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Powerful Love 05-27-07

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I.       Introduction

A.     2 Timothy 1:7  --- For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (NLT)

B.    What is in your Spirit?

1.     Do not underestimate the power of what is in your spirit. It will set the course for your life.  If we are ruled by fear then we shall live a life in constant bondage to that fear and it will direct our path. However, if we are ruled by power, love and discipline then we will live a life of freedom and be able to know God’s plan and purpose for our lives.

C.    In the natural world throughout history, warfare has been predominately about possession of territory.  The Christian life is about territory, not physical territory because our warfare “is not against flesh and blood”; nevertheless it is about possessing the land.

1.     Over the years we have given up territory that we once possessed and it is now time to reclaim what God has given to us. Paul uses military illustrations often in his writings.

2.     Fight the good fight for the true faith. 1 Timothy 6:12 (NLT)

3.      Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 1 Timothy 1:18 (NLT)

4.      Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NLT)

II.    What causes us to be timid or to fear?

A.     Painful experiences

1.     We can go through times when our vision fades and we no longer clearly see our objective. The vision that at one time burned brightly within us begins to dim, its passion begins to ease, and it’s heat begins to cool. That is what was apparently happening to Timothy.  Paul had sent Timothy to correct problems in the church in Ephesus. Yet when Timothy got there, it was more difficult than he had anticipated. The leadership in the Ephesian church was older than he was, and didn’t respect his leadership. To make matters worse, Timothy was, by nature, shy and timid, so he had a tendency to avoid confrontation. The stress of his ministry assignment was affecting Timothy’s health. In the meantime the Roman government had arrested Paul.

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 is a major reason why Paul wrote him a second letter of encouragement.

B.    Fear within exaggerates the causes of fear without.

1.     At the time of Israel’s first opportunity to enter the Promised Land twelve spies were sent to assess the situation.  Two brought a good report, but the other ten were overtaken with fear.

2.     But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. 33 We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too! Numbers 13:31-33 (NLT)

a)     Fear or faith will alter your perspective. Fear can make a situation appear hopeless while faith will see things from God’s point of view.

3.     Fear is also what kept the people of Israel hiding behind the rocks when Goliath challenged their bravest men to take him on.

III.  We are called to live powerfully

A.     It is not about power we generate from ourselves.

1.     1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (NIV) When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

a)     At first glance how could Paul say to Timothy that fear should not be apart of us when here Paul tells the Corinthians that he came to them with weakness, fear and trembling.  First of all, the word used in 2 Timothy 1:7 literally means cowardice and there is no positive aspect for that word.

b)     Secondly, I think I understand what Paul meant by saying that he came to them with weakness, fear and trembling because it is a great responsibility to spiritually lead a church.  I know that unless God is with me as I speak I will not be able to accomplish anything.

B.     God supplies the power.

1.     Timothy needed to remember the resource of God’s power and strength was already.

2.     Jesus said at the time of His ascension.

a)      But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NLT)

C.    God works in the lives of common people to accomplish uncommon things.

1.     The power available to us is the same power that brought creation into being, the same power that parted the waters of the Red Sea, the same power that healed the sick and gave hope to the hopeless and the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. This is God given, supernatural, life changing power. It can be ours ifwe are willing to ask for it.

IV.We are called to live lovingly.

A.     Love pushes aside our fears.

1.     There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (NASB95)

B.    Paul reminds Timothy of God’s love.

1.      Paul uses the Greek word agape for love.

a)     This love rises from God. It is a complete love that includes the mind, reason and will of a person. This type of love is primarily a product of choice.

b)     This term is used in the New Testament to describe God’s love and how Christians are to love one another and others.

2.     God’s provision of love.

a)     God supplies us with a vast love that rises above circumstances.

b)     By the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we have a constant access to the love of God.

3.     The power of love.

a)     Love has the power to change even the hardest hearts and love can transform the life of lost people.

b)     In times of stress and difficulty we run the risk of becoming so focused on our problems that we forget about other people.

c)      God empowers us to love other people.

d)     We encounter people in life who are just not easy to love. In fact, they will test the love of God within you.

e)     In reality, it is impossible for anyone to love everyone without the empowering presence of the Spirit and the unconditional love of God.

V.   We are called to live with self-discipline.

A.     This provides us with balance and stability.

B.    Balance in Christian life and walk. It takes two wings to fly.

C.    Self-discipline is the product of being trained to act a certain way when confronted with a specific danger.

1.     Fear may be very present, but the one who must act has rehearsed doing the right thing enough that he does not have the ability to act any other way at the moment of danger.

David called upon his training in his fathers pasture when he came up against Goliath. While in the field, David would face lions who were threatening the sheep in the flock. Lions are dangerous. Yet, David had learned the discipline required to face danger because danger had to be faced. It was second nature for David to go after Goliath. Was Goliath formidable? Absolutely. Was there a real danger to David present? Yes. But, as David argued for permission to face the enemy, he said that he had learned to face the danger in the fields, and could face the danger in the valley.

D.    And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God. Titus 2:12 (NLT) 

1.    God gives assistance for discipline

a)    Without self discipline there is no possible way to remain “level headed” in all that life throws at you without God’s help.

2.    The Holy Spirit keeps us in balance.

a)    The indwelling of the Spirit opens us to the guidance and direction of God. Thus, we can only live soundly when we follow God where He leads and go when He calls.

b)    The discipline Paul speaks of allows us to experience success in Christ without spiritual pride.


A.     Let us remember the consequences of fear

1.     It results in slavery.

2.     Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,    15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Hebrews 2:14-15 (NASB95)

B.    How can we receive the power, love and self discipline that we need to overcome our fears?

1.     By seeking after God

a)     Psalm 34:4: "I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."

2.     Through a greater understanding of God’s power and love for us.

a)     I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19 (NIV)

C.    We can encourage others by our example.

1.     And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear. Philippians 1:14 (NLT) 

2.     This is an introduction to the subject of how believers are to interact and to help and encourage each other.  We will develop this further in coming weeks.

D.    I am inwardly fashioned for faith, not for fear. Fear is not my native land; faith is. I am so made that worry and anxiety are sand in the machinery of life; faith is the oil. I live better by faith and confidence than by fear, doubt and anxiety. …E. Stanley Jones

E.     We are setting down a marker today and putting the Devil on notice that we are serious about reclaiming territory that he has taken from us.

F.     The task ahead of us requires a balanced self disciplined approach utilizing the resources of the power and love provided to us by God.

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