to be physically fit, to perfect his running techniques, and to submit himself to the exacting demands imposed by his coach. There may be times of temptation to go easy on his training but if he is intent on winning, he would overcome such temptations to resolutely pursue rigorous training - he would need to be self-disciplined and willing to pay the price. Paul applies this truth  in the Christian life: "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training . . . [Therefore] I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:25,27).



To submit to the exacting demands imposed by the coach


PHOTO: To submit to the exacting demands imposed by the coach
The successful athlete must also have the right habit. He must be self-disciplined. One does not win the race without strenuous training.
Posted by T.V. Antony Raj on 18 December 2012
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-7LeZeLmNlQU/Vc624q3d2II/AAAAAAAAg8Q/PKW4MYJYuIw/s1600/chinese-child-gymnastics-04.jpg
https://tvaraj.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/chinese-child-gymnastics-04.jpg
http://tvaraj.com/2012/12/18/chinese-coaches-torture-kids-to-create-olympic-champions/



William Barclay underlines the need for self-discipline and self-denial in the Christian life. "The athlete who would excel knows that he must let nothing interfere with the standard of physical fitness which he has set for himself. There must be discipline in the Christian life. There are times when the easy way is very attractive; there are times when the right thing is the hard thing, there are times when we are tempted to relax our standards. The Christian must train himself never to relax in the life-long attempt to make his soul pure and strong." [4] Christian maturity, and effective and fruitful Christian ministry belong to those who practise self-denial and self-discipline.



Need for self-discipline and self-denial in the Christian life


PHOTO: Need for self-discipline and self-denial in the Christian life
The Christian must train himself never to relax in the life-long attempt to make his soul pure and strong. Christian maturity, and effective and fruitful Christian ministry belong to those who practise self-denial and self-discipline.
Posted by Paola Serra on Tuesday, 13 January 2015 at 22:02:00
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Q1kM8lD67Hc/Vc6271Ztd0I/AAAAAAAAg9E/ZFaMAkcvY10/s1600/preghiera.jpg
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lglHyh3ide8/VLWN3EnCfiI/AAAAAAAAId4/aBe0AwSCycY/s1600/preghiera.jpg
http://paolaserra97.blogspot.sg/2015/01/la-giornata-di-cafarnao-seconda-parte.html



When Paul used the metaphor of the athlete, all of the above were probably on his mind as he elaborated on it in other epistle. In this final epistle, Paul emphasised another feature of the successful and disciplined athlete - he runs according to the rules. "If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules" (2 Timothy 2:5). The Greek word nomimõs means "according to the law" or "lawfully" which points to the fact that if the athlete breaks the rules, he would be disqualified. Athletes and spectators know this. There was a specific rule that required athletes in the ancient Olympiad and Isthmian games to have trained for ten months in order to qualify for participation. [5] There were no short cuts.



There are no short cuts


PHOTO: There are no short cuts
Paul emphasised another feature of the successful and disciplined athlete - he competes according to the rules. "If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules" (2 Timothy 2:5). If the athlete breaks the rules, he would be disqualified.
Picture posted by Bodybuilding.com updated on 28 July 2015, Ashley Hoffmann WBFF pro fitness model
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-GwPgm2TDrn0/Vc623CCZTHI/AAAAAAAAg7o/0yqFFDlsyt0/s1600/bow-2014-09lh8188-watermarked_714.jpg
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2015/bow-2014-09lh8188-watermarked_714.jpg
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bodies-of-work-volume-3.html



The application of this for the Christian involves living and serving with an upright character and according to biblical principles. The Christian who will be rewarded at the end is one who lives according to the law of God. Success is not merely a matter of hitting the tape at the finish line - how we get there is also important. John Stott explains: "In spite of the strange teaching of the 'new morality', which insists that the category of law has been abolished by Christ, the Christian is under obligation to live 'lawfully', to keep the rules, to obey God's moral laws. True, he is not 'under law' as a way of salvation, to commend him to God, but he is as a guide to conduct." [6] There is no crown of victory for the Christian who blatantly disregards God's laws. True spiritual reward depends on faithful Christian service done according to rules and standards set by God.



No place for medicore Christians


PHOTO: No place for mediocre Christians
Since Christ wishes us to strive all our days, the man who fails half-way to victory loses his honour, even though he may have begun bravely. There is no place for half-hearted attempts or half-finished races in the kingdom of God.
Picture posted by Bodybuilding.com updated on 28 July 2015, Mike O'Hearn, a Bodybuilding.com athlete
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-p2CGnzpT4nQ/Vc627CnTRgI/AAAAAAAAg80/tm0B6jlLEsc/s1600/mikeohearn_2_714.jpg
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2015/mikeohearn_2_714.jpg
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bodies-of-work-volume-2.html



To summarise, Paul deploys the metaphor of the athlete who has the right motive of an all-out desire to win, the right habits of self-disciplined training, and the right value system with regards to God's laws. This indeed is a high standard, without which one only attains mediocrity. And mediocre Christians are not very useful to Christ. As John Calvin reiterates: "Since Christ wishes us to strive all our days, the man who fails half-way to victory loses his honour, even though he may have begun bravely." [7] There is no place for half-hearted attempts or half-finished races in the kingdom of God. It is not that God demands of us an impossible task. For what He demands of us, He also enables us - with divine grace.



High standard required


PHOTO: High standard required
Paul deploys the metaphor of the athlete who has the right motive of an all-out desire to win, the right habits of self-disciplined training, and the right value system with regards to God's laws. A high standard, without which one only attains mediocrity. And mediocre Christians are not very useful to Christ.
Picture posted by Bodybuilding.com updated: 28 July 2015, Ana Delia De Iturrondo, international fitness model
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-bzlNHG1JeQE/Vc6231piqBI/AAAAAAAAg74/3PBbe4XB-S4/s1600/bow-2014-09lh8897-watermarked_714.jpg
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2015/bow-2014-09lh8897-watermarked_714.jpg
http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bodies-of-work-volume-3.html



The Diligent Farmer [1]
The third metaphor used by Paul is the "hardworking farmer" (2 Timothy 2:6). The key attitude here is diligence. In the largely rural society of the ancient Mediterranean world, the work of the farmer and the importance of diligence would be readily understood. Lazy farmers cannot have successful harvests. A good farmer has to wake up every morning to work on his farm. He has to prepare the land, and ploughing the land is a back-breaking job. He has to plant the seeds, tends daily to the growing crops, and keep weeds and disease at bay. He has to ensure that there is adequate water supply and provide irrigation if necessary. Meanwhile he does not see immediate results of his labours and he needs much patience as he waits for the harvest.



The Diligent Farmer


PHOTO: The Diligent Farmer
The third metaphor used by Paul is the "hardworking farmer" (2 Timothy 2:6). The key attitude here is diligence. A good farmer has to wake up every morning to work on his farm. He has to prepare the land, and ploughing the land is a back-breaking job. He has to plant the seeds, tends daily to the growing crops, and keep weeds and disease at bay. He has to ensure that there is adequate water supply and provide irrigation if necessary.
Picture from Fotosearch Stock Photo, A Farmer Planting Rice in His Ricefield
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-aWpR1SyPAio/Vc6260qZwrI/AAAAAAAAg8s/ZBjWtSoSuOk/s1600/k4603940.png
http://fscomps.fotosearch.com/bigcomps/CSP/CSP460/k4603940.jpg
http://www.fotosearch.com/CSP460/k4603940/



The Christian is expected to work hard and toil in the Lord's field if he is to expect a rich harvest. True, it is God who gives growth in His field, as Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:6, 9). But Paul needed to plant the seed and Apollos needed to water the fields. We must avoid misunderstanding God's grace to the point that we become passive, powerless and fruitless Christians. God operates, but we must co-operate with Him with an active response in faith. Therefore Paul teaches that while "it is God who works in you to will and to act", you are to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12-13).



 It is God who works in you to will and to act


PHOTO: It is God who works in you to will and to act
The Christian is expected to work hard and toil in the Lord's field if he is to expect a rich harvest. We must avoid misunderstanding God's grace to the point that we become passive, powerless and fruitless Christians. God operates, but we must co-operate with Him with an active response in faith.
Picture from Dreamstime.com, Smiling farmer woman (Ioana Grecu) with agriculture tool
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-zZDoKFEzFFE/Vc628kleeVI/AAAAAAAAg9c/wFhxLcCAooo/s1600/smiling-farmer-14841790-11.jpg
http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/smiling-farmer-14841790.jpg
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-smiling-farmer-image14841790


 It is God who works in you to will and to act


PHOTO: Paul teaches that while "it is God who works in you to will and to act", you are to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12-13).
Picture from Dreamstime.com, Sexy farmer (Ioana Grecu) with a shovel on her shoulder
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-DrLhfdFEweo/Vc628s97nlI/AAAAAAAAg9Y/vl3W89QP3M8/s1600/sexy-farmer-shovel-14841770.jpg
http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/sexy-farmer-shovel-14841770.jpg
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-sexy-farmer-shovel-image14841770


 We should expect a farmer to prosper in business, to sow his fields


PHOTO: We should expect a farmer to prosper in business, to sow his fields and remains diligent till harvest. We expect a believer to be diligent to attain holiness.
Picture from Dreamstime.com, Tired farmer girl (Ioana Grecu) with a shovel in green field
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wxDHBjtMjXg/Vc629kzFWjI/AAAAAAAAg98/KhRgpJbmRmA/s1600/tired-farmer-14712447-1.jpg
http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/tired-farmer-14712447.jpg
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-tired-farmer-image14712447



The Lord's field can be found in two places - in our hearts (individually and as the church) and in the world. With regard to our hearts, the harvest has to do with holiness. We have to work hard diligently and co-operate with God to attain holiness. In this regard, 19th century Anglican bishop J.C. Ryle observes wisely, "I will never shrink from declaring my belief that there are no 'spiritual gains without pains'. I should as soon expect a farmer to prosper in business who contented himself with sowing his fields and never looking at them till harvest, as expect a believer to attain much holiness who was not diligent about his Bible-reading, his prayers, and the use of his Sundays. Our God is a God who works by means, and He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without them." [8] "Beware of the temptation." warns Bible scholar N. T. Wright, "to engage in the Christian life like a kind of absentee landlord, expecting the benefits without having to do any of the hard work." [9]


 


PHOTO:  The 1st Lord's field is found - in our hearts (individually and as the church)
We have to work hard diligently and co-operate with God to attain holiness. He will never bless the soul of that man who pretends to be so high and spiritual that he can get on without them. We need to be diligent about Bible-reading, prayers, and the use of Sundays.
Picture from  UNC School of Education, Cultivating a small garden in Virginia
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-FkQsIOt4h8M/Vc626P5iagI/AAAAAAAAg8c/kvbxaWibwxg/s1600/hoes.jpg
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/media/uploads/2007/10/hoes.jpg
http://www.learnnc.org/lp/multimedia/6823



No one becomes holy without hard work and diligent practice of Christian disciplines as a response to the grace of God. No church produces saints without the diligent preaching of preachers and without hardworking teachers, pastors, and lay leaders. This spiritual principle of hard work is something that people steeped (falling sharply) in our modern hedonistic (engaged in the pursuit of pleasure; sensually self-indulgent) culture would find difficult to accept or follow.



The hedonistic pleasures


PHOTO: The hedonistic pleasures
This spiritual principle of hard work is something that people steeped in our hedonistic culture would find difficult to accept or follow.
Picture posted by The Enchanted Sleeper on 14 October 2011, Birth of Venus, Adolf Hiremy-Hirschl

http://enchantedsleeper.tumblr.com/image/100048230071 - (tumblr_ndd9k9Naso1qd42nao1_1280.jpg) 
http://enchantedsleeper.tumblr.com/post/100048230071


The second field is the world and the harvest is the fruit of evangelism and mission. Here again, diligence is needed. This is not only for evangelists and Christian workers but every member in the church. Sadly, diligence is not widely observed. People are distracted by the less important and worldly matters, or they are discouraged by opposition and difficulties, or they do not have the courage and tenacity to pursue the task the Lord has given to His church.



The 2nd Lord's field is the world - the harvest is the fruit of Evangelism and Mission


PHOTO: The 2nd Lord's field is the world - the harvest is the fruit of Evangelism and Mission
This is not only for evangelists and Christian workers but every member in the church.
Picture from Christian Leadership Institute, 7 Avenues of Training
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-T0i48LYx71k/Vc6202GMZCI/AAAAAAAAg64/_fWZPkvHqNk/s1600/Evangelism%2Band%2BMission%2Bin%2Bthe%2BWorld.jpg
http://www.christianleadershipinst.org/Portals/32/Documents/SEVEN_VENUES_060109FINAL.pdf


 Evangelism and Mission


PHOTO: Evangelism and Mission - Sadly, diligence is not widely observed
People are distracted by the less important and worldly matters, or they are discouraged by opposition and difficulties, or they do not have the courage and tenacity to pursue the task the Lord has given to His church.
Picture posted by At or with me on Thursday, 17 November 2011
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UQDQn8K7CQQ/Vc627_oy4zI/AAAAAAAAg9A/Qn54l_1QiMQ/s1600/phrenologicalchart.jpg
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-qJffD0YEr44/TsRXlAGQr_I/AAAAAAAACgk/z3XggdQhzXs/s1600/phrenologicalchart.jpg
http://atorwithme.blogspot.sg/2011/11/moc-svesti-moc-vibracija.html



Paul practised what he preached. He spared no effort in his relentless pursuit of holiness and untiring efforts to bring the gospel to the world. The Greek word he used to describe the farmer is kopos. It indicates toil and intense struggle to the point of weariness and exhaustion. Paul had personal experience of this and he declared truthfully with reference to the other apostles: "I worked harder than all of them" (1 Corinthians 15:10), and in comparison to those who claimed to be super apostles, he testified, "I have worked much harder" (2 Corinthians 11:23).



Paul practised what he preached


PHOTO: Paul practised what he preached
Paul had personal experience of toil and intense struggle to the point of weariness and exhaustion. He declared truthfully with reference to the other apostles: "I worked harder than all of them" (
1 Corinthians 15:10)
Picture posted by jrcjazzed2012 on 9 June 2015, Walk in the spirit
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-5tYS1Dqv4Rc/Vc622BiRaXI/AAAAAAAAg7Q/nTHNFfTa2RM/s1600/be-strong-in-the-grace-we-have-from-god-thru-jesus-our-lord.jpg
https://wlfambassadors.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/be-strong-in-the-grace-we-have-from-god-thru-jesus-our-lord.jpg
https://wlfambassadors.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/walk-in-the-spirit/



In another place Paul declared, referring to Christ who worked through him, "To this end, I labour, struggling with his energy, which so powerfully works in me" (Colossians 1:29). Paul laboured to perfect the saints through his teaching and preaching. It was intense and tiring work - a struggle - but like a hardworking farmer he persisted with the energy and strength that Christ provided. He did not hold back, but offered himself as a cleansed instrument and channel of God's redemptive power.


 Paul laboured ike a hardworking farmer


PHOTO: Paul laboured like a hardworking farmer
He persisted with the energy and strength that Christ provided. He did not hold back, but offered himself as a cleansed instrument and channel of God's redemptive power.
Drawing by Henry Hintermeister, posted by Fuza.ru on 15 March 2011 at 11:36
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UZjavL2TzLk/Vc62y-GZbuI/AAAAAAAAg6Q/qa2na_W2ci4/s1600/1300178156_uncle-sam-and-the-american-farmer.jpg
http://fuza.ru/uploads/posts/2011-03/1300178156_uncle-sam-and-the-american-farmer.jpg
http://fuza.ru/funny/10372-risunki-ot-henry-hintermeister.html



The result of such commitment, self-discipline, and persevering diligence is a rich harvest that is given by grace of God. British theologian C. K. Barrett reminds us: "Beyond warfare is victory, beyond the athlete's effort is the prize, and beyond agricultural labour is the crop." [10] Our labour is not in vain; therefore we can confidently stand our ground, remain faithful to the Lord, and give ourselves fully to His work (1 Corinthians 15:58). [1]


 The result of such commitment, self-discipline, and persevering diligence is a rich harvest that is given by grace of God.


PHOTO: The result of such commitment, self-discipline, and persevering diligence is a rich harvest that is given by grace of God.
"Beyond warfare is victory, beyond the athlete's effort is the prize, and beyond agricultural labour is the crop." [10]
Picture posted by Mikrifarma

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-jndKLWmbXWs/Vc62y2aIH9I/AAAAAAAAg6Y/77e3fzbuvS4/s1600/199982_478883498812197_918507016_n.jpg
http://files.mikrifarma.webnode.gr/200000089-7991a7b844/199982_478883498812197_918507016_n.jpg
http://mikrifarma.webnode.gr/



What are the implications (
right attitudes) for the church?
An Exhortation to be faithful [1a]
We are called to "remember Jesus Christ", but instead treated the sacrament too lightly or merely as a ritual. We are to remember Jesus like Paul, who looked at his chain amid deep thoughts about Jesus and His gospel and wrote poignantly (touching): "I am suffering . . . But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything" (2 Timothy 2:9-10). God's messenger can be imprisoned, but not God's message! Paul would be disturbed if he were to visit some modern churches and find little of such life-changing and radical remembering of Jesus, and little of such suffering and enduring.


We are God’s fellow workers.
PHOTO: We are God’s fellow workers. We are God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
"I am suffering . . . But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything" (
2 Timothy 2:9-10). God's messenger can be imprisoned, but not God's message!
Picture posted by on 11 March 2015 at 10:05 pm

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-4mVuCcP6uNE/Vc62-FHWVmI/AAAAAAAAg9w/4bmPwao3-hc/s1600/tumblr_nkv705qZoe1s91yx0o1_1280.jpg
http://41.media.tumblr.com/e709c21819470d65606496a9d99daab5/tumblr_nkv705qZoe1s91yx0o1_1280.jpg
http://faithful-in-christ.tumblr.com/post/113392057679



We, too, are called to show forth these attitudes as we serve Christ. And we need to ask ourselves whether we are building up the lives of other people in the church. Mentoring is not only reserved for the elite or the old. Everyone can mentor relationships from one age group to another, from the oldest members in the church to the children. In this way, the church will remain true and strong, and the gospel would bear much fruit through its ministry. [1a]



We are called to show forth these right attitudes as we serve Christ.
PHOTO: We are called to show forth these right attitudes as we serve Christ.
Everyone can mentor relationships from one age group to another, from the oldest members in the church to the children. In this way, the church will remain true and strong, and the gospel would bear much fruit through its ministry.
Picture posted by Caroline Coleman on 9 October 2013, “forever empty”: 1 Corinthians 10

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-D8IDL6rBxo0/Vc626bBG2KI/AAAAAAAAg8g/fqUUWNFCqD4/s1600/img2.jpg 
http://www.18gramercypark.com/img/content/gramercy_park/img2.jpg
http://carolinecolemanbooks.com/2013/10/on-that-forever-empty-1-corinthians-10/


 Lord, I want to be useful to you, the Master


PHOTO: "Lord, I want to be useful to you, the Master – an instrument for noble purposes, prepared to do any good work. I want to seek your face, to bind myself to you. I dedicate myself to you again today.
May we as a church be useful to you, Lord. May we be a community where people find kindness, faith, love and peace. May we bring the good news of Jesus to all those around, transforming our society and changing our world in the power of the Holy Spirit.
" [11]
Picture posted by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. - Christ with Mary and Martha
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-9jEcwckULvY/Vc624_ueLaI/AAAAAAAAg8M/n7gvA6NXHZw/s1600/christ-with-mary-and-martha-0001219xl-med.jpg
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bc/scriptures/nt/luke/10/images/christ-with-mary-and-martha-0001219xl-med.jpg
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/10#media=christ-with-mary-and-martha
https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/luke/10

 
Reflection - Useful to the Lord, by Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012



Reference
[1] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART TWO: USEFUL TO CHRIST, Chapter 5 "Our Attitude to Ministry" (2 Timothy 2:1-13), Page 65 - 75.

[1a] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART TWO: USEFUL TO CHRIST, Chapter 5 "Our Attitude to Ministry" (2 Timothy 2:1-13), Page 77 - 80.

[2] Quoted in stott, The message of 2 Timothy, 53.

[3] Calvin, The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, 307.

[4] Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, 161.

[5] Towner, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, 173.

[6] Stott, The Message of 2 Timothy, 55.

[7] Calvin, The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians and the Epistles to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, 307.

[8] J. C. Ryle, Holiness (James Clarke, 1952), 21.

[9] Wright, the Pastoral Letters, 98-99.

[10] C. K. Barrett, The Pastoral Epistle, The New Clarendon Bible (Ozford: Clarendon Press, 1963), 102.

[11] Twenty-Five Ways to Be Useful to God, posted by HTB Church on 23 October 2014, http://www.htb.org/bioy/commentary/1045

NIV, New International Version, Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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1 Corinthians 15:58 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+15%3A58&version=NIV
 
1 Timothy 1:18-19 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+1%3A18-19&version=NIV

1 Timothy 6:10-11 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+6%3A10-11&version=NIV

1 Timothy 6:12 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+6%3A12&version=NIV


2 Corinthians 10:3-6 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+++Corinthians+10%3A3-6&version=NIV

2 Corinthians 11:23 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+11%3A23&version=NIV

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2 Timothy 2:1 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A1&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:2 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A2&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:3 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A3&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:4 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A4&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:5 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A5&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:6 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A6&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:1-13 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A1-13&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:21 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A21&version=NIV

2 Timothy 4:7 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A7&version=NIV

2 Timothy 4:7-8 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A7-8&version=NIV

2 Timothy 4:8 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+4%3A8&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:9-10 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A9-10&version=NIV

Colossians 1:29 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+1%3A29&version=NIV

Ephesians 6:10-18 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6%3A10-18&version=NIV

John 13:34 (NIV) - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+13%3A34&version=NIV

Luke 16:13 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+16%3A13&version=NIV

Mark 6:31 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+6%3A31&version=NIV

Mark 9:30-31 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+9%3A30-31&version=NIV

Matthew 6:24 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A24&version=NIV

Philippians 2:12-13 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A12-13&version=NIV

Philippians 2:25 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+2%3A25&version=NIV

Philippians 3:13-14 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+3%3A13-14&version=NIV

Romans 15:20,24 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+15%3A20%2C24&version=NIV