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    Prayer and fasting 21 days – 2 Timothy 4 

    Paul concludes this personal letter to his spiritual son with a series of encouragements – reminders of what he has said before (sometimes in this letter).  He knows he is approaching death and is able to say “I have fought the good fight” etc, (v7).  I ask myself “Can I say I have prayed all the prayers I could have and spoken out when I could?”

    God does not want us to feel bad about past failures – if we confess them they are forgiven.  But He is calling us to fulfil all He has given us to do.  Like Timothy, let’s draw close to God and step out in faith to play our part in seeing the Kingdom come.  Like Paul, let’s encourage those we are alongside to do the same!

    Lord, fill us with Your Spirit, so we can pray and see situations change for Your glory, so we can live godly lives and so we can – together with those You have planted us with – fulfil all You have given us to do.

    Further reflection

    Paul was very focused on God’s glory and very intentional in spiritual battles, fighting spiritual forces not humans, by prayer and proclamation.  His lifestyle was consistent with his words.  Godliness might seem a bit weak to some, if it means accepting persecution willingly and not fighting back.  But thinking, reacting and acting like God would is what humanity was created for.  And there is nothing weak about the infinite, all powerful God we serve!  Paul urges Timothy to be like Him.

    We are to be ready “in season and out of season” – when it suit us and when it does not, when we are in a worship setting and when we are in a shop or someone’s home.  Wherever we are, we are to fulfil our calling.  For Paul and Timothy that included preaching, rebuking, teaching etc.  For many of us it might not mean using lots of words but for all of us it means being ready to pray for others, ready to bless them in various ways, ready to share our own story of coming to know Jesus and what He means to us today.

    The letter closes with some instructions and references to many other people.  It is most likely many of them were part of Paul’s apostolic team.  They illustrate the sorts of responses we can experience when seeking to fulfil our calling.  Some like Demas give up because the cost of discipleship and service seems too great.  Several others have gone to various places, presumably to fulfil their ministries.  While it is good for Paul to see this, it is also painful to be parted from friends and those most closely connected in ministry.  Some like Mark may have let us down in the past but are now fully “in” and with us.

    Paul’s personal instructions show tenderness (and either absent mindedness or generosity in leaving a cloak and books!).  The greetings are important too: these are real people connected in a pure love by the Holy Spirit.

    As he closes, Paul is confident God will rescue him and bring him into his heavenly kingdom.  He has in the past been rescued from the lions (presumably he had faced death in the circus) and he knows God can deliver.  But it seems Paul was not concerned whether or not he would live longer.  It would be a rescue to be saved from death but it would also be a rescue to pass through death to eternal life.  As we see in Phil 1:19-26 Paul is content to live or to die, as both outcomes will give glory to God.  May we always live with that same perspective! 

    Chris Horton, 23/09/2017