You Have an Amazing Story to Tell! 1 Timothy 1: 12-17 091513M

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You Have an Amazing Story to Tell! 1 Timothy 1:12-17 091513M

Did you have an exciting week? Most of us probably didn't. If that means no accidents, tragedies or life-altering bad news, that's probably a good thing. Most of our lives are relatively boring, aren't they? If you wrote a book about your life, would anyone read it? When I tell stories from my ministry, people often say, "You ought to write a book," but I wonder, if I did, who would read it. Yet, we all have a story to tell. In our lesson today, we hear a part of the Apostle Paul's story as he wrote to encourage a young pastor beset by false teachers invading his church. That young pastor was Timothy. The truth is, like Paul:


You Have an Amazing Story to Tell

1. You're number one on the list of sinners.

2. You've received God's overflowing grace.

3. You've been appointed to a life of service.

1. All our stories are different. That's because we're different: different personalities, different walks of life, different gifts and abilities, different personal histories. Yet, they're all the same too. Like Paul, you have an amazing story to tell: You're number one on the list of sinners.


That's where Paul put himself. He had once persecuted the church of God. He says, I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.... To blaspheme is to speak against God. Paul thought he was doing God a favor by having Christians arrested, having their property confiscated, and having them be put to death. But Christ himself appeared to Paul, revealing that he is truly God. In opposing Christ, Paul was opposing and speaking against God himself. That was blasphemy. He was also a persecutor, making life miserable for Christians, trying to halt the course of the gospel which he thought was lies and nonsense. Since he persecuted Christ's Church, the body of Christ, he was persecuting Christ himself. That's why the Lord Jesus said to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?" Paul was also a violent man, actually insulting and abusive. He must have made a mockery of Christ and what Christians believed about him.

And all of this Paul did out of unbelief and ignorance. Paul was a Jew, and more, a prominent Pharisee. Yet he didn't realize he was on the wrong side. He was opposing God himself when he thought he was doing the right thing. He was one of those for whom Jesus had prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing." For all of these reasons, Paul was number one on the list of sinners in his own self-assessment: I am the worst.

Can you say that? You and I came into this world as unbelievers, ignorant of God and his will. But did you ever persecute the church? Were you violent? Maybe some of you were in your life before Christ. Maybe your temper got you into fights and legal trouble. Maybe you were verbally or physically abusive to your spouse or kids. Did you ever ridicule anyone or make fun of them for some reason? If not, have you always been an example of Christ-like humility, obedience, and service? Have you always been a positive example and witness to others? Are people drawn to Christ through you, or are they turned off to Christ? We've all persecuted the church of God in some way or another by our sinning, and by what we've said or left unsaid. Like Paul, most of the time we weren't even aware we were sinning. But maybe you're number 10 on the sinner list, or even number 3 behind people like Adolph Hittler and Jeffrey Dahmler. But are you really better than them? Then you don't really see how lost and rotten you are by nature. The Pharisee in you is coming out, like Paul. No, each of us has to say we're number one on the sinner list--it's a sad part of our story.
2. And that's what makes God's grace and mercy all the more amazing. Though Paul was the way he had been, God reached out to him. You have an amazing story to tell too: You've received God's overflowing grace.

Paul says, 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

Mercy is when you feel sorry for someone in trouble, and you do something about it. It's a step beyond mere pity. What happened with Paul? He says, 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The Lord stopped him from doing what he was doing. Jesus brought him to repentance. All his persecution, blasphemy, violence and ridicule was forgiven. He gave Paul faith to believe in Jesus as his Savior and holy substitute, his sacrifice for sin. The Lord's love filled him and overflowed through him to others. Instead of hatred and ridicule for others, he expressed the same love, patience and mercy the Lord had shown to him.

That was the very reason Christ came into the world: 15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst. Jesus himself had said, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:13). The very Son of God entered humanity to live without sin, and to give his sinless life on the cross under God's wrath for all sin. In him, people are God's holy, beloved children--even Paul.
Paul's point was that if God could do this for him, rotten as he was, he can love and forgive anyone, no matter how bad their lives have been: 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Wow...UNLIMITED patience. I don't have that, do you? I get impatient with other people when they do stupid things and they should know better. I get impatient when I've said something three times in three different ways and they still don't get it. I get impatient with myself when don't accomplish what I want to do in a day, and when I make mistakes. If I get impatient with my and others' imperfections, imagine God! Yet Paul says he has UNLIMITED patience! We're like dogs chasing our tails as far as our addictions, sinful patterns, and the temptations go that trip us up time and time again. Yet God stopped us and broke into our lives with his grace too. He did that at the moment we came to faith in Jesus--for most of us at baptism. And he's been doing it ever since. He has shown you mercy. He did it 2000 years ago when the Son of God broke into our world as the Son of Man--born a human being under God's laws so he could keep those laws for us, and born a human being to suffer and die on a cross for all sins against God's laws. In spite of the way you were and often are, God loved YOU. Paul told the Romans, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro 5:8).

3. And why did god do all this? So you and I could be in his celestial trophy cases collecting dust? No, it was so you and I can belong to him and serve him now and forever. Through us God can show his mercy to still others. You have an amazing story to tell because You've been appointed to a life of service.
Paul's life was about proclaiming the grace of this loving God and savior he provided: 12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. God had appointed him to preach, especially to the Gentiles or non-Jews. That was exhausting. Often the persecution he once meted out on others was meted out on him. But God gave him strength to meet the challenges he faced every day. He was considered a faithful servant because of his faithful Savior who served him.
This service was reason to praise God. That God would use him to serve here on earth was one thing, but that he would be able to serve God perfectly in heaven one day was better yet! So as he often did, Paul erupted into a little hymn of praise: 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Imagine being a servant of the King of the Universe, hand-picked by him! That's an amazing story to tell!

And you can tell it. You know the hymn verse: "If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul. You can tell the love of Jesus, you can say he died for all!" How true! We all have abilities, time and circumstances in which to serve God. The same hands, mouths, feet and bodies that once opposed God by nature and worked against him now belong to him, redeemed by the blood of Christ, to serve him. God is using you and me! He uses us to serve and love others as our Lord has loved and served us. God is working through us to draw others to him and his amazing love for them. Whether it's teaching Sunday School, helping with a block party, delivering fliers, cooking meals, comforting someone who's down and out, providing rides to church, mowing the lawn or changing a light bulb, God is using you as he used Paul.

And for that reason, you have a story to tell. Your life is anything but boring because you're serving none other than God even in the little things you do. Your story is God's story, and that makes it exciting! You are number one on the list of sinners, yet you've received God's overflowing grace, and you've been appointed to a life of service. Your story is still being written, and every moment of every day is exciting when it gives glory to God! Amen.
1 Timothy 1:12-17

You Have an Amazing Story to Tell

1. You're number one on the list of sinners.

2. You've received God's overflowing grace.

3. You've been appointed to a life of service.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man....
"Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."
I am the worst.
13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.
14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.
"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:13).
16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Ro 5:8).
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
"If you cannot speak like angels, if you cannot preach like Paul. You can tell the love of Jesus, you can say he died for all!"


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