When we find ourselves in the midst of hardship and struggles it becomes more and more difficult to press on. The Apostle Paul was no stranger to hardships and struggles. As mentioned in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10; 11:23-28 he experienced: troubles, hardships, distresses, beatings, riots, hunger, dishonor, bad reports, imprisonments, poverty, hard work, shipwrecked, lost at sea, in danger, sleepless nights and regarded as an impostor! But even in the difficulties Paul pressed on. So what was he secret to Keep Calm and Carry On?
VISION (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Paul gives us a great image of running the race with our eyes on the prize. When we have a vision we have something to aim for. But the vision isn’t enough. “Vision without implementation is hallucination”. Paul speaks to how to implement a vision through strict training and focus. He also mentions the importance of taking care of self. As a Christian, we quickly think “Love God, Love Others”…but what about ourselves. Jesus is clear in Matthew 22:34-40 that yes we should first and foremost love God and secondly love our neighbor as yourself! If there is no love for self then there can be no love for others or for God. Loving yourself has many cultural connotations so we need to understand the Biblical view of loving yourself. To go more in-depth into the Godly way to love yourself checkout my blog on the Replenishment Cycle.
ENDURANCE (2 Timothy 1:6-8; 4:5-8)
2 Timothy is regarded as Paul’s final letter and his final words to his apprentice he gives very specific instructions and encouragements. To paraphrase, Paul is telling Timothy to endure but in order to endure you need discipline. Endurance comes from discipline. Be disciplined in doing what you were created and made to do. Be disciplined in keeping your head in all situations. Be disciplined in doing the work God called you to do. Be disciplined in bringing others along with you instead of doing it all alone. Endurance is not something that we just muster up or find deep within us. It seems like that is how it works but the reality is our endurance comes out of our discipline. If we want to be able to endure the hardships we must remain disciplined in the off-season and throughout the season.
DEPENDENCE (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Even the Apostle Paul was begging for relief! We don’t know what the “thorn in his flesh” was but it was bad enough to beg God to remove it three times! Jesus’ answer is not the answer of relief that we may hope and wish for. He answer’s Paul’s plea by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you”. Paul understands that he is strong and able to endure the more he becomes dependent on Jesus. When we face hardships we say things like, “How did I get here and how am I going to get out of this!?” Paul gives us more insight into this kind of dependence in Philippians 4:12-13 when he says, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation…I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”. When Paul says “content” he is not referring to being well-pleased, gratified or happy but rather the definition of content here is “independent of external circumstances”. Keep Calm and Carry On by being independent of circumstances and dependent on Jesus!
Sermon Notes from Brian Haas
Adventure Sunday Nights
Series: “Keep Calm & Carry On”
April 6, 2014