May 1, 2006 - After a recent speaking engagement, I was interviewed by a journalist from a leading Christian publication. The journalist was fascinated, not just by the message I had given, but by the way I had given it.
by Anne Graham Lotz
He indicated that none of the popular Bible teachers and speakers had such a confronting, in-your-face presentation style. Instead, he said, the trend was going more to the suggestive, thoughtful delivery. He said the best speakers were getting away from the authoritative and confronting style of preaching. Then he asked me why I spoke in the style that I did.
I never pre-plan how I deliver a message. After prayerfully preparing it, I just release it. As I have reflected on the journalist’s question, I know the way the message is “released” comes from my heart and the deep, inner conviction of truth that is there. It also comes from the very serious way I take my service to Christ.
I am convinced that the time to serve Christ is now! The words of Jesus in John 9:4 haunt me continuously, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (NIV). Time is running out. The night is coming. It’s time to get serious about our service to Christ.
Read 2 Timothy 4
Get Serious ... About the Charge
2 Timothy 4:1-5
- Give the three descriptive phrases in 2 Timothy 4:1 that set up the charge. Match each phrase with one of the following verses: John 14:17-18, 20, 23; 1 Corinthians 3:12-16; 2 Peter 3:10-12; Matthew 24:42, 44-46.
- Describe the seriousness implied by each phrase, and apply each to your own situation.
- According to 1 Corinthians 3:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:15, 2:20-21; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 3:15; and Ephesians 5:15-17, what are some ways to be prepared?
- Read 2 Timothy 4:2. What do you think Paul meant when he instructed Timothy to “be prepared in season and out of season”? How prepared are you?
- From 2 Timothy 4:2-3, why do you think patience is required of those who are serious about their service?
- Why is this same patience necessary for the sower in the parable of Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23?
- How does James 5:7-8 emphasize this kind of patience?
- List the phrases in 2 Timothy 4:5. Explain what is meant by each phrase using the following verses: Titus 2:12;
1 Peter 1:13, 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 2 Timothy 2:3-7; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8, 4:20.
- Have you ever quit before finishing a job? A responsibility? A commitment?
- What can you do to increase your perseverance? See Galatians 6:7-9 and Hebrews 12:1-3.
- How serious are you about the charge? Serious enough to take it to heart?
2 Timothy 4:6-8
- Name the crowns that are promised to God’s children, and what they are rewarded for. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, Revelation 2:10, 1 Peter 5:2-4.
- Do you think it’s possible to be saved and get into heaven, yet not have a crown? Explain. See 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 and Revelation 3:11.
- What do you think we may do with the crowns when we receive them? Read Revelation 4:9-11.
- Five minutes before you see Jesus face to face, what regrets will you have? Will you wish you had been serious about the crown? Will you get serious now ... before the night comes?
2 Timothy 4:9-22
The Personal Cost
- What personal price did Paul pay for taking his service to Christ seriously? See 2 Timothy 4:10.
- How did Jesus also pay this same price for doing His Father’s will? Read Mark 14:50-52.
- Have you been deserted by your friends for doing the right thing? How are you encouraged by Hebrews 13:5-6?
- What spiritual price did Paul pay at the end of his faithful, fruitful life? Read 2 Timothy 4:14-15.
- Read Matthew 4:1, 1 Peter 5:8-9, Ephesians 6:10-11. Are the servants of God ever exempt from this “cost”?
- Who has been attacking you? How should you respond? See Matthew 5:11-12, 43-48; 1 Peter 4:19.
- What emotional price did Paul pay for staying focused on God’s will for his life? See 2 Timothy 4:9, 16, 21.
- If you are lonely, how do the following verses encourage you? Psalm 23:4, Isaiah 43:1-4, Psalm 91:14-16.
- What material things did Paul lack? See 2 Timothy 4:13.
- From a New Testament perspective, do you think illness, poverty and problems are a sign of God’s disfavor? Answer with a phrase from each of the following verses: Philippians 1:12-14, 2 Timothy 1:11-12, Revelation 1:9,
1 Peter 3:13-14, Matthew 8:20, Mark 15:24.
- What material things do you lack? Is this evidence that God doesn’t love you? That He isn’t blessing you? That you’ve made a wrong choice? What could be His reason for allowing you to be in this situation? See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 and 1 Peter 1:6-7.
- Paul gave everything, including his own life, in order to serve Christ. Look at 2 Timothy 4:17-18 and name at least five things he received for the price he paid.
- Do you think Paul had any regrets for taking his service to Christ so seriously?
- Besides Paul, who is our example in giving everything in order to receive all that God has? See Hebrews 12:1-3.
I can almost hear Paul’s voice raised in the chorus of Revelation 5:12-13. Can you sing it now and mean it? Not just by the words you say, but by the life you live and the service you give?
God doesn’t want careless, casual Christians in His service. In the Old Testament, He whittled down Gideon’s army from 32,000 men to 300 by weeding out those who did not take service to Him more seriously than anything else.
God is looking for those who will take their service to Him seriously. Are you someone God is looking for?