Faithlife Sermons

Hearts on Fire 05: Fueling Our Zeal w/ Courage 120317

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If you have a Bible with you and want to follow along, turn to . Today, we are continuing to work through our definition of zeal.
Once again, we defined zeal in this way: Zeal is “having a burning desire to please God which leads us to action - to love and serve others with courage, diligence, and wisdom.”
Two weeks ago, we talked about our need to have a burning desire to please God which is shown in our desire to not be distracted, to test everything we believe or are taught so that we can be with Him when we depart this life. And last week we discussed how we need to seek wisdom to make sure our zeal is directed towards the right things and so that we do not do damage to others in our zeal by saying or doing things that we will later regret.
Today we are going to talk about our need to grow in courage for the LORD and how we can do this if we want to have the zeal that the LORD calls us to have as faithful disciples of Christ. There are three important things we need to remember, all three of which are mentioned in our passage in .
We studied this epistle earlier in the year. Timothy was going through some difficult circumstances. His mentor, Paul, was now imprisoned for a second time for His work preaching the Gospel. He was awaiting his death at the hands of Caesar. We can only imagine the kind of emotions that Timothy was experiencing knowing that he may not be able to have Paul with him for much longer. But beyond this, Timothy was going through some hardship himself. He was in danger of going through the same types of persecution that Paul had gone through, and he is dealing with false teaching also. Many things that are hitting him from different directions, and at the beginning of this epistle, we see that these things are leading Timothy to be afraid or discouraged. So Paul begins this epistle by trying to strengthen Timothy as a soldier of Christ, helping him to see his need to endure hardship for the Lord Jesus.


In verses 6 and 7, Paul reminds him of something important - where all of the fear and discouragement that he may have been feeling came from.
Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
Once again, Paul gives Timothy an important reminder about where fear does NOT come from… It does not come from God… This is important to remember when we are discouraged from doing what we need to be doing or if we are tempted to fear… These feelings are not from God. These kinds of feelings distract us from showing the love, courage, and strength that comes from the Spirit.
So Paul instructs Timothy to kindle afresh; to stir up the gift that had been given to Him by God so that he can be zealous for God’s work. Just as anyone who has tended a fire-place or a camp-fire knows that it needs to be stirred up occasionally, all of God’s servants are in need of periodically examining themselves so they can see if they are zealously serving the Lord, and if they are not, they need to renew their passion for serving God. This is what Timothy needed. He needed to remember that any fear or timidity that he was feeling was not NOT coming from God, but from the adversary. God gives a different kind of Spirit - a Spirit of power, love and self-control. When God is working within you, this is these are the fruits you will see.


Whenever we consider examples of others who overcame fear and discouragement, we can have our resolve to respond to our fears strengthened. Let’s first consider Paul’s example of faith and courage in verses 11-13:
For this gospel I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day. Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (, CSB)
Since God had appointed Him to be a preacher of the gospel and had given him the authority of an apostle, he had decided that he was going to act. He was not going to be ashamed. He was going to obey God and to teach the truth no matter what the consequences may be, and he was confident that the Lord would care for him and be faithful to him.
Paul’s example here is exactly what he is encouraging in Timothy. Being appointed as a teacher or a preacher of the Gospel will entail hardship, and Timothy needed to be willing to follow in the steps, not only of Jesus, but also of his mentor here… To follow what Paul has taught him and to show the faith and love of Christ… It was Timothy’s responsibility to fulfill his ministry and to be faithful in teaching the truth no matter what the consequences may be just as Paul had done.


And remember that Paul himself was showing this kind of courage because he had an example who he was following: His Lord Jesus. Jesus had given Paul an example of what it means to courageously teach the truth in the face of persecution and suffering. Jesus, with zeal, put on his armor, came to this earth to courageously fight for the souls of men - for your soul and for my soul. He faced all of the trials that He did in life so you and I could receive victory as we follow in His steps - zealously putting on our spiritual armor to go out into the hardship of battle.


In , after Paul encourages Him by his own example of suffering for the sake of Christ, he adds one more point:
Guard the good deposit through the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
Paul tells Timothy that he does not have to do all of this on his own power and ability… God’s Holy Spirit, who dwells and lives within God’s people, will give him the strength to do the work he has been called to do.
Fear and discouragement often lead us to forget that God is with us.
We tend to look at the problem or the trial instead of the truth that God can help us endure what we are going through through the strength that He gives us by His presence within us in the Spirit. Paul reminds Timothy of this. He can be strengthened to endure hardship and to be faithful in proclaiming the Gospel as he trusts in the Lord and remembers the strength that He can receive through God’s presence.
This is also an idea that God used to encourage Joshua to be faithful in his service to the nation. Joshua and Israel had many reasons to fear the future. Moses, the great leader of God’s people, was gone. He had died. Joshua had big shoes to fill in leading the nation. They were facing the conquest of the land. They would face battle after battle after battle where they would be in danger of losing their lives.
This is just a couple of examples why they had reason to fear. But in spite of these things, God tells Joshua and the nation multiple times in to “be strong and courageous,” and twice in chapter 1, God tells Joshua the main reason they could be courageous: “I am with you.”
CSB No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.
No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or abandon you.
CSB Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
This is THE reason why our fire for the LORD can grow - because we know God is with us. If God is with us, there is not a reason for us to fear. We, as Christians, have the same promise that Joshua did. Multiple times within the New Testament are we told that God is with us.
CSB Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Also, in , the Hebrews writer says,
CSB Keep your life free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. Therefore, we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
One last passage: . In this passage, Peter is talking about the trials that Christians face in this life, specifically persecution. He talks about how men will try to intimidate us and trouble us. And here is how Peter encourages his brothers and sisters: In verse 12 of , Peter reminds them of the LORD’s presence with them and how HE hears their prayers and is against their enemies. Then in verse 13, he says this:
ESV Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?
If you have God with you. If He is on your side of the battle and against those who are troubling you and are fighting against His cause, no one can harm you if you are zealous for Him! You can face the intimidation with confidence and with courage knowing that, even if you lose your life, they cannot take away what is most important to you - your soul. If you are zealous, you will have courage to face whatever the enemy will throw at you in battle.


There are so many things in this life that can lead us to be afraid and discouraged. Sometimes we are more afraid of what men may think about us or do to us than we are of what God thinks of us. Sometimes it can be a love for the things of this world that will lead us to fear and to be unwilling to endure suffering or persecution for the LORD. We just love our lives or we love our stuff and don’t want to lose these things, so we are filled with fear, don’t stand up for the LORD. Sometimes it can be that we just don’t trust in the Lord’s promises that He gives us. We don’t trust that He is really with us or will give us the reward He has promised. Paul tells Timothy in that when we are paralyzed by fear and are not doing what is right, we are showing shame for the LORD and for His message. So whatever it may be keeping us from being zealous for the Lord, we need to remember that the fears that we have don’t come from God, that we have many great examples of courageous soldiers of the LORD to follow, and that God Himself is with us in every battle that we face. If we will remember these things, our fears can be diminished and our fire can burn hot for the Lord.If there is anything we can do for you today to help you to be victorious in the battles that you fight against Satan on a daily basis and to stand up for the Lord with zeal, why don’t you let us know how we can help you as together we stand and sing the invitation song that has been selected?
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