Rick Renner | Weekend of 2/18-19/23
This past weekend, we were treated to the extraordinary teaching ministry of our guest minister, Rick Renner. On Saturday evening, Pastor Rick shared with us to a riveting examination of Matthew 24:3, when the disciples asked Jesus to give them a sign of His coming and the end of the world. He said they only asked for one sign, but Jesus gave them many signs. Pastor Rick went on to list the signs of Jesus’ Second Coming.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Rick taught a two-part message in the two Sunday morning services. In part one, he taught the message entitled, “The Power of Memory.” Using 2nd Timothy as his reference, he gave us the backdrop for why Christians were burned at the stake during Roman Emperor Nero’s reign of terror. He spoke about Paul’s letter to Timothy, advising Timothy how to respond to the fear that gripped his heart during this time. In part two, Pastor Rick taught on “The Power of Speaking to Yourself.” Paul taught Timothy how to keep his faith stirred up by speaking to himself.
Pastor Rick started Part 1 with 2 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.” At that time Paul wrote that letter to Timothy, the Christian church was surrounded by death. Christians were being rounded up and burned at the stake.
Pastor Rick gave us the background as to the reason for the communication between Timothy and the apostle Paul. Nero was the Roman Emperor at the time. He came to the throne at age 16. For the first few years of his reign, he was good because of the authorities around him advising him. Then Nero no longer wanted to submit to their authority and had them all killed, including his mother. After the killing of his mother, his mind snapped. Everyone was terrified of him, because he had many people murdered.
He informed the Senate that he wanted to tear down the oldest parts of Rome and rebuild it with a massive palace in the middle of it. In spite of their fear of Nero, the Senate would not give him permission to tear it down.
To get his way, Nero instructed his servants to secretly burn down a section of the city where he wanted to build his palace. The embers of the fire were carried by the wind which resulted in the entire city of Rome being burned down. In the midst of the destruction, Nero began to build his palace.
The Senate heard a rumor that it was Nero’s servants that started the fire. The Senate called Nero to the Senate House. They were going to put him on trial and then execute him. But Nero devised a diabolical plan to blame the fire on this new religious sect called Christians.
Nero presented five accusations as to why the Christians were to blame. The Senate believed Nero and thus, the persecution of Christians began. Not for their faith, but for being arsonists.
The Romans began to round up Christians from the four largest cities and killed them. Ephesus was one of those cities. In the city of Ephesus, Timothy was pastor of the largest Christian church in all of Christendom… 100 thousand members!
Fearing for their lives, the members of Timothy’s church began to bail on their faith. In great fear for his own life, Timothy wrote a letter to the apostle Paul. In response, Paul wrote 2nd Timothy.
Paul’s response to Timothy’s fear was to tell him to stir up the gift of God that was in him by reminding himself of God’s faithfulness. Don’t focus on the mountain in front of you, but keep your focus on God.
The Power of Speaking to Yourself, Part 2
11 a.m. Service
Timothy had the largest church in the world, but when the Romans began to round up the Christians and burn them at the stake, his church began to shrink. Many were being killed and others were leaving the faith. Timothy was dealing with a spirit of fear, because he was the most visible member of the church living right in the heart of Ephesus.
In verse 7, Paul said to Timothy, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Paul called fear a spirit. Pastor Rick went on to expound on the Greek definitions of the words “power, love, and sound mind.”
If we are placed in a difficult position or in a position of persecution for our faith, we don’t have to deal with it by ourselves. Pastor Rick said that in the midst of that difficult situation, we will be dominated… we will be subjugated… we will be conquered by the power of God, which will come upon us. That is the promise of God to use.
Paul used himself as an example to Timothy on how to conquer fear. Paul said he talked to himself, stirring himself up in the faith, reminding himself of God’s faithfulness. The words you speak will produce a result. Make sure you speak words of faith. Resist the temptation to speak words of fear.
The end of the story for Timothy is that he lived to be about 80 years old. And guess what? He continued his ministry all those years in spite of all the opposition that was waged against the church,
Pastor Rick then shared a personal testimony is which he too faced great fear, like Timothy faced. He put into practice all the spiritual principles that Paul gave Timothy. And the result was that God was able to do for Rick something that had never happened in Russia!
Read About It
Matthew 24:3, “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be?”
2 Timothy 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:3–4 I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; 4 Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy;
2 Timothy 1:5, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”
2 Timothy 1:8, “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.”
2 Corinthians 12:7, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
What kind of emotions came up in you when you learned about Nero’s persecution of the early Christians?
How do you think you would have responded to that level of hardship?
How were you affected by Pastor Rick’s own personal testimony of victory over fear?
Do you see how you could apply these principles in your own life?