One of the most difficult tasks in life is to continue the straight and narrow walk
that is pleasing to the Father. There are times when we're tired, hurt, or the journey
seems neverending with constant dangers and opposition. Yet, we must press on!
May 26th, 2002, Sunday Morning
Keeping the spiritual fire burning
OPENING: 2 Timothy 1:1-7
2 Timothy 1:6-7: This sums up the theme of this message--that when
bad things happen to us, we are reminded that GOD has not given us the spirit of fear.
Rather, the spirit of power, love and a sound mind.
Timothy had reached such a point in his life. He can relate to us ... but he
had it tougher than us.
- He was handicapped by frequent physical ailments
- 1 Corinthians 16:10: He was naturally timid (another example of how GOD
uses the weak and unpopular vs. the wise and strong for His work--1 Corinthians 1:27)
- 1 Timothy 4:12 and 2 Timothy 2:22: He was "a young man" (not an aged, wise, experienced man)--most
vulnerable to temptation and sin.
- Timothy was in a time and culture that strongly/freely persecuted and hated Christians.
And on top of that, Paul, his teacher, is about to be executed by Nero.
A campfire and your spiritual fire are comparable. The lack of certain
activities causes the fire to burn low.
- You must tend to the fire or else it will begin to grow cold. The consequence
will be darkness beginning to take over. And darkness is most associated with wickedness,
- A fire (spiritual activity) grows low and cold because of all the activities
outside the campfire (the world) that must be tended to, as well. The more we are wrapped
up in the world, the colder our spiritual fire becomes.
- Luckily, for those of us already saved
our fire can only grow cold ... it can never again go out!
So how do you stir the fire up again?
- Romans 10:17: READ YOUR BIBLE: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
- Hebrews 10:25 (first half): GO TO CHURCH: That's the scriptural translation for "Not forsaking
the assembling of ourselves together..."
- Hebrews 10:25 (second half): STIMULATING EACH OTHER TO GOOD DEEDS: That's the scriptural
translation for "...but exhorting one another..."
What causes us to let our fire go down? (i.e., activities outside the spiritual campfire circle)
- DIFFICULT SITUATIONS REQUIRING CONSTANT ATTENTION: Family issues, work problems/pressures,
school, defending the nation (military). These are good things to give attention to--but
they must not dominate tending to the fire (draw us away from GOD).
- FAST-PACED LIFE WE LEAD WITH NO FREE TIME: Long distance drive to work,
jobs that require travel, taking the kids to soccer/basketball/baseball practice, etc.
No relaxation time for yourself and in the midst of this, the campfire is dying
- WE BECOME LEGITIMATELY TIRED: We don't take care of ourselves, we begin to
wear out; As we get tired, we become sleepy--the campfire dies
- We have not paced ourselves correctly. Even marathon runners have to walk
after a 26.2 mile run!
- You cannot run your entire life. Mostly--you walk.
- Worry--we let everything bother us. (And then some of us pay psychologists to explain
our problems to us. If they did that to your satisfaction, they'd go out of business!)
- If you feel you can't go on another day, it doesn't necessarily mean you're not losing the faith--you're just tired.
- PLEASURE: Enjoying yourself beyond limits (i.e., college parties, bar/club scene) and you forget
- EVIL: You need the fire to die down so that you can be involved in illicit
activities (i.e., David commits adultery with Bathsheba who was married to Uriah--2 Samuel 11:13 to 2 Samuel 11:17)
- It is always foolish to let the fire go out. There are no good excuses.
- We begin to face dangers when we allow the fire to die.
The way you'll know you're in danger is when you begin to see fear in your life
- As the fire goes low...
- You begin losing fellowship with GOD ... with others ... with your prayer time
- Priorities begin to fall--they are not easy to replace.
- The light dies. Enter darkness (evil). Enter fear and susceptibility to temptation.
- As the light dies, we do not see clearly the answers to problems. Our sight is dimmed.
It is hard to see the "fuel" to re-kindle the "fire"
- When in the position of not seeing the world clearly, we find ourselves
paralyzed by fear
- 2 Timothy 1:7: Contrary, GOD has not given us the spirit of fear.
Some of the greatest men/women of this world knew/know their fear and how to overcome it.
Others break under pressure because they don't know their fear.
- However, cowards stay in the foxhole, sit on the bench, run from relationships,
turn down opportunities, can't handle difficulties, etc.
- PRIDE: We can't allow ourselves to look bad. We quit and hide.
- The origin of cowardice is not from GOD but from our heart
- Fear is a natural response to the unknown. But when it paralyzes us, the
result is suffering and unhappiness--a robber of our joy.
- Fear is a result of neglecting (not trusting in) GOD
- Fear by itself is not good or bad--it's an emotion
- It's when we don't confront the fear that we are in trouble
Stirring the fire of life produces conscious awareness
- GOD has provided us three tools: POWER, LOVE, DISCIPLINE
- POWER: Whatever we are called to face in life, GOD has given us the power to
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17: Scripture (the Bible contents) is for study,
reproof, correction, and instruction for the result of doing what is good
- 2 Corinthians 12:9: The inspiration of all in this world with
disabilities--power and strength are conceived and perfected from weakness. Therefore,
we can overcome a situation as well at 1% strength as at 100% because Christ lives within us.
- Philippians 4:13: All things are possible with Christ. When man doubts
anything it is because Christ has been taken out of the equation
- The power will not be seen until you make the initiating effort--and be patient!
Results are not instantaneous (man's thinking). The end result will come at GOD's pre-determined time.
- Genesis 6:13 - Genesis 6:22: Noah builds the ark (YEARS)
- Exodus 4:4: Moses successfully turned a deadly serpent into a rod by grabbing its tail,
per the LORD's instruction (INSTANT)
- Romans 10:17: In summary, there is no evidence of power until
we walk by faith. And as the scripture says, faith comes from reading GOD's Word
- It requires no power for a fool to lose patience, be jealous, hold an account
over others ... but it does take power to love
- GOD has given us the ability to LOVE
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7: But what is love defined? It is all things listed below,
combined. Remove any one and it is not perfect love
- Kind and not jealous
- Does not brag and is not arrogant
- Does not act unbecomingly
- Does not seek its own
- Not provoked
- Does not take into account wrongs suffered
- Does not rejoice in unrighteousness but in truth
- Bears and believes all things
- Hopes and endures in all things
- 1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love. Rather, perfect love
casts out fear.
- We must live our life in such a manner that our actions alone give others the
impression that we are Christian
- DISCIPLINE: self-control
- It means to give yourself good advice; having a true moral compass
- You cannot make good, sound decisions (dealing with fear) without considering
the love that comes from Christ. Else, you're putting yourself and possibly others in danger
- If you're saved but do not have self-control, you'll
still enter Heaven by GOD's grace. However, you will have a weak testimony of your life's
activities before GOD at the Judgment
Foolish decisions are based on us giving into temptation and being only concerned with
ourselves. Personal advice to yourself will almost always be wrong.
To walk the straight and narrow in this life will definitely result in persecution by the majority
of this world ... wounds, hurts, attacks--more mental than physical. But know that GOD has
won all wars already and that your eternal life cannot be taken from you
once you accept it
2 Timothy 3:14-15: Just as Paul prepared Timothy, we've been ordered to continue the fight.
As long as you keep your spiritual fire stirred, you'll have nothing to fear