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The Way We Were

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The Way We Were                                                                      February 24, 2008

1 Timothy 1:12-17

Introduction: Reading Someone Else’s Mail

The Way We Were

When Gloria, our church administrative assistant, saw the title of my sermon today, she asked the quite logical question:

                   “Are you going to be singing the song?”


          While the title of my sermon is probably better know too many of us

                   As the title of both a movie and its theme song

                             I will spare you hearing me try to out do Barbara Streisand

                                      With my rendition

Truthfully, I haven’t seen the movie in many, many years

          And not having it in my NetFlix queue

                   It is highly unlikely that will change

So the good or bad news for you today is that I really won’t be referencing the movie at all.

                   I just borrowed the title…it is as simple as that.

Now, having stated that plainly,

          And not currently running for President

                   I feel comfortable that I won’t be accused of plagiarism today.

Open you Bibles with me today to

1 Timothy 1:12-17 (Page 1274)

Reading Someone Else’s Mail

Today we are going to be looking at a fairly short passage of scripture

          Which gives us a fairly intimate look at the Apostle Paul

While we call this the book of First Timothy it is of course a letter

          Or in Greek an “Epistle”

Paul, perhaps the most notable and influential of the Apostles is writing to his good friend and fellow worker Timothy…hence the name of the letter.

It is likely that this letter was written sometime between Paul’s first and second imprisonments in Rome, around 62-64 AD.

Verse 3 indicates Paul was likely writing from Macedonia

          And area located to the north of Greece

                   Which included cities like Thessalonica and Philippi

                             Other places Paul visited and sent letters to

Sometime previous to this Paul asked Timothy,

          one of his young protégées or mentorees

                    To stay behind in Ephesus to lend leadership to that church

In this letter Paul will give Timothy instruction to

          refute the false teachers that were popping up

                    And to establish of elders and deacons

                             As the spiritual leadership structure for the church

But in this early section of the letter

          There is something more personal  and intimate that Paul reveals

In essence…We are reading someone else’s mail today

This is not a passage of deep theological complexity

          Nor is it meant to provide Timothy with a main teaching point

                   To pass along to others concerning some aspect of doctrine

Rather it is a passage that reveals a bit of the heart of Paul

          It is a portion of his personal testimony of faith


          He is passing along to Timothy a reminder of something

                   Timothy already knew

Read the Text:

Prayer:  Lord, as we read these words of Paul, his expression of gratitude towards you, may we find our own spirits moved in the same way.  Lord, you asked Paul to write these words to Timothy, and you preserved them for us as well so that we might grow in our knowledge and love of you.

Would you guide us now as we study this passage that we might get all you desire for us out of it.  Lord, please guide our hearts and minds to be open to what you reveal, and guide my mouth that I might say what is appropriate for this day.  In your precious name Lord Jesus, we pray.

Being Thankful                                                               V 12

1 Timothy 1:12

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.


One of the things I am consistently aware of

          Is the tremendous privilege it is that my full-time vocation is as a pastor

That I am able each day to rise in the morning and look forward

          To using the vast majority of my waking hours spend on something

                   As meaningful as the building up Christians

                             And a local church

          It is a privilege and I do have joy in being your pastor

But I can’t help but consider all that Paul went through in his life

          The hardships, imprisonments, traveling, etc.

                   Were not easy to endure

                   Paul is thanking God for the physical, spiritual and emotional

                             Strength to do all he has done and will do

He is expressing a sense of humbleness that God would even consider him

          Faithful, capable or worthy enough to be used by Him.

The expression “Appointing me to His Service”

          Has the literal meaning in the Greek of

                   Being put or placed into service or ministry

He is expressing thankfulness for being selected

          Chosen…picked and placed

And this is a huge change for him…


Thankful, For Good Reason                              V 13-14 

1 Timothy 1:13
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

Paul’s thankfulness for his selection or calling to ministry

          Comes from his understanding that he has come a long way

                   From where his was.

Paul’s life before coming to faith in Christ was marked by three things

          He was a…

Blasphemer- Someone who speaks against or ridicules God

          He had resisted the new movement of God

          by cursing the name of Jesus,

                   by rejecting the message of Christ and His followers

Persecutor- in that he was very actively involved in the hunting down and prosecuting the Jesus Followers.  He was committed to the defense of Judaism and the squashing of this new movement.

Violent-  Acts 6 & 7 describes the testimony of Stephen, who was stoned to death for his faith, and that Paul was there as well.

                   In Chapter 8 of Acts we find this:

Acts 8:1-3
And Saul was there, giving approval to his death.
Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.

No where do we find it recorded that Paul (or Saul)

                   physically killed anyone himself…but clearly he was aggressive

                             and in his own words Violent

And yet…This Blaspheming, persecuting, violent man

          Was the object of God’s Mercy…

God was merciful to Paul without his ever asking for it

          Paul thought he was doing the right thing

                   in chasing down and imprisoning Christians


                   But in truth…he was ignorant of what God was doing

                             And he didn’t believe Christ was the promised Messiah


If three things marked who he was before Christ changed his life

          Three different things are marking his life now

Verse 14 tells us….

1 Timothy 1:14
The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Grace-  the unmerited favor of God…His showing us goodness

                   We do not deserve and could not earn

                             Paul experienced that

Faith- a deep, over whelming understanding of the truth about God

          And in this case the Son of God, Jesus Christ

          The kind of faith that overwhelms us with confidence

          The kind of faith that leaves no doubt

          The kind of faith that we can not take credit for…

          The kind of faith that is a gift from God Himself

                   The is what Paul was given

Love- the Greek word here is ”Agape”

          The deep sort of love that flows from God himself

                   The unconditional love of God

                             That is what Paul came to know


What a change…

From…Blasphemer, persecutor and violent man

          Who should have received God wrath or judgment

To one full of…Grace, Faith and Love

          Because of God’s mercy

That is the kind of change only God can bring about.

But there is more to the story….

          There was a greater purpose God had in mind

The Greater Purposes of God                           V 15-16

Paul goes on to tell his young friend this…

1 Timothy 1:15
Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

If before Paul could not believe that God had sent Jesus,

          and was actually hostile towards Him

                   and the message of Him that the Christ followers were spreading

                             Now Paul truly is a believer and can state clearly

                                      “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”

                                                Including “really bad guys like me”

But there is even more to the transformation that has taken place in his life

          There is even more to his change from Where He Was…to where he is


1 Timothy 1:16
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Paul is saying that God chose him specifically because of Where He Was

          Specifically because he was a Blasphemer, Persecutor and Violent

Why?  Because the difference between

                   where he was and where God took him 

                             was so dramatic…

                                      That people couldn’t help but notice.

People couldn’t help but notice how great God must be

          If he was so be so gracious to Paul

                    People couldn’t help but notice

                             That God had patiently restrained

                                      His judgment and His punishment

                                                Which Paul so rightly deserved

                             And instead gave him Grace, Faith and Love

Paul was destined to be an example for many…

          Even though he wrote these very words to Timothy

                   I’m sure he had no idea how significant

                              an example he was going to be.

Almost 2000 years later, Paul…

          A former blasphemer, persecutor and violent man

                   Is still an example of how God offers

                             Grace, Faith and Hope

                                      To every person who believes

Taking It Home

Ironman- Inspirational Stories

For the past several years I have managed to watch the TV coverage of the

          Ironman competition from Hawaii

I never sit down intending to do so, I just seem to happen upon it

          On a Sunday afternoon  (in October I think)

          And then I get sucked into it

This is the original Triathlon endurance event, from which all others have come

          2.4 Mile Swim

          112 Mile Bike Ride

          26.2 Mile Run

It is an unbelievably challenging event that drives people

          to their limits and beyond

If you finish it, just complete it…

          Whether and man or a woman

                   you earn the right to be called an Ironman

The TV coverage is not live, since it takes the best athletes over 8 hours to complete

          So you are watching highlights that are clipped together

                   To make a one hour program that can hold viewers attention.

Dick and Rick Hoyt

The part I like most are the stories behind the athletes

          And few of them stand out as much as Dick and Rick Hoyt


Dick is a retired military officer and for more than 25 years

          He has competed with his son Rick in various sporting events

Perhaps a lot of us parents have done that

          Found an activity that we can enjoy with our kids

                   But there is a difference

Rick was born in 1962 as a spastic quadriplegic,

          cerebral palsy, non-speaking person.

When Dick and Rick compete in Hawaii as a team

          They really are a team

Dick supplies all the physical energy and his son the motivation.

As Dick swims the 2.4 miles, he is also pulling his son on a raft behind him

As Dick bikes the 112 miles, he is also pulling his son behind him

As Dick runs the 26.2 miles, he is also pushing his son in front of him

Emotional as I am, when I first saw this story…I wept.

          What a story.

I think most of us are inspired about stories like that

Or stories like of hiker Aron Ralston


As inspiring as those stories are… There is something missing.


          You see at the center of every one of those

                   Triumph of the human spirit stories

                             Is usually just a human

Now don’t get me wrong…

          I am impressed with those things

          I am encouraged or challenge to see

                   That there is so much more that the human body is capable of

                             Than we typically believe

But in the end…the stories are limited…

          Because in the end the story is about a man or a woman

                   It is a story about what they did

                             The abilities they discovered and used

                   And in the end…they receive the accolades

What inspires me about Paul story is the exact opposite

          It is not the triumph of the human spirit

                   But rather the triumph of the Holy Spirit

I think we all like the stories of people who were in

          Bad place in life

          And have been able to turn their life around

I think the reason we like stories like that is because they remind us of the larger and more important stories of life

                   The stories of the way God changes lives

Nicky Cruz

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to hear Nicky Cruz speak

For those of you who have read the book “The Cross and the Switchblade”

          You know that Nicky went from being a street thug

                   Gang member…with all that entails

          To being a follower of Christ whose life has been radically changed.

Many of us have stories like that…

          Stories like the one we have looked at today…the life change of Paul

                   A man who went from Blasphemer, persecutor and violent

                             To a life full of grace, faith and love

The power of all these stories…in all our stories…

          Is in the before and the after

                    In the difference between…

                   The Way We Were then…and…

                     The Way We Are Now

The Way We Were

The story that Paul wrote in this passage is not a new story to Timothy.

          Timothy was fully aware of it

                   He could no doubt tell it himself

Two and half years ago when a team from PBC went to Albania

          I had the opportunity to tell the story how God changed my life

                   It is a story similar in some ways to the Apostle Paul’s

I was asked to tell that story so many times a various public meetings

          That my son Joel commented that he said he could give it for me.

Timothy no doubt had that same knowledge of Paul

          And yet Paul reminds him again


1 Timothy 1:17

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

What is your The Way We Were  & The Way We Are story?



Teens & Children

Some who only have the Way We Were

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