As you walked in the front door, the smells of luscious desserts, fruits, fresh coffee and the aroma from tons of hors d’oeuvres made your mouth water. The house was as clean as possible, waiting for all the guests that had been invited. A politician was coming, one who was running for a state office, and who was happy to come to any home where he could present his platform.
This was not something we usually did: we generally would have friends, visiting pastors or evangelists in to eat, but never had we had a politician. Now, years later, I can’t remember who he was, or what he looked like, but like Lincoln at Gettysburg, I can tell you what he said.
When everyone had their plates full and were settled in, he took the floor. His first words were somewhat of a shock–which is probably why I’ve remembered them as if they had been spoken yesterday. “Everything you do, every choice you make, can usually fall into one of two categories: either you are doing what is best for another person (or group), or what is best for yourself.”
Over the years I’ve tried to find fault with what he said that evening. What about visiting John Doe in the hospital? We both benefit, don’t we? But what was my main motive? To cheer Mr. Doe, or look good in the eyes of those who might find out I had gone? It has caused me to dissect my heart under the microscope of God’s vision, making sure pride is not at the root of many of my actions. I’m afraid, to my shame, it often is.
Your choices can impact so many people, and do it so quickly, can’t they? Right now you have made a choice to read this sermon study, and possibly dig into the Scriptures in order to learn what Christ wants you to do with them, and how best to apply them. If you’re ready, get your notebook, a cup of coffee (or tea!), and click on the sermon preached at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Sunday, October 2, 2016 by Pastor Jonathan Falwell. Just go to http://www.trbc.org/service-archive, then click “select” for the last sermon. If you have time, watch the entire service, then go through the questions below. You can do a couple each day, or do them all in one day if you have time. Ask a friend to join you, save it for the family or a group, but most of all worship the Lord with the congregation at TRBC, and see what God has for you today.
Is it truly possible that each day your choices are made for one of two motives: for the good of others, or for the good of yourself? Can you think of an example from your activities this week, and which category did the choice(s) fall into? Take a moment to jot your thoughts down in your notebook.
This week Pastor Falwell continues the series, “Unfinished,” looking at the wise counsel in Paul’s instructions to make choices that will bring you peace and joy through Jesus Christ, rather than choosing the temporal pleasures of sin such as the world is making today. You can either make a choice to stop sin dead in its tracks in your life, and pursue serving and trusting God, or choose a path that results in a totally self-centered life.
Read Focal Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Think About or Discuss:
Sin will keep you from the presence and the power of God
1. As you read verses 2-4, which description of the corruption of man struck you as being a clear picture of society today? Who is benefiting from the choices made by the type of persons spoken of in those verses?
2. More than likely you thought of someone in your own family who fell into one of these categories. What can you do for them immediately? How much do you believe in the power of prayer? James 5:16b says that the prayer of a righteous person is very effective. Do you really believe this?
Self-deception doesn’t make things better
3. Verse 5a spoke of those who have a “form of godliness, but deny its power.” They are saying, “I don’t need God!” Sadly, many consider the pleasures of sin to be worth more than a life lived for Jesus Christ. Yet they consider “going forward” to pray a prayer as evidence they are saved. Paul reminds all of us that being religious is not the same as living a righteous life. Read Matthew 7:16, 17: how can you know someone is saved?
4. According to a Barna research, most people believe they are going to heaven, even though they live like the world. What does Romans 6:23 tell you? How does this reflect the verses in the passage in Timothy?
5. Why does verse 5b tell you to turn away from being companions of those who say they don’t need God (paraphrase, 5a), and those listed in 6-9?
6. If you are to stop sin in your life so that you can become a “vessel fit for His use” what is the first step you must take (hint: 1 John 1:9)?
7. Hebrews 11:6 gives you the second step of faith in finishing the task God has given; what is it?
8. Often it is only after a trial that you can look back and see how God brought you through. Psalm 73:26 tells you to look to God for your strength. Why?
Paul made it very clear that being religious does not fulfil the law of Christ. As he lists the society found in the days when men are each doing “what is right in their own eyes,” (Proverbs 21:2), it sounds like the world today. Did you not identify so many of the people you rub shoulders with daily, as he listed those who are in effect saying, “God, leave me alone!”? He concludes this section by reminding Timothy—and you—to not be companions with them, as they will lead you away from the truth. You can love them, witness to them, but do not take them as a “best friend.” The only way you can stop the sin in your life is to be vigilant about your lifestyle. Keep a short account with God, confessing sins as they occur and turning from them, being diligent to study the Scriptures so you can apply them to your life, and being dependent upon God for the strength each day to see that He alone is the one on the throne of your heart. As you begin this new week, pray for the others in your life, as well as yourself, that all would trust Him for the grace and power to live each day pleasing Him.
Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Focal Passage: 2 Timothy, Chapter 3:1-9