“KEEP DOING THE BASICS” 2 Tim. 2:1-7
INTRO – I’ve been a firefighter for 20 yrs. now. There are very few times that I can remember over the last 20 yrs. that we rolled up on a fire scene & didn’t try to put the fire out. While there are a few situations where that may be the correct course of action, the vast majority of the time we are there to put the wet stuff on the red stuff & get the fire extinguished. We do everything possible, using the resources that we have available to us to remove the fuel from the fire & make it stop burning.
I hope & pray that the exact opposite happens here this morning. Starting a series entitled, “Keep the Fire Burning!” So, instead of putting the fire out, I pray that the fire for the Lord in our lives & His Church just grows bigger & bigger. I pray that the Holy Spirit pours more & more fuel to the fire into our hearts, setting them ablaze in a conflagration that is massive, burning away anything that shouldn’t be there, continually purifying our lives as He works in us. Scriptural basis for this sermon series is 2 Tim 1:6 – “…fan into flame…” – going to preach that passage next week. But we don’t have to wait until next week to go hard after the Lord & His fire in our lives.
I hope we will answer this question today: “How do I keep the fire burning in my Christian life?” Listen, God is all about some fire!!! Check out these verses:
- Exodus 13:21 – “The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire…”
- Deut. 4:24 – “…the Lordthy God is a consuming fire…”
- 1 Kings 18:38-39 – “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”
- Zech 2:5 – “’I will be a wall of fire around it,’ says the Lord. ‘And I will be the glory within…’”
- Jeremiah 23:29 – “Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
- Malachi 3:2 – “But who will be able to endure it when he comes? Who will be able to stand and face him when he appears? For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal…”
2 Timothy is Paul’s last letter. About to be executed, martyred for his faith in Jesus. Writing this personal letter to his spiritual son, Timothy. Uses these last words to challenge Timothy to stay faithful & fervent in his walk w/Christ.
And here in the middle of the letter, Paul uses 3 different people in 3 different occupations to remind us of some important aspects of our lives as Christ-followers: The soldier, the athlete, & the farmer. Think about these 3 different folks & some of the traits you see in their lives:
I’m sure that there are other traits you might think of, & even some of these traits are interchangeable between these people. But Paul knew that his readers – including us – would be able to identify some things in these folks’ lives that are needed in our lives if we are going to live the kind of life that a Christ-follower must live in our day.
We all know a soldier when we see one. We all know an athlete when we see one. We all know a farmer when we see one. But question is: Do we all know a Christ-follower when we see one?
What happens when a house catches fire? People come out to see it. Always have onlookers that gather while we are fighting fires. Sometimes have to get the police to keep people back at a safe distance if crowd gets too large.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if we as Christians were burning so brightly & strongly that people were gathering to see why? Ryan Loveing last week in THIRST Conf – Our passion for Christ ought to be so strong that it makes others jealous to have what we have.
There are some common characteristics of the soldier, the athlete, & the farmer that we need to put into practice in our lives if we want to keep the fire burning.
WE NEED TO BE HIGHLY COMMITTED & MOTIVATED – Anybody see movie “Hacksaw Ridge”? True story of Desmond Doss. Medal of Honor recipient in 1945. Crazy thing is that he was a conscientious objector – only one to receive award in WWII. His driving motivation was his passion save his comrades’ lives in any way possible. “Just one more.” Kept going & going, one more…one more…until he had rescued & saved 75 men’s lives.
We aren’t here to debate the issue of his being a conscientious objector. Bottom line: He was highly committed & motivated to his calling. Had a passion to save lives, & that drove him to keep going.
We see the same thing in the lives of many athletes. Check this out – (video of the Brownlee brothers). Again we see deep commitment & high motivation.
The Christian life calls for this type of commitment & motivation.
- Our commitment is to the Lord Jesus Christ, to His Body, the Church, & to the Gospel.
- Our motivation is to glorify God in all we do as we live in obedience to Him.
It doesn’t just “happen.” The saying, “Just let go & let God” might get a lot of “likes” on your FB page, but it’s a crock! Jerry Bridges – The Pursuit of Holiness – farmer analogy – does all of his hard work, but is also dependent upon God to send rain, sunshine, good conditions. The farmer can’t have good crop w/out God’s help, & God is not going to give the farmer a good crop w/out the farmer’s hard work.
WE MUST PREPARE FOR OPPOSITION – For the soldier; enemy attacks are a constant concern. For the athlete, competitors are constantly chasing them. For the farmer, disease & destructive pests are a constant worry.
Ryan Loveing & I eating lunch last week, talking about the struggles in the Christian life & the opposition from the enemy in so many areas of our lives. It’s so true!
We have a very real enemy who has a very definite plan to definitely destroy your life.
WE MUST ANSWER TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY – The soldier to his commanding officers. The athlete to his coaches. Nowadays, most farms are large corporate operations, but even the small family farmer is subject to the weather.
Our jails & prisons are full of people who chose to reject the authorities. Marriages are failing everywhere b/c husbands & wives are rejecting the authority of God & His Word. Children are rejecting God’s authority & rebelling against their parents. Our nation is in a tailspin b/c we’ve rejected God’s authority.
Atheists can reject it all they want. Agnostics can reject it all they want. Secular humanists can reject it all they want. Even YOU & I can reject it while we sit here in this church building today. But EVERYONE will answer to the authority of God Almighty, the one true living God of all creation!
But here’s the powerful bottom line: We can & should joyfully submit to His authority over our lives RIGHT NOW! When we do that, we will experience joy & blessings & power & purpose in our lives in incredible ways. Doesn’t mean there won’t be hurt, won’t be pain, won’t be struggles, won’t be difficulty. But it WILL mean that, in the midst of the darkness around us, our lives will burn brightly w/ the truth of the Gospel, the power of the Holy Spirit, & the love of Christ! I love it when someone says, “What is up w/ you people???”
THE BURNING QUESTION: “What must I do today to keep the fire burning in my life?”