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Living Effectively as a Christian

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2 Timothy 2:1-7

Living Effectively as a Christian

Preached @ SBNBC 10/22/06

Introduction

                The Revolutionary War is filled with stories of heroism and bravery – soldiers and commanders who gave up much for the cause of the United States’ freedom.  The Revolutionary War is filled with stories of soldiers and commanders who were very effective in their positions and ultimately helped secure the U.S. its’ independence.  I would like to tell you the story of one Brigadier General who was very effective in his position, and I will call him Ben. 

                Ben was no stranger to adversity and difficulty before the War.  He grew up in a wealthy family, at least wealthy until his father made several bad decisions that plunged the family into debt and then his father turned to alcoholism to numb the pain.  Ben’s mother died by the time he was 18, leaving him to care for his sisters and his father, and his father died when Ben was 20.  Ben approached life aggressively, started a pharmacy and bookstore, and then eventually founded a West Indies trade company that provided Ben with much wealth.  When war came about, Ben enlisted and quickly found himself being promoted due to his bold courage and success on the battle-field.  Soon he was promoted to Brigadier General and participated in many famous encounters with the British, probably the most famous being the Saratoga Campaign during which by his brash courage and military brilliance had almost single-handedly handed the British a loss.  Although his leg was injured greatly, he fought to not have it amputated so he would not be rendered useless for the war effort, and through agonizing recovery he eventually had regained enough use back in his leg to serve again.  Even during his military successes, though, he faced hardships of false accusations by those who envied him, and had managed to overcome the harshness of his detractors. 

                Ben was one of Washington’s most trusted and reliable generals, and had epitomized the model of the effective Revolutionary War general.  Just like Ben was an effective general for Washington, you must be an effective Christian for God.

 

Proposition

                You need to have a Christian walk that is characterized by effectiveness.

 

Interrogative

               

                How do I live a Christian life characterized by effectiveness?

                By following the 4 metaphors that Paul uses in this passage.

                In order to live effectively according to these 4 metaphors, God first reminds you that you need to be continually empowered by Him.  We need to quarry/mine the treasures which are found in God’s Word.  In quarries/mines, what is being looked for is already there, we just need to put in the work to obtain the benefits of the quarry/mine.

 

Body

I.                    Live effectively in your Christian walk by modeling a teacher (vs. 2).

A.    In order to teach, you must first know your subject.

        1.            Explanation

·         The subject is the word of Christ that Paul passed on to Timothy

·         The subject for us is the whole Word of God, the Bible

·         Timothy must have effectively learned his subject, for Paul know entrusts him with carrying on the torch, with standing as Paul’s representative in the church of Ephesus.

2.            Illustration

·         Student teaching in History – late nights the night before learning the subject I was going to teach to the students the next day – in order to be able to answer their questions or communicate to them the subject matter, I needed to first know the subject inside out.

·         If you have plumbing issues at your home, you aren’t going to come and ask Pastor or I for advice, you’re going to go see Bob Bonanducci or call your local plumber.  If you need automobile advice, you’re not going to call up my wife; you’re going to call up Dick Costenbader or your local mechanic.  You contact those who know the subject you need help in.

3.            Application

·         How well do you know your subject?  If you’re going to call yourself a plumber, you better be getting familiar with the subject of plumbing, if you’re going to call yourself a mechanic, you better be getting know cars, if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, you better be getting to know Christ.  Don’t expect someone else to do the work for you.

B.    In order to teach, you need good students.

        1.            Explanation

·         These students need to be faithful – trustworthy, dependable, reliable – people of integrity who would not distort the truth

·         These students need to be able to teach others – they must have a desire not to just hoard the truths of God’s Word, but to pass them on to others so that they may learn to teach others as well.

        2.            Illustration

·         Training at the workforce – differences in training to really learn the ins & outs of your job so much that someday you could train someone else, or just training to do certain motions.

        3.            Application

·         Finding good students means that we first are good students – hungering and craving to learn the ins & outs of the Word of God and Christian living.

·         Teaching others means that we are actively involved in Great Commission Living – evangelizing and discipling our world for God’s Glory and their good.

II.                  Live effectively in your Christian walk by modeling a soldier (vs.3-4).

A.    By being a good soldier, you will endure hard times.

1.            Explanation

·         This enduring hardship literally means, “suffer together with someone.”  The soldier is really not “an army of one,” rather he coexists with others who are going through struggles with the enemy as well.

        2.            Illustration

·         How many soldiers went to Iraq expecting to sleep in the same kind of bed they slept in at home?  Eat the same delicious meals they ate at home?  Have the same feelings of safety that they had at home?  -- none of them, they knew they were entering into a fight, giving up luxuries and taking on hardships.

        3.            Application

·         Did you approach the Christian life with the mindset that you are going to get as much as possible out of it?  Or did you approach it with the mindset that you will give as much as possible to God for His glory?

·         Are you serving & suffering together with other Christians, or are you watching the fight from the comforts of your

 

B.    By being a good soldier, you will seek to please your Commander.

1.            Explanation

·         The soldier’s goal is to satisfy/please his commanding officer.

·         The good soldier doesn’t become involved with other activities that would interfere with his soldiering

        2.            Illustration

·         The dating/& hopefully marriage world – your actions are dictated by what would please your special friend/spouse

·         Kristin being away – she tried to leave surprises for me that would make my day, & I’ve tried to do things for her that would make her day.

        3.            Application

·         Are you receiving your commanding officer’s commands?  Are you seeking to please Him?  When He convicts your heart about other activities that interfere with your Christian walk, do you get rid of them?

·         Are you doing good things with your time?  Or are you doing the best things?

III.                Live effectively in your Christian walk by modeling an athlete (vs. 5).

A.    You will seek the highest goal.

1.            Explanation

·         The athlete competes for the prize, not for 4th place.  He has fixed his eyes on the prize, the championship, being #1.

·         He doesn’t settle in his mind for less than his best.

        2.            Illustration

·         An interview with an athlete before going into the season, race, etc. “My goal is to come in 2nd place in our division, to just barely miss the playoffs, to lose in the Super Bowl.”  No, each one of them has as their goal to win the whole thing.  Would you want someone who wanted otherwise?

        3.            Application

·         As Christians, we are to strive for the prize of giving God glory, of receiving either now on earth or in heaven the reward for our pursuit of bringing glory to God for our carrying out of the Great Comission.

 

B.    You will be self-disciplined.

1.            Explanation

·         “competes according to the rules” could focus on a commitment to the regiment & discipline needed for preparation or the commitment to the rules of the game.  Most likely Paul here is emphasizing the former.

·         This is self-discipline that affects both personal behavior and the inner attitude

        2.            Illustration

·         Preparation for a marathon – diet, exercise, mentally

        3.            Application

·         You must be committed to the self-discipline of denying your flesh in the Christian walk.

IV.                Live effectively in your Christian walk by modeling a farmer (vs. 6).

A.    Be a hard-worker.

1.            Explanation

·         A successful farmer is not characterized by laziness or procrastination.

·         “to exert oneself mentally, physically, or spiritually

·         This passage is talking about good old hard work

        2.            Illustration

·         Big silos/grain bins – standing there looking at them isn’t going to fill them.  Filling them comes by working hard at planting, cultivating, and harvesting the crop.

        3.            Application

·         How do we fill this auditorium, how do we fill the next?  By the good, hard work of prayer and living out the Great Commission.  We’re not going to fill them by standing around and looking at the empty seats.

 

B.    Be a harvester.

1.            Explanation

·         Once the farmer is done the hard work of harvesting, he should be able to enjoy the fruits of his labor – both the partaking of his crops and the financial provision that comes through the sale of them.

        2.            Illustration

        3.            Application

·         This similarly to the athlete’s crown refers to reward from God both on this earth and in heaven. 

 

Conclusion

                Ben was one of the most effective generals of the Revolutionary War, but he is not remembered today for his military strategies and bold courage.  Rather, he is known for something else.  Ben’s full name is Benedict Arnold, and today his name is synonymous with treason.  Why?  Because after his military successes, he allowed his bitterness towards those who were envious of his success get to him and turn him against the very country that he had passionately served during most of the Revolutionary War.  In fact, he hatched a plan to turn over West Point to the British, which would have effectively given the British a huge advantage had his plan not been found out and thwarted.  So after that he started to fight for the very side he had fought against for all those years.  See, Benedict Arnold was living for self, and in that he was not effective for his country when things were not going exactly as he wanted them to. 

                We as Christians need to continue to be live effectively, not only when things seem to be going our way, but all the time, seeking to bring glory to God in all that we do, even if things don’t make sense to us.  Let’s finish the Christian life just like we started it, with a passionate desire to serve and please God in everything that we do. 

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