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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Romans 1:16

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"Nevertheless, I Am Not Ashamed!"

"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day" (2 Timothy 1:12).

Being ashamed of one's behavior or attitude is much more rare than in the past.  Growing up in the sixties in the little town of Belton Missouri I was a bit of a rascal and certainly would have been considered hyperactive (if such labels were available then). I very specifically recall my first school paddling when I was in first or second grade. I, along with a couple of other students, was escorted out
into the hallway at Cambridge Elementary School.  My paddling was administered by the principal as my teacher, Mrs. Dustin, looked on.

Our infraction was forming a circle and singing a "rowdy" song that went something like this, "Motor boat, motor boat, round and round".  I suppose we got carried away (perhaps even wildly so) as we spun around until we splattered ourselves on the floor. Frankly this is a rather petty stunt compared to today's school environment but I had done wrong according to my authority.  Perhaps Mrs. Dustin had asked us to take our seats and we ignored her; I don't remember the details. I knew I had misbehaved and was properly shamed, especially when I had to return to the classroom in tears (humiliating even at that age, especially when you think you're a hot shot).  I got no sympathy when I got home either. That shame had a formative part in my life such that I recall it some 50 years later!

There are certainly valid reasons to be ashamed. This kind of shame is diminishing in our present tolerant, permissive culture.  Albert Mohler writes, "The crying shame is the absence of the conviction of sin, and that absence is explained by the cultural disappearance of God as moral judge."  

But there are also invalid reasons for being ashamed.   There are causes in which we need to boldly declare, "I am not ashamed!" which is the case in today's message.

The word, "nevertheless" is significant.  Paul had just referred to his suffering, which included his present imprisonment.  The conjunction 'nevertheless' is one which expresses strong contrast. Thus the candid reality of Paul's present suffering is set in contrast to his assurance of God's steadfast love and care."

Being ashamed is feeling shame or guilt or embarrassment or even remorse in some instances.  It describes one's consciousness of guilt or of exposure or the fear of embarrassment that one's expectations may prove false.

Isaiah records a prophecy concerning the Messiah, writing "For the Lord God helps me, therefore, I am not disgraced. Therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." (Isaiah 50:7).

Commentator W.E Vine expounds on this: "Paul’s example of freedom from shame was intended as an incentive to his younger fellow missionary to show the same confidence and endurance. He who is conscious of pleasing God has no reason for feelings of shame through experiencing any form of suffering in consequence. Faithfulness to God frees the believer from bondage to human opinion, regard, and reward."

"But if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this Name" (1 Peter 4:16).

Paul declared in one of our favorite verses in Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel."  Today we stand, along with millions of others, who continue to maintain and proclaim to a resistant, rejecting world that this glorious Gospel "is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." That is the main message the world needs to hear.

Every one of us who believes in the Biblical Gospel has this call and the motto of every Christian should be, "I am not ashamed."  As our world continues its plunge into wickedness and shamelessly promotes it, Christ's true church needs to stand firm for this Gospel even if it requires suffering.  Today, as individuals scattered around the world, let us stand unashamedly for this Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only power of God for salvation! Let us be faithful in proclaiming it!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily Prayer: Father, when our lives have been transformed by Your saving power through salvation how can we not boldly proclaim, "I am not ashamed of the Gospel." It is Christ's power that enables us to follow the path of the cross rather than the path of evil. If our commitment to follow You costs us nothing, then it is ineffective and hypocritical when we assert to others that we are believers.  I want to tell the world that I'm a Christian.  I'm not ashamed Christ's name to bear.  I'll tell the world how Jesus saved me and how He gave me a life brand new. My life, my all is His forever, and where He leads me I will go; unashamed and unafraid to proclaim His holy name. Amen.

Today's grade school paddling reminiscence prompted a few photos:

Brothers at Cambridge Elementary School 2006
Several years ago I stopped by Cambridge Elementary School in Belton Missouri, along with my two older brothers Mike and Pat. It was a new school when I started first grade there and my Dad had been on the school board when it was constructed and still has his name, E.C. Weber, on the small plaque behind me over 45 years later.

Dinner with Dave and Sandy at Lamberts Cafe, Ozark, MO
Yesterday I called Dave Simpson, a friend from first grade, for a recollection of the paddling story. He laughed when I brought it up. He has a remarkable memory and recalls the names of each of our grade school teachers and that our 5th grade teacher was the paddling queen. Dave was the best man in my wedding and it's a blessing to have a friendship lasting over 50 years.

Here's a photo of Dave and his wife Sandy, along with Ester, at Lambert's Cafe in Ozark, Missouri, home of the throwed roll.  Most folks from Springfield will know about this colorful place where they bring out free servings of okra, blackeyed peas and other homemade delights! They really do throw the rolls across the entire restaurant! Here's a photo of Dave preparing to catch one coming in from behind him!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.

"I Am Not Ashamed of The Gospel"
 Video  Damaris Carbaugh and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir (begins and is interspersed with a testimony by a Messianic Jew)

"I'm Not Ashamed"
 Video  Newsboys

"Everything To Me"  Video  Avalon

I came across this article and thought it related well to today's message. Many of us have seen the John 3:16 signs at sporting events. Well, apparently there's a ministry behind it that seeks to use the signs as a witness.  They wanted to run a superbowl ad (which costs a lot of money!!!) but the ad was rejected. One basis of the rejection was that... surprise, the ad might be offensive to some.  Here's the video.  

This brings to mind a testimony by Jim Gambini, who was our pastor the first several years we lived here in Lancaster County. He's our age and came to the Lord back during the "Jesus Movement".

Jim was raised in a non-Christian home.  He shares an interesting means by which the seed of God's truth was planted in his life.  As a teenager he saw a television advertisement that featured a man sitting on a stool reading a sign. The camera focused on the man's facial expression as he was reading while the back of the sign was blank to television viewers.

As the man read the sign he would respond with expressions such as those heard in the youth vernacular of the 60's, "Wow, this is far out! cool, etc." At the end of the ad he turned the sign around to face the camera very briefly and Jim caught a glimpse of words unfamiliar to him at that time. But they were shown so quickly that he was unable to read the entire message.

He was so intrigued by the mystery message that he decided to memorize the words, a few at a time, whenever he saw the ad. He watched and memorized one phrase at a time, "For God". The next time he saw the ad he memorized "so loved" And the next time it was "the world."

By now most readers recognize the very familiar passage from John 3:16.   Jim sees this ad as a seed planted several years prior to his making a commitment to follow Christ during his High School years.  He shared this story as a demonstration of the Spirit's progressive work in drawing him to Christ. I believe it also illustrates the power of the Word of God.

As it turns out it was an advertisement placed by a local church group in an attempt to witness of Christ's salvation. The believers who put that ad together in the late sixties could not be certain of its specific impact on the lives of the viewers and how that some 40 years later Jim would look back and see it as a seed planted in his spiritual life.  But they were obedient in sowing the seed of God's Word. They weren't ashamed of the Gospel!

We will leave the following musical resources up throughout our series on 2 Timothy 1:12

"I Know Whom I Have Believed"
 Video  This is set to a newer tune but maintains the same wonderful words.  It is beautifully sung by a worship team in a local church.

Here's a beautiful piano version of the same song using the tune we are familiar with. Audio
All through our series of messages on 2 Timothy 1:12 we will be using this song as a background to our daily podcast.

If God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and EvilIf God Is Good . . . Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil
By Randy Alcorn / Random House, Inc
Difficult times beg questions about God's goodness and power. Offering compelling true stories, fresh answers, and biblical insights, Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief and reveals the big picture of who God is and what he's doing in the world---equipping you to share your faith clearly with those experiencing pain and fear. 432 pages, hardcover from Multnomah.

I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.

But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”

I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.

I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.

I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.

I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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