August 11

·Be Strong In The Grace

Contributed by Steve Shepherd 

Scripture: 2 Timothy 2:1-7

INTRO.- 1 You then, my son, be strong. I thought all sons were strong! I guess it depends on the son and the type of strength you’re talking about. But when I was a son at home with Mom and Dad, I only thought of one kind of strength and that was physical.

What about you men? Did you ever think that way? Did you ever try lifting something heavy just to prove how strong you were? Do something really stupid that lands you flat on your back! Did you ever try to be a strong man and lift the rear end of a car? To impress your friends. I won’t go there !!

But being in the volunteer fire service for many years and being young. At times between full of male ego and too young to comprehend danger. I did a lot of stupid stuff in the process of fighting fires. We are never as physically strong as we may think we are!

As we all know, there is physical strength and there is spiritual strength. And spiritual strength far outweighs and out-lifts physical strength. I’d much rather be where I am now spiritually than where I was then physically fighting fires risking my own life.

I’D RATHER BE STRONG IN THE FAITH AND IN JESUS! The flesh fails but the spirit lives on forever! So, which do you think we need to emphasize the most?

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Be strong in the grace. We all need to be strong in the grace that is in Christ. We need to be strong in being gracious and also in His grace.

PROP.- Let’s think about what it means to be strong in the grace of Christ.

1- Being strong means to impart the Word

2- Being strong means to endure hardship

3- Being strong means to please the commander

4- Being strong means to obey the rules

5- Being strong means to pocket the bounty

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1. BEING STRONG MEANS TO IMPART THE WORD

1 You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.

So, can we take what we hear on Sunday mornings and pass it on? Whatever it is, if it’s good and pertains to living the Christian life, let’s pass it on!

Being strong in the grace and being strong in the faith may well be one and the same thing. And being strong in the faith means to “pass on” or “entrust” the faith on to others! Sermons are not just for preachers, you know! They are for us to listen and learn from and then pass on to others!

Deut. 6:5-7 “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

If God expected His people to pass His OT commandments to their children, then what about today? What about passing on the Word of God to our children? It would seem that we are even more responsible to do this sort of thing and not just to our children, but perhaps FIRST to our children and then to others!

Being strong in the grace and faith means to pass on the Word to to others!

2. BEING STRONG MEANS TO ENDURE HARDSHIP

3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Endure hardship. What hardship? We hardly know anything about hardship these days. We’re living in the wimpy world of plush, cushy, have-everything, easy-living America!

Seriously, most of us have it pretty easy, do we not? I am not talking about the stress that we put on our self’s. Some of that is self-inflected. Don’t get me wrong we have hardships but few of us have to worry about drinking clean water or being jailed and tortured for going to church.

ILL.- Mowing the grass is not a hard chore but we might think it’s hard chore. However, do you remember the days when people used to mow grass with one of those old rotary lawn mowers? We have self-propelled or we just hire some to mow for us.

Or how about the days when you raised your own vegetables or else you had none?! And the same with your meat? Talk about work! That was work. It’s much easier to pick it up today at the grocery store and store it in your refrigerator rather than an ice box or a cold stream that ran by your house!

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And remember when you walked everywhere you went, instead of driving a car? We all have it so very hard! NOT! NOT SO!

And seriously, we know little about enduring hardship when it comes to the faith of Christ. We are free to go to church or not! Sleep in or go to church and endure another boring sermon. But for some going to church is about the end of their faith, other than maybe private prayer time. I think the hardship may only come when we truly begin to exercise our faith by talking about it out in public. THAT’S WHEN YOU MAY INCUR SOME WRATH OR OPPOSITION.

I have personally experienced it at Strong Hospital. The rejection of both my efforts of faith to comfort. It does sting it does hurt but I love the effort to try every day as a Chaplain for Christ!

I do believe, however, that whenever we start to preach the faith and live the faith strongly then we will incur some opposition and that’s when we must endure hardship, criticism, etc.

So to go against the current of today world of putting yourself out there to be uncomfortable for Christ I say, let’s endure hardship like a good soldier for Christ and began spreading the faith!

3. BEING STRONG MEANS TO PLEASE THE COMMANDER

4 No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.

Being strong in the faith means obeying our commanding officer.

I’m not sure you have to experience being in the armed service, however, to understand the matter of obedience. Although I do believe that if you’re in the army now and you don’t obey your commanding officers you might not like what you’d get!

ILL.- For the first two years of my grade school life I  Mr. Lawson was my high school music teacher. He was healthy, had big arms, was strong, and if you didn’t behave in his class you got his board across your backside. And I found out one day! From then on, I paid attention in class.

I think, however, that disobedience in the armed services was and perhaps is a lot rougher than that. What’s the meaning of AWOL? And does this have any significance for the Christian life?

My understanding is that it means Absent Without Leave, meaning desertion or perhaps temporary absence without being given a leave of absence. Or leaving your post with the intention of not returning. DO CHRISTIANS EVER DO THIS?

I’ve certainly known of some Christian who left the church for no good reason and never came back. And I’ve known some who were absent for no good reason and were not quick to return to the Lord’s Day worship! And some of them even claimed to be walking in the faith, but I’m not convinced you can walk in the faith or walk with God without worshiping with His church!

ILL.- Did you ever see the Tom Hanks’ movie, “Cast Away”? Interesting movie. Maybe if you were stranded on a desert island all by yourself you could still walk with God even without assembling on the Lord’s Day with His church, BUT FEW OF US ARE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND!

Being strong in the faith means that we walk with God and we don’t let the civilian affairs of this world come between us and the Lord. If we do, it’s a form of idolatry or spiritual adultery.

4. BEING STRONG MEANS TO OBEY THE RULES

5 Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules.

Being strong in the faith means that we live according to the rules. Whose rules? His or ours? We know the answer to that question but we often make our own rules when it comes to life.

That is, we do our own thing regardless of what we know the Word of God says or what we know the Lord would think.

ILL.- Do you know who Rosie Ruiz is? She is a Cuban American who on April 21, 1980 crossed the finish line before all other women runners in the 84th Boston Marathon and was initially credited as the first place female competitor, but was later stripped of her title when it was found that she had not run the entire course.

AH HA! She cheated! She didn’t run according to the rules and she didn’t win either! Isn’t that what Paul is saying in this text?

When you don’t run or compete according to the rules you won’t receive the victor’s crown. You won’t even finish the race.

Where are the rules found? What does the rulebook say, how does it read?

Here are a few of the rules in the book that are probably the greatest to be found.

Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

No one is crowned unless they compete according to the rules! Being strong in the faith is a matter of following God’s rules.

5. BEING STRONG MEANS TO POCKET THE BOUNTY

6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Pocket the bounty sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? What’s the idea or meaning? To me, it means to reap the benefits.

Matthew 6:33 “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness....” And what will happen? All these things shall be added to you. What things? In the context, it’s food, shelter and clothing. HAVE YOU POCKETED THAT BOUNTY?

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

If we trust the Lord with our whole being and check in with Him on all things we’ll reap the benefits of Him keeping our paths straight in life.

I Peter 5:5-7 “"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

If we’ll humble ourselves before the Lord instead of being a “know-it-all” or a “I’m living for me” type person then you’ll reap the bounty of God not opposing you. SOUNDS GOOD TO ME.

Also, if you’ll cast on your anxiety, fears and worries on Him you’ll pocket the bounty of God taking care of you. WOW!

And the list goes on and on. God’s list of blessings goes on and on in scripture. If we’ll do as He says we’ll pocket the bounty, receive the blessing, inherit the loving care.

If we listen to our Father and live according to His will we’ll be greatly blessed for it. We’ll reap the blessings!

CONCLUSION-----------------

7 Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.

It always pays to reflect on what God says! The more we reflect on what God’s word says, the more God will reveal to us! I’ve experienced this myself in my personal study of the Word. The Word of God enlightening and empowering!

Psalm 119:1-2 “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.”

This says it all and we must reflect, listen and learn.

Summary: Let’s think about what it means to be strong in the grace of Christ. 1- Being strong means to impart the Word 2- Being strong means to endure hardship 3- Being strong means to please the commander 4- Being strong means to obey the rules 5- Being strong