Tuesday, January 31, 2012

God Wants You Now

This past Sunday, I had the privilege and joy to hear one of my best friends Justin (Kjuice) Jordan speak at his Grandmother's church. I can't tell you all just how encouraging it is to see one of your peers speak to a congregation of all ages. It was so cool to see God using someone my age to do big things in this sweet church. Justin definitely left and impact on those who heard what God spoke through him on Sunday morning.

Justin's brother Cornell introduced Justin and told part of his testimony...Justin grew up in the church and like many 'church kids', he could quote scripture with the best of them on Sundays, but the rest of the week was a different story. I can totally relate to this and I know many of you can too. You might not have gotten into any serious trouble, or you could have done everything...but what you need to take away from it is that no matter what your past looks like...God will still use you.

Justin's message shared with us that you don't have to be grown to be used. No matter who you are or how old you are...God wants you right now.
1 Timothy 4:11-16 Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
Paul (the same Saul/Paul that we talked about in the last post) was Timothy's mentor. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy to encourage him while Paul was away leading a church. Timothy was in Ephesus and that church was being influenced by false teachings...the elders of the church were not paying attention or giving respect to Timothy because he was young...and to make matters worse, he was shy too.
1 Timothy 4:8-10 For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
We live for the living God who died to save us.

Paul gave Timothy the authority to lead this church...but people don't like change, especially if they don't think the new person is qualified. Verse 12 uses the word 'despise'...Webster defines 'despise' as: to look down on with contempt or aversion; to regard as negligible, worthless, or distasteful; synonyms: abhor, loathe, hate; antonym: love.

Young Timothy was seeing everything he did come up against great opposition. His age kept him from being used. It doesn't have to be that way...you, as a young person, are at a special age where you can have a great impact because all you want to do is learn. Too often, as we get older, we get comfortable and don't always have the mindset to continue to grow and learn. In Paul's absence, the elders stopped listening. I tend to believe that had Paul been there, the things that were going on in that church would not have been happening. But we won't always have someone there to help us or to speak up for us. We have to learn and grow in the qualities not just of leadership but these qualities are basic to Christianity.
  • Speech
    • The way we speak has an enormous effect on our witness. We are called to love others as ourselves. If we don't love in our speech, how will we ever be effective leaders or witnesses?
  • Conduct
    • This is important. We have to live what we teach...we are called to a life of holiness. You would call someone a fake if you found out that they were one way with you and another with someone else. Don't be fake...you cannot be an effective anything if you aren't consistent with your conduct.
  • Love
    • In the midst of all the opposition around you...when you are faced with people who hate you because of your faith...don't hate back. The best thing that you can do for them is to love and pray for them. Jesus loves you and we are called to be like him...we have to love as he loves.
      • Romans 12:14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
    • Once you mess up your witness, you cannot be a leader...no one will follow you. You must love constantly...even when you aren't getting love back.
  • Faith
      • 2 Corinthians 5:7 - For we walk by faith, not by sight.
    • Faith means trusting that God is holding onto you even in the midst of the storms of life.
    • The minute we stop having Faith in God...that's when things start to fail. Think about when Jesus walked on the water...He called Peter to come and join him. The moment that Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. That's what happens when we lose faith in God.
  • Purity
    • It's not just talking about sexual purity here...it's talking about holiness.
    • We are called to be holy and pure
    • Meaning that our lives should be clean, without spot...we are to flee from sin.
I think one of the problems with reaching both believers and unbelievers is the fact that as a majority, we are inconsistent. Inconsistent in our lives and our mission. We won't be able to reach people if we are only Sunday Christians. We must live by these qualities and strive to be like Jesus.

Here's the thing though...you actually have to put these qualities to the test. You can't stay in your house and study the Bible...you'll be close to perfect but what good is it if you aren't going? Get up and go teach the world...don't stay in a holy bubble...open your mouth and say something. You will fade out of people's minds if you don't speak up. Be bold about your calling.

Going back to 1 Timothy 4...check out verses 13 and 14:
Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.
Okay, lets start with public reading of Scripture...this doesn't always mean standing up and reading the Bible aloud. Immerse yourself in the word publicly. When you go to lunch, get your Bible out and read it while you are eating. People will notice...it wouldn't surprise me if they came up and began to talk to you about it. Growing in the word publicly will open up opportunities to spread the gospel. You have to ground yourself in the word before you can produce fruit in your life. How do you expect to get to the kingdom if you don't know anything about it? The word is also our 'weapon'.(Ephesians 6:17 - and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God) Like I said earlier, how short would a war be if one side's soldiers didn't have weapons? People will come up against us with arguments...the Bible has the answers. If you don't know the answer, don't make something up...get back to them. Root yourself in scripture...and do it in front of people.

Next thing it talks about is exhortation...basically preaching and teaching. This cannot be done silently. How much would you get out of church if the pastor just stood there or walked around the stage for an hour on Sunday morning? Um...nothing. So open your mouth because people aren't going to learn out of ignorance. Preaching is simple really...you can use songs, dances, skits, spoken word, almost anything to get God's message across...but you have to speak up. One of the biggest things you have to share is your personal testimony. We all have one...and if you don't, then you don't know Him. People might come up against the Bible with arguments, but they cannot tell you that God isn't real in your life. Your testimony might be simple an uneventful or it might show how God rescued you out of major things...but no matter what your testimony sounds like, your story is effective!

We can also minister by praying for people. Prayer is faith saying "I can't, but I know that God can." It shows that we trust God is who he said he is. No one can take away your faith. Hold tight and speak up.

Okay now gifts...I'm not talking gifts of the Holy Spirit here (although we are given those gifts too). What are you good at? Would you say that Shakespeare had the gift of writing or that Johnny Depp has the gift of acting? Well, regardless of what your gift is, it was given to you by God. Use the gift he gave you for his purposes...no matter what it is. If you don't know what your gift is - pray about it...God answers prayer. Don't forget to use your gift...you don't know how it could impact someone.

Also remember that it's not our job to convert...it's our job to get the word out. Remember WHO gave you the gift. This is not like a Christmas present that gets forgotten about a few months later...this is a lasting gift. We are molded in him, remember who you are and whose you are. We can do all things in him. Dive into the word to find out who he is...your faith will motivate you to continue pursuing him and using your gifts even when you face opposition.

Check out verses 15 and 16:
Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
The key here is "practice". How do you get better at ____? - You keep doing ____. This applies to all areas in life: if you keep sinning, you'll get better at it; if you keep teaching, you'll get better at it; if you keep riding your bike, you'll get better at it. As long as you are alive, you have room to grow...don't ever become stagnate. Be committed...if you take a day off, the enemy will get stronger and you will become weaker. If you aren't training, you will lose. Use him. God give, but he also takes away. I know from personal experience...when I stopped diving into the word and growing in Him...I couldn't write anymore...the minute I put my faith back in God, he restored me.

Remember what you were taught. Everything you do has an impact. Know the truth because God has a claim on your life. Persevere...don't give up...we're in this for the long haul.
Romans 1:16a For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
If you call yourself a believer, believe it by living it, by practicing it, and by growing in it. Not everyone will like you...they killed Jesus and we sure aren't better than him. Even though we face a tough crowd...be confident...God will use you to grow his kingdom. You are never too young to be used by God. Think about Joseph (Genesis 36)...God gave him a dream and a promise...but his own family didn't like it so they SOLD him!!! But God was faithful and only 5 chapters later, he was 2nd in command! God will use you even when it looks like there is no hope. Flip over to Mark 6...Jesus fed 5000 people with a little boy's snack! God will use whatever you have if you just have faith!

So...how are you used?
Well...open the Bible...believe what it says, and live it. Find someone older to be your mentor...ask them questions. Don't be afraid to seek out someone older...and if you are older, be available to mentor. Step out in faith and share the gospel...don't be afraid of opposition. Get excited about what the Bible says. Why would you want to be the only person in heaven? Think about it! Your friend's and your family's souls will burn in hell for eternity if you don't open your mouth...and these are people you claim you live! Jesus should always be on the tip of your tongue.

For parents and adults:
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Train up your children...set an example. Make them read the word because they need it. If my parents hadn't been faithful when I was a child, there is no way that I would be sitting here right now imploring you to do the same.

For young people especially(everyone really):
Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”
Don't allow the enemy to lie to you! Don't let God take the sidelines in your life! You have an advantage being young. No one has more impact on a young person than another young person. You have the ability to reach more people than you do in your elder years! Take advantage of your youth. God wants you now! No matter who you are or how old you are, he wants to use you. What are you waiting for?

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