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Be Strong In The Lord

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Be Strong In The Lord

Over the last couple weeks we have been looking at different teachings that can help us during this unusual time we are facing here in Zimbabwe.Last week was a big one.We looked at James chapter 1 where we were told to consider it pure joy when you encounter various trials.Now I don’t know about you but that is not my first response when trouble comes my way.Matter of fact when trouble comes my way I usually try and find the shortest possible way to get rid of it.Most of us like the trouble free life and that’s what brings us the most joy.But James point and our take home from last Sunday was that there is something more important than our comfort.That is our faith. Our ability to trust God in all situations.And from time to time it is good to have that faith tested.We need to see if our faith is strong or if it has some areas that are a little week.Nothing will show us how strong our weak or faith is like a little trial.And James considered learning about his faith as something that was much more important than just being comfortable in life.This week we are going to build on this.One of our truths that we learned last week is that we are on a journey in this life.What is interesting about this journey is that is both to a person and to a place.The place is ultimately heaven. That is our final destination.Part of the reasons we have troubles in this life is because we are not in heaven yet.We can get glimpses of heaven but until Jesus comes back or we pass away were are not there yet.We still live in a world where we will meet various trials that come in all different forms.And I’m sure all of us are experiencing them right now in many different ways.Which brings us to today and our series “What do we do now?”What our take home for today is: We need to be strong in the Lord.We will see what that means and how do we do that.This is very important to learn.PRAYNext Jesus I would have to say Paul the Apostle is the one that had the greatest impact as far as the Christian Life goes.We are going to look at a couple of things that Paul said and what he experienced in his life.First of all we don’t need to turn there because it is not our main focus but just what will launch us into today’s main point.In Philippians 4:13 Paul said:
Philippians 4:13 ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
For me this has always been one of the most powerful statements in the whole Bible.The reason why is because it is one of his main formulas that he used to determine how he live until the day he went to heaven.He knew he could do all things through Him who strengthened Him.So first of all we do need to know what the ALL THINGS ARE means.What it means is that no matter what this life throws at him he can handle it.They would not break him.What it does not mean is that he could change everything.This does not teach that when he was having a hard time he could just exercise his faith and have it change.I know that some teach that but Paul does not teach that and what is proof is that his life is recorded for us.For instance if we read
2 Corinthians 11:23–29 ESV
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?
This right here is what Paul’s life was like.He worked hard for the Lord to the point of exhaustion, he was often near death some due to sickness, he was beaten, he was shipwrecked not once but three times, he ended up having to float out in the ocean for a day, he had sleepless nights, he ran out of food and water, he had people problems, he had pressure and anxiety.It’s all recorded right there.Now if Philippians was teaching that the ALL THINGS meant he could change everything don’t you think he would have changed a few of these?Like rebuked the sea so his boats didn’t crash, release money so he wouldn’t have run out of food and water, prayed for a miracle so that he wasn’t beaten by the authorities?Of course would have if that is what this was teaching.It’s not. It goes along with what we are looking at.While we are on this earth we will always have problems that come in many forms.Paul had his that were recorded and they were very hard.We have ours and they are very hard.We have money problems right now, we have food problems right now, we have theft problems right now, we have fuel queues, we have politics.We are not to compare our problems with Paul’s what we are to see here is that while we live in this world TROUBLE COMES.When we are told we can do all things it doesn’t mean that we can change all these just like it didn’t mean that for Paul.But what he says is, I can do all things through HIM who strengthens me.Meaning whatever this world throws at me I can handle it.But here is the main point.Not because he was so strong and great but because of the strength that Christ could give him.That is our take home for today.Most of what we are facing right now is not in our control.We face these troubles because of place we are living.We should pray like crazy for divine intervention, that God would rescue this country and help us.And at the same time learn how to know that there is a way to make it through this even if God doesn’t change a thing.That is by the strength that Christ gives or what our take home is, to be strong in the Lord.See that is what Paul knew that we need to learn.That is why he could say, I can do all things. It’s because God was there to help him be strong enough to face them.So when asking, What do we do now. Learn about this power.You know I have heard people say things like:I don’t know that I can handle this pressure right now. I’m not sure I can handle the circumstances that I am in now, I’m not sure I have the strength to keep going.The truth is you may not. But God can help you.This is where we can learn more from Paul to face what we face.The very last letter that Paul wrote was called 2 Timothy.In that letter he wrote something that I believe will help us right now because it teaches us how to be strong in the Lord.Let’s read
2 Timothy 2:1–8 ESV
You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,
You then my child. You can put your name there because this applies to you.There is almost no way to take this out of context.You, you, you, you and me.Be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.Something that Paul knew first hand was that when Jesus comes into our life and we surrender our life to Him.There is something that is called GRACE that comes with Him.Often when we talk about Grace we often think of it is just that we are saved by grace.Meaning that it isn’t because of what we do but because of what He did. We don’t deserve anything but simply out of the goodness of God we are saved.But there is more to grace than just saving us.Grace is also a power that we have in us to strengthen us.Matter of fact it is the same root word that as the Gifts of the Spirit.When people talk about gifts of miracles, faith, healing, discernment, etc.Those are all manifestations of the Grace of God. That same power that can do miracles is in you to make you strong enough to face anything that comes your way.That grace and power is what makes you strong in the Lord.Paul didn’t have power in himself to face all those things but knew how to get the power from the Lord that he needed.That is what the rest of these verses teach us.He uses three wonderful pictures to teach us how to be in Christ Jesus.The lesson of the soldier, the athlete and the farmer.These lessons are actually very simple.The military image here doesn’t have so much to do that we are all called to do warfare for God or that He is building this big world wide army ready to do battle for Him.But it is about being disciplined and total obedience and devotion to Him.It’s where Jesus isn’t just your savior but that He is Lord.It’s where you understand like a soldier when Jesus says something to you in His Word or by promoting you, you say YES LORD and do it.It’s not a negotiation but a yes Lord attitude.The athlete isn’t about success or as much as about following the rules.If you cheat you get disqualified.If we want to be strong in the Lord we must wake up everyday with the attitude is that I am going to live the way that He wants me to live.I’m not sitting looking for the short cuts or how I can beat the system but it’s about following Him in everything.Finally the farmer is to know that following Him is hard work.It is not easy to live the Christian life it’s work.But the work is worth it.Finally there is the last part:Remember Jesus as preached in my gospel.Jesus did not teach we would all have an easy life.Jesus preached that we could all be saved.We need to think about Him at all times.
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