Every week I publish my sermon notes so that you may read them for yourselves. For my parishioners, this could be a good review from the weekend before. And it gives you a chance to see what I intended to say! For other pastors and ministers, feel free to borrow and use any of this material. I'd love for God to be glorified by you incorporating these notes into your own worship.
Introduction: We are in the My Story sermon series, learning how to tell our life story in the best way possible. What is the story we want to tell with our lives? What will be our legacy? What story do we want others to remember about us?
Our strategy of giving invites to people for Easter highlights what we most think about when it comes to sharing our faith. Some call it evangelization. Sharing the gospel, the good news.
But there is so much more to reproducing our faith in others. Yes, they must hear the good news. And yes, each person needs to make that personal choice to follow Christ. Too many Christians think that marks the end of their journey. The truth is just the opposite. That is only the beginning.
The Bible is filled with the stories of men and women who left “sequels” of themselves behind. From the beginning it was God’s strategy that we share our faith with others - from beginning to end. God’s people were to be talking about their relationship God, thinking about it day and night, and sharing their common experiences of their God walk. We should do the same. We learn all about this from one mentor to his protege, the Apostle Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:3-7.
The starting point to reproduce my faith is to ___REMEMBER___.
v. 3: “I remember you constantly...”
v. 4: “As I remember your tears...”
v. 5 “I am reminded of...”
v. 6 “I remind you to ...”
Nothing we talk about today will be brand new to most of you. The key lesson we see written 4 different times in as many verses. It’s not just learning to do this... it’s also remembering to do this. Paul, the greatest evangelist-missionary who ever lived had to remember! So do you and I!
To Reproduce My Faith I Remember These 5 Actions:
#1. I remember to ___PRAY___.
"I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day." 2 Tim. 1:3
The great connection between remembering and reproducing my faith in others starts with prayer! Let me put it another way. Remember to pray and you’ll remember to share your faith. We all are busy with life’s challenges. Our busyness crowds out the vital importance of sharing our faith with other people - both those already convinced and the “yet to believe.” Praying is solution. Praying is stopping the hectic pace of life, slowing down long enough to connect with the Eternal Father and to hear His voice deep within us. When we do this our life is so greatly enriched. No one would want to deny the same privilege to those whom we love. So in those moments we remember to pray, we are also reminded to connect with others...
#2. I remember to ___CONNECT___.
"As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy." 2 Timothy 1:4 ESV
There is an emotional connection to reproducing our faith in other people. We are often guilty of reducing this to a formula. Do steps A, B, and C. Ask this question. Quote this Bible verse. Sharing and growing our faith in other people is an emotional experience as much as it is an intellectual one. It starts with love and compassion for another person. You love them. You want the best for them. You remember what it was like to try to make it through the tough times of life without knowing that God was on your side.
Sharing your faith with others is not just the negative emotion of remembering tears... See also that it is filled with joy! Both emotions interact together when on the faith sharing journey. This past week I had the privilege of sharing the joy with many of you. Diana reminded me she is coming up on her 2 year Christian birthday. Randy reminded me how much the Lent reading schedule has meant to him. My own brother Todd - who has been a mentor to me in much of my life - has written me to tell me how much the podcasts have been helping him lately. How does one put a price to these? They are joy-filled connections with people.
The old axiom that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care is really true. We remember this when we pray, when we connect, and THEN ...
#3. I remember to ___PASS IT ON___.
"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well." 2 Timothy 1:5 ESV
I love this Scripture. It reminds me of several things. First - often the sharing of faith from one person to another is family oriented. This is not just because faith and family go together... it’s because family means closeness - of relationship, of living together, of really seeing one’s life up close and personal. There’s 2 words in v. 5:
sincere - ἀνυπόκριτος anupókritos; it means without hypocrisy. genuine. Not putting on a show. No acting. Sincere! You can put on a “faith show” for everyone else, but when you are living close to someone, you get to see the real deal. Is it a sincere faith or not? A sincere faith is one worth passing on! One worth receiving!
dwelt - means to dwell in, to live. This faith has a life of its own. It dwelt in Lois, then in Eunice and now in Timothy. That’s they way it is for something that is alive. It reproduces itself from one generation to the next. But how does faith pass from one to the next? It’s not automatic! Moses put it this way...
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7 ESV
When your faith is sincere and your love and compassion for someone else is just as genuine, it’s only natural that your conversation, your life style, everything about what you do from morning to evening will have some connection to your faith, and to passing it on. It’s not something unnatural. It’s not hard to get into the topic. It’s just the opposite. Our faith is the center of our life and so we find creative ways to share it with one another all the time! (This is why last week’s teaching about all things being sacred is so important - everything has a link to our God and to our faith!)
All that we have talked about until now is the preliminary necessity to bringing genuine faith alive in someone else...
#4. I remember to ___IGNITE___.
"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." 2 Timothy 1:6 ESV
Illustration of how #1-#3 relate to #4 - Tell the story of when I was left with the camp fire in the Boundary Waters and let the fire go out. I had everything I needed except for remembering. And so I didn’t connect or pass it on. Guess I should have prayed! LOL!
To start a God fire we need:
- Oxygen: ___God’s Spirit___, like the abundance of the air around us, we need not worry about there being enough of God’s Spirit. But we can suffocate ourselves if we don’t work in God’s power, not our own. More on that in a minute.(#5)
- Fuel: ___God’s gifting (for them, not me)___, This one is a little more challenging. If we don’t read it right we might think in terms of the gift of God being my own gift, the way God has gifted me. But here it is specifically talking about Timothy and the gift of God he has received from God. We want to fan into flame, make alive, what God is doing in someone else’s life! It may not be the same as my own!
- Spark: ___my encouragement___. The laying on of hands. In other words, encouragement. Literally a physical affirmation of I believe in you and I believe in God and I believe in you doing great things with God’s power. I am igniting you and God in you!
Question: who is there in your life that needs a spark? God’ Spirit is there in abundance. Your faith is there in abundance. God’s gifting for you and for others is there in abundance. What’s missing? The spark! You may be the match that could light up another person! And not only them, but everyone they in turn will light up!!! And like me and the campfire, this is something you don’t just do once. Otherwise it will die out. You must remember to keep fanning the flames.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, the passing on of our faith from one person to the next is not something ever done on our own, apart from God...
#5. I remember to ___PARTNER WITH GOD___.
"For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 ESV
God is more desirous than any of us that others might know Him and have a relationship with Him. That God even uses us in this way - to share our faith from one person to the next - is a miracle by itself. For God as omniscient and omnipotent (all knowing and all powerful) could certainly make this happen without us. It is our great privilege to partner with God to share our faith with others, to allow our story of faith in God to become other people’s story too!
We come full circle here. How do we have a spirit of power and love and self-control and not one of fear? By our connection with God. There’s another word for that - prayer. In other words, as we pray we become more aware of others who need the same faith as we have. We remember! And because we pray and remember we connect, pass it on, and ignite. In the process of all that, we realize we cannot do it alone, that we are weak and need help, God’s help. So we go to God, we partner with God, Who in turn empowers us with His love and self-control. Which reminds us. So we connect and pass it on and ignite...
Conclusion: Passing on our faith to others is a living process. We can analyze it, diagram it, lecture about it, learn about it. There is however something very alive and beyond explanation in how it happens. Let’s celebrate it and practice it! Let’s pass it on! Leave a sequel of faith!