Monthly Archives: November 2018

George Mueller: Displaying the Glory of God through Prayer

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

George Mueller: Displaying the Glory of God through Prayer

Psalm 84.11

The Five Stages of His Life:

1. 1805–1825 Birth to conversion
2. 1825–1835 Conversion to entrance on his life work
3. 1835–1875 His chief life’s work
4. 1875–1892 Time of his “missionary tours”
5. 1892–1898 Close of his life

George Mueller was born in 1805 and lived most of the 19th Century. He died at the age of 92, in 1898.

He was, what we would say in modern terms, quite eccentric. I say that because he seemed to me to never simply conform to the traditions set by the church of his day. He would be convinced or convicted of something he would read in Scripture and basically say out loud: Hey, that ain’t the way we do it at church. One of us is wrong, and it ain’t Scripture. He would then study hard to discover whatever doctrine or practice or truth he had come across and clarified it’s meaning in his life and in the life of the church. Or, he would change the practice – often to the dismay of those around him.

George wasn’t raised in a Christian Home. His only experience with church was the once or twice a year his family went. His mother passed away when he was 14. It seems she didn’t have much of an influence on him because he doesn’t mention her, except to note her death. His father, I suppose because of the boys’ situation with their sick mother, never seemed to discipline his sons. And so it seems they ran wild in the streets. George’s personal testimony was that he was actually out and about the city, half-drunk the night his mother passed. And remember, he was only 14 years old. Pierson: The night when his mother lay dying, her boy of fourteen was reeling through the streets, drunk; and even her death failed to arrest his wicked course or to arouse his sleeping conscience. At the age of 16, Pierson records: This boy of sixteen was already a liar and thief, swindler and drunkard, accomplished only in crime, companion of convicted felons and himself, in a felon’s cell. That’s right. At the age of 16, he was on his way to prison. Had it not been for the intervention of his father, he might have ended up there.

George’s early life was filled with images of being a prodigal son. He wasn’t poor, but he wasn’t as rich as he made himself out to be. He was living the life of a prodigal son, pretending to be rich, but running off without paying his bills. He would eventually be caught and thrown in Jail. His dad came to the rescue, sending money and paying off his debts – which, of course, got him out of prison.

George wanted to win his father’s favor back – and did so by deceiving him. George would study hard enough to make his dad think he was a good kid, working hard at Math, German, French, and Latin. And he did excel in these areas. It was as if they came easy to him and he could spend more time in his wickedness. He was such a good liar that he fooled his dad, his teachers and other men in administrative duties at the school.

Those times would be short-lived. George would live his life in a very public way as to please his father and teachers. Then, his lies would pile up to the place where he would get caught. Or, he’d run out of money and be exposed as a liar and a thief. The only time George felt guilt or remorse was when twice a year he went to church and took the communion. He would feel so guilty, that he would promise to reform his behavior – but it never stuck.

There is one story about how he had wasted away his money and was not going to make his payments. Pierson again: It is hard to believe this young man of twenty could lie without a blush and with the air of perfect candor. When dissipation dragged him into the mire of debt, and his allowance would not help him out, he resorted again to the most ingenious devices of falsehood. He pretended that the money wasted in riotous living had been stolen by violence, and, to carry out the deception he studied the part of an actor. Forcing the locks of his trunk and guitar-case, he ran into the director’s room half-dressed and feigning fright, declaring that he was the victim of a robbery, and excited such pity that friends made up a purse to cover his supposed losses.

Suspicion by the director at his school caused George to walk a fine line, but he did lose the trust of the director. Indeed, his charade was uncovered and he was deeply humiliated.

Something may have been happening in George’s heart here because just before this time, he had been sick. Like, he was stuck in his room for three months – 13 weeks. He was in dire need during this illness, and the director’s wife had actually taken care of him when he couldn’t take care of himself. His embarrassment over being found out to be a liar and a cheat made it impossible to even look at her. It seems he did have a conscience after all.

George’s dad thought the best thing for George would be to go to seminary. If he were to study for the ministry, that might cause him to be a better man. The added

Isn’t it funny (odd) how people who don’t know Christ, see Christians as good people? Like as a comparison, we see or meet or hear about a Mormon family. They’re basically good people – that’s stereotypical of us. Lost people might send their kids to a Christian School or send them to church in hopes that their kid might learn something about morals and ethics? This was the case for Mr. Mueller, George’s dad. But he wasn’t the only one. George later wrote that in his Divinity School there were some 900 students and he figured only one in a hundred knew Christ. Pierson, in his autobiography of Mueller, writes: Formalism displaced pure and undefiled religion. George was wrapped up in this group, learning the ins and outs of legalism and piety, without the changed heart. Consider this: he was even allowed to preach, and he had never even met the Savior. He owned some 300 books, but not a one was Scripture.

His Conversion:

  • George was invited to a Bible Study and just felt compelled to go. It was a community group that met on Saturday nights at some guys home. Never before had he experienced anything like this. There were four main parts to the gathering: singing, praying, reading the Word of God and reading a printed sermon. Preaching without an ordination was basically outlawed. So, these guys would get someone’s printed sermon and read through it. George was caught off guard and knocked for a loop. These guys sang with such passion. And, then when it came time to pray – this one brother near him just fell on his knees and began this impassioned plea like nothing Mueller had ever heard of before.
  • George went home, but couldn’t stop thinking about this gathering. He himself fell to his knees to pray. Something happened to him that evening. He would never be the same. God’s peace fell on that young man and changed him. He doesn’t remember the prayer he prayed, but he knows that God heard him. He did not weep dramatically over his sins and come to Christ in a wave of despondency, but rather his conversion was simple, sweet and peaceful.
  • He could not wait until the next Saturday night to be gathered with these men again.

Here we see an event that would characterize his entire Christian life: prayer. Sure, written prayers are good, but for someone to fall on their knees and petition the throne of God with passion and fervor is moving. George loved the personal side of walking and talking with God. We will see that this is what drove his faith and how he desired to teach others to have faith in God, too.

Do you know that is why he built orphanages? He writes in his own Biography: The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare.

#1 – he wanted his congregation and the orphans and the community to see that we’re supposed to trust God for everything in our lives. He knew of no better way than to live that out. #2 – he wanted the orphans to be saved and discipled. #3 – and lastly, that their physical needs would be met.

I’ve just got to stop and ask us about why we do what we do. Are we trusting God to provide for our missionaries? I’m sure you’ll say yes. But, are we daily approaching the Throne of Grace to seek God’s mercy and grace for the temporal needs of our missionaries? I have to admit that I don’t. I’m comfortable. I’m not hungry or thirsty or cold.

The Pastorate

George’s first pastorate came by way of filling a vacant pulpit. They liked him so much they asked him to stay. His first sermon was written and practiced, reviewed and rehearsed. The day came to preach and all went well. They asked him to stay and preach again the afternoon. But he was in deep trouble. He didn’t have another sermon. He began to pray and ask God for help. He could not rely on his wit and cunning to get out of this. He entered the pulpit without a script, but a hope that God would guide. It went better than the morning sermon! This prayer thing is pretty cool! He decided from then on, that he would prepare to preach as he should, but never would he preach again without being prayed up!

They asked George to stay on as their pastor and he agreed. But, he made it clear that evangelism would be the most important part of his ministry and that his congregation shouldn’t expect him to be a regular kind pastor. I don’t get the idea that he felt he would be there for a long time. His heart just wasn’t in it (pastor). He had a heart for missions.

He had applied to be a missionary with the famous London Missionary Society. But, after a couple of months, he didn’t like the way they ran things and withdrew his application. That sounds bad (he didn’t like the way they ran things)– but it really wasn’t. I’d say it was just a difference of philosophy in missions. For example, he didn’t like having to answer to someone who knew nothing of what was going on in that country. And, that sounds like he was rebellious. But he wasn’t. He felt the great need to He didn’t want to go only where they decided but rather wanted to follow the Spirit’s guiding.

It was about this time that he courted a sweet, young Christian. Their relationship grew and he was getting serious about her, but she wasn’t getting serious about missions. He found himself praying less and serving less and reading his Bible less. There was something about her that drew him away from the very calling he had surrendered to follow. After wrestling with this issue, he knew that he needed to give up the girl and keep the calling. And so he did. Evidently, it broke his heart, for he was madly in love with her. But, he knew it was what he needed to do.

Yes, the opportunity for missions was on his mind, but serving where God had planted him was his desire.

It was during this time that a few women came to him to discuss this newfangled idea of Believer’s Baptism. He answered honestly he didn’t understand the doctrine, but only knew that the church didn’t practice it. One of the women there, I guess a bit more forward than the others, chided him. They were looking to him for answers and he didn’t know what Scripture taught on the issue.

So, he dove in headfirst – and his heart followed. It seemed to him that the New Testament clearly taught this doctrine of Believer’s Baptism. And, even when there seemed to be contradictions or diversion, he believed the Bible was only clarifying this issue. And so, in October of 1830, at the church where he was the pastor, he was baptized by immersion.

In his studies, he came across a passage about the cost of two sparrows. He knew he’d read something about their cost before, but it was different. Let me show you:

Matthew 10.29 – 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12.6 – Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Ok, so the cost is doubled, but you get another sparrow thrown in. The value of the sparrow is so little – really, of no worth. It can simply be thrown in with the others because it isn’t worth anything. Basically, you get that one for free! But, you are of more value than that worthless bird. If it falls out of the nest and to the ground, God knows. But, you are of such value to the Father that he not only counts the birds, but he also counts every hair on your head.

George was so moved to think of God’s concern and care for him, that he desired to live no longer at the payment of the church, but to simply let God know of his needs and desires and to go from there. He had been receiving a stipend of $50 a year. But, those who tithed were given pews and places of prominence. He wanted the gospel to be free from that burden. So, a box was set up so that people could drop in their money without any notice to who was giving. He trusted God would provide. Yes, some folks didn’t like it and left. But, the church grew nonetheless.

Believe it or not, it was at this time that George took a wife: Ms. Mary Groves. They would spend the next 39 years together before she passed away. She would give him four children. However, two were stillborn. Lydia, their only child to live into adulthood was just shy of turning three when her little brother, Elijah, died at 15 months.

George and Mary shared a wonderful life together. It appears from his notes that they loved each other so very much. At her funeral, where he preached the message, he wrote:

Were we happy? Verily we were. With every year our happiness increased more and more. I never saw my beloved wife at any time, when I met her unexpectedly anywhere in Bristol, without being delighted so to do. I never met her even in the Orphan Houses, without my heart being delighted so to do. Day by day, as we met in our dressing room, at the Orphan Houses, to wash our hands before dinner and tea, I was delighted to meet her, and she was equally pleased to see me. Thousands of times I told her—“My darling, I never saw you at any time, since you became my wife, without my being delighted to see you.”

She was diagnosed with rheumatic fever and George suspected the worst. He recorded in his notes: My heart was nigh to be broken on account of the depth of my affection.”

At this stage of his life, he had seen God miraculously answer thousands upon thousands of prayers for his welfare and the welfare of his orphans. So he prayed to the God who had provided for him in all of those prayers before to spare his wife. This is what he wrote about the answer to that prayer: Twenty minutes after four, Lord’s Day, February 6, 1870, Mary died. “I fell on my knees and thanked God for her release, and for having taken her to Himself, and asked the Lord to help and support us.”

Often times we believers assume God’s answers are yes and no – or yes, no and wait. But, the answers of God are often much more profound, if we’ll just listen. I’m wondering if we, as believers, focus too much on ourselves in our prayers. We ‘make much of us’ in our prayers. The answers we receive from God might make more sense to us if we were praying to make much of him. Listen to Mueller’s own words of his attitude in prayer:

The last portion of scripture which I read to my precious wife was this: “The Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord will give grace and glory, no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84.11). Now, if we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have received grace, we are partakers of grace, and to all such he will give glory also. I said to myself, with regard to the latter part, “no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly”—I am in myself a poor worthless sinner, but I have been saved by the blood of Christ; and I do not live in sin, I walk uprightly before God. Therefore, if it is really good for me, my darling wife will be raised up again; sick as she is. God will restore her again. But if she is not restored again, then it would not be a good thing for me. And so my heart was at rest. I was satisfied with God. And all this springs, as I have often said before, from taking God at his word, believing what he says.

George Mueller was 64 years old when his wife Mary died. More than 40 years a believer and his theology was so very strong. All of what he has declared comes from taking God at his word. Taking God at his word. How could he do this?

Over his life, Mueller read the Bible from cover to cover over 200 times. It is said that in the last years of his life, he was reading through the Bible 4 times a year. He knew God’s Word. In this paragraph about losing his wife, we find fresh hanging fruit, ripe for us to pick.

  • I am in myself a poor worthless sinner.
  • I have been saved by the blood of Christ.
  • I do not live in sin, but walk uprightly before God.
  • God will do what is good for her and God will do what is good for me. If it is good for her and for me, to be restored, she will be restored again. If it is not good for her and it is not good for me, then she won’t be restored.
  • Conclusion: My heart is at rest. I am satisfied with God.

These are some strong principles to live by. We are sinners, but God has saved us from our sin through faith in his Son, Jesus, who died for our sin. We no longer walk in sin, but by faith in Him. We know God is good. We’re taught this from when we’re little. How many of you learned the following: God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.

If we truly believe God is good, then we should be at rest in Him and his conclusions. This means knowing that God is sovereign over all our affairs – over every breath we take.

George Mueller had seen God’s goodness in his life over and over again. It was a truth that guided him. I feel positive that you guys have heard of Mueller’s prayers for the orphans? Time and Time is recorded of needs and George would tell no one, but only God. And in every instance, God provided. Every instance.

George would be up and about his work as a pastor. Word would be sent that no food was available to feed the orphans. George would pray. Word would come back that food or money came. Someone would knock on the door and say: Pastor, God just laid it on my heart to give you this money this morning. So, I came over as quickly as I could. Or, the orphanage would send word: Pastor, the milkman stopped by this morning and said he had some extra milk that didn’t sale and gave it to the orphans. Added to that, the baker stopped by and said he had some leftover bread that no one purchased. It was going to go bad, but he remembered the orphans and brought it over.

One story goes that George got word of no food for the orphans. He had prayed, but no answer. He decided to walk over to the orphanage to be with his children and on the way he passed a member of his church. The man asked about the orphans, but George didn’t share about the need. He had made the commitment to only tell God and let God provide. They made small talk for a few minutes and then went there separate ways. But they didn’t get too far apart, before the member called out, ran back and handed his pastor some money. Pastor, use this for the orphans.

When Mueller started his Orphan Homes, there were just over 3,000 orphans living in orphanages in England. More than 10,000 orphans lived in prison. At his death, over 100,000 orphans were being cared for in orphanages. Mueller alone had established 5 Orphan Homes that cared for 2,050 orphans. Over his lifetime, he had cared for 10,024 orphans. And, never once did he ask any human to meet their needs. In all of his needs to run those orphanages for all of those little kids, he only laid his requests before God. And for 70 years, God provided all of it.

Do you remember me mentioning at the beginning of my message the purposes in establishing Orphan homes? The three chief reasons for establishing an Orphan-House are: 1. That God may be glorified, should He be pleased to furnish me with the means, in its being seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in Him; and that thus the faith of His children may be strengthened. 2. The spiritual welfare of fatherless and motherless children. 3. Their temporal welfare.

His main purpose was God’s glory in teaching others to trust God in everything.

George’s later years:

At the age of 66, George married again to Susannah Sangar.

From the age of 70-87, George would serve as a missionary. He traveled to 42 different countries to take the gospel to the lost. Did you catch that? 70 years old; 42 different countries. Wikipedia has his mission trips listed in a table for easy reference. What a great example for us!

I wonder who among us sits here today planning to waste the golden years of their lives on frivolity? Who here plans to take the blessings of retirement and like a prodigal, lavishly waste it upon themselves? Might God be calling you to flourish in the latter part of your life? Might God be calling you into his service? I know many feel called to be right here. But can you see yourself living a few more years, maybe 10-15-20 more years? Then, do you see yourself standing before God and giving account for the tremendous blessings upon your life? And when asked what you did with those blessings – how would you respond? God, I took all you gave me and I… You fill in the blank.

George served on the mission field for 17 years and stepped aside from Travel at the age of 87. He continued pastoring his church until his death in 1895. He led his Wednesday evening prayer service on March 9, 1898. He went home and went to bed. That next morning, March 10, 1898, when he was brought his morning coffee, he found lying on the floor next to his bed. He had died some time earlier that morning or late that last night. Lydia (George’s daughter) died in 1890, at the age of 57. George was 85 years old. Susannah (his 2nd wife) died in 1895 when George was 90 years old. He preached her funeral, too. His brother and father had died back in 1838 and 1840 (respectively) when Mueller was in his 30’s. George had outlived all of his family. 1805-1898 – almost the entire 19th Century. In all of his ministry and mission endeavors (his pastorate, his orphanages, his mission trips), he never went into debt for any of it. God provided for everything through prayer alone.

Indeed, George fulfilled his goal in displaying the glory of God through prayer.

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Filed under missions, Psalms, Scripture, Sermon

The Anxiety of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: The Anxiety of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 4.9-22

Introduction: Winter is coming; Fall is here. How quickly it all comes upon us. I wish the colors of fall would linger, but alas, they don’t. The stormy weather hits in such a way as to cause the leaves to fall too quickly. Cold weather moves in and the oppressive heat of summer becomes a distant memory. Winters here aren’t too bad. They can be hard at times, but they usually aren’t too bad.

I saw some snow flurries this past Tuesday at Venture. Nothing stuck, of course, but snow flurries they were nonetheless. It was a reminder that soon the colors of fall will depart and the trees will be stripped bare. The grass will lose it green, as has already begun in parts of the yard. Yes, winter is still a little over a month away, but she is coming.

I like winter. I like snow. Yes, shoveling it can be burdensome, but that doesn’t happen much around here. I won’t say it has never happened, but I can say it hasn’t happened in the last 13 winters. After Christmas, our family will gather in Colorado for our family Christmas. There will be lots of snow and I plan to ski as much as I can. I also plan to hang out with some sweet little girls that I’ve been missing.

I like the spring. I love to see the buds on the trees and watch in anticipation as the buds spring forth and turn into leaves. The flowers in Tyler are incredibly beautiful and it is fun watching the different plants produce their blooms. Reds, pinks, purples, whites. My favorite: I love looking for the dogwoods to bloom. You can walk the bike trail at Faulkner and just be amazed by those trees.

Summer brings its own anticipation. I love camping – although Lisa’s organizational skill is what makes camping so much fun. I’ll trim off a few pounds to climb some more 14ers and get excited once again to spend alone time with Stephen. He really pushes me when it comes to climbing, but it is the time talking that means the most to me. I always look forward to summer.

But fall is my favorite time of the year. Lisa makes every season wonderful. But fall, she makes that the best season of all. Fall in Texas is Camping, Football, and new TV shows! It means pulling out the winter clothes and blankets. We start fires in the fireplace. Hot chocolate. Cheeseburger Soup, Chicken N’ Dumplings, Cornbread. Yes, I like Fall most of all. And the thought of winter coming means that fall will end all too soon.

 

Something I think most people miss is how God communicates to us through our everyday lives and the seasons are one way God does speak to us. The seasons are a reminder to us to ‘count our days’ and remember that our days here on earth are few and fleeting. That can be depressing, but it can also be a wonderful thing if we’ll listen.

This passage is beautifully poetic – it is beautiful in its imagery, but also in what it is communicating to you and me – that is, if we’ll listen.

We come to some deeply personal information about Paul at the end of his final letter, 2 Timothy. The timing of his letter appears to be in the fall of the year. And, if we look closer, we’ll see the parallel of his life – that Paul is also in the fall of his life. 4.21 tells us that winter is coming. It sounds like winter is bearing down upon them in such a way that Timothy must be expeditious in his travels. There is an ominous feeling about the closing of this letter – Paul is indeed in the fall of his life. He has told us that he expects to die soon. That’s where we pick up in the closing of this letter… rd 4.6-8; and now he begins his closing remarks…

Let’s stand and read these words together. Rd 4.9-22

Pray:

The title of my message is The Anxiety of Missions and in keeping with our theme on missions in the month of November. In the 1st week we looked at The Foundation of Missions: the Word of God (2 Tim 3.14-17) and then last week we looked at The Duty of Missions: Keeping our Focus (2 Tim 4.1-8). Next week we’ll close out the month with a look at George Mueller. 2 Timothy 4.9-22 brings to light some of the struggles Paul dealt with, and I’d like to simply highlight them for us this morning:

  1. The Certainty of Time Constraints
  2. The Struggle with Relationships
  3. The Importance of Supplies
  4. The Reality of Suffering

I.     The Certainty of Time Constraints (9)

exp.: consider v9; Do your best to come to me soon. This truth of time constraints was actually the final point of my sermon last week: Timothy, keep your eye on the moment. Time is fleeting; the opportunity for service is momentary. Winter is coming and winter means some work will have to stop; travel will be more difficult, if not impossible. Some materials are needed now. Encouragement is needed now. The lost people around you are not the same people who will be around you in the future. Carpe diem.

ill.:

app.: These time constraints bleed over into the other areas of focus for us this morning: Relationships, Materials and Supplies, and Suffering.

t.s.: So, with this thought of time constraints, and understanding that I spent so much time on it last week, let’s look at the other struggles facing Paul and Timothy – and also, contemplate them for our own lives.

II.    The Struggle with Relationships (9-12)

exp.: look through this list:

  • Those who are not there with Paul:
    • Timothy: v9, Phil 2.19-22: 19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. 20 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel.
    • Demas: v 10a; has abandoned him, abandoned the mission. A negative term. We’ll see others leave Paul to go and work – those are not negative per se.
    • Crescens, Titus, Tychicus: v 10b, v 12
  • There is someone there with Paul:
    • Luke: 11a – Luke: with him; Luke joins Paul in Acts 16.10; There is a short time in there where Paul is separated from his men, Luke, Tychicus, Timothy, but they join back up with him in 20.5; and, is with Paul from through to the end at Acts 28 (v16); Luke appears to be the one constant companion in Paul’s life. Here’s my guess: all of the boys who are discipled by Paul appear to be called into ministry and mission, too. That is, all of the boys except Luke. I don’t get that his calling is like theirs.
    • Mark: technically, Mark isn’t with Paul. We see this story come alive in Acts 13. In Acts 15, at the very end, we see such a sharp disagreement between Barnabas and Paul that they part company. It is at about this time that Paul meets Timothy and Luke. And yet, here we see the Mark has been restored to Paul, so much so, that Paul longs to see him again and to work with him.

ill.: Let’s stop in the midst of the relationship. This particular story gives us a perspective on all of these relationships. Everything here really hinges on relationships. I mean here in the text and I mean here in life. Everything. Relationships are hard. Relationships are messy. But don’t you just love this story? Two brothers estranged and now, in ministry together, again. I hope Demas was restored – although there is not any evidence to support that. These brothers are all working in ministry and mission – fulfilling their call. And something that helps them all is their relationship with and to each other. Demas is mentioned two other times before he quit. Crescens isn’t mentioned anywhere else. Tychicus is mentioned quite a bit, too. Of course, you know Titus, Timothy, and Mark.

app.: We’ll meet more brothers and sisters later in the letter, but for now – just note the importance of relationships in Mission and Ministry. Relationships are vital to our Mission and Ministry.

t.s.: the next struggle deals with Materials and Supplies.

III.   The Need for Materials, Valuables, and Supplies (13)

exp.: rd v 13a; now, I don’t know who Carpus is. I don’t think he moves in the same circle as those men mentioned above. I take it that Carpus is a man of faith in Troas who has kept some of Paul’s things. For sure, Carpus kept his Cloak. This action doesn’t seem to take place inside the book of Acts – so, I’m going to assume that after Paul’s imprisonment in Acts 28, he was released, he didn’t make his way to Spain, but rather was in Troas, or at least was with Carpus when he was arrested. So, Carpus kept it for him. If Paul was in Troas and had his cloak, his books, his parchments with him when he was arrested, then that would make even more sense here. The Truth is we don’t know for sure. I’m pretty sure that his work of Timothy’s would have been on his way.

Map: Ephesus to Troas – a circuitous route.

Map #2: Where he was going.

We have the shipwreck of Acts 27, which occurred because the Captain wanted to make it to Rome before Winter, but of course, that didn’t happen. I’m sure it is this personal experience that pushes Paul to challenge Timothy to get to Rome before winter (cf.: v21).

Now, these items are personal items. This something we don’t get to see too much of in Scripture. This is a deep, personal moment.

  • Cloak: a blanket-type of material that had a hole in the center for someone to slip their head through and have this covering for warmth and protection from the elements. It could be used as a blanket to cover up with at night.
  • Books: this is probably not the whole bible, per se. We don’t even know that it would be any books fo the bible – but it is definitely possible. It would be too overwhelming for Timothy to bring all of Scripture. That would be too big and bulky. But it is possible that Paul owned some of his own books.
  • Parchments: these would be animal skins that Paul probably wrote on, or kept notes on. The truth is there is no way of knowing what was written on these parchments or what was contained in the books. Sentiment leans many preachers to push for these being the Scriptures of both Old and New Testaments that we possess. But, there is no way of knowing. I guess, that some of it may be just that – but to have the whole of it would be practically impossible.

app.: Whatever they were, they were near and dear to Paul – and he desired to have them near him as the end of his life approached. I think we to easily forget the sacrifices made by those who surrender their lives to missions and ministry. Missionaries, by way of necessity, must leave some very personal and intimate belongings behind. Some things have to be left behind when missionaries travel overseas. Often times, missionaries will liquidate their materials and keep only the smallest, most personal items. Some of those things are left here with family and friends until they can return someday.

t.s.: Paul faces the struggle of relationships, he faces the struggle with items near and dear to his heart being elsewhere, and finally, Paul faces the struggle of suffering.

IV.    Suffering (14-22)

exp.: and this comes from people, as well as, circumstance and situation. Consider, the fact that he’s in prison;

  • People: rd v 14-15; Alexander; 1 Tim 1.20; Alexander and Hymenaeus; but more than that, many people flee at Paul’s persecution and leave him to go it alone! Rd v 16;
  • Persecution: 17; from the lion’s mouth! This has echoes of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. Now, I don’t think this means he was thrown to the Lions and they left him alone. I don’t even think Paul means that he has had some preliminary trial and that he escaped being thrown to the lions. It could that, but I’m not thinking that here. But rather, that this is a reference to Satan; Satan would love to destroy Paul, but God has delivered him. Satan creeps around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. But God has rescued him. And, as it says in v 18, God will ultimately deliver him. rd v 18;

app.: Paul’s suffering is real. People have abandoned him. He is imprisoned. He lacks sufficient covering for the coming cold weather, not to mention other items that would be a source of encouragement to him. He has faced tremendous persecution: 2 Cor 11;

far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. 24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

That is the physical suffering by Paul. But this next verse is most near and dear to me. I’m not sure anyone of you here can begin to understand the anxiety of missions and ministry unless you have actually endured it.

28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.

The Truth of the matter is that the internal anguish a minister or missionary feels is indescribable. Paul has faced many physical struggles, but he has also faced the internal anxiety of his concern for his churches.

t.s.: I understand why he put this here with all of the physical struggles. I hope you can see that, too.

Conclusion: The question begs to be asked by us: did Timothy actually go and make it before winter?

There is an old famous sermon by Clarence Mccartney, pastor of 1st Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg, entitled Come Before Winter. Mccartney is famous for his leadership, along with J Grisham Machen, in the push toward conservativism in the early 1900’s. In his sermon on this text, the Mccartney imagines Timothy wanting to finish up some work around Ephesus before heading off to Rome. But he takes too much time and then can’t get a boat to Rome until after winter. When he does finally get there, he can’t find Paul. He goes to the houses of those people listed at the end of the chapter – Pudens, Linus or Claudia. They tell him that Paul passed away last December. Paul had hoped you’d come – he prayed for it. He told us that every time he heard the keys to the prison door, his heart would leap with anticipation that you had finally come. But, alas he wanted you to know he loved you dearly. He was beheaded last December.

Well, I’d like to think that Timothy made it. That he got this letter, packed up his and Paul’s belongings and brought them to Rome.

But, in all of this, it does make me think that there is this anxiousness about missions. There is suffering that is endured when one surrenders to work in Missions. This time of year, our missionaries are missing their families.

Make note of this first application: These will have Thanksgiving Dinner alone, or possibly with other missionaries. They’ll spend Christmas alone with their families back on the mainland. For those serving in Churches as pastors, worship or youth pastors – they will be with their church families for the Christmas Eve service. It might be too far for them to travel to be with family on that evening. Or, if they do travel, most families will already be in bed. Maybe you know of a pastor or a missionary who will not be able to be with family. Pray for them. Encourage them. Acknowledge their obedience to the call of God and their love for you.

Here’s a 2nd application: Once again we’re reminded that our time is brief and fleeting fast away. Winter is coming. Paul desires to pass the torch to Timothy now because his time is all but over. He longs to see his son in the faith, dear Timothy. He longs for the sentimental possessions he has been missing. His life is in the final stages. You and I will be there one day.

 

Invitation: here’s a possible 3rd application: I think about us – Christians in the United States who worry about family and possessions and our comfortable lives. I wonder if God just might be saying to us – maybe specifically to one of you here today – Come before Winter. Give yourself for my cause: missions. The sacrifice is great – but well worth it.

We’re going to be dismissed in a moment. We’ll have a moment of silence and then someone will come and pray. If you’d like to talk about this, we’ll be at the back of the worship center, experiencing fellowship over coffee and cookies. Let’s talk…

During this moment of silence, consider what God is doing in your life.

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The Duty of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Veteran’s Day: 11/11/18

Title: The Call of Duty

Text: 2 Timothy 4.1-5

Introduction:

Without reviewing last week’s entire message, I’d like to just share that we’re in the climax of this letter (2 Timothy). Paul has circled around certain themes throughout his 2nd letter to Timothy. Themes like: Suffering, Service, Sound Doctrine, Faith, the Gospel, Preaching and Teaching, Life Experience and God’s Calling. Paul begins in 1.1 and climbs up through his life and Timothy’s life to finally issue the charge in 4.2 and the letter’s apex in 4.5. We’re just below the summit (so to speak) in 3.10. Paul starts his charge in 3.10 but then stops. In 3.10 we read But you… (Σὺ δὲ). He does so again in 3.14 (Σὺ δὲ). Now Paul is at the top.

Sometimes when you climb, you see what appears to be the summit. But, as you reach that area, you see another summit a little further up. This is what is called a false summit. I’ve had about 30 summits now, including 13ers. I’m thinking that every single mountain climbing experience with the exception of maybe one or two, had a false summit. Man, a false summit can be quite disheartening.

3.10 is like a false summit – Paul presses on and now, boom – in 3.14, we’re there. Paul reaches this summit when he says, “But as for you (Σὺ δὲ), continue…” Be remaining… continue on course with what you’ve learned and what you’ve come to believe. That is where Paul has been headed this whole letter.

Ill.: When you climb a mountain and when you reach the summit, you like to linger for as long as possible. You’ve worked hard to get there and you want to take it in. But the truth is, you can’t stay long. I’ve climbed for hours to reach a summit, only to stay for a minute or two. It’s dangerous up there. There is less air. The area is usually very small. The falls to each side can be steep and far. As the afternoon wears on, storms are likely to come – and they pop up quickly.

With that in mind, Paul is going to linger here for a moment, but not too long. He now issues his charge to Timothy and it is born out of his own experience. You see that charge in 4.1-2. He comes back to it again in 4.5, which I mentioned last week is the thesis statement for the letter (Σὺ δὲ). In 3.10 he said Σὺ δὲ. And in 3.14 he said, Σὺ δὲ. Now, he says it one more time. As for you, (Σὺ δὲ) always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. And then, in v 6-8, Paul will say something like: You, (Σὺ δὲ) fulfill your ministry just as I have fulfilled my ministry.

When I was a soldier, I learned so much about discipline and structure, order and strategy. I am grateful for my four years of service because the Army taught me more about being a man than probably any other single influence in my life. From the moment I got off the bus at basic training my life was changed. Now, I’m not a soldier anymore. I haven’t been a soldier for more than 30 years, but the lessons I learned have stuck with me.

Some folks asked me about climbing mountains alone: Was I ever afraid?

The answer: yes. A few times actually. Once, I was very afraid. But I learned some skills in the army that allowed me confidence in what I was doing. I know how to navigate a map – a skill I learned in the army. I have some survival skills – again, some basics I learned in the army. I don’t mean to sound overconfident. I am not that. But, with four years of ‘how to survive in the wilderness’ training, some of that teaching stayed with me.

I say that with the understanding that Paul is going to use some of this same philosophy with Timothy. He’s laid a great foundation in Timothy’s life through his teaching and his example. Sure, Timothy has been going-it-alone, so to speak, in that Paul hasn’t been there with this young man in Ephesus. But, Timothy is really getting ready to go-it-alone, because Paul senses his life is about to end. And he wants to make sure that Timothy will remember what he’s been taught as he navigates the ministry without Paul. Timothy is going to have to step up and take Paul’s place – entrusting other men with the faith, teaching them just as Paul taught him. He is going to have to endure suffering – just like Paul has; just like Jesus did.

Here is how I see this passage breaking down. Paul says for Timothy to keep his eye on:

  1. The Master: God, the Father.
  2. The Message: Make sure it is sound, coming from the Word of God.
  3. The Mission: It is so easy to chase after some things that seem beneficial, that seem profitable, but might not really be the mission. In fact, there are probably some really good ‘works’ or ministries out there you can be doing, but those ‘works’ or ministries might not be your mission.
  4. The Moment: remember this time is fleeting. This life is short, but the time you spend in this particular ministry and mission at this particular juncture in life is so brief…

So, let’s begin with the first part of Paul’s charge to Timothy; Paul says, Timothy, Keep your eye on:

I.     The Master (1)

exp.: rd 4.1; I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom… Man, that’s weighty. We say Jesus and we often don’t think of the word Judge. We think of words such as forgiving, kind, compassionate, loving, tender…but we don’t often think Judge! Paul is saying to Timothy: This is a mission in which you serve – don’t forget who you’re serving! I think of Hebrews 12.1-2, which reads in the NASB:

1            Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

2            fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

fix your eyes upon Jesus… the Gk word here for fixing actually means to look away from everything else. It’s a negative with negative alpha used as a prefix. BTW: we do talk this way in English, but it isn’t proper.

ill.: let me give you an example: a teenage son is headed back to college. Mom says, “Call me when you get there.” Pretty clear, right? But what if Dad then says, “Do not not call us upon your arrival!” Is that not more emphatic?

exp.: that is the way it is worded here… Turn your eyes away from all and place them squarely upon Jesus!

ill.: Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.

app.: Timothy, with all I’m going to say in the next moment – don’t forget the most important thing:

t.s.: Keep your eyes on Jesus. 2ndly, keep your eyes on:

II.    The Message (2)

exp.: He says, (v 2) preach the Word! This word for “preach,” κηρύσσω means to herald – to proclaim. You can picture someone walking to a corner of a busy street, putting down a crate for a makeshift stage, and then stepping upon it. Then, opening the Bible, begin to proclaim God’s Word to the people passing by. That’s the charge to Timothy.

Now, Paul has already been very clear with Timothy about the importance a healthy doctrine and the source of the doctrine is God’s Word. He’s called it the Word of God and the Word of Truth – and here, he just calls it the Word.

t.s.: So Paul tells Timothy to keep his eye on the Master and on the Message, then he tells him how and why: First, he tells Timothy how and 2nd, he tells him why and that’s the mission:

III.   The Mission (3-5)

exp.: Timothy, keep your eye on the Mission and here’s why and how you do it.

  • 1st, (How): “be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” And then he tells him why…
  • 2nd, (Why): (v 3-4) For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” And we’ve seen that already happening in the previous chapters of this letter. I think we see that here in the US today.

ill.: I have to admit that it strikes me as odd that many pastors, preachers, missionaries, teachers today don’t use God’s Word in their preaching and teaching. They tell interesting, attention-grabbing stories that tug on the heart or provide a sense of patriotism, but for the most part, don’t Proclaim God’s Word of Truth. This morning, I wonder how many church services in America are patriotic? I mean, the music, the speaker – sharing stories that excite a sense of patriotism. And listen, there is absolutely nothing wrong with patriotism. I’m proud to be an American and proud of my military service. But America is not my home. I’m a foreigner here. I’m just passing through. But the truth is, Worship isn’t about being American or a Veteran. Go back to point #1: Keep your eyes on The Master!

Here’s what it all comes down to, Timothy: rd v 5: always be sober-minded (keep your head in all matters), endure suffering (because suffering will come), do the work of an evangelist (you know those gifts given to you when the men laid their hands on you and prayed?), fulfill your ministry (diakonos).

app.: Up to this point, you’ve probably been thinking: man, I hope Duffey is listening. I hope Shawn and Ivana are listening. I hope our missionaries overseas are listening in. Nope, this should smack you right in the heart! Fulfill your diakonos… Acts 6 – The ministry of prayer and the Word. I’m to be deaconing the Word and prayer. Elders: Prayer and Preach the Word! Deacons – in your service to the body; caring for widows and widowers, waiting tables, working in the kitchen, changing light bulbs, working in the fields, filling the baptistery. Serving at teaching, Venture, Bridgemark, CUB, Bible Study, getting the cookies and coffee ready for fellowship, worship team – whatever it is you do – fulfill your ministry.

t.s.: Keep your eyes on the Master, the Message, the Mission – and finally, Keep your eyes on the Moment.

IV.    Moment (6-8)

exp.: rd 6-8; Paul says, Timothy, fulfill your ministry as I have already fulfilled mine! My time is coming to an end! And it will be the same for you!

app.: Our time together is so brief. Let’s make this personal: Momentary in two ways: chronos and kairos;

  1. 1st, you have only but a season with these folks.
  2. 2nd, your life is indeed, but a vapor – which appears for a moment and then is gone.
  • The people around you are not always going to be there.
    • Your class
    • Your work
    • Your friends
  • We live in such a mobile society! But consider what’s more: time races on and the time we have to do what we do is limited. Your time to serve right where you are will come to an end.
    • Ann, remember Pauline Faulkenberry? She isn’t greeting anymore. But she did for years.
    • Fanny Dusek: She’s not teaching children’s ministry anymore.
    • But neither is KK? Your time with the children is done. It’s all marked up and boxed away. You had your chance to fulfill that ministry and the time for that is gone.
      • And, even if you came back, it would be different. Different kids, Different families, Different ministries.
      • Same for Doris and Darlene –
    • Jason and Kenny – the youth you have at this moment is not the same group you had three years ago. And trust me – three more years are going to pass so quickly. The influence you have at this moment… and I mean moment, will soon pass out of sight.

t.s.: What a great reminder for us to consider that brevity of what we’ve been called to do.

Conclusion: Paul has reached the summit of his letter to a dear friend. And, he wants to linger here for a while before heading back down the mountain. This is important stuff. We don’t have much time – so keep your eye on the moment. What we do in this moment is so important – so keep your eye on the message and the mission. And the accountability is so great – it is practically incomprehensible. Foundational to all of this, we’ve got to keep our eyes on Jesus – the master, the author and perfecter of our faith.

In a moment, we’ll be dismissed. Those who serve in the area of fellowship will have the coffee and cookies and doughnuts out. It’s a wonderful time to fellowship. But, it is more than that. We want to hear from you. Maybe God’s been dealing with you in some area. Church membership, Missions or Ministry. Maybe you’d like to talk about where you feel God might be leading you to serve. Let’s talk about that. Maybe, just maybe, you’ve never accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior. Come talk with me about that.

 

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Filed under 2 Timothy, Christian Living, missions, Scripture, Sermon

The Foundation of Missions

**An Audio recording of this message is available in the right sidebar of this page or at www.soundcloud.com

Title: The Foundation of Missions

Text: 2 Timothy 3.14-17

Introduction: We’re in 2 Timothy this morning.

While you’re turning to that passage, let me prepare you for our journey this morning. We’ll spend the first half of our time and maybe more time making our way through 2 Timothy to gain a better understanding of the context of this letter. I don’t want you to think that after 20 minutes of what feels like the introduction, that we’re finally getting started on the sermon and then somehow feel frustrated. This morning’s message is designed that way with the sole purpose of gaining perspective on the context of the entire body of the letter. So, in some respects, the body of the sermon is quite short. That should be encouraging. Here’s what I’m thinking: 2 Timothy 3.16 – one of the most popular and famous passages in all of Scripture has the ability to stand alone and still make sense. You can quote it (16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work), and pretty much anytime you do, it won’t be out of context. But, this passage within the context of mission and the missionary, within the context of the called and their service will do something wonderful in the mind and spirit of every believer.

With that in mind, let us establish the context by making our way through this letter with a cursory reading of many of the verses. I think I hope, we’ll feel better connected to the text when we get there. So, let’s begin in 1.1.

1.1: an apostle: sent, commission – God has commissioned him in some way.

1.3: whom I serve: here is his service; something that is in his blood, in his family history – except with him, he’s understood that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

1.3-7: Remembrance is repeated; rd v5-7: 5-7 is a possible thesis statement – a reminder of his faith and the need to ‘fan into flame’ this spiritual gift and use it. for this reason is different wording than we often find. Often the Gk is on account of this, sometimes translated therefore. But here there is this legal term – in a negative sense it would be an accusation – but here it is a positive thing.

1.8-11: this outline – this thesis continues in v8-9; He says the power of the Gospel saves us and calls us. He also says there is the downside to service – that is a downside to fulfilling our calling into service: suffering. Note: the gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ who suffered in our place.

Now already we’re seeing a theme: we’ve been saved by faith – then, called and equipped to serve. And that service brings suffering – no different really than our Master.

1.12-18: Paul then tells us of this suffering in v 12; I think there is a break here, though not noticeable in the text. The break should probably be at the end of that sentence there in v 12a. Which is why I suffer as I do. which, by the way, has that legal term again. Break. But, and he continues; rd 12b; But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. Some clarification: we sing a hymn that has this verse in it.

But I know whom I have believed

and am persuaded that he is able

to keep that which I’ve committed

unto him against that day.

Well, the verse is most literally: and I am convinced that he is able to guard my deposit until that day. You might see that in a footnote or a reference note in your Bible. My deposit could be what I give to God, as the hymn implies or it could be the possession I now have that God has deposited into my life. And, that is what the ESV translates and I think is the correct meaning considering the context of what follows.

Then, Paul builds on that in v 13 and says here that he has set an example for Timothy to follow:

  • God has deposited this gospel in me and entrusted it to me.
    • Sound Words – namely – words that come from God. You could say – the Word of God.
    • Words you’ve heard from me:
    • Words that present the Gospel.
  • Guard the deposit entrusted to you
  • Summary: as I’ve been called, sent and entrusted with this service by these words – you do and be likewise.
  • Remember suffering comes with this: Phygelus and Hermogenes abandoned me. Onesiphorus blessed me.

2.1-7: Therefore, imitate me by entrusting faithful men to teach others. Share in the suffering. And then he gives illustrations of those who suffer in their labor: Soldier, Athlete, Farmer.

2.8-13: Suffering and the Gospel. Note: The Source of this Gospel is the Word of God (v 9).

2.14-19: Paul tells Timothy what he needs to be teaching these entrusted, faithful men: Sound Doctrine! Rd 14-15; here is another term for God’s Word: The Word of Truth.

  • Testimony about our Lord (1.8)
  • The Gospel (1.8, 10; 2.8)
  • Sound Words (1.13)
  • The Word of God (2.9)
  • And here, The Word of Truth (2.15)

And you’ll see when we get to our text today that Paul uses two more terms: Sacred writings (3.15) and Scripture (3.16)

But, avoid irreverent babble (16) that is, harmful words – like, and he mentions two more men who have swerved from the truth, Hymenaeus and Philetus. Look at v19, but God’s firm foundation stands. I believe that is God’s Word. Their words are babble, but God’s Word is foundational – it is the Truth.

2.20-26: Now Paul moves back to Timothy to encourage him in what he has already challenged him in: rightly handling the Word of Truth which leads people to a knowledge of the Truth. Paul wants Timmy to be ready for every good work (21). This good work leads people to repentance and salvation (22-26).

In 3.1-13: Paul wants Timothy to understand just how difficult this will be and that he should avoid such people; rd 3.1 & 5; His examples are Jannes and Jambres; these two are not mentioned in Scripture, but we know of them through Jewish writings and even pagan references. If you go to Exodus 7.11, you’ll see them there. They are the ones who did as Paul mentions here – opposed Moses.

In 3.10, Paul comes back to that command to be like him. 1.13; 2.2; and again now in 3.10; rd 3.10; Paul has been mentoring and discipling Timothy with his life. Paul has been an example of the Word, which he has been teaching. You might say that Paul is telling Timothy here, you know my talk matches my walk.

In 3.11-13, he goes back to his suffering and the opposition he often faced in his mission work; rd 3.11-13;

Now, we’ve reached the climax of this letter. I think it stays at its apex through 4.5 and then quickly recedes into the end of the letter. It would be so much fun to go through this letter verse by verse and spend some in-depth, quality time working through their relationship and the passion they both share for the work God has called them to do. Someday, I probably will.

For the next month, let’s just focus on the climactic part of this letter and it’s closing:

  1. The Foundation of Missions: God’s Word
  2. The Duty of Missions: The Work
  3. The Anxiety of Missions: Persecution and suffering
  4. An Example of Missions: George Müller

These four areas of focus will cover as we study the task of the missionary – which, by the way, you are. You are a missionary right here in Tyler. So, you can apply this to your own life. And just what does Paul say here to Timothy about this calling and commission?

  1. Continue…God’s been at work.

Rd v 14a; But as for you; standing in opposition to those who are (using the words in 11-13) ungodly, persecutors, and deceptive; rd 14b; continue. That word Continue is where we reach the climax. This is everything Paul has been working toward: Continue. The Gk is μένω; and it is most literally to remain. So, Paul is saying lit.: be remaining. We, of course, don’t talk that way in English. We say continue.

Continue in what? Rd 14c; continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed. This first word is a derivative of disciple (a disciple is a learner)(μαθητής). We get our word math from these words. The 2nd word is the verb form of our word faith. Being in verb form expresses to us that Paul is saying to Timothy that his life demonstrates what his heart believes.

But there is more! Now Paul identifies what elements in Timothy’s life have influenced this lifestyle; rd 14d; knowing from whom you learn it; which by the way, whom is plural in the Greek. Translation: Paul is identifying the influences on Timothy’s life and there is more than one person. He expounds on that in v 15; rd 15a; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.

If you make your way back to 1.5, you’ll see two of those influences: Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s grandmother and mother. Their faith is also Timothy’s faith. A third influence would be Paul, who mentions how Timothy has heard and seen Paul’s faith lived out.

App.: Man, there is so much application for us at this moment. Have you considered that every aspect of your life has been God working on you to bring you to this moment?

  • Every struggle and every success
  • Every victory and every failure
  • Every tear of happiness and every tear from pain
  • Your parents, your upbringing, your teachers, your work, your education, your music, your… everything.

Next, I want to look closer at this word acquainted. It means to know intimately. It isn’t just a basic rudimentary knowledge. It goes much deeper than that. And just what is this of which Timothy has such intimate knowledge? What is this that he’s been learning since he was a child? Rd 15; and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings… Here is another term that Paul uses for Scripture – the sacred writings. So, to review:

  • Godly influences (family and friends)
  • Discipleship: learning about this faith
  • Faith: expressed, it is lived out…
  • Sacred Writings: Scripture, God’s Word; the standard held up and which we live our lives by…

The rest of the verses in this chapter outline for us just what this Scripture is: namely, it’s power, its purpose, it’s source and it’s many uses:

1st, it’s power – It is able (δύναμαι) the verb form of the word from which we get our word: dynamite. It’s powerful. How powerful? 2nd, It can make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ. That’s the purpose.

How can it be so powerful? Because of its source! Rd v 16; Because All Scripture is breathed out by God. This word θεόπνευστος – Theos: God; And pnewō: breath. That is, every word in these sacred writings contains the breath of God. Remove your breath and you can’t speak. Ask Marilyn!

The idea that God breathed his breath into the Holy Scriptures isn’t an isolated thought by Paul. Peter, in his 2 letter, gives his testimony of when he and the two Sons of Thunder, the brothers James and John, were up on the mountain and saw Christ transfigured. At the end of that testimonial, he writes: …that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Some folks think that this refers only to the Old Testament. But I don’t think that’s the case. We don’t have time here to defend this, but let me say, the OT canon wasn’t even established until 90 AD at the Council of Jamnia. That’s 25-30 years down the road from this letter’s origin. So, Paul wouldn’t use words like we do to describe the writings in different Testaments. Let me show you how he referred to them: 4.9, 13; cloak (4.21) biblios and membranos; books and parchments; He doesn’t say, bring my Bible because they didn’t have a Bible like you do. BTW: both Peter and Paul referred to their letters as writings as taught to them by the Holy Spirit and to be read in other churches by other believers and shared for the benefit of discipleship, polity, and instruction. Like in Colossians he says: Hey, I wrote a letter to Laodicea. Give them your letter and read theirs to your people. And, just like in this letter, he calls them to obedience, etc.

For this same reason, you and I understand God’s Word to be holy, infallible, inerrant, fully trustworthy and reliable. Paul continues to teach us, as he’s teaching Timothy here of just how reliable it is: and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

Lyle Skeels said one time in a Bible Study here that he learned it this way:

  1. What’s right
  2. What’s not right
  3. How to get right, and
  4. How to stay right.

I don’t know where he heard it, but he said he didn’t make it up. He got it from someone else.

  1. You teach What’s right
  2. You reprove What’s not right
  3. When you correct God’s people you show them How to get right, and finally,
  4. When you train them in righteousness, you show them How to stay right.

Ill.: when I was a college student I purchased a Korean/English Bible for my mom. If I recall, it has the Korean translation on one side and the English on the other side. Before giving it to her, I wrote in the front of her Bible of how the words contained in these Scriptures have the answers for life. I wish I’d have known this verse well enough to have referenced it.

Ill.: There is a popular preacher who every time he gets up to preach he asks his congregation to raise up their bibles. This is my Bible. I am what it says I am. I have what it says I have. I can do what it says I can do. Today, I will be taught the Word of God. I’ll boldly confess. My mind is alert. My heart is receptive. I will never be the same. In Jesus name. I love that. That ain’t bad. The problem I have with this preacher is that he never then opens it up and teaches from it. Basically, he appears to me to be a motivational speaker.

App.: I’m not trying to dog on him. I’ve made it my practice not to be critical of pastors – that’s why I didn’t mention his name. But if you believe that This is my Bible and that it truly is breathed out by God, and, that it teaches you what is right, what is not right, how to get right and how to stay right, then, why wouldn’t you spend some time in it.

  1. Competent… God’s equipping you

Paul tells us these things as he writes to Timothy because he wants us to know…That God has been working on him, molding him and shaping him into the man he wants him to be because he’s equipping him for service; rd v 17; that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. This wording here is truly beautiful the way it is composed in the original language. The first word, competent, means to be fitted for something.

I’ve got my ’72 Chevy up and running and I’m having some problems. After not being used for the last few years, some of the rubber gaskets and seals have become dry and brittle. The master cylinder for the brakes is going to need replacing now. Here’s the thing: I can’t just buy any master cylinder. This is a Chevy. I can’t buy just any part. Even more so, it is 1972 Chevy – 46 years old. It has to be the right part – fitted just for my truck. I was actually shopping on one of the parts websites and it warned me of a part I was looking at: This part doesn’t fit your truck.

When you consider missions, you must consider that God has fitted you for that position. Moreover, he has equipped you for every good work. The word equipped here is a compound word that uses our word competent as a part of it. God has been molding and shaping Timothy and Paul and every minister and missionary he is sending out. That’s pretty cool when you think of it. And how has he been doing that? – with his Word.

Conclusion: God’s Word is the foundation for missions. It makes the missionary and minister into the tool God wants to use. It contains the Good News of Jesus to evangelize the lost making them wise for salvation. It contains the polity and practice of the church and its officers for organization and clarity. It teaches us:

  1. What’s right
  2. What’s not right
  3. How to get right, and
  4. How to stay right.

Application: So, what would I like for you to take with you today when you go home?

  1. You can trust God’s Word for every area of your life.
    1. Parenting
    2. Your marriage
    3. Business and money practices
    4. Salvation (present the gospel and offer an invitation)
  2. You can trust that God is molding you and shaping you for the work he has called you to.
    1. Teacher
    2. Preacher
    3. Missionary
    4. Volunteer
    5. Fill in the blank

Really, this passage outlines the work of God in your life:

  • He saves you through faith (15)
  • He then molds you and shapes you through teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness…
  • Then, he equips you for his service.
  1. Is it possible that God might be calling you today?
    1. Missions
    2. Ministry: pastor or teacher
    3. Service in the body: to step up and serve somewhere – where there is a need?

I don’t know what God has been up to in your life leading up to this moment, but I’d like to encourage you to be open to his leadership. Will you surrender your life to him completely? In a moment we’ll be dismissed. We’re going to have a moment of silence for us to reflect on the day’s activities – to reflect upon what God has been communicating to us as individuals – as families. After that time of silence, we’ll have a prayer and be dismissed. We’ll have some coffee and refreshments at the back of the worship center. Let’s spend some time talking. If you have questions, the elders and staff would love to try and answer those questions and offer some direction – maybe pray with you.

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Filed under 2 Timothy, Christian Living, Faith, missions, Scripture, Sermon