I Have Fought The Good Fight
Joel 2:23-27 
23Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil. 25"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you. 26You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed. 27Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed.
The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible. Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets or simply as The Twelve; the distinction 'minor' indicates the short length of the text in relation to the book may be broken down into the following sections:
1. Lament over a great locust plague and a severe drought (1:1–2:17) The effects of these events on agriculture, farmers, and on the supply of agricultural offerings for the Jerusalem temple, interspersed with a call to national lament. (1:1–20)
2. A more apocalyptic passage comparing the locusts to an army, and revealing that they are God’s army. (2:1–11)
3. A call to national repentance in the face of God’s judgment. (2:12–17)
4. Promise of future blessings (2:18–32) Banishment of the locusts and restoration of agricultural productivity as a divine response to national penitence. (2:18–27)
5. Future prophetic gifts to all God’s people, and the safety of God’s people in the face of cosmic cataclysm. (2:28–32)
6. Coming judgment on God’s (Israel’s) enemies and the vindication of Israel. (3:1–21)tion to the larger prophetic texts known as the "Major Prophets".
The priests and rulers are to appoint a solemn fast. The sinner's supplication is, Spare us, good Lord. God is ready to help his people; and he waits to be gracious. They prayed that God would spare them, and he answered them. His promises are real answers to the prayers of faith; with him saying and doing are not two things. Some understand these promises figuratively, as pointing to gospel grace, and as fulfilled in the abundant comforts treasured up for believers in the covenant of grace.
Items for Discussion
• What are the “harvests,” the blessings that Joel and the people of Israel attributed to God?
• What are the “harvests,” the blessings that you attribute directly to God?
• Are these different in today’s world?
• What is it about our world today that makes it so hard to give credit to God?
• Exactly what does God want from us?
• How is this different in today’s world?
• Do you believe that blessings flow more or less after suffering?
• In what way do life’s difficulties help us with our relationship with God?
2 Timothy 4:6-8
6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
The apostle solemnly charges Timothy to be diligent, though many will not bear sound doctrine. (1-5) Enforces the charge from his own martyrdom, then at hand. (6-8) Desires him to come speedily. (9-13) He cautions, and complains of such as had deserted him; and expresses his faith as to his own preservation to the heavenly kingdom. (14-18) Friendly greetings and his usual blessing. (19-22).
The blood of the martyrs, though not a sacrifice of atonement, yet was a sacrifice of acknowledgment to the grace of God and his truth. Death to a good man, is his release from the imprisonment of this world, and his departure to the enjoyments of another world. As a Christian, and a minister, Paul had kept the faith, kept the doctrines of the gospel. What comfort will it afford, to be able to speak in this manner toward the end of our days! The crown of believers is a crown of righteousness, purchased by the righteousness of Christ. Believers have it not at present, yet it is sure, for it is laid up for them. The believer, amidst poverty, pain, sickness, and the agonies of death, may rejoice; but if the duties of a man's place and station are neglected, his evidence of interest in Christ will be darkened, and uncertainty and distress may be expected to cloud and harass his last hours.
Items for Discussion
• How does the Apostle Paul describe the struggles of his life?
• In what ways do pain and suffering help us prepare for God?
• What are the difficulties in building and maintaining a strong faith when life is easy?
• How is Paul describing death? What constraints has he placed within his description?
• What do you think the fears of death are like for a “bad” person? Are they greater than those of a good person?
• What warning does Paul give about neglecting our faith?
· How do fellow believers help others in distress so that their faith and hope is strengthened?
 NIV New International Version Translations