Near the end of his life, Paul was confined to a Roman prison cell with little hope of release. That imprisonment was the occasion for Paul’s final letter to Timothy, his young protégé, in which he gave him some final words of advice. Paul encouraged Timothy to continue in what he had learned.
• What has God taught you this year?
As a church, there are three important lessons that we learned corporately this year.
1. Our circumstances do not define us.
Many of us learned some valuable lessons as a result of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. One of our members remarked, “I have learned that I am not a hurricane victim. That is not my identity. These events will not define me or my family.”
The story of God’s people is always a story of God’s hope prevailing in spite of tough circumstances. God has chosen to use broken people in broken circumstances for His perfect good.
• What circumstances did you face this year that caused you to more strongly cling to hope in God?
2. God has a plan for us.
Paul defined his life as a fight and a race — but he did not always know his next opponent or where the course of his race would take him. What he did know, however, was that God had a plan for his life and he only needed to have hope in the Author of that plan.
• In what ways have you seen God’s plan for your life unfold over this past year?
3. We need us.
We get a glimpse of Paul’s loneliness in his letter to Timothy. He appealed to his young friend, “Make every effort to come to me soon … and then again, make every effort to come before winter.”
The Scripture is clear about the fact that we need one another. Doing life alone is dangerous.
• Take a moment to thank God for all of those who were there for you this year in your moments of need. Determine to be there for others in the coming year.