2 Timothy 3:14-4:5
The Rev. Adele K. Langworthy, preaching
October 20, 2019
An aggressive Google Maps driving direction led to dozens of drivers getting stuck in mud on the way to the Denver International Airport, Meghan Lopez writes. A large crash in Aurora, Colorado caused GPS applications like Google Maps to search for a quicker route to the airport.
Driver Connie Monsees told reporters that she and about 100 other drivers seemed to be following smartphone directions onto a dirt road. Unbeknownst to the mapping program—or the drivers—the private dirt road was impassible after recent heavy rainfall. Most of the motorists became stuck behind a few cars that had become bogged down in mud.
Monsees said, “My thought was, ‘Well there are all these other cars in front of me so it must be OK.’ So, I just continued.” Fortunately, those with all-wheel drive vehicles were able to get through. Monsees says she picked up a few stranded motorists and delivered them to the airport.
The Denver Station 7 traffic anchor Jayson Luber believes people are becoming too dependent on smartphones and GPS apps instead of maps. He said, “You are driving. Google Maps is not driving. Google Maps is not perfect. You need to know where you are going and, if it does not look like that’s where you should be going, turn around and try again.”
I love what Jayson Luber said, “You need to know where you are going and, if it does not look like that’s where you should be going, turn around and try again.” This quote can easily be applied to where we need to be spiritually.
To start with, we need to know where we are going and if we should be going in that direction (just because everyone else is headed somewhere doesn’t make it right). The ‘popular’ world may tell us one thing about where we should go in life, an expert might tell us another or a friend might tell us something completely different. The key is to know where to go to get the direction we need, so as to know where we should be heading. In the Old Testament, the book of Proverbs, chapter 3, verses 5 & 6 we find the key: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Sometimes it is blind trust, but trust is needed — trusting what Paul writes in Romans (8:28) — that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Robert Kupferschmid was an 81-year old with no flying experience. However, due to a tragic emergency, he was forced to fly an airplane. On June 17, 1998, he and his 52-year-old pilot friend, Wesley Sickle, were flying from Indianapolis to Muncie, Indiana. During the flight, the pilot slumped over and died at the controls. The Cessna 172 single-engine plane began to nose-dive when Robert grabbed the controls. He got on the radio and pleaded for help.
Nearby were two pilots who heard the call. Mount Comfort was the closest airport, and the two pilots gave Robert a steady stream of instructions of climbing, steering—and the scariest part—landing. The two experienced pilots circled the runway three times before this somewhat frantic and totally inexperienced pilot was ready to attempt the landing.
Emergency vehicles were called out and ready for what seemed like an approaching disaster. Witnesses said the plane’s nose nudged the center line and bounced a few times before the tail hit the ground. The Cessna ended up in a patch of soggy grass next to the runway. Amazingly, Robert was not injured.
This pilot listened and followed those instructions as if his life depended on it—and it did. Imagine what would take place in the lives of believers if we listened to and obeyed the Word of God with the same earnestness and trust!
We read in 2 Timothy, this morning, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” That means, God has given us the gift of the Bible to teach us the right path to follow, to reproof (reprimand) us when we take the wrong path, to help us get back on the right path and to offer training on how to prevent taking the wrong path in the future. God set us up with everything we need to be proficient and equipped for every good work, in holy scripture. In it, we find direction and redirection.
Truett Cathy is the founder of Chick-fil-A restaurants, a successful businessman. Mr. Cathy, for many, is even better known—and respected—for letting his faith guide his business operation.
Mr. Cathy’s restaurants have been closed on Sundays since 1948. The 88-year-old founder doesn’t mind losing millions of dollars of business to honor the Lord’s day.
But, as consistent as their closed-on-Sunday position has been, they’re not Pharisaical about it – they recognize there can be a need for exceptions. Jesus healed on the Sabbath, and, when the Pharisees confronted him about it, he put them in their place asking, “Which one of you will have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?”
For Chick-fil-A, an exception occurred when the Atlanta International Airport was hit with a complete blackout a few years back. This is one of the world’s busiest airports, and the blackout resulted in hundreds of canceled flights and countless stranded passengers. While Atlanta’s municipal government was busy trying to find accommodations for these passengers they tweeted out that the passenger’s meals would be handled by someone else: “@Chick-fil-A will provide food for passengers.”
So a store that’s always closed on Sunday was happy to open their doors on this particular day of rest because thousands of people needed their help. Not only is this a wonderful observance of the 4th Commandment, it is Matthew 5:16 lived out as well, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Mr. Cathy has answered the call to action from scripture “to be proficient, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17) and has turned to scripture to live out that call.
It’s not unlike Ed Faubert and coffee. In his book The Gospel According to Starbucks, Leonard Sweet tells the story of Ed Faubert. Faubert is what you call a “cupper”—in layman’s terms, he’s a coffee-taster. And his discerning (perspicacious) taste buds are actually certified by the state of New York!
So refined is Faubert’s sense of taste for coffee that even while blindfolded, he can take one sip of coffee and tell you “not just that it is from Guatemala, but from what state it comes, at what altitude it was grown, and on what mountain.”
That is what God wants for us in answering the call for action as a Christian. He wants us to know scripture inside and out so we know where he wants our heart to be and how to get there.
As a child many of us learned the song (and it is still a favorite of our young people), The B-i-b-l-e is just the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-i-b-l-e. To stand alone on the word of God is a true desire of most of our hearts here, but in reality, it can be hard to live up to — our selfish desires can enter the picture and our lives can easily be tainted by the ways of the world.
We can memorize scripture and be able to recite it upon request — feeling pretty good that we know God’s word. But then, living God’s word involves applying the scriptures and there lies the bigger challenge. For instance, we can memorize Leviticus 19:11: You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. The challenge is not in the memorization for most of us, but in living a life where we do not steal, deceive or lie.
The good news is that God’s word meets us even in our faithless moments and our short-comings. It survives everything. Nothing in this world can take the gift of God’s holy word from us!
A devastating fire ravaged the building housing Freedom Ministries Church in West Virginia in March of this year. It was intense enough to justify a joint response from several nearby fire departments. It was so hot that at one point it caused firefighters to back out from the blaze. But after the fire was extinguished, what they found inside shocked them even more.
A post on the department’s Facebook page explains: “In your mind, everything should be burned. Ashes. [But] not a single Bible was burned and not a single cross was harmed!! Not a single firefighter was hurt!” Photo evidence showed several compelling photos of Bibles unscathed amidst plenty of charred remains.
God’s word is powerful and lasting. God’s word instructs us for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. May your study of scripture, your meditation on it, and your memorization of it enrich your ability to answer the call to live it ever more faithfully.
I invite you to answer the call to act upon God’s word in prayer.