Thoughts: Becoming a Christian is relatively easy: acknowledge to God that Jesus is your Lord and savior and receive by faith the free gift of eternal life that Christ provided by drying on the cross. You cannot work for salvation nor do anything to qualify for it. God gives it freely to all that recognize their need and trust in Christ alone.
But then comes the hard part—hanging in there as a Christian in a world that is hostile towards God and His people. The world constantly dangles in front of you all that it has to offer in opposition to the things of God. We challenge our own selves from within. The enemy hits you with temptation after temptation. The real test of your faith is, will you endure? Genuine faith in Christ perseveres to the finish line. The Christian life is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash.
Discussion: When do you most feel like dropping out of the race? What encourages you to keep going at those times? What do you need to in the rest of your life to qualify you to say "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. I have kept the faith."? Are you currently doing that?
Activity: Fight the good fight, Finish the race. Keep the faith. Not just so you can say it at the end of your life, but so you can say it at the end of each day, week, month, year!
Thoughts: We all struggle with losing heart in prayer sometimes.I think that we often do so because we encounter people who don’t fear God or respect people so we get discouraged. We suffer injustice so we wonder where God is. We encounter people with selfish motivations so we get cynical and cold. We question God’s character so we begin to believe that he isn’t just, he doesn’t love us and he doesn’t listen to our cries for help. We question God’s timing because we believe we could do the job better than he does. However when looking at this scripture, the question we ask is “why do we lose heart in prayer?” But the question God asks is “are we people of faith?” The importance and strength of his point in our lives comes when we ask both, “Are you a person of faith who doesn’t lose heart in prayer?”
Discussion: Do you trust God in the midst of discouragement? Are you persevering in your faith amidst suffering and hardship and injustice? Are you growing in your relationship with God as your righteous and good judge who loves you infinitely and hears every cry for help that comes from your lips? Is the Spirit of God reassuring your heart and your soul of God’s dependability even when you wonder how much more time it will take for Christ to return? How can you do these things day in and day out in your life and for those around you?
Activity: Pick an area or two from above where you feel you can improve and make it happen this week! Pick a few little things that will make a difference and put them into action.
Thoughts: Some of us will remember the card game called Old Maid. Each player draws an unseen card from the hand of the player next to him. When you acquire a matching pair, you discard them. You hope never to draw the Old maid card, but if you do, you keep a carefully blank face and nonchalantly place the Old Maid card in your hand, so the unsuspecting player next to you may be lured with drawing it.
The picture on the Old Maid card showed an elderly lady with sparse gray hair scraped back from her face, and rimless glasses perched on her beaked nose.
My Aunt Mary was a typical old maid. She was fiercely independent and rigidly pure. Men were inferior, and she never missed a chance to say so. She knew practically every name mentioned in the Bible, and she could rattle off all 42 generations of Jesus’ earthly ancestry.
When she died, I wondered what the minister would choose for the text of his funeral service. His choice was “Study to show thyself approved unto God ….” It was exactly right.
Discussion: What is it important to study?
Activity: Choose a verse in the Bible that speaks to you and memorize it. Remember that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11)
Thoughts: “Fan into flame the gift of God that is in you,” wrote Saint Paul to his beloved co-worker, Timothy. In each of us God has placed a gift. But, like coals burning under the ashes, sometimes God’s gift remains hidden. The challenge is to reveal it.
By praying, we can begin to discern the gift God has placed in us. In the silence of our heart, we discover that all God asks us is to welcome the gift of his love.
But it is also true that others can awaken the gift of God in us. When we look at ourselves, it can happen that we only see what we lack. That leads to discouragement. When someone looks at us with trust, it can transform us. That is how Timothy discovered his vocation. He was young and rather timid when he began to work with Paul. In spite of that, because of Paul’s trust in him, Timothy was able to go further than he could imagine. He went so far that he became a real support for Paul when he was in prison.
God himself is the one who awakens God’s gift in us. God believes in our humanity. He trusts us for what we are. God himself has given us “a spirit of strength, love and self-control”.But each gift involves a call. Now Timothy is called to give his life for the Gospel. He will be able to do it if, together with those who went before him, he places his trust in God’s power. God’s power is the resurrection, which causes life to shine out in suffering and which gives us the inner strength to dare to give our life for others
Discussion: Who has been a support for me in the course of my journey? How do I understand these words: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of strength, love and self-control”?
Activity: How can I awaken God’s gift in me
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