Summary: Things can be pretty tough there in the first half of the game. Certainly Timothy was not having a really great time. So let’s listen in to Paul’s half-time talk.
Passage: 2 Timothy 2:1-13
Intro: Most team sports have some kind of intermission, half-time.
1. and if you have played on a crummy team, like the football team I played on in HS, you have heard the half-time “pep talk.”
2. supposed to energize, encourage, send the team back out with a “rah rah” attitude.
3. and sometimes the team is just stunned by the reality that their opponent seems much better.
4. Timothy, you may recall, was a young pastor in a tough spot, with his mentor in prison.
5. but Timothy doesn’t own the franchise on tough times.
6. you may be the only believer in your family. You may be facing terrible ungodliness at work, even persecution
7. let’s sit on the locker room benches this morning and listen to someone who truly knows our pain, and has overcome it.
8. let’s get a dose of reality, and get ready to go out and play our hardest, knowing we are going to be victorious!
I. Remember the Game Plan
1. the New York Giants had a very good game plan in the Super Bowl.
PP Tom Brady getting sacked
2. it can be tempting to change the game plan if things are tough, but that is not up to us.
3. Paul reminds Timothy of that very thing here in v2
4. find some good guys and teach them what I taught you, so they can teach others, and so on…
5. I’m afraid we might have changed the game plan just a bit in our day.
6. less focus on teaching the gospel, more on image and administration, on entertainment value.
7. but the game plan of God has always been the transmission of the Gospel of Power from one generation to the next
8. this is so no generation will be without the knowledge of God’s mighty plan.
9. can be many methods, but only one gospel.
10. church attendance doesn’t change lives, good deeds don’t change lives, a new president doesn’t change lives. Only the gospel changes lives
11. but we have found in the first half that there will be resistance to our game plan. Certainly Timothy knew it.
12. so what do we do in light of this resistance?
II. Examine Your Expectations.
1. there are few more enthusiastically expectant than a young preacher with his first church.
2. trained, bursting to preach, to equip his people to be on fire for God.
3. growth would be fabulous, he would become known far and wide.
4. but as he stumbles into the locker room after the first few years, the gap between his expectations and reality have changed.
Il) 28 years ago, someone you know well wrote this letter, which was published in Leadership magazine…
5. Paul gives three homely examples of proper expectations in vv3-6
6. “endure hardship with us” as soldiers
7. basic training teaches soldiers what to expect.
PP Highlanders marching to the trenches
8. people shooting at you, trying to kill you. Extremely tough living conditions, lots of walking, obedience to commands even if they may cause your death.
9. another example is the athlete, who has to play by the rules.
10. he may expect to be able to break them, but referees and umps and even the Congress will hold him to them
11. and finally, the farmer, who might like to just reap a fine crop, but realizes that there is a lot of work to be done first.
12. Paul is doing some balloon popping here, because the expectations were wrong.
Il) I do this in pre-marital counseling often
13. we may want our faith to be cost-free, our service to be warmly appreciated, our spiritual growth to be without pain, and our truth telling to be enthusiastically received.
14. unrealistic in a fallen world.
III. Delay and Refocus Your Gratification
1. you can tell a person is maturing when she is able to accept delayed gratification.
Il) babies cry, toddlers whine, children pout.
2. but the mature soldier of Christ knows that there is hard work to be done, and then the reward.
3. v4, the soldier will deny things to himself that would make his life more comfortable if they decrease his effectiveness.
4. “entangled in the things of this life”
Il) can’t you see it? A soldier with a HD plasma TV on his back instead of a rifle?
PP Hebrews 12:1
6. the world promises us lots of things, would fill our lives with activities and possessions and pursuits.
7. they promise instant gratification for me!
8. but Paul calls Timothy to “remember Jesus”, and certainly to look at Jesus is to see someone who was willing to suffer for a later reward.
9. notice something here, and with Paul’s example as well.