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Facing Life With Confidence

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Facing Life With Confidence

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2 Corinthians 4:17-5:10----

If you go down to your favorite bookstore today—somewhere like a good Borders or a large Barnes and Noble—you could shop around for a couple of hours and come home with a shopping bag containing these books, which are currently in print and available right now in most large bookstores: Ø      Confidence:  How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and EndØ      How To Develop Self-Confidence and Influence PeopleØ      Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-ConfidenceØ      How To Have Confidence and Power in Dealing with PeopleØ      The Confident WomanØ      Raising Confident BoysØ      Raising Confident GirlsØ      Ten Days to More Confident Public SpeakingØ      A Guide to Confident LivingØ      365 Ways to Raise Confident KidsØ      Be ConfidentØ      Six Secrets of a Confident WomanØ      What’s Holding You Back:  30 Days to Having Courage and ConfidenceØ      The Confident Coach’s Guide to Teaching SoccerØ      How to be Your wn Therapist:  A Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Confident Life Ø      Bombproof Your Horse:  Teach Your Horse to Be Confident, Obedient, and Safe, No Matter What You Encounter All of us want to tackle life with confidence—we want that for ourselves and for our children, our students, and even for our horses.  Well, if you want to know the ultimate secrets to total self-confidence, then I’ve got a book in the Bible for you.  It’s this book we call 2 Corinthians, and this is the section of Scripture we’ve been studying in recent Sundays.  One of the themes of this book is that we should live confidently even when we’re under pressure.  Paul uses the words confident and confidence twelve times in this little book.  I believe the whole book of 2 Corinthians could be titled “Why I Am A Confident Person Despite Life’s Pressures, by the Apostle Paul.”  In our studies through 2 Corinthians, we’re coming to chapter 5; and notice these two verses: Ø      Verse 1:  Now we know…Ø      Verse 6:  Therefore we are always confident…Ø      Verse 8:  We are confident, I say… Here is a man who has been rejected, ridiculed, beaten down, battered, criticized and vilified.  But his opponents were totally stymied when it came to shaking his confidence.  He said, “I know, I am confident, I am always confident.”  Let’s read the whole paragraph and see what this is about: Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.  For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 1.  Confident People Think a Great Deal about Heaven (4:17-5:4)This paragraph is easy to dissect, and when we do so we come away with three characteristics of confident people.  First, confident people think a great deal about heaven.  We think about the unseen world which will one day become visible.  One of the troublesome things about this passage is the way the chapter division falls.  Verse 1 is really the direct continuation of the previous paragraph, which, in our Bibles, is at the end of chapter 4: Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away,  yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. In this life we have momentary troubles, like little weights on one side of the scale.  But we are heirs of eternal life in Christ with all that comes with that—the new heavens, the new earth, the new Jerusalem, the new order of things—and when you put that on the other side of the scale, there’s no comparison.  So we fix our eyes on what is unseen.  Whenever we’re tempted to lose heart, we think about heaven.  Because we know that our bodies right now are merely tents that will collapse at some point, but we have an eternal house in the heavens, not made by human hands. Let’s study this out in detail.   Verse 1 says:  Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed.  This is referring to our human bodies right now.  Paul is making a comparison, telling us that our bodies are like tents.  I haven’t gone camping in a long time, but I have a very nice tent that I bought years ago when our children were young, and this summer I hope to take it to the campground at Roan Mountain and go camping with my granddaughters.  It’s a lot of fun staying in a tent—for a night or two.  But for most of the year, I prefer my bedroom with my king sized bed, carpet under my feet, my bedside lamp, my temperature controls, and the adjacent bathroom. Tents are temporary dwellings, and at some point we loosen the cords, pull up the stakes, collapse the tent, and pack it away.  The Lord is using that as a picture of our human bodies.  We are living right now in tents.  It’s a temporary dwelling place for our soul, because on this planet we are pilgrims and strangers.  But one day this body will be resurrected by the power of God and will be glorified and eternalized—and compared to this earthly, dying body, my new body will be like a solid mansion. And so now we groan, we get tired of living in a tent, we long for our heavenly dwelling.  We think about heaven, and it gives us confidence about the future.  Let me read this extended passage in the Living Bible.  You can follow along on the screen, because I think this is a fair interpretation of what Paul is saying, and these words are so glorious:   Though our bodies are dying, our inner strength in the Lord is growing every day.  These troubles and sufferings of ours are, after all, quite small and won’t last very long.  Yet this short time of distress will result in God’s richest blessing upon us forever and ever!  So we do not look at what we can see right now, the troubles all around us, but we look forward to the joys of heaven which we have not yet seen.  The troubles will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.  For we know that when this tent we live in is taken down—when we die and leave these bodies—we will have wonderful new bodies in heaven, homes that will be ours forever, made for us by God Himself, and not by human hands.  How weary we grow of our present bodies.  That is why we look forward eagerly to the day when we shall have heavenly bodies which we shall put on like new clothes.  For we shall not be merely spirits without bodies.  These earthly bodies make us groan and sigh, but we wouldn’t like to think of dying and having no bodies at all.  We want to slip into our new bodies so that these dying bodies will, as it were, be swallowed up by everlasting life. Now, this inspires confidence for obvious reasons.  When you for certain that something is going to end favorably, it inspires a natural confidence.  When our children were little, one of our daughters was deathly afraid of going through the carwash down the street.  I can understand why.  You drive into a tunnel sort of contraption, stop your vehicle, and suddenly it’s attacked by giant instruments while you’re trapped inside of it.  Intense blasts of pelting water strike the car from every side, creating a cacophony of confusion and sound.  Strange rotating balls of spinning terror fall from above and begin battering the car.  Monster-like devices reach out from the sides and spread their terror across the doors and windows.  So I can understand why she was terrified and would scream bloody murder whenever we went through the carwash.  But as for myself, I wasn’t the least bit afraid to drive right into the lion’s mouth, because I knew that three minutes and forty-five seconds later I’d be driving out again with a cleaner car.  When we know that the ending of something is going to be favorable, it inspires natural confidence.  So the first thing to remember is that confident people think a good deal about eternal life, heaven, and the weight of glory that shall be revealed.   2.  Confident People Draw On Inner Resources (5:5)Second, confident people draw on inner resources.  Look at verse 5:  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. In other words, it is God Himself who is preparing us for the experience of putting on immortality and experiencing eternal life; and as a down payment, guaranteeing what is to come, He has given us the inner resources of the Holy Spirit.  This is a point that Paul makes several times in his writing. For example, turn back in this same book of 2 Corinthians to chapter 1, verses 21 and 22:  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come. Notice those words:  He… put His Spirit in our hearts. I don’t have time to review everything the New Testament says about the inner working of the Holy Spirit, but let me just give you some thumbnails.  The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit enters into our hearts at the moment of conversion, He proceeds from the Father in accordance with the promise of the Son, and He goes to work, re-creating the attitudes and personality of Jesus Christ in and through our lives.  He forms Christ within us.  He edifies us.  He sanctifies us.  He bears within us the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  He fills us with Himself and empowers us for service.   He reproves and exhorts and helps us with our infirmities.  He guides us into all truth and illumines us as we study the Scripture.  He bestows spiritual gifts for ministry, and enables us to live in victory and to work with effectiveness.   If we fully appreciated the powerful indwelling presence of Jesus Himself within us by means of His Holy Spirit, don’t you think we’d be confident people as we go through life?  Someone once told Billy Graham something he never forgot—we need Jesus Christ for our eternal life and we need the Holy Spirit for our internal life.  And in a book that he once wrote about the Holy Spirit, the great evangelist gave an illustration from his own life.  He said that when he sailed for England in 1954 for a three-month crusade, he came under intense spiritual attack.  A deep depression came over him, and a fear, and an incredible sense of inadequacy.  He thought, in effect, “What are we doing!  What have I gotten myself into?  How could this possibly work?  This crusade in England?  We’re sailing right toward an expensive and very public failure.”  He was panicky with a frightening sense of inadequacy.  “Then one day,” he wrote, “in a prayer meeting with my wife and colleagues, a break came.  As I wept before the Lord, I was filled with deep assurance that power belonged to God and He was faithful.  I had been baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ when I was saved, but I believe God gave me a special anointing on the way to England.  From that moment on I was confident that God the Holy Spirit was in control for the task of the 1954 Crusade in London.  That proved true.” (Billy Graham, The Holy Spirit (Waco, Texas:  Word Books, 1978), p. 102.) Notice what he said:  “From that moment on I was confident.”  Confident people are those who know how to draw on the inner resources of the Holy Spirit, and you don’t have to be a great evangelist to do that.  It’s true in our everyday lives.  As we face challenges that would otherwise deflate us and defeat us, we go to the Lord in prayer and the Holy Spirit who lives within us provides the necessary power and grace and strength and confidence for whatever comes. Notice again how Paul puts it here:  Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.  Therefore we are always confident…. 3.  Confident People Want to Please Christ (5:6-10)And then he goes on to give us the third mark of confident people—confident people make it their desire to please Christ.  Read on:  Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Some time ago, I was driving to a speaking engagement and I became disoriented on the road and wondered if I was taking the right route.  Nothing looked familiar and I wasn’t certain my directions were clear.  I didn’t have very much time to spare, and I felt a sense of panic.  Am I on the right road, or am I just driving around in circles.  I tried to call someone on my cell phone for guidance, but couldn’t get him.  I tried to read my directions as I drove, but couldn’t make heads or tails of them.  This sense of frustration rose up inside me, and then, suddenly, I saw a familiar landmark and I knew I was all right.  My confidence returned because I knew I was knew I was on the right road after all. When our goal in life is to please the Lord, it inspires confidence because we know we’re on the right road.  And the great thing about pleasing Him is that we can do it on both sides of the grave.  Notice what Paul says here:  So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.  As long as I’m alive on this earth, my goal is to please Jesus.  When I die and go to heaven, I’ll have exactly the same goal.  For most people, their life’s goals come to an end when they die.  Maybe they’ve reached their goals and maybe they haven’t, but it’s all over with in any case because they have been snatched away in death.  But for the Christian, we go right on with the same goal.  It’s our primary pursuit and purpose whether we’re alive on earth or alive in heaven.  We just want to please Him.  And that inspires confidence in living because we know our objective, we know we’re on the right road, we know where we’re heading, and we have a sense of purpose in life. Proverbs 14:26 says:  In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence. Jeremiah 17:17 says:  Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. Isaiah 32:17 says:  The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever. So many of us struggle with self-doubt, shyness, and a sense of inferiority.  But the Bible says:  If God be for us, who can be against us.  In the closing moments of this message, I want to end this sermon with a sort of ordination service.  I’m going to ordain each of you to preach.  I want to empower all of you to preach a little sermon to yourself.  I can’t be around you twenty-four hours a day to preach to you all the time, and many of my sermons aren’t what you need on any given day.  I want to deputize you and I want to show you how to preach to the hardest congregation of all—yourself.  Confident people preach to themselves from the truth of God’s Word.  They remind themselves of His promises.  So here’s your sermon: I am full of confidence today because:Ø      God the Father has a house for me in the heavens, not built by human hands.Ø      God the Spirit lives within me as a divine deposit.Ø      God the Son gives meaning to my life as I seek to please Him whether in life or death.If the whole of the Trinity is, therefore, for me, who can be against me! He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.   Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am confident that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. |

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