Why We Don’t Give Up

Why We Don’t Give Up

                             

Perseverance, persistence, the prize! The Christian life was never promised as an easy way to live; instead, Paul constantly reminds us that we must have a purpose and a plan because times will be difficult, and Satan will attack. Nevertheless, we never persevere without the promise of a prize – a promise God will keep.

 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV) ~ Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

  • Winning a race requires purpose and discipline. Paul used this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work, self-denial, and grueling preparation. As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly reward. The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina. Don’t merely observe from the grandstand; don’t just turn out to jog a couple of laps each morning. Train diligently, because your spiritual progress depends upon it.
  • At times we must even give up something good in order to do what God wants. Each individual’s special duties determine the discipline and denial he must accept. Without a goal, discipline is nothing but self-punishment. With the goal of pleasing God, our denial seems like nothing compared to the eternal (“incorruptible”) reward that is ours.
    • 2 Timothy 4:8 (ESV) ~ Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
  • When Paul said he might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside, he did not mean he could lose his salvation, but rather that he could lose his privilege of telling others about Christ. It is east to tell others how to live and then not to take our own advice. We must be careful to practice what we preach.
  • The Purpose
    • Run your race to win
    • Run straight to the goal
  • The Plan
    • Deny yourself whatever is potentially harmful
    • Discipline your body, training it
  • The Prize
    • A heavenly reward that never disappears

 

Galatians 6:7-10 (ESV) ~ Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • It would certainly be a surprise if you planted corn in the ground and pumpkins came up. But it probably would not be a surprise if you gossiped about your friends and soon found you had no friends. It’s a law of life – both physical and spiritual – that you reap what you sow. Ever action has results. If you plant to please your own desires (“soweth to the flesh”), you’ll reap a crop of sorrow and evil; if you plant to please God; you’ll reap joy and everlasting life. What kind of seeds are you sowing in the soil of your life?
    • It is discouraging to continue to do right and receive no word of thanks or see no tangible results. However, Paul challenges the Galatians and us to keep on doing what is right and to trust God for the results. In due time, we will reap a harvest of blessing.
    • The Purpose
      • Don’t get tired of doing right
      • Don’t get discouraged and give up
    • The Plan
      • Plant the good things of the Spirit
    • The Prize
      • Reap everlasting life

 

Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV) ~ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

  • In the Christian life we battle against “principalities and powers”, (the powerful evil forces of fallen angels headed by Satan who is a vicious fighter 1 Peter 5:8). To withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of his armor. Paul is not only giving this counsel to the church, the body of Christ, but to all individuals within the church. The whole body needs to be armed. As you do battle against “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” fight in the strength of the church, whose power comes from the Holy Spirit.
    • Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
  • These who are not “flesh and blood” are demons over whom Satan has control. They are not mere fantasies – they are very real. We face a powerful army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ and join his church, these beings become our enemies, and they try every device to turn us away from Christ and back to sin. Although we are assured of victory, we must engage in the struggle until Christ comes, because Satan is constantly battling against all who are on the Lord’s side. We need supernatural power to defeat Satan, and God has provided that in his Holy Spirit within us and his armor surrounding us. If you feel discouraged, remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).
  • How can anyone pray all the time? One way to pray constantly is to make quick, brief prayers your habitual response to every situation you meet throughout the day. Another way is to order your life around God’s desires and teachings so that your very life becomes a prayer. You don’t have to isolate yourself from other people and from daily work in order to pray constantly. You can make prayer your life and your life a prayer while living in a world that needs God’s powerful influence.
  • Undiscouraged and undefeated, Paul wrote powerful letters of encouragement from prison. Paul did not ask the Ephesians to pray that his chains would be removed, but that he would continue to speak boldly for Christ in spite of them. God can use us in any circumstances; we should also pray that God will accomplish his plan through us right where we are. Knowing God’s eternal purpose for us helps us through the difficult times.
  • The Purpose
    • Put on all of God’s armor
    • Pray all the time
  • The Plan
    • Use all the pieces of God’s armor provided for you
      • Strong Belt – Truth
      • Breastplate – God’s approval
      • Shoes – Readiness to spread the Good News
      • Shield – Faith
      • Helmet – Salvation
      • Sword – The Spirit, the Word of God
    • The Prize
      • Standing safe against all the strategies and tricks of Satan

 

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) ~ Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

  • The Purpose
    • Keep working for the day when you will be all God wants you to be
  • The Plan
    • Forget the past, look forward to what lies ahead
  • The Prize
    • The heavenly prize to which God calls us

 

2 Timothy 2:3-13 (ESV) ~ 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, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

  • As Timothy preached and taught, he would face suffering, but he would be able to endure, for the results are well worth it. Paul used a comparison with soldiers, athletes, and farmers who must discipline themselves and be willing to sacrifice to achieve the results they want. Like soldiers, we have to give up worldly security and endure rigorous discipline. Like athletes, we must train hard and follow the rules. Like farmers, we must work extremely hard. But we keep going despite suffering because of the thought of victory, the vision of winning, and the hope of harvest. All our suffering is made worthwhile by our goals of glorifying God, winning people to Christ, and one day living eternally with him.
    • Paul was in chains of prison (“bonds”) because of the Gospel he preached. The truth about Jesus was no more popular in Paul’s day than in ours, but that won’t stop it from reaching receptive hearts.
      • When Paul said Jesus was God, he angered the Jews who had condemned Jesus for blasphemy; but many Jews became followers of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:24).
        • But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
      • When Paul said Jesus was God, he angered the Romans who worshiped the emperor as god; but even some in Caesar’s household turned to Jesus (Philippians 4:22).
        • All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.
      • When Paul said Jesus was man, he angered the Greeks who thought divinity was soiled if it had any contact with humanity; still many Greeks accepted the faith (Acts 11:20, 21).
        • [20] And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. [21] And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
      • The truth that Jesus is one person with two united natures has never been easy to understand, but it is being believed by people every day. Despite the opposition or outlook, continue to proclaim Christ. Some will listen and believe.
    • The Purpose
      • Teach these great truths to people who will pass them on
      • Hold on to your faith, even when you feel too weak to have any left
    • The Plan
      • Take your suffering as a soldier, and don’t get tied up in worldly affairs
      • Follow the Lord’s rules, as an athlete must do in order to win
      • Word hard, like a farmer who tends his fields for the harvest
    • The Prize
      • We will live with Christ; we will sit and rule with him
      • He always remains faithful to us and always carries out his promises
 
Pastor Andy Lambert

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