Three letters of Paul are often called “Pastoral Epistles” because they are written to two pastors. They are 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Paul mentored both Timothy and Titus. On Sunday, we will discuss why these letters are important to the church today. Pastors and deacons serve as the two offices of the church. Both positions are defined by high character, solid faith, and a family-first leadership style. But what is often missed in church leadership is tone. In 1 and 2 Timothy, Paul not only gives instructions for church leaders but also explains how they can inspire followers of Christ.
Use the following guide to prepare for Sunday. Onward!
Monday’s Passage to Read: Read 1 Timothy 1:1-17 and 2 Timothy 4:1-8. Paul writes the first letter as a guide for church leaders. He instructs Timothy on the structure and qualifications of pastors and deacons. Paul is in prison when he writes the second letter. The tone is more serious as Paul knows he is about to be martyred for his faith. Read both these passages with this context in mind.
Tuesday’s Devotional Thought: It’s the late 60s AD. The church is in a mess. People are searching. They’re scared and unsure of their future. The early Christians are in survival mode. A few years prior (64AD), Rome burned under the order of Nero—the wood shacks of the poor and the stone mansions of the rich in ruins.
Nero blames a pestilent little group called “Christians to mask his guilt.” Paul is chained. The church is persecuted. Followers of Christ are killed for their faith. 2 Timothy is Paul’s final letter. He will soon be beheaded. He knows the end is near. What are his final words?
“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” (2 Timothy 4:5)
Paul is alone in a dungeon. The light is dim, and his earthly prospects are grim. Companionship had come and gone. No one defended him at trial. His circle of friends is not there—only Luke remains. But his Lord was waiting. Paul is really not alone. He is “in the presence of God and Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 4:1)
The Great Rescuer stands with Paul, offering peace in the darkness of death. What can we learn from Paul and his predicament? Be a faith contender, not a church pretender. Some fought the good fight with Paul. Others were there only for themselves. When things got tough, they left Paul.
Are you a faith contender or a church pretender? The church does not exist for your comfort. The church exists to bring Good News to a dying world at all costs! West Bradenton does not exist to make you comfortable. West Bradenton exists to get you battle-ready. There is no joy in easy Christianity.
We’re at war against the spiritual forces of evil. The church is a healing place, but we fight against darkness leading to death. The beautiful bride of Christ is a battling warrior. God has sent us to the front lines to engage the enemy. So suit up, West Bradenton. We’re dying with our boots on.
It is a sin to belittle one’s neighbor;
blessed are those who help the poor.
Let’s do a reality check. How are you treating your neighbor? This verse is clear and convicting. Mistreating your neighbor is a sin. And God expects us to take care of the poor.
Thursday’s Prayer through Scripture: Read 2 Timothy 4:8. What do you prize? What do you eagerly anticipate? Ask God today to give you more eagerness for the second coming of Christ. Take a moment and pray about Jesus’ return.