Summary: We are transformed as the Spirit of God works in us, often through His Word. That transformation, however, shows itself in practical ways like these that Paul discusses.
1. Is going to church a privilege or a sentence? It depends upon you and the particular church. For some in Alabama, it is a sentence:
2. BAY MINETTE, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say non-violent offenders in southern Alabama will have a new choice: Go to jail, or go to church every Sunday for a year.
…The city judge in Bay Minette will let misdemeanor offenders choose to work off their sentences in jail and pay a fine; or go to church every Sunday for a year.
If offenders select church, they’ll be allowed to pick the place of worship but must check in weekly with the pastor and police. If the one-year church attendance program is completed, the offender’s case will be dismissed.
Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland says the program could change the lives of people heading down the wrong path. So far, 56 churches are participating.
3. Some of these criminal will probably come to know the Lord and be transformed.
Main Idea: We are transformed as the Spirit of God works in us, often through His Word. That transformation, however, shows itself in practical ways like these that Paul discusses.
I. We Need to PRAY for God’s Servants (8-11)
It is human nature to have a self-serving agenda, to seek what we want, what floats our boats – but concern for the greater Kingdom -- and brothers and sisters who serve – is a sign of transformation.
A. The ministry is amazingly STRESSFUL at times
B. Missionaries or Christians in HOSTILE environments are a fact of life
1. The sentence of death “within” ourselves (lit., vs 9) – sickness
2. God’s servants are not exempt from sickness…even debilitating sickness
3. Persecution in Asia (minor)
4. The implication: Paul was a sincere servant of the Lord; one who is insincere would never choose to suffer for what he believed to be a lie…
5. Since God could raise the dead, he could heal the sick and deiver the persecuted
6. God had more work for Paul to do…
C. Teamwork PRAYERS accumulate to make a difference
1. Prayer is a means to accomplish God’s ends
2. God instituted praying and receiving to bring glory to himself…
Do you pray for God’s servants? Pastors, missionaries, evangelists?
II. We Need to Communicate DIRECTLY (12-14)
The Spirit’s transforming power is seen everyday in how we speak. Our communication skills, how we present truth, and even our philosophy of outreach and evangelism is affected by the transforming power of the Spirit.
A. Simplicity and SINCERITY (12)
1. Holy speech (what words are in your vocabulary?)
2. Gracious speech (not just acceptable words, but tone; sarcasm, negative)
3. Note that Paul reached the lost without embracing the fad of sophism
4. Infiltrating (sneak)? No. Communicating understandably or with a hip aura?
B. DIRECTLY (13)
1. In 2 Peter 3:15, Peter says some things Paul writes are hard to understand
2. Here, Paul says he is understandable. And he is.
3. Sometimes we are not motivated or patient enough to work at understanding
4. The Scriptures may have some difficult teachings, but they are understandable.
C. Not always CONVINCINGLY (14)
• Because of the accusations made against Paul, some of the believers did not really believe what Paul said; they thought it was insincere and thus would not give him credit for meaning what he said; the false teachers had duped him.
• Aesop told a fable of the Clown and the Countryman (pig squeal)
• We tend to believe what we want to believe; emotion often over rides objectivity
• You can be more convincing by leaving relevant facts out or simply lying, but our goal is to present the truth and to let the truth – not our tactics – convince
• When believers are on the same page and properly related, they can take pride in one another…
Application: What’s your mouth like? Bill collector, cursed out, “Do you eat with that mouth? Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?”
III. We Need to Avoid FICKLENESS Yet Adjust When Necessary (15-23)
The Spirit’s transformation can show itself in “faith flex,” being led to go beyond the routine and even sometimes obvious reason. People who vacillate because they are driven by emotion are called fools or undependable. People who occasionally make a change because they are clearly led by God are called godly Christians.
A. Paul’s original INTENT (15-16)
1. Planeed to go to Corinth, then Macedonia, then back to Corinth
2. Went to Corinth, then Macedonis, but then wrote a letter instead of visitign again
3. God had lead him to make a change in light of new circumstances…to spare them and give them space to address conflict and discipline…
4. Some of you have never experienced God’s leading; he has never led you to change plans or break a consistent pattern; others of us have been so led…