I have a confession to make. One of the greatest challenges in my life is I get distracted. I get distracted from the Lord, what's most important, and it so frustrates me. Today we'll learn from the Apostle Paul how to really stay focused.
You don't want to miss it. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry featuring the daily Bible teaching of Chip Ingram.
And whether we realize it or not, we all struggle to focus on what matters in this distracted society. So Chip's going to help us out as he continues our new series Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker. And be sure to stick around after the teaching for some practical advice from Chip. You won't want to miss it.
Okay, let's join Chip now for the second half of his message, Be Strong, Don't Be Distracted. He begins in 2 Timothy chapter 2 verse 5, highlighting the vital lesson of patience. What a farmer knows is you never reap in the same season that you sow, right? See, some of us are going to get really fired up, and we're going to say, I'm going to start really growing and discipling at a new level. And you do it for about two weeks, and you're not going to see a lot of change. And you'll think, oh, what the heck? That's like a farmer going and saying, boy, we need corn this year. And he puts some corn seed and sticks it in there and comes back in two weeks. I guess it doesn't work. Or comes back in a month and there's one little tiny sprig.
Or comes back, you know, like in two and a half months and it's up to here and it looks good, but there's just these little things on it. See, the hardworking farmer understands perseverance, patience, endurance. Christian life isn't for wimps. It's a hostile culture. We're not on a cruise ship. Jesus is, you know, it's a fallen world. The idea is not how's everything going to work out for your life or my life. The thing is there's this incredible joy and purpose and focus as you walk with God.
See, I think the pendulum is way over here. I'm pushing over here, and my wife would say, Chip, you know, I think you need to lighten up a little bit and we need to enjoy ourselves and there's refreshing things and there's wonderful gifts from God and it's important to take vaca- and I'm, yeah. I believe all that.
And I do that. But I'm in front of a group of people and a culture that basically has so far over here that I feel like we need to go back and say, in the world that we're living in, we need the kind of Christians that say, I'm in a battle and I'm going to be a soldier who's focused and I'm not going to get distracted with secondary things. I'm in a race and I'm in a race that, you know, I've got all eternity to enjoy a lot of stuff, but in this little thing called time, I'm going to discipline myself, my body, my emotions, my relationships in a way that, as we'll learn a little bit later, I'm a vessel of honor. I'm someone that God used. And here's the thing, the byproduct of all of that will be the kind of peace and the kind of joy and the rich relationships and the satisfaction that we thought pleasure or having more or going to this place or that place would deliver.
And so he says, Timothy, I want you to ponder these. It takes practice, it takes persistence, it takes a partner. I don't think anyone can do this alone.
You need people in your life that say, I will do life like that with you. And so the application is this question, where do you struggle and how does verse one and two apply to you? How does it apply to you? And all I want you to know is we all struggle. We never arrive, but we make great progress.
And then he shifts and it's almost like a battle cry. It's remember, remember, remember who Jesus really is and what he's really done. We read it.
What's it say? Remember Christ risen from the dead, divinity, son of David, humanity, according to my gospel. I was thinking about this and you know, sometimes I unconsciously think of Jesus as all like the author of this book or the Jesus that lived back then and did all these things.
You know what he's saying is stop it. He's alive right now at this moment. Remember Jesus resurrected from the dead, sitting at the right hand of the father. He's praying for you. He's praying for me right now.
He's sovereignly orchestrating his plan in all of history and he loves you and he's available and he's for you and his spirit lives in you, manifesting the personality and the presence of Jesus with all the power that raised him from the dead, boiling in you. Remember that. Remember that.
That's what he's saying. This isn't like all the Jesus that used to live and I know he's done these things and these doctrines and these truths. Remember he's alive and I read it and remember he was human. He was tempted in all ways like you. He understands when you blow it, when you're not disciplined, when you're impatient, when you struggle, when you log onto a site, when you eat too much, when you have lustful thoughts, he understands and he's forgiven us and he loves us and we're apprentices. That's what a follower is. We follow an apprenticeship to Jesus and every apprentice, when you're learning something, what you stumble. I love Psalm 37. It says, if the Lord delights in a man, the Lord delights in a woman when he stumbles or when she stumbles, you will not fall for the Lord will hold you by his hand and to remember that you're not performing for a God whose arms are crossed, whose toes tapping and saying, why don't you get with the program? It's a risen savior who says, I've given you all that you need. My arms around you. Hey, together, let's walk together. Let me show you what I've created you to do. Don't compare yourself with anyone else. I've gifted you. I put you in this family, in this season of life, in this season of human history and I'm going to use, open this book. I just use ordinary people. There are no superstars.
There really aren't. But what I want you to do is I want you to remember that I'm alive and powerful and that I love you and that I'm for you. Remember the person of Jesus, verse eight. Remember the power of God's word, verse nine, for which I suffer hardship and imprisonment as a criminal.
He's picturing being chained, but the word of God is not imprisoned. The same power, the power is not in the messengers, the power is in the message. When the weakest person takes the message, there's power.
The gospel is the power of God and salvation. So you remember that. You remember the eternal implications of those who taught you. He says, for this reason, I endure things for the sake of those who were chosen so that they may obtain salvation. In other words, there's significance on the line.
I don't understand how it all works. I know that we need to believe and trust God and I know God chooses and I know he's sovereign. I know we're responsible and how those things fit together. This was written long before Calvin wrote his Institutes or Jacob Arminius tried to say, hey, I think you got a little off.
Only Paul and Jesus knew what he knew, is God's chosen people and the means by which he chooses them is they hear the gospel and they put their faith in the gospel and he's prepared people and he loves people and whosoever believes can have eternal life. If we don't suffer, if we don't endure, if we don't go into battle and do what God's called us to do, then there's a big problem out there. So he says there's a lot on the line. So remember, remember what's at stake and then I like this.
I just put verses 11 through 13. Remember to keep preaching the gospel to yourself. He says, for this is a trustworthy statement. If we died with him, we'll also live with him. If we endure, we'll also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. And most think this to be a hymn of doctrine that's been developed over time in the Christian church.
The first line is literally Paul's Romans chapter six, right? We've died with him in baptism. When we believe, we entered into his death and if you've entered into his death and you've trusted Christ, you're going to live with him. It's in the present tense.
That's not the future. Right now, you live with him in his power. If we endure, we'll also reign with him. Think of all those passages in Revelation about perseverance and endurance. He's talking about the rewards that believers have for doing what they're called to do, giving an account for their life. Again, another whole area I certainly don't understand, but it's very clear in scripture that heaven isn't some place where you just float around, drink iced tea, and go to an eternal worship service. There's a new heaven and there's a new earth that's as concrete as this one, except it's perfect. And there's nations and there's songs and there's poems and there's work and there's responsibilities. And some big part of the reward is what we do now in our faithfulness to Christ has a direct proportion about part of our eternal existence and the rewards that God wants to give us.
And as we know, if you've ever been to a birthday party and you don't have a gift to give, it's a really lousy feeling. And there'll come a day when, remember that old song, casting our crowns before the throne? There'll come a day where the greatest moment I think we'll ever have is whatever rewards by the grace of God we've received by being faithful and enduring and doing what he called us to do. We will have an opportunity to put those at Jesus' feet and recognize like never before, it was of his grace and it's our gift back to him. Again, some of these theological concepts are radically different from the Christianity of be a good person, read your Bible a little bit, go to church, try to be nice, hope your kids turn out right. No, those are nice desires, that's not the New Testament Christianity. It was follow this person who's risen from the dead and there's a world in desperate need of hearing that forgiveness is available.
Follow Jesus, be willing to suffer, live out your faith, be a soldier, be focused, be an athlete, be disciplined, be a farmer, keep sowing even when you don't see the results for a while and remember the risen Lord. And then you have this interesting, he says if we deny him, he will deny us and if we're faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. And you know, if you want to read a lot of controversy, go to that next verse and the whole issue of apostasy. My best sense is that Peter denied him, didn't he? And I think when we deny him as believers, genuine believers, he denies us the peace, the fruit, the direction. I don't know about you, but I've lived as a believer, not willfully, not walking in God's will and I did not experience the fruit of the Spirit, I didn't, right? And now are there some people who drift away who probably demonstrate that they never were believers but they disowned God?
Peter actually said, I don't know him. And when we do that by our behavior or by our words, I think we forfeit the blessings of God. But I think Paul's trying to encourage Timothy and encourage these people to persevere, he says if we're faithless, when we really blow it, he's faithful, he can't deny himself. And so there's a real warning for people that are, I think, playing around with the Christian life and I think there's a real comfort for those of us that are believers to realize that if in our behavior or our lifestyle we'll deny him, then we're going to reap the consequences of behaviors that God never wants for us. But I think it's also a word of great encouragement. I don't know anyone that isn't faithless at times.
I don't know anyone that doesn't blow it. I don't know anyone that doesn't feel like, I just don't know if God could really help me now in light of, and you fill it in, right? I think he's saying God will always be true to his word.
The millisecond that we repent, the moment we turn from whatever it is and say, God, I am broken over this. He's faithful. This entire section is written to a young pastor. Don't give up. Don't give in. Don't be ashamed of the gospel.
Don't shrink back. And then he shifts gears and he says, now Timothy, let me tell you about what's happening in the church and what you need to teach. He says, remind them of these things and solemnly exhort them in the presence of God not to dispute about words which is useless and leads to the ruin of his listeners. And then by contrast, be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of God. But avoid worldly and empty chatter for it leads to further ungodliness.
And their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth claiming, these are false teachers, that the resurrection has already taken place and they're jeopardizing the faith of some. And so in this section, what he's doing, he's saying, look, be diligent and study, accurately communicate God's word as your number three priority. Abide in Christ, make disciples, and then make sure, Timothy, you accurately communicate God's word in a world where there's such false teaching and such chatter.
So many secondary things, so many arguments. In verses 15, 18, and 24, I get the idea, dig deep into God's word, humbly teach the truth boldly. Verse 15, 18, and 24, he used this of the doctrine, the truth. Second, refuse to get sucked in to pointless debates. Picking it up at verse 14, he says, notice, solemnly exhort them not to dispute about words.
Sixteen, avoid worldly and empty chatter. Nineteen, nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal. The Lord knows those who are his and everyone who names the name of the Lord will turn away from wickedness.
He's really telling him, make sure you stay focused on the things that are important on God's word and God's truth. And by way of application, I just think the secondary things that we're facing, I think you should do your research and have convictions about masks and freedom and vaccines and politics, and then you should wisely vote and participate and be a Christian citizen. But I don't think any of that can become above our first priority of being followers of Jesus and disciples of Jesus and recognizing the people that disagree with us about any of those areas, inside or outside the church, are somehow the enemy.
We've taken secondary causes and I think the enemy is laughing as we actually attack one another. Jesus prayed for our unity, but Paul says once you're in the body of Christ, can I tell you that someone who is on the opposite side of whether you're politically, if they're a believer, you're one with them. Someone who's on the opposite side of vaccines from you, wherever you're at, you are one with them. Someone who has a commitment about opening the church, not opening the church, or wearing a mask, if they're a follower of Jesus, Ephesians 4, we are one body.
The command isn't to create unity, it's to maintain the unity. So it's we can agree to disagree, but how would you ever talk to or treat a brother or sister in Christ? With dignity, with respect, with gentleness, with a first listening to understand, the challenge in our world, over and over, the truth, the truth, the truth, the truth. This would be, if Paul was alive today, I think the empty chatter, the posting, the arguments about these secondary things, instead of, I've done my best research, guess what, I watched Fox, then I watched CNN, then I read this, then I read that, then I listened to this podcast, I listened to this podcast, then I heard people who Christians I agree with, Christians I disagree with, I did my own research, these are my convictions, and I can understand that other people could have different convictions.
My command is how I treat them is to love them, honor them, respect them, and tastefully and kindly disagree in conversation, not in condemnation. We gotta get back to there. And here's the thing, isn't it interesting? I guess there's nothing new.
They had the same problems there. Now there's this interesting line, at least it was new for me, in the midst of all of this, who's right, who's wrong, there's all this chaos, he says now, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, when they would build a building in the ancient world, they would put an inscription, and often it was, here's this big building in Claudius, Augustus, blah blah blah blah blah, right? It's like, he did it during this time. And he's using this metaphor, and he says there's two inscriptions, he says, one inscription, the Lord knows whose are his, and the second, everyone who names the name of the Lord is to keep away from wickedness. And so, then he moves to his next sort of picture, and what he wants to now talk about to Timothy is, Timothy, in the church, there's always gonna be chaos, there's always gonna be false teachers, there's always gonna be people that drift, there's always gonna be people that are faithful, and so now he's gonna take this picture, and he's gonna say, you know, in a normal home, you have certain vessels, you know, you have gold or silver or a chalice, and then there's things that are made out of wood or this or that, and basically he's gonna say, you know, there's certain things that are honorable, and certain things that are, you know, disposable, if you will, and then he, right in the middle of his metaphor, he shifts, and basically says, here's the deal, Timothy, what you need to do is in the midst of all the chatter and all the chaos and all the confusion and all the pressure and all the persecution, what you wanna be is a vessel of honor for God, and to be a vessel of honor, what you need to do is walk purely before him, and you wanna be the kind of person that God can use, that the master could really use for his eternal purposes, and then he's gonna go on and talk about the impact of that, not only for you, but for your hearers, so we pick it up, notice there's another therefore, therefore if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be an implement for honor, sanctified, useful to the master, prepared for every good work, and then I love this, I memorize this in the Living Bible as a young man when I so struggled with lust and just didn't feel like I could ever overcome it, now flee from youthful lust and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call upon the Lord from a pure heart, and he's just saying to him, you know what, there's internal temptations, but refuse foolish and ignorant speculation knowing that they produce quarrels, and then notice this admonition, boy I would like, maybe we should all post this today on our Facebook or whatever Instagram, the Lord's bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to people that agree with you, I'm not sure, I think I might have misread that one, skillful in teaching, skillful, skillful teachers don't beat people over the head, skillful people don't shove stuff in front of their adult children that say they don't really walk with God anymore and you ought, you should, you ought, you should, why don't you, this is going to happen to you, they don't argue with him over politics at Thanksgiving, doesn't mean they agree with him, doesn't mean they condone their behavior, notice skillful in teaching, patient when wronged, it's an interesting word study on that word, it kind of has the idea of something that has a long fuse, something that takes a long time to get to the point where you blow up or you react, anybody here been wronged by someone that you really love?
By the way, no one can hurt you like your kids, they're your source of greatest joy and greatest heartache, because they got your heart, patient when wronged, the Lord's bond servant must not be quarrelsome but kind, not neutral, kind to everyone, Chip you mean I'm supposed to be kind too and you fill in the political figure or the person who represents what makes you most angry, supposed to be kind to him, yeah that's how the world got turned upside down, you mean I'm supposed to love my enemies, I'm supposed to pray for those who persecute me, those people that are trying to ruin our country, take away what I hold near and dear, see one of the things Christians in America are going to have to ask is do you care more about America or the kingdom of God, do you care more about God's agenda or what you feel like we're losing, no don't get me wrong, it's a free country, we should be great Christian citizens but I think we've earned wise to bring Jesus into the fight, he doesn't take sides, his agenda is way bigger than the future of America, Christians have become a voting block instead of a transformational people taking the gospel and living out the kingdom of God to transform a nation from the inside out, half of the population completely disagrees with your values, is the agenda to win a political war or to win their souls and is the agenda to act in such a way that they would scratch their head and say I totally disagree with you but your kindness and your love and the impact in the community and what you're doing for the poor and how you're helping other people and the difference that you're making, well guess what, they ask about the hope within us, they're not the enemy, they're blinded by the enemy, God loves them, our credibility wasn't because we preach the gospel, we're right and you're wrong and it was that we begin to do the things that Jesus did without compromising the truth to which they would say so this is Christianity, guess what, there are no them, there's just people, you sit down and talk to someone, tell me, what was your family like, tell me a little bit about some of the struggles you've gone through, have you had that conversation, these are people, hurting people, people that don't know Jesus, people that long for hope and they deal with all but you know what, doesn't Jesus love liars and adulterers and stealers and fornicators and alcoholics and drug addicts and I was trying to describe this room and I think that's what he's saying to Timothy and what he's saying to us and he says you have to have a minister's servant's heart. Kipp will be right back with his application for this message, Be Strong, Don't Be Distracted from his series, Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker, a study of 2 Timothy. With all of the hatred and misconceptions pointed at Christianity nowadays, it's really difficult to be a genuine follower of Jesus. In this new study, Kipp's going to encourage us that now more than ever, we can't just settle for saying we're a Christian, we have to live like one too. Kipp will help us put that into practice as he highlights four compelling challenges from the Apostle Paul's final letter to Timothy. Join us as we learn how to live more God-honoring lives and better disciple others along the way. To get more plugged in with this series, Becoming an Effective Disciple Maker, visit Living on the Edge dot org. That's Living on the Edge dot o-r-g. Well Kipp's joined me in studio now and Kipp, there may be some people out there who only think of us as a broadcast ministry, but we've actually devoted a lot of time and resources to supporting pastors all over the world. So take a minute, if you would, and share how we got started helping these church leaders because while these programs are vital, there's a lot more that we do.
Well, Dave, that's right. In the wake of the pandemic, pastors were weary, they were discouraged, and they had unprecedented challenges. And so we created a resource called the Art of Survival. It's a teaching out of James chapter 1 about persevering. During the pandemic, we began to reach out every month for 18 months to pastors and we ended up with over 10,000 pastors in 60 countries partnering with us.
Then we saw that we needed to go on the ground. So we've been on the ground in India, Africa, Mexico, and we've now trained 60,000 pastors in the Art of Survival in their country in one-day live seminars. And I think the beauty of it was watching them come together and pray, cry, support one another, and the testimony was, now we're not going to quit the ministry. And what we've seen now is we have requests from all around the world.
Here's my request. Would you partner with us to help pastors, under-resourced pastors, in very challenging situations to have hope and to get help through the Art of Survival? Just go to Living on the Edge, all one word, livingontheedge.org, and right now, every gift given before December 31 will allow us to channel a significant portion of the resources of Living on the Edge to help pastors here and around the world.
Thanks so much for praying and then doing whatever the Lord chose you to do. So encouraging to hear, Chip. Well, as you consider how you'd like to partner with us, I want to share that in 2023, we hope to reach 170,000 more pastors with this helpful resource, and your support will help make that happen. To give a gift, go to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003. And as Chip mentioned, every dollar we receive between now and December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar. So go now to livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003.
App listeners, tap donate. Well, with that, here again is Chip to share a few final thoughts to wrap up this message. Thanks, Dave. As we close today's program, I would like you to do something.
It'll take you about 60 to 90 seconds, but it'll be very important. I want you to remember. I want you to remember when you first received Christ. I want you to remember the most specific answer to prayer you ever had. I want you to remember what it felt like to be forgiven. I want you to remember the power of God that you've seen in a circumstance in your life. You see, the way to not be distracted is to remember who Jesus is, what really matters in life. Can I get you, I mean right now, to find 60 to 90, maybe even two minutes, and sit quietly and just say to the Holy Spirit, help me remember the biggest moments I've ever had with you and the Son and the Father, and then focus on what really matters most. Thanks, Chip. Well, before we go, I want to remind you that the Chip Ingram app is an easy way to share messages or complete series with others. So whenever you're encouraged by what you hear, I hope you'll pass it along to a friend or loved one who'd benefit from hearing it, and be sure to tell them how it made a difference in your life. Well, from all of us here, this is Dave Dries saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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