By Pat Russell
October 4, 2020
Sermon from Pastor Bruce Spear
Scripture for the Day: 1 Timothy 3:1-5 and 10-12
You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. 2 For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them!
10 Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions, and my suffering the things that happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. What persecutions I endured! Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
As I listened to this sermon, this was my first reaction: “Oh, this is so true of our world today, especially the political climate out there. Whether a person is right, left, or in the middle, surely they can see how bad things are!” Yea, first reaction. Then God began a deeper work in me….
“How about YOU, Pat? Are any of these descriptions true of what has been deep in your heart in these months?” he asked with a gentle voice.
I began to think about the “weeds” in my life that are growing along with the “wheat.” We all have them if we are honest. We all have had them sprout up and grow like healthy plants as we water them with our thoughts and feelings. The weed seeds may have been planted long before the corona virus hit us. It is time for us to do some gardening of our souls.
As we enter into this time of transition in our faith community, we must prepare ourselves for a new work of God in our church by examining our particular soul – our will, our thoughts, and our intentions. We must come before God in confession and seek His forgiveness. He is waiting and ready to begin something new in these upcoming days. He will do HIS part. Will we do ours?
With those words in mind, take time to pray and meditate on the four words Pastor Bruce gave us yesterday. He gave us a deeper understanding of only 4 of the 18 weeds that Paul lists! Let’s start with these 4 and ask ourselves if ANY of the seeds of these weeds are growing in our lives. You may want to ask this self-examination question adapted from Larry Warner’s book Journey with Jesus:
How has the destructive nature of that particular sin impacted your life? (choices you made, interactions with others and so on)?
Pastor Bruce’s words:
After beginning by describing these people as being in love with themselves and in love with money, he uses the word translated “boaster.” The original meaning of this word is “a charlatan, an imposter.” “All hat and no cattle,” as they used to say.
Another word that Paul uses is “arrogant,” an elevated sense of one’s own value and importance. This is part of being in love with yourself as Paul says. William Barclay says, “People like this nourish an all-consuming, all-pervasive pride; and in their hearts there is a little altar where they bow down before their own images of self.”
A third word that Paul uses is “blasphemer.” This word is usually used of a person who blasphemes God, but in this case, Paul is talking about people who blaspheme other human beings made in God’s image. That is why it is translated “abusive,” someone who is verbally abusive of others.
I’ll just take one more word although all 18 words are full of meaning and are worth studying. Paul says these people are incapable of appreciating the good things in life. The word is translated “haters of good” but it literally means “unable to love the good.” The Greeks held up “the good, the true and the beautiful.” There is much in life and in the world and in the people around us to appreciate because it sparkles with the goodness with which God has filled it.
Paul was able to say, “imitate my life.” May we, in all humility, be able to say in the days ahead, “Imitate Elizabeth Presbyterian Church when your community faces the challenges of these days.”
Romans 8:34; 2 Corinthians 5:17
Now hear the good news!
Who is in a position to condemn?
and Christ died for us,
Christ rose for us,
Christ reigns in power for us,
Christ prays for us.
Anyone who is in Christ
is a new creation.
The old life has gone;
a new life has begun.
Know that you are forgiven
and be at peace.