Click here to view accompanying materials (original devotional, study guide and general introduction).
If you would like a leader’s guide to facilitate this study with a group of friends, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The leader’s guide contains suggestions for ice-breakers, activities you can lead with a group, as well as additional teaching material.
ENCOURAGER’S DEVOTIONAL SERIES – JANUARY BIBLE STUDY ANSWER GUIDE
Why was Paul in prison? 2 Timothy 1:11-12; 2:9
Paul was in prison for preaching the gospel.
How do Galatians 6:8-10 and Matthew 5:10-12 advise us to respond when we are persecuted for doing good?
They encourage us to keep on doing good and not lose heart.
How do these Scriptures bring encouragement?
They help us remember:
- You will reap a harvest if you do not grow weary.
- The kingdom of heaven is yours and your reward in heaven is great.
- You are in good company (with the prophets before you).
In 2 Timothy 4:14,15 Paul has two responses to those who hurt him. What are his responses and how are they different?
He puts personal vengeance against Alexander the coppersmith in God’s hands, but he also warns the people of God to be on guard against him.
What else does Paul say about dealing with those who hurt or persecute us? Romans 12:14, 17-21
He says to bless them – feed your enemies, give them something to drink, overcome evil with good, etc. Do not try to pay them back or take vengeance for yourself, but leave them in God’s hands.
Paul had to deal with hurts from non-Christians, but also with disappointment in fellow Christians. Read Philippians 4:2-9 where Paul gives advice to two women in the church who are not getting along. What advice does he give them in verse 8?
Think on the positive things they have in common. Look on the good in one another. – whatever is good, noble, etc. … ANYTHING that is praiseworthy.
How did Paul model this advice in his own life? (You might want to refer back to the January devotion to answer this.)
- He left vengeance to God.
- He keeps drawing attention back to the promises of God – rewards, heaven, reaping a harvest, etc.
Who went out of his way to be with Paul? 2 Timothy 1:16-18
What was Paul willing to endure in order to bring salvation to others and glory to God? 2 Timothy 2:10
“all things” – anything he had to endure
Look up 2 Timothy 4:2 in several different translations if possible. Note that the words “exhort” and “encourage” are used interchangeably. It is the same word in the original Greek (parakaleson) and has a broad range of meaning, from exhort, admonish, and urge strongly, to comfort and come alongside someone.
Looking at the Greek meaning of another word in 2 Timothy 4:2 (efisthami) is also helpful. It is the word translated “be ready” or “be prepared” or “be instant” and it denotes a sense of suddenness or urgency.
Does realizing there is a broad meaning for the word “encourage” affect the way you might think about encouraging someone?
Answers may vary. Please feel free to share your answers in the comments section below.
The definition of “encourage” can include doing something proactive (counseling or advising someone to take certain actions) and being more direct (exhorting, even admonishing or correcting). But it also includes less directive and assertive assistance (comforting, simply coming alongside). It is important to know that we don’t have to have all the answers to encourage someone. Sometimes giving answers is needed (and in those times we may need courage to encourage in this way), but sometimes people just need a sympathic ear and a shoulder to lean on.
Our fear of not knowing what to say or how to counsel should not keep us from being encouragers. In fact, many who try to give people pat answers during their times of grief or struggle often end up frustrating the person they are trying to minister to instead of helping them. As examples, take a look at the three articles I’m posting at the end of this page. They are written by people who have experienced this kind of frustration.
Our other word study in 2 Timothy 4:2 implies that opportunities to minister encouragement sometimes come on suddenly. You have to be prepared with the Word and with the right attitude in order to seize those opportunities and be an effective encourager. How might the “sudden nature” of such a ministry challenge you?
Answers may vary. Please feel free to share your answers in the comments section below.
My thoughts: Sometimes when someone needs our help in an urgent situation, we immediately think about how this interferes with our schedule and our thoughts go to how “inconvenient” this may be. That may sound callous, but remember that ministry often involves being “on call” 24/7 and that can be draining. I have found it helpful to remember that the suddenness of the crisis situation is also infringing on the schedules and life routines of those who need help. After all, they weren’t planning to be admitted to the hospital or to plan a funeral. I try to let my own sense of discomfort give me greater empathy for those who are in need.
What might make you feel unprepared to be an encourager?
Answers to this and the following three questions may vary. Please feel free to share your answers in the comments section below.
What troubles or situations in your own life might make it seem “out of season” for you to think about ministering to others?
Which of Paul’s troubles can you most relate to?
How might you go about overcoming these obstacles?
My thoughts: Paul asked for the help he needed. He was not afraid to let the Christian community know how he was struggling, how he had been hurt, what he needed, and how they could pray for him. Feel free to let others know your struggles. Hopefully, you’ll be able to confide in someone close at hand so they can walk with you through these times, but also feel free to share prayer requests here in the comments so we can encourage you as well. And if you see a comment from someone and can relate to their struggles, we welcome your thoughts/suggestions – but remember to avoid cliches, pat answers, and being judgmental.
Which of Paul’s “reminders” (for example 2 Tim 1:12 or 4:18), or which of the passages from this month’s study or devotional, most encouraged or affected you? Why?
I’d love to hear your answers to this question in the comments.
How could Paul’s words regarding the end of his life encourage those who are dying or grieving a loss? 2 Timothy 2:9,11,12; 4:8
I’d also love to hear your answers to this question in the comments. Are there any other texts which have ministered to you during such times? Please, share with all.
Paul reminded himself of the truth of the Gospel and the end result of the Christian life. Read Romans 8:18-39 and list the things God promises to give His children. Which of these things excites you the most? Why?
Again, I’m sure all who are participating in this study could benefit from your responses to this question as well as the next few questions. It is good for you to publicly declare your praises and others are certainly encouraged by them as well.
Paul reminded himself of how God had helped him in the past. How has God helped you in the past?
Paul also reviewed how other people had blessed him in the past. How have others blessed you?
Answers will vary for this section, but feel free to share any good ideas you had. Even if you chose not to do them, others may want to in the future.
Would it be helpful to you to memorize any of the texts from this month’s devotion or to keep them on a card or note somewhere? If yes, note which one(s):
Write down names of anyone who comes to mind when you think of the following needs. Also, jot down any ideas as to how you might help someone with those needs:
- end of life
- in need of companionship/lonely
- under persecution
- facing opposition
- disappointed by friends
- physical/material needs
- spiritual needs
- need for help in ministry
- feelings of shame, or fear others are ashamed
- Who might benefit from reading some of the texts you’ve studied this month? Actually write down names and Scripture references.
From all the notes taken above, what do you specifically want to do in response to this month’s devotion? If you are doing this study with a group, you may want to think in terms of both personal and group projects. And, again, feel free to make your commitment known in the comments here so we can all cheer you on in the days ahead.
Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road. Did you actually commit to doing something in response to the devotion? Let us know what it is. And if you’ve already done it, how did it go? If you haven’t yet, let us know what your plan is so we can check back with you.
Next Wednesday, I’ll have one more post to accompany the January devotional theme. The following Wednesday, we’ll start the February devotion. In the meantime, have a look at these three articles I referenced above. You can also do an internet search of “what not to say to someone suffering from _________” and fill in the blank for any situation you may be trying to find the right words.