FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap includes an assortment of items to help keep the Gospel in front of you throughout the week. Most are from the previous Sunday while a couple look ahead to next Sunday. As you read consider these questions. Did anything land with you during worship? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought:
[D]esponding thoughts may arise in the minds of [people] who begin to conceive somewhat more of the nature and excellency of religion than before; they have spied the land, and seen that it is exceedingly good…but they find they have…many powerful lusts and corruptions to overcome, and they fear they shall never prevail against them…. Let us encourage ourselves with those mighty aids we are to expect in this spiritual warfare, for greater is he that is for us than all that can rise up against us.
– Henry Scougal, The Life of God in the Soul of Man
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: Jonah 1:17-2:10
Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven - Adoration
Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe) - Confession
He Leadeth Me - Grace
God of My Life, to Thee I Call - Response
Jesus, Lover of My Soul - Communion
I have two resources for you this week. The first is an article by a Harvard Sociology Professor who studies cities. In this article he discusses what he calls "compounded deprivation" as he describes the "sharp neighborhood divide in American Society."
Since the previous article discusses supporting certain public policies and we are in an election year, I want to commend to you a new book by Miraslov Volf, called Public Faith in Action: How to think carefully, engage wisely, and vote with integrity. Volf is the Founder and Director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University Divinity School. Keep your eyes and ears out for opportunities to discuss this book here at RMC in the coming weeks.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Christ, the Solid Rock
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus Christ, my righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Heavenly Father, your love brings life to dead souls, light to darkened minds, and strength to weak wills. Depending on our own strength we stumble; proclaiming our own goodness we sin; glorying in our own righteousness we corrupt everything we touch; indulging in self-pity we blind ourselves to the needs of those around us. Help us to believe and trust that no wrong we have done, and no good we have failed to do, is too great for you to forgive through the merits of Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
Words of Grace
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 1:1-7
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 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.
- God provides outward resources (vv.3-5)
- God provides inward resources (vv.6-7)
- God provides upward resources (v.1)
Sermon Summary by Matt Clegg, Pastoral Resident
This passage is the introduction of Paul's letter of encouragement to his disciple Timothy. Paul is in prison for preaching the gospel and is likely near death. He is writing this very intimate letter to encourage Timothy to "rekindle" his faith, and to carry on Paul's work of ministry.
Almost all of us know what it's like to have resistance to where we are going and what we are trying to achieve. We can tolerate obstacles to our goals and expectations for a little while, but everyone has a threshold where it gets too much. In these moments of heavy resistance, it is the natural human response to become discouraged. This is likely the situation of Timothy in this letter. He was a well respected member of his community, and was wanted specifically by Paul as a companion (Acts 16:1-3). However, he faced constant opposition alongside Paul, he was facing current opposition alone in Ephesus, and his mentor was nearing death in prison as thanks for his work. Resistance was strong against Timothy, with no signs of letting up.
It is in this situation that Paul instructs Timothy to "rekindle," or to "fan into flame" his faith and calling. How is this possible? What resources did Paul give Timothy to do so? What resources are available to us when we are discouraged by the resistance in our own lives?
First, Paul reminds Timothy of his outward resources. He reminds Timothy that Paul is serving God just like "his ancestors." This connects Paul and Timothy's work with God's historical work in Israel. He also reminds him of the faith of his immediate heritage. God has been at work in Timothy's family too. Paul then reassures Timothy that he is convinced of Timothy's faith. How striking is it that Paul thought Timothy would need such a reminder! Finally, Paul reminds him of his ordination, the commission of God's own church. The effect of this is that Paul is reminding Timothy that God is at work all around him, in history and in the present. Timothy's struggle is not unique, and God is no less present now than He ever has been.
It is our tendency when discouraged under heavy resistance to only look at the world through our own situation. We may see the problems of society and think that all ministry efforts are futile. We may also look at our own inadequacies, failings, and doubts, and despair of our Christian walks. However, we can be reminded like Timothy what is true outside of ourselves. Our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This same God is at work all around us now. We can remember that our feelings about God may betray us, but He will never change.
At this point, we might want to ask, what should such a "rekindling" of my faith and calling look like? Verses 6-7 answer this question with another set of resources, inward recourses. Paul tells Timothy that God, "gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control" (v.7). This might sound like an odd grouping, with "power" and "love" being exciting attributes, and "self-control" being a buzz-kill. However, these are set against the situation that Timothy was facing. Rather than being afraid (1:7), he was to have "power," rather than getting involved in conflict (2:14), he was to "love," rather than following his passions (3:1-9), and he was to have "self-control." All of these attributes are about persevering in the truth. What is important here, though, is that God gives this spirit, and it is not something Timothy was to artificially conjure. Paul reminded Timothy that God was not only at work outside of Him, but that He was present inside of Him as well. Timothy was to allow his spirit to be consistent with the reality that God's Spirit was in him.
Just as Timothy was reminded of his inner resources to persevere in the truth, we are reminded that God's spirit is in us as well. This passage does not call for acts of heroism for Jesus, but rather perseverance in the gospel. If we were to try this on our own effort, we would find the resistance too great. However, we do not go alone, but with God's Spirit. A speaker once said, "the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead is able to help me love my spouse when I don't want to." If this is true, we can relax our own spirits of fear, or discouragement, and begin to participate with what God is doing in and through us.
Finally, many of us would ask at this point, "but what if I don't see these characteristics in my life?" Thankfully, Christ has also given us upward resources in Jesus. Paul bases his whole letter on his calling, "according to the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus" (v.1). This promise is fleshed out in 1 Cor.15:50-58, which shows that Christ's work has changed the trajectory of life for those who belong to Him. He has removed the consequences of sin, and has made our lives count toward His final redemption. This means that our discouraging situations do not get the final word on our lives. They now mysteriously serve Christ and His purpose of bringing life.
We typically get discouraged for one of two reasons. Either we sense inadequacy in ourselves, or we doubt God's presence in our situation. Jesus is the answer to both problems. On the one hand, our inadequacies no longer get to dictate what becomes of our lives, Christ does. We not only go with Him where He went, but also somehow contribute to His purposes. On the other hand, Christ's death and resurrection are a wonderful reminder of His action in real time. We may not see evidence of His work in front of us, but we can see His action on the cross. In the end, Paul called Timothy to persevere in his faith because he knew life was at the end of that road. We are called on this same road as well. Let us pray that God would give us eyes to see Jesus, that we would turn from our fears, and follow the path of life that He has paved for us.
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What are the areas of resistance in your own life that often speak louder than Jesus?
- What evidences do you see of God's work around you?
- How would your behavior change if you knew that God's resources were real?
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 87
Q. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of and endeavor after new obedience.
2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.