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February 26, 2019, 8:00 AM

An Intentional Life 2

            Ok, so most of you remember last week, I cut my message short, mainly so we could dig into the buffet everybody was drooling over. But hopefully you all weren’t so preoccupied by the impending feast that you were able to focus on the message at least a little bit. But let’s do a quick review of some of the key points. Remember this line?

            You cannot drift into obedience. You must be intentional.  (Say it w/me)

            Remember our Scripture? From the book of Daniel. Recall the word that was used to describe Daniel’s conviction to live a godly life? RESOLVE.    How about the story about Gary Meadows, my friend with leukemia who wakes up every morning with a prayer of gratitude on his heart for another day. And I do want to thank Pam for reaching out to encourage him after that story. That’s so much what the family of God is all about.


            Spiritual Disciplines… remember what they were? –reading scripture,  -prayer, -worship, -evangelism, -serving, -stewardship, -fasting,

-silence or solitude, -journaling, -learning.  And without going through the entire message again, there was one last point that I asked you all to pray about last week. Remember what it was? Live your life with the end in mind.  And that’s where we’re going to begin today.


            Our Scripture today is II Timothy 4:1-8. Now I’ve been justly accused of turning to Paul a lot, but as the old saying goes, when the shoe fits, you just have to wear it! Paul had only a slight mention last week, so this week he gets the spotlight in his words to his protégé, Timothy. He had taken the teenager from Lystra under his wing and mentored him in the true nature of discipleship.

            During his third missionary trip he left Timothy in charge of the church in Ephesus. His words in his two letters to Timothy were intended to encourage and instruct the young church leader. So for a little background here, biblical history supports that Paul was imprisoned twice in Rome for preaching the Gospel; the first time somewhere between A.D. 59-61; released about A.D. 62. Soon as was out he ontinued to preach the Gospel. Nothing was gonna slow him down. So I Timothy was written in the mid 60s; some time after his release from that first imprisonment – maybe A.D. 63.


Nero began intense persecution of Christians in A.D. 64 and according to Eusebius, one of the early church fathers, Paul was beheaded sometime prior to the end of Nero’s reign in A.D. 68. So while it’s difficult to be exact, it’s believed II Timothy was written between A.D. 64-65 during Paul’s second imprisonment, while he was awaiting his death. We can hear the resignation in his voice, but hope in his words. He knew the end was imminent. But he also knew eternity with Christ was waiting. So let’s read – II Timothy 4:1-8 (ESV).

                I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

                For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

                For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

                Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

            So what’s going on here? Paul knows that in a very short time he will be put to death. But his words in the beginning of our Scripture typify exactly what he’d been saying in both of his letters to Timothy. His life was so intentional and fully committed to the work of God’s mission that his last words were nothing like poor me, woe is me, feel sorry for me.

He continued to teach, to instruct and to nurture the young man who would fill his shoes and continue his legacy in God’s mission.


            And in his humility all he needs to summarize his life are these few words at the end of our Scripture. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. And now his earthly death awaits, but what comes after death isn’t an unknown. He knows he will soon be with his Lord & Savior wearing the crown of righteousness he’d been assured of. And when we take a snapshot of his life after he met Jesus on that Damascus road, we can just slap a label over it that says intentional. His later life was lived with a single purpose – to serve God’s will.


            Remember last week how Daniel showed consistency throughout his life marked by his resolve to live a godly life despite the earthly, material demands that were thrown at him. Paul lived his life with that same resolve. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account (Phil 1:21-24).”


            You see Paul was anything but afraid of death. He longed for it! But until his words to Timothy in our Scripture he knew he was called to continue to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ despite the opposition.  Paul was strong in his faith and solid in his relationship with Jesus – committed to God’s work; intentional in every aspect of his life.

            What about you? How hard would it be for each of us here today to say, ‘for me to live is Christ and to die is gain,’ and really mean it? That we are just as anxious to die and be with our Lord as we are to continue our life here on this earth.


            As much as I want to see Jesus, I’m simply not ready to die. But you know, the nuts and bolts of that comment come from self. In my selfishness I’m not ready to die. I love this life. I love being your pastor. I love Mari, our kids. And even though I know that what God has in store for me is so much greater than anything this earth can offer, it is sooo hard to balance my love for Jesus and my love for life the way Paul does in his words.


            I want to play out a scenario that I think we can all relate to. Now I’m not going to get quite as personal in this story like I did last week with Stan. I’m thinking whoever I’d point out might get just a little offended. So, we’ll be a lot more general with this one. Let’s say you’re at a funeral. Well – let’s say it’s your funeral or mine.


            What’s the eulogy going to sound like? What’s the pastor going to say or family or freinds? Between the date of our birth and the date of our death there is a dash. That dash represents your life and that dash is what determines your eulogy.  Author David Brooks talks about the difference between resume virtues and eulogy virtues.  



            “Resume virtues are the ones you list on your resume, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. Eulogy virtues are deeper. They’re the virtues that get talked about at your funeral, the ones that exist at the core of your being – whether you’re kind or brave, honest or faithful; what kind of relationships you formed.”


            So when you’ve imagined someone giving your eulogy, - and I think we all think about this from time to time – what would you imagine them talking about? Your résumé virtues? Would they talk about how much money you made? Your job titles? How big your house was? How many cars you owned? How many Facebook friends you had? You know those really solid relationships.


            I saw a joke the other day, somewhere, probably on Facebook; two friends were talking in the back of the church at a funeral with only two other people in the pews. One guy says to the other, I thought there would be more people here. He had over a thousand Facebook friends! I guess you gotta be a Facebook junkie like me to really appreciate that one.


            Wouldn’t you rather imagine the pastor talking instead about your character and your relationships. The kind of husband and father, or wife and mother and friend you were. How hard you worked to give your kids a good life; a sense of purpose and a sound moral compass. What a wonderful servant of God’s kingdom you were. How you’d give the shirt off your back for your friends. Stories that are both funny and sad, that would highlight your integrity, your kindness, and your generosity. The effect you had on the lives of others.

            Living with that end in mind; to live a good, meaningful life you have to live a life that’s intentional. When we know how we want people to talk about us at the end of our life, it changes our perspective doesn’t it. We might say we don’t care, but we do and we start taking action now to make that legacy a reality later. When we face our Lord on judgment day, the words we should all of us want to hear more than any others, “well done, my good and faithful servant.”


            I’m going to digress just a little bit here to make a point. Most of you here today heard Mari’s story about her trip to Greece. So much to process isn’t there? A country we all connect with white stucco, flat-roofed homes, almost stacked on top of each other climbing up a hill; images from all those Greek and Italian shows we’ve seen – big fun, big food, big laughter, everything big and  boisterous and proud.


            But now we know it’s a country in big debt mainly because of government corruption, on the verge of bankruptcy with 65% unemployment and thousands upon thousands of refugees sitting on its doorstep trying to get in; escaping from the horror of war in their home country. What a mess!


Mari can tell you more stories about a Syrian refugee settlement down south outside Birmingham, Alabama. And I’m sure you’re all well aware of the chaos at our own southern border that’s simply beyond our capability to control – maybe because the expanse is just too great; I’m not sure. But obviously tens of thousands have crossed over illegally which is the hot topic in Washington right now.  


Now I’m not up here advocating for a border wall. But I am saying there are people all over the world fleeing their circumstances to find refuge in a new home; someplace that they feel will offer hope and a future. And even though that hope may be somewhat displaced, at least they don’t live with the constant threat of death, bombs exploding within a stone’s throw or bullets missing by inches. 


So what do we do with all that? How do we wrap our brains around it and what can we do about it? Mari’s heart is heavy for these refugees and I’m sure some of you might feel motivated to jump on a plane and head to Greece with her.  In fact, I know 2 or 3 of you have already said something to her about being part of a mission trip. Awesome. Or maybe you want to head south to help with the problems there.


But we’re not all called to those things, some maybe, but not even most of us. But we are all called to act… to do something. And that’s what living intentionally is all about. It’s about loving; it’s about serving; it’s about caring enough to make a kingdom difference; it’s about putting our life on a path to God and making progress every day on that path to Him.


It looks like Daniel who lived with the resolve to follow a godly life in the face of Babylon’s man-made rules created to destroy him. It looks like Gary Meadows, who wakes up every morning with a new appreciation of life because each day is truly a gift. It looks like Paul, who lived a life on fire for Christ and could look back on his life knowing that he’d given all he had; left everything on the field and looked forward to a new life with Christ Jesus in heaven.

It’s knowing that Christ our is rock; our cornerstone; our salvation and our eternity. Living only to glorify Him, not ourselves.


I think all too often we, and I’m not talking just about us here, but we as a people, tend to hide behind prayer, when God is calling us to action. To do something!  I think sometimes we tend to live like that; praying that somebody else will fix the problem or take the risk, when in reality God’s calling us to hear His voice; to be obedient; and to take action – to be intentional.  A life that’s intentional seeks those opportunities to act and to respond without hesitation.


            It’d sure be easier and less complicated for our lives if somebody else would do it… wouldn’t it? But living a life that’s intentional; one that’s committed to following Jesus; well, Jesus himself said it wouldn’t be easy.        


            “But be on your guard. For they will deliver you over to councils, and you will be beaten in synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved (Mark 13:9-13).”


            For too many of us it takes a life altering event to wake us up to what’s right in front of us. Too many people think that Christianity is a passive kind of faith. But it’s anything but that. Faith is action. Love is action. Our witness is action. As we move forward into 2019 and beyond, I believe there are four words that define the character of our body – this part of the body of Christ – First Southern Baptist of Dickinson County.


            Those words are Love! Know! Live! Grow! All that we’ve talked about; all that we are; what we encapsulate. Those four words define who we are today and who we will become as we move forward together in God’s path for us. Now I’m going to be throwing a lot of Scripture at you in the next couple of minutes. So don’t try and write it down, you won’t be able to keep up and you’ll end up missing the point.


            You can find all of these Scriptures, along with these visional words on our website. I want you to know too, I’ve starting posting these sermons on our website in the blog section. Check it out and spread the word about the site. So here we go:

Love! Love God above all else and Love others as yourself.

            “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matt 22:36-38).”

            This is the core of our existence; to love God first, more than anyone or anything else. When we base our life on any other foundation, we cannot live the life God calls us to. God created us to be in fellowship with Him. When we are not, our lives are out of sync with truth. Our love of God must be at the center of our faith walk.


            But then Jesus goes on to tell us to love others as we do ourselves. He tells us in the Gospel of John that our love for each other is a witness of our salvation,

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34-35).”


            Then Paul gives us these words in Eph. about the body working together in love, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph 4:15-16).” It’s a synergy of God’s family, doing life together; working together in unity for God’s mission that can accomplish so much more together than apart.

2Know! Know God, Know Scripture and live it.
            James goes straight to the point, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (Jas 1:22).” The apostle Paul tells us in Romans that we should not let the philosophies of the world change the way we think, but we should ‘renew our minds’ to think thoughts that God would have us think.

            Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).”


            God calls us to act. It’s one thing to memorize Scripture. It’s another to live it. Jesus tells us in John’s Gospel, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:16-18).”


            And the author of Hebrews gives us a message that’s essential to our understanding of Scripture. It’s alive. It’s not some dusty book on a shelf. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12).”

Live! Live a life that reflects Jesus.


            This is NOT easy. This requires sacrifice. “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt 16:24-25).”



            It requires prayer, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matt 6:5-6).”


            It requires humility. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus (Phil 2:3-5).”


4Grow! We are all called to Grow God’s Kingdom.

            Christ’s final command to His disciples is His commission to all of us, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matt 28:18-20).”

            You catch how He says He’ll be with us… Always! He doesn’t just tell us to go

do it, He tells us he’s there and here’s how it can be done! In Matthew He tells us,You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16)."


            And again in Matthew,He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took

and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown

it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches (Matt 13:31-32).”


            And to accomplish any of this we must be prepared and ready to grow personally – accept challenges we once thought were out of our reach; realize the only comfort zone we really have is ‘in Christ’; learn new things; deepen our understanding of Scripture and be prepared to share our story and the Gospel whenever and wherever God calls.


Love! Know! Live! Grow!
Transparent. Accountable. Intentional.  


            It should be the heart’s desire of every one of us to be alive, active and intentional for Jesus. What we say; what we do; how we live should be a reflection OF our Lord and as believers it is always a reflection ON our Lord. Eyes are always watching and that’s not to make you paranoid, but to make you cognizant, aware of who you are “In Christ” and to live a life that’s intentional.

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