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- Brian + Jocelyn
TAKE THE TORCH: 2 TIMOTHY SERIES
DISCUSS WITH MC before sunday 2/11
Key Passage: 2 Timothy 3:14-17
In contrast to the evil men and imposters who will continue on from bad to worse (vs 13), Paul wants to encourage young Timothy to remain resolved in the good things that he has learned and been convinced of from Paul and the scriptures. It seems there are two paths: continue on in truth (what you have learned and been convinced of) or continue on in evil (proceeding from bad to worse). Paul is exhorting Timothy to the former.
To firmly believe something (here, epistothes) is to become convinced of, to have been firmly persuaded of, or to have been assured of. Since Paul knows Timothy and has discipled him, he is able to remind Timothy of why he can continue on in the things he has learned and been convinced of. So the question is: How did Timothy become convinced of these truths?
- “Knowing from whom you learned it.” He knew who he learned it from. In the opening sentences of the letter, Paul references the faith of Timothy’s mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois. The legacy of Timothy’s family had laid a foundation of faith. Their character had set the stage for trustworthiness. And in addition to that, Timothy had spent several years under the direct tutelage, in the form of discipleship, with Paul.
- “From childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings.” He has known them all his life. Jewish children would have been taught the law at an early age. The use of “sacred” here also reminds us that scripture is holy, unlike any other text. Timothy (and we, too) should not forsake this because it is more than just a book of general guidelines or advice for life. It’s God’s Word with which we should be well acquainted.
- “Able to make you wise for salvation.” He knows what impact they have had on his life. The result of his family’s example and his acquaintance with the “sacred writings” molded Timothy to be obedient to God and told the story of Christ. We, too, can be made wise in the same way. The Bible is powerful enough to show us the way of salvation through Jesus.
Paul then makes this deep, all encompassing, theological statement about the essence, usefulness, and purpose of Scripture (vs 16). The idea of Scripture being “God breathed” is “theopneustos” which literally means “God” and “breathe.” The idea is that the scriptures have literally come directly from the mouth of God and consequently have power and purpose. The theological idea is that of inspiration (see also 1 Peter 1:21 for another look at inspiration).
This God-breathed material is useful for teaching (instructing us on life), rebuking (conviction of sin), correcting (meaning restoring to a right position or state), training (like raising a child into maturity). The purpose of scripture? That the man of God may be equipped and ready for every good work. God’s word isn’t just for studying, but useful in making us more holy, equipping us to DO and BE. If Scripture is all of these things, it should guide and lead the way in the life of a disciple - we should desire this Word more than anything.
Psalm 19:7-11 says,
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
In summary, Paul reminds Timothy to continue on in what he knows and has known about the scriptures, which he has learned and been convinced of. By doing so, Timothy will not only have wisdom that leads to salvation, but also experience the benefits from scripture that prepares him for every good work. Pauls exhortation continues on and applies to us today.
- Take a moment and reflect on this short passage. What part of Paul’s exhortation stands out to you today?
- Describe the ways that you allow Scripture to shape you? How does it…
- Teach you?
- Reprove you?
- Correct you?
- Train you in righteousness?
- Equip you for good works?
- Delight you?
- In what ways did your family shape your faith life? Based on this passage and reference to Eunice and Lois, what role should faith and the scriptures play in shaping your parenting methods and family practices?
- How would you explain or define the term inspiration?
- Given what we’ve just talked about the role, nature, and impact of the scriptures, how can you make being in the word a higher priority?
- Reflecting on your life, what is the one thing or person who shapes you the most? In what way does Scripture need to take more of a center stage?
A PAUSE: LOOKING OUTWARD
DISCUSS WITH YOUR MC BEFORE SUNdAY 2/18
For the Leader:
This week we’d like our MCs to take a pause from the "Take the Torch" preaching series to focus on the OUT aspect of our Missional Communities. As you know all too well, this is one of the most challenging aspects of leading a Missional Community and for many of us, the most challenging for our faith. That is why we want to pause the IN and focus some much needed attention on how we can better live the missional life Jesus is calling us to.
At our MC Leader Workshop in January, we introduced the new idea of changing the focus of our OUT from what to who. In other words, that we focus more on the people and relationships already in our life over the types of events and service projects that we normally focus on. This subtle shift from "what" to "who" has already begun making an impact in our communities.
For this week, I’ve chosen an article that I’d like everyone in your MC to read and an exercise to lead your MC through after discussing the article. I believe this provides some helpful things to think about as we help our MCs remain missional.
Please copy and paste the below article and send it to your MC and ask them to read it before you meet. I’ve included some discussion questions below that will help guide the conversation. (I’ve included the link to the article if you’d like to send that instead).
FOR YOUR MC:
The Secret to Increasing Your Missional Living
Verge Network, Logan Gentry
A few weeks ago, I was sharing with college students that missional living has revealed paradigms in my life that needed to shift. The most significant paradigm that needed to shift for me was around the path to increasing my missional living. I’ve watched churches, leaders and Christians live on mission and then hit a wall. The mission had outpaced their maturity.
As followers of Christ, we long to make a difference in the lives of those around us. As we live on mission, share our faith and serve others we discover that missional living is very rewarding, but we also discover another truth. Your mission for God is only as great as your maturity with God.
Evangelism and being on mission as a Christian is hard. It is painful and difficult. It doesn’t always produce what we long to see. Good fruit grows alongside bad fruit and sometimes it feels like one step forward with two steps back in missional living.
If we focus our attention on the fruitfulness of mission we often neglect the faithfulness of spiritual maturity.
What is spiritual maturity?
Spiritual maturity is a nebulous phrase that we often use to beat each other up with in Christian circles. Depending on what you value, you can claim others aren’t spiritually mature because of their lack of certain theological clarity, service to their community or simply because they don’t share your view on cultural matters.
The scriptures reveal that God measures maturity in Christ-like love and faithfulness more than talent and fruitfulness. The spiritually mature are described as wise, increasingly gracious and are able to endure anything that circumstances bring their way by trusting God to maintain their peace.
Jesus is the benchmark of maturity and His character grew as He lived faithfully seeking wisdom and knowledge of God alongside faithful service in loving and blessing others. His spiritual maturity was marked by intimacy with God our Father to know what our Father wanted and what our Father was doing. It was His faithfulness in maturing with God that develop His fruitfulness on mission. Intimacy flowed to loving activity of extending grace to those caught in sin, speaking with the marginalized when no one else would and healing even when it wasn’t religiously acceptable to do so.
God Asks For Your Mission to Match Your Maturity
While Jesus is always the penultimate model for us, much can be learned from Paul on growing in spiritual maturity. A key lesson is that God only asks for your mission to match your maturity. All too often we seek to have our mission be larger than God has given and undercut our maturity in the process.
Paul’s words to Timothy on elders directs them to faithfulness at home before they increase their mission into the church. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians directs them to feed and nourish their home before they seek justice in their city.
The Pauline epistles exhort the church to deal with their in-house issues by allowing their identity in the gospel to reshape their community before He speaks to the mission going forward. Each letter is a reminder that God is inviting us into a relationship with Him not merely a business partnership. His Kingdom is built by maturity on mission.
When Mission Outpaces Maturity
When you look around your church at marriages that have fallen apart, pastors who have fallen from grace in their churches and business leaders who have failed in their roles you witness a common reality. Their mission or their role outpaced their maturity in handling the challenges they faced.
Their trajectory of success was unsustainable in an American evangelical context that demands business like key performance indicators to be met and increased every year. Eventually we reach the capacity of our mission for a certain season and we face a choice. Will we be content at the current level of our responsibility and press in to God for maturity? Or will we press forward increasing our responsibility despite the sense that we are in over our heads?
Jethro instructed Moses in Exodus that some can be faithful with 10 and others 50 while there may be those who can be faithful with hundreds and even thousands. Our mission must follow our maturity.
3 Ways to Make Maturity our Mission
Each person must make their own paradigm shift if our mission will be sustained and even grow. The shift is to move towards maturity spiritually, emotionally and relationally. As always, the question is how?
1. Embrace your limitations and your strengths
It requires humility to acknowledge what your good at, your strengths, without pride and to couple them with your limitations. All of us have limitations that are unique to our situations. For some that is our relational status and needs in the home, while others face different challenges.
Paul instructs the married to please their spouse while the single person has greater freedom. For some, challenges in the home mean that missional activity is reserved for those in the household. For others, limitations in knowledge, wealth, success or skills can be gifts that allow us to embrace the mission God has given us instead of envying the missional possibilities of others.
What are your strengths? What are your limitations? In humility, ask God to reveal to you these areas in your life. Embrace them both as gifts and freedom from God.
2. Choose the mission in your face
God has placed people in your life. Be faithful with your roommate, your spouse, your parents or your kids. Missional activity that is greater outside of our closest relationships reveal that we lack the maturity needed to serve others well and it won’t last.
Being on mission by serving those closest to us, loving them through the highs and lows of life, showing them the gospel in word and deed, and increasing their vision of Jesus is the most important mission God has given us. Maturity sees these relationships as worthy of our full attention not as a hindrance to building God’s kingdom.
Who has God placed closest to you? How are they growing in their love for the Lord Jesus and looking like Him?
3. Let maturity outpace your mission
In a performance driven country, missional activity has become a performance driven mindset. The mission is great and so it can be easy to always “do more” for God. If we buy into performance driven faith, we are actually serving ourselves, not God.
In Jesus and Paul, we see two men that were faithful in private for years before they were ever faithful in public. Their maturity prepared them for their mission.
In the church today, mission often reveals the insufficiency of our maturity. Before we send others or go ourselves, we should consider our own spiritual maturity and that of others we push toward mission.
More harm than good is done for the Kingdom of God when spiritual immaturity is empowered.
God has the ability to accomplish and be more passionate about your maturity and mission than you ever will be. Since we don’t have the abilities of God, we must choose our maturity over any great mission. Your mission is only as great as your maturity.
- Any general comments about the article before we discuss it?
- Respond to the statement - “Your mission for God is only as great as your maturity with God.” - Do you agree? Why or why not?
- What is true about the statement above? What do you think the author is trying to say?
- Biblically, how would you defend or disagree with this?
- Practically - think of your own life and how mission/evangelism has worked out - has this been true for you?
- How does this article help with the idea of changing OUT from ‘what’ to ‘who?
- What would be some ways our MC can grow more spiritually so that we can become more missional? What do we need more of, less of, to become more missional?
FOR THE LEADER
Exercise: 20 minutes
- have an index card or post it note for every person in your group.
- After the discussing the article, pass out the pieces of paper and have everyone in your group identify one person who they know (family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor) who is not a Christ follower and write their name on the piece of paper.
- Have everyone go around and briefly (1min or less), tell the group about their person (how they know them and why they wrote their name down)
- Pass the cards/pieces of paper to the left 3x.
- Ask everyone to take a moment and pray together silently for the person/name on their paper (*** you can have people pray out loud, but it needs to be brief. If you pray silently this time, we’ll have your group pray out loud next time).
- Leader closes by praying out loud
- Ask each person to pray for the person on their paper by name at least 2x before you meet again.
- Ask each person to bring the paper with the name with them next time you meet so you can talk and pray for each person again.
TAKE THE TORCH: 2 TIMOTHY SERIES
DISCUSS WITH MC before sunday 2/25
Key Passage: 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Chapter four brings the final close to Paul’s short but impactful letter to Timothy. Verses six to eight remind us that Paul is in his final days and that his life will soon be over. In his final encouragements, he reminds Timothy to “fulfill his ministry” (verse 5) and as a point of reference, reminds him of his own endurance. Maybe it’s to be used as a motivator, calling Timothy to follow in his path: “it’s your turn now.” Maybe its a word of peace so Timothy can be comforted at Paul’s state of mind in this final days: “I’m finishing well, it’s OK.”
The criterion for Paul’s measure of his life is faith. The images he uses to describe keeping the faith are a “fight” and a “race.” This isn’t the first time Paul mentions faith being a fight. In his first letter to Timothy, he says “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold on eternal to which you were called when you make the good confession.” (1 Tim 6:12). These two illustrations imply that faith isn’t easy. Fights take strength and the ability to handle some hits from our opponents. Races are long and require endurance. To succeed at either, training is involved and sacrifice is required. There is a struggle there, just as there is a struggle to always believe God at His word. But why is it a struggle? We tend to wrestle against two main things: our flesh and our enemy, Satan.
“We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12, 13)
Satan makes us question God. We reinforce that with our own wills by believing we could decide better for ourselves, thus trusting in self or idols in place of God. So what are the ways to fight against this? Firstly, God provides us with the Holy Spirit. We can also wield the word of God as our weapon. Ephesians 6:17 says, "The sword of the Spirit is the word of God.” Prayer, community, accountability - all these things can help spur us on.
Keeping the faith results in a prize: the crown of righteousness. Just as you have to finish a fight or a race to be crowned the champion, so you must endure to the very end of life to receive the crown of righteousness. This idea of finishing well, enduring or conquering appears throughout Jesus’ ministry (ex: Matthew 10:22) and throughout the rest of the New Testament (ex: Hebrews 3:13-14, Revelation 2:7).
Paul’s encouraging Timothy through his own example: do not give up. Faith is a fight. Just as I have done, keep on. And you will receive the crown of righteousness from the Lord himself.
- What does it mean to “keep the faith?”
- Imagine you are like Paul, near the end of your life. What sorts of things will you want to say you have done to ‘keep the faith’? How will you have kept the faith?
- If Paul is our example of someone “keeping the faith,” what ways can we emulate him?
- Where does doubt play into all of this? Can you keep the faith but sometimes have questions or unbelief?
- Can the “crown of righteousness” be lost if you don’t keep the faith? Explain.
- What or who do we fight with to keep the faith? Who are our “enemies”? Be specific (ex: good works, new age spirituality, acceptance from others, etc.)
- If the word of God serves as a weapon against our sin nature and Satan, how might we need to grow to wield it better?
- In what ways are you weary of this spiritual journey? How can you not simply endure, but thrive?
- At the beginning of the year, you may have identified an area that you want to grow in spiritually this year. How are you doing with the fight to "keep your faith" in this one area? In general? What needs to change in order to fight more effectively?
TAKE THE TORCH: 2 TIMOTHY SERIES
DISCUSS WITH MC before sunday 3/4
Key Passage: 2 Timothy 4:9-22
Context: Coming Soon
Jocelyn Sack's Main Session Talk from this year's MC Leader Workshop
Brian Hopper's Closing Talk from this year's MC Leader Workshop
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