You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
* 2 Timothy 2:4-7
In this context, Paul gives Timothy a number of illustrations and analogies, according to all of which self-denial and persistent work are important.
Paul encouraged Timothy to continue on, pursue, be strengthened by Jesus our Captain. He enlisted us. My captain is Jesus. I will suffer-endure hardships-if I am a soldier for Jesus. It's a given. As my trials increase: I need to grow stronger, my faith stronger, my love for God stronger, my trust stronger. None of these do I do in my own strength (2Timothy 2:1,2) but by the Grace given by Jesus!
Last night we visited a couple nestled in a valley of the hills of Ohio on the end of long country road about 25 min from our church. From the door an older looking man with a slight limp greeted us. Upon entering M. his wife 15 years younger, warmly greeted us surrounded by his 4 grandchildren.
With a slow southern drawl, E. talked about how much he enjoyed our little church on the hill. M. quickly agreed. I listened as she shared with me her story of childlessness, her hysterectomy gone wrong, chronic back pain and knee pain. She was taking care of her ailing father and her mother... she is only 41. My heart went out to her. Life is so hard and it hurts.
The conversation turned to Jesus. How Jesus changed my heart. How Jesus completely filled up Michael's heart at the age of 13. Living in broken home filled with insecurities...God reached down and rescued him from his sin, wrapped His arms around Michael and filled Him up with a new hope, a new purpose, new life, all because of Jesus.
We asked, "How would you describe your relationship with God? What do you think God requires to have a relationship with God”?
They both answered the typical church, giving myself, bringing others to church...but M. said something telling, “But my sin bothers me."
Michael preceded to tell the old old story of how our God is Holy, He does not and cannot tolerate sin. God is just, and cannot overlook our sin. At the end of those two points, both agreed that we were all in trouble including them. Which brought us to the best point of all...
God is loving and has reached out to us. Jesus completed the perfect exchange: Our substitute, His righteousness, our payment in full.
Both E and M looked at us in disbelief and said, “No one has ever told it to us like that!”
No one? Has told them? They had gone to church here and there, they have been taught Christian beliefs, but had never been sat down and told the simple, glorious, powerful, life changing Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus and only Jesus is the Gospel Theme. Simple, yet we feel as if we have to DO SOMETHING.
I wish I could say that they were gloriously saved. I cannot. Because they knew the religious terms of Christianity, but not Christ's transforming power of salvation. They have eagerly agreed to the exchange Bible study and will be in church again on Sunday.
Why do I tell that story? I need to continue on in Walking worthy of the calling God has called us to: One of which is reaching others with the Powerful Gospel of Jesus Christ. The days that feel hard, without purpose, a struggle to get through, if I remember that I am a soldier in Jesus army…He’s my Captain…my purpose, then I can identify with Timothy and be encouraged by Paul’s admonition.
My captain is Jesus. I will suffer -endure hardships-if I am a soldier for Jesus. It's a given. As my trials increase: I need to grow stronger, my faith stronger, my love for God stronger, my trust stronger. None of these do I do in my own strength (2Timothy 2;1,2) but in strength from the GRACE that is in Jesus.
My purpose as a soldier is to please and serve my captain Jesus-the one who enlisted me.
”You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” 2 Timothy 2:1
However, my strength comes from the GRACE that is in Christ Jesus, my Captain.
Getting out of the house and giving the gospel is a wonderful encouragement in the Lord.
We soldier on following our Captain, the best, most blessed job in the world.
God reached down in love and rescued Cassandra from her sin at the age of 21: changing her life, purpose, and focus forever.