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About this series
Jesus Loves Me
Christian Essentials for the Head and the Heart
Do you know the core beliefs of Christianity? Forget what churches, denominations, or notable pastors say for a second - what do God and His Word actually state are the essential truths to being a follower of Jesus? In this 10-part series, journalist, author, and pastor John Dickerson helps us uncover the foundational building blocks of the Christian faith. By using the simple children’s song - Jesus Loves Me - John reveals what these lyrics tell us about God, His love for us, and the reliability of the Bible. So whether you’re a new Christian looking for guidance or you’ve been a believer your whole life - and you need a refresher, John’s words will encourage you!More from this series
What can you do when your world shifts or shakes? I don’t know where in life you have had something unexpected, unwanted, something that didn’t go the way you planned.
I have learned that change always leads to one of two things in our lives. We either grow or we have a setback. And change is inevitable, and so, the question is how do we make sure when change does come into our lives that we actually grow, that we actually move forward. How do we stay focused on what matters and keep moving forward?
Well, we are going to look into God’s Word to answer this. And it’s a really interesting answer to this question, because the context of this is written to a young Christian, a guy named Timothy, who was leading a church in a city called Ephesus. And his mentor, Paul the apostle, is writing to him. And this is Paul’s final letter. Paul knows he’s about to go to heaven. And Paul warns Timothy. He says, “Timothy, as you try to follow Jesus, there’s going to be difficult times. And here’s what you can do when your world shifts and shakes.”
The passages starts this way. “Mark this: There will be terrible times.” Okay, good news, everyone! There will be terrible times, alright? “There will be terrible times in the last day. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, people will be boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful for what they have been given, unholy in their relationship to God, they will be without love, they will be unforgiving, they will be slanderous, they will be without self-control.” Thank you, Paul, this is super encouraging.
The list goes on. It says this, “…people will be brutal, not lovers of what is good, they will be treacherous, they will be rash,” or impulsive, “they will be conceited,” not humble or teachable, “they will be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” and some of these people will even pretend to be Christians or followers of Jesus. “They will have a form of godliness, but they won’t have the power of Jesus.” Obviously, this is the negative part of the text, okay?
And this relates to when our world shifts or shakes. And Paul says to Timothy, “Timothy, as you try to follow Jesus, there’s going to be times when people who are all these negative things interrupt the work of God, when they discourage you, when they actually come in and even destroy the work of God. There will be times when some of them even pretend to be a Christian and they come in and they just do spiritual damage and emotional damage.”
And the list goes on and it says this in verse 13, “Some of these will be evildoers and even imposters. They will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” So, here’s the problem. Now, what is the solution?
Paul is going to say, “Here’s how you, as a follower of Jesus can stay stable and secure when your world shakes because of the people around you.” And here’s the answer, starting in verse 14, “But as for you,” and we often point out here that, you know, we can’t control what the people around us do, whether it’s national level of politicians or the neighbor across the street. We can’t control what people around us do, but we always can control what we do.
And God doesn’t expect us to be responsible for other people’s choices, but He does tell us we are responsible for ours. And Paul says to Timothy, “Timothy, when your world shakes because of evil people around you, you won’t be able to control them, but as for you, focus on yourself in that sense. And here’s what you can do. You “continue in what you have learned.”
In other words, in the teachings of Jesus, continue in that. So, the more your world shifts or shakes, the more you say, “Okay, how does Jesus call me to live?” That’s my center, that’s my stability, that’s what will keep me secure when everything around me shakes.
“Continue in what you have learned and what you have become convinced of.” And in Timothy’s case, Paul says, “You have known these things for a long time.” In fact, from infancy, Timothy was raised by a mom and a grandma who loved Jesus. In fact, if you’re a single mom or a single grandma, Timothy is a great inspiration, because Timothy, apparently his dad either was out of the picture or was not a follower of Jesus, but his mom and grandma raised him to love the Lord.
And Paul says, “Don’t forget all the things you have learned and that you have known from the Holy Scriptures.” That is the Word of God, or the Bible. “These things the Holy Scriptures, are able to make you wise for salvation through your faith in Jesus Christ.”
And now Paul is going to add a little more onto what keeps you stable when the world shakes around you? And Paul says this in verse 16. He says that “All Scripture is God-breathed,” in other words, the words in this book, the Bible, they are not just ancient words. They are historically valid, but they are even more than that. They are supernatural.
They are living and they are breathing and when you breathe in the words of God into your soul, they bring life, and they can bring you power and stability. When you don’t know what to do, they will bring you direction. When you know what to do, but you don’t have the power to do it, the Word of God will bring you power. These words are actually breathed of God. And they are kind of mystical and supernatural in that sense, but they are also really practical.
They are useful for your very real decisions of: What do I do in this job? What do I do in this dating relationship? How do I parent this child? How do I be a better spouse? How do I deal with my shame? How do I deal with my guilt? How do I forgive that person who wronged me? Well, there are God-breathed words in this book that if you will take them in, they will practically help you in all those situations and in any situation you can face.
“They are useful for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, and for training in right living,” or, “righteousness, so that the servant of God,” that’s you, “may be thoroughly equipped,” have every tool you need, “to do the work of God in your life.”
So, what is the answer to our question of: What can you do when your life is shifting or shaking? Here’s the answer, according to this passage. Scripture will stabilize you and Scripture will strengthen you when your world shifts or shakes.
Now, some of you are in here and you have experienced that and so, you’re like, “Oh yeah. I remember when I was in the hospital, and I thought I was going to die, and God gave me a verse and I just clung to that verse and that’s what got me through it.”
Some of you are like, “Oh, yeah, I get this.” Others of you, and you’re not unspiritual if you feel this way, you’re like, “Okay, I get the idea, but I have never experienced that before,” and if that’s you, I just want to encourage you to stay engaged with this message, because you can start to experience this.
There was a time in my life, if you’re thinking, Okay, that’s just like a big old book of old stories and I don’t understand it. How is that going to stabilize me? How is that going to help me in a time of crisis? If that’s what you’re feeling, I have felt that way too.
There was a time in my life where this idea didn’t make sense to me. But as I stepped out in faith and said, “Okay, God, if You say this is what will stabilize me and help me, I’m going to look into Your Word, I’m going to seek Your Word, give me the wisdom I need in these crisis decisions and in these difficulties.” And I have now experienced this, and I want to share it with you today in a way that you can experience it too.
We talked at the beginning of this series about these core essentials of the Christian faith and how they plug us into God’s power. You might remember if you were here on week one, I told you a story of a time when I was traveling to Europe when I was journalist and I had an American power plug and I was trying to plug it into the wall but in Europe, the outlets are shaped differently.
And I learned this, that plugging into power is not complicated. You don’t have to have a PhD, you don’t have to know a bunch, but it is precise. There are these two or three prongs; they have got to be in the right place.
And we learned that when it comes to connecting into the power of God to change our lives through Jesus, it also is not complicated. You don’t have to go to seminary, you don’t have to memorize the Bible, you don’t have to learn a whole bunch of things, but there are a few really important things that do need to be in the right place.
And so, to learn those few things, we have used this very simple kid’s song, Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” And what we are learning in this series is that you can kind of carry around the core beliefs of Christianity just by knowing this song.
Whether you’re tucking in your grandchild at night, and they say, “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” Or you’re sitting on an airplane next to a coworker. Whether they are in their mother’s womb or an old, old person at a retirement home. Every person of every tribe and tongue and nation, of every nationality, of every religious belief system – every person with disabilities – all people are made in the image of God and inherently valuable because God says so.
And yet all of us are also broken by sin. And so, that’s why we need this good news of Jesus. That’s why we need His work on the cross. So, we are glorious ruins, but we are being restored. Jesus loves me.
And then we talked about those words, “This I know.” And the importance, just like that guy when he said, “I have been in church for ten years. I have heard all this stuff. But today is my day where I believe it for me.” And when we say, “Jesus loves me, this I know,” it means this isn’t just some belief system for other people, this is my identity. This is my belief. And believed in Jesus as my Lord to give me my identity and my forgiveness from my mistakes.
And today, we are wrapping up with this final phrase of the short little song, “For the Bible tells me so.” For the Bible tells me so. It doesn’t mean that we believe all these things just because the Bible tells us so. Now, the Bible does tell us all these things and the Bible is always true in what it says.
But we believe these things because we have experienced them in our lives. We have seen the power. We have seen the change in ourselves and in others. But, “For the Bible tells me so,” it affirms these things, and it tells us: Here’s what we need to believe about Jesus, here’s what we need to believe about His love. And then the Bible, as a follower of Jesus, we make it the authority or the standard for what we do and believe.
In other words, every time we hit a fork in the road of decision in life, what do I do with my sexuality? What do I do with my finances? What do I do with my past hurts? What do I do with my time? What do I do with my life? Every time we reach a fork in the road of decision or of crisis, we look to the Word of God, and we say, “God, You have revealed Your heart here.” And we learned in “me” that my heart is often deceitful. I can’t trust my own heart. But I can trust that heart of God.
So, any time there is a crisis or a moment of decision, I will look to the Word of God and say, “God, You tell me what to do, because Your Word leads to life and freedom.” And very often, what I think is best actually leads to death or to destruction.
So, that’s what we mean when we say, “For the Bible tells me so.” And my heart for you as a brother in Christ is I want you to grow in this life changing power. There’s so much power in this book to introduce change and growth into every area of your life.
But if it’s closed, and on a shelf, you’re not going to be plugging into that power. You’re not going to see the radical change and growth that God wants to bring into every area of your life.
And what we are learning today is that as we look to the Word of God, it keeps us kind of in His repair shop. It keeps us growing and learning and becoming refurbished in different areas of our lives.
Here's an example. Here’s the kind of repair manual that you might use if you were restoring a classic car. What is great about a manual like this is it’s going to tell you how to remove each and every part, how to clean it, how to refurbish it, and then how to put it back together. In fact, I love this little line. This is an old book, but at the bottom it says here, “Thousands of crisp, clear illustrations.” And I love that, because it’s just, it’s practical. If you have this book and the tools and enough time, you could restore one of the cars that are described in the book.
And Scripture really is the same for us. If we will stay in the Word of God, it will restore our thoughts. If we will renew our minds in God’s living, breathing words here, it will rebuild our relationships. It will refurbish our finances and our habits, our legacy, all the different areas of our lives that have kind of gotten decayed or in disrepair can be repaired ultimately by the power of God. He’s the one who does the work, but He has a guidebook, a repair manual, a love letter called the Bible.
And let me share with you three things about it today. First is this. The same Scriptures that led me to salvation, those Scriptures will continue reshaping me and guiding me as I follow Jesus the Christ. So, you know, whether you realize it or not, if you have placed your faith in Jesus, there was some Scripture along the way that God used to go down into your heart and bring about spiritual new life in you. Maybe it was the Scripture where it says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Maybe it was the Scripture where Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” Maybe it was the Scripture where God says that He so loved the world that He sent His only Son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have the gift of eternal life.
Maybe it was the Scripture that says we are saved by grace through faith, not by our own works, that salvation is a gift of God.
I don’t know exactly which Scripture it was, and you might not either and that’s okay, but there was some Scripture, some eternal word of God from the Bible that you heard that went down into your heart that prompted you to say, “Yes, I need Jesus,” and you reached out to Him.
And what we learned in the passage we read today is that the same Scriptures that lead us to salvation, we have experienced their power in that way, they will continue to reshape us and to give power for our lives as we follow Christ.