Seventh in a Series of Seven on Shared Vision
Habits of Faithful Christians
1) Lives transformed by the Gospel
• Receiving gratefully God’s gifts / drifting away from means of grace
• Searching eagerly Holy Scripture / not finding time
• Confessing humbly sins / as opposed to defending & excusing
2) Culture around us transformed
• Faithfully managing vocations
• Prayerfully enduring crosses
• Joyfully gathering / crying and laughing together
• Today confidently sharing the faith
5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Lesson #1 is to keep on fanning into flame your Christian faith.
• Story of fanning campfires in Boundary Waters….the campfire wouldn’t do anybody any good unless campers gave it attention in a timely way.
• Timothy had a sincere faith, handed down by Grandma Lois and Mom Eunice. “Sincere” could be translated unhypocritical. Faith that is not just for show, but genuine, piety that isn’t evident just when people are looking, but when nobody is watching. Timothy would need a heart burning with strong faith when days of persecution came, when Caesar would declare Christianity unlawful, when friends and mentors began to be martyred. It wouldn’t be enough to just be a mama’s boy, or grandma’s good little boy when the days of suffering and great trial came. He would need the Holy Spirit to keep on breathing on Him, for the Scriptures to keep on speaking, to keep on confessing sins….Not a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self control
• My story of Grandma Selma and Mom Dorothy handing down faith, gentle and mild, which is good and fine, life is smooth, how strong will my faith be when bad health forces retirement, how strong will the fire of my faith be when death is approaching. In all the stages of life, I will need to have the Spirit of God breathing on me………….not a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of grace and prayer, of power and strength, of sanctification and the fear of God.
• Confirmands, your parents and pastors and teachers are handing down the faith to you these days, easy to have faith while surrounded by Christians and life is going reasonably well, but what about when tough times come, when you have to decide whether you will follow the crowd or Christ, have to decide whether to the Ten Commandments and having fun. Keep fanning the flame, letting the Holy Spirit breathe on you in means of grace….
Lesson #1 was to keep on fanning the flame of faith, to keep on staying close to Jesus Christ, and now Lesson #2 is confidently share the faith you have been handed, to let the Gospel light shine.
15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.
• Words that matter and words that don’t matter so much.
• In my case, weekend sermon has 2000 words or so, and I would prepare 4-6 hours so that the words make sense and are truly words of God. In contrast to shooting the breeze with the elders tonight after service.
• In the case of young people, there are the words you text each other back and forth all day, and then there the words of the Rite of Confirmation, where you indicate that you will stand with Jesus Christ and suffer death rather than fall away from Him and His Church.
• Words of the Marriage Ceremony / Noah / Pastor Muther
• 7th habit of faithful Christian is to confidently share the faith.
• Learn tonight to live our lives in such a way that people will notice our hopefulness and ask us why. Anybody ask you lately why you are so cheerful? So patient? So contented? So at peace? If not, why not?
• If I were to lose five pounds by next week, nobody would ask me about it. No big deal. If I were to go on that diet and over the next 30 days lose 30 pounds, many of you would comment. Many of you would ask how I did it.
• So also with the fruits of the Spirit. Show them patience and gentleness only occasionally and nobody will comment. No one will notice. But make a habit of patiently enduring hardship and responding to people with a gentle spirit, and folks will wonder why.
• If you were to be cheerful only when the sun is shining and the day is smooth, no big deal. No Nobel Peace prizes for you! But find a way to be cheerful in a consistent way, rain or shine, smooth sailing or rough, and eventually, people will be interested in your story. And once people are interested in what makes you tick, you can direct them to a God who has loved you, blessed you, forgiven all kinds of sins, and is following you around with goodness and mercy.
• Story of David Hughes, Baptist Seminary, Ft. Wayne, loved to get in people’s faces and ask, “brother are you saved?”
• Lifestyle evangelism instead of confrontational evangelism
• Tips for confidently sharing the faith – Joining Jesus on His Mission
1) Getting into position – realizing Jesus is already messing with people and that wherever you go, there is opportunity
2) Seeking the kingdom – Stop seeing interruptions as interruptions and rather as God appointments (story of beautiful gal in my office today. Wherever you go, there you are, and wherever you are, there Jesus is. Habit of watching for what God is showing us every day in daily routines.
3) Hearing from Jesus – what is Jesus teaching you in His word today?
4) Talking with people – Jesus can do more with two people who are talking with each other than he can with two people successfully ignoring each other. Extroverts are better at talking and introverts at listening? What kind of conversations are you having? Welcome Center.
5) Doing good- Ephesians 2:8-10 / saved by grace, good works prepared in advance for us to do. Random acts of kindness / Donita providing me with cheese sticks, Kay and Gary in Food Shelf, Julie cleaning up Welcome Center,
6) Praying with people – Pray in morning devotions for neighbors, pray Lord’s Prayer in intentional and thoughtful way, take hand of spouse and pray out loud, take family on a prayer walk through neighborhood, may I pray for you……..Fincke says you’ll only be nervous about praying out loud once…………
The kingdom of God is like a woman who is suffering the ravages of cancer without complaining, quietly, with such strength and dignity that you just want to go up to her and say, “how can you be so calm?”
It’s like a student who is getting teased at school in a merciless kind of a way, but he just keeps on brushing the bullies off like flies and doesn’t let it bother him in the least. So much so that you just want to ask him how he can keep that smile on his face?
It’s like a family facing unemployment and all kinds of money problems and questions about their future. Yet the Spirit of God keeps on breathing on them, their flame keeps on burning, and people all around them are wondering what is their secret. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Worship Sermons & Letters
Pastor Paul Muther