I SCARED YOU LAST WEEK!
WHEN I ASKED YOU TO PREPARE YOUR TESTIMONY,
MANY OF YOU FELT LIKE THIS:
A FEW OF YOU THOUGHT IF YOU HAD A DRAMATIC PAUL TESTIMONY,
THEN MAYBE YOU COULD DO IT.
BUT LIKE TIMOTHY, YOU CAME TO KNOW THE LORD AS A LITTLE CHILD
YOU CAN’T EVEN REMEMBER LIFE WITHOUT CHRIST.
I’M TRULY SORRY FOR SENDING YOU DOWN
THE DIVING BOARD WITH SO LITTLE PREPARATION!
YOU’VE CAUSED ME TO REPENT AND RETHINK.
I’VE ASKED FOR WISDOM AND I DO BELIEVE THE LORD HAS MET ME.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE SO SCARY.
IT IS VERY POSSIBLE TO MOVE FROM FEAR
WITH A LITTLE BETTER PREPARATION!
WHETHER YOU ARE A TIMOTHY OR A PAUL OR A COMBINATION OF THE TWO, THERE ARE A FEW SIMPLE THINGS WE ALL CAN DO TO MAKE GIVING (AND HEARING) A TESTIMONY
AND AMAZINGLY MORE EFFECTIVE!
I’M ASKING FOR GRACE.
WILL YOU LET ME TRY AGAIN?
I realize you may want to be given a taste of where I’m headed before you commit. There are two things every believer can share, no matter how or when they first grasped the Good News.
1. Explain how you came to clearly understand how Christ delivers from the penalty of sin.
2. Share one specific example of how Christ is delivering you from the power of sin.
Several of you, both Timothy’s and Paul’s made the plunge at the end of the week — and I was SO THANKFUL. You did well! I want to take excerpts from several of you for you did show both how Jesus delivered you from the penalty and the power of sin. I think this is something we can all keep working on and polishing — so even if you were one that dove off the board, I’m going to ask you to dive again, simply by answering the questions in this study. Others of you will be taking your first dive when you answer the questions. Though it is true that first dives may be belly flops, if you don’t give up, I and your sisters who feel ready can coach you, helping you tweak until you can glide into the water and rise victoriously!
FOR WHEN YOUR “STORY” LIFTS UP CHRIST AND NOT YOURSELF
THERE IS POWER.
NEVER FORGET THAT THE GOSPEL IS DYNAMITE.
REMEMBER THAT GOSPEL POWER
NOT ONLY CAN OVERCOME THE PUNISHMENT FOR SIN,
BUT ALSO THE HEART IDOLS THAT ENSLAVE EVERYONE.
TIM KELLER HAS FOUND ADDRESSING HEART IDOLS
IN OUR HARDENED CULTURE CAN HELP US
PRESENT THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
WITH THE POWER TO PIQUE CURIOSITY.
FOR EVERYONE WANTS TO BE FREE.
I’M ASKING FOR GRACE.
WILL YOU LET ME TRY AGAIN?
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
MONDAY-TUESDAY: TIMOTHY EXAMPLES
2. According to 2 Timothy 3:14-15, when did Timothy begin to know the Lord?
3. According to 2 Timothy 1:5, what did Paul see in Timothy and his grandmother and mother?
TIMOTHY’S CAN EXPLAIN CLEARLY HOW THE GOSPEL DELIVERS FROM THE PENALTY OF SIN WITHOUT TALKING DOWN, FOR THEY ARE RELAYING HOW THEY HEARD AND UNDERSTOOD AS A LITTLE CHILD.
Like Timothy’s grandmother Eunice, Lizzy’s grandmother impacted her life. Like our own Shirley, John 3:16 opened Lizzy’s eyes — and she had a funny story to help the hearers feel less scared. Her Catholic grandmother gave her her own holy water vase stuck on a plaque that had John 3:16 — but it was that verse that Lizzy read every night and helped her believe.
Now this is a chance for the “Timothy’s” to make the gospel really clear — as if telling it to a child. Lizzy could say, “I read that God so loved the world that He gave his own son, so that whosoever would believe would have everlasting life. Even as a little child I understood that Jesus paid for my sin and if I trusted what He did at the cross to pay for my sin, I would be forgiven.” Lizzy read John 3:16 every night as she lay in bed and God rescued her, as a little child, from the penalty of sin.
Here’s another Timothy example. My son J. R. put his trust in Christ in my Sunday School class at the age of 5. I had presented the gospel visually with a black heart, a red heart representing Christ’s cleansing blood, and a white heart representing forgiveness. J. R. raised his hand and asked if he could get that white heart. When my mother was 93, J. R. presented this gospel to her, and then asked her if she had ever asked Jesus to forgive her, to give her a white heart. And she said, “Would you help me, J. R.?”
Mary E. gave a beautiful Timothy example for her mother was so wise in how she talked to a child. I want you to note how clearly Mary explains the gospel. Here is Mary E’s story:
“When I was 5 I kept asking my mom to read to me from our Children’s Bible, the story of the creation and fall of man. When she got to the part about Adam and Eve sinning I would say, “Why didn’t they die??? God said, “In the day you eat of it, you will surely die.” My mom would say something to this effect, “Well, they did die, they died on the inside, their souls died.” (Spirits, really, but close mom!) “and their bodies began to die.” This seemed like such a severe punishment to me, for first time violators (I was very into second chances!) so I would then say, “But why didn’t God give them a second chance!!!!????” (I was pretty distressed about this!) To which mom replied, “Well, He did give them a second chance, really the only chance, the same one for all of us. God knew we would all disobey Him (sin) so He sent His son, Jesus, to take our punishment for us. If we accept Jesus’s death on the cross as the payment for our sin, and ask Him to forgive us, come into us, and be our Lord, then we will have eternal life and spend eternity with Him in heaven when our bodies die.” I pondered this for a while and then one Sunday, at church, during the “invitation hymn” I went up and told the pastor that I wanted to ask Jesus to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins. He prayed with me and I believe that was when I truly became a Christian.”
4. What was helpful from the above?
5A. If you are a Timothy, explain how you understood what Jesus did for you — use John 3:16, a visual, or a short clear explanation. Make it more about Jesus and less about you.
TIMOTHY’S OFTEN GO THROUGH A TIME OF EITHER TURNING AWAY AND BEING BROUGHT BACK OR HAVING THEIR EYES OPENED TO SOMETHING THEY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND. THIS IS A CHANCE TO SHOW HOW THE GOSPEL CAN ALSO DELIVER FROM THE POWER OF SIN.
Lizzy told about her pride — which is so good — because it cuts down the assumption of the hearer “You think you are better than I am and you want me to be good like you.” Lizzy said that in her college years she realized her “goodness” was not earning her points, for Christianity is not a point system, but grace. Her pride had to die and she had to trust Jesus did it all.
Then she also made it clear this is a process, that she still has a messy heart, but (and I loved this) she is still that 5 year old girl who can talk to Jesus on her bed and know that He will cleanse her again.
Also she testified to His power in her life — giving her a hunger for Scripture, and helping her see others without the lens of judgment.
And Mary E. wrote: “Later, as a 14 year-old, through reading the book Joni, I came to understand that God didn’t just want to save me from the punishment of sin, but wanted a relationship with me!! The God of the universe wanted to get to know me and for me to get to know Him. So, it was then that I began to read His Word daily and have a deeper prayer life with Him. So, so much has happened since then. It seems that there are always layers being peeled back and my understanding of Who He is grows deeper with the passing of time and I think we will never tire of getting to know Him more and more for all of eternity.”
Mary B. had a most interesting testimony. I am always moved by Timothy testimonies of a child in a very difficult situation and of how God came running. Here is an excerpt from Mary B’s: ” I was 8 before I realized my sisters were half sisters. When I was 9, they were all court removed from our home. I became very depressed, and blamed myself for all the problems. I had been taken to church as a child, and knew that God was holy and I was not. I could tell you that Jesus died for my sins, but it didn’t make sense. I tried to make deals with God, asking for His help to get through the day. After 2 years of that, as a young teen, I got down on my knees and surrendered. I told God I was done trying to make deals. If He wanted me, He could have all of me. Since that day His death for me makes sense, I’ve known that I belong to Him and will be with Him in heaven. He has brought emotional healing to my life, and filled me with a peace that others comment on.”
5B. If you are a Timothy, share how God clarified something for you later, or made you aware of an idol or a sin, and how running to Him is helping you. Make sure to explain it is a process.
WEDNESDAY-FRIDAY: PAUL TESTIMONIES(Interesting note — though most of the great paintings show Paul falling off his horse, my editor recently pointed out there is no mention of a horse in Scripture! Yet — still could be.)
6. “Paul’s” can give a snapshot of what they were like before Christ. At the stoning of Stephen, we have a snapshot of the before “Saul.” Find it in Acts 8:1.
Laura-dancer shared how two children were out of control, and they even had to put a son on house arrest. She was trying to control them and could not. The first night her son was off house arrest, he got in a fight, got punched, his teeth were hanging out, and he was hospitalized. Laura said, “I was at the lowest point of my life.”
7. “Paul’s” can share about how God came to them, enlightening them. How did He do it with Saul? Read Acts 9.
8. What did Paul pray for in Colossians 4:4?
9. If you are a Paul, how did God come to you, enlightening you with the Gospel?
Laura shared how the gospel not only delivers from the penalty of sin, but also the power. A colleague suggested she listen to Nancy Leigh Demoss podcasts. Nancy said, “Is there something you need to let go of?” Laura’s tells of her response, the burden lifted, and the freedom.
10. Give another example of God helping you to be delivered from the power of sin. Think in terms of idols. Our own Liz gave a simple clear example when she wrote: “Many of the sins in my life became evident immediately. The comfort I found in the bottle was replaced by the comfort of my Savior.” Your turn.
11. For the rest of the week and next ask God to give you an opportunity to share a snippet or more — and to give you favor with the hearer and boldness and clarity as you share. Let us know!
12. What’s your take-a-way and why?