Not of Fear

How to embrace the mission of sharing the gospel message.

George Wright
Jan 12, 2020    42m
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In this sermon Pastor George Wright starts by clarifying the mission state of the church. Then he moves on to explain how we can overcome our fears, and learn to embrace the mission of sharing the gospel message where we are. Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

Transcription
messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 Second Timothy chapter 1 verses 6 and 7, this'll be our foundation for today's message, as we remember the calling of God for the people of God. Let me invite you to stand with me as I read from God's word to get us started here this morning. And if you're new to Shandon, you're wondering why we're standing right now. We just stood to sing, and now we're standing for the reading of God's word. We do this, stand at the reading of God's word at the beginning of the message, so that we can be reminded that the Word of God is the authority over our lives as a people of God, and is the foundation that we stand upon as the people of God. So when we gather together in the name of Jesus, we are doing so standing on the solid rock foundation of what God says is right and good and true in His word.

George Wright: 00:57 So this is the word of the Lord, that we stand upon. Second Timothy 1:6, "For this reason, the scripture says, I remind you to fan to flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." Let me read verse 7 again, "For God gave us a spirit not a fear but of power and love and self-control." These are words that any follower of Christ needs to hear. These are words that the people of God need to hear. Let's pray that God would use his word in our lives today.

George Wright: 01:50 Pray with me. Father, as we stand before you now, and as we turn our attention to the Holy Scripture, that you have divinely laid before us through the inspiration of human writers, inspired by the Spirit of God to put down your words that we might see and hear from you. I pray that your spirit would guide us in this time. This is sacred space as your people gather to hear from you. This is sacred space anytime we open the Word of God. And so I pray, Lord God, that you would have your way among us. That you would speak with great clarity into our lives, what we need to hear, what we need to see, bring your word to life in us today. Thank you for this time, and I pray that you would be glorified in it all. It's in Christ' name we pray. Amen. You may be seated. Thank you for standing

George Wright: 02:58 Well as we step into this series this morning on the vision of the church, and specifically the mission statement here at Shandon. I want you to know if you're new to Shandon, or if you are joining us online this morning, we're so grateful that you're with us. This gives you a great opportunity to hear what we are about, to hear why we exist as a church. If you spend any amount of time in Shandon at all, or involved in the life of the ministry here at Shandon at all. There's a statement that we've been using, a statement that hopefully you've heard many times on many occasions, that is the heart of who we are as the people of God. It's the heart of what we've been called to as the people of God. It's a short little statement. The statement is, here at Shandon, we live sent. We are called by God to be his people living as ones who have been sent into the world with the good news of the gospel, taking the message of what God has done to those who have yet to believe and receive this good news.

George Wright: 04:14 And we celebrate, we celebrate over this last year in 2019 that the mission was lived out in many ways. We celebrate that over 770 people last year went out from Shandon on short term mission trips to share the good news of the gospel. We celebrate that God has allowed us as a church, and invited us as a church, to be involved in church planting movements in two cities in our country where the need is great. The city of Pittsburgh and the city of Denver, and we've seen God do incredible things through new works that are being birthed in these cities through church planting efforts. We celebrate that last fall we were able to join together with over 20 churches from the city of Columbia, to go out and serve in tangible ways to demonstrate the love of God through tangible ways, loving our city, loving Cola for the initiative where churches came together to serve. We celebrate that last year over 170 people were baptized as followers of Jesus Christ here through the ministry of Shandon. And we celebrate that our membership at Shandon has grown by well over 300 people over the last year. These are all great things that God has done, and these are tangible expressions of the mission in action.

George Wright: 05:42 But as I've been praying about this month specifically, and this vision series that that jump-starts us in a new year, and in a new decade here in 2020. I've been increasingly convicted of something that I thought might be at play over the last year, and this is just a, a confession before you, I recognize that this statement, this mission statement, Live Sent, at times has been confusing. And at times creates confusion as to what we are about, or what we should be doing as a church. Does the mission statement Live Sent mean that we're only about trips, or we're only about projects? What about the rest of the year? What about the rest of the week? What about Monday through Saturday when we're not gathered together here, what does the mission really mean for us? So our staff has been praying about this, we've been talking about this, our leadership has been praying about this. We want greater clarity in this mission that God has called us to.

George Wright: 06:56 So we want to lay out for you a statement, a mission statement, for what it means to Live Sent. We're going to be talking about this more at great length in the days ahead, but hopefully this provides even greater clarity as to who we are and what God has called us to be about as a local church. To Live Sent, is leveraging who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us. This is our mission. To leverage who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us. So how does this play out? The call to Live Sent, is the call to live by faith, believing that all we have been given is a gift from God to be used for his glory to point others to the good news of Jesus Christ. The call to Live Sent, is the call to believe that God has uniquely and specifically given us gifts and resources and abilities and talents to be used for the sake of the mission, right where he has placed us. The call to Live Sent, is the call to live intentionally, believing that wherever we are from this street that we live on, to the job that we have, to the classes that we attend, to the relationships that we have, these all are gifts from God showing us a specific mission field where God has placed us to point others to the good news of the gospel. And certainly the call to Live Sent, is the call to listen to the prompting of the Spirit of God to go wherever He takes us outside of our comfort zone, outside of our local mission field, to advance the gospel to those around our community, around our state, around our country, and around the world who have yet to receive the good news that there is a savior who loves them, a savior who gave his life for them on the cross to offer forgiveness and grace for their sin, to invite them into new life through the gift of salvation. This is the call to Live Sent, and this is a mission that is an invitation for every person, every individual, every family who is part of the family of God here at Shandon, to leverage who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us.

George Wright: 10:01 But here's the reality, even with some clarity around the mission, the reality of this mission, and the reality of this call to leverage who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us, this is an intimidating call. In fact, some may not like it at all. I'd rather just be comfortable. I'd rather just attend church and go home and not think about it again until next Sunday. I'd rather not be challenged to do anything. Because after all, as we know, the world is increasingly hostile around us to this message of the gospel. And so the call to view my street, and my community, and my neighborhood as a mission field, is a call that can strike fear into the hearts of many. What if we're rejected? What if we're misunderstood? What if we don't know the right thing to say? What if we face hostility or opposition when we think about this call?

George Wright: 11:24 With that in mind, we come back to Second Timothy. This passage of scripture that we walk through today, is a letter from the apostle Paul to a young man named Timothy that he loves dearly. A young man that he has been mentoring and discipling in the faith, following Jesus, and preparing Timothy for full time gospel ministry. This is a man that Paul has invested heavily in, and as Paul writes this second letter to Timothy, he's writing it as somewhat of a commissioning. Saying, Timothy, it's time for you to step out on faith, and to live what you have learned, it's time for you to put into action what you know to be true. But here's what's fascinating about this letter, it's been written to Timothy from Paul as Paul sits in a prison cell. And so as Paul writes the letter, and Timothy receives the letter, Timothy understands immediately upon receiving this letter that he is receiving a letter about a mission that is filled with risk. He's receiving a letter about a mission that can be totally intimidating. His mentor is writing from jail, and his mentor is not denying the realities of the danger of living out the gospel in the world around him. In fact, his mentor, the apostle Paul, is living with a very true reality that his life may be taken from him because he was preaching the gospel. So this is a sobering thought for young Timothy. Imagine receiving a letter from your mentor, from someone that you love and respect, highlighting the dangers of what you have been called and asked to do. But not telling you to flee that danger or run away from the danger, but encouraging you to step out and live this mission even in the face of danger.

George Wright: 13:35 So in the midst of what could be a fear filled endeavor for Timothy, the apostle Paul is reminding him of the incredible gift that he has been given. That's what we see, if you look back at verse 5, the verse before where we started this morning. Second Timothy chapter 1 verse 5 let me read it to you, it says, "I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands." What is the apostle Paul saying here? This is beautiful. He's talking about the mission, and as he's talking about even the inherent risk or even danger in the midst of the mission, Paul is saying, Timothy, remember you are not alone in this calling. You are not alone in the mission. Paul points Timothy back to his heritage of faith. He says, look at what God has given you through this lineage of faith, you are not alone. Remember what you have seen in your household, remember that you stand on the shoulders of those who have been faithful, that have gone before you.

George Wright: 15:10 You may be here this morning, as one who stands on the shoulders of the faithful in a household of faith. That's a gift that I have received, a gift that I seek to not take for granted. To recognize that there have been many in my family who are followers of Jesus, who went before me, who are going before me, living by faith, living the mission, and I stand on their shoulders receiving this beautiful gift of a heritage of faith. Maybe that's your story as well, where you can look back and see parents and grandparents, those who have gone before you that pointed you to the good news of the gospel. You remember the gift that you have received through them.

George Wright: 16:03 I recognize you may be here this morning and your story is different. You may be here as one who is a first generation follower of Jesus. If that is true of you, then God is writing a new story for your family through your faith. You may be here is one that is breaking the cycle of sin that has been permeating your family heritage, and now God is using you to establish a household of faith. What a privilege. You may be the one that one day will be remembered with fondness by your children and your grandchildren. The way Timothy looks back on Lois and Eunice and remembers this great lineage of faithfulness that he has been invited to be about.

George Wright: 17:06 You also may be here this morning, or perhaps you're joining us for this message online, and it's a new year and you're thinking, I need a new beginning and I want things to go a different way, but you may not yet be a follower of Jesus Christ. And as you look at your family's story, and you look at what you received from your family, and you look at the background, you think, I want something to be different. That may even be why you're here listening to this today. God is inviting you, through the good news of Jesus Christ, to break the cycle, to begin a new story, to establish a household of faith through your decision to follow Jesus. What a privilege. That your family's story, and your family tree, could forever and ever be different through a decision to follow Jesus.

George Wright: 18:01 Regardless of what your background may be, regardless of what family lineage you bring into this day, the Word of God is reminding us that we are not alone in this calling to live the mission. Whether it's your family, whether it's friends, whether it's classmates, coworkers, acquaintances, there are others in your life who have been pointing you to the good news of the gospel and we are not alone in this calling. God has invited you into his family, and God has invited you to be invested in and build upon what he is already doing for the sake of his name, for the sake of his kingdom advancing.

George Wright: 18:57 I'm reminded of Hebrews chapter 12, you may want to turn there, we're going to put these verses on the screen. This is a few pages over from Second Timothy, Hebrews chapter 12. The Word of God that lays before us, this beautiful foundation that we have been invited to build upon. It says this in verse one, Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Verse 3, Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." You see in the family of God, you are not alone. In the family of God, you are never alone, you're surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. You are standing on the shoulders of those who have faithfully gone before you, and intentionally lived the mission, and pointed you to the good news of the gospel in which you now stand. In the family of God, you are invited to build on that legacy and to point to the good news that you have received. But not only that, in the family of God, when you are afraid, when you are intimidated, when you are overwhelmed in the face of challenge or hostility, specifically for the sake of the mission, you have been given a savior who endured such hostility against himself so that you could know that he has set you free. Fix your eyes on Jesus, recognize in this call to live the mission, you are not alone.

George Wright: 21:22 We go back to our passage for today, Second Timothy chapter 1 verse 7. And we see this beautiful statement about the Spirit of God, and what God provides for his followers through the spirit, "For God gave us a spirit not of fear, it's a spirit of power and love and self-control." When we began to think about the mission, and we begin to think about what God has called his people to be all about. We must first remember we're not alone, but secondly we must remember what is from the Spirit of God and what is not. You see, every follower of Jesus Christ has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit is granted to a follower of Christ at the moment of salvation, and the gift of this Spirit has been given to us to equip and empower us to live the mission wherever we are and wherever God takes us. Not only that, the Spirit of God has been given to us to comfort us, to guide us, to steady us in the face of opposition, reminding us of who God is and what he has done for us. The Spirit of God has been given to us not as a spirit of fear.

George Wright: 22:58 And yet even at reading that, isn't it true that fear is often a reality, even for the people of God. Fear is very real for every follower of Christ in some form or fashion, specifically as we think about living the mission. But here's the reality, and the scripture is showing us this. Fear reminds us of our need for the power of God. Fear, that very real emotion, that very real feeling that we face, especially when looking at something that is hostile or in opposition to us. Fear, that emotion that is in us, it's not from the Spirit of God, but it's real in us and it reminds us of our need for the power of God. It reminds us that this call to live the mission is not a call to work harder or try harder or become tougher in our own strength, it is a call that is only possible through the work of the Spirit of God alive in us. And so it is in our fear that we recognize the work of the mission is truly a work of God, a work of God in and through us. I am reminded of the words of the great missionary to China from years gone by, Hudson Taylor. He says this, "Depend on it, God's work done in God's way will never lack supplies. All God's giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on his being with them. God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him."

George Wright: 25:11 You see, when the Word of God says, do not fear. The Word of God is not saying, to you and to me, find a way to get stronger, find a way to be braver. Only the strong survive, and if you're lucky enough to figure out a way to be strong, God will use you. That's not what the Word of God says at all. No, when the Word of God says, do not fear, the Word of God is saying, look to the one who is not afraid. Look to the one who empowers you in the face of fear, to live for His glory. Look to the one who can do in you, what you can never do for yourself. Fear reminds us the mission is not about us and our power, the mission is all about the power, love, and self-control that God alone can supply.

George Wright: 26:14 Jesus says it this way in John 6:63, I love this verse, I point to this verse often, "It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all. And Jesus says the words that I've spoken to you, they are spirit and life." You cannot live the mission of God in your own strength, I cannot live the mission of God in my own strength, but through the power of his spirit at work in us empowers us to do what we could never do apart from him for his glory. A. W. Tozer writes it this way, "Many Christians spend a lot of time and energy in making excuses, because they have never broken through into a real offensive for God by the unlimited power of the Holy Spirit. Many persons preach and teach. Many take part in the music. Certain ones tried to administer God's work, but if the power of God's spirit does not have freedom to energize all they do, these workers might just as well have stayed home. The power of God comes through the Spirit of God at work in us. A spiritual battle cannot be fought through physical means, a spiritual battle can only be fought in the power of the Spirit of God. For from the Spirit of God, flow, power, love and self-control that fuel the mission, that send us out to leverage who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us."

George Wright: 28:15 As I was thinking about the reality of this mission in the face of hostility, and the reality of this mission in a culture that increasingly is giving us reasons to be afraid. I thought about one of the great fears that every parent has, and that's the safety of their children. We live in a very different reality today as it relates to safety at schools. Far too often we've seen these horrific examples of violence at schools, shooters at schools. This has just become a normal news story for us, it induces a lot of fear, there is real hostility. Last spring, another one of these stories broke. The news of an active shooter in a high school in Portland, Oregon began to light up news feeds. And it was easy to just go, okay, here it goes again, another school shooting. But this time the outcome was very different, and this time there was someone who had the opportunity to stand up in the face of hostility and provide an example of power, love and self-control. So I wanted to ask you to watch a quick video, and just be reminded of power, love and self-control on display.

Video Plays: 30:02 (Video Plays)

George Wright: 33:26 Wow, that's incredible. The first time I saw that video was several months ago, and I was in tears. And as I reflected on that video this week, and I was preparing for this message, I was in tears again, but this time it was for a different reason. You see, the reality is, in the mission that God has called us to, there is a very real enemy, a very real enemy, and this enemy's greatest tactic against the people of God is fear. Because he knows he does not have the power to defeat the mission of God, but he can convince the people of God to sit on the sidelines and waste the opportunity that God has given us to leverage our lives wherever we are and wherever he takes us for the sake of the gospel. And so the question becomes for the people of God, are we going to believe the spirit of fear that is in opposition to the mission of God? That is whispering in our ears, it's too dangerous, it's too risky. don't live your faith, don't share your faith, don't talk about Jesus. Don't view your street, your campus, your office as a mission field, don't do that. Compartmentalize it all, view your faith as a one day a week kind of thing when you can get around to it. Show up on Sunday morning from time to time, and you'll be a great Christian on mission. That's what the enemy of God wants the people of God to hear,

George Wright: 35:19 But the reality is, our God has not given us a spirit of fear. Our God has given us a spirit of power and love and self-control to go into the world around us, wherever he has us, and he takes us, so that we can be a voice, a picture, and an expression of the hope that the world is so desperate for, and the good news of the gospel that the world is longing for even if they don't know it. For the message of Jesus Christ is our hope, and the message of Jesus Christ is the power that fuels the mission through the Spirit of God, alive in us. For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self-control. The way we tap into this spirit of power and love and self-control according to the Word of God, is to fervently and passionately hit our knees in prayer, believing that God in his spirit wants to fuel us for the mission, asking God in the power of his spirit to use us for the sake of the mission.

George Wright: 36:49 And so as we close this morning, and as we enter into this new year together, I want to issue a challenge. And this challenge is really an invitation, I want to invite us as a church to come together for the next 21 days and pray. We're not trying to put a lot of things on your to do list. I want to break this down in hopefully a very simple, doable fashion. You'll see on your pews there's a little bookmark that says the 21 day prayer challenge, or 21 days of prayer, pass those down the row. If you don't already have one in your hand, we want to get one of these in your hand. So if you're sitting on the end of the aisle, just pass these down so that everybody can have one, everybody can see one. This prayer challenge is very basic, it's very accessible, and it's very doable for everyone who is willing to be involved. 21 days of prayer. Pray 21 times a week, for 21 minutes a day. How does that break down? 21 times a week, that's 3 times a day. 21 minutes a day, that's 7 minutes each time you pray. You can set a timer on your phone for this. Take the prayer challenge. Remind yourself 3 times a day to stop and ask God to move in power through your life for the sake of the mission. Stop and ask God to move in power through your household for the sake of the mission. Stop and ask God to fill you with his love, with his self-control, and with faith to live out the mission wherever you are and wherever God takes you. 21 days, what if we as a church pray together 21 times a week, 3 times a day, 21 minutes a day, 7 minutes at a time? Everyone can do this. You can stop 3 times a day for 7 minutes and pray intentionally, and pray specifically, that God's spirit would empower you to live the mission. And let's believe, let's believe that God wants to use us to point others to the good news of who he is and what he has done

George Wright: 39:22 This Wednesday night, I would encourage you to come again to this night of prayer and worship, we've already talked about that in this service. It's going to be a beautiful night getting to ordain some new deacons, but it's also going to be a great night of prayer and worship as we rally together, asking God to move mightily through us in the power of his spirit for the sake of the mission. You don't want to miss it. Take the prayer challenge. Pray as a household, pray with your kids, pray with your spouse, your significant other, pray in your friend group or your small group. Take this challenge to pray together, that God in his power would you use us for the sake of his mission. Leveraging our lives, leveraging who we are and what we've been given for the sake of the gospel, wherever we are and wherever God takes us.

George Wright: 40:18 Let's pray together as we consider this. Oh Father God, how grateful I am for this opportunity to be reminded of what you have done for us, and the good news of Jesus Christ. And I pray for whoever may be with us today who have never experienced in a real way the good news of Jesus Christ, they've never received the gift of salvation, I pray that today, this day, at the beginning of a new year, at the beginning of a new decade, you would give them the faith to receive the gift of salvation. That you would write a new story for them, and their family, and their household to come. We pray, Lord God, for those who have yet to receive the good news of the gospel, that this would be the day that they say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you, I'm trusting my life to you, forgive me of my sin, I turn to you. I pray, Lord God, that you give me the gift of salvation, and the gift of new life. And for the church, Lord, I pray that this new year, this new decade, would be a divine, inspired moment for us together to say, we are willing to live by faith, we are ready to step out on faith, we are willing to leverage our lives and all that we've been given for the sake of the gospel. Lord give us eyes to see the mission field wherever we are, give us eyes to see where you may be taking us, and use us for your glory. We thank you for the good news of what Jesus Christ has done, and we pray that this good news would fuel the mission that you have called us to. In your Spirit, we ask you to move and power through us. It's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.



Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206
803.782.1300