Saturday, December 8, 2007

1 TIMOTHY 4:12

In an article titled, "Spiritual renewal could start with teens, Ross says - by Ferrell Foster." the writer argues that there seems to be a growing trend that Christian teenagers aren’t settling for the status quo, but are wanting to be radical for Christ. The paper reports:

ARLINGTON - God used young people through the centuries to bring about
great revivals, and "something is up" with this new generation of youth,
according to Richard Ross.
Ross, professor of youth ministry at SWBTS in Fort Worth, spoke twice during Youth Ministry Conclave Nov. 5-7 in Arlington. Almost 1,000 people attended the event sponsored by the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

The professor encouraged youth ministers to go home and tell young people that their age group "has been at the center of God's purposes at so many times in history and he might, might be preparing to do that again."

It could be that God will use this new generation t launch revival again, Ross said. God "primarily has gone to young people to be a source of revival," Ross said. He
cited examples dating back to the Old Testament of how God worked through

The First Great Awakening in America started with the young people, Ross said. And the Second Great Awakening "centered on college campuses." Also, a "global awakening" in 1904 started when a 14-year-old girl gave a "simple testimony" to a "little rag-tag" group of youth in Wales, he added.

"It is possible you...are ministering to another revival generation," Ross told the
youth workers. He cited several "hints" of this:

  • Young people are worshiping more fervently than they did just a few years
    ago. "They know exactly what they're singing about," he said.
  • They’re also praying, Ross said, citing the ‘See You at the Pole’ effort
    that has spread around the world. As a result, many Christian students now see
    their campus as "my mission field."
  • The "purity movement" is making a lasting impact. The ‘True Love Waits’
    emphasis, which Ross pioneered, is not a "motivational gimmick," he said.
    Rather, teenagers are "taking a public stand for purity."

High school students "want to do something for God now," not 10-15 years in the future.

If there is one message that I bark constantly and drives me to work with youth is not games and whistles, but to see young people to be used by Christ, to be radical for Christ, and to change the world, just as God has always done with them. Acording to this article, there is a trend among young Christians to take on the world and not to fit the mold of what a teenager is supposed to be. I hope that this is true.

From our text today, we see that because God uses young people to fulfill His purposes and plans, we must do our best to use our gifts, talents, and young age, to fulfill those purposes. God is looking for sold out youth who are willing to start a movement by speaking when everyone is silent, by teaching when no one wants to learn, by listening when no one wants to hear, by proclaiming when no one knows the answer, by walking when everyone stands still, by searching for the lost when they don’t know they’re lost, and by being faithful when no one knows what faith is.

But how do we do that? How do I keep people from treating me like a kid, expect little out of me, etc.?

To answer these questions, please turn to 1 Timothy 4:12.

The first thing we see is that WE MUST BE PERSONS WHO SPEECH REFLECTS CHRIST. Oftentimes you can tell what a person believes and how their faith affects them by the words they use. Paul really begins at the heart issue here. People will judge your character & give you respect by how you talk and what you say. If you cut them off, talk proud, use inappropriate words, or whatever, people will despise your youth and write you off as another stereotypical youth that shouldn’t be listened to.

Why should people expect you to be a leader whenever you can’t tame your tongue?
Paul is telling Timothy that he must be "an example in speech." But what does that look like?
First, how do you address your parents? Are you always trying to prove them wrong, do the opposite of what they say, or yelling back at them, talking back to them, or outright disrespecting them? If you are, you have already begged them not to take you seriously! If you want more freedom, earn it! And it starts with your mouth.

Secondly, what language do you sue when you are away from the church or from your home? If you ever say something like, "I better not say that at church or in front of my parents," chances are, you shouldn’t be saying it at all! The standard by which is set here in the church should be mimicked out in the world.

Are you a different person when you are away from home or away from the church? Do you catch yourselves saying things at school or on the field that you wouldn’t say in front of your parent? If so, people will despise your youth.

Thirdly, what influences you? That is, what are you putting into your mind? What music, movies, friends are you surrounding yourself with? What topics do they discuss? People will associate you with the music you listen to, the movies you watch, and the friends you hang out with. Get over it! You may not like it or agree with it, but it is reality. Complaining about it won’t solve a problem.

If you want people to respect you and not despise your young age, you are going to have to start monitoring the things that influence you. And don’t think that that is just Mom and Dad’s responsibility.

The second way we can keep people from despising our youth is that WE MUST BE PERSON WHO CONDUCT OURSELVES WORTHY OF CHRIST. How do you conduct yourself? Paul not only tells Timothy that if you wants people to respect him despite his age, he not only is going to have to watch what he says, but also watch how he acts.

Here’s the kicker: why do you let the culture define who you are? The culture has defined the teenager as rebellious, loud, won’t listen to anyone, lazy, experimental (everything must be tried once), useless, and takes advice from no one, etc. Why have we let the culture do that to us? Especially as Christians?

If you want to be respected as a young person, then you have got to step up to the plate and deliver. This means that we are going to have to grow up and show that we can lead. But how can I do that?

Well, stop arguing with your parents & do what they tell you, & get over your foolish pride. Its not all about you. Take the initiative. Follow the rules, even if you don’t agree with them. Lead! If your in high school, be a mentor to the middle schoolers at your church. If you in middle school, mentor some of the children in your church. You have opportunities in your grasp now, if only you will take advantage of them. If you want respect, you will always have to earn it!
Conduct yourselves in a manor worthy of Christ.

Thirdly, WE MUST BE PERSONS OF INTEGRITY AND SHOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST. First, let’s look at integrity.

ILL Why do you join a sports team? To wear a uniform? To put your name on the roster? No! Rather, to get into the game and contribute to victory. It would be ludicrous to join a sports team without ever intending on playing. Why would you go to practice if you only want to sit on the bench?

How is life any different? As young people, we go through the motions, never expecting to make an impact. Shame on us. If you’re a Christian, stop sitting on the bench, and get into the game! Are you a person that can be trusted with a task? Do you have the integrity to give it your all and get it done? If you are a person that sits on the bench b/c you don’t want to play, you will never be put in the game!!!
If you want people to believe that you’re useful, put yourself in firing range. Step up to the plate and help. Help with VBS, help your youth pastor, be a leader in your youth group, help with the kids program, show up on time, bear some responsibility and get it done.

But Paul tells Timothy to be an example of love. What does that look like? Well, when you think of being a person of love, what do you think of? More than likely, you think of someone who is happy and hugs everyone. Someone who doesn’t have a care in the world, and everything is going swell. But let’s face it, such a person is a fraud that doesn’t live in reality. Things aren’t fine. Things aren’t well.

How can God expect you to love your father that walked out of your life? How can God expect you to love your boyfriend/girlfriend that cheated on you? How can God expect you to love your friend that doesn’t talk to you anymore? How can God expect you to be a person of love whenever your are broken and in pain?

Biblical love is sacrificial love, which means selflessness. We must always be serving others and never ourselves. Are you selfless, or is it all about you? Are you willing to give up everything for the sake of JC? If you want people to overlook your age, you must be willing to serve without being served, to give without receiving, and to work without pay. Are you a person of selfless love?

So what if they don’t like them, love them to the cross. Never argue with them, never despise them, never mistreat them, and never cast them out. Show consistent love with everyone no matter what. When people see your sacrificial love, you will get the respect you are looking for. And then, you can impact the culture the way you want.

Next, WE MUST BE PERSONS OF UNSHAKABLE FAITH IN CHRIST. Are you a person that overcomes obstacles, or is overwhelmed by hardships? Will you trust God when things get hard, or will you give in? Are you willing, no matter the situation, to remain faithful to JC.
Christian faith in our culture is hard to keep, but it has always been this way. No matter what obstacle you face, you must be able to overcome it holding firm to your faith in Christ. Struggles should lead us towards Christ, not farther away.

Whether it is your parents divorcing, a friend or family member dying, a failing grade, lack friends, boyfriend or girlfriend breaking up with your, or whatever, in every situation we should run towards Christ, not from Christ.

Finally, WE MUST BE PERSONS OF IMPECCABLE PURITY LIKE CHRIST. Paul uses the word aJgneia, which we translate as "purity." It was a word usually used in reverence to sexual purity. Therefore, if you want to keep from being despised because your young, and be used by God for His glory, we’ve got to deal with this issue.

Are you willing to be sexually, physically, and spiritually pure? If not, no one will ever overlook your age. If you don’t show that you can control yourself, you won’t overcome being despised.
So fellas, what websites are you visiting whenever no one else is around? Why are you dating whoever you are dating? How do you treat the opposite sex?

And ladies, how do you dress, and why? Are you so hungry for attention that you are willing to lower your standards just to have someone hold you?

In conclusion, let us summarize what we have seen. First notice the patter: don’t fit the stereotype of a teenager. That’s half of the solution. You must stick out and not fit the mold of a modern teenager. If your suppose to be rebellious, don’t be. If your suppose to talk a certain way, wear a certain style of clothes, listen or watch certain things, don’t. You must be that you can be respected. And when you do, people will slowly overlook your age.

Secondly, not being despised for being a youth isn’t about your smarts or good looks, but who you mimic. Are you going fit the mold the culture has molded? Or, are you going to mimic the Savior, JC?

Here is where the rubber meets the road. Some of you aren’t saved. In fact, you have no idea what I’m talking about. And I want to address you for a minute. If you have not become a Christian, you are without hope. If admit that you are a sinner in desperate need of a God to save you from your foolish self, then I offer you Christ. Christ came so that you can be forgiven and to save you from your sins. Right now, you stand condemned to death and hell. But if yo believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh and that you are a sinner and are willing to turn from your sins and live obediently to him, then you can be saved!

To the saved, what are you doing? Why aren’t you rising up and put yourself on the line for Christ? Why are you just going through the motions and not being used by God? This must stop today. Rise up, lead, and help change the world. Remember, there is no age limit on the great commission.

God is seeking young people who are willing to be radical and change the world. Has He found such persons here?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

You've Got Mail!

I will be giving this sermon at a youth retreat this weekend. Though it is your typical sermon, I still wrote a manuscript for it. I hope you like it:

Do you have email? What are some of your email names? How often do you check your mail? If God were to send you an email, what would it say? If God were to give young believers like yourself one command, what would it be?

Let me give you a few examples of email that I have gotten this week. I have gotten offers to win millions of dollars in American money and Euros. I’ve gotten offers for cheap pharmaceutical drugs. I’ve gotten coupons, advertisements, and fake emails that I don’t even know and probably don’t even exists. For everyone one email address I block as spam, I am sent 10 more it seems.

I am surrounded with junk mail, and it is hard at times to differentiate between junk mail and real mail. I don’t know how many times I have opened an email thinking that it was from a friend or family member, and come to find out, it was just spam.

We likewise are surrounded by junk in our lives. It is hard at time for our culture to differentiate between a true believer, a fake believer, and a nonbeliever. And as a result, I believe that God is sending us a message. The question is, what is that message, and who is it sent to, and who are to respond?

To answer that question, lets open our Bibles to Exodus 3, and read the familiar account of Moses and the burning bush.

The first thing we see in this text is that WE MUST FIRST MEET GOD.

Let’s be honest, we’re going to enjoy this weekend. We’re going to get on a spiritual high. But then, we’ll return to our daily routine, and end up back to were we were before. Nothing will really change. We’ll just add to our list more broken promises made to God.

I hope you have come here this weekend hoping to change. Let’s not go through the same old motions again. Let this be a weekend of change. But how do we make this a weekend that will truly change our lives? By meeting God.

In this text, Moses meets God, and is in awe. He is called to remove his sandals for the place was holy. Imagine what it must have been like to be Moses. What changed the life of Moses wasn’t a retreat or a song, but simply meeting God for who He is. Sadly, too many Christians today haven’t really met God, but have only met a god they made up. It is time for us to meet God as He truly is, and be in awe in His presence.

There are a couple of things we need to know about God, if we are wanting to be radically changed this weekend:

God is in control, you are not. We must therefore humble ourselves
God is holy, you are not. We must therefore imitate his holiness.
God knows what He is doing, you don’t. We must therefore do His will.

It is time for us to meet God this weekend. Let’s not go through the motions, but find ourselves in His presence. And when we do, we will realize that we our nothing, and yet are counted as worthy for dying for.

The second thing we see in this text is that GOD IS AWARE OF THE EVIL AND THE STRUGGLES OF THIS AGE.

Let’s face it, it isn’t easy being a teenager. And it isn’t getting any easier. Do you honestly think that God is unaware of that? We act like it sometimes. We try to take things into our own hands, just like Moses whenever he murdered an Egyptian. We act like God is unaware of our struggles, needs, and desires. We act like God doesn’t care, and we therefore take things into our own hands. How silly we are!

This is why the first point is critical. We need to take some time to really know who God is. God knows all things and is aware of all things. He is not surprised by your struggles and fears. We need to realize that God is in complete control, and is working everything out for His good and for His glory. And despite the circumstance, we need to submit to His will.

Notice in this text how God has seen & heard & knows about the affliction of His people. The biblical writer is giving us language that makes it clear that God is well aware of the situation. He is on top of it. He didn’t wake up one day and notice that Israel was in slavery and say to Himself, "how did that happen." No! Rather, God has been hearing their prayers, seeing their struggles, and know that they are in need for a savior.

But also notice that as a result, God is doing something about it. God isn’t sitting back hoping for the best, rooting for the good guys. Rather, he is involved and sending out one who He is called forth to deliver them. Notice how involved God is. Notice how in control He is.

Just like the Israelites in slavery, God is aware of the evil and the struggles of the Church and of the culture, and likewise, God is doing something about it. Don’t think that God is ignoring you. It might seem like He is, but He isn’t. The Jews were in slavery for 300 years before Moses delivered them, and I am sure those generations felt like their prayers were falling on deaf ears, but they weren’t. God saw, heard, and knew their affliction and was doing something about it.
God is aware of your struggles, your hurts, and your pains. Trust in Him to get you through them.

God knows that your having a hard time with your parents splitting up, your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up on you, a friend betrayed you, you feel all alone, etc.
Finally, and this is the message/the command that God is writing to us today, and that is; GOD COMMISSIONS HIS PEOPLE.

Why was God in this burning bush? Why did God meet Moses? To simply to send Him out to do His will.

Why do young people believe that there is an age limit on who God uses? Why have teenagers and young adults bought into the lie that God isn’t ready to use them? Throughout Scripture and history, God has used young people to impact cultures, save lives, and change hearts.
Many of the great revivals in American history were started by teenagers and college students. Many of the great men and women in the Bible were teenagers. Mary and Joseph were likely middle schoolers whenever Jesus was born. God used young people in the past, and He still uses them today. Why can’t you be used by God? Have you ever let Him? Or, have you thought there was a waiting list for the Great Commission?

The message that God is sending to you today isn’t how to save money on car insurance, or how to buy cheap pharmaceuticals, or that a lost friend is wanting to meet up, but rather that He is sending you out into the world to change it. The message of God today is simply to Go!

You are God’s messenger where you go: whether it be in the classroom, on the sports team, in your family, among your friends, in the cafeteria, in the locker room, in your youth group, in your church, or where ever you are. Realize that God is sending you out to change the world. God uses people like you. Are you willing to be used?

The email is simple: GO!!!!

Let this be your burning bush moment. Let this be the moment whenever you decide that your not going to go through the motions, but are going to live radically for Christ, impacting your friends, your family, your school, your peers, and your culture. Do not be shaped by the world, but shape the world for the glory of God!

Don’t give excuses like Moses, but rather suck up your pride, and follow Him. Go were He sends you, do what He tells you, speak what He says, and fulfill God’s will for your life. The days of going through the motions are over. Embrace God’s message to you today, and impact your culture for God’s glory.