What is the mission and message of the church? How do we not shipwreck our faith? In week 6 of our series, FOCUS: A Study in 1 Timothy, John McGee teaches through 1 Timothy 3:14-16, showing us that the mission of the church is to be a family that holds up truth and the message of the church is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
FOCUS: Jesus is the King
FOCUS: Godliness With Contentment
FOCUS: Honoring Authority
FOCUS: Values for the Family of God
FOCUS: Protecting the Church
FOCUS: The Mission and Message of the Church
FOCUS: Church Leadership
Focus: Men and Women in the Local Church
Focus: Sinners and Saints Like Us
Focus: Sound Doctrine
What is the mission and message of the church? How do we not shipwreck our faith? In week 6 of our series, FOCUS: A Study in 1 Timothy, John McGee teaches through 1 Timothy 3:14-16, showing us that the mission of the church is to be a family that holds up truth and the message of the church is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So far in 1 Timothy, we’ve learned that false teachers have always been in the church and that doctrine and discernment keep us from being deluded by them. We learned that God’s mercy and grace should change our vision and response to what’s happening in the world around us and that God calls his church to be a people who prioritize prayer. We heard about God’s heart to unleash women in the local church and, lastly, we learned about the character church leadership should possess.
Good morning, Watermark. My name is John McGee. I have been on staff for 18 years here, a long time. My role on staff is to support other churches on our team called Watermark Resources along with some really gifted folks. What we're trying to do is help create healthy churches and healthy leaders. We package up some of the ministries you're familiar with here at Watermark, and we export and just kind of coach and help. We have podcasts, articles, conferences, and are working on some books.
So, that's what I do here at the church. My most important role, obviously, is that of husband of 25 years to Pam, and then also I'm a dad to my four kids. As a dad, I love to make memories. We were in New York a couple of years ago about to see a Mets game and a Yankees game. We were going to go see all of the ballparks. We had a couple of days, and we said, "Let's go up to Maine."
We went to Portland, Maine, and we were kind of looking for that quintessential Maine experience. You know, overlooking the harbor, eating a lobster or a lobster roll. We did that, and the consensus was the lobster was exceptionally average and exceptionally overpriced. I just wasn't a fan. If you're looking for food recommendations in Portland, Maine, I recommend two things. One is the potato flour doughnuts, and the second would be the raw oyster bars there. They've perfected the way of flavoring shaved ice and putting it on oysters. I could eat it for days.
The reason most people go to Portland, Maine, is to see this lighthouse called the Portland Head Light. It was built in the 1700s because, obviously, ships were wrecking right there on the rocks. So, we went out there, did the deal, got the keychain, or whatever. As we were about to go out, I walked through this little museum and saw this picture. This is a picture from 1886. It's the Annie Maguire, and this is Christmas Eve.
The ship literally wrecked at the foot of the lighthouse. The lighthouse was there. They interviewed both the captain and the crew. They asked, "Did you see the lighthouse?" and they said, "We did." Somehow, inexplicably, they wrecked right there at the foot of the lighthouse. I thought immediately of leaders who have fallen, Christians who have fallen, many who had preached about the warnings of doing so and just didn't heed it themselves.
I remember being kind of torn up about that then. It's something that, because of my role at Watermark Resources, I'm continually mindful of, and it wrecks me in a way that, honestly, would be hard for most people to understand. A friend of mine said recently, "You just wear it like nobody else."
Some nights I'll come home, especially if there has been a bunch of people falling or falling out, and I'll just ask Pam, my wife, to walk with me and just remind me that I'm not crazy, that Jesus is worth living for, that we can finish the race, that we've not wasted our lives, and that when it's all said and done, we could have just been faithful and not caused the name of Christ any harm.
My brother was in town two weeks ago, and we walked the lake and talked about why it is that people fall. We kind of said there are probably three things that always lead to every downfall. The first would be a pulling back from God's family. Rather than being pastored, there's kind of a pulling back, and there's a bit of an isolation. There's always a bending of the truth. There's some truth they used to have front and center that they believed, and they begin to walk some of that back.
Then, always, there's something about their own soul they don't tend to. Somehow, rather than walking with Jesus, Jesus becomes a bit of a topic they're conversant in, not a person they have a relationship with. We talked about how we would go down, what the path would be if we were going to wreck our faith. Then last week, a very prominent, worldwide-known pastor fell. He had an affair, and the whole world was talking about it. It wrecked me. I'm praying for him, praying for his church.
Then my phone rang on Sunday, and the elders said, "Hey, John, can you teach this text? We need to move some things around," and I said, "I would love to." This is where I'm living. This is what I'd love to share with the church. How can we not shipwreck our faith? If you guys remember, earlier in the book of 1 Timothy where we've been, chapter 1, Paul talks about those who have shipwrecked their faith.
He has talked about those who probably knew the signs, but they shipwrecked their faith. What's coming up next week in chapter 4, verse 1, of 1 Timothy is those who abandoned the faith. This is very much front of mind to Paul. He's giving instruction. He's giving theology. He's giving things the church needs to know and do so they don't let those things happen, and we need to hear them today. Candidly, I just needed to hear them for myself, and I'm glad to share them with you. So, let me read the passage, and then we'll jump in. Paul says to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:14:
"Although I hope to come to you soon, I am writing you these instructions so that, if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God's household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory."
Paul basically wants Timothy to know two things. We're going to talk today about both the mission of the church and the message of the church. He has this brief little moment, and he's going to talk to him. He says, "Hey, I hope to come to you soon," and you see the relationship Paul had with Timothy, which I love. He wanted to see him. In fact, at the end of 2 Timothy is a passage I've always been intrigued by. Paul is in jail at the end of his life, and he wants three things. He wants the Scriptures, he wants a coat because he's cold, and he asks Timothy to come because he wants to see him.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 that he shared not only the gospel but also his very life. There was a relationship that was happening when Paul would go to these cities, and it's a good model for us. Some of us want to have ministry. We just don't want to do the hard work relationally. Parents, it's a true adage: rules without relationship equal rebellion. I will tell you, in Community Groups, admonition without relationships often ends in bitterness. It's not the point of the passage, but it's just something to note. There's always a relationship, and that's how we do ministry. That's how we move toward people, and that's how we care.
He says, "I'm going to write these instructions so you will know how to conduct yourselves in the household of God. In case I don't come, Timothy, there are a couple of things I want you to know. I want you to know, first, about the mission of the church. The first thing I want you to know about the mission of the church is that it is supposed to be a family. It's supposed to be the household of God."
When Paul said that, the church would have had a pretty good understanding, a pretty good connotation of what a family looked like. Family would have been the most important thing. It would have been the way people would have thought about themselves first. More than a part of a city, more than a part of a country, more than anything else they did professionally, they were part of a family. Paul says the church is to be the household of God. The church is supposed to be a family.
There's an obvious problem there. It kind of jumps off the page at us. A lot of us don't like the families we came from, and if the church is somehow like the family I came from, I don't know if I want that. Much has been written, much has been preached about how sometimes it's hard for people to understand God is a good Father because of their earthly fathers and the sin and the dysfunction that was there, and it makes it hard to conceive of who God might be.
For some of us, the thought that we could trust a group of people and move toward them as a family is hard. It's just hard given what we've grown up with, given what we've seen and what we have experienced, but families are supposed to be a blessing, a blessing like no other. When they work the way they're supposed to, they're supposed to be a place of encouragement. They're supposed to be a place where people celebrate your wins, where they also point out the things you're really good at and help you understand the gifts God has given you so you can lean into them and leverage them for his glory.
It's a place where you're supposed to laugh; where you're supposed to feel free to cry; where conversations of substance, real things, happen; where you can ask questions about faith and life that are sticky and might not have clean answers; where you don't have to pretend to be someone you're not; where you're fully known to the point that people can see your sin and they can point it out and they don't hold it against you and pull away while you work it out. They lean in, and they love you enough to tell you so that you can see it, so that you can change, so that you can honor God. It's a safety net you fall back on.
When it's done right, when family is done the way it's supposed to be done, just the mention of the word family brings a smile. It's the way it's supposed to be. No family is perfect. I know mine is not. I could tell you stories for days. One that illustrates it the best… A couple of years ago, we were having family devotions as a family. So, six people in a living room, Bibles open. We're getting ready to look at God's Word, and out of the corner of my eye, I see my two sons in a fight, but not like poking at each other. Like, fists drawn ready to pommel each other.
I have my Bible open, and my kids are about to pound each other. We break up the fight. I can't remember what we did. I just remember my wife weeping. One of our stated goals as a family was that our kids would be best friends when they left home, and it was really hard to see how that could be a reality given what was going on in our living room. The kids aren't perfect, and the parents sure aren't perfect in our home.
We know how this is going to go when they leave home. They're going to have meals with friends, and their friends are going to go, "Hey, tell us about your family. Tell us about your parents," and this is how it's going to go. "My parents were great, but… I had a great childhood, but…" So, we've told our kids, "We know we have 'buts.' You can talk about our 'buts,' and we ask you to talk about our 'buts' here in the house and not just when you leave."
We have "buts," and the church is the same way. The parishioners are not perfect. They get into fights, and they do things that are not becoming of a Christian. The leaders sure aren't perfect either. Both in families and in the church, because we aren't perfect, we can't love each other because of; we have to love each other in spite of. We have to choose to commit. You commit to your family. You don't shop your family and see if you can get a better deal.
Some of us come to the church and, candidly, we come as consumers, not as those who commit. We come as kind of like a department store, where we used to shop here, but we've found the selection and the service a little better over here. That's where we used to shop, and we shop here now. We think about church as a place to get religious goods and services, and we shop it. We compare. We put them side by side and choose the one that meets our needs the most.
That's not how families or churches work. Paul is saying the church is supposed to be the household of God. So, how are we doing, church? Are you committed? If everyone was committed to the church of God as you are, what would we look like? If everybody was as engaged and encouraged and all in and setting an example as you, how would your small group be doing? How would this church be doing?
There are great moments as this church. When the church is done right, it's just like nothing else. There have been moments that have happened in this sanctuary that I'll remember if I live to be 100. I have those as a family. One of my favorite moments… You just get a handful of these. As a family, we were in Chicago, and we went on the coastal waterway. We heard you could rent a pontoon boat.
I don't know what I thought was going to happen, but I didn't really understand they were just going to toss us the keys and say, "Hey, go have at it, and drive up and down the waterways," which we did, along with giant yachts. It was this little motorboat and these giant yachts, and we were looking up. We were there together as a family. We got some Garrett popcorn. We had our phone playing some music. The sun went down, and the lights came up over Chicago, and we had a blast. We laughed, we danced, and we sang.
It was one of those moments you just go, "I just wish we could live here forever." It was a holy moment. It was a thin place where heaven seemed really close. One of my kids just started crying. I said, "Hey, buddy, what's wrong?" He goes, "I don't want this to end. I know we're going to move out, and I know you're going to die." I have no plans right now, but that's going to happen. "I just don't want it to stop." We'll have those moments as a church, as a family.
But the reality is for a family, most of the time, it's a little bit mundane and a little bit messy. It's chores. It's homework. It's paying bills, returning emails, fixing up the house, showing up for appointments, helping each other get through the day, and then putting up with each other when we're not at our best. We have to put up with both the mundane and the messy to have those magical moments.
I think a lot of times we think about family, "I just want the magical moments." You can have them, but you have to commit through the mundane and the messy, church. That's what Paul is talking about here. How are we doing? One of the missions of the church is to be a family. I love that Paul says it is a family of the living God. The head of our family is alive. Some of these other religions… Their gods had died, and they were conjuring them up. Our God lives, and it gives us incredible comfort.
I remember when my dad died. I told a friend, "If life is like climbing a rock face, I've been climbing this rock face, and I've always been harnessed and tethered in, so if I made a misstep, I had somebody to catch me. I just unclipped, and I'm free solo on this rock face. I feel undone." That's not who we are as Christians. The living God is the head of our family. Paul wants us to know. Colossians 1:18 says Christ is the head of the church. He is alive. He is resurrected. He is risen. He's in heaven. He is the head of our church.
I've talked to pastors during COVID who feel undone, and they're not sure what to do, and they're like, "I'm not sure how I lead through this as a pastor." I've started saying the same thing. "You're not the senior pastor. Jesus is. Open up your Bible and read Colossians 1:18. Take your org chart out, flip it sideways, and put Jesus at the top." He's the head of the church. He's the head of our family.
So, the mission of the church… One of the missions of the church is to be a family. Another mission of the church is that we are supposed to hold up truth. In some translations it says we are a buttress of the truth. In the NIV it says we are the foundation and a pillar of truth. The truth is what God has designed. We don't get to vote on it. It's revealed through his Word, through the person of Jesus Christ. He doesn't ask us what we think. We don't get to pick and choose. He gets to decide truth.
Our job is to hold it up, to be a pillar or a buttress or a foundation. These are all words that mean the same thing. It's kind of warm and cozy. It's called a hendiadys. Paul is saying we're supposed to hold up this thing. So, a buttress… If you have forgotten your medieval architecture, we've brought a picture. Those are buttresses. They're not the thing. They just hold it up. The church in Ephesus would have been very aware of, obviously, the temple of Diana or Artemis, which had these massive pillars. They would have understood, "Okay. Yeah."
That's what Paul is saying. He's saying the church… We, individually and corporately, are like these little pillars, and we're supposed to hold up truth. That's our job. That's part of the mission of the church. If we don't do that, bad things happen. They always have. Anytime the church has not held up truth, it has moved toward insignificance and has become dead. It has become a relic. If you travel through Western Europe, there are some gorgeous churches.
What happened was in about the 1800s, some really smart people, like, serious gray matter people, who I think wanted to help the church were just saying, "You know what? Some of these messages aren't playing really well. That whole exclusivity of Christ, the deity of Christ, absolute morality…that's not playing well. We did some polling. It's not doing really well right now, so we can help out the church."
They began to turn back the dial on truth, and now they're museums, and you pay a couple of bucks to walk through and see what was, at one point, a true church. Many of them gave up on truth, and they are no longer. There are actually some really encouraging things happening in Europe, but by and large, the church is what was.
Churches don't do well. Societies don't do well. Anytime the church has not held to truth, not lifted it up and said, "There is an absolute morality. There is a God. There is life after death. People matter. People are made in the image of God, and we have to do all we can to uphold life, protect life, treat everyone equally," bad things happen.
Slavery, in some regard, happened because the church did not uphold the truth. When it did, we began to unwind it. There are still consequences to pay because we didn't uphold truth. Society works. The church can be a compass as we hold to truth. I know sometimes it's not popular. I really do. This week, I was thinking about, "If I were a disciple, which disciple would I be?" If you'll just indulge me for a second, I think I would be the disciple who would help Jesus out.
We're at the Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus is saying some hard things, and I go, "Hey, guys. We'll be right back. Jesus, come here. Listen. That was sharp, those edges. What if we tried this? I think we could round it and play really well. Do you see those people leaving? Yeah, you're the Son of God, so you know everything, but they're leaving back there, bro. So, if you said it this way, I think it would be way more palatable." I think that's who I would have been, especially the first 15 years of my walking with Christ. It doesn't work well. I know it's hard.
Churches don't do well, societies don't do well, and people don't do well when we don't uphold the truth. I've seen this play out over and over and over again. Do you want to know how to shipwreck your faith? You give up on some of the core truths. Not inconsequential opinions, but the core truths of Scripture. You start to move on those, and it's a matter of time before you shipwreck or you abandon the faith, as 4:1 will say. It happens every single time.
Again, I understand. Truly. I think if I were a disciple and we were sitting around the fire at night, and if Matthew or Luke or John were there, I'd say, "Hey, guys. Jesus said that thing today. What if we left that out? Knowing what I bet is going to happen in 2020, they're not going to like that, so let's leave that out." I bet I would have done that. I've seen it as a pastor now for well over 20 years. When people begin to move truth… They're with their friends who don't like the truth, they give up on it, and it's just a matter of time.
Part of the mission of the church is to hold up and hold on to truth. The mission of the church is to be a family. The mission of the church is to uphold truth. That's what we do. Now Paul talks about the message of the church. Paul is going to quote a hymn. Most likely this would have been a hymn the church in Ephesus would have known about. He says in verse 16, "Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great…"
Musterion was a term a lot of the religions around that time would have understood. You were always after this secret knowledge. Some of our religions still today are that way. You try to level up. You pay more money for more courses to get the knowledge. With Christianity you get it all. Paul is saying, "The mystery has been revealed. It's Christ. This thing you're trying to figure out what it is? It's Christ. He was here, and if you want to know who he was or how to be godly, it's in plain sight."
He's going to quote this hymn. It was intended probably to be sung. In the Greek it has some rhythm to it. I won't sing it, but hopefully I'll encourage you as I explain the wonder of what Paul is laying out. He's laying out who Christ is and what we call the gospel or the good news. If you're a believer, you should just be warm inside. "Yes! That's how I got in. This is what I'm about. This is who we are." If you're not a believer, if you haven't trusted in Christ, this is good news. This is really good news, and I'm excited to share with you.
First, Paul says that Jesus… He is Jesus. "He appeared in the flesh…" An orthodox understanding of Jesus is he was both God and man, equally. We make a big deal about that as Christians, and you ask, "Why is that the case?" Well, it has to be the case, because Romans 5 will tell us that man owed a debt to God. It was a debt that was owed to God. Man sinned, and he owed that debt back to God, but he couldn't pay it because he is not perfect.
You need a perfect man to be the sacrifice to pay for the sin of us individually and for mankind. None of us can do that. The only way to resolve that is to have God exist as a perfect man and pay the debt to himself on our behalf. It's the wonder of the gospel. Every other religion is "You do." Christianity is "Christ did." It's the wonder of the gospel. Paul says this is the message of the church: he appeared in the flesh.
Secondly, he was vindicated by the Spirit, which means he was proven to be right. Jesus is making some really audacious claims. "I am the way, the truth, and the life." They ask him who he is, and he says, "I Am," and they go to stone him. They're like, "This guy says he's God. Is he? I don't know. No one knows." It's really obvious they don't know, and then the death, burial, and resurrection. Christ is raised from the dead, and everyone goes, "Yes. He was, in fact, the Christ, the Son of God. He was God. He conquered sin and death. He not only paid for it. He's so powerful because he's God he rose from the dead."
After that, he was seen by the angels. He went up into heaven. Angels saw him. Before Jesus left in Matthew 28, he told the disciples and all of his followers they were to preach the gospel to all of the nations, starting where they were and then working outward. Jesus was preached among the nations. The church of Ephesus would have read this and gone, "Yeah. That's us. Fifty years ago, we didn't know who Jesus was, and we sure didn't have a church, but check it out. Yeah, he was preached. He was preached among us, and in this pagan city we now have a church."
We're here because people preached and because guys like Paul took the gospel message. They didn't only preach it. It was believed in the world. They believed it in Ephesus. They believed in it so much they continued to pass it on. You're here today because people preached and believed the good news of Jesus Christ.
Pam and I were in the north side of Iceland several years ago. It was a gorgeous day, and there was a fishing museum. I was like, "I want to go see that." Pam was like, "No way. There's an ocean, and it's sunny, and there's a coffee shop. I'll be right here." She gave me a kiss and said, "Have fun, history boy." So, I went into this museum by myself, and it went kind of as you would expect fishing museums to go.
This was the craziest thing. Off to the side, there was a little room. It looked like it might have been at one point a broom closet or something. I walked in there. I didn't understand, "Is this part of the museum or not? I'll go in there." There was a TV playing on a loop, and there was this guy doing this down at the dock. I was like, "Is that guy preaching?" I'm in Iceland, western Europe, secular Europe, just outside of the Arctic Circle, and it tells a story of this guy who just preached and was kind of a pastor to the town.
He made money by day, and he pastored and preached, and he gave what money he did have to kids around the world. I just thought, "Man! The Arctic Circle is right there, and somehow the gospel traveled all the way up here that he is that impacted." We're not dealing in life hacks, that Jesus kicked out these little pithy sayings. This stuff is powerful. It's the good news. The good news has power. Then, finally, he was taken up to glory. Jesus was, is, and will receive glory to the end of time. He's our King. He's worthy of our glory. That's the good news, friends.
There are three different groups in here. First, if you're not a believer, if you haven't understood yet who Jesus is and his offer for you, that is good news for you. You don't have to pay for your own sin. You can't. Christ has, and all you have to do is accept and believe, which was so hard for me to do initially. I heard the gospel so many times until God just did a work, and I was like, "I understand," and I responded. If you haven't yet, today could be the day of salvation. At the end of the service, if you want to come down here and talk about that, we'd love to.
Secondly, some of you are dealing with some pretty significant guilt and shame right now, and you need to be reminded of the gospel. I think COVID and the isolation of COVID, for many of us, has caused us or allowed us to think things and do things we're not proud of and, candidly, wouldn't want anybody to know.
I want you to know that God knows, and he's not mad. The gospel is that he saved no wrath for you. He poured it all out on his Son. He didn't wait until 2020 for you to do the thing you did so he could pour out some of the leftover wrath on you. He poured it all out on his Son, saved none for you. Be free. You're forgiven. Walk and act out your faith in a manner in keeping with repentance. But you're forgiven.
We opened with pastors who have fallen. There are guys here in this church who actually pastored churches and did things that made national headlines. There were consequences to pay for sure, but God is using them now. I hope God uses in the future this pastor who fell this week. Beware lest we fall. We don't think that we're somehow better, but I just want you to know, if you have a story, God knows it and has paid for it.
Here's the group I really want to talk to today. It's those of you who are believers. You understand that. You could actually stand up here right now and explain the gospel. You get it. You've believed it. You've said it. You've taught it. You could explain it, but it makes no difference to your life. You walk out, and you don't really think about the gospel. It doesn't have an impact. It doesn't change anything about the way you think.
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, you have forgotten God and are living Christianity without God. Or as Jerry Bridges said, you are ungodly. He defines ungodliness in the book Respectable Sins like this: "Ungodliness may be defined as living one's everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God's will, or of God's glory, or of one's dependence on God.
You can readily see, then, that someone can lead a respectable life and still be ungodly in the sense that God is essentially irrelevant in his or her life. […] They may even attend church for an hour or so each week but then live the remainder of the week as if God doesn't exist. They are not wicked people, but they are ungodly."
It's ungodliness, I think, that ultimately is going to lead to the demise of many of us. If we're going to shipwreck our faith, it will be this. This is how I will go down. You can remind me of it if I have an affair with another woman or do something else that discredits the name of Christ. That is how I will go down: I live ungodly; I live Christianly and morally but without any kind of thought of God.
For many of us, Christianity is a thing we used to do. We used to really be into it. Have you ever walked through somebody's garage and could see the trail of what they used to be into? There was the rower, and the guy was like, "Oh man, I was into the rower. It was like five times a week. You know, my lats and my back were huge. I used the rower.
But then I got into the stepper. I was into the stepper, and my quads got ginormous. But I'm not into that anymore. Now what I'm into is Peloton. I got the non-slip mat. I did the package, the upgrade, and I got the water bottles and the weights." How do you lift weights when you're on a bike? "I have the subscription and the tight pants that I shouldn't wear in public. I've got it all, man. I'm into it." And you know they will not be into it.
There are the golf clubs that are dusty, and they can tell you stories of shots they took that will blow your mind. In fact, if you need help with your golf swing, they can help you. They've studied it that much that they could fix the slice in your swing, but they don't golf. Golfing is what they used to be into.
Some of us, I think, have a box in our garage that says "Jesus." It's a thing we used to really be into. If you open it up, you'll see your Bible that used to be so well worn and went with you everywhere, and there are Scripture memory cards where you were enamored by and in love with God's Word, so you memorized it. There are pictures of your first Christian friends, and you remember being on mission together.
There's your journal there, and you read it and go, "Wow! I was trying to figure out how to obey all of God's Word, and I was actually confessing down to the thought level all of my sins and struggles. Man! I prayed some audacious prayers." All of them trinkets and relics of a time when God was something you used to be into, but not anymore. You're just not into God, not into Jesus. You used to be. Not now. We've become ungodly.
So, now is the time when you're ready for the to-do list. I have 10 things that are going to fix this right now. All you have to do is try harder and run faster and jump higher. Are you guys ready? I want to propose a different way out of ungodliness. It's something I'm working with, working through, working on, trying to be transformed, somehow having Christ formed in me. It's not so much trying harder as much as it is, like Brother Lawrence said… It's a book I highly recommend to you.
I'm trying to practice the presence of God, trying to remember that God is with me and for me. He is all around me, and I need to yield and submit to him. I asked some friends how they were doing it. David Penuel, who often makes announcements up here, said, "You know, when I shower, I remind myself that my soul needs God's cleansing, and when I'm getting dressed that my sin needs God's covering, and when I'm eating that my soul needs God's nourishment, and when I'm driving that God is sending me out on mission."
Nathan Wagnon said, "I pray Bartimaeus' prayer a lot. 'Son of David, have mercy on me, a sinner.'" What I've been doing recently is setting my watch to beep every hour, and when it does, the first thing in my mind is "You are God, and I surrender to you." Then I pray prayers of worship or confession or thanksgiving. I'm amazed at how often it beeps once an hour and I'm like, "I didn't think about God since then." It's crazy. That is what I want to propose is the way out of ungodliness, knowing that message of the church but not actually living it.
What if, friends, you woke up tomorrow and before your eyes opened you thought about God? As you ate your breakfast, you prayed that God would sustain you. As you went to work, you prayed that God would use you and would remind you that he is with you and that anything that happens to you has passed through his hands. He's got it, and you can be at peace today. Then, when someone was late or didn't perform well, your first thoughts were, "I'm so grateful for the grace of God. I'm going to move toward this person out of the grace I have received, not wrath or anger."
Then, at lunch with your coworker, rather than trying to get something from them and seeing them as someone who could advance your career or get you a deal, you saw them as God's son or daughter, somebody he was crazy about, and you prayed and asked how he could use you in the life of that believer. Then, on the way home, you replayed your day and asked God to show you anything you did or thought that didn't please him so you could repent and make amends tomorrow if you needed to.
Then in the evening, whatever the agenda was, whether soccer practice, chores, or catching up on work, you asked the Father, "What would it look like to glorify you and bring you honor tonight?" Then your last thoughts as you laid down were about the gospel, and you were grateful to God for what he has done for you. You rehearsed the gospel, you thanked God for the gospel, and you thought about God and went to sleep.
There are a thousand commands in the New Testament. There's no possible way you could keep them or keep up with them. Our only hope is to live a godly life in a God consciousness, as Paul Tripp calls it, a God awareness. I think, for many of us, that is our step. So, the challenge this week, friends, in regard to the mission… What do you need to do to move closer to the family? What do you have to do to commit and be a better family member?
Secondly, what do you have to do to hold on to truth and hold up truth for yourself, in your own heart, your Community Group, your community, your extended family at the workplace? What would it look like to lovingly hold up truth? Thirdly, what would it look like to not only believe the gospel, be able to rehearse the gospel, but also to live in light of it, moment by moment, with a God consciousness, an awareness that God is with you and a yieldedness to him? It would bring us immense joy and God much glory. Let's pray.
Father, we thank you for the gospel. Some of us need to respond to it. I pray that you would give us understanding if we don't have it so that we could. Some of us need to be reminded of it, that you are for us. You're not against us. You saved no wrath. You poured it all out on your Son. Some of us need to walk it out day by day, moment by moment. We're not doing that.
We're aware of what you said. We're just not aware moment by moment that you're with us, and we're not yielding our hearts. Would you help us do that? Father, would you help us individually, and would you help us be a body, a community, a family, that that is what marks us, that we love you, that we walk with you? It's our desire. Would you please help us?