TEXT: 2 Timothy 1:1-7
I read a story recently about a little league coach who reminisced about his childhood years playing baseball in little league. He remember back how during his first year, his coach had called together the entire baseball team for a picnic, and he asked the team, “Who here wants to eventually play major league baseball.” Every single hand went up, as every child there dreamed about playing in a major league stadium and hitting the game winning hit. That boy grew up to become a little league coach himself, and the week before opening day his first year of coaching he did the same thing. He had a team picnic, and he asked the team, “Who here wants to grow up and play in the major leagues?” Not one hand went up on a team of twelve kids. He said he could see in their eyes that not one kid on his team believed that he had what it took to become a major league baseball player.
What a contrast between people who have vision and people who lack vision. Vision is that elusive thing that dares to dream big dreams about the future. Vision has been called hope with a blueprint. Vision is what an inventor has when he or she thinks outside the box to create something new. Vision is what a mother has as she looks at her newborn baby and imagines all that child could grow up to become. Vision has a way of ignoring its critics and chasing its dream regardless of how many people say it can’t be done. You get the idea. Vision has a way of ignoring those who say it can’t be done and doing it anyway.
Yet we go through times when our vision fades. The flame of our vision begins to dim, it’s passion begins to ease, and it’s heat begins to cool. That’s what was happening to young Timothy, the apostle Paul’s young protégé. You see, the apostle Paul had sent Timothy to try to salvage a mess in the church in Ephesus. Yet when Timothy got there, he found himself in way over his head. The entire leadership team in the Ephesian church was older than he was, and didn’t respect his leadership. To make matters worse, Timothy was shy and timid, so he had a tendency to avoid confrontation. The stress of his ministry assignment was affecting Timothy’s health, as he found himself sick with constant stomach ailments. In the meantime, his beloved mentor the apostle Paul had been arrested by the Roman government.
Timothy’s vision had dissipated. The excitement and enthusiasm he’d once felt when he joined Paul’s ministry team some years earlier was gone. Somewhere between his bad health, his discouragement about the church in Ephesus, and his fear for Paul’s life, Timothy’s vision had slipped away. Timothy needed his vision renewed, and that’s a big reason why Paul wrote him a second letter.
We’ve been in a series through the New Testament book of 1 John…Now we are going to study the 2nd letter of Paul to Timothy called Deepening Your Life With God.
This second letter is the last letter we have from Paul’s pen before his execution. It’s kind of like a last will and testament as Paul reflects back on the vision that fueled his life and ministry. It also serves to renew Timothy’s vision as Paul’s student and apprentice. It also serves to renew our vision as readers who eavesdrop on Paul’s words almost 2000 years later.
So tonight we’re going to see five specific areas where our vision needs to be reviewed. So turn to 2 Timothy 1:1 and take out your outline.
1. RENEWING OUR VISION FOR WORSHIP (2 Timothy 1:1-3)
The first area relates to our vision for worship: WE RENEW OUR VISION FOR WORSHIP BY EMBRACING A LIFESTYLE OF DEVOTION TO GOD.
This is what we see in vv. 1-3. We find an emphasis on worship in the word “serve” in v. 3. If you underline in your Bible, underline that word, because it’s a very important word. This is not the usual New Testament Greek word for “serve,” but this is the Greek word “latreuo.” This word “latreuo” is used 20 other times in the New Testament, and it always refers to service offered to God as an act of worship. This kind of service is never directed toward other people, but it’s always directed toward God. This Greek word “latreuo” is where we get our English word liturgy from, which refers to the order and structure of a Christian worship service. In fact, we call our corporate worship a “worship service” because of this word.
As Paul looks back on his own life, he views his entire life since coming to faith in Christ as an act of worship directed to God. For Paul worship was a lifestyle of devotion to God, not just a Sunday morning church activity. And that is what he’s trying to tell to Timothy and to us tonight…if we would like to have a renewed vision, start in the principle of worship…
When Robert Kennedy visited the Amazon, he conversed with a Brazilian Indian, who had recently come to Christ but was known to Kennedy, through a translator. “What do you most like to do?” Kennedy expected an answer like “hunting with bows and arrows” or “canoeing.” The Indian answered, “Being occupied with God.”
Kennedy said, “Ask him again. Something may be lost in translation.” But the Indian gave the same answer. This was an excellent definition of true worship.
True worship is a lifestyle, an everyday pursuit of God. It is not being interested in the created but the Creator. Question’s like — Did I like the sermon/service/music? — are the wrong kind of questions. The right question — Did God like it?
Christians also make the mistake of limiting their worship to one hour each week. And when they come to that service they often come to observe and be entertained. I have been at services that were opened with the following statement: “We want you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the program we have prepared for you.” If the people feel that they were entertained they say they had a good worship service. We have gotten the whole concept of worship backwards. We think that the pastor and worship leaders are the entertainers and we are the audience. But in true worship we are the performers, the pastors and worship leaders are the directors, and God is the audience. Because our concept of worship is backwards we want to know what’s in it for us. If we are going to truly worship, we must come to the realization that worship is not for us, but for God.
There’s nothing wrong with applause or quality being emphasized in how we present truths. There’s nothing wrong with using state of the art technological advances to help present truths. But worship can and should occur with or without music or PowerPoint, or streaming video, or lighting, or lasers, or choreography, or I-pods, or…some other thing as such.
Worship is not about hymns vs. choruses, raising hands or not raising hands. It’s obvious we aren’t truly “connecting” with God.
Worship is God-focused.
Ben Merold has rightly observed: “In most churches, we have the preacher performing, with God as the prompter, and the people as the audience. In truth, worship should be the people performing, with the preacher as the prompter, and God is the audience.”
You see, no matter how many people are in this room, the audience size is always the same — worship is presented to an audience of ONE — God.
Worship is God-focused. If you came to worship today so you might receive something from God, get something from God, you came for the wrong reason. Worship isn’t about what we can GET from God, a blessing, a warm fuzzy feeling, a shot in the arm, etc.
The focus of genuine worship is to be about what we GIVE TO God…how can WE bless HIM?
We sing it often, and rightly so… “I love You, Lord, and I life my voice to worship You. O my soul, rejoice. Take joy, my King, in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in YOUR ear.” Again, the right attitude is expressed in the Matt Redman song, ”I’m coming back to the heart of worship, ‘cause it’s all about YOU. It’s all about You, Jesus. I’m sorry, Lord, for the things we’ve made it, ‘cause it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus.”
Napoleon said, “If Socrates would enter the room, we should rise and do him honor. But if Jesus Christ came into the room, we should fall on our knees and worship Him.”
This is just one of the aspect that we must renew our vision, the vision for worship…to go back in the true meaning of worship…Go back to worship…Live out a life of worship, everyday…devote your life, your being to glorify God!
2. RENEWING OUR VISION FOR PRAYER (2 Timothy 1:4-5)
Next we’re going to talk about renewing our vision for prayer: WE RENEW OUR VISION FOR PRAYER BY EXPRESSING OUR HEARTS TO GOD.
Look at how Paul expresses his heart in vv. 4-5. In v. 3 Paul reported how he prayed day and night for Timothy. Here in vv. 4 and 5 we find the content of Paul’s prayer, that as he prayed he remembered Timothy’s tears and his longing to be reunited with his apprentice. As he prayed for Timothy he was reminded of how Timothy came to faith in Christ. It all started with Timothy’s grandmother Lois, and then his mother Eunice. Timothy was a third generation Christian, someone raised in a Christian home.
What Paul does here is simply pour out his heart to God. We see lots of gimmicks about prayer these days. But for Paul, renewing his vision for prayer simply came from pouring out his heart to God. Paul’s life was so directed that whatever was of concern in his heart automatically bubbled up in prayer to God. No technique, no seven easy steps, but simply expressing his heart to God.
It was John Bunyan who said, “In prayer, it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart.”
A lot of people, especially Christians, are not really pouring their hearts to God in prayer because they thought that they amount less or not really important to God…I want you to understand that you can come in prayer and to pour out your heart to Him, because you are important to God…and you matter to Him…The type of prayer that you and I must practice is prayer based on your relationship with God.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4
When the spacemen on the Apollo 8 were speeding back to planet earth from their rendezvous with the moon, they reflected on the vastness of what they had seen in outer space by reading the words of the eighth Psalm, where David wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Psalm 8:3-4.
You don’t have to take a journey into outer space to be impressed with the vastness of the heavens. But you do have to get away from the lights of the city on a moonless night to look into the vastness of the heavens and marvel at God’s handiwork.
It was the shepherd boy of Israel turned king who wrote the words of Psalm 8. Undoubtedly, David spent many a night on the rocky hills of Judea with his father’s sheep, pondering the vastness of creation. David probably did not know that the closest star is Alpha Centauri, and that that star is 26 trillion miles away. That is 26 with 12 zeros after it, and it takes 1 billion years for light to reach us from there. Compare that with light reaching us from the moon in one-and-a-half seconds.
If you are tempted to feel that you just do not amount to much in the sight of God because of the vastness of the world and the greatness of population, then try to remember that there is a great deal of difference between space and value. We are overwhelmed by the vastness of creation, yet the vastness of empty space is not as significant as the importance of life.
Think of it in these terms.
A very wealthy couple live in a home filled with valuable paintings and art objects, yet they have no children. One day God blesses their home with a little baby boy their only child. The nursery is up on the third floor of the great mansion, and it is fixed up as nice as any nursery anywhere. Then one night, the smell of smoke fills the house and the father awakens to realize that his home is on fire.
What is his first concern? The paintings hung on the wall, the lovely works of art, or the stocks and bonds hidden in the safe? No, not on your life. He would run for the baby boy in the nursery, because what money can buy is not as important as life human life. That child is his flesh and blood
Friend, that is why you were important enough for God to be willing to send His Son to speak to you of a Father’s greater love. In Psalm 8, David contrasts man and the Son of Man who came to planet Earth. The “Son of Man” was a prophetic term that spoke of a coming redeemer who identified with our humanity His name is Jesus Christ. Luke, writing in the New Testament, said, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, KJV).
God is far more concerned with the inner space of your heart than He is the outer space of our great universe. That is why you can come to His throne with great confidence knowing that in your prayer He would hear, and not just would hear, He would also answer…Do you want your vision to be renewed, go back, go back on your knees in confident prayer!
No matter what pattern you are using in prayer, the most important thing is never ever forget to pour out your heart to him, like a son pouring out his heart to his father!
3. RENEWING OUR VISION FOR SERVICE (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
That brings us to renewing our vision for service: WE RENEW OUR VISION FOR SERVICE BY USING THE GIFTS GOD HAS GIVEN TO US.
Look at vv. 6-7. God had given Timothy all the equipment he needed to be effective as God’s servant. But the fire of God’s gift in Timothy’s life was going out. It had become like a fire in the fireplace when no new wood has been added for a while. The flame wasn’t burning anymore, but instead there was a glowing ember that’s gradually losing its heat.
Paul encourages Timothy to “fan the flame” of his gift, so it would once again burns brightly and with intensity. The way we fan the flame of our spiritual gifts is by using them. The flame loses its blaze through lack of use, and gradually our gifts become glowing embers. We fuel the fire when we use our gifts.
We learn here that fear was holding Timothy back from using his gifts. The word “timidity” here means “a state of fear because of cowardice or lack of moral strength” (Louw and Nida Lexicon). Paul tells Timothy that this timid fear doesn’t come from God. What comes from God is an attitude of power, love and self-discipline. Power is the capacity to face our fears and use our gifts, even when we’re shaking like a leaf. Love is the capacity to express God’s love through our gift when we do use it. Self-discipline is the courage to go forward even when we’re timid and fearful.
When I was in my first year of college at some of my friends gave me the nickname “Mahiyain…” That make surprise you. But the reality is that I was often intimidated by people, and in groups I tended to become quiet and self conscious. The first time I preached a sermon I was terrified. This verse has helped give me the courage to face my fears and use my gifts, even when I’m timid and afraid.
Do you need your vision for service renewed? Stepping out of our comfort zone and using your gifts will help you renew your vision for service. There’s no substitute for actually using our gifts, drawing on the Spirit of power, love and self-discipline God has given us to face our fear.
Our church vision about service is summed up in the phrase: Every member a minister. We truly believe that every single follower of Jesus Christ is called and ordained by God as a minister of Jesus Christ. Ministry is not the exclusive property of pastors or elders, but it belongs to the people. Word of Hope Christian Family Church is a congregation with over 20,000 ministers, because over 20,000 people consider this their church home. Adult and children, men and women, new Christians and mature Christians…every single one is a minister of God. “We dream of a church where our members truly see themselves as God’s ministers and are sacrificially investing their gifts, talents and resources to make God’s vision become a reality.”
“We dream of our church becoming an incubator for fresh ministry ideas, continually launching new volunteer led ministries that make a real difference in the lives of both Christians and non-Christians.”
Illustration: (an elderly woman who plays piano on the phone)
You can always find ways to serve God…in every opportunity, serve, serve, serve!
“God is not looking for more stars; He’s looking for more servants!” – Howard G. Hendricks
May God renew our vision for service this year.