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Summary: Learning how to become strong for the off-road times of life from 1 Timothy.

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September 14 & 15, 2002

2 Timothy 4:1-8

“Driving On One-Way Streets”

Maybe you’ve heard of the busload of politicians who were driving down a country road when, all of a sudden, the bus ran off the road & crashed into a tree in an old farmer’s field. The old farmer, after seeing what happened, went over to investigate. He then proceeded to dig a hole & bury the politicians. A few days later, the local sheriff came out, saw the crashed bus & asked the old farmer where all the politicians had gone. The old farmer said he had buried them. The sheriff asked the old farmer, "The coroner wasn’t here. Are you sure they were all dead?" The old farmer replied, "Well, some of them said they weren’t, but you know how those politicians lie."

I have heard it said that figures always lie and liars always figure. I don’t subscribe to that axiom. There are just some figures that never lie. The national Highway Traffic Safety Administration was founded a little over twenty-five years ago and were charged with the tasks of reducing deaths, injuries and economic losses resulting from motor vehicle crashes. There have been a host of traffic studies that contradict one another in regard to causes and reasons for traffic accidents. High speed, driver inattention, cell phones, poor weather conditions, improper design and Avon. Well you know they make the products that many ladies apply on their way to work!

But one statistic has held true for every study ever performed. You are about twelve (12) times less likely to be involved in a traffic accident hen you are driving on a one way street. I have never seen a statistic about life crashes but I have a suspicion that you are at least as likely to end up with your life in a jam if you are living the “One Way” of scripture. And, when life’s curves in the road come your way that “One Way” lifestyle enables you to successfully navigate any obstacle because you become “Built Lord Tough” on God’s “One Way.” Street.

We’ve been in a series through the New Testament book of 2 Timothy. Throughout this series we’ve seen that one of the essential components to a deeper life with God is being part of a church. In our scripture passage today we find five characteristics of the kind of church where God moves.

The section today is really advice to a young pastor about how to be an effective pastor. We should realize that the things that make an effective pastor are also things that make an effective church. So even though these characteristics describe pastors, we’re going to apply them to our whole church.

1. What They Know (2 Timothy 4:1)

Look at v. 1. This verse has the sound of a formal charge, much like the kind of solemn charge we might hear a pastor give a bride and groom during a wedding ceremony. Yet this formal charge is given to a young pastor named Timothy. This formal charge is made in the presence of God and of Jesus. This suggests that Timothy lives his entire life under the scrutiny of God. His life is on constant display before God, even those parts of his life that are considered private and hidden.

So this formal charge has a tone of both hope and warning. Hope because when we’ve trusted in Jesus Christ, we look forward to Christ’s future appearing and the fullness of Christ’s kingdom on this earth. Hope because Christ’s appearing will wipe away every tear and bring suffering to an end. Hope because Christ’s kingdom will bring an end to evil and hatred. But also warning, because on that day we will all be held accountable for how we’ve lived our lives. Warning because even though all our sins are forgiven through our faith in Christ, God still expects us to live in a way that honors him and he will hold us accountable to living that way.

Here we find our first characteristic. God uses people and churches that know they are accountable to God.

What Paul says about Timothy as a church leader applies just as much to congregations. Every church will give an account of itself to God. Our ministry is on constant display before God, in the presence of God and of Christ. Nothing is hidden from his sight. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can never fool God.

When we know this, it causes us to conduct ourselves differently. Not that we won’t make our fair share of mistakes as a church. We’re people who are often fallible and prone to weaknesses. But to know that we will stand before God for how American Baptist East and LifeLifters acts helps us continually strive to live in purity before God. God uses churches that know they are accountable to Him.

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