7/23/2000 6:00 PM
2 Timothy 2:1-10
"Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus..." Christ is the source of our strength. We need to draw upon the grace he has for us. There are some difficulties for us to encounter along the way of life. Salvation does not remove the difficulty from life. We aren't made "non-human" by the grace of God. Be set to endure some things. Enduring hardships was a firsthand experience for the Apostle Paul. Whatever may be done, it won't bind the word of God. The purpose of enduring is that others can be saved. Consider what the effect would be if you don't stand. Endure for the benefit of others.
The prophets weren't always well received. Jeremiah was put in the dungeon. The prophets took the message, and suffered affliction for it. "Behold, we count them happy which endure." We're impressed by how these endured and went on with God. They were happy to do the work God would have them to do.
1 Corinthians 4:6-13
Paul is a good example. He endured many things. Not all of whom he was writing to, had a great respect for him. He reminded them that the emphasis needed to be on God and people finding God. It is NOT unity to take sides (being puffed up for one against another). We are presenting a great SAVIOR to the world, not a "great preacher" or "great saint". All that we have, we have received of God. "I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world..." Paul wasn't the "Honorable Apostle Paul" to some people. It was sometimes those who SHOULD have seen him this way, that treated him the worst. Paul was willing to bear all of that for their salvation. We need to be able to bear hardness regardless of where it comes from. The hardness did not keep Paul from reaching out. We need to draw on God's grace and bear the hard things for the sake of others. Paul didn't quit trying. He didn't quit preaching just because he was in prison. He fought the fight to the finish. By God's grace, we can, too.
We are to be different than the world. We are not to deliver back what people give to us. Be a picture - not a mirror. We, by the grace of God, are not a reflection of the world for the world to see. Give good for evil. Give them a chance to do it again (turn the other cheek). Christ wasn't proposing a "life for sissies." It takes God's grace and strength to live this life. We need to be careful of our interactions with people. The world could take advantage of God's people, but we can look to God as our defense. He knows what we are going through. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Most people want to be treated well. We are the light and example for someone. The hardness you endure is for someone's benefit.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Our answer should be "No one." As far as Christ is concerned, NO ONE can separate us from his love. Just because someone doesn't like you, it doesn't mean that you are separated from God's love. Of all the things that could come, none of them changes the love from Christ. He is still faithful to us. Do we feel the sacrificial life? Who can separate us from SHOWING the love of Christ? The answer should be the same - no one or no thing. The love of Christ doesn't require good to be returned from the other side. Christ loved us when we were unlovable. We are called to do the same for others. Whatever we might encounter, we need to rise above it. If we would be conquerors, it will be through Christ and his grace. We will be misunderstood, sometimes disliked and mistreated, but we need to be able to take it in a good way. It is in the time of hardness that the soldiers work is done. In the time of difficulty, the way we handle it can have a great impact. In all these things we can be more than conquerors.