14But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly urge you: 2proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable; convince, rebuke, and encourage, with the utmost patience in teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. 5As for you, always be sober, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, carry out your ministry fully.
2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
Reflection: For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth.
I am not sure that we always appreciate the gift that has been given to us in the Word of God. Scripture is more than just a collection of writings left to us by a community of faithful men and women of God from centuries and millennia ago. It is also the collection of the kerygma, or the proclamation, of the Church. This preaching was fueled by power of the Holy Spirit and the living presence of Jesus Christ. Whenever we come to the Scriptures, we are encountering the living Christ. In this encounter we have the opportunity to hear a fresh word from God spoken into the depths of our soul.
One vital reason that we need the Word of God is to guide us when our inner voice deceives us. Oftentimes we can think that God is speaking to us, when we are really just hearing the voice of our own preconceptions and prejudices. When we evaluate our inner voice through the rubric of the voice of Scripture, we can discern whether our inner voice is speaking truth or bias.
Furthermore, the Scriptures are not something that we can ever fully learn. As long as Jesus Christ is alive and the Holy Spirit is active, we will have an opportunity for deeper insight into the ways of God when we read Scripture. The Christian, then, never has the excuse of “Well, I’ve read that before, so I don’t need to read it again.” That is not the way Scripture reading works. There is a spiritual freshness that we experience with each opening of the Bible.
So, we should be reading Scripture daily! And we should test what others say (especially teachers and preachers) by what is in the Bible. Just like the Beroeans from the book of Acts, who “examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things [Paul’s teachings] were so” (Acts 17:11), we must not blindly accept everything that is spoken or taught in the Church. We must hold our leaders, preachers, and teachers accountable to the truth of God. But we must know and live that truth first! Let the Word of God dwell deeply and richly in you, let it take root in your heart and mind, and meet Jesus Christ – the living Lord – in the pages of Scripture every day!
Journaling Focus: All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching.
Go find your favorite Scripture passage. Write it in your journal, slowly and intentionally. As you do, soak in the truth of the passage. Perhaps you will want to make some word art out of the text. Now sit with the text. Look at it, read, and meditate on it. What is God teaching you right now through this passage? Write down what you hear and any new insights you gain from your reflection. God is speaking to you; even though the passage remains the same through the years, the message will continue to deepen the more you read it.
This practice allows you to listen to the Scripture for the week (sometimes in larger context) and to open yourself up to God’s voice in that Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above and listen to the Scripture. As you listen this first time, ask God to point out to you a word or phrase from the Scripture.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a second time. As you listen this second time, ask God to reveal to you the holy intentions for this word or phrase that is being spoken into your life.
- Click on the audio link above again and listen to the Scripture a third time. As you listen this third time, ask God how you might respond to this word or phrase being spoken into your life today.
Explore: If you would like to explore the Scripture more deeply, go to our Exploring Scripture page!
Listen to the song Thy Word. Think of how the Word of God has guided you through both the good and difficult times of life. What is God communicating to you through this song? What might you communicate to God through this song?
Prayer Focus: Proclaim the message; be persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable.
This week, pray for pastors and missionaries around the world. They need your prayer – especially your own pastor! It is not an easy task to preach the Gospel, especially when the message of Scripture is counter-cultural (as it often is). Ask God to anoint and equip our pastors and missionaries and trust God to speak through them.
Meditation Focus: Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead…
We don’t necessarily like to think about the day of judgment that will come in Jesus Christ. But it does not have to be a frightening reality, especially when we know that we are covered by the grace of God that we have accepted for our life. Ultimately, we are not in charge of anyone’s judgment. We share the love of Christ, we preach the good news, and we serve the needs of others, but we cannot force anyone to love and accept God. Nor can we look at anyone’s life from the outside and make a value judgment about them. God desires that we offer grace to others and that we concern ourselves with our own growth into holiness. If we live holy lives, then it will inspire grace in others, which will lead to their own experience of holiness. So, imagine yourself before the judgment seat of Christ. What does he say to you? Receive the words of affirmation and assurance with joy. If there are also words of holy warning, take them as an offering of grace and an opportunity for repentance and redemption.
Take some time to reflect upon your day or your week. Follow the process below and open yourself up to the presence and work of God in your life this week. Every week the structure is the same, but some specifics are changed to reflect the Scripture of the week.
- Find a place and posture that will prepare you for prayer.
- Begin by breathing in deeply through your nose and breathing deeply out of your mouth.
- Invite God to lead you through the previous day or week. For instance, if it is Tuesday night, reflect back on Tuesday morning, afternoon, and evening. If it is Saturday or Sunday, reflect back on Monday through Friday.
- Ask God to guide you through these questions:
- How have I heard God’s voice?
- What is God saying to me?
- What other messages am I hearing in the world around me?
- How often am I going to the Word of God?
- Thank God for this journey of reflection on your day or week. Ask God to continue to reveal Godself to you tomorrow.
Consider supporting the work of the American Bible Society, as they seek to give the Word of God to people in need. Or support the work of the many missionaries of Wycliffe who go around the world learning foreign languages, ministering to God’s children, and translating the Bible into new tongues for the first time.
Breath Prayer: LORD God, speak to us through your Word.