Do Not Be Ashamed…

paulwritinghisepistlesinprison

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 2 Timothy 1:8-11

Paul uses a term he is fond of to point us back to the importance of what he just finished saying. “Therefore”, and as my pastor says, what’s the therefore, there for? Paul told Timothy that he is to have a spirit of boldness about the gospel, and I think this is important to draw our minds back to the previous post and consider our power, our love through a sound mind. Why? Because when we focus our energy on those around us, we are far less likely to be focused on ourselves, and in turn this causes us to lose our fear, or our timidity.

This is an important turn in thinking because now Paul is going to smack us upside the head with the reality of what’s coming next. Do Not Be Ashamed! It’s quite interesting to note that the Greek word epaischynomai means do not be ashamed. Quite honestly, we just can’t hide from the meaning behind what Paul is pushing us into, and more often than not, we are kicking, fighting and screaming against it.

Why be ashamed?  I will touch on two reasons.

Misguided Focus

One of the reasons I’m firmly convinced we are ashamed, is that we have missed the purpose of the gospel. In today’s professing church, we are taught many things, and most of them are not biblical. There is a general focus on the purpose of why Jesus came to earth, and what we are to do, but it’s wrong. Let’s look at the right focus.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. – Romans 1:16

The first thing we must understand is the gospel is for salvation. It is the message that God uses to save those that will believe. If we get this wrong, we miss the entire point. We misunderstand that man needs saving, we miss that God is holy and must punish sin; we miss the need for Jesus Christ as the solution to the fact that man cannot save himself. We miss the whole mission.

“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” – Luke 19:10

If this is misunderstood, everything else will be misunderstood. The Lord Jesus Christ did not come to give us life and give it more abundantly in the way most think. He did not come to give us an example of how to live, although Christians will try to live like Christ. He did not come to heal people and hang out with them in a bar, although He did heal to prove His divinity and He did hang out with sinners to call them to repentance and faith in His Name. If we don’t understand His mission and His purpose, then our mission and our purpose will be wrong.

It’s Just Plain Easier

I’m convinced another reason the professing church today is misguided is because it’s easier. I know this because I was misguided and it was easier. It was much easier to sit inside a comfortable church building, singing great “worship” songs and slapping people on the back for an hour a week than it is to do the work of an evangelist. It’s much easier to pass out water on the bike path, than it is for me to stand on the street corner and publicly proclaim Christ and call sinners to repentance. It’s much easier to say that Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life than it is for me to tell them they are a filthy wretch and God will pour out His wrath upon them unless they submit and surrender to Him.

Because at the end of the day, this is more practical, it’s more pragmatic, it’s more enjoyable, and it’s a whole lot less stressful. Isn’t this what the Apostle was trying to warn his son would be the temptation? Isn’t this what Paul is still telling the professing church today?

“Hey, brother… Hey, Pastor… Hey church member…” “Guess what, I’ve got some good news and some bad news, which would you like to hear first?” “Let me start with both, you are going to get to SUFFER!”

Isn’t this why it’s misguided and easier, because in reality nobody really wants to suffer… They want a Jesus that makes their life easier, and more enjoyable. They want a Jesus that requires little, and gives much. They want a Jesus, that’s a soft, effeminate, with lambs and children on His knees. They want a Jesus that wraps His arms around us and says “its okay little buddy, I love you anyway…; I realize you are trying to stop that sin in your life, and I’m okay with it…”

When we lack timidity, when we are bold in the faith, and when we stand on the truth of God’s Word and proclaim it to a dead world, we have the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you go out into the world, as Jesus commanded us to do, then you get to share in His pain and you get to experience ever so slightly some of what He experienced. This sanctifies us; this makes us more like Him. This makes us bold as a lion.

If you are a church leader, a pastor, or even a pew sitter, please meditate on these words today and be challenged by them. God will judge our works here on earth. If you are saved you won’t be judged to condemnation for your rebellion to His word, but you will sure regret the life you wasted here. If you are just a church goer, you must repent and believe the gospel. If that miracle occurs in your life you will be remarkably different. It will be bring persecution and suffering for righteousness sake. You will have the opportunity to share in His sufferings.

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:10

Paul was reminding and preparing young Timothy of his job and the joys to come. He is reminding us today that we must or we are not. And that is very hard for me to wrap my mind around, because I like my comfort.

Kevin

A Servant of the Lord must be GENTLE!!!

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I’ve been considering lately how often I’ve failed in this command.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

When I first began to hear about a God I didn’t know, I was perplexed. It was almost a surreal feeling to hear preaching that dug deeply into the Word of God and exposed it. I remember my wife and I having discussions and wondering what was going on. I wanted to leave, but I couldn’t.

As God began to do a work in my heart, I began to have discussions with those around me that didn’t always go very well. I became quarrelsome and aggressive. I was impatient and unable to teach, arrogantly defending the truths of the bible that I was now learning, pushing people away from the truth.

I guess I hadn’t read these verses?

I certainly didn’t know what they meant…

One of the knocks on Calvinists is arrogance. Perhaps it’s misplaced zeal? Perhaps it’s a burning desire to show others an uncommon God, the God that we’ve been exposed to? I’m not sure, but there is truth behind it. I love the Bible, and I love the doctrines of grace, because they show God in a completely different light than what I grew up seeing and hearing about, the God of the Bible, not a concoction of my imagination. It knocked me off my horse, so to speak.

Wow…did I have a lot to learn!

I’ve certainly not arrived, but as I consider the words of the great Apostle the directive is clear. I’m to be gentle. I should not be quarrelsome. I must be humble. If I’m not those things I won’t be able to teach, because they won’t hear. I might know something others don’t know, but if I don’t present it properly they will never hear me.

What is the purpose of this?

So God will perhaps grant them repentance and they can know the truth.

Did you catch that word perhaps? There are no guarantees in evangelism. Salvation is of the Lord, no if’s, ands or buts… We can trust the Lord will do all His good pleasure, but as for MEEEEEEE!!!! I must be gentle.

I must also never compromise truth.

The call includes a directive to correct those in opposition. There is a balance to these verses. When someone is corrected, it doesn’t always “feel” gentle to them. Just ask my daughters. They don’t like being corrected, but it doesn’t say, “And be careful not to hurt their feelings”.

I’ve hurt people in my evangelism and for that I’m ashamed and I’ve sought forgiveness in the situations I’m aware of. I must continue to learn from the Lord how to be a better doulos (slave), I must be gentle, but I must also correct and ultimately that will bring God glory.

…And perhaps some will escape the snare of the devil, as they’ve been taken captive by him to do his will. This is an overwhelming thought to me. How many will perish, if God doesn’t grant repentance, and He can’t do that if we are not out sharing the Good News.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Kevin

I met Pastor Craig…

I met Pastor Craig Houston on September 29th, 2012.  Well… I sort of met him, I had sent the general mailbox at his church an email looking for some information on churches in the Seattle area and he wrote me back.  I was impressed by the tone of the email.  You can tell when someone has genuine intentions by how they write.  I didn’t seem to be an annoyance and I’m a chatty sort of fella when it comes to email.  I always seem to want to get the last word, even if it’s a “thank you”.

In the past month I’ve continued to communicate with Pastor Craig and we’ve had a dialogue going about churches on the east side that I could recommend to my friends.  I have greatly appreciated his willingness to help.  I can tell that if we actually sat down together we’d have great conversation because we share a passion for Christ and the gospel.  We are like minded in our pursuits.

I had been invited to attend a conference at the end of October and decided my work schedule was too busy to go, but I noticed Pastor Craig was on the speakers list.  This week I wanted to send him a note of encouragement.

Philippians 1:3-4 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.

A group from Grace Fellowship Church was going to be attending and I had hoped I could meet him again through my Brothers and Sisters.  It looked to be a great time with a talented list of speakers.  In his typical fashion Pastor Craig wrote me back and thanked me for my encouragement and shared with me that he would be unable to attend.  It seems God had purposed something else and his daughter Anna had been diagnosed with Leukemia.  Anna is 16 years old.  In all, the Houston’s have 11 beautiful children.

I asked Pastor Craig how I could pray for him, and here was his response.

Our God is faithful and makes no mistakes. Pray that I will be able to lead my wife and children with steadfastness, compassion and strength during the season ahead – Grace and Peace

Brothers and Sisters we serve an Awesome God and He promises to work everything to the good for those that love Him.  We can trust that promise, but He never promised an easy road and He never promised perfect health to those that love Him.

Today I want to ask you a very challenging question.

Can you say, with confidence, God makes no mistakes?

I can when it’s Pastor Craig’s daughter.  It’s easy for me to Praise God’s name when it’s someone else.  I have to dig deep when I think about it being Grace, Madeline or Lydia.  What if God asks you to give Him back your child?  Do you only serve Him when your life is going well and your kids are healthy or can you begin to comprehend a trial like this?

In the easy times and the hard times, Believer, you must cling to Him because there really is nothing else that matters.  I look forward to hearing the testimonies that will come from Anna’s life and there will be many.  I know that the good news will be preached and lives will be changed, and that is a life that glorifies the One that is worthy.

2 Timothy 1:7-10 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Here is a link to Pastor Craig’s blog and you can read the story of Anna.

http://www.soundpulpit.com/my-sweet-anna-has-cancer

Here is Emily Houston’s blog which provides some great information about what is going on.

http://www.emiliesposts.blogspot.com/

Please join me in praying for the Houston family and that Pastor Craig can continue to lead his family in steadfastness, compassion and strength.  I for one have already benefitted greatly from this and I trust you will as well.

In Christ,

Kevin