The Life You Were Meant to Live
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
June 22, 2008
Passage: 2 Timothy 2:15-19 (NLT)
watched some of the NHL Draft this weekend. Yes, I know. Riveting
television. Not all that exciting for us watching, but absolutely
thrilling for the players being drafted.
Actually, while we
joke about it not being all that exciting to watch, the hockey fans in
Ottawa would apparently disagree. Get this… tickets were handed out for
free for people to attend the draft. But by this past Wednesday, all
the tickets were given out and they started to reappear on eBay for
$125, $130. For a draft! Must be a little more riveting than I thought.
I actually did watch some of it, and I thought it was interesting what
the commentators said about one player. I don’t even remember the
player’s name, but when his name was called and he walked up to the
platform to receive the sweater for his new team, Bob MacKenzie (on
TSN) talked about how this player has learned that he’s going to have
to rely on more than natural talent.
Now, what was Bob talking
about there? He was talking about how even though this player is
talented, it’s also going to take a lot of work for him to make it in
the NHL. And he went on to talk about how this player has begun to
train and how he’s gotten into better shape and how he’s become very
disciplined in his preparation to play in the NHL. He’s talented, but
it’s going to take a lot more than that.
And I got to thinking,
that’s true for Christ followers, too. I mean, we are all gifted by
God’s grace… He has freely extended His grace to each of us offering us
salvation. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to live up to our full
potential as Christ followers. Salvation is a free gift, but living and
growing and maturing as a Christian takes work.
morning we took the time to recognize and honour our students. They are
progressing in their schooling and are going through a very formative
time in their lives. And someday, hopefully, they’ll receive that slip
of paper that says their schooling is complete. But is it really?
Because here’s what I believe: For the best of us, our schooling never
ends. The best of us are life-long learners. The best of us are always
students… keenly aware that there’s always room for growth. That’s true
in life and that’s true in the Kingdom of God.
You see, it’s easy to become a Christian. But to live and grow as a
Christian takes work.
passage that Jim read for us early talked about this very thing. Jim
read some of the words that the Apostle Paul wrote to one of his young
protégés, Timothy. And what Paul told Timothy was what it would take to
gain the approval of God. Not just to gain the salvation of God, but to
gain the approval of God.
So what we’re going to do this morning
is work our way through the verses Jim read and we’re going to break
them down and see what it takes to gain the approval of God.
Does God Want from Us?
God is looking for focused effort
if you prefer, God is looking for hard work. He wants you to focus in
on studying hard and serving hard. In the old King James translation of
2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)
Study to shew thyself approved unto God…
It’s talking about studying the Word of God and the ways of God.
let me ask you, when you have to really study something… maybe in
school you’re preparing for an exam or you’re trying to get current in
the latest strategies and technologies at work or you’re trying to get
a project done at home and you’re trying to find out how to do it… when
you really have to study something, do you do it best when you’re
distracted by other things or when you’re focused in on the task at
hand? Obviously you do your best when you’re focused in. So what God is
saying is, “Focus in. Give focused, concentrated effort to studying my
Word and my ways.”
The New Living translation that Jim read for us earlier translates the
same verse this way…
2 Timothy 2:15 (NLT)
Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval.
Be a good worker…
is what I know: God does not want His followers to be lazy about
following Him. He doesn’t want us to receive the salvation that cost
Him so much, only to coast through the rest of our lives. He wants us
to study and learn and grow. He wants us to serve Him and others
Romans 12:11 (NLT)
Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.
passage that Jim read for us was from the second letter in our Bibles
that Paul wrote to Timothy. In the first letter in chapter four, Paul
1 Timothy 4:7-10 (NLT)
Do not waste time
arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train
yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for
godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the
life to come.” This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept
it. This is why we work hard and continue to struggle…
wants us to view our spiritual training like training for the Olympics.
If you’re training for the Olympics… or even if you’re just training to
get into shape… what do you need to do? You’ve got to go to the gym.
How often? Is once every three or four weeks going to do the job? No,
you’ve got to be at it several times a week. You’ve got to be at it
What else do you have to do? You have to eat right.
You’ve got to eat foods that contribute to your health and don’t take
away from it. You’ve got to be taking in and ingesting beneficial food.
Otherwise, you’re not going to have the stamina, you’re not going to
have the energy, you’re not going to have the motivation to keep at it.
the spiritual parallel is that reading God’s Word and worshipping Him
and serving Him once a month or even once a week is not enough. That’s
not what He expects of you. He expects you to work hard and train hard
for godliness. He expects you to feed on the goodness of His Word
daily. He expects you to listen to good teachings and avoid the bad.
That means Sunday morning, that means personal Bible study, that means
LIFE Groups and seminars and conferences, that means reading or
listening to good books…
It means that we don’t do all this in
a flippant, haphazard way, but in a focused, committed, hard-working
way. If you want to gain God’s approval, you’re going to give a focused
effort in studying the Word of God and the ways of God and serving Him
God is looking for desire to grow
was thinking about something this week… I was thinking about this: What
if marriage was a religion? What if marriage wasn’t based on a
relationship but instead was a religion? We usually think of religion
as being a list of rules of dos and don’ts. So what if marriage was
like that? What if marriage meant you had a checklist you had to go
through every day…
- Give your spouse kiss before leaving the
- Always put the seat down.
- Never be late for dinner.
- Take out the garbage on days ending with
if you had a whole list of things like that… all good things… but you
had a list that you had to constantly keep track of? What if your
marriage wasn’t about the relationship but was about this list of dos
and don’ts? What would happen? There’d be no joy in that kind of
marriage. There’d be no motivation. There’d be no desire to grow. That
kind of marriage would absolutely stifle the relationship.
are those things bad? No, those all sound like reasonable expectations
in a marriage. But why do you do them? You do them because of the
relationship, not because they’re on some stupid list. You do them
because you love your spouse and because you want your marriage
relationship to grow and expand and develop.
A lot of people
think that God is about religion. He’s not. He’s about relationship. He
knows us and He wants us to know Him. And yes, He gives us some
guidelines or commandments about how to develop a strong healthy
relationship. But it’s not about the commandments; it’s about the
And actually, if you want to talk about the Bible
as a book of rules, there are relatively few rules or commandments in
there. The majority of the Bible is a narrative about our relationship
with God. God is all about relationship, and He wants us to be about
relationship, too. He doesn’t want us to serve Him and worship Him and
study His Word just out of some sense of obligation, He wants us to do
those things out of desire… out of a desire to grow in our relationship
2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
Do your best…
And you know what? You can’t do your best without desire.
about it: Have you ever set out to do something that you didn’t really
want to do? How well did you do it? Have you ever tried to diet without
really having the desire to follow it through? Have you ever tried to
cut your expenses without the desire for financial health? It just
Philippians 3:10 (NIV)
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection…
Hebrews 6:1 (NLT)
let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and
again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.
know what I hear the writer saying there? I hear him saying, “I’m tired
of going over the same things over and over again. I’m tired of living
at this level of spirituality. I want to move on. I want to grow. I
want to go deeper. I desire more.”
How about you? Are you
satisfied to stay where you’re at week after week, month after month,
year after year? Or do you want to grow? Do you desire more? God is
looking for you to desire more.
God is looking for a commitment to the Truth
2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who
does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
That verse talked about being an approved worker. It means a craftsman
who is gifted and is dedicated to doing excellent work.
Shera and I first moved here seven years ago, we were driving a 1984
Toyota. And it was a great car. But just by virtue of its age, it
needed work from time to time. So we knew we needed to find a good,
honest mechanic, and so we asked for recommendations. We got a strong
recommendation for one particular garage, so that’s where we’ve been
taking our cars ever since.
Now, a quick look in the phonebook
will tell you that there are a lot of garages in the Charlottetown
area. But this is the one we go to. Why? Because of the high quality of
service. Because the people who work there take pride in what they do.
They are dedicated to doing the job and doing it right. As far as I can
tell, they are “approved workers” who does not need to be ashamed
because they correctly handle the cars that come into their shop.
has called us to be approved workers… to never be ashamed because we
correctly handle the Word of Truth. And that means you’ve got to know
the truth to begin with. You’ve got to know what you believe and why
you believe what you believe.
That’s why we dedicated the past
six weeks here to examining some of the false spiritual claims that are
out there. So we can learn how to recognize the difference between
truth and error. So we can discern when something is false and so we
can clearly explain what the truth really is.
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about
your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a
gentle and respectful way.
First, I must
know the Truth of God’s Word.
must apply it to my own life.
Third, I must
diligently study it.
must clearly and respectfully teach it.
And can I remind you of the first three words of 2 Timothy 2:15? It
2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)
see, God’s not asking you to be Billy Graham. He’s not asking you to be
Bill Hybels. He’s not asking you to be Rick Warren. He’s not even
asking you to be the person sitting beside you this morning. He’s
asking you to do your best, not their best. And you know what? You can
do better what God has called you to do than they can, anyway. So do
your best to handle the truth of God’s word correctly.
God is looking for Integrity
an old saying that our walk must match our talk. There has to be a
consistency between what we say we believe and how we live. And that’s
exactly what Paul’s getting at in verses 16 and 17…
2 Timothy 2:16-17 (MSG)
Words are not mere words, you know. If they're not backed by a godly
life, they accumulate as poison in the soul.
God wants our walk to match our talk. He wants us to live lives of
1 Chronicles 29:17 (NLT)
I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find
So do a self-evaluation. How do you rate on the Integrity Scale?
You say you value generosity? When was the last time you gave to
someone in need?
You say you value honesty? How honest are you when tax time comes
You say you value family? How often do you cheat your family in favour
You say you value loyalty? How ready are you to stand up for a friend
who’s being berated?
You say you value courage? How afraid are you to speak up when it
You say you detest gossip? But how quickly do you get sucked in when it
say you value your friendships? How available are you to help them when
they fall, to listen when they need an ear, or to load a truck when
they need to move?
You say you value God’s Word? When was the last time you read it when
you were sitting at home?
You say you value your Church family? But how often is it the first to
go when other things crowd in?
You say you want to serve God? How ready are you to obey Him when it
doesn’t fit your calendar or your budget?
You see, integrity is a lot more than saying the right things. It’s
doing the right things. It’s being the right person.
was proud of my wife this week. Let me tell you why. She went shopping
at one of the shops downtown, and when she got home she looked at the
receipt and realized that they made a $30 mistake in what they charged
her. They didn’t charge her too much; they charged her too little. How
many people would be thrilled about a mistake like that? I mean, I know
a lot of people who demand their 30 bucks back when they were charged
too much, but not many people would go out of their way to go back to
the store to make up the difference when they were undercharged. But
that’s exactly what Shera did. That’s what someone with integrity does.
Proverbs 11:20 (NLT)
The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those
If you want to gain God’s approval, you’ve got to be a person of
God is looking for Self-Control
this really goes along with integrity. But what I’m referring to
specifically is not getting sucked in to wrong behaviour. Not giving in
to sin. And even when it’s not necessarily sinful, being able to resist
things that aren’t beneficial.
2 Timothy 2:16 (NLT)
Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.
This kind of talk spreads like cancer…
you ever been in a conversation like that? I know I have. I know I’ve
left some conversations asking myself, “What was the point? Why did I
let myself get sucked into that?”
Proverbs 25:28 (NLT)
A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls.
A person with no self-control is defenseless and vulnerable to any
number of temptations and attacks and distractions.
the truth is, God wants to equip us with self-control when it comes to
the things we say and the things we do and even the things we think.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy,
peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and
God wants to produce all of that including
self-control in your life. But you know what? It’s not going to happen
unless you cooperate. Unless you start to use the self-control He’s
already given you. He’ll produce more in you as you use what’s already
Think about it like this. Why do you think we use the
phrase “exercise self-control”? Why is it exercise? Because you get
stronger the more you do it. If you want God to help you develop more
self-control, start using what He’s already given you.
God is looking for Faithfulness
If you want to gain God’s approval, you will prove yourself faithful to
Him, to His Word, and to His ways.
2 Timothy 2:16-19 (NLT)
worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This
kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and
Philetus. They have left the path of truth… “All who belong to the Lord
must turn away from evil.”
These two people that Paul writes
about were teachers in the Church. They were leaders. But then they got
lured away by false beliefs. They got sucked in by lies, kind of like
we’ve been talking about for the past several weeks. We’ve looked at
what Oprah used to believe and what she believes now. She used to
believe in the Truth of God’s Word, but then she started to listen to
what Colossians chapter 2:8 describes as “empty philosophies and
high-sounding nonsense.” She allowed herself to be deceived and she
left the path of truth.
But what God wants of you and expects of
you is that you will turn away from evil lies and from false doctrines.
He’s looking for you to be faithful to Him.
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
so let’s say to take these words that Paul wrote to Timothy and you
apply them to your own life. Let’s say you commit yourself to God’s
word and you study it faithfully, that you live your life with
integrity of heart, that you exude and obvious desire to grow and to
learn and to remain true to God… what happens then? Well, take a look
at what Paul said next…
2 Timothy 2:20-21 (NLT)
In a wealthy
home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of
wood and clay… If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil
for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for
the Master to use you for every good work.
If you want your life
to really matter… if you want God to use you to make a difference in
this world… then this is how you have to live. You’ve got to be
faithful. You’ve got to be growing. You’ve got to be committed to the
truth. You’ve got to be willing to put in the effort. And you’ve got to
be available for God to use you however He wants.