Strengthening Your Mind


As Ken has been teaching in this series, we are reminded that the mind is the ultimate battlefield in this life. The Lord, our own flesh (that negative base side of who we are) and the enemy (the devil or Satan) are all battling for control of our mind. Why does the battle rage here in the mind? Because the Bible says, “For as a person thinks in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7, NASB.

We need to understand that the battle that’s raging in the mind is a spiritual battle. Ultimately, it’s a battle between good and evil for the control of our lives. Since this is a spiritual battle, we cannot fight in our own strength or use the common weapons of warfare, we must fight with spiritual resources, like what we find in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:10-18.

Today, I want you to know that…

  1. You don’t have to LOSE this battle for your mind!
  2. You don’t have to be DEFEATED in your walk with Christ.
  3. You don’t have to BE A SLAVE of worry, anxiety, your thoughts, feelings, or fear.
  4. You don’t have to BE CONTROLLED by the desires of the body!
  5. However, you CAN live your life under the control of the Holy Spirit, which allows you to win this battle for your mind!

How, might you ask? The first thing you need to know is that it doesn’t happen automatically! You have to take certain steps that will ALLOW IT to happen in your life, (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; 1 Peter 1:13).

As we take the steps in 1 Peter 1:13 to “think clearly and exercise self-control,” we put ourselves in a position where the Lord can renew the mind. The word “transform” in Romans 12:2 and the word “renewed” in Ephesians 4:23 are both in the passive voice. They are something done TO and IN the child of God.

Secondly, we need to know that we don’t have to do this alone. We have the Lord’s promise in 2 Timothy 1:7, that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind, (or discipline). So, today, I want to take these few verses in Philippians 4 to show you Paul’s plan for victory in the battlefield of the mind.

I want to share with you five simple steps that teach us all about Strengthening the Mind. If followed, these steps will help us to build a wall of protection around our minds. These steps will help us to achieve victory in the daily struggles that we all face.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRAISE (Philippians 4:4) – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

This repeated phrase in Philippians is Paul’s command for believers to “rejoice.” He uses this word in the imperative form, and it’s also important to note that he immediately repeats the command. This word means, “to be glad.” While not a Greek scholar, I discovered that this word is in the present tense, active voice, and imperative mood. All that means is, the believer is commanded to “keep on being glad in the Lord.”

Now, let’s face it, life is tough, and the events of modern life don’t bring much happiness! But let’s put this into context. When Paul penned these words, he was chained up between two Romans soldiers while in a prison cell. Even in the midst of this hardship, Paul knew that regardless of the circumstances of life, God never changes, God never leaves, and God never forsakes us. That’s why we are told to “rejoice in the Lord.” We don’t rejoice in the circumstances, he says to rejoice “in the Lord.” You see, people will change, circumstances will change, and life constantly changes, but the Lord never changes! He is constant, he is faithful, and he will always walk through this life right beside us.

Since this is true, we can learn to rejoice in who He is, what He has done for us, and what He is doing in our lives. Even if the road is hard, remember these facts…

  1. God has a detailed plan for your life, Psalm 37:23.
  2. God has promised to make all things work for good, Romans 8:28.
  3. God has promised to go with you through everything in life, Hebrews 13:5.
  4. God has promised you abiding victory, 1 Corinthians 15:57; Romans 8:37.
  5. God has promised you that the destination will be worth every step of the way, Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Therefore, even when you can’t be happy about your life, learn to be happy in the Lord! Build this wall of praise around your mind! So our first step is to build a wall of PRAISE.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PATIENCE (Philippians 4:5) – Let your gentle spirit be known to all men...

The word “gentle” literally means “considerate or gracious spirit.” It has been translated in a variety of ways:

  • New Living translates the word “considerate”
  • Holman translates the word “graciousness”
  • King James translates the word “moderation”
  • The ESV translates the word “reasonableness”

This word has the idea of being patient with other people; or yielding to the rights and wishes of others. It does NOT mean we make compromises in our doctrinal beliefs in the name of tolerance, but it does mean that you have a willingness to take the back seat in favor of other people. This is the same idea that Paul introduces back in Philippians 2:4 – thinking of others as more important than yourself.

Paul is saying that the reality of our faith should be demonstrated in how we treat other people. If the focus of our lives is all about US, then when people hurt us, we’ll have a desire to retaliate and get even.

Paul wants us to take the focus off ourselves and put it onto other people. When we are focused on the people around us, we’ll be less likely to be hurt by what other people do. What they say won’t sting us so badly because we are not focused on ourselves. How they act can be passed over more easily when we focus on THEIR hurts, their situation, or their well-being. It has been said that “hurting people hurt people.” So, when people hurt us, we ought to seek to discover what is happening in THEIR life to have behaved the way they did. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is the right thing to do.

When we adopt the mentality of self-love (which is all around us) we will always look at the things people do and say, as a personal attack. It will cause us to wear our feelings on our sleeves and to be more easily hurt by the words and actions of others.

This will also cause us problems in the mind because we dwell on WHAT was done or WHAT was said. If we can learn to accept other people just as they are and overlook what they have done to hurt us, it will protect our mind from dwelling in negative areas. It will build a wall of protection around the mind that others cannot penetrate!

The bottom line is this, if we can learn to live in genuine contentment, as in Philippians 4:11, then it won’t matter what anyone says or does to us. The mind will be protected from the evil that it likes to find in others. The devil loves nothing better than to get your eyes off Jesus and onto the faults of other people! The flesh loves nothing better than to go along with the devil in accusing others and judging others. When this happens, the mind is in danger! So, our second step is to build the wall of PATIENCE.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRAYER (Philippians 4:5b-7) – The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 warns us against the dangers of worry. The word used for anxiety in the NASB, is translated in other places as “careful” or “worry.” The idea of “anxiety” comes from the term, “to be troubled with cares.” It refers to a state of mind that is agitated over the events and circumstances of life. There is nothing wrong with HAVING concerns (we all have them) but it’s when your concerns have YOU, that’s when the problems begin to spring up!

Worry is so dangerous because it allows the mind to create false ideas about God, others, and the world around us. Worry says, “God is dead!” or, “If there is a God, he obviously doesn’t care about me and my situation.” Both of those statements are false! God is certainly alive, Hebrews 7:25, and God does care, Hebrews 4:15; 1 Peter 5:7.

When the problems of life come our way, we are given some wonderful help in these verses.

  1. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5b) – This refers NOT only to his second coming, but that He is always near to His children – Hebrews 13:5-6.
  2. Exercise the tool of prayer (Philippians 4:6) – Paul speaks of prayer, supplication, and requests. These might be thought of as, 1) general praying, 2) specific praying, and 3) detailed praying. The main point of this verse is that instead of worrying, the believer is to demonstrate his faith in the POWER and the WILL of God by seeking the Lord in prayer!
  3. Develop a thankful heart (Philippians 4:6) – Regardless of the situations you face in life, learn to praise the Lord through ALL of them. Nothing brings God nearer (or drives the devil away any faster) than a genuinely thankful heart!

The Lord’s promise to us is that He will replace our worries with HIS PEACE when we come before Him in trusting, humble prayer. The word “keep” or “guard” in Philippians 4:7 means “to garrison, or build a fort around, or to post a military guard.” The Lord promises to post a guard around the heart and mind of the person who trusts Him with the needs of everyday life. Instead of worrying yourself sick about things you can’t change, learn to lean on the Lord in prayer! Build this wall of prayer!

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PURITY (Philippians 4:8) – Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Ken talked about this verse at the beginning of this series, so I won’t go too far into this point, but all of these words Paul uses in this verse are a clear picture of the Word of God. God’s Word is true – John 17:17. Since the Bible is true, everything it says fits within these categories mentioned by Paul. It is honorable, it is right, it is pure (holy, clean), it is lovely, it’s of a good report (good reputation), it is full of virtue (excellence) and worthy of praise (meaning, that which leans toward worship).

We must fix our minds upon the things of God. The SOURCE for discovering these things worthy of filling our minds is the Word of God. In other words, if we will fill our minds with the Words of God, there will be no room left for evil, no room for worry, no room for fear, no room for vengeance, no room for immorality, no room for confusion or trouble. A mind filled with the Word of God, and a mind led by the Word of God, is a stable, fortified, and strong mind!

So, if you want a stable, strong, and godly mind, the best place to get it done is with the Bible. We must take the initiative and challenge our mind to dwell on God’s Word and what it says, instead of allowing the mind to run toward evil, or gossip, or slander, or sexuality, or immorality, or other people and what they are doing, or even our problems. A mind saturated with Scripture and fixed upon the Word of God is a strong mind.

This is something that you have to do for yourself!

  • The church cannot strengthen your mind.
  • The church cannot keep you from dwelling on negative thoughts.
  • A Sunday School class or a small group cannot build a wall of protection around you.

No one is ever transformed when the motivation is external. Just like running a marathon, I can surround myself with encouragers cheering me on toward the finish line, but if I am not inwardly motivated to finish the race, I will give up, and will stop short.

The Christian life is very similar. If I am told what to do in order to grow spiritually yet fail to have the inward motivation of pleasing God in all that I do, or if I fail to walk in a manner worthy of being called a child of God, I WILL live a mediocre life.

How long will I be obedient to God if my motivation for Christianity is to avoid hell rather than loving and serving God out of a grateful heart and renewed mind? Strengthening your mind is something that YOU do to yourself, it is not something done TO you or FOR you. So, build the wall of PURITY.

  1. BUILD THE WALL OF PRACTICE (Philippians 4:9) – The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Do you notice how relational this verse is? Sometimes we think it reads, “If you want the peace of God, do the things I taught you.” This is not like a class or a sermon where we take notes; it involves walking through this life with other people. The Christian faith is caught more than it is taught. We grow and live within a faith community.

Paul tells the Philippians to practice the things they had seen and heard in his life. For us, it’s NOT that we have it all together, like we’re perfect in this life. Perfection is a goal, because it will never happen this side of heaven.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect?” Well, that statement is wrong. If you practice it wrong, you will NOT get it right. Ask any musician. The real truth is in a modified phrase, “Practice makes permanent.” As you practice the rift on the guitar or the violin, you may start out slow, even at half speed, but you HAVE to get it right before you practice, practice, and practice some more. If you learn it wrong, you will always play it wrong.

If you want permanent change in your life, you may start out slowly, but the more you practice it under the accountability of a trusted mentor or friend, the more permanent the transformation will become.

So, we have spent the past few minutes building walls in order to strengthen our minds:

  1. THE WALL OF PRAISE (Philippians 4:4)
  2. THE WALL OF PATIENCE (Philippians 4:5)
  3. THE WALL OF PRAYER (Philippians 4:5b-7)
  4. THE WALL OF PURITY (Philippians 4:8)
  5. THE WALL OF PRACTICE (Philippians 4:9)

So, let’s have some time for reflection. Maybe bow your head in the quiet of this moment and let God’s Spirit speak to your heart and mind. What are your next steps?

NEXT STEPS: Consider these questions…

  1. Which wall is needed most in your life right now?
  2. Name a person who is spiritually mature that you will seek out this week to help you grow in that area.
  3. How will you begin to make changes in your life so you can strengthen your mind?
  4. WHO will you tell about this personal commitment, and the need for accountability?
  5. WHEN will you seek out this accountability person?

Your mind is a precious gift from God. It can be used for good or for evil, and all the forces of good and evil are battling for your mind all the time. Who wins the battle is always determined by YOU! No one can control your mind, but YOU. We are told in the Bible that we need to strengthen our mind, it is OUR job, individually, and it cannot be passed off to another person. We are in cooperation with the Holy Spirit to conform to the image of Christ. We can’t outsource that responsibility.

This is a very critical matter, because how you THINK determines how you will LIVE your life, Proverbs 23:7 (As a person thinks within himself, so is he, NASB). Until the mind is settled, all of life is out of control – remember the words of James 1:8. (a double-minded man is unstable in his ways), so I challenge you to strengthen your mind!

Let’s Pray About It: Lord Jesus, you know better than anyone that I need a stronger mind. I recognize that apart from you, I can do nothing, so please, help me to grow in my faith, renew my mind, and become more effective in my Christian walk. I confess my failures and seek your forgiveness. Lord, help me submit to your lordship, embrace your ways, and do your will.

Father, for those who have not yet begun their journey of discipleship, let them seek you earnestly, because your Word tells us that you WILL be found when we seek for you with all out heart.

Father, this time is yours. Help us to make commitments and give us the strength to follow through, especially when life get hard. We pray this in Jesus’ name, AMEN

CLOSING: Thank you for joining us today. If you made any commitments this morning, let us know about it. You can contact us using the church website (kgbc.us/more). Know that your staff prays for you, and we hope that you’ll make prayer for one another a regular activity each week.

The Father Knows What You Need

This is an outline of the notes that I use to teach my Wednesday evening class on the sayings and the life of Jesus.

At the Heart of the Lesson: Jesus teaches about prayer, emphasizing persistence, trust, and the importance of prayer.

Today’s Term: Father – which is central to his understanding of prayer, which is an act of personal communion with our heavenly Father.

Strictly for Show (Matthew 6:5-8)

  1. Devout Jews made it a habit to pray several times a day (generally at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm) no matter what they were doing or in what position.
    1. At the heart, a good idea to pause and reflect on our relationship with God.
    2. But Jesus saw their true motivation and prayer had ceased to be important; and more showy for those who could hear and see them praying.
  2. The private room or prayer closet, between you and God.
  3. Meaningless repetition or babble (like with Baal in 1 Kings 18:26), characteristic of the pagans, or even Catholics or Muslims today.
    1. A prayer does not need to be recited, like one is in a trance.
    2. The Jews did not babble like the pagans but they had their empty forms, even reciting the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) each morning and evening.
  4. Jesus makes it clear that God knows what you need before you ask him, so length of prayer, the number of people praying, or eloquence of speech is not a factor.

A Better Way to Pray (Matthew 6:9-13)

  1. Typically called the Lord’s Prayer, this is better called the Model Prayer. I see the Lord’s Prayer being in John 17:1-26, where the Lord is actually praying for his mission, disciples, those who come after them, namely all followers of Jesus down through the ages.
  2. Jesus’ use of the term Father, is much different than the tradition lofty address of “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” or “Creator of the World” or “Merciful One” or “Divine Presence.” For Jesus, “Father” was enough because piling on titles are not important. Titles don’t express a relationship.
  3. “Father” then and now: back in the day, father’s commanded respect and authority unlike the way fathers are portrayed in American culture today.
  4. When we call God “Father” we are acknowledging we are his children. An earthly father knows what his children need even when they ask for a bunch of crazy stuff.
  5. The Prayer itself…
    1. “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9, see also Luke 11:2)
    2. “In heaven” – he is still transcendent, holier than us, greater than us. “Our Father in Heaven” is a balance between love and power.
    3. “Hallowed” – meaning holy or separate or distinct. We are giving his respect to his unique character.
    4. “Your kingdom come” and “Your will be done” is an example of parallelism, the second phrase is a restating of the first. Living in his kingdom mean living in harmony with God’s will. This is not resigning to God’s will (like it’s fate or done with resentment) but an embracing of God’s will, since God knows best.
    5. “Give us our daily bread” which likely means simply give us what we need today. (Jesus is the Bread of Life, John 6:35, 48, and God provided manna in the wilderness, Exodus 16:13-18, 31).
    6. “Forgive us our debts” – reminds us that we are all sinners. The word here is not hamartia, meaning to miss the mark, but rather opheilema, meaning literally debts, things that are due. Perhaps these are things we should have done but fail to do them, or failed to give God or our neighbors what we owed them.
    7. “Forgiving others” – God forgiving us is contingent on our forgiving others. We cannot pay our debt by fasting or praying or giving to the poor, but through forgiving others.
    8. “Deliver us from the evil one” – this is more than just delivering us from generic evil.
  6. Is this a magic prayer to be repeated word for word or more of a model prayer? This is not the words to memorize but to be used as a template or framework.

Ask, Seek, Knock (Matthew 7:7-11)

  1. One important key is that God is a generous Father. The verbs here are the imperfect tense, meaning, keep on asking, seeking, knocking. Don’t give up.
  2. Do we get all for which we ask? No. Jesus says the Father give good gifts to those who ask (Matthew 7:11). He already covered our request for God’s will to be done (Matthew 6:10).
  3. Asking for wisdom (James 1:5-6) and confidence that God hears us (1 John 5:14) when we ask according to his will.
  4. Did Jesus call us evil (Matthew 7:11)? Total depravity (Jeremiah 17:9).

The Pesky, Inconsiderate Friend (Luke 11:5-8)

  1. The custom of hospitality in Bible times, so this is a familiar story. The late-night friend’s boldness is what gets the man out of bed. He was actually shameless in his persistence to ask. He did not give what was asked out of love for his neighbor but because the neighbor was a nuisance to get rid of.
  2. This parable appears to be a contrast between our own goodness and God’s. God’s generosity requires much less cajoling, he does not need to be awakened, since he already knows our needs.
  3. The point is that one should continuing making his request rather than giving up too soon. In this story, the man was begging for something he needed (daily bread), it was not for something unnecessary.

The Pesky Plaintiff (Luke 18:1-8)

  1. Here is the parable of the unjust judge. The assumption is that this judge did not let the fear of God (or fear of public opinion) affect his decisions (Luke 18:4, also Exodus 22:22-24). These are often condemned in the Old Testament, judges who expected bribes.
  2. This woman had to plead her own case, the ultimate in victim-hood, a widow.
  3. This judge is exhausted and she has worn him out with continual complaining (Luke 18:5). We are not told why the judge would not hear her case, he could ignore her and get away with it.
  4. Her request is simply for justice; this was not unreasonable. Do that which you are paid to do, dispense justice (check out Psalm 9:12, 146:9).
  5. While a humorous story, it is dead serious; it is about trusting God to make things right.
  6. Jesus challenges us to pray and not grow weary. When unanswered, will we continue in prayer? Will Jesus find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8)?

The Amazing Holy Man (Luke 18:9-14)

  1. This following story continues the theme of prayer but moves from persistence to attitude.
  2. The presence of Pharisees in the culture, devout men who took religion seriously, where the common man could not. Pharisee meant “separated ones” – these would look down on others who were not so holy and boast in their devout practices of public prayer and public fasting and public giving. This guy was not real;y praying, he was admiring himself in a mirror.
  3. The prayer starts out right, thanking God, but goes down hill after that.
    1. He didn’t need God since he was doing things right by himself (self-righteousness).
    2. He focuses on his merits.
    3. He compares himself to others.
  4. The tax collector – the despised people of the day, working for the Romans and Herod, notoriously corrupt. This “scum” should not have even been near the temple.
    1. He focuses on his sinfulness and unworthiness.
    2. He knows his need and chases after God. He is not “a” sinner, but “the” sinner. The definite article is in the Greek.
    3. He does not compare himself to others.
  5. Many people tend to behave more like the Pharisee than the publican. Have you heard this one, “There but for the grace of God go I”? Are we not comparing ourselves masked in the language to God’s grace? Paul’s response, “What a wretched man I am” (Romans 7:24).

In Jesus’ Name, Amen (John 14:14)

  1. How often do we see this phrase as a magic bullet in our prayer arsenal?
  2. This is to ask in the spirit of Jesus, according to his revealed will. Let’s not misrepresent of Lord by asking for things not according to his will (for healing? for health? for someone’s salvation? for God’s will to be done? but to win the lottery?).
  3. Going through the pit with Jesus changes what we ask for. The prosperity gospel is only believed by baby Christians in the western world. It is an insult to God and the sacrifice of our Savior to believe that we should receive better treatment that the cross, or the destiny of the disciples (John 15:18-20, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 4:12).

New Testament Discipleship

This message called, New Testament Discipleship, comes from 2 Timothy 1:3-12.

Christianity is not a solitary sport, it is a team effort. When we come to faith in Christ, we join a global and a local community, in essence, this community is a timeless spiritual family. When you join a family, you are not alone. People look out for one another. So, how are lives connected in corporate worship? In this room we are all pretty much spectators. It is in a small group that we become participants.

I love small groups and I always encourage people to get involved and join one. It is easy to shop around here at King’s Grant because we have so many groups from which to choose. If you want to explore a group in which to get involved, let me know.

I can talk a whole lot about why small groups are important, but time is limited and I want to go through this text. While Skip used this text two weeks ago, I plan to go in a total different direction. We can talk about timothy and his family, but I prefer to talk about Timothy’s and Paul’s connection through being a part of a faith community. Let’s get started…

1. Reassurance (2 Timothy 1:3) – I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day.

The text tells us that Paul was praying for Timothy, and that he likely had confidence in him. The first thing you notice is the relational aspect of these to followers of Christ. Those who are connected to Jesus pray for one another. In a small group, we are pilgrims on the same journey, giving support, encouragement, and challenge to those in the group. It is a blessing to be involved with fellow believers on a similar journey.

Speaking of blessing, we have the potential to bring out the best in those whom we bless. From the very beginning, God intends for his people to bless others (Genesis 12:1-3, Galatians 3:8). (Smalley and Trent, The Blessing, 1986). What does a blessing entail? How do we bless others? Imagine doing all of the following in a small group…

  1. Expressing Unconditional Love: agape is God’s kind of love, you cannot earn it nor can you lose it. It is not a love that says, “I love you because…” or “I will love you if…” – it is a love that says, “I love you anyway.” There is security in this sort of relationship.
  2. Uttering Spoken Words: a blessing is only a blessing when it is spoken. It matters not how much you care about someone if you never let them know about it. When you invest into other people, you cannot keep silent.
  3. Articulating High Value: Perhaps you saw the movie called, “The Help.” The main character is a black maid who worked for this 1960’s white southern household. This strong woman had a great statement that she repeated in the film, and the little white girl was able to quote it back to her, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.”
    1. It is like a family reunion, people are usually speaking to each other and talking all over the place but in that final hour people preparing for their goodbyes and are expressing the most important things that need to be said.
    2. Picture the undeveloped traits or habits or qualities in other people that can grow in their heart. Our desire is for them to be the best they can be for the kingdom’s sake.
    3. When we value others, we bring out their best.
  4. Picturing a Special Future: You can do this and thereby bring joy to people. You will make an impact on the kingdom of God and will be encouraging them to make a difference as well.
    1. Picturing a special future is like how Jesus encourages us by mentioning a wonderful statement at the end of time, “well done good and faithful servant,” which bring out the best in our lives, a desire for transformation into godly men and women.
    2. Kim is a hospice chaplain and I often remind her, usually when she leaves the house in the morning, or after a long and difficult day or week, that she is making a difference in the lives of people, especially at this critical stage in their lives, and the lives of their family members and staff.
  5. Disciplining When Needed: You may be thinking that I am just talking about parents and children, but discipline is greater than just a family because as followers of Jesus, we will fail many times in our lives. We need God’s discipline, and often that will come through fellow believers whom we trust and we know they have our back. We are to balance praise and correction. God deals with us rather than ignoring the wrong behavior; the same is true for our brothers in Christ. We cannot ignore behavior that goes against the teachings of the Bible. Ok, let’s move on to…

2. Reminiscence (2 Timothy 1:4-5) longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.

Two things are noticed here…

  1. Tears (2 Timothy 1:4) What Paul desired, (he longed to see Timothy again).
  2. Testimony (2 Timothy 1:5) What Paul described…
    1. The Reality of Timothy’s faith (2 Timothy 1:5a) (mindful of the sincere faith he had).
    2. The Roots of Timothy’s faith (2 Timothy 1:5b) (which came through his mother and grandmother)
    3. The Reinforcement of Timothy’s faith (2 Timothy 1:5c) (I am sure it is in you as well). It is important to think about from where we have come, and how faith entered our lives. It is very good to share with others in your small group about how you came to faith in Christ, and reaffirm the faith we see in others.

3. Refocus (2 Timothy 1:6-7a) For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity…

  1. Stir up the Gift of God (2 Timothy 1:6) (Kindle afresh the gift of God) Small groups are training ground for living life on purpose, being on mission, and living a missional life.
  2. Suppress the Fear (2 Timothy 1:7a) (we don’t have a spirit of timidity or fear). There is strength in numbers, so your small group will give you the encouragement you need to stand strong in the face of the struggles of life. Finally, we are to

4. Remember (2 Timothy 1:7b-12) Remember what, you ask?

  1. Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7b) (not a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline). The Spirit is the one whom Jesus promised to send that would fill us with the power to change the world (Acts 1:8). We must remember that in a small group, we do not depend upon our own power, creativity, teaching, or anything, but we allow the power of the Spirit to flow through us.
  2. Son (2 Timothy 1:8) Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,
    1. Don’t be Ashamed (2 Timothy 1:8a) – of the testimony of Jesus. We know what Jesus did to secure our salvation, so never be ashamed of the gospel story. We don’t need to apologize to unchurched people about what we believe, especially when it goes against what the intolerant left mainstream culture promotes.
    2. Don’t be Afraid (2 Timothy 1:8b) – of Paul or Prison. When our society labels us intolerant and narrow-minded, and they come after the church and Christians, don’t be afraid to join with Paul in the suffering for the gospel. We stand stronger with a small group to help us navigate through the dark waters of modern culture.
  3. Salvation (2 Timothy 1:9a-b) who has saved us and called us with a holy calling,
    1. Our Conversion (2 Timothy 1:9a) It is important to understand that the purpose of a small group is to know Christ and make him known. The goal is not just a place to study the Bible, but to share life together, on purpose, with an intentional missional mindset. How can we get one more person to be a part of our group? One we get to a certain size, when will we birth another group where we can both continue reaching and teaching people? It is all about life transformation, and conversion is a great target. After conversion, we embrace our calling…
    2. Our Calling (2 Timothy 1:9b) Paul wrote about a holy calling. What does God want from you? What mission or purpose has he planted in your heart that only you can achieve? How will you walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ, and therefore make an eternal impact on the kingdom of God? BUT, our calling leads to service…
  4. Service (2 Timothy 1:9c-10) not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 10 but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,
    1. Our Commission (2 Timothy 1:9c). We don’t do any of this in our own strength or according to our own works, but according to the power of Christ. Remember that the body of Christ works together to accomplish the will of God. Each small group has the potential to embrace the commission and seek ways to be on mission together, and encouraging each of us to make an eternal impact.
    2. Our Commander (2 Timothy 1:10). We recognize that the Great Commission comes from our Great Commander. Jesus is the Savior, who abolished death and brought life and immortality through the gospel. Jesus causes our service to make sense. Non-Christians serve in order to give back (it is ME focused), but we “give back” with a purpose (because is it God focused). Serving can lead to…
  5. Servants (2 Timothy 1:11) for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. This verse reminds us that Paul was a Preacher and Apostle.
    1. What is a Preacher? It is not just someone who stands up here and delivers a sermon. The preacher (kay’-roox) really means, “a herald or messenger” or God’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20). THAT is something that we all can do. We have a story to tell.
    2. What is an Apostle? The apostle (a-po’-sto-los) means, “a delegate, a messenger, one sent forth with orders.” The church is made up of believers, and we are literally “sent-out-ones.” Understanding this fact awaken us to the great possibilities of impacting the kingdom of God. Don’t limit God in what he can do in your life. Be open to go in whatever direction he has set before you!
  6. Suffering (2 Timothy 1:12) For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
    1. Confidence (2 Timothy 1:12a) “For this reason” expresses Paul confidence. All that he has gone through makes sense when he had the proper perspective. Remember this letter was written at the very end of Paul’s earthly life. He was expecting execution any day. In the midst of this uncertainty, Paul expresses solid confidence.
    2. Conviction (2 Timothy 1:12b) Paul is convinced, and knows for certain that he is in the hands of Jesus. What has Paul entrusted to Jesus until THAT DAY?Perhaps it is either the day of Christ’s glorious return or maybe the day of Paul’s execution. His life. Jesus is able to guard his life, so what have we to fear?

All throughout this passage I see the blueprints for small groups. The purpose of today is to discover what it takes to encourage sticky faith in our kids and in the lives of other people. Small groups encourage stick faith, and the family is God’s original small group. Get involved in one and live life in the community of faith.

The next steps at the bottom of your outline will help you to remember what community has been in your life in the past, and perhaps you will recognize the need to have a more connected community in your current situation.

Next Steps: Make it practical…

1. For whom do you pray on a regular basis? (2 Timothy 1:3)
2. Who has had the biggest role in your spiritual development? (2 Timothy 1:3)
3. What gift has God given to you? (2 Timothy 1:6)
4. How is the Spirit’s power, love, & self-discipline shown in your life? (2 Timothy 1:7)
5. Why has God called you to a holy life? (2 Timothy 1:9)
6. In what ways are you called to be a preacher and apostle? (2 Timothy 1:11)
7. When was there a time that you suffered for the gospel? (2 Timothy 1:12)

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