She walked into the room, the newest employee, with everyone staring at her. Her black hair hung down in natural curls, and was very lovely. Actually, she had a gorgeous, classy look, and I liked what I saw. Perhaps, being one of the only two female agents in an office dominated with men, we could be friends, I thought.
Later, we went to lunch together, and every other word out of her mouth was one that would make a sailor blush (no offense to sailors, it’s just an old saying where I come from). Although her conversation was “normal,” I couldn’t get past the profanity–something I seldom heard, unless out in a crowd. But for her, it was as natural as breathing. How could someone so pretty need to have the shock value of using so many 4-8 letter words?? It blew my mind.
By the second week she had been there, we had to work an assignment together, and I got the full force of her filthy mouth. She began talking about her church, her pastor, and the choir (she could sing, along with being gorgeous). Finally, in desperation, I faced her directly. “Are you saying you’re a Christian?” I asked. “Absolutely! No doubt in my mind!” she replied. I couldn’t hold back, “Do you know what? Your testimony STINKS!” I told her. “If you have to use an expletive every other word in every single sentence, there’s a gap between what you believe and what the Bible says about the way you talk! And not only that, if you have to have make a statement that needs profanity every other word, what you have to say is not worth the hearing!”
She sat in stunned silence. I guess it was the first time in her life that anyone had ever been so bold as to tell her what it sounded like to someone who did not use language like she did. She waited until she could digest what I had said. Finally I learned that her mother had raised her from babyhood using every word with a cursing adjective, and it was normal for her. She came back to me days later, saying she had prayed about trying to clean up her language, but she didn’t know if she could do it. “Without strength from God, you can’t,” I told her. “You are going to be making a major life-adjustment. But it is something that could be holding you back from living as God desires.” She nodded, for she understood.
I thought back to my own mom, who was so kind and good. One day I said a four-letter word I had heard, s***. My mom grabbed me by the arm, took me over to the sink, and with a bar of soap, washed all the “filthiness” out of my mouth. By the time that was over, I didn’t want to ever say anything wrong again! Not long afterward, mother was bent down trying to light the gas oven that was on the bottom of our stove. She got burned, and suddenly that same four-letter word flew out of her mouth. I had an expression rather like the child above. She realized what she had done, how she had punished me, and I never–the rest of her years until she turned 90 and died–heard her say a curse word.
If we don’t live our faith out in the work place, in the areas where we shop, with our friends, or where we congregate with acquaintances, then what we hear on Sunday morning from the preacher isn’t taking root in our lives, only space on our memory card. Rather like spam on our email account. Or worse, phishing or hacking. It’s Satan’s way of ruining our testimony.
Get your Bible and your notebook, a friend if you have someone share this time with you, or a group if you can, and click on the link to the last sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, September 25, 2016: http://www.trbc.org/service-archive and join with others who will take time to listen to the Word of God, perhaps even worship with the music, and then have a time of study below. You can stretch it out to last all week, or do it all in one day. This chapter to be studied is so full of nuggets of gold that you’ll want to retain it, memorize it, and apply it to your life. In that way, you can be a testimony of the grace which God has bestowed on you!
UNFINISHED: Living Your Faith In the Margins Pastor Jonathan Falwell
Do you have a list of things you would like to see yourself do within the foreseeable future, but are not sure you can finish? Perhaps get a college education, or knowledge of a certain job skill. Sometimes it’s easier not to go back to it than try, and then fail. Can you think of an example, and write down how you think you would feel if you complete it?
As we continue the series, “Unfinished,” we are focusing on the wealth of wise counsel in Paul’s final words to Timothy. He knew death was imminent, and wanted Timothy—and believers throughout the ages—to live life to its fullest through Jesus Christ. Today we focus on taking the word we hear preached in the church and apply it to our daily activities as we go about our daily routine.
Read Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-26
Think About or Discuss:
- Think about how often you take on a task, and feel it is too overwhelming, and you want to give up. If God has called you to do this (job, duty, mission), how does He expect you to see it to completion? At the end of the day, where has your strength come from?
- Has there been a situation where you felt it would be impossible to get through, but later could look back and see His strength being poured into you daily? What was it? Have your notebook handy to write down ideas that come to mind.
The Gospel Still Works
- As you read verse 9 , you saw that Paul reminded us that whatever our own situation, God is still in complete control, and the gospel is “unchained,” or free to save no matter the situation. 2 Cor. 5:17 tells us that when we become believers, our old nature passes away and all things become new. Share or write down how that change is making changes in you as you live daily for Him.
- Why is it important that you internalize the knowledge each day that you are living a new life? Do you realize your actions are a testimony of God’s power?
- Why does Paul say in verse 15 to “study” God’s Word? What can you apply God’s desires for your life unless you know His revealed will from His word? God’s letters to us through the Bible are like an instruction manual that comes with something you are unfamiliar with: only by studying can you learn how to operate what you have gotten!
Use Your Faith in the Real World
- Without a doubt, Paul spent his time in the “real world.” His entire focus was telling lost souls how to respond to the love of God and be saved. How are you different from those you are around every day?
- What are some ways you can draw strength and encouragement throughout your week, or when times are hard? And how can you yourself give strength and encouragement to others when they are going through tough times?
To Finish What Christ Began
- In verses 24-26, Paul admonishes us to treat others with love and humility. You cannot separate love and truth. Who will listen to you if you do not show love to them first?
- How can you continue the work Christ began? What are some things you can do in your sphere of influence?
Going to church, meeting together on Sundays and possibly Wednesdays, or attending a Bible Study, all feed your spirit and encourages you. But in those situations, all (or most) in attendance are of the same mindset as you, and in a way, isolated from the filth, immorality, profanity, and hatred that you might face in your day-to-day activities. As you close this session, it is so imperative that you study the chapter with the intention of learning and applying how God wants you to carry out His mission. Perhaps even write down some of the ideas Paul’s instructions create in you. He wants you to be living in victory every day, no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, while you are dealing with people who may be living so differently than you live. Treat them with respect, love them, invite them to come to church with you. Most of all, show them that each day you want to live your life pleasing to Him who died for you!
Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the world of truth.”
Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 2
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