Steven Furtick — Protect Your Confidence
For a long time I thought he was doubting Jesus, but then I heard a preacher get up one time, and he said maybe Peter wasn't doubting Jesus as much he was doubting Peter. It says that he saw the wind, he saw the waves, and he started to doubt. Who did he doubt? Not Jesus. Jesus is doing fine on the water. Jesus is probably like skiing, you know. Wouldn't you think so? Probably dropped the rope. And so Paul says, Timothy, you know who God is able and you can trust him to keep what you've committed to him? Paul is talking about his life. He said, look, I don't know if I'll die in prison. I don't know if I'll live to preach more. It doesn't matter because I'm convinced and I trust Him. No matter what He does, I trust that He is able, but see Timothy struggled with timidity.
We know because Paul told him just a few verses before this great passage God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but power and love and a sound mind. In fact, I don't have any of this in my notes, but I'm going to share with you for a moment where Paul says, just listen, just listen, 2 Timothy 1:3, "I thank God whom I serve as my ancestors did with a clear conscience. As night and day, I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy". I am reminded, Timothy, of your sincere faith which first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded now lives in you also.
His faith was sincere in God. But Paul says it's not enough for you to just believe that God is able. You've got to look at your life and believe that by His strength in you you're able. God is able. He's perfect. I'm not. I'm imperfect. Paul says where it gets tricky, Timothy. Here's where your confidence has to go beyond just trusting that God is able 'cause you can say that all day long. God is able. Doesn't put any responsibility on you? God is able, so I'm going to take a nap. God is able. I may as well not even come to church. But now if we realize that just like God is able to keep what I have entrusted to Him, He expects me by His power to guard what He has entrusted to me.
You've always heard in church that you can trust in God, but have you ever heard in church before today that God has entrusted you? Isn't that what it said? Right there in Verse 14? Isn't that what Paul told Timothy, and if he told Timothy, what makes you any different, you've got the same spirit Timothy had, the same God Timothy had, the same Gospel that Timothy believed is working in you. It was working in Lois. It was working in Eunice. It was working in Timothy. It was working in Paul. I'm convinced that He is able, and He wouldn't have put me here if He didn't trust me to accomplish what He intends for me to accomplish. I'm not on this job by accident. I'm not raising these children by happenstance. God has given me something, and now I'm going to guard it.
Your confidence is under attack. Not the Gospel. The Gospel can withstand any attack. Okay. God doesn't need you to guard the Gospel. He's good. The Gospel has been doing fine for a lot of years. Before the beginning of time the Gospel was getting out. It's not your job to guard the Gospel, but to guard your confidence in the Gospel. It's not your job to always fix your circumstance, but to make sure that your circumstance doesn't rob your confidence. 'Cause if you keep your confidence in any circumstance, if you're convinced of His goodness in every storm, guess what? The Gospel will work in any situation, in any trial, in any shortcoming. Protect your confidence. Not just your confidence that God is able, but your confidence that He is able to do in you what He intends to do in you by His Spirit.
I feel like this is just cutting right through a bunch of crap that has been coming into the lives of a lot of God's children trying to take your confidence, trying to take your bold belief, trying to take your will to persevere. Protect your confidence. It has great recompense of reward, great value. Don't lose your confidence. You might lose some money. Don't lose your confidence. You might lose some people. Don't lose your confidence. You might have lost a relationship, but if you don't lose your confidence in Christ, you'll be all right.
And one more thing I want to show you if you've got a minute, if you've got a minute. I love the Bible. I mean, I'm just like amazed every time I preach at how much God knows. It's like He gets stuff. It's like He gets me 'cause He starts out talking about how Timothy's faith is sincere. I know you believe, but I also know that you're threatened. I know you're under attack, and I know that most of the attacks come from you. So, who are you guarding your confidence from?
Yeah, so I want to show you one more connection and then you can go think about it a little bit. But I want to talk about the connection between safety and strength. Safety and strength. I was so intrigued by these connections that I set out to try to discover. Was there something that happened? Because Paul and Timothy were like this. They went out on missionary journeys together, started churches together. I mean, they were close. Like Starsky and Hutch. You know what I'm saying? And they went through some battles together, and they had that intimate acquaintance that people who are in the trenches together will share. You know, it's one thing to be in a fraternity or a sorority with somebody, but when you've been in a battle with somebody, you know that bonds you in a different way.
And I just was thinking like, okay, Timothy is a pastor. Paul is in prison. Timothy is in Ephesus. Paul took three missionary journeys to Ephesus. Paul started the church in Ephesus. Timothy was running the church in Ephesus. So, again, the Bible is really cool and if you go to the Book of Acts, A-C-T-S, chapter 19, it tells us about the third missionary journey where Paul and Timothy were together in Ephesus. Now, this is ten years before 2 Timothy was written. But I wonder now when Paul is saying is guard the good deposit. Is he reminiscing in some way about some thing that happened in Ephesus.
So, I was studying, and I came across this passage. I'll read it to you and submit it for your consideration. Paul is teaching and preaching so effectively that all the pagans in Ephesus which is the fourth largest city in the Roman Empire, so Paul is really, really having an effect, and when you have an effect, you face attack. I already told you that, but I'm going to tell you again 'cause you'll think, oh, I'm under attack. This must not be working, and God will say, no, you're under attack. That means this is working. Value vulnerability. Progress means opposition.
So, in Acts 19 Paul is really taking ground for the Kingdom of God and a riot breaks out. Can I read you the riot scene? It's pretty exciting. Acts 19:23, watch this, "About that time, there arose a great disturbance about the way," the way being the message of Jesus. So, don't act like America is the first nation ever where people didn't like Christianity. We're under attack. I'll tell you, the Gospel is in trouble. It started out in trouble. It works best in trouble. It is buoyant in trouble. It rises up and shows itself to be the only true message in trouble.
Verse 24, let's meet Demetrious. "A silversmith named Demetrious," we'll call him Micci, "who made silver shrines of Artemis". Artemis is believed to be the daughter of Zeus. One of the daughters of Zeus. Factoid. Make you feel like you've learned something when you came to church. You know Artemis? She is fantastic. And Artemis was like this celebrity god who was responsible in many ways for protecting the people of Ephesus, and her temple was in Ephesus. So they sold little artifacts, and Micci was one of the fabricators of these artifacts and so all of a sudden Paul starts messing up business for Micci because people are turning to Christ, and so they stopped buying this Artemis artifact paraphernalia and that's what the trouble was about. They didn't mind people believing in Jesus, but it was bad for business. We've got to shut this guy down.
And so, Verse 25, Micci called a meeting and along with the workers in the related trade, he said you know my friends, that we receive a good income from this business, and you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus, acting like he cares about the people. He doesn't care about the people. He cared about the profits. He's leading the people astray. Yeah, he's taking money out of your pocket. That's what this meeting is about. He's convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus, and practically the whole province of Asia, and he says that gods made by human hands are no gods at all. There's danger, not only that our trade will lose it's good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited.
And the goddess herself who is worshipped throughout the province of Asia and the world will be robbed of her divine majesty because many scholars believe that a meteor fell in the place where the temple was and so there was a legend that the image of Artemis, in fact, her name is taken from Greek, Artemeus. Artemeus means safe and sound. So, she was called Artemis because they believed that she kept the people safe and sound. And so he's saying our safety is up under attack. There's a threat against our safety of our money, our income, our business, our industry as well as our city. All right.
Let's continue. Verse 28, "When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting, great is Artemis of the Ephesians," and soon the whole city was in an uproar. It doesn't take long for people to turn on you". Ask Jesus. Hosanna, hosanna. Crucify Him, crucify Him. The crowd is real fickle, and they'll turn on you real quick, and this is the place where Timothy is pastoring and ten years later. A riot breaks out. Soon the whole city was in an uproar. Verse 29, the people seized Gaius and Aristarchus and Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia and all of them rushed into the theatre together. Now, the theatre was believed to seat about 25.000.
So, this is a mob scene, and so just imagine, you know, Time Warner Arena fills up. People flooding the arena shouting about, you know, the audacity of us Christians to preach Jesus. So, the voices are rising up. The arena is filling to capacity, and Paul and Timothy who is not mentioned in this passage, but we know he was there, are right in the middle of it. Paul wanted to appear, Verse 30, before the crowd, but the disciples wouldn't let him. No, Paul, you're going to get killed. You need some Secret Service if you're going to go in. We're not going to let you go down like this. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theatre. The assembly was in confusion. Some were shouting one thing. Some another.
Most of the people didn't even know why they were there. The Jews in the crowd pushed Alexander to the front, and they shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense for the people. When they realized he was a Jew, they didn't like Jews either, so they shouted in unison for about two hours "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians. She keeps us safe and sound. Great is Artemis". Their safety and security was in their economy. Safety and security was in a god made by human hands. The city clerk, this sounds like somebody in shorts, you know, with a name tag to us, but this is like a very important official, quieted the crowd and said, fellow Ephesians, doesn't all, listen — doesn't all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image which fell from heaven?
Next verse. Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to calm down and not do anything rash. Back to Verse 35, please. Doesn't the whole world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image which fell from heaven? Now, I'm speculating a little bit, but I think my connection is a salient one. Isn't Paul in some ways kind of echoing "guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us"? Doesn't the whole world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis? Timothy, don't you know that you're the guardian of the church in Ephesus? Timothy, don't you know that the Spirit fell from heaven? Don't you know that God has appointed you and positioned you?
See, there's always a riot scene breaking out in your life. There's always confusion breaking out in your life. There's always voices shouting one thing and shouting another and trying to steal your confidence. Paul says don't you know, child of God, that you're appointed as a guardian of the good deposit that is in you? But check this out, you're not in this by yourself 'cause you've got a Spirit who fell from heaven. Now, the city of Ephesus thought they had a god whose image fell from heaven, but you can know that you have a God whose Spirit fell from heaven, but it didn't just fall from heaven and make a temple, it fell from heaven and lives in you 'cause you're the temple of the Spirit of God. Hey, Timothy, you know how that riot broke out because the god of safe and sound was threatened? Yeah. Hey, Timothy, whatever you go through, whatever you deal with, whatever opposes you, I want you to know that you're safe and sound because of the Spirit. Got it, got it, got it.
Hey, I saw this Nike commercial the other day, and I don't know if you've seen it, but it's got a wide receiver. Yeah, stay with me, Brian, you can play. I get my sermons from all different sources 'cause I preach a lot of them. I'm always looking for a sermon illustration. If we ever talk in a conversation, anything you say can and will be used against you in the pulpit. Holly said amen. But it's a commercial with a wide receiver named Calvin Johnson, and Diddy is in the commercial too, and so it shows Calvin Johnson. You know, he's like, he's all pressured about how difficult it is to kind of like try to play football but also all of the encumbrances of, you know, the entourage, and the fans, and the contracts, and the endorsements, and so you see him kind of worried about all of this.
It's his internal dialogue, and he's worried, and it's a frenzy all around him, and then you hear Diddy in the background saying, yo, Calvin, that's not your job. I'm Johnson. It's like an alter-ego, see, he's like put it on me. Put it on me. Then you flash back to Calvin. He's like, yeah, but the pressure. Diddy says put it on me. Yeah, but the expectations. Put it on me. Yeah, but the media. Put it on me. What's he saying? He's saying you handle yours, and I'll handle mine.
I was watching that thing, and I didn't think about Nike one bit. I thought about 2 Timothy 1:14. I did. I thought what a great picture of what the Spirit says when we're up under attack, when we're all stuck and overwhelmed, and struggling in the riot scenes of our own personal Ephesus. You know, some of you aren't called to be pastors of the church of Ephesus, but you've got pressures too. Not an N.F.L. receiver. I understand, but there's pressures to being a student. There's pressures to working third shift. There's pressures when you work at the bank. There's pressures to staying at home trying to raise children, and you know what the Spirit says to all of us? Do you not know that I've appointed you to guard the deposit?
Yeah, but the pressure. The Spirit says put it on me. Yeah, but my failures. He says put it on me. Put it on me. Yeah, but I'm overwhelmed. I've got some burdens. Put it on me. Yeah, but my past won't leave me alone. Put it on me. You're not in this by yourself. You're not in this by yourself. You've got help. Hey, you've got help. Hey, your help is on the way. Hey, your help is here. Your help is Jesus. Your help is stronger than the hell you're going through. Come on, shout.