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Be Prepared - Don't Be Surprised (2 Timothy 3), Part 2

From the series Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker

Fear is a powerful emotion that controls many people’s lives – often without them even realizing it. In this program, Chip asks: Is your life, family, or job defined by anxiety? As he continues our series, Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker, Chip’s in 2nd Timothy chapter 3. Don’t miss God’s reliable remedy for fear.

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Message Transcript

You’ll notice in the next section I just entitled this, “Don’t be afraid. Keep pressing ahead.” Verses 10 through 17.

It’s – there is a fear that has gripped. We can’t live our lives out of the lens of fear.

You have to live your life out of a lens of faith. But this kind of evil causes us to question that. That kind of evil causes us to wonder, “Can we trust God? Can we trust His promises?” And what Paul is trying to help him see is, okay, “Timothy, so, notice this. Let’s remember some of your past progress.” Verse 10. “Now you,” he’s contrasting him with these people that are going down very bad paths. “Now, you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and suffering – such as happened to me in Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured. And out of them all,” what’s the punchline? “…The Lord rescued me.”

I would encourage you to remember past progress, to literally kind of look in the rearview mirror, not maybe a year or two, but to try and even if you need to sit quietly and ask God or especially with family members, “Where has God shown up in the most challenging and difficult times in our life?”

And you would start to tell stories about taking one of your kids to the ICU. You’d start telling stories about a time where you thought there’s no way your marriage is going to work. You’d start talking about time when you got laid off or a company shut down, and you had literally no money, no groceries. You’d talk about a time, in some of our cases, when one of you had cancer and it was very questionable whether you were going to make it.

And you start looking back, looking back, looking back, looking back and you would have a story that God has rescued you out of things in the past. He’s not idle. And, by the way, you know, I know, I’m a broken record. If you keep watching a lot of news, you will live in fear, because the news is made and geared to be sensational. It’s to get your attention and to keep you watching. And we have, by and large, a Church that is living out of fear. And perfect love casts out fear, according to the Bible.

And the second thing, he says, “Look, persecution is normal.” Look at verse 12.

“Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” Contrast, “But evil people and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving,” and here’s what to remember, “and being deceived.”

You understand that some of the most terrible things that are happening in our world are happening by people who absolutely believe with all their heart they are bringing good and making things better.

And if you don’t get that, you’ll either think they are stupid, bigoted, anti-intellectual like they think we are. And you’ll never get to know them or listen to where they are coming from. But does anybody remember a guy named Saul? Just, you know, remember him? Remember his testimony? He says, “God was gracious to me, because out of ignorance…” Saul was absolutely committed, knew the Bible inside and out, was actually committed to crushing this movement called The Way. Christians. Why? To honor God.

The most dangerous people in the world are people with religious zeal, believing they are doing what they are doing for God.

We had, a pastor was with us a couple weeks ago and this is so fresh, it just, and we heard his testimony. In fact, we got it on film. He was a, he was with ISIS and was being trained as an assassin.

And he finished his training and got his target and was on his way to finish the job. And he had a, I can’t even describe it, he had this intervention moment where God spoke to him. And it’s too long a story to tell, but in that moment he responded to that, which resulted in him coming to Christ. And how many people personally has he led to the Lord? Thousands. I mean, and it was like nineteen thousand and something and someone said, “Well, how do you know?” He said, “Because I was the one who baptized them.”

Don’t be ashamed. Be bold! Be strong. Be strong in what? Be strong in grace and there’s a connection. And the things that you have heard, entrust to faithful men, faithful women, faithful children, faithful grandchildren, neighbors, friends, people at church. Don’t just keep going to meetings.

Where do we want to go? Let’s be intentional. Let’s walk through this together. Let’s be difference-makers. In our little sphere, that’s all you have to do. You don’t have to be famous, you don’t have to be big, you don’t have to be smarter, you don’t have to be more educated, you just have to be willing.

And he’s going to get to the end and he’s going to show you and me how it actually happens. And so, he says to Timothy, giving a little more encouragement here.

He says, verse 14, “You, however,” I love that. “Continue in the things that you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and from childhood you have known the,” – what? “sacred writing, which are able to give you wisdom that leads to salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.”

And then this classic verse. “All Scripture is inspired,” or, “God-breathed and is beneficial for teaching,” what’s true and what’s right, “for rebuking,” correcting when things are wrong, “for correction,” not only it’s wrong, but how to get back on track, “and for training in righteousness,” how to make it habitually a part of your life. Why? “So that the man or woman of God, may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.” You know, it’s powerful! It’s powerful. God’s Word is powerful.

We have done some research at Living on the Edge and we have partnered and got some information from the American Bible Society. And you might be shocked, but can I tell you the average Christian does not read the Bible. It gets worse. We commissioned a study because we were ministering to pastors all evangelicals, but from about forty-five or fifty different backgrounds or denominations. And in our survey, only twenty-one percent of pastors ever opened their Bible except for sermon preparation. The reason we are investing so much in pastors – anemic pastors produce sick sheep.

You know what Paul knew? There’s a lot of pressure for a pastor like Timothy. There’s a lot of pressure for pastors today all over the world and here. There’s a lot of pressure for people like you who have a lot on your plate.

I want to tell you a story and if you identify with it, it was at the last church I pastored and one of my jobs always was: What’s the next pipeline for the next elders? And I had a process where they didn’t know I was doing this, but I would, I went to the staff and I went to our present elders and, “Just tell me, who are people that are actually leading? They are real leaders in our church.” And then I would just call them privately or stop them in the hall and say, “Hey, I wonder if you would be willing to kind of meet with me every other week for about three months. I’m just pulling a group of guys together. I’ve been told that you’re one of our leaders. You’re doing this and this and these ministries. And the elders told me, or the staff, and I’d just like to get to know you. And if there’s any way I could be help in your life, that would be wonderful.”

And usually they all said yes. And so, I always started it the same way. And I had sort of techniques behind why I was doing what I was doing. I told, “Well, we will start at four, we’ll be done at five thirty.” And the moment four started I said, “Okay, guys, tell you what I’d like to do is whatever is on your heart, I’d like you to first, let’s thank God. And then any issues that are going on in your life that you’d like to pray about.” And they don’t know each other. I said, “Are you ready?” And they are looking at me, “Yeah. Let’s pray.”

And I said, “You know, rather than that how everyone prays maybe once and then we move on, I’m going to set my phone for fifteen minutes.” So, you can pray once, twice, we can pray conversationally. It’s on the dot, four o’clock. We start praying. Guess what happens if you’re late. You’re walking into a room with a bunch of people praying and you go, “Oh my gosh.”

And then the first round of praying is like, “Oh, Lord, you know.” Normal. And then it gets a little bit more honest, a little bit more honest, and then I have a thing that I take them through. And my first question is, “Tell me, just tell me a little, your story. Just give me a sense of you, your life, your journey, family, where you work.” And they go around and we are getting to know each other. And then I ask this question, “Tell me your relationship with God’s Word.” “What?” “Yeah, tell me your relationship with God’s Word.”

Because according to Jesus and the parable of the soils, your relationship to the Word reveals and determines your relationship with the Lord. No exceptions. The parable of the soils was the kingdom, the secrets and the mysteries of the kingdom. And God’s truth goes forth and it lands on four kinds of hearts and there are four different responses. Only one produces fruit. But if there’s no even truth going in…

And so, these are leaders. So, the first one is a doctor. He says, “Well, I,” pulls out his phone and he goes, “My life is really busy and I’ve got three kids and the practice is really heavy and so, I open YouVersion and I read the verse of the day.”

That’s it. I mean, I had to sort of, you know, I don’t want to be judgmental, so it’s like, you know, very calm. “Oh, okay.” “And I try and think about that verse.” “Okay, great, next?” “Uh, I’m really running a really big company and it’s, I, it’s really important and I usually leave a little bit before six and I work out. And sometimes I try to listen a little bit to the Bible maybe when I’m on the thing, but I’m not very disciplined at that. But, I mean, it’s the Silicon Valley, man. You can’t imagine the pressure. And then I get home about eight thirty and I try to at least tuck my kids in bed.”

“Okay, next?” “Um, you know, I don’t know exactly why you asked me, but I’m not only not reading the Bible, my marriage is in trouble and I’m not sure it’s going to make it.” And so, he talks for a while and… “Next?”

And so, they, we got near the end of that one and they know me. And, you know, I knew of them. So, they know I’m very direct. And so, I had asked them a question about your dreams and your future and your kids and etcetera like this.

And I said as calmly as I could, I said, “Men, it’s a real privilege and I appreciate what you’re doing and serving in the church. I want to make a comment and this is going to be very, very important.” Because I talk a different way with people out like this than I do with leaders.

I said, “I want each one of you to know that the dreams and the hopes that you shared, your current trajectory, I will tell you for certain, they will not happen in your life. And you will have heartache and pain and family breakup and a life that is not what you expect. And I can guarantee that, because none of you are in the Scriptures.”

I came home and I said, “Theresa, I’m shutting the group down. I’m not going back.” And she said, “Why?” I said, “These are our leaders? I’m the pastor of the church. I actually know who is teaching most of the time. And this is what we are producing?”

There is no life too busy. “Man can’t live by bread alone, but only by the Word of God.” “The Word of God is living and active, and sharper than a two-edged sword, and pierces to the division of soul and spirit and joint and marrow and reveals the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” “Thy Word was found and I ate it and it became for me the joy and the delight of my soul.” “All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for…” it’s the equipper, it’s the changer, it’s the power. God takes the written Word, makes it the living Word, develops convictions, and transforms your life. It’s the renewing of your mind.

And so, I thought I was pretty tough on them, and Theresa said, “Don’t stop the group, Chip, you’re just emotional.” I said, “You’re right.” So, I went back and I’m thinking: This is going to get better. I mean, I hit them pretty hard. But my deal is if you’re a leader, if you can’t take getting hit hard, go do something else. Man, this is the kingdom of God. These are people’s souls. We’re not trying to run a company; we’re not trying to go public. This is forever stuff. You’ve got to take this seriously.

So, you know, they all got together. And we had good fellowship and, by the way, they were all great guys and all great leadership. So, “Guys, you know, before we get started,” we had our prayer time, “could you share with me your relationship with the Word of God?” “Pfffh.” So, I thought, Okay. I said, “Guys,” we got to the third week, I said, “You know, what, this leadership stuff is pointless.” And I said, “We are going to learn to get into the Bible together in a way that you can understand it and practice it.” And I had a couple resources that I felt have always helped me and I got those guys together.

And the one guy, and I say this because, I mean, he got in the Bible and God spoke to him. Pretty soon, his wife is coming to me, she goes, “What did you do?” I said, “It’s not me.” “I’ve got a new husband. I mean, he comes home, we eat as a family. In fact,” okay, you’ve got to get this sort of over the top, “he’s having a Bible study. He and these other men at nine o’clock five nights a week!” I’m thinking that might be a little over the top.

The guy that used to get up and work out started to get into God’s Word. About six weeks later, he said, “You know, it’s an amazing thing to eat dinner with your family. I’m tucking my kids in bed. The friction in my marriage is gone.”

The guy whose marriage was falling apart really struggled and these guys got around him. He goes, “Well,” he was a football star and finally I said, “You know, are you willing to put in to be the man of God that you did to become the football star and play in these pro leagues?” And then he did. That guy is the boldest Christian I think I know.

Mark my word, we are in the last days and all those things that you read in there are going to happen more and more and more. And there’s going to be a group of people that will live by faith and faith comes by hearing and hearing by the [Word].

And they are going to be promise-centered people that God is going to use to do the greatest things that have ever happened on the face of the earth. Or they will be problem-centered people that will live in fear and anxiety, and they’ll find some group to blame or some other person and they’ll sit around whining in coffee shops talking about how terrible everything is and who is wrong and who is bad instead of being an instrument of righteousness, equipped for every good work.

God is going to equip me, God is going to protect me, He wants to use me right where I am, in my network, with my family. And I’m going to sow righteousness because if you sow to the flesh, corruption. When you sow to the Spirit, righteousness, life, grace.