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Culture #5 – Courage For the Future: No Matter What Comes! 2 Tim. 2:7

30 Nov

As we came into the year and began our series of lessons on Culture and its Influence Upon the Church, I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to end the series. I wanted to be realistic, practical, and relevant throughout the series of lessons but end on a positive note.

I’ve decided to borrow some words from Howard Norton, to accomplish that task. We must begin by taking a look back to the date: January 1, 1901. What would a speaker on that date say as he tried to prepare his congregation for the coming century:

We must begin by taking a look back to the date: January 1, 1901. What would a speaker on that date say as he tried to prepare his congregation for the coming century:

  • “theory of relativity” (1905) observations of an obscure patent clerk in Zurick, Switzerland named Albert Einstein?
  • World War 1? Rise and fall of communism?
  • Wealth and decadence of the 1920’s?
  • Depression of the 40’s? World War II? Adolph Hitler? Halocaust?
  • Korean War? Vietnam War? Generational strife of the 60’s?
  • AIDS? Man walking on the moon? Computers? Internet?
  • The change cars and TV had on our society?

You realize, as I do, that it would have been impossible for any speaker to talk of any of these events because they were simply “impossible” when the century began!

It’s no different now as we move to the end of the century (Dec. 31, 2000) and truly begin a new century (Jan. 1, 2001).

We want to go back to some principles: Not what but HOW they reacted to troublesome events of their lives…we have a long list of people who lived during many of those dreadful events and are now faithful Christians…they lived in the midst of the conditions and couldn’t change the circumstances but were able to decide how they would live under those circumstances.

What is it that will help us live faithful at all times under any circumstances?

2 Timothy 1:7: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

It’s not what might happen in the next few years but how we deal with what happens; not so much what comes “at us” but the gifts God gives us to deal with those circumstances.

Context of verse 7:

  • Paul’s time and circumstances would not excite any of us
  • this was his 2nd Roman emprisonment…A.D. 66-67 and Nero “had all the power” (he thought)
  • In a dungeon….cold….dark…in chains
  • Paul gives us a glimpse of what he thinks is happening to him: 2 Timothy 4:6“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.”

 

  • I am the sacrifice….optimistic: 2 Timothy 4:18“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

When we experience terrible times as Christians, we need to look at his attitude and actions:

2 Timothy 1:6: “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.”

Many times when it would be much easier to crawl under the bed than to do the things needed for God….we must display this kind of attitude!

Timothy was likely being tempted to be less than he ought to be for God:

2 Timothy 1:8-9a: “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, {9a} who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace…”

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity. The word translated timidity could also have been translated cowardice. There is never a time to run and hide! Then and now!

Think of the people who have been in the midst of difficulties and cried out for courage…how great is their influence!

Winston Churchill’s first speech, speaking to the House of Commons on May 13, 1940, challenging the people of England to rise up and defend the free world: “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat (and it didn’t discourage England—it inspired England! They braced themselves for the battle).

June 4, 1940: “We shall not flag or fail…we shall go on to the end…we shall fight in France…we shall fight on the seas and oceans…we shall fight with growing confidence, gaining strength in the air…we shall defend our island…whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches…we shall fight on the landing grounds…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets…we shall fight in the hills…we shall never surrender.” (and England listened because they understood the danger he personally was in because of his statements).

That’s what Paul is saying to Timothy: Paul, a prisoner in chains…drink offering…Be what you can be…not timid…not cowards.

I have been repulsed by the negative, fear-inducing talk that was part of this country as we approached the year 2000. Dooms day predictions! God’s left us alone! So much nonsense.

It really doesn’t matter what happens in coming years if we’ll remember what God has done and is doing for us! God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity!

Crouching and cowering never comes from God. God gives us a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

J.C. Bailey, missionary to several areas of our world. In Canada, many years ago, a woman came wanting to be baptized…word came that her husband would kill him if he baptized his wife…went to the river and husband was there with a rifle…J. C. Bailey walked to the edge of the water, took the arm of the man’s wife…led her into the water and baptized her…what if he’d been killed? What a waste…some would think?

Paul’s statement applies:

2 Timothy 4:18: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

I am thankful for all those who live their life “out from under the bed.”

Ephesians 3:14-21: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, {15} from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. {16} I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, {17} so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, {18} may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, {19} and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. {20} Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, {21} to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

We don’t know what the future holds—God can give us and our children a spirit of courage, love, power, and self-control. That will enable us to grow and thrive in this life and in the years and decades to come!

Life may be tough but will never become overwhelming!

“SHINING AS LIGHTS IN THE WORLD” In The Midst Of A Crooked And Perverse Generation (Ph 2:12-16)

A grave concern to any thoughtful Christian is how quickly our society is changing, and clearly for the worse. As some theologians would describe it, we now live in a “post-Christian culture. ” This simply means that the old norms once held true are no longer accepted by the majority. How are Christians to react to this change in our society? What can we do to change the direction in which our society is heading?

Should we form “political action committees” and try to change it using the organizational powers of the church? Should we resort to boycotts, picketing, or other forms of “economic blackmail”? Should we resort to violence, both verbal and physical, if necessary? What can we do to protect ourselves, and our children?

Should we simply change our views to conform to those of society? Should we isolate ourselves, or form communes?

I believe that the Scriptures provide the correct answer, in a letter written by Paul to a church which, like many others in New Testament times, lived in a “PRE-Christian culture.” The letter is the Epistle to the Philippians.

Written to Christians living in city heavily influenced by the Roman culture, with its paganism, intellectualism, and immorality. What Paul wrote to them, is very likely the sort of things he would write today.

Especially the things mentioned in Philippians 2:12-16: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, {13} for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. {14} Do everything without complaining or arguing, {15} so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe {16} as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

Providing directions, hope, and warnings which will help us to “shine as lights in the world”

I. BY WORKING OUT OUR OWN SALVATION FIRST! (12a)

AS JESUS PUT IT, “FIRST REMOVE THE PLANK FROM YOUR OWN EYE” – Matt. 7:1-6: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. {2} For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. {3} “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? {4} How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? {5} You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. {6} “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE MAY LOSE OUR SALVATION IN THE WAY WE REACT TO OTHERS! Many people go about trying to change society for the better, using methods that will keep themselves out of the kingdom of God!

II. WITH “FEAR AND TREMBLING” (12b)

THE WORD “FEAR” IN CONNECTION WITH GOD IS NOT POPULAR TODAY… perhaps a reaction to the “hell, fire and brimstone” preaching of another generation. But could it be that we have gone to the other extreme? Have we diluted the concept of the “fear of the Lord” by our definitions?

III. BY LETTING GOD WORK IN US (13) TO SUCCEED AS “LIGHTS IN THE WORLD”…It will be essential to let God do His work, something He is able to do beyond our ability to comprehend – Ep 3:20-21. He is there “working in you”! – cf. Ph 1:6. How? Both…

a. To “will” – helping us in our motivation

b. To “do” – helping us in our ability

BUT IF WE ARE NOT CAREFUL, WE CAN EASILY…Quench God’s efforts to work in us or prevent God from using us altogether (at least for doing things for our own good)!

IV. WITHOUT MURMURING AND DISPUTING (14)

BY MAINTAINING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE…Living in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation can easily get us down, where we can become constant complainers. But allowing that to happen will render us less effective and as with Israel, “murmuring” can lead to our own downfall 1 Cor. 10:10-12

BY GETTING ALONG WITH YOUR BRETHREN…

Unity among brethren is extremely important as we try to convince the world concerning Jesus – Jn 17:20-23. Disputing with one another simply reveals we have some growing up to do! – 1 Cor 3:1-4. If the “body of Christ” is going to influence the world the way it should, it cannot be devouring itself through such destructive forces like “murmuring” and “disputing” among themselves.

V. AS CHILDREN OF GOD WITHOUT FAULT (15) WHICH REQUIRES US TO BECOME “BLAMELESS”…not that we are perfect, but like elders are to be blameless, we are to be “above reproach.” We may be sinners, but we quickly confess our sins and make amends when it is called for we should live in such a way that we have no “outstanding faults” that are clearly evident to others. Nothing hinders our ability to “shine as lights” like inconsistency and hypocrisy, especially that which is evident to all!

IT ALSO REQUIRES US TO BE “HARMLESS”…

Though we may firmly oppose sin in all forms, sinners should never fear bodily harm from us! – again cf. 2 Ti 2:24-26. Sadly, many so-called “Christians” appear to be using “Old Covenant” methods in their efforts to change others, and come across as likely to produce great bodily harm! Jesus said, we are to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” – Matt. 10:16

VI. HOLDING FAST THE WORD OF LIFE (16)

REMEMBER, THE WORD OF GOD IS THE “SWORD OF THE SPIRIT”! It is the ONLY “offensive weapon” we have in the armor of God Eph. 6:10-17. It is the instrument by which the Spirit convicts the world of sin, produces repentance and brings about the new birth – James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Rom. 1:16. Thus it is truly the “word of life”!


Check out this great series by David Chadwell

Culture and the Church: Sexual Perceptions (The X-Rated Series) by David Chadwell

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Article

 

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