When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible, please click here and may you be blessed by singing along with "You Reap What You Sow."
II Timothy 1:1-14
Good Morning from the Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team to all who are listening to or reading this message. What a glorious day to worship God!
Two weeks ago, we talked about the “Great Commission” and how many Christians lack the will, fortitude and sense of urgency to actually follow Jesus’ orders; instead, they are content to live out the “great omission.” We also mentioned that a survey several years ago found that 95% of Southern Baptist Convention Christians, those who are known for evangelizing, have never shared their testimony one on one. One of the reasons given for not sharing their testimony is fear of rejection. And if this is true for them, how much more so for other denominations? Last week, we talked about “What is My Testimony?” and today’s Message is titled “Fear Not.”
Our Bible reading comes from the New Testament Book of II Timothy, Chapter 1 verses1through 14 and you can be turning there in your Bible.
Before we begin reading, let me give a bit of background; until we understand the time and circumstance of Paul’s letter, we will miss the deep encouragement and love that Paul had for this brother and servant of the Lord. The Apostle Paul was again in prison for his faith, actually in more of a dungeon than a prison. He was chained to a wall thinking that this would be where he loses his life for Christ, so Paul writes this to Timothy shortly before his death.
Emperor Nero, who was known to persecute Christians, had put Paul in prison. Nero would get pleasure killing Christians in many torturous ways and is credited with killing the Apostle right after his writing.
So often people say that they wish they could have had a chance to tell a loved one everything they wanted to tell them.
Here Paul is writing to tell Timothy his inner feelings because he is not sure he will see him again. Paul is in that prison gathering his thoughts; can you picture him thinking about Timothy’s faith? These words are filled with principles and sound advice on how Timothy could be the most effective Christian and an effective leader. The power given by the Spirit of God was dunamas, where we get the word dynamite; the power to reproduce; the power to sustain a relationship with Jesus Christ; the gift of the Holy Spirit. As a child of God, God did not give us the spirit of fear; He gave us the Spirit of power to conquer fear.
Now let's read II Timothy 1:1-14:
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 3 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have membrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; 5 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
Father, today we thank You for the opportunity to praise and worship You. Although we are not together physically, we are coming to You as One in the Spirit.
At times, we don’t have the faith in You that You’ve asked us to have. Fill us fresh with Your Spirit and give us the faith to believe that You are forever true to Your promises, that You are fully trustworthy.
Today help us to choose faith over fear, to choose to set our eyes on You and not on our circumstances. Help us to choose joy over despair and peace over worry. Silence the lies of the enemy over us. Give us the awareness we need to step over his traps. We trust You to protect our way and bring us safely through the trials we’re facing.
We thank You for Your faithfulness and for letting us walk with You every minute of each day. Thank You that You go before us and cover us from behind. Thank You that our future is secure in the place You’re preparing for us. Thank You for Your goodness and favor over our days. Thank You that You give us great hope and purpose for the future. Thank You that you see the big picture, that You know far more than we’re even aware of. We trust You in that and pray for Your will to be done, not our own.
We thank You for fulfilling Your promises and inspiring us with Your goodness. Your words bring hope to our souls, comfort to our hearts and rest in You. Remind us of Your strength today, in us and through us. May we see glimpses of Your glory and blessing along the way as we seek after You, for victory and salvation are found in you alone. In Jesus' name, Amen
In his book, “If You Want to Walk on Water You've Got to Get Out of the Boat,” John Ortberg writes: “What would you guess is the most common command in Scripture?
It is not for us to be more loving. That may be the core to God's desire for human life, but that is not His most frequent instruction.
Writers about spiritual life often speak of pride as being at the root of human fallenness, but the Bible's most frequent imperative does not have to do with avoiding pride or gaining humility. It is not a command to guard sexual purity or to walk with integrity, important as those qualities are.
The single command in Scripture that occurs more often than any other, God's most frequently repeated instruction, is formulated in two words: Fear Not.”
Everyone knows what it’s like to be afraid. Each of us can identify something that scares us. For me, that would be snakes…any kind of snake, good or bad! I could continue talking about fears and in the course of naming them, we’d probably find that all of them fall into two kinds of fear, good and bad; we’ll talk more about that shortly.
First, let's look at the definitions of fear and faith. As nouns, faith is a conviction, or belief that something is true or real, not contingent upon reason or justification; fear is a strong, uncontrollable, unpleasant emotion caused by actual or perceived danger or threat.
Nenien Mcpherson Jr., Chief People Officer at Green Plains, Inc., says that the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises are the only fears that are natural to us. These are the only two; he says that all the rest are learned. He then says that the only known cure for fear is faith. This comes from a non-believer that understands that faith is the only cure for fear.
Jesus contrasts fear with faith—He equates fear with no faith, or no confidence in Him. Some fear the future, and many fear death. But for the Christian, Jesus is our hope; He is our confidence through every season and circumstance we face.
Fear will prevent us from acting in faith upon the revealed will of God. According to some researchers, there are 366 “fear not” verses in the Bible...one for each day of the year and for leap year too! Since God says “Fear not” so many times, He must have important reasons.
One reason God says “fear not” so often is because fear is the number one cause of temptation that keeps us from living out His will. Fear paralyzes us and keeps us from doing what God wants us to do. Fear traps us like a turtle inside its shell.
Fear has been deﬁned in an acrostic as:
In its simplest form fear is an internal warning cry designed by God. God created us with the ability to sense danger and fear prepares our body to run, hide or fight.
As we said earlier, there are two kinds of fear; good fear and bad fear. Good fear can protect us from danger and can teach us about courage.
Because God is so great and mighty, and because He holds the power of life and death in His hands, we should have a healthy, reverent fear of Him. This healthy fear helps us keep our perspective about where we need to be in our relationship with God.
Fear can also be bad. It can paralyze us and keep us from doing things that we should do. This is the “spirit of fear” mentioned in our scripture.
Fears are real and at times, more real than what we fear. Unhealthy fear—regardless of its form—is not from God.
The battle between living in fear and living in faith seeps into our lives and our society. We are not meant to live in fear.
How do we avoid fear when we can; how do we live with it when we must; and what can we learn from it?
Whenever our minds are not centered on Christ, fear will often try to make its way into our life uninvited. God has much to say to those who struggle with the spirit of fear. Fear is linked with a lack of both faith and the fear or reverence of the Lord. When we are afraid, we are not trusting God and often, we’re fearing something or someone other than God!
Fear is one of the main weapons the enemy uses to keep us from being an effective Christian. He uses fear to torment us, to dictate feelings and behavior and to defeat us. He uses “the spirit of fear” against us to make us feel helpless in resisting him. Satan wants to bind us with chains of fear. He wants to use fear to keep us from God, to cause us to not trust God’s faithfulness, love and power. Satan will use fear to stop us cold in our tracks so that we are unwilling to take steps of obedience. He wants us to doubt the Lord and ourselves because it makes him appear stronger than he really is.
The devil wants to destroy us and he will use fear as a lethal weapon.
Fear will Steal our Joy.
Fear will Kill our Motivation.
Fear is the number one reason people give for not witnessing
Fear will Harm our Relationships with one another.
Fear will Drown out Faith in a person's life.
Fear will Destroy our Destiny.
Satan would also like nothing more than for us to think that our fear is just all in our heads, that we can overcome our fear using our own strength. Fear is more than just physiological processes within our bodies; fear is more than just an emotional response or the way we think. The root of our fear is spiritual. Fear is an emotion that makes us extremely vulnerable to spiritual attack. Fear is a spiritual battle and we need the Holy Spirit to fight this battle for us.
If we continue to feed our fear, we will continue to return to it, time and time again. It will change our nature from the nature and things of God and we will not live in victory. God has not given us the “spirit of fear.” Jesus said in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” which brings us to Faith.
In the general sense of the word, to have faith is to believe in something or someone, to fully trust, to be so confident that you base your actions on what you believe. To have faith is to be fully convinced of the truthfulness and reliability of that in which you believe.
According to notes in The New Living Translation Bible, “Faith is more that just believing; it is trusting our very lives to do what we believe. Faith in God says that we are willing to trust God with our very lives. We are willing to follow His guidelines for living as outlined in the Bible because we have the conviction that this will be best for us. We are even willing to endure ridicule and persecution for our faith because we are so sure that what we believe is true and that the Christian life is what is best for us now and eternally.
To better understand what faith is, we need to look at what faith is not. Faith is not mental assent. It is not agreeing with our minds, "Yes, that is true." Many professing Christians believe mentally that the Bible is the Word of God, but this faith does not change the way they live. It is not a faith that can save. (James 2:14) Even demons have that kind of faith. They know and believe that God exists and tremble, but they have no loving confidence in God. (James 2:19)
Faith is not a way to manipulate God. It is not a power by which we make God do what we want when otherwise He would be unwilling to do that thing. It is not a kind of magic through which we make God into our servant!
So then, faith in God is having the kind of trust and confidence in God and in Christ that leads us to commit our whole soul to Him as Lord and Savior.
Faith brings salvation. "Salvation by faith" isn’t a new idea. It is a familiar theme of the New Testament as a whole. (Ephesians 2:8,9). Whosoever believes in Him has eternal life. (John 3:16), and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24). The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17)
Yet how often do we encounter people whose assurance of eternal salvation in heaven is not their faith but something else. It’s their good deeds toward other people or their achievements in professional life or their financial success or the extent of their material possessions. Whatever they might profess, the life they lead clearly indicates a different understanding to that of salvation by faith.
We need to be clear what we mean and understand when we talk about faith. Faith in God must be from the heart. It is not merely intellectual. It's not just head knowledge—it's heart knowledge. It is spiritual. "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Romans 10:10)
Faith causes us to know in our heart before we see with our eyes. "For we walk by faith, not by sight," II Corinthians 5.7. Who is the focus of our faith? Jesus Christ! It is faith in Him alone and in His completed work that brings eternal life, love for God, love for His children and victory over the world.
The critics will say that faith is irrational, illogical and foolish. That faith is blind, people walking around with their eyes closed. But the Christian's faith does not ultimately rest on human reason and argument. If it did, the intellectuals would have had the advantage long ago. No, our faith rests on the inner testimony of the Holy Spirit and the insight of the heart. With a spiritual new birth comes the growing inner conviction that these realities of Christian faith are true and are true in us and for us as individuals.
This is not to say that it is our experience of Christ that saves us, but rather our believing in Him, which is then confirmed and deepened by the inner witness of the Spirit.
The New King James Version of the Bible says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," Hebrews 11:1.
Living faith always has corresponding actions. We talk hat we really believe, and we act according to what we really believe. The heroes of faith like Abraham were considered men of faith because they acted on what God showed them; they acted on their faith. (Hebrews 11:17-38, James 2:21-23).
So what are the effects of our faith?
As we come to faith in Jesus, our response is one of gratitude and love to our Heavenly Father. He has become our Father and we are members of a new family; so our love for God is expressed in our love for our new brothers and sisters in Christ.
I John 5:1 says: ".... everyone who loves the Father loves His child as well."
All that Jesus has already done for His people is the substance of our faith. But this has to be worked out in our daily experience and that can only occur as we exercise our faith.
Faith is a rest. It is compatible with inner peace. It is not "trying to believe." To say that you are "trying to believe God” is to say that you don't believe Him. Those who are "trying to believe" may be sincere, but they don't have faith in that area yet.
Faith brings answers to prayer. "And whatever things you ask in prayer, really believing, you will receive," Matthew 21:22.
Faith is a spiritual force through which our ministry for Christ becomes effective.
Faith is the major key for an effective healing and deliverance ministry. When we are sick, faith doesn’t deny the pain or the condition. Faith believes God can remedy the condition.
So how do we develop faith?
1. Study God’s Word.
2. Listen to the Word of God as much as possible. Romans 10:17 tells us: “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
3. Realize that God has given us all a measure of faith, Romans 12:3.
4. Obey God and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
5. Give thanks.
6. Develop a life of praise and worship.
7. Spend time with other people of faith.
8. Speak God's Word as the Bible tells us in Romans 10:10
9. Seek holiness and purity of heart.
A sound mind is very essential and important in living the Christian life. Right thinking leads to correct living. The heart refers to our Emotions and Feelings whereas the mind refers to our Thoughts, Thinking, Imaginations, Comprehension and Logical Reasoning.
Notice that one of the strongest causes of fear is looking at our surroundings and temporal things. We need a sound mind stayed on the Lord. To have a sound mind means we must first have a strong relationship with the Lord which requires faith. This is very important because we move, make decisions and act according to the perception and comprehension of the mind.
God has called us to a life of faith based on:
* a clear understanding that Jesus Christ is the focus of our faith;
* on a sound appreciation of the historical evidence of our faith; and
* on the personal experience and witness in our own lives of the Holy Spirit.
This faith is to be demonstrated by:
* a love for God;
* a love for one another;
* an obedience to His Commandments; and
* victory over the World.
It is only as we exercise this faith that we find that it works and we find that we are already embarked upon a life-long course of maturing in faith that will bring its eternal reward
As the saying goes “What you think -- you are” and our eternity depends on “What think ye of Christ?” We should earnestly pray for a sound mind.
Without fear, the enemy can do nothing in our lives. To overcome fear, we must look to God. Knowledge of and faith in God’s love will deliver us from fear. God gives us a reason not to fear, and a commandment. God says in Isaiah 43:5: "Fear not, for I am with you." To fear anyone or anything except the Lord is a sin. We can overcome this sin by being full of God and looking to Him.
The devil uses fear to separate; God's love unites. Remember, Isaiah 26:3 says: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You;” Galatians 5:6: Faith works by love; and I John 4:18: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
Let’s be encouraged and be stirred up in our faith.
Let’s look at the world through God’s eyes of love. Let God’s love cast out our fears so we can experience a more abundant life in Christ!
In conclusion, let’s remember:
Fear is faith in reverse.
Faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
Fear comes by hearing the words of Satan.
Satan wants us to fear that God's Word will not work for us. He wants us to believe God will not supply our needs, which contradicts God's Word.
The spirit of fear causes us to think we are missing out on something. If we consider Satan's negative words, we will doubt God's Word.
Know the Word of God! This is our protection from the enemy! We need to guard our hearts; be sure we are not allowing Satan's words to get inside of us. Fear comes through words and images. Watch what we say and watch on television, radio and social media.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at his first Inaugural address after the 1932 elections said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” I think that there is truth in that. But the God of the universe says that we have nothing to fear....period.
We are fearless Christians. Let’s walk in all that God has for us today!
My favorite acrostic for Faith...
In conclusion, let’s again ask ourselves: When was the last time we shared our testimony with others?
God has given us a past; we should tell it to others for His glory. God has given us salvation; we should tell it to others for His glory. God wants to use us today, to encourage others who are in similar situations that He has set us free from.
However, there may be someone reading or listening to this Message who hasn’t trusted Jesus as their Lord and Savior and doesn’t yet have a personal testimony. If so, I want to encourage you to invite Jesus to come into your heart and life.
John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
And I John 5:13 tells us: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Jesus has provided the gift of salvation to us which gives us not only hope for today, but hope for eternity. Have you believed on Him from your heart? Have you acknowledged Him as your Lord and Savior this morning? If you’ve never accepted Christ into your life, then this is your opportunity. You can receive God’s grace and begin a relationship with Jesus today.
In Romans 10:9, we are told that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
We receive salvation when we:
(1) Repent of our sins.
(2) Trust Jesus Christ as our Savior.
(3) Confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, invite Him into your life right now.
Or maybe there are those who are far away from Jesus. Have you allowed your comfortable, personally focused desires to act as an eclipse between you and God? Is Jesus obscured or completely blacked out of your life? Do you miss him?
All it takes is to open yourself and say "I want things to be different. I know things need to be different. I know what’s wrong, what doesn’t belong and I invite You, Jesus, to come and change me. I want you back."
When we turn back to Jesus in repentance, when we ask for forgiveness, intending to live a godly life, God’s mercy reaches out to us with a message of love. God is a God of mercy, of redemption, of restoration and of renewal. Just come by faith to the throne of grace to receive it. He is waiting for you with open arms. Repent all over again and get back to fulfilling God’s plan in and through your life.
Let us pray: Thank You, Father, for being a perfect Heavenly Father for us, for sending us Your Son to save us from our sins, and for putting Your Holy Spirit into each one of us so that we are never without Your presence. Help us to depend on You, to trust in Your truth, and to serve like You. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.