Sr. Pastor Darrell G Vaughn
                                                        Faithfulness - A Key Step to Happiness
July 11, 2010                          "True Marks of a Champion!"

Sun Am Worship                           

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:1-18 (King James Version)

  "Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people."

                        The Fields are white and the laborers are few!
2. C.H. Spurgeon said, "If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival;

A. In light of the times..there is no doubt that we are in need of revival.
1. Some would listen to this statement and say, Yes our country is in serious need of revival.
2. With all the things that our country allows to take place and considers as normal..
a. The attack..and I do mean the attack..on the traditional family..
b. Not even the traditional..but the family unit...as defined by God himself.
c. The blatant refusal by our Government to allow anything having to do with God to be placed in our courtrooms, our schools, or any of our public buildings!!!
d. The rampant killing of millions of children in the abortion mills across our great country
e. Our children being taught that it's normal for Little Billy to live in a house with 2 daddies or two mommies.
f. The dumbing down of Christians.

B. But..here's a real somber thought for you..It's not the world that needs revival..It's the Church that needs revival!
 Where  "God is at work restoring His church to health.
This world and it's leader (the prince of the power of the air) have warred against the church for so long that the church has become too weary to fight..we have lost our will to stand up for Christ.


It is the church that needs revival

c. There are Many churches and lots of individuals who are just as dead spiritually as Lazarus was physically. It's time to come out of the Grave Clothes!

c. We have lost many of our rights as Christians because we have fallen asleep at the wheel.
d. We stand to lose a lot more unless we wake up and defend our rights and our faith.
                                     True marks of a Champion
2 Corinthians 4:1   Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 Corinthians 4:2   But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

2 Corinthians 4:3   But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

2 Corinthians 4:4   In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

2 Corinthians 4:5   For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

2 Corinthians 4:6   For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:7   But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

2 Corinthians 4:8   We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

2 Corinthians 4:9   Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

2 Corinthians 4:10   Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:11   For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 2 Corinthians 4:12   So then death worketh in us, but life in you.

2 Corinthians 4:13   We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;

2 Corinthians 4:14   Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.

2 Corinthians 4:15   For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 4:16   For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:17   For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

2 Corinthians 4:18   While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

You've heard it said, "Winners never quit and quitters never win." That maybe true, but there are times when winners feel like quitting. What do they do then? You've heard it said, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going." That may be true, but there are times when the going gets so tough that the tough want to crawl back in bed and hide from the cruel world. What do they do then?

Michael Jordan is known as one of the best basketball players of all time. It hasn't always been that way though. During Jordan's sophomore year (1978-79) at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, he didn't make the varsity team. Leroy Smith (who never made it to the NBA) beat out Michael Jordan for the only sophomore spot on the varsity squad. Jordan settled for Junior Varsity. "He didn't sulk or threaten to quit. He just started working harder and improving his game," his high school coach, Fred Lynch said. "If anything, it made him more determined," .

Becoming a winner entails the strength to stay at a task even when you feel like giving up. It is the will power to keep on keeping on when you had rather resign. Call it whatever you would like-determination, endurance, persistence, tenacity-whatever.  But it is the true mark of a champion.

I. The Pictures of Staying Power
One can find examples of endurance portrayed in almost every walk of life. They are compelling stories of grit and determination. One is that of the apostle Paul. He had been imprisoned, flogged five times, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, gone without sleep and food, and been in danger from various elements. Yet he remained firm in his pursuits. His accomplishments are an unparalleled list of achievements for the advancement of the kingdom of God.

In this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul paints four pictures of endurance.

A. A picture of pressure.
"We are pressured in every way but not crushed" (2 Cor. 4:8). The picture here is of a football quarterback being blitzed by linebackers, but evading the tackle.

B. A picture of confusion.
"We are perplexed but not in despair" (2 Cor. 4:8). The picture is of a woman sitting in her office amid statistics, reports, graphs, and plans not knowing where or whom to turn to for help, but not giving up and quitting.

C. A picture of being chased.
"We are persecuted but not abandoned" (2 Cor. 4:9). The idea here is of being hunted, like wild game, but eluding the outdoorsman.

D. A picture of being thrown down.
"We are struck down but not destroyed" (2 Cor. 4:9). The picture is of a boxer who is knocked down, the referee is counting, but the boxer is rising to his feet.

Can you see yourself in any of these pictures? Do you feel pressured? Confused? Chased? Thrown down?

The key word in each of these pictures is the word but. When Paul employed the word but he does so in order to express that which is contrary to expectation. One would expect that if someone were hard pressed they would be crushed, or if they were perplexed they would be in despair, or if they were persecuted they would be abandoned, or if they were struck down they would be destroyed. But that was not the case.

Wouldn't you like to know how the apostle Paul was able to come out a winner in spite of apparent defeat?

II. The Secrets of Endurance
All too often people are defeated not because of a lack of ability, but because they quit too soon. Many people lose heart and throw in the towel before the game is finished. Two times in 2 Corinthians 4, Paul wrote, "DO NOT LOSE HEART" (2 Cor. 4:1,16). He uncovers the secrets of endurance.

What are some secrets that will keep us from quitting even though we may feel like giving up?

1st Realize that problems are real.

Problems are a fact of life; we must expect them. Life is not a joy ride. It is not like riding Disneyland's "Pirates of the Caribbean" where we float through the water on little boats, watching from a distance the cannon fire and the splashing water. Life is real with real pain, real problems, and real frustrations. People get sick, they experience disappointment, they shed tears, and they are touched by death. So what do we do?

We find the purpose in the problem. Problems come in every shape and size and from every conceivable direction, but they have one thing in common: for Christians they are not without purpose. The problems of life serve a purpose; they can accomplish something good in our lives. As William Barclay put it, "These trials are sent not to make us fall but to help us soar; they are sent not to defeat us but that we may defeat them; they are sent not to make us weaker but to make us stronger."

Problems are a testing. They don't arise to destroy us but to develop us. Often problems arise for the purpose of producing endurance and strength in our lives. Within every problem is the opportunity for growth and development in your physical, emotional, and spiritual life.

For example, kites fly highest against a stiff wind. Roses need to be pruned for their full beauty to blossom forth. The goldsmith relies on fire to purify the gold. The sculptor needs to gouge and cut the wood or the stone for his masterpiece to shine through. Flower petals must be crushed for their fragrance to emerge. Violin strings must be stretched taut for the music to be played.
A blacksmith had a great faith in God despite a lot of sickness in his life. An unbeliever asked him one day, how he could continue to trust in a God who let him suffer. "When I make a tool," the blacksmith answered, "I take a piece of iron and put it into the fire. Then I strike it on the anvil to see if it will take temper. If it does, I can make a useful article out of it. If not, I toss it on the scrap heap and sell it two pounds to the penny. Maybe God tests us like this. When suffering has come my way, I know that I've come out the better for it, so much so that I can honestly say, 'Put me in the fire, Lord, if that's what it takes, just don't throw me on the scrap heap.'"

When you are faced with the real problems of life, don't ask, "Why is this happening to me?" Problems happen to us all. Instead ask, "Lord, what can I learn from this difficulty?"

Is this easy??? No..But..it is where the power lies to rise to the occasion.

How can we do this? By relying on the promises of Romans 8:28

Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

2Nd  Its time to Release the power of God.
We have a secret weapon in facing the difficulties and pressures of life. "Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us" (2 Cor. 4:7). We are like clay pots--fragile and easily broken--but we have a stabilizing force within us to prevent us from cracking under the pressures and attacks of life. God's desire is to help the clay vessels made in his image to mature in the furnace of trials without cracking.

This power is an inner strength given in direct proportion to the need in our life at the moment. A middle aged woman lost her husband in a fatal plane crash when he was forty-five. It was a tragic experience. She was a strong person, yet in many ways she was completely dependent on her husband. When asked later how she got through this horrifying ordeal. She said, "You know, if someone had told me this was going to happen before it happened I would have told them I could not survive such pain and suffering. But through this experience I have felt the quiet, calm, and comforting presence of God. He has given me the strength I have needed to face each day That quite, calm, and comforting presence of God is the power of God being released in direct proportion to the need of the moment.

Matt 6:8 "Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

And..His grace will never run dry!!!

How do we release the power of God in our life? Simply by acknowledging our need for it. A false philosophy has been circulating for years. It states, "God helps those who help themselves." That is not true.

The fact is God helps those who realize they need help. Notice what God said to Paul, "But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. So because of Christ, I am pleased in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Cor. 12:9-10).

When we acknowledge our weaknesses we release the power of God in our life. This is one of the great paradoxical truths in the Bible: His power is perfected in our weakness. When we die, he lives. When we lose, he wins. When we're weak, he is strong. When we are dependent, he is powerful. That is the power in the clay pots. That is the strength that is within us.

C. Respond to other people's needs.
This thought goes against our very nature. Most often when we are confronted with trouble the more selfish we become. The more we become wrapped up in our own selfish interests and concerns. But enduring strength comes not by becoming selfish, but by becoming self-less. Paul wrote, "For all this is because of you, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to overflow to God's glory" (2 Cor. 4:15). Here was a man who could endure constant hurdles and barriers because he was living for other people.

We see this attitude evidenced by parents. Some parents, if not all, will give up their comforts and pleasures in order to make life better for their children. Also, we can witness this demonstration in men and women who fight in the military. They will endure the pain and hardship of war, even death, because they are fighting for their country's freedom. The consciousness of a great cause brings its own strength and endurance with it.

How do we respond to other people's needs? By giving ourselves away. The way to find endurance is by losing ourselves in some great cause. Take, for example, the Apostle Paul. His cause was the building of the Kingdom of God. The more people who came to Christ, the more churches he started, only fueled the fire that was burning within him. He said, "This is why I endure all things for the elect: so that they also may obtain salvation, which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory" (2 Tim. 2:10). Paul could go through what he did because he knew that it was not for nothing; he knew that it was to bring others to Christ.

Endurance is motivated by compassion. It is the will to serve not the will to power. One can discover strength and endurance in facing the pressures of life by giving ourselves away for the benefit of others.

Sadhu Sundar Singh was a well-known missionary in India. One day he and a friend were traveling up a steep mountain on their way to a monastery. An icy blizzard threatened their lives. Suddenly they heard a cry for help. Several feet to the side of the path was the form of someone lying half-hidden in the snow. "We must help," Sadhu exclaimed. "We cannot help," said the other man. "Fate has decreed that he must die. We have no time to spare, or we also will die!" So the man went on while Sadhu stayed to help his fallen brother. "If I must die, I will die saving someone!" Sadhu exclaimed.

The figure in the snow was a man with a broken leg. Sadhu made a sling out of his blanket and dragged the half-frozen man through the ice and slush. Then off in the distance he saw a faint light. As they drew closer he saw that it was a monastery. Now he was sure he could make it! But suddenly he stumbled and fell over something hidden beneath the fresh snow. He brushed off the white powder and saw the frozen body of his friend. In his selfish haste to save his own life, the man lost his life. Sadhu's life was spared because he was willing to give his life helping someone in need.

Endurance comes to those who give their life away to help others in a great cause.

D. Regain a new perspective.
Endurance comes by discovering a new way of looking at the situation. Staying power comes by changing the way you look at your difficulties. The key to persistence is perspective. The problem with frustrations and delays is that we lose sight of the final goal. When we attach ourselves to our reason for living--the Lord Jesus Christ--we are able to keep on keeping on. So, how do we regain a new perspective?

This is accomplished by focusing on eternity. Paul said, "For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:17,18). Our eyes are focused on one of four places at all times: circumstances, others, the Lord, or ourselves. On what are you focusing?

What you focus on will determine the extent of your determination.

Many years ago a retiring missionary couple was traveling back to the states on an ocean liner. They had faithfully served all of their adult life in a foreign country giving up most of the comforts of life in order to spread the gospel. As their boat was coming into harbor, a cheering crowd could be heard. "Could it be a welcoming home celebration for me?" thought the husband. As they got closer they realized that the reception was for a foreign dignitary who was also on board the ship. Walking down the gangplank the husband whispered to the wife, "I can't believe that no one is here to greet us. I have given the best years of my life and no one cares. While this diplomat was receiving accolades I am receiving nothing. It is just not fair." The man's wife whispered back, "But, honey, you are not home, yet!"

When you and I life in light of eternity, recognizing that God keeps books on us all, we can keep on keeping on, knowing that one day we will receive the greatest and grandest homecomings of all. I challenge you to keep on at the task. The game is not over. You can be a winner in spite of overwhelming odds; just don't give up too soon