Summary: Endurance is inspired by the resurrection, by our love for others, and by the prospect of reward at the finish line.
Three Faith Anchors
Text: 2 Tim 2:8-13 9/3/04
Function: The listener will take courage to continue in the faith amidst possible discouragement.
Every day, people like you face difficult circumstances. Some of these things you face just might be hard hitting enough so that your faith takes a blow.
Some of you faced home environments that make you hurt every day. Others have seen mission challenges that called for every last ounce of energy. Some of you have been over your heads in leadership crises that made you wonder why you signed up. Others have struggled through business losses that made you feel like a failure. Still others of you have known bodily diseases that whittled away at your physical strength until your spirit was drained of life. Others suffer intellectual battles of faith, where frankly, you wonder how or where you will come out.
There are any number of faith killers that can destroy your walk with God: doubt, discouragement, sin, opposition, or even exhaustion. How do you hold on to faith when God doesn’t meet your expectations?
Timothy appears to have been facing some kind of discouragement, whether from the inside or the outside. His mentor sends him an encouragement letter. Paul brings on some terrific anchors for holding his faith solid, even through tough times.
Anchors are critical to a ship’s survival. If they don’t hold amidst stormy waters, the ship will be grounded or even smashed against the rocks.
We too need faith anchors. The first of these anchors is to
Remember Jesus Christ
Now, if you’re going through hard times, and someone says, "Remember Jesus Christ", what do you first think of?
I tend first to think about that tremendous endurance test he went through at his death: The sweat, the lashes, the thorn-spiked crown, the nails, the rough wood against his human skin, the searing physical and spiritual stress. These all tell of an incredible trial that would have made most turn away.
It’s certainly not out of place to remember that event when it comes to endurance. The author of Hebrews says in 12:2-3, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (NIV). Many people have been inspired to renew their faith when they consider the death of Jesus.
But when Paul says, "Remember Jesus Christ" here, he has something else in mind: Look at 2:8, "Never forget that Jesus Christ was a man born into King David’s family and that he was raised from the dead." (NLT)
If you are running a marathon, you may gain considerable inspiration from watching the best athlete sweat and ache up the worst part of the course. But another hope may help you more -- the moment when you expect to cross the finish line with hands held high.
Remember Jesus, born of David -- a human like you, yet of royal Messiah blood. And never forget there is something more magnificent about him than any human who lived.
Jesus said of himself in John 2:19, "Destroy this temple and I will raise it up in three days." John says he was speaking about his own body. Jesus didn’t say God would do it, he said he would do it -- personally, because he was God. It was almost like saying, "Go ahead. Do your worst. I will return. I am the ultimate authority."
In a movie, "The Princess Bride" there is an amusing scene. Two of the heroes are sword-fighting with their left hands. They’re battling almost evenly back and forth until the Spaniard panting, says, "I admit it, you are better than I am." The masked man says, "Then why are you smiling?" Spaniard, "Because I know something you don’t know." Masked man: "And, what is that?" "I am not left handed." The Spaniard then switches hands and gains ground.
"You are amazing.", says the masked man. Spaniard, "I ought to be, after 20 years." Masked man: "Oh, there’s something I ought to tell you." Spaniard "Tell me." Masked man : "I’m not left-handed either."
Sometimes you don’t show all your cards until it’s time. Jesus could look at all those who wanted him dead and say, "I know something you don’t know." As the author of life, he held a secret strength, a deeper power that made even death the loser.
And you who follow Him have it too. People may say to you, "Aren’t you afraid you’re going to die?" You can say, "I know something you don’t know."
Every believer will experience an echo of that life burst. Inside you is an unseen resurrection power.