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Do You REALLY Want to Change?

This is based on my sermon for New Year’s, which comes from [youversion]2 Timothy 2:21[/youversion] and surrounding verses.

Is it even possible to really change? Millions of people must be asking that question, especially as we face another new year. You may already have a list of areas of your life you’re going to change. Whether they are “resolutions” or not, you’re hoping you can make it this year.

ONE GREAT TRUTH: Change is possible. In fact, it’s God’s plan for all of His children to change us into the image of Christ, but we have to be ready first – prepared for His use through repentance and renewal.

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Real Christians Hurt… And Show It

As Paul concluded his second letter to Timothy, he expressed some hurt. Demas had forsaken him. Alexander the coppersmith had caused him much harm. At one point, no one was willing to stand with Paul. Rejection, criticism, and abandonment hurt! The world is watching believers to see how we’re going to handle it all.

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What A Wonderful World

At our wedding, Angie and I chose to have Louie Armstrong’s song played… What a Wonderful World. In light of yesterday’s shootings, and so many other monumental tragedies in recent years, is it really a wonderful world? We were driving to Fort Smith yesterday for the annual meeting of the BMA of America and were reflecting on some of the tragedies that have taken place at this same time of the year such as the Oklahoma City bombing (April, 1995), the Waco compound burning (April, 1993), and Columbine (April, 1999). Each of these tragedies evoked emotions of fear and trepidation about living in this present world.

Our daughter begins kindergarten this fall. She’s nearly five years old and we’re already speculating about the nature of the world in which she will grow up and go through school. The news media tackles subjects like campus security and the psychological reasons behind such an awful rampage. But the secular media can never fully comprehend the nature of human depravity. Evil men will do evil things, no matter our level of security. If not on a campus, then in a restaurant, an airport, or a World Trade Center. Is this really a wonderful world?

There are natural and supernatural factors that can only be seen through a God-centered world view. The depravity of man runs deep in the heart. Evil abounds in humankind and murder, war, and bloodshed will continue as long as lost mankind has some dominion over this present realm. Further, Satan is labeled in Scripture as the “prince of the power of the air… the god of this world.” We who live on earth, live in a time and place where darkness has dominion. Is it really a wonderful world?

My answer, surprisingly, is yes. Why? Because it is in this present realm that God is actively working to extend His saving and healing grace to a lost and depraved people. It is here that God moves. It was into this humanity that Jesus, the light, came into the world. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God’s glory was put on display through the life of Jesus Christ, through His atoning death, and through His miraculous resurrection. Do we live in a wonderful world? Only insomuch as Jesus makes the difference.

Last night, we were ministered to by a wonderful gospel singer who performed the old song Beulah Land. I love the lines… “Beulah land, I’m longing for thee, and someday on thee I’ll stand…” Our world, inundated with pain and loss and suffering, is merely a waiting room, a practice run, an incubation chamber for eternity. For those who believe in Jesus Christ as Savior, heaven is our real home. Hell awaits those who reject His free offer of grace.

Amazingly, we cannot forget that it is this world which will someday be renovated by fire. This world will be redeemed. It currently groans with birth pains, waiting to be delivered from its depraved lostness. It’s a wonderful world, plagued by the inherent sinfulness of humankind. It’s wracked with pain and evil. Yet everything on God’s time line is moving toward a great and triumphant finality. Jesus will rule and reign.

Our hearts are gripped, in times like this, with uncertainty and fear. Then Scripture speaks on behalf of its divine author… “For God hath not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) “Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

Is this world your home, or do you seek a city to come, a home not made with human hands preserved in the eternities for you? Jesus Christ came to be the light and hope of a lost and dark world. He came to offer you peace, pardon, and eternal life if you’ll only trust fully in Him, even in the world’s darkest moments. More is to come. Scripture foretells that times will wax worse and worse. Yet Jesus’ hand is always extended toward you. Embrace Him who is ready to embrace you, and enjoy the unspeakable peace and confidence of God.

Can You Handle the Truth?

And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”—2 Timothy 2:2 (NKJV)

In order for Christianity to triumph in the modern age, Christian truth must be passed on from disciple to disciple. There are two key people involved in the process. First, the one holding the truths of Christianity must be willing to share, to invest into the lives of others. Second, there must be “faithful” people willing to hear and assimilate truth into their lives.

Are you “faithful?” In other words, if given the opportunity to hear and understand Christian truth, would you live up to the responsibility of passing that knowledge along to others? Would you keep the chain unbroken? A better question would be, have you kept the chain unbroken?

If you’re a follower of Christ, then you are both people. You’ve received Christian truth, therefore you must pass it on. And generations to come will give praise to God on high because you cared enough to share.

Fear Not

”For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7

A certain amount of fear is natural and is built into who we are physically speaking. This fear is quite helpful in the presence of danger, when our intuition kicks in and protects us from harm. But there is another kind of fear that the Bible warns us against. It is a spiritual fear in which we are limited in living bodly for God. The source of this fear is never God.

We don’t have to be timid when it comes to proclaiming Jesus Christ to our neighbors and our world, and we don’t have to be timid when it comes to living the Christian life with boldness either. God is on our side and He is the soverign God and the victorious Savior. He simply never causes or desires us to show fear in our lives, but rather to demonstrate the power of God.

Are there fears in our life based on an incorrect view of God or a lack of trust in Him? Lay them at the foot of the cross and seek His power and boldness to overcome and live with divine courage.