Summary: A sermon to graduates (any graduates) with three guidelines for success as faithful Christians. Message is appropriate for challenging any Christians. Based on II Timothy 1:7; Philippians 3:13-14; and Hebrews 12:1-3
Guidelines For Graduates
Illustration: Going down the highway a bumper sticker was observed that said, "I’m a Pearl Harbor survivor." The unique thing about this bumper sticker was that is was on the back of a Toyota truck. That driver had obviously lived through and moved beyond some difficult times.
Today our graduates will need the kind of resolve that that truck driver had. As a matter of fact we all need that kind of resolve. Making it through twelve years of school involves facing some challenges with resolve. And, as we can all testify, making it through life will include continuous encounters with challenges that we must meet.
Just think, graduates, of the encounters you have already experienced with success.
„h You graduated from the womb and successfully adjusted to birth
„h You graduated from babyhood and successfully began that first day of kindergarten
„h You graduated from preadolescence and successfully navigated those teen years
„h No you have graduated from high school and now must travel the road of adulthood.
How can your continued success be assured? Let¡¦s look at some guidelines from God¡¦s Word that will provide guidance for you and for every one of us gathered here today.
I. Face Your Fears (II Timothy 1:7)
One of the greatest hazards to success is fear.
„h Max Lucado says, ¡§Fear doesn’t want you to make the journey to the mountain. If he can rattle you enough, fear will persuade you to take your eyes off the peaks and settle for a dull existence in the flatlands.¡¨
„h Another speaker said, ¡§Once you’ve faced the very thing you fear the most, it is no longer quite so fearful.¡¨
Illustration: A mother whose husband worked late into the night had a fear of a burglar sneaking into the house and hiding under the bed. So, as she took each of her children to bed and then went to her own room, she looked under each bed and hollered, ¡§Get out of there!¡¨ Then she was able to retire peacefully for the night.
For us Christians facing fear is simply trusting in the provision of God. In II Timothy 1:7 we read, ¡§For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.¡¨ God has given us the necessary resources to face and stare down any fear that might come before us. God has replaced the spirit of fear with the power of his presence. When we trusted Jesus as Savior the Holy Spirit of God took up residence in our life and provides the continuous comfort that we need to eliminate our fears.
Illustration: A young girl had to pass through a bad neighborhood. As she went down a dark street she noticed a shadowy figure stalking her. She was gripped with fear, but to her relief the stalker did not attack. Later, she read of another young lady who was attacked that same night in that same place. The police asked anyone who might have seen anything that night to come forward as a witness. After giving her story she asked the accused attacker why he hadn¡¦t attacked her. His answer was ¡§Why, Miss, there were two men guarding you!¡¨
While we don¡¦t want to act foolishly, we can be assured that the power of God¡¦s presence surrounds our lives. There may be fears that pop up in our travels through this world, but we can face them with God¡¦s power.
Sometimes our fears arise from those who have become our enemies. These too can be conquered. God¡¦s love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit enables us to look beyond the apprehensions we face as we interact with others.
„h Washington Irving said, ¡§Love is never lost. If not reciprocated, it will flow back and soften and purify the heart.¡¨
„h Another author wrote: ¡§Do not be too quick to assume that your enemy is a savage just because he is your enemy. Perhaps he is your enemy because he thinks you are a savage. Or perhaps he is afraid of you because he feels you are afraid of him. And perhaps if he believed you were capable of loving him he would no longer be your enemy.¡¨
Often fear is the result of a state of mind such as the woman fearful of burglars had. Satan thrives on messing with our minds. In his book, The Battle for the Mind, Tim Lahaye deals with that very conflict. From the beginning Satan tackled man¡¦s mind. This was the battleground in the Garden of Eden. The solution is to pattern our minds after the mind of God as discovered in the Bible.
Illustration: During the war, a chaplain asked a severely wounded youth if he was a Christian. The soldier gasped, "Yes." The chaplain said, "Then you have nothing to fear," and left to die the future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.