Summary: Making it through twelve years of high school or 16 years including college, involves facing some very real challenges. And, as we can all testify, making it through life will include continuous encounters with challenges that we must meet. But the wonder
Opening Statement: Making it through twelve years of high school or 16 years including college, involves facing some very real challenges. And, as we can all testify, making it through life will include continuous encounters with challenges that we must meet. But the wonderful thing about confronting these numerous challenges is that we can face them with some victories already under our belt.
Observation: Just think, graduates, of the encounters you have already experienced with success. You graduated from the womb and successfully adjusted to life on the outside. You graduated from infancy and successfully began that first day of kindergarten. You graduated from preadolescence and successfully navigated those teen years. Now you have graduated from high school / college and now you must travel the road of adulthood. How can your continued success be assured?
Key Word: 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.
Title: Guidelines For Successful Graduates
Opening Statement: We’ve all been there. Your heart begins to beat rapidly. There’s shortness of breath. You have difficulty swallowing. Your knees are weak. Your hands are cold, and you’ve never been so hot in your life. What I’ve just described are some of the physiological reactions that some people have when getting ready to give that first public speech. [So Seniors, come on up and give us a speech! Just teasing.] One of the greatest hazards to success is fear. While not all fear is bad, everyone knows what its like to be afraid. When fear immobilizes us and keeps us from doing that to which we have been called, we are dominated by a "spirit of fear." This kind of fear paralyzes us and keeps us from doing things we could or should do.
Transition: It’s with this in mind that I’m going to give you as your first GUIDELINE TO SUCCESS this thought…
I. Face Your Fears (II Timothy 1:7)
Exposition: II Timothy 1:7 [The Bible is full of “fear-nots.” But I like this verse because it was written to a young man, perhaps a little bit older than our graduates. Timothy was a young pastor at the church of Ephesus, and the Apostle Paul was his mentor. Paul encouraged Timothy in the first letter to not let others intimidate him because of his young age. Timothy was afraid of being inadequate as a young pastor. He lacked self-confidence. In this second letter to Timothy, Paul reminds Timothy that any cowardice in his life did not come from God’s Spirit.] For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.
Explanation: 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. With God in control we can face our fears. He gives us the ability to do what life demands, to love when others hate, and to be under control when others throw restraint to the winds.
Quotation: 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.”
Application: Seniors, living far away from home can be fearful at times. Going in for a job interview can be traumatic. Not having any friends who care about you can be devastating. But God has not given you seniors a “spirit of fear.” It is God’s will to move you from fear to confidence. You are called to live courageously and to trust the enablement of God’s Spirit, though young, inexperienced, and somewhat afraid, to work in and through you. God can and will use your life, but you must be willing to face your fears. Saying “Yes” to Jesus Christ on a secular college campus is a courageous thing while facing the fear of being stereotyped. Saying, “Yes” to a godly lifestyle in a difficult job is a courageous thing while facing the fear of ridicule. Saying “No” to the drugs and the parties that you are invited to is a courageous thing and you face the fear of being alone. Staying in a marriage that has hit a dead-end is a courageous thing in facing the fear of life with unfulfilled expectations. Saying “Yes” to honesty and integrity in the academic environment is a courageous thing in facing the fear of a bad grade. One of the biggest battles you’ll face is the battle for honesty. Dishonesty is rooted in fear.
Illustration: A rancher asked a veterinarian for some free advice. "I have a horse," he said, "that walks normally sometimes and limps sometimes. What shall I do?" The veterinarian replied, "The next time he walks normally, sell him." Dishonesty is the norm today. It takes courage to be honest on a resume or to not cheat on an exam or to be fair in a business. Face your fear of a poor grade or of not getting a job or of losing a profit if necessary, knowing that God has promised the necessary power and love and self-control to help you get the job done, even if you have to stand alone.