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Make Your Mark

04.26.15 Nathaniel Wall

  1. Motivated
    05.31.15 38m 53s
  2. Recovery
    05.24.15 48m 01s
  3. Real Christians in Real Opposition
    05.17.15 34m 38s
  4. Difference Makers
    05.10.15 36m 13s
  5. Leaving a Legacy
    05.03.15 40m 34s
  6. Make Your Mark
    04.26.15 37m 43s

Make Your Mark

04.26.15 Nathaniel Wall Outlasters Series

2nd Timothy 1 is where we are going to be today. We’re starting a new series together called Outlasters. The theme and central thought of “outlasters” gives this implication for us as people: there is something to outlast. And sometimes when you look at adversity I think as people we began that journey by asking ourselves, “Do we have what it takes? Can I do this? How does I can even outlast?” And when we talk about outlasting as a body of believers, knowing that God has called us to be outlasters, what we look to outlast is the influence of this world on our lives and standing. What we want to do is stand for Christ.

When we as believers are called to take a stand for Jesus, the truth is, it’s not always perfect. In fact many a times it’s messy, if not all the time. And Jesus even said to us as believers, he said he comes to put father against son, daughter against mother. There’s going to be tension by your stand for Christ, but God has called us to be outlasters. When I consider this thought of outlasting my heart immediately goes to the book of Second Timothy.

2nd Timothy is written as a portion of Biblical Scripture that referred to as the past world Epistles. First and Second Timothy, the book of Titus and sometimes Philemon is thrown in there. All four of these letters were written by the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul especially writes Second Timothy as a significant point in the ministry which he conducts in this world. If you read Acts 27, Acts 28 you’ll see at the conclusion of Paul’s missionary journey. He is taken into jail, he’s on a boat on his way to Rome, he goes through a the shipwreck on the island of Malta, eventually he reaches Rome and in the book of Acts it leaves at that conclusion with Paul in prison in jail. What the Bible doesn’t record for us in the book of Acts as it abruptly ends there is that Paul eventually is released from jail, he goes on further missionary journeys. The fourth missionary journey, which we don’t have recorded in the book of Acts. Eventually Paul is arrested again under the leadership of Nero and this arrest, he’s thrown into the Roman prisons once again into a dungeon. This arrest will ultimately lead to the end of his life. And it’s from this dungeon Paul writes the book of Second Timothy and he ends this letter with this thought, “For I already being poured out like a drink offering, the time of my departure is near.” Paul knew under the persecution of Nero that he was about to lose his life. Not only did the apostle Paul lose his life during this time so did Peter. Within months of one another Paul has decapitation because of his faith in Christ, but before that takes place he writes the book of Second Timothy to specifically encouraged Timothy and what God has called him to in this world, knowing as believers we may face hardship that God has called us to live victoriously, to be outlasters. Knowing that this world will fight to make its mark on you that you as a following Jesus can stand victoriously making your mark on this world. Paul’s letter to Timothy is all about making your mark. Being an outlaster as God has called us.

In looking at the apostle Paul we see that he fought adversity, then in the adversely he fought he then encourages through Timothy encourages us that we too can fight adversity in standing for Christ. And the question I want to start with this morning as we engage this book is, how did Paul have such an effect on this world? How did he live as an outlaster? Maybe we could even summarize the life of the apostle Paul and say there is no one who has done more in shaping biblical Christianity and pronouncing what Christ has done the world then the apostle Paul. How did the apostle Paul have such an effect in the world and how might that as people encourage us in the effect that God has called us to have in this world by being outlasters for Him.

So Paul starts his book, or his letter. In II Timothy 1:20 he says this, “Paul an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus to Timothy my beloved son grace mercy and peace from God the father in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul begins the idea with a thought, this word isn’t expressed but the theme of this thought begins and ends throughout this book and that is one of faithfulness. The reason that Paul was an outlaster in this world is that Paul was faithful. When we talk about the word faithfulness sometimes we look at faithfulness and we see that God can use us to make an impact at one specific moment in time, but in addition to that through the life of the apostle Paul being poured out at the end. It encourages us this way, that we can also be faithful over a duration. God also uses us over time make an impact for Him. The apostle Paul is faithful throughout the pastoral book, first and second Timothy, Titus, Philemon. This word of faithfulness is used some 17 times within these books.

Paul was faithful. What was he faithful to? Well he tells us in this first verses, he is faithful to the giftedness and calling that God has given him, and he’s faithful to the gospel to which God has called him. Paul was faithful.

2 Timothy 1:1 it says, “Paul, an apostle of Christ by the will of God, he was faithful and according to the promise of the life in Christ Jesus.” Just by way of introduction for us as people in looking at the giftedness that Paul was given, the office that Paul was given in service to the Lord.

Maybe you’ve even asked the question and noticed within biblical Christianity, us the church, we don’t use this word Apostle today. Why is that? What does this office mean? As Paul fulfilled that duty, I just want to we give us a backdrop for a biblical understanding. You can go back and look at these verses and study it on your own, but what does it mean that Paul is an Apostle in this calling? I’ll just share with you this morning if you’re interested in knowing more, we put a blog post on the church website. Go there, look at our latest blog post and it gives an explanation of this, it’s on our Facebook page as well. And so there is further explanation there.

When it comes the idea of Apostle, last week I explained this to us. In John 15, Jesus said, “As the father sent me, so I am sending you.” The word that Jesus uses there is “apostolos.” The Greek word “apostolo”, which literally means apostle. What Jesus is saying he is called all of us, the word apostle literally means, “sent forth,” he has called all of us into this world to proclaim his good news. We are all in that way apostles, sometimes we support missionaries today, going forth and representing Jesus.

But when it comes the office of apostles there’s something a little more unique about it. They also were sent forth, but there’s an authority given to them. In Ephesians 4:11, when Paul writes about the giftedness within the church he says this, “He gave some as apostles,” talking about the Lord, “and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints.” But Ephesians 2 when Paul refers to the giftedness again of certain individuals he doesn’t list all of the gifts. Look what he says in Ephesians 2. “It’s built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets which Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.”

Why is it that Paul lists the gifts in Ephesians 4, but when it comes to Ephesians 2:20, he eliminates some of those. Let me give you a little bit of a backdrop explanation. When you go to build a building, how may times do you lay a foundation? Hopefully once. If not, your house is messed up. Just one time is what you want to do. When it comes to Ephesians 4, Paul is listing out the gifts, because those gifts are being exercised at the time, but when it comes Ephesians 2, he explains some of those offices or gifts that are given and he says that their intentions are to lay the foundation. In Jude 3, it says that the truth of God’s been delivered once and for all time. Meaning, the emphasis here is that foundation for us as believers has been laid.

For further clarifications, if you looked at 1 Corinthians 15:7-9, it says this, Paul’s writings, he says, “Then he appeared to James,” talking about Jesus, “and then to all the apostles and last of all to one untimely born, he appeared to me also, from the lease of the apostles.” In this passage Paul refers himself not only as the least Apostle but the last Apostle. When Paul is referring to himself as a last Apostle, it’s important to recognize when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15, he’s writing this some 20 years past the time of Jesus. And in that 20 years Paul is still referring to himself as the last Apostle. In fact when you read early church history you see that after the Apostles are gone they never called anyone else into the office of Apostle, because they understood as Ephesians 2:20 says, it’s a foundational office. In fact the Apostle Paul, when he traveled around on these four missionary journeys, when he establishes churches, you never see the Apostle Paul going into a church saying this church needs certain authority figures to operate from, let’s appoint Apostles. In fact what the Apostle Paul says to the early church, when he writes the book of 1 Timothy and Titus, he says, “Appoint elders.” The elders were intended to be the one helps guide the church. We used that word interchangeably today. We sometimes refer to that as Pastor. In 1 Peter 5:1-2 you’ll see the word shepherding used for elder, which is the word for Pastor. In Titus 1, this is what they say, “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders, not apostle, but elders. In Acts 14 you see it again and on and on though Scripture.

I could give references to this, but they appointed elders to lead, never officially putting someone into the office of apostle and here’s the reason why. The qualifications of Apostle are listed within Scripture. In Acts 1, when Judas took his life, the Gospels record at the very beginning, in Acts 1, when the church is establishing itself, that they appoint one other person to take his position for the 12 Apostles. During this time it’s a fulfillment of prophecy that one would have to replace Judas. There is no prophetic statement that it needed to go beyond that, but they laid out the qualifications for what it required to be an apostle. This is what they said, “Therefore, it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” So there is a “must” for the apostles to have seen the resurrection of Christ. In fact, Paul in his ministry, repetitiously had to defend his position of being an Apostle, because he said as we just read an 1 Corinthians 15:8, “And last of all appeared to me is one born untimely. So Paul saying he’s recognizing he wasn’t called during that typical period when the apostles were called, but that he’s still an apostle.

In says in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul even says, “It’s because I’ve seen the resurrected Christ. He is defending his position as an Apostle. In 1 Corinthians 15:8-9 it says this, “He appeared to me also.” Paul again defending the position of being an Apostle by seeing the resurrected Christ. The qualifications, one of which included seeing the resurrected Jesus.

When you watched the life of the Apostles, the ones in this office, this is what typically happens in their lives. It says in 1 Corinthians 12:12, Paul said, “I persevered and demonstrating among you, the marks of a true apostle including signs, wonders and miracles. In Matthew 10, when Jesus first chose the 12 Apostles, it says this, “Now the names of the 12 Apostles are these, and as you go,” he goes on further, he names the 12, in verse 7, he goes on further, “and as you go, preach, saying the kingdom of heaven is at hand, healed the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” Jesus is giving the authority to these apostles to have specific powers and unique signs. In fact, when the apostles continue on Acts it tells us that even Peter shadow is healing people. Outside of the temple when Peter goes, Peter and John, they tell a man, “Silver and gold, have I none, but stand up and walk.”

During the time that these apostles are living there was no such thing as hospitals. In fact, it was believed during the time of the Apostles that if someone had some sort of sickness that required a hospital visit, as we would say today, during their time they would say that person has been cursed from God. So they would push them aside, not care for their needs, sometimes even cast them out into the street, because the people believe, “If I cared for them, whatever God is doing to them, they are also going to do to me.” So people were treated poorly that had any sort of condition or health problem that they faced. It wasn’t until the Christian church saw the value in any human being, regardless, that Christian churches started hospitals.

So when you wanted to see an apostle healing someone or some of that taking place, what you’ll find in scripture is that it often took place close to the Temple. Because the people and their understanding of God and believing that God would do this to you. They would then go to the Temple to pay penance. The apostles, a lot of times, when you would see them healing would be on the way to the Temple, or at the Temple. But I would say for us today, if we’re to compare it in context, if an office like this existed than what we should see is this individual going to the hospitals and taking care of the physical needs of people.

I make all of these comments and just want to conclude with this thought, 1 Corinthians 4, what the life the apostle was. Remember, the definition of Apostles is, “one sent forth”. And even though there’s the office of Apostle, the Apostles in office were still the ones sent forth. Meaning, when you see the life of an Apostle, it should be one going out into the parts of the world where they don’t know Jesus, proclaiming Jesus so people can come to know Jesus. When Paul is writing 1 Corinthians 4, he’s recognizing that there are people who are calling themselves Apostles that aren’t. I don’t know why in the world you would want to do that, because this is what the life of an apostle looks like in 1 Corinthians 4, “I think God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death. We are fools for Christ sake, we are weak but you are strong, you are distinguished but we are without honor, we are both hungry and thirsty and are poorly clothed in roughly treated and are homeless. And we toil working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless, we are persecuted, we endure, we are slandered we try to conciliate, we have all become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now. This is a calling that few individuals had. When you study church history you’ll see it cost their lives. All except the apostle John, who died at an old age, but the Apostle John was thrown into a boiling vat to try kill him at one time and exiled to the island of Patmos at another time, because faith in Christ.

Now, why do I make all these comments? One, just so you can have a biblical understanding of what Scripture shares with Apostolic authority. If you want to know more, you can get on our church website and read about that. But two, is to say this: As people, sometimes I feel like we give ourselves certain positions in order to make my standing look like a mediation between you and your relationship with God. And what I want encourage you with this morning, is 1 Peter 2:9, that we’ve looked at together. It says that we are all royal priests. Meaning you belong to the king and you have access to Him. God’s word has been given to you and you don’t need mediation over you trying to dictate what you need to do and not do according to what we we’ve shared in Scripture. But your relationship with Jesus is special. Because Jesus gave his life for that. Jesus wants you to know Him. It’s good as a body of believers to gather around with one another and encourage each other. To examine truth together, to search the Scriptures together. Jesus wants you to make your walk with Him personal. He went you to make it intimate. He wants you to realize that He paid it all for you, that you might come to Him to know Him and to enjoy Him forever.

Paul in 1 Timothy 1, that’s what he’s saying. Yes, he had the office of the Apostle, but really what he is saying is he was faithful to what God gifted him in. He was just faithful of live his life according to the way that God had blessed. God has made all of you unique and special, and gifted you in ways that he hasn’t gifted me. Because God has called you to represent Him in this world and to use the gifts that he has giving you to do that. Matter of fact, that’s why we call it a gift. It’s intended to be given away. In 1 Peter 4:10 it says this, “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” What God is doing in your life is special, it’s important, it’s a time for you to get with God to learn more about Him, let grow you through His word is as you walk with Him.

Then he says to us this, that is according the will of God that he lives out calling that God give him, or the giftedness that God has given him, “According to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, to Timothy my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God.” Pulsating the gospel is his hope. The reason at the end he’s outlasted is because he has hope. This world is temporary and he’s put his hope into what is eternal. He knows that this life isn’t worth grabbing ahold of, but the life that is to come in Christ, that is worth living your life for, because what you do for Christ matters for all of eternity.

Maybe even say to us as people, don’t make church about irrelevant garbage. Just come here and want to draw near Jesus, Get with other believers and encourage them to Jesus. Sometimes I’ve joked in the past, that the minute we start arguing about the carpet, thank God we don’t have it, or maybe we do need it. If that becomes an issue for us, we’re just going to paint pink. It makes no difference. Because it’s about Jesus. Paul saying the reason he outlasts is because he understands God gave me this giftedness and he just wants to share that, and God has given me this hope. He marks this hope by grace, mercy, and peace, which is a mark of God’s kingdom. We’ll talk about mercy more in a minute, but Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, and Jesus came for more than just my salvation and your salvation. He came for the redemption of the whole world in Him as king.

When the king rules, there is peace. And the reason we can go into that kingdom is because of His grace, showed to us in Christ, as He’s given His life for us. Paul is saying that resurrection, that is my hope, this is my joy, this is my Lord, I’m making life about that. Outlasters are faithful.

What make Paul so effective is that the Paul understood outlasters, outlive. You can’t be an outlaster without outliving. Not physically, as he is about to lose his life, but what Paul stood for outlasted Paul himself. What I mean by that passage is what Paul says in the very second verse, he says, “To Timothy, my beloved son.” Timothy is not Paul’s physical son, but he is his spiritual son. Paul’s investing in the life of Timothy, in fact, Paul even says at the end of the book, “Make every effort to come see me soon.” Listen Timothy, my life is coming to an end and I still have something to pour into you, to share with you, to see you grow in God, to invest in you, to use my gift’s as God’s has call me. Paul wanted to be around Timothy. Paul live a life he wanted Timothy to display. In fact, Paul made a point to do this with believers that he interact with, and when Paul traveled on his missionary journey, he always did so with companions, that he could encourage them with his gifts as they encourage him.

When God talks to us as a body of believers at the end of Matthew 28, Jesus gives his last proclamation before He ascends into heaven, and he says, “Go into the world and make disciples.” Replicate followers of Jesus. I think that’s why church exist. The church exists to make disciples – followers of Jesus. In my life I’ve wrestled with, how do we do that effectively? What does that look like in the day-to-day of life? I don’t want to undermine this thought, but i just want to say this for us as believers, is that that sometimes within our American Christianity, I think we do that academically, but not always connecting to the heart and the life. Meaning, we were really good at creating lots and lots of Bible studies, but sometimes it’s just important to just get with other believers and encourage them. To use your gifts. I don’t want undermine the study of God’s word, I think it’s important. But not allow just be some intellectual exercise. Allow it to be experienced in your heart and lived in your live.

Paul says in 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.” Paul’s living a lifestyle that you can emulate. In 2 Timothy 2, he says this to Timothy, “The things which you have heard for me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful man.” “Timothy, exercised what I’ve been giving you.” Truth is, as Paul’s pouring into Timothy, Timothy struggled. Walking as an outlaster and looking at the apostle Paul and emulating a life in Jesus isn’t always easy. Timothy struggled, in fact, when Paul wrote 1 Timothy 1 after he begins his introduction, “Hi Timothy, Grace, mercy, and peace,” let me just share this, in verse three, he says, “Stay on at Ephesus.” Timothy was the pastor, one of the elders in the church of of Ephesus.

Ephesus was a difficult place to do ministry. In fact, if it wasn’t, Paul wouldn’t have to say, “Timothy, stay on at Ephesus!” When you study the history of the city of Ephesus, by the first century the city of Ephesus is the second largest city in the Roman Empire. The goddess that the city of Ephesus worships is the goddess of Diana, who is the goddess of sexuality. When you walked through the streets there are billboards all over the ground marking the locations you need to go to find prostitutes. No only that, but when you read about the life of Timothy you see throughout Paul’s letters to Timothy, that Timothy is constantly encouraged to stand against the false doctrine that’s taught within the church. People are coming in from the outside teaching truth contrary, and not only does Paul tell Timothy to stay in Ephesus, at the end of Timothy he tells Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach. Now, I don’t know what’s going on in the life – whether he’s a little backed up, or he’s got some sort of ulcer going on, but whatever it is, he’e stressed out or somethings happening that Paul is just encouraging in his life.

In 1 Timothy 4:12 it says, “Don’t let people despise your youth, Timothy.” And to top it all off, the church is now going to the persecution of Nero. People that Timothy loved are losing their lives. People that he fought in battle with, spiritually speaking. People he loves. Paul says to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4, “You keep your head in all situations, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” Paul’s affirming to Timothy and encouraging Timothy at the same time. I think that’s what makes the community of Christ so important. When things are hard, we can acknowledge things are hard. Paul could have said to Timothy, “Listen, in these hardships.” He said, “Yeah, Timothy listen, Nero is about to kill me, and yes, people are mad at you for loving Jesus, and yes, you are stressed out and maybe you even feel like quitting, but don’t worry God has this. You are fighting these battles with Jesus! Keep your eyes on Jesus. He has already won the war.

The body of Christ does this well for one another. One of the reasons I think that we’re so gifted at it, or that we are gifted to do it, I should say. Maybe not always perfectly. It’s because we get the same struggles. In fact, the Apostle Paul, I think, one of the reasons that he could relate in encouraging Timothy so well, is that the Apostle Paul endured hardships and struggles himself. In Romans 7:24, he says this, “Oh wretched man that I am.” Even he had weaknesses. In 2 Timothy 1:2, he says, “Grace, mercy, and peace.” This thought of of mercy, I think, is an explanation for Paul of what he needs from the Lord as he serves in his position.

You think about the Apostle Paul’s life before knowing Jesus. He was one who persecuted and killed the church. He took the lives of people. Not only did he need God’s grace, but he needed God’s mercy. He needed God’s peace. Paul could relate to Timothy in his weakness, because Paul himself had weakness. When God calls you in this world be a light for him, it’s not always going to be perfect. To be honest, God uses your imperfections. God uses your weaknesses. When God put you in a situation to stand for him, the encouragement through Timothy to you this morning would be this: don’t think there’s someone better. Let God use you. In fact, Paul encouraged this throughout Scripture. He says, “Look at your weakness as a place for God to shine through with his strength.”

In 1 Corinthians 1:27, Paul said this, “Instead, God chose things that the world considered foolish in order to shame those things that we think are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 12:9, “Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” God uses it. You can look at your weaknesses as a place for God to grow you in your position with Him. In Romans 5, it says this, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that our sufferings produces endurance, endurance produces character, character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

In Philippians 4, Paul says, “I know how to be brought low and I know how to abound in any and every circumstance. I have learned the secret of facing plenty, of hunger, abundance and need, I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Guy is not using his strength, he’s using his weakness for His glory. Paul’s connecting with Timothy not because he thinks he’s this giant, but because he understands what Timothy’s gone through, because Paul himself has gone through it. God can use it. God can use all of us. Because He’s created us uniquely special in Him.

Paul writes Romans 8, and I believe this verse encourages us because weakness causes us to look for a greater hope. We get our eyes off the temporary and Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy comparing with the glory that is to be revealed.” Paul relates to Timothy because of his weakness. But you know, the Bible records a similar like-minded verse in relationship to us and Jesus. It says in Hebrews 4:15, what makes Jesus just so ready to receive us in our relationship with Him, and us being able to connect with him, it says, “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need.

Jesus cares. Especially in your weakness to use you for his glory. That you may connect with Him. Outlasters outlive because they invest in others. Sometimes within our biblical Christianity, in American culture, we like to think that faith is a personal thing and that’s just not biblical. Because if you are created in Christ, and you are created for His purpose, then whatever purpose He created you for is to be lived out through Him. It’s all because of Him that you live life. And understanding Him gives you the opportunity to live the way He has called you to live in this world. The way that he has gifted you to live in this world. So faith, no matter how much we want to try and convince ourselves it’s personal, you live for something that is in authority over you. And whatever that authority you are allowing over you, that something you’re expressing your faith in.

God has called us as people to express that faith in Him, to live it out in our lives, in community. Got has called us for community. When He says, “Love God and love others upon your heart, soul, mind and strength.” God created you for community and a faith that is to be lived up and invested in others. Outlasters outlive because they invest in lives of others. Outlasters outlive because they use their time effectively. Paul says in Ephesians 15, “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not was unwise but as wise, making the most of your time because the days are evil.

Now I want to tell you, I dubbed this verse in Scripture the “Kramer versus”, and this is why: because when I first read it as a believer it used to stress me out. That was because when I read this verse I assumed what it meant was: you have to make a really charted out to do list of everything you need to do and figure out how to make Jesus involved in everything that you do, which you do want to do all things to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that. But there are two words–this is what helped me out and not going Kramer on people.I call it the Kramer verse because if you ever watched Seinfeld, you know how Kramer always comes into Jerry’s house. His hair is all popped up and he’s shaking like crazy. Stressful, it’s very stressful.

What this verse is saying for us and helps us in our understanding, so you don’t all go Kramer on me to this morning, is there is two words for time in the Greek text. One is the “condos”, the actual time that you live by. You check your watch everyday, especially if you live under a busy time constraint. You want to know every minute of time. Then there’s the duration of time. What Paul saying is, consider your life in the duration of time and the places that God has called you to influence. You think as a parent, you stress and you want to be an influence for your children. But you can’t always be over your kids shoulders saying, “Jesus”, every three seconds in their ear, that going to drive everybody crazy, including yourself, and probably Jesus.

What God wants you to do is to think about the duration of time. What God desires to produce in you, as He uses you through that time. What He wants to produce in your children as God use you over time, where He wants to let His light shine in your work. Just over the duration of time, how God might use that and here’s why that’s important. It’s because over seasons of time, everything changes. Your life, my life, our work, our family, your kids. They’re different. One year like something, the next day like something different. They’re different and you got to figure how to invest in the way that Jesus has called you. Over the duration of time–this is not dealing with quality but is dealing with quantity. Think about the position that God has put you in and the influence that you can have in their lives.

As a dad this week I was reminded of that with my son. My oldest son has a very tender heart, he loves people and empathizes with people. We’ll take our youngest kid to the doctor and he’ll get a shot and my oldest son will be the one crying. He really cares what people go through. As a dad, I constantly wrestle with the kids and try to toughen them up. I love that he has tender heart, but as a dad I still wrestle with him. My theme verse for my kids is Micah 6:8, “He has shown thy, oh man, what is good, what the Lord requires of thee, to do justice, to love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” I want my kids to do that. Be just, be merciful and walk with God. So we’re work on our justice some times. Help the innocent, get rid of the bad guy. But if my oldest son didn’t quite catch it as well, my youngest son caught it to well. The funny part is when he delivers this justice, it can be on anyone, so it’s not really justice. And sometimes he times it. He’ll say, “punch” before he punches you, so be on the look out. If my youngest boy says, “punch”, he’s going to punch you because he’s only one. This week in the kitchen he was standing behind his older brother and he comes up and says, “punch”, and then delivers the blow right into his brothers back. I wish I could say that was the only time he’s ever done that, but it’s not. I look at him and say, “son, do not hit your brother.” He looks back at me and he takes his finger and stars back and me and he just goes … As a dad, I turn my head immediately and try not to laugh out loud.

On the outside I’m really thankful too, because here’s why. This is a place as a father, where I know I can redeem the time. My son doesn’t understand what rebellion is and it’s amazing at one year old your heart can still be rebellious. But it’s an opportunity for me to speak to his heart about the love of Christ. Through that relationship that God has given me and the gifts that God has give me in him. I can share that with others. Don’t underestimate where God has put you in this world. Don’t underestimate what Christ has done for you, that you can be a light for Him. It’s messy. In fact, if it’s not messy I would warn us this way, are you really walking with Jesus? Because Jesus himself said, there’s going to be war. Not physically, but spiritually, there are spiritual battles that take place. It might lead to something frustrating. But don’t underestimate what God wants to do in you and through you.

Let me close with this verse. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, it says this, “My dear brothers and sisters. Be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”