PRELUDE: The one thing that an older man has over a younger man: wisdom to endure through difficult times
September 1st, 2002, Sunday Morning
"Endurance For A Reason"
To live for yourself is vainglory; to live for others is everything
OPENING: 2 Timothy 2:8-13 (key: v.9-10)
PAUL SUFFERED GREATLY IN LIFE
- 2 Timothy 2:9: He was suffering hardship ... evil.
- Acts 14:8-20: He was stoned in Lystra (where he went from
being a god to the people to lying in the dust--stoned within an inch of his life)
- 2 Corinthians 11:25: He was struck with many rods in Philippi
- 2 Corinthians 1:8: Paul told the church in Corinth that he
does not want them to be unaware of his affliction which came to him in Asia, that
he was burdened excessively, bound his strength, so that he despaired even life
- Now towards the end of his life, there is no rest--only much hardship
- The evil towards Paul not relented through his entire life
- Acts 22:19: Now he is imprisoned again probably in Rome under the influence
of Nero, the madman
- Conditions would have been extremely harsh for the apostle. The attitude
of most at this point would be, "I can't go on; I can't handle this"
- Paint the picture of Paul as aged, physically weak, locked in chains
in a dark cell and abandoned by his friends
- Let's now add one more ingredient to the picture
- Paul is viewed not only as a problem but as a criminal doing evil work.
His preaching is viewed by society as evil (when he says Jesus is the only way).
This is why his friends (Phygellus and Hermogenes) have abandoned him
(2 Timothy 1:15)
- And now society has turned against him. CNN and FOX News
(Bill O'Reilly, in particular)
would probably portray him as a Right Wing religious fanatic--a term most see as
worse than the title "child abductor" of today
- You cannot get lower than the apostle Paul as far as circumstances
- 2 Corinthians 11:25-30: Carefully read of all the pain
Paul has experienced for his faith and belief in Christ. And for all that's happened
to him, he simply wants to be happy that he has suffered for Christ.
- Now compare Paul to Christianity today in the United States. Not only
are there no reported cases of group beatings of believers but those who give a
small portion of their money/time to others demand publicity/kudos from friends/church/media
or positive acknowledgement from God for their "sacrifice."
- ... shame on us.
- Life is very difficult--none of us will escape the difficulties of life
- Acts 14:22:
Paul to Lystra: "through many tribulations we will enter the Kingdom of Heaven"
- John 16:33: Says Jesus,
"...In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
- Tribulation, hardships, distress, affliction, persecution;
show if your faith is real ... it will be seen in how you treat people
PAUL COULD HANDLE ANY CIRCUMSTANCE IN LIFE
- Paul had told the church in Philippi...
- Philippians 4:11-12: "Not that I speak from want, for I
have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with
humble means, and I also know how to love in prosperity; in any and every circumstance
I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance
and suffering need."
- Philippians 4:13:
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
- 2 Corinthians 1:9: "We had the sentence of death within
ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;"
- All of these factors play into Paul's mind as he faces overwhelming
- It is always an issue of faith. Do we trust God? If not, we will
eventually collapse under the pressures of life.
- Job 2:10: Examine Job's situation: He walked a perfect
life and prospered beyond his need as a result. But when God allowed Satan to test
him by taking away his cattle, property, and killing his children, Job yet did not
curse God. He didn't curse God because Job believed you do not live a life of pure
good; adversity must be included, too.
- Notice how Paul handles his difficult situation
- 2 Corinthians 12:7-10: Paul asks God to take his weakness
and his prior remembrance of evil things he did away from him. But God tells him
no because God is glorified by the test of man overcoming his weaknesses and burdens.
Therefore Paul is proud of his weaknesses because by overcoming them (among other
persecutions and distresses), he is strengthened by God
- 2 Timothy 2:10: Paul keeps on traveling from city to city, proclaiming the truths of
God's Word; even chains didn't stop Paul from doing his work
- Luke 16:10: Says Jesus, "he who is faithful in little is
faithful also in much..."
- If you have trust in God, you will be able to handle the small things
in life; and if you can handle the small things in life, then you will find that you
will also handle the big things in life
- Jeremiah 29:11: You will be able to handle whatever God brings in your life; God always
means for good no matter what anyone does to us
THE REASON FOR PAUL'S GREAT ENDURANCE WAS HIS LOVE FOR GOD'S PEOPLE
- The first is that you walk by faith, the second is by love
- 1 John 4:20:
"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth
not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"
- Faith is really seen in how we deal with the people we are in contact
with--friends, family, church members, employees, schoolmates...
- 2 Timothy 2:10: Paul says he endures all things for the
sake of those elected by God to reach with His Word
- Chrysostom: If God has chosen them (i.e., when He tells Paul to travel
to one of the many cities), it comes us who should suffer and sacrifice to try
and reach them spiritually
- God (Jesus) suffered on our behalf; the least we can do is suffer for
the people of God
- 2 Timothy 2:10: When Paul said,
"I endure all things", nothing causes him to stop loving the people of God
- This is so contrary to how people live
- THERE ARE THOSE WHO LIVE TO PLEASE MEN: Galatians 1:10:
This verse simply says if you seek to please men you do not live to serve Christ.
Therefore, your reward in life is simply the material things of this world and
the praise of men--both of which you cannot take beyond this world
- SELFISH AMBITION: The "I live for myself" mentality. This causes distress
to others because this life is based on envy and strife
- ROCKY SOIL: People who have no firm spiritual roots--only temporarily.
When affliction or persecution arises because of God's Word (i.e., the Word correcting
a person's wrong actions), the person immediately falls away because of moral or
- Philippians 2:3-5: Paul is different--he considers others as important as himself
- He really cares for people. He will pay any price
- This is not trying to keep people happy, this is not living for yourself
- This is viewing people as important as yourself
- Paul wants to see two things accomplished in the elect:
- That they may obtain salvation (be saved) which is in Jesus Christ
- There is salvation in no other name
- Paul is willing to pay the price to preach the Word of God
- Romans 10:17: Faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ
- And Paul wanted to see them make it to eternal glory
- When Christ returns and appears, we will become like Him!
- Helping others make it into the Kingdom of Heaven only comes with
- Colossians 1:24: "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for
your [the lost's] sake, and in my flesh I do share on behalf of His [Christ's] body, which is the church..."
- Colossians 1:28: "We proclaim Christ,
man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man to
become complete in Christ."
- Colossians 1:29: "For this purpose also I labor,
striving according to His power, which mightily works within me."
- If you love people, you will want to see them in the Kingdom of God.
The only way is to lead them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ
- In today's society, most people are willing to serve to a point--the point
of inconvenience ... then no more
- But with Christ as your basis, you will learn to be content in any
circumstance in life and continue to minister to family and friends