The Faith to Yield to God’s Courage

Posted by on June 29, 2003 under Sermons

There is a fundamental quality that is essential for any man or any woman to follow God. No, that fundamental quality is not sinlessness. It is impossible for anyone to be 100% sinless. No, that fundamental quality is not deeds. It is impossible for anyone to be such a super servant for God that he or she deserves to walk with God.

If this fundamental quality is not sinlessness or service, what is it? The fundamental quality is courage.

It takes courage to place your confidence in God.
It takes courage to repent.
It takes courage to make the commitment found in baptism.
It takes courage to surrender life and self to God’s values and purposes.
It takes courage to let God change us.

The way God looks at life and defines what is important is totally different from the way we humans look at life and define what is important. It takes real courage to look at and to define life the way God does.

  1. I am going to illustrate the courage God wants us to develop.
    1. I want to challenge every Christian here in the deepest part of his or her being to open his or her eyes and see this courage.
      1. I want to shake everyone of us out of the complacency of trusting in our system, in our way of doing things.
      2. I want to disturb each of us on the deepest level of our consciousness.
      3. I want to make all of us think with such honesty that we cannot get this off our minds.
    2. The end result is that I want each of us to trust our Savior as we have never even considered trusting him before.
      1. I want us to trust our Savior so much that the focus of our faith moves away from confronting other people.
      2. I want us to trust our Savior so much that we move closer and closer to God’s courage.
    3. Then I want to emphasize one point.

  2. To illustrate this courage, I use four well known persons in the Bible.
    1. The first person I want to use as an illustration is Abraham.
      1. If you are a Bible student, you are quite familiar with this truth: in both the Old and New Testaments, Abraham illustrates the greatest faith in God that a human ever had.
        1. If we consider the person of the greatest faith in every generation, his or her faith could not surpass Abraham’s faith.
        2. That simply is not possible!
        3. If we want to show a person God’s definition of faith, we would use Abraham.
      2. Abraham’s faith is truly incredible!
        1. I do not have to consider his faith much to realize I do not come anywhere near that depth of faith.
        2. When I look at Abraham’s faith, I see just how small my faith is.
      3. Even though that is absolutely true, Abraham is an unusual person to be the “forever” illustration of faith.
        1. Why? Because Abraham had so many imperfections.
        2. What imperfections?
          1. Twice (Genesis 12:10-20; Genesis 20) Abraham said that Sarah [his wife and half sister] was his sister.
            1. Both times he let another man take “his sister” with the intention of marrying her!
            2. Both times he did not say a word!
          2. Once he asked God to let his head servant serve as his heir because he feared he and Sarah could never have children (Genesis 15:1-4).
          3. Later, he made Hagar, mother of his first son, and the son [Ishmael] leave his family and camp–totally unacceptable in his day!
      4. If the church today were going to advance someone to be a great example of faith, we would not have the courage to use a man like Abraham for our example!
        1. Why?
        2. From our point of view, he made too many mistakes to be an example of faith!
    2. The second person I want to use is David, king of Israel.
      1. If you are a Bible student, you are familiar with this truth: David is known in both the Old and New Testaments as “the man after God’s own heart.”
        1. If we want to understand how a heart that belongs to God acts, David is our illustration.
        2. I seriously doubt that any of us here this morning has a heart that belongs to God as did David’s.
        3. I seriously doubt that there are many people in the entire world who have hearts that belong to God as did David’s.
      2. Even though it is absolutely true that David’s heart belonged to God in an exceptional way, David is an unusual person to use as a “forever” example of a person whose heart belonged to God.
        1. Why? Because David had too many faults, too many failures.
        2. What faults and failures?
          1. 2 Samuel 11 tells us that David committed adultery with Bathsheba.
          2. The same chapter tells us how David had her husband killed in order to cover up what he did.
          3. 2 Samuel 18 tells us how he grieved so deeply at the death of his rebellious son that he shamed the people who in their loyalty saved David’s life.
          4. 2 Samuel 24 tells of David’s arrogance in conducting a census of Israel which God regarded to be an act of faithlessness.
      3. If the church today was going to present to the world an example of a person whose heart belonged to God, we would not have the courage to use a person like David.
        1. Why?
        2. From our point of view, he made too may mistakes to be an example of devotion to God.
    3. The third person I would like to use as an example is Peter, Jesus’ apostle to the Jewish people and the man who preached the first gospel sermon.
      1. If you are a Bible student, you know Peter’s faith in Jesus and Jesus’ resurrection was profound!
        1. God Himself gave Peter the understanding that Jesus was the Christ–before even any of the rest of the apostles understood on his depth (Matthew 16:13-20).
        2. On the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter knew what happened to Jesus, knew that Jesus was resurrected, and was not ashamed to tell a crowd in Jerusalem about what he knew.
        3. If you want to help someone understand the courage of faith, I doubt you could do better than Peter.
      2. Even though it is absolutely true that Peter knew with all his being that Jesus was the Christ and was raised from the dead, Peter is an unusual man to serve as a “forever” example of commitment to Jesus.
        1. Why? Because he made too many mistakes after he knew Jesus’ true identity.
        2. What mistakes?
          1. After Jesus confirmed that God revealed Jesus’ identity to Peter, Peter became such a source of temptation to Jesus that he called Peter Satan (Matthew 16:21-23).
          2. Peter had such arrogant confidence in himself, he contradicted Jesus when Jesus said he would deny him that night (Matthew 26:33-35).
          3. Then three times that night before Jesus’ enemies he denied even knowing Jesus–in the very city he would soon preach about Jesus! (Matthew 27:69-75)
      3. If the church today was to present to the world a standard who knew the truth of Jesus’ identity and the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, we would not have the courage to select a person like Peter.
        1. Why?
        2. From our point of view, he made too many mistakes to be an example of conviction.
    4. The fourth person I want to use as an example is Paul, Jesus’ apostle to people who were not Jews, and the author of many New Testament letters.
      1. If you are a Bible student, you know Paul’s example of conversion to Christ is one of the most profound examples in the New Testament.
        1. The man literally turned his life around 180 degrees!
        2. Paul is a classic example of what God wants in repentance!
        3. He likely spread the news of Jesus’ resurrection to more people in the first century than any other person.
      2. Even though it is absolutely true that Paul is an incredible example of conversion to Christ, he is an unusual man to use as a “forever” example to the world as an example of conversion.
        1. Why? Because he was much too violent a person prior to conversion.
        2. What violence? Allow me to read just two statements that Paul made about himself.
          Acts 26:10,11 And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons, having received authority from the chief priests, but also when they were being put to death I cast my vote against them. And as I punished them often in all the synagogues, I tried to force them to blaspheme; and being furiously enraged at them, I kept pursuing them even to foreign cities.
          1 Timothy 1:12-16 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
      3. If the church today was going to present to the world an example of conversion, we would not have the courage to pick a person like Paul.
        1. Why?
        2. From our point of view, he was much too violent before he became a Christian.

  3. In Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul this is strikingly evident to me: God does not do things the way we do them.
    1. If we are going to have the courage to explode for Jesus Christ, to have an incredible impact for Jesus on our community, we must find the courage to see people the way God sees them.
      1. Evil is grinding us up like hamburger.
        1. It is cutting our lives to pieces as it grinds us up.
        2. Then it molds us in evil’s mold as evil desires, not in God’s image.
      2. We must stop helping evil make hamburger out of our lives.
    2. We need the courage to do three things.
      1. All of us need the courage to turn to God in the realization that all we are capable of doing is making a mess out of life.
      2. The congregation needs the discover the courage to allow those who use faith to resist evil to help and encourage others with similar struggles.
      3. All of us need the courage to share our stories about our struggles and STOP PRETENDING LIKE WE HAVE NO STRUGGLES!

When we as people in need of God start helping people in need of God as they struggle, God can and will use us–just like He used Abraham, David, Peter, and Paul.

The Constant Need To Learn, Change, and Grow

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

God is not human. We all agree. God is superior to humans in every way. We all agree. The most learned human is far beneath equality with God. We all agree. God’s priorities, standards, values, and purposes are not parallel with human thoughts or behavior. Most of us agree. God is sovereign and Christians choose to be His slaves. Many of us agree. Humans are never in a position to question or advise God. Some of us agree. The need to change is never a “God need” but is always a “human need.” Some of us agree. If I follow God, I always must be willing to change as I learn. All of us agree that others need to change, but we are very hesitant to change.

A Jewish man, born in Egypt, was a gifted speaker who was extremely knowledgeable in Old Testament scripture (Acts 18:24-28). He came to Ephesus fully convinced that the man Jesus, born in Palestine, was the Christ. He knew the Old Testament prophecies that supported his conviction. He was passionate about his understanding. What he said about Jesus was accurate. Yet, there were some things he did not know.

Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak with boldness about Jesus’ identity in a Jewish synagogue in Ephesus. They quietly took him aside and explained to him things he did not know. His teaching was not incorrect. His teaching was incomplete.

After this, Christian Jews were so impressed with his ability and understanding that they encouraged him. They even wrote him letters of recommendation when he left Ephesus encouraging other Jewish Christians to welcome him. The result: (a) He received great help from the Jewish Christian community. (b) He powerfully used scripture to establish as fact that Jesus was the Christ.

Apollos is a tremendous encouragement to us! What he knew was correct, but incomplete. He was willing to change to grow closer to God! Consider these insights:

  1. No matter how well you know the scriptures, you need to grow in your understanding of God’s purposes.
  2. The willingness to grow means the willingness to change.
  3. The result of growth and change produces increased usefulness to the Lord.
  4. Quietly teaching those who pursue God’s purposes permits change’s growth without public consequences.
  5. Our purpose as God’s servants: let God work through us to encourage others to maximize God’s use of their abilities.

Grow! Allow growth to produce change! Let change lead you closer and closer to God! Because we are correct about some things does not mean we are correct about all things. Godly growth and change are always difficult, but always possible. Let the difficult create the possible!

Feeling Overwhelmed

Posted by on June 22, 2003 under Bulletin Articles

You know the feeling. Surely you do! It engulfs us when everything is so enormous it seems hopeless. We look “inside self” only to see the many things “wrong with me.” “All that is wrong with me” so overwhelms us that “fixing me” is not an option! In “my” overwhelmed feeling, the helplessness of “my” frustration kills “my” dreams!

We look outside ourselves at our families and community. We feel overwhelmed! Expectations are unreasonably high! Disillusionment is enormous! Anticipated improvements are ridiculous! One group’s hope is another group’s frustration!

We look at our world and feel overwhelmed. Human needs defy comprehension! There is so much hate, so much anger, so much despair, and so much pain! So many are victims of hopelessness! So many view change as a threat! And yet, change happens so fast nothing seems stable. Frustration labels any improvement as an enemy to be feared.

American Christians are victims of three deceits. The first: control is the key to avoiding the overwhelmed feeling. In the church, we have been and often are control freaks. Why? (a) When we focus on controlling, we do not have to look inside self. (b) We have reasons for condemning what we do not like in our families and community. (c) We can tell the world, “It is your fault–you have no one to blame but yourselves!”

The second: we often are preoccupied with a “God complex.” We like to “play God.” Often, we judge instead of help. Often, we oppose evil instead of giving hope in Jesus. Often, we instruct God instead of surrendering to His purposes. We look at our humility and wonder why others see our arrogance. God’s sovereignty makes us nervous.

The third: we tend to reduce spiritual considerations to a matter of logic. Our opposition to evil tends to be “long on human intellect” and “short on human emotion.” Often, we are dumbfounded when others are unimpressed with our logical deductions. We are slow to acknowledge that the war between evil and good exceeds the logic of the human intellect. We say, “Humans are not God, and God is not a human.” Yet, “I do not know,” is an unacceptable answer, not a truthful response acknowledging the mystery of God and His sphere.

Remember: Ephesians 6:10-13 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” Alone, we are overwhelmed. With God, we endure. Do not underestimate the war. In the battlefield of your life, know evil is your enemy AND trust your Lord and Savior.

Familiar Scriptures: 2 Timothy 2:15

Posted by on June 15, 2003 under Sermons

How important is it to make people you love happy? In your mind and heart, is there a connection between being a source of love and being a source of happiness?

Let me ask you some questions, and you honestly answer them in your own mind and heart. In your answers, do not substitute wishes for answers. As you answer to yourself, answer in terms of what you can do.

The questions:

  • What would you do to make a treasured friend happy?
  • What would you do to make your husband or wife happy?
  • What would you do to make a child happy?
  • What would you do to make a parent happy?
  • What would you do to make your Savior happy?
  • What would you do to make your God happy?

I apologize for not having a closer connection between our study of 2 Timothy 3:16,17 and tonight’s lesson which focuses on 2 Timothy 2:15. I conclude that it is very important to understand Paul’s emphasis rather than our emphasis. If we are not careful, we create a division in emphasis, a problem that God never intended.

  1. Let me begin with a brief review of my thoughts on 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.
    1. I stressed that the scripture the first century church used (for the most part) was what we call Old Testament writings.
      1. Printing had not been invented.
      2. Christians did not have personal Bibles to read and study.
      3. The Old Testament scriptures were used extensively in New Testament writings as documentation and authority.
    2. Paul, with admiration, spoke in 2 Timothy 1:5 of the sincere faith existing in Timothy.
      1. Paul said this admired faith originated in his mother and grandmother.
      2. This faith was not produced by devotion to New Testament writings (which did not exist when Timothy’s grandmother developed closeness to God).
      3. It was produced by what we would call an understanding of the Old Testament’s emphasis on being a righteous person.

  2. Allow me to transition to another statement Paul made to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:14-17a, with specific attention to verse 15.
    Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.
    1. As a preacher, Timothy was to remember he was a reminder–he was to help those Christians remember.
      1. I conclude in this particular injunction Paul spoke of the things that were to be entrusted to faithful people. (2:2)
        1. Suffer hardship as a good soldier which involves keeping yourself free to respond to the orders of those in control.
        2. Compete according to the rules as any good athlete must do.
        3. Persevere as a farmer who understands he will be the first to receive a share of the crops.
      2. Depend on the Lord to give you understanding.
        1. Remember Jesus Christ, the resurrected one, the descendant of David.
        2. Remembering him your foundation reason for enduring.
        3. He (Jesus Christ) will keep his word and honor his promises.
      3. Remember what is important.
        1. Do not wrangle about words.
        2. Those confrontations are useless and cause listeners to be ruined (spiritually).
    2. I want you to focus on the very familiar verse 15.
      1. First, consider it in the King James translation, which is likely the translation most of us used as we learned this verse.
        2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
        1. When I was a boy, this was my understanding of the emphasis that I was taught.
          1. Study–do a lot of reading of the New Testament.
            1. It is good to read the whole Bible. (Reading the Old Testament is fine.)
            2. But your focus of serious study needs to be the New Testament.
          2. If you are to have God’s approval, you need to develop expertise in your knowledge and understanding of the New Testament.
          3. The only way that you can become an unashamed worker for God is to understand the New Testament.
          4. No one will be able to properly separate scripture, the word of truth, unless he is an expert in the New Testament.
        2. That was the emphasis I heard as a boy, but Paul was not talking to Timothy about focusing on the New Testament–the New Testament as such did not even exist when Paul made that statement. So what was Paul saying to Timothy?
      2. Now let me direct you to the same verse in the New American Standard translation:
        2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
        1. Notice Paul’s emphasis to Timothy and notice how that emphasis is consistent with the emphasis in the verses before 2 Timothy 2:15.
        2. “Timothy, be serious in your commitment to God; be diligent as your seek God’s approval as His workman.”
        3. “Remember that you are a workman.”
          1. The concept here is that of a servant, a laborer.
          2. Timothy is to remember that is what he chose to be.
          3. There is an implied contrast here: (a) a man who serves by choice who wants God to be pleased with his service versus (b) a man who serves by necessity, who wants to look good when he is noticed (“front and center”) but who does not care about God if he thinks he is not noticed.
        4. “Remember your chosen objective–you want to be God’s unashamed laborer. (It was God’s evaluation of him that was important, not people’s evaluation.)
        5. “You must not use scripture, God’s word, to excuse or justify ungodly behavior–you emphasize in your life God’s emphasis; you are concerned about God’s concerns, not yours.”
        6. “You do not make scripture say something it does not say.”

  3. We desperately need to understand that some things have never changed.
    1. The nature and character of God have not changed.
      1. What God wants in the hearts and minds of His people has not changed.
      2. God’s values and priorities have not changed.
      3. The nature of righteousness has not changed.
      4. The nature of godliness has not changed.
      5. The fundamental expectations of God 5000 years ago in righteous people are still the fundamental expectations of God in righteous person today.
    2. Let me ask you to consider some specific examples.
      1. Consider Psalm 24:3-5.
        Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
        1. That is a timeless description of a righteous human life.
        2. Never has there been a time when people could dirty their hands with evil, be unconcerned about pure hearts, be liars, be deceitful people, and live in God’s presence.
        3. The person who will be blessed with God’s salvation is the person devoted to purity in life and honesty in dealing with people.
        4. That has always been true!
        5. Do you not remember Matthew 5:8?
          Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
      2. Consider Proverbs 6:16-19:
        There are six things which the Lord hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers.
        1. God despises arrogance, deceit, those who cause the innocent suffering and death, hearts that plan evil, people who enjoy and reinforce evil, those who spread lies, and those who promote conflict.
        2. That has always been true!
        3. When God resurrected Jesus, those evils did not suddenly become righteous acts with God.
      3. Consider Isaiah 1:16,17:
        Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow.
        1. Isaiah just completed an emphasis on two facts:
          1. Israel, compared to a body, was covered with horrible sores.
          2. Their technically correct acts of worship made God sick.
        2. What would reverse the situation? What did they need to do?
          1. Become concerned with being pure instead of just being technically correct.
          2. Stop evil behavior in their daily deeds.
          3. Quit doing evil.
          4. Learn to do good (they did not know what good was!).
          5. Start being fair in all circumstances to everyone.
          6. Start caring about those who were at the mercy of the ruthless, and start condemning the ruthless.
        3. That has always been true! It continues to be true!
        4. Rightfully handling God’s teaching in the Old Testament and New Testament will lead to no other conclusion.
        5. Do you remember James 1:26,27?
          If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Paul’s encouragement to Timothy was not about Old and New Testaments. It was simple: “Timothy, be serious and devoted to being God’s righteous servant.”

A Spiritual Check Up: Analyzing Personal Situations

Posted by on under Sermons

This morning I want you to place yourself in a father’s situation. This situation is discussed in Matthew 17:14-21, Mark 9:14-29, and Luke 9:37-42.

I invite you to read with me as we read Mark 9:14-27.
When they came back to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. Immediately, when the entire crowd saw Him, they were amazed and began running up to greet Him. And He asked them, “What are you discussing with them?” And one of the crowd answered Him, “Teacher, I brought You my son, possessed with a spirit which makes him mute; and whenever it seizes him, it slams him to the ground and he foams at the mouth, and grinds his teeth and stiffens out. I told Your disciples to cast it out, and they could not do it.” And He answered them and said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!” They brought the boy to Him. When he saw Him, immediately the spirit threw him into a convulsion, and falling to the ground, he began rolling around and foaming at the mouth. And He asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy him. But if You can do anything, take pity on us and help us!” And Jesus said to him, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.” When Jesus saw that a crowd was rapidly gathering, He rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You deaf and mute spirit, I command you, come out of him and do not enter him again.” After crying out and throwing him into terrible convulsions, it came out; and the boy became so much like a corpse that most of them said, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand and raised him; and he got up.

Place yourself in this father’s situation. Your son is born! As a father (in that world), you are filled with such a sense of joy. This is your heir! This is the one who will let your name live! This is the one who will continue the traditions of your family and their presence on earth! This is much more than the birth of another baby–it is your family’s hope for the future!

  1. Quite early in the child’s life it is obvious something is seriously wrong.
    1. At first you notice that your son is not learning to talk.
      1. That deeply distresses you, but nothing you try helps.
      2. As time passes and you see more, your distress grows deeper.
      3. One day your son who cannot talk has a convulsion.
        1. But it is more than just a convulsion.
        2. It is like some unseen force suddenly throws him on the ground.
        3. There he writhes uncontrollably and foams at the mouth until he becomes very still and stiff.
        4. It is as though he died.
        5. Then slowly he revives.
      4. It gets worse.
        1. One day this violent force seizes him and throws him into the cooking fire.
        2. If Mom had not been there, he would have died in the flames.
        3. Another day this violent force seizes him and throws him into a stream.
        4. If you had not been there, he would have drown.
    2. It becomes evident that something far more powerful is wrong with your son than just physical problems.
      1. Something seeks to violently kill him.
      2. He will go for a while living as normally as a child who cannot talk can live.
      3. Then, suddenly, with no warning, he is slammed to the ground, or thrown into a fire, or thrown into some water.
      4. Each time this violence happens, someone is near to rescue him from death–he surely cannot help himself.
      5. But inside you know it is only a matter of time when he will die a violent death.
      6. Some demonic force wants to destroy him, and there is nothing you can do.
      7. As months fade into years, you give up hope and deep within accept the inevitable.

  2. Then one day you hear about a man by the name of Jesus who has power over demonic forces, and you hear he is in your area.
    1. Frantically, you find out where he might be found.
      1. With difficulty you take your son on foot to locate this man.
      2. Even though you hoped to see the man Jesus himself, you found only nine of his disciples.
        1. Like everyone else in the crowd around the nine you want to see Jesus, but you hear that these men also have power over demons.
        2. You make opportunity to approach the nine, explain your son’s need, and ask for their help.
        3. They are nice folks and listen to you willingly, with compassion.
        4. After hearing the problem, in the confidence that they can help, they try to help, but it is obvious to them and to you that they do not have the power to throw the demon out of your son.
      3. Your hopes fall.
        1. Maybe no one can help.
        2. Maybe Jesus himself could not help.
        3. Maybe you were foolish for thinking anyone could help.
        4. Maybe you were stupid for bringing your son out to what now seems to you a desolate place.
      4. Instead of finding help, you sparked a fierce argument between some of the critics who watched and the nine.
        1. When the nine could not cast the demon out of your son, the critics verbally confronted them.
        2. The critics did all they could to shame and disgrace the nine.
    2. Just as your hope hit bottom and your distress overwhelmed you, the man Jesus appears with three of his disciples.
      1. He sees the argument and asks what is going on.
      2. You see your opportunity and explain the situation.
        1. “My son has a spirit that prevents him from speaking.”
        2. “Sometimes that spirit seizes my son, slams him into the ground, makes him grind his teeth and foam at the mouth until he becomes stiff.”
        3. “I asked your disciples to throw this spirit out of my son, but they could not.”
      3. Jesus groaned when he heard the nine could not make the demon leave.
        1. His spiritual influence on them had not produced what he longed for them to have.
        2. He asked for the boy to be brought to him.
        3. At that moment the spirit throws the boy on the ground, and the boy rolls around and foams at the mouth.
        4. Jesus asks you, “How long has this been happening?”
          1. You say, “Since he was a child” or as we might say, “All his life.”
          2. Now your desperation speaks–your hope has been dashed once.
          3. In desperation, he asks, “If you can, take pity on us and help us.”
        5. Jesus answers, “If I can? All things are possible to him who believes.”
          1. The father responded with what I consider one of the most truthful statements ever made to Jesus: “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
          2. Jesus commands the spirit to leave and never return.
          3. It did, but the spirit leaves the boy looking dead.
      4. Jesus, the life giver, raises the boy to his feet.
    3. Later, in a house, in private, the mystified disciples asked Jesus, “Why could we not drive the spirit out of the boy?”
      1. Jesus’ answer was brief and to the point.
      2. “Only prayer can force this type of spirit out.”

  3. We live in a very evil world and a very evil society.
    1. Yet, we are so deceived we often think that we live in a good world.
      1. Every day of our lives, evil influences seep through our pores and saturate our minds and emotions.
      2. Every day of our lives, evil invades our souls and convinces us to regard forms of evil as blessings.
        1. Daily, commercials persuade us to measure the importance and success of our lives on the basis of (a) what we own and (b) what we consume.
        2. Television programs and movies frequently tell us that sexual perversion, sexual pleasure, and sexual addiction are common, are good, and are desirable–and to think otherwise is ridiculous.
        3. News stories often tell us that causes are more important than people.
        4. Political statements often confuse justice with the preservation of our life styles.
    2. As a result, when we search for the causes of our personal struggles, we Christians commonly begin the search outside ourselves.
      1. “Let’s straighten the nation out, and all our problems will vanish.”
      2. “Let’s straighten our community out, and all our problems will vanish.”
      3. “Let’s straighten the church out, and all our problems will vanish.”
      4. “Let’s straighten theology out, and all our problems will vanish.”
      5. “I wish you would get control of your family, because when you do, I will not have any problems.”
    3. Far too few of us say, “God, straighten me out; that is the foundation of my problems.”
      1. This world is not fair, and if you believe otherwise you are deceived.
      2. This life is not just, and if you believe otherwise you are deceived.
      3. Society is not composed of a majority of kindness, and if you believe otherwise you are deceived.
      4. God did not ask us to go into all the world and make it fair, or just, or kind.
      5. He said go into all the world and find people who will make Jesus Christ their Lord by learning to live life as he teaches.

  4. All of us have struggles, and all of us hurt.
    1. In your hurt and struggles, what is the solution?
      1. Are the struggles created by someone else, or are the struggles found in you?
      2. Is step one addressing everyone else’s shortcomings, or dealing with yourself?
      3. Is your hope in Jesus Christ, or is you hope in controlling other people’s lives?
    2. Many times Jesus emphasized the importance of believing.
      1. Too often we are like the father.
        1. We hurt as our world crumbles and we watch helplessly.
        2. We struggle as we oppose all the forces “out there” trying to find hope.
        3. Then our hope is dashed and desperation rules us instead of faith.
      2. As we are brought to our knees, we say, “Lord, if You can do anything, take pity on me and help me!”
        1. We say to the Creator, “Lord, if you can do anything…”
        2. We say to Him Who gives life, “Lord, if you can do anything…”
        3. We say to Him Who resurrects from death, “Lord, if you can do anything…”
        4. We say to Him Who rules eternity, “Lord, if you can do anything…”
      3. And when He finally “gets through” to us, He says, “If I can do anything?”
        1. And suddenly we understand, we realize who God is, who Jesus is, and who God’s presence in our lives is.
        2. And when we do, with a heart writhing in agony, with shame, we shout, “Lord, I believe!”
        3. And even as our hearts shout our belief, we know it is so small, and we beg God to deepen its roots.

The key in coping with our struggles is not “fixing” everything else. The key to coping is not even “fixing” ourselves. The key to coping with our struggles is learning to trust our God–even in death.

None of us can realize the wonderful things God plans for us if we will learn to trust what He does for us in Jesus Christ.

It Is Okay To Be Different

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

Our highly independent nature makes it difficult to compile accurate statistics on congregations of the Church of Christ. Mac Lynn seriously attempts such compilations. I wish to use his most recent publication to illustrate a New Testament fact.

We have just over 13,000 congregations in the USA and its territories. Of those, about 3,275 do not consider themselves in fellowship with other congregations. The average size of a “mainstream” congregation is 112 members. Total membership in the 13,198 congregations is just over 1,276,500 people.

Do the math. In our USA membership of 1,276,500, between 20 and 25% of our members reject other baptized believers. Our USA population is approximately 291,191,592. Our world population is approximately 6,297,988,273. To regard ourselves as a major influence on religious thought may be more a matter of arrogance than reality.

Personally, I doubt that we understand the complexity of the early church. We have begun to realize that the mindset of Christian Jews in Palestine and Christian Jews in other regions differed significantly. We still need to realize the complex differences between (a) Jewish Christians who had God’s scriptures for generations and (b) Christians whose families worshipped idols for generations.

We do not deal well with the fact that most [if not all] Christians in the New Testament were first generation Christians. Their homes of origin were not Christian homes. Our na?ve concept: if we worshipped with Jewish Christians in Palestine, worshipped with Jewish Christians in Galatia, and worshipped with non-Jewish Christians in Corinth, each would do exactly the same things in exactly the same ways. We are slow to realize many epistles addressed those differences for the sake of encouraging acceptance, not for the sake of demanding conformity.

Paul did not commend the group in Corinth who sustained division and said, “I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). He did say this to the seriously divided Christians in Rome: “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

The master is Jesus. Jesus understands acts of faith coming from the heart. Even if one believer is a vegetarian for faith reasons while another believer for faith reasons eats food sacrificed to an idol; even if one believer keeps holy days to honor God while another believer rejects holy days to honor God, Jesus the master understood. He knew the “why” and caused each to stand.

Being different is okay. Being faithless is not okay. Trusting Jesus Christ is essential.

Moving Toward God’s Commitment

Posted by on June 8, 2003 under Sermons

John Paul and Ruby Lee Hundley inspire and encourage me. I met them shortly after I moved here about 6? years ago. When Joyce and I came to Fort Smith, John Paul was a business man in Fort Smith. A few years ago he and Ruby Lee moved to France to again involve themselves in mission work after years of not being directly involved in a mission effort.

When they acted on their decision, I saw a love and fulfillment in them that simply overflowed. They really enjoy living there, and really enjoy helping the people! When they first went, they faced all kinds of discouragement from their past world here. Yet, they refused to be distracted or discouraged.

I want to read a statement Paul made in I Corinthians 9. I encourage you to read with me.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

  1. Allow me to challenge you to think about a few things from Paul’s statement.
    1. Paul stressed he made himself a slave to other people and their spiritual needs.
      1. If any of us serve God with a whole life devotion that involves sacrificial love, it will not be because God commanded it; it will be because we desire it.
      2. Paul had an objective that was personal, that consumed him–he wanted to win people to God through Jesus Christ.
        1. Why did he have this devotion that some would regard an obsession?
        2. Paul was rescued from opposing God, and deeply appreciated that rescue.
        3. He wanted others to benefit from what he so deeply treasured.
    2. Paul did an extremely difficult thing–Paul learned to think like people whose way of thinking was radically different from his own.
      1. He did not do that to win arguments; he did that to communicate with them with understanding.
      2. When Joyce and I first committed to mission work, I was very naive.
        1. I thought people spoke different languages, but thought alike, using identical thought patterns.
        2. I quickly learned that, while most different cultures speak different languages, and their thought patterns are also different.
        3. John Paul, I first discovered that truth in my interaction with and exposure to the French.
      3. Paul said he learned how different people thought so he could speak their language using thoughts and words they understood.
        1. Thinking like a first century Israelite in Palestine likely was simple–that is where his education occurred.
        2. Thinking like a first century Israelite who live outside of Palestine likely was simple–he grew up in a Jewish community in Tarsus a long way from Palestine.
      4. The rest had to be very difficult.
        1. All his life his thinking and behavior was shaped by thinking in terms of Jewish religious law.
          1. The Christian Paul taught a lot of people who knew nothing about Jewish law.
          2. He learned to think like a person who was never controlled by Law thinking.
          3. That had to be hard!
        2. He learned to think like people who were weak.
          1. There are many things I consider Paul being before and after meeting Jesus Christ on the Damascus road.
          2. Weak is not one of them!
          3. Learning to think from the world and realities of the weak had to be demanding!
        3. No matter who Paul was among, he accepted the responsibility of thinking as they thought so he could communicate his thoughts with them.
    3. Why? Why did he do this?
      1. He wanted to use every possible means to help people understand their need of Jesus Christ.
      2. The good news he learned about Jesus Christ was so wonderful that he could not know what it did for him and not share it with others who could be bless by it as was he.
      3. In fact, if that good news was to bless him, he had to share it.

  2. I want you to consider something I regard quite important.
    1. Paul did not say, “I have something you really need, but if you are going to receive it, it is your responsibility to learn my vocabulary, my thought process, my concepts so I can share it with you.”
      1. “You become like me, and I will tell you what you need to know.”
      2. That is precisely opposite Paul’s thinking and approach.
      3. Obviously, Paul did not live in spiritual isolation and demand the world come to him.
    2. Neither can we live in isolation and demand that the world come to us.
      1. We cannot say to people, “We have some information you really need. Learn to think and do as we do, and we will share it with you.”
      2. We cannot and must not live in the isolation of our own little world and blame everyone else for not hearing us.
    3. The same thing that was important to Paul must become important to us.
      1. We must accept the responsibility to think through the minds of others and see through the eyes of others if we want them to understand why we chose to belong to Christ.
      2. Even those who would accept Jesus Christ as the Savior will not respond to him unless we make him understandable to them.

That will not happen because we are “commanded to do it.”

That will happen because, like Paul, we value what Jesus Christ does for us.

Becoming Spiritual Grown-Ups

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I have known about the elders’ thinking from the beginning. In fact, I was a part of the first “brain storming” session that discussed our spiritual future. Before any sense of direction was explored, the elders wanted my thoughts and input. In fact, the idea of a co-minister was my suggestion. I deeply appreciate their thinking, and I felt a sense of privilege to be a part of that thinking.

Tuesday I was 63 years old. Some of you look at that number and say, “That’s young!” Some of you look at that number and say, “That’s ancient!” I look at that number and say, “I cannot believe it!”

My mind thinks it is forty. But my body tells my mind it is deceiving itself.

I love this congregation very much. I much enjoy living in Fort Smith. I feel a real sense of privilege in being part of God’s work happening here. I am deeply grateful that the elders consider me an asset to this congregation and this work. I am deeply thankful they wish to create a situation that will let me work with you for years.

The person we seek will share my work as a co-minister. Yes, I have worked in a co-minister situation before, and yes, it should be a desirable, workable situation. What does having a co-minister mean? It means he will share lessons with you as he shares pulpit time with me. It means we will be flexible as we assess our needs, our opportunities, and God’s purposes. And it means, in time, I will transition to a primary emphasis on giving spiritual guidance, teaching classes, and writing.

There are a few things I want to stress about the man we seek.

    1. We want someone who loves God deeply and genuinely enjoys helping people.

    2. We want someone who is a team player. That is how the staff works together. We are a team. We want to be a team.

    3. We want someone who wants to be a continuing part of the work here.

    4. We want someone who can encourage us to grow to a higher level of commitment and spirituality.

  1. Each one of us needs a real sense of who we are spiritually as we seek God’s purposes in our lives and in this congregation.
    1. I want you to pay close attention to Paul’s desire for the Christians at Colossae.
      Colossians 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
      1. I ask you to place your attention on Paul’s desire.
      2. He wanted the effect of his team’s teaching and their personal influence to cause these Christians to be complete in Christ.
        1. What does that mean?
        2. It means Paul wanted them to become spiritual grown-ups.
    2. It is very easy for us to get distracted from God’s purposes, or to substitute our purposes for God’s purposes, or to mistake our priorities for God’s priorities.
      1. We need to be very careful about saying, “Well, what I think we ought to stress is . . .!”
        1. What I feel should be stressed and what God wants stressed may not be the same thing.
        2. Too often when our feelings are stressed God’s desires are forgotten.
        3. We each have our likes and dislike–and that is fine–we just do not need to confuse them with God’s purposes.
      2. We need to be very careful about pushing our own agendas.
        1. The first thing we need to do is to recognize that each of us have agendas.
        2. The second thing we need to realize is that my agenda may not reflect God’s complete purposes.
        3. Many times God’s word has taught me, “David, your agendas, your focus, your priorities are far too small, or are far to limited, or are just plain off base.”
        4. When you discover that, if you love God, you abandon your agenda for God’s purposes.
      3. We need to be very careful not to place our faith in a religious system instead of placing it in God.
        1. That is a very real problem in the Church of Christ.
        2. We can be so committed to our history, so committed to our ways, so committed to our past, that we easily adopt a defensive, confrontational mode instead of a desire to learn all God says.
        3. It is too easy to learn for the sake of confronting instead of learning for the sake of growing.
        4. It is too easy to sit down on the banks of baptism and never get up.
    3. Paul told Christians who believed, Christians who had turned their lives away from past evils, Christians who had been baptized that his goal was to challenge them to become spiritual adults.
      1. They believed that Jesus Christ was God’s resurrected son, but they had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
      2. They had learned that their past, the time when they did not know God or Jesus Christ, was evil, but they had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
      3. They were baptized into Christ, but they had a lot of spiritual growing to do.
      4. How much growing did they have to do?
        1. Jesus Christ was the standard.
        2. Jesus Christ was the example.
        3. There were two realities:
          1. There was the reality of what God’s grace did every day in forgiving them.
          2. There was the reality of their accepting the responsibility to grow toward what God’s forgiveness made them.
        4. It was being an obedient people who accepted that responsibility that allowed them to mature into the completeness found in Christ.

  2. I have a simple question to ask all of us: do we really want to be spiritual grown-ups?
    1. Do you want to be a spiritual grown-up?
      1. Or do you want to try to slip around on your Father?
      2. Or do you want to dishonor your oldest brother’s death–a death that lets you live?
      3. Or do you want to disgrace your family’s name among those who have no respect for your family?
      4. Or do you want all the blessings your family can give while you live and act like you don’t know your family?
    2. We have a lot of people in our society who do not want to grow up and do not want to accept responsibility.
      1. We have a lot of people in the church who do not want to grow up and do not want to accept spiritual responsibility.
      2. What about you? Spiritually, do you want to grow up?

Please read with me as we focus on a statement Paul made to the Christians at Ephesus:

Ephesians 4:11-13 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Please grow spiritually in your life! The blessings of a spiritual grown-up are God’s incredible gifts to all who accept the responsibilities to become a spiritual grown up in Jesus Christ.

Rejoicing and Groaning

Posted by on under Bulletin Articles

This congregation brings me joy in many ways. I see the elders increasingly focus on shepherding human needs. I see Christians showing compassion with a sense of passion for God. I see quiet kindness and obvious kindness. I see incredible generosity, in depth caring, compassionate service, generous commitment, and selfless sacrifice. I see thoughtful things done for individuals, for families, and for groups.

Always, I am hesitant to note specifics for fear I will forget something truly noteworthy. Think of things you know happen–health clinics in third world countries using equipment CARE collected, loaded, unloaded, and shipped; school children receiving eye exams and glasses this fall because of equipment, supplies, and volunteers coming from your concern; 300 people from the inner city community receiving help here last Saturday; the inner city community outreach; the Hispanic conversions; 41 members returning from Mexico; a group leaving for Guyana; involvements in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Thailand, Laos, Romania, France, etc.; the blossoming college student work; local, active declarations that we care because God shows us how to love; the struggling encouraged; the hurting to whom we minister; the confused to whom we provide guidance.

Consider the quilting ladies, the VBS planners and workers, the quiet maintenance people, the teachers, the projectionists, the song leaders, etc. I am constantly amazed by the number of caring people involved in our weekly functions!

Is everything ideal? No! I am equally amazed at how discouraged some are in the same spiritual environment. Who is at fault when that occurs? No one! We all have different background experiences. We all have different needs. We all perceive differently, learn differently, understand differently, grasp differently, feel acceptance differently, feel rejection differently, and find purpose differently. That is not “good” or “bad.” It is just real. It may be just different, but it is absolutely real.

Reality demands God’s people in God’s kingdom be flexible, always learn, always grow toward God’s purposes, and always spiritually mature in understanding God’s priorities. People are different. That does not bother God, but it sure bothers us. God can forgive all who come to Jesus–even if they are different. God can give grace and mercy to anyone–even if he or she is different. God can make a son or daughter from anyone–even when he or she is different. Through Christ, God can place anyone in His kingdom and use him or her–even if he or she is different!

Should we rejoice when good is done in Jesus’ name? Absolutely! Should we pat ourselves on the back? Never! Why? For every good thing done in Jesus’ name, someone in need cries for help. Our challenge: be as flexible as God is in meeting needs and encouraging us who are different.

Familiar Scriptures: 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Posted by on June 1, 2003 under Sermons

This evening I am going to do all I can do to make you think, and by thinking to grow closer to God, and in the process of growing closer to God to deepen your faith in Jesus our Savior and God our Father. I truly hope that our thinking this evening will open [even further] your heart and your mind the God’s Spirit.

When I was growing up, certain scriptures that were frequently emphasized in the pulpit and in classes. One of those scriptures was 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. To many of you, that is a very familiar passage.

  1. The only translation I heard of this scripture as I was growing up was the King James translation.
    1. In the King James translation, these verses are translated:
      2 Timothy 3:16,17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
      1. The common emphasis given to this statement was:
        1. “All scripture” was the Bible with emphasis on the New Testament.
        2. “Inspiration of God” was rarely discussed, and when it was there were differences of opinion as to the means God used to give scripture. Whatever means was emphasized usually involved some literal, “hands on” approach such as dictation.
        3. Much emphasis was given to what scripture was profitable for:
          1. Doctrine–a basic teaching or principle that must be believed
          2. Reproof–a declaration of what is wrong
          3. Correction–a declaration of what is right
          4. Instruction of all things God wants done.
          5. Thus scripture supplies every spiritual need people have.
          6. Much of the time it was assumed that when we talked about the adequacy of scripture, we were talking about the New Testament.
        4. “The man of God” was a Christian.
        5. “Perfect” meant without flaw or blemish.
        6. “Thoroughly furnished to every good work” meant God specifically told us in Scripture everything He wanted us to do, and we must do only that.
    2. My sophomore year at David Lipscomb College I was introduced to the American Standard translation by some godly men who were serious students of Scripture. The result of that inclusion in my studies introduced me to some understandings that were not new, but that I had not heard them.
      2 Timothy 3:16,17 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
      1. In this translation, the emphasis is slightly different.
      2. If it is scripture, it is from God.
      3. Its benefits go beyond the fact it is from God: it is beneficial for all spiritual needs.
      4. The objective of scripture is to make the person who belongs to God spiritually complete–the concept of maturity rather than the concept of flawlessness.
        1. It “furnishes” the person who belongs to God.
        2. It directs that person towards God’s good work.
      5. For the first time I was introduced to an understanding I had never considered before–in this statement Paul was more likely referring to the Old Testament scriptures than the New Testament scriptures.
    3. When I was on the mission field, a friend and fellow preacher visited us and brought me a copy of the New American Standard translation.
      2 Timothy 3:16,17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
      1. The emphasis is not different, just more specific.
      2. If it is scripture, God was involved in producing it. Scripture is divine directive, not human advice.
      3. The purpose of scripture is to develop adequacy in the person who belongs to God.
        1. No human being can be spiritually adequate apart from scripture,
        2. Or, unless the person who belongs to God depends on scripture, he or she will be spiritually inadequate.

  2. All of this was just a matter of growth and development in understanding.
    1. Most of that growth was not revelatory in nature when I realized is was okay to grow in understanding.
      1. My first transition required that I do some thinking and understanding instead of just defending what I had always heard and thought.
        1. After I understood that it was desirable [more than okay] to move toward spiritual maturity, I had a sense of privilege and appreciation instead of a sense of crisis.
        2. If it is scripture, God is actively involved in producing it.
        3. The objective of scripture: to allow God to address the spiritual inadequacy of men and women who belong to God.
        4. We cannot know what God considers good unless we know scripture. [Our history, traditions, or heritages cannot teach us–an understanding of scripture always takes precedence over those things.]
      2. The only real challenge to my thinking was the realization that when Paul wrote these words to Timothy, the evidence indicates he was speaking of what you and I call the Old Testament.
    2. Consider some situations.
      1. The scriptures of the early first century church were the Old Testament scriptures.
        1. When the first century was half over, most of the New Testament had not been written.
        2. It was more than a hundred years after the letters were written that they were generously accepted as scripture and declared to be a part of the Bible.
      2. What is your image of a Christian in 45 AD studying the word of God?
        1. It is likely that no New Testament writing that you and I have in our Bible was even written in 45 AD–the books you and I study so much had not even been written a decade after Jesus’ resurrection.
        2. No Christian teacher would say to a class, “Read the book of Philemon this week and we will discuss it in class next Sunday.”
        3. No Christian would say, “Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5…”
        4. If you were a Jewish Christian, you had heard what we call the Old Testament discussed in the Jewish synagogue all your life.
        5. If you were not a Jew, but a fourth or fifth generation idol worshipper, it is possible you had never heard Jewish scripture.
      3. To remind yourself of the importance of Old Testament scripture in the early church, go back and examine how often a writer like Paul, or James, or the author of Hebrews used the Old Testament to give authority to his statement.
        1. Let me use just the example of Paul’s writing we know as Romans.
        2. Paul used the Old Testament to prove the Jewish people of the first century misrepresented God’s intentions in Romans 2:17-29.
        3. He used Old Testament history and quotations to prove God’s love for people who were not Jews in Romans 3.
        4. He used Old Testament history and quotations to prove the power and importance of faith in Romans 4.
        5. He used Old Testament history and quotations to prove that God was not unjust to first century Israel in saving people who were not Jews in Romans 9.
        6. He used numerous Old Testament quotes to verify the importance of faith in Jesus Christ and his word in Romans 10.
        7. He used Old Testament quotes to prove that God had not rejected Israel by making Jesus Christ Lord in Romans 11.
        8. He used the Old Testament’s ten commandments to verify the power of love in Romans 13.
        9. He used an Old Testament quote to verify that it was wrong for Christians to pass judgment on each other in Romans 14.
        10. He used Old Testament quotations to verify that Jewish Christians should change the way they looked at Christians who were not Jews in Romans 15.
        11. Paul made enormous use of Old Testament scriptures in teaching Christians.
    3. Listen to these words written almost a thousand years before Jesus’ birth:
      Psalm 119:105-112 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances. I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word. O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O Lord, And teach me Your ordinances. My life is continually in my hand, Yet I do not forget Your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts. I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart. I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes Forever, even to the end.

  3. Let me direct your attention back to 2 Timothy.
    1. In 1:5 Paul said he remembered the sincere faith that existed in Timothy that first lived in his grandmother Lois and then in his mother Eunice.
      1. Question: how did that sincere faith come alive in his grandmother and mother?
      2. By studying what you and I call the New Testament?
        1. That is very unlikely in his mother.
        2. That is nearly impossible for his grandmother.
        3. The faith that Paul so admired in Timothy began with his grandmother’s acceptance of the message of Old Testament Scripture.
    2. Let me close with a statement Paul made to the Christians at Corinth regarding a whole list of Old Testament events:

1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

If we want to be the righteous people who belong to God, we dare not neglect a proper understanding of Old Testament scriptures.