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Courageous Witnesses

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On Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon from II Timothy 1:3-14, a passage we'd recently read as a church in our Deeper Wider devotionals.

He mainly looked at the question:

What enables us to be courageous witnesses about the story of Jesus?

Three things that propel us, enable us, and empower us to be courageous witnesses about Jesus' story:

1)  God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control.

From verses 6-7.  The word "gift" is the Greek word charis.  And the charismatics have got it mostly right.  There is more!  God does want to touch you and fill you with His power, love and self-control.

Ed does what he does because of an experience like this.  Here he told us about a call from God that came when he was 17 years old.

Encounters with God are not always wildly dramatic, but sometimes they are.

Whatever experience you've had with God, whatever calling, whatever gift -- fan it into flame!

If you haven't yet had an experience with God, we're going to ask God to touch you.

2)  We are sustained in our suffering by the power of God.

Why aren't we courageous witnesses all the time?  Because the story of Jesus sounds ridiculous.  (It's either Truth, or it's ridiculous.)

Our faith doesn't solve all our problems.  We still suffer.

Paul told Timothy not to be ashamed of him -- he was in prison.  In fact, he called himself the Lord's prisoner.

We can be courageous witnesses because we are sustained through our suffering by the power of God (vs. 9-10).

We're called to a holy calling.  We're sustained through all things.  We don't need to shrink back.

3)  We know we can trust Him.

Verse 12:  "I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed..."

I don't know all the whys and hows, but I know the Who.

"guard the good deposit" -- what we're giving away is what we've been given.

Fear makes our witness very awkward.  Move out courageously.

What's the Deal With Success?

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Today Pastor Ed Allen continued his sermon series for Lent, "Jesus Answers Our Questions," looking at Luke 12:22-34 and the question, "What's the deal with success?"

This is very much a question for our time and our place.  Even if we don't ask this question directly, it's underneath our other questions.

Before this passage, in verses 13-21, Jesus told the parable of the Rich Fool and used that story to contrast two competing visions for success, the Crowd's Vision vs. the Kingdom Vision.

Fuel:

The Crowd's Vision is fueled by covetousness, avarice, and greed (vs. 15).

The Kingdom Vision is fueled by discipleship, a commitment to Jesus.  (Jesus took his disciples aside after he told the parable.)

Emotional Atmosphere:

The Crowd's Vision has an emotional atmosphere of Anxiety.  Today our adolescents in particular are facing unprecedented levels of anxiety.

The Kingdom Vision has an emotional atmosphere of consideration.  Think about your life.  You are so valuable!

Looks like:

The Crowd's Vision looks like "I want what's mine!"  "I want more!"

The Kingdom Vision looks like trusting God (vs. 28), knowing God (vs. 29), seeking God (vs. 31).

Desired Outcomes:

The Crowd's Vision is striving for bigger storehouses, comfort, pleasure, security, and peace.  The Rich Fool wanted to collect and keep and store so he wouldn't have to worry.  It ends up increasing worry, and in his case, it was all for nothing.

The Kingdom Vision is seeking fearless living, real connection to God, and real security (vs. 32-34).

We're pursuing what doesn't grow old and can't be stolen.  This is true security.  We can live without fear.  We can rest secure and at peace.

It's not a software upgrade, but a whole new operating system.