We often talk about turning to Jesus and repentance and faith, and God forgiving your past, remaking you in the present, and guaranteeing your future. That’s what it means to follow Jesus: we turn to him with empty hands of faith and we’re transformed by him, and we follow him for the rest of our lives. If you have never done that before, you can do that right now. Turn to him with your mess, receive the gift of forgiveness and transformation because of what Jesus has done for you.
Big Idea: Overcome fear and rekindle your gift with the resources God gives you.
What are you afraid of right now?
The list could be a long one.
- fear of catching the virus
- fear for friends or family members who are frontline workers
- fear of the economic impact from the shutdown
- fear of a second wave
I don’t want to give you all the ideas. I’d like to ask you to take a moment and think about what’s keeping you awake at night, what has got you concerned about your future.
Okay, have you thought of something?
Here’s the thing about fear. It’s perfectly understandable. Fear is an emotion, and emotions are one of God’s gifts to us. “The full spectrum of emotion is part of our design, and should be acknowledged and expressed in healthy ways” (Jeremy Pierre).
But here’s the other thing about fear: how we respond to fear matters. If you handle fear properly, it can lead to greater wellbeing. It can alert you to things that really matter so that you resolve them in a healthy way. But, your fears can also harm you if you don’t manage them well. Fear is a bit of a doorway into what we value most, and it can reveal things about us that are hard to admit.
Afraid? Join the club. The important thing is what we do with our fears. That makes all the difference.
That’s why I’m so glad that the Bible gives us guidance on what to do with our fears.
Last week we started looking at a letter that an early Christian leader wrote near the end of his life. His name was Paul, and he was sitting in Roman prison about to die for his faith. And yet he was doing well, not because he was an extraordinary person, but because God changed him. He knew that God had given something that nobody could take away from him.
That’s Paul, who wrote the letter. But it’s time now to talk about the recipient of the letter, Timothy. Timothy was Paul’s close friend and coworker, his son in the faith. Paul calls him things like “our brother and God’s coworker” (1 Thessalonians 3:2) and as “my beloved and faithful child in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 4:17).
When Paul wrote to the Philippian church, he said this about Timothy:
For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. But you know Timothy’s proven worth, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. (Philippians 2:20-22)
As Paul begins this letter, in verses 3 to 5, he spends some time thanking God for Timothy’s faith and spiritual heritage.
Timothy is the kind of guy that you would want as a coworker, that we would enjoy having as part of your church.
Paul sent Timothy to help the church in Ephesus. And Paul sent this letter to encourage him. Both Paul and Timothy were in a difficult situation.