I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the early influences in my life that pointed me to Christ. My parents were the first and most important spiritual influences. They took me to church, I’m sure against my protests in many cases. They lived a faithful Christian witness before me that taught me, in hindsight, that God was worthy to be followed fully. They had their own spiritual influences, for mom, her pastor as a child Gifford Walters, and my great grandmother, Granny Williams we called her, whose funeral I had the privilege of conducting many years ago. Dad’s influences were his parents, my mom, and Dr. Jim Boswell of Cumberland College (now University of the Cumberlands). Other early influencers in my life were Dr. Joe Brown, (his twitter page) who was my pastor while I was in high school and whose passion for God, God used to awaken me to himself. An important influence of his was pastor Sam Tatum, now with the Lord, whom I had the privilege of knowing, since we served in the same region in his later years. Lastly, the first pastor I served with, pastor Roger Williams, whose faithful pulpit ministry taught me an approach to preaching I’ve never gotten over. Of course, there are many, many others down to the present whom God continues to use to challenge me and encourage me forward.
What about you? What is your story? If you have a relationship with Jesus, there were people God used to draw you to himself. Over time our gratitude for those people will only increase. But all this begs a question. Whose story are you in? We are part of a long line of those who’ve carefully handed off the faith to the next generations. This call on our lives doesn’t stop with our immediate families, though it may start there. Sunday I will preach from 2 Timothy 2:1-7 which contains this instruction from Paul to Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Your relationship with God is not just about you. God calls us to a long range vision that involves us not just making disciples by baptizing them (telling the gospel and welcoming them into his church) and teaching them to observe all that Jesus commanded us (Mat. 28:16-20 and last week’s message) but to think about doing this in God’s power in such a way that they will then pass that on to the next generation.
This idea we will explore together further this Sunday morning at Bethany Place. It will be the third message in our series on vision called Who, What, When, Where, Why. I can’t wait to see you there as we worship God and open his word together.
Incidentally, Dr. Joe Brown and pastor Roger Williams are still faithfully ministering. You can get to online sermons of theirs by following the links on their names above.
You can see the text, outline, and discussion questions for the message below.
What is a Good Life?
Part 3 of Who, What, When, Where, Why
2 Timothy 2:1-7
1. Serve in God’s strength
2 Timothy 2:1 (ESV) You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2. Aim at a long term hand off of the faith
2 Timothy 2:2 (ESV) 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
3. Prepare for extreme difficulty in carrying out the task
2 Timothy 2:3–7 (ESV) 3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. 5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. 7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Questions for further reflection and discussion
- How would you describe grace? What then does it mean to be strengthened by grace?
- What is your responsibility to pass along the faith to the next generations? Would you describe your concern for future generations as mostly about your own family or does it go beyond that?
- Why do you think suffering may be involved in passing the faith along to the next generations?
- What is your responsibility to “think over what Paul says” here? Does this apply only to this text? To what extent do you think hard over God’s word seeking understanding from him about all parts of your life?