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Reading: Theme: 1. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 2. Put on the full armour of God 1. What Is Meant by His Mighty Power?

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Reading: 2 Timothy 3 Theme: Being Strong in the Lord and His Mighty Power. Throughout history there have been battles that have produced acts of heroism as they have battled against the odds and have won
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Reading: 2 Timothy 3 Theme: Being Strong in the Lord and His Mighty Power. Throughout history there have been battles that have produced acts of heroism as they have battled against the odds and have won when they should not have. In the battle of Rorke's Drift Zulu and all that 149 British troops fought off about 4,500 Zulus and the regiment won more VCs than had ever been won before. Every believer is involved in a battle. Humanly speaking we are unfit, untrained, ill-prepared and powerless against our enemy, yet still the Church of God exists, still there are Christians persevering and battling on against incredible odds. We have a duty to do in this battle; yet also have great privileges in doing so. In Ephesians 6:10-11 we are told to do 2 things: 1. Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. 2. Put on the full armour of God. Both are necessary and in that order. We to realise that in our own strength we are powerless and helpless even with the armour on, but with it on and empowered by God we are able to fight and to stand firm in the evil day. We saw last time that v10 reminds us of 3 main things: 1. We need a great sight of the battle - it is the Lord s and we fight it because we are His and fight for His honour. 2. We need great power for the battle - our weaknesses means we need His almighty power which is provided for us. 3. We need a great heart for the battle - to take heart from all our Lord has done and is doing in us. I want to look at Ephesians 6:10 again and note 2 things: 1. What Is Meant by His Mighty Power? This is what we are told to use; this is what is provided by the Lord in His love and care for us. Paul urged the Ephesian church, our church and us as individual believers to draw down the strength, the mighty power of the Lord. Yet what is meant by this strength and mighty power? If we were to meet one of the weightlifting giants of the world, no doubt we would be impressed by their physique, their body structure and these would give the impression of strength. We may say that he s a big lad! Yet if saw them in a weightlifting competition the impression we had would be confirmed by a demonstration of their strength as we realised something of how strong and powerful they were. Come now to our Lord, probably the Lord Jesus mentioned here. Consider some of the demonstrations of His mighty power. Consider His power in Creation with the eyes of faith as we see He created the whole universe - DEC ~ 1 ~ not with great effort, but just by speaking and things came into being, and were ordered and arranged by Him. Such is His power that we are told that the heavens (all the stars galaxies and universes) are the work of His fingers! As we consider the wonder of Creation, all its harmony, beauty and complexity we realise our Lord Jesus is mighty and powerful. If we consider our own bodies we realise that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. All Creation declares God s power and might (Romans 1:20). We could look at the power of God as He has intervened in history - the parting of the Red Sea, feeding and caring for the people of Israel, drying up the Jordan etc. We can also look how He has intervened in the individual histories of many of us here when He saved us. In this book of Ephesians we see that such power was needed to raise us from the death of our trespasses and sins (2:1) it took the work of God s power to raise us to newness of life, to make us alive in Christ, to bring about glorious changes in our nature, standing and position before Him. As we think on these things, we begin to realise something of His power, of the naked majesty and power of God. It is awesome, glorious and beyond our understanding! Yet this power has been wonderfully made known here on earth among us. When Jesus came to earth it wasn t in His raw power, but the glorious Son of God was sheathed in the softness and gentleness of humanity, born as a baby. The Bible teaches us that the eternal, powerful God was manifest in the flesh, in the likeness of sinful flesh. Here I feel is where we are to look to see what is truly meant by this mighty power of God. Yes His naked majesty is awesome, but He is outside of time, outside of human life and experience; but in the incarnation, when the Son of God took flesh to Himself, we see that power revealed at the level we need it; at the level of our daily life and on the same battleground and arena as we are in. We see God made man, perfect God and perfect man. Yet He was subject to the same things as we are - He was hungry, thirsty, was tired; He knew disappointment with His families, friends; He knew the loss of loved ones by death (Joseph). He knew what it was like to be tempted, assaulted by all the devil had and yet as we see all this, we see He was faultless, sinless and He did not waver and His power was made known here on earth. His power was also revealed in His miracles - especially the casting out demons, part of the enemy forces. In His temptation in the wilderness, we see the devil himself came to tempt Him directly when He was weary after fasting for 40 DEC ~ 2 ~ days and nights, yet He routed the enemy. We see the power of God revealed in Jesus death and resurrection. The cross seemed to be the victory of the devil, but it was not. On the cross Jesus openly triumphed over principalities and powers, putting them to shame (Colossians 2:15). This power is no abstract or intangible thing - is real, has been witnessed on this earth in its active fullness. This is the power, the mighty power we have available at all times and in all our weaknesses. We are not to turn our eyes upon ourselves, but we are to look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. We are to consider Him who has met the devil in single combat - the devil with all his power, wiles etc. in full operation and He has defeated the devil. This is the power, the power of the incarnate God that we are to lay hold on; the power of the one in whom dwells all the fullness of God bodily (Colossians 2:9). James tells us in 4:7-8a Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and He will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Here is the crux of the matter. We may have an intellectual understanding and appreciation of His power, but what does it mean to draw near, to be strong in the Lord? This moves us on to see: 2. How Are We To Be Strong In The Lord? This is a practical matter and it has consequences, outworking for us in our daily lives. Personally I would like to be fitter, leaner, be athletic again and weigh less! I know what I need to do, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak and Siân is such a good cook! Many people look for easy answers - but self-denial, discipline, hard work and what is necessary. This is true of both the physical and the spiritual realm. I am cautious against those who propose easy, slick remedies to spiritual flabbiness; or those who have get spiritual-quick-systems that say we do this, or have a certain experience, then all our problems, difficulties will be over and we will know only bliss, joy, happiness and we will float all the way to heaven in ease and triumph! If such things were available, then surely the Apostles would have known it, would have shared the secret with those they dearly loved in the faith. In the Bible we read of the Christians warfare and having to fight; of Paul battling with himself to contain his sinful desires; of the need to mortify the deeds of the flesh. Also we are rightly and properly called to be strong in the Lord and the power of His might, so that we can put on the whole armour of God to stand, to fight, to pray and to strive. DEC ~ 3 ~ I do not see that the Bible offers any easy solutions or shortcuts, so I will not offer you them. What I will offer is an ongoing, developing, strengthening and deepening relationship with the Lord. The Bible makes it clear that besides this ordinary supernatural walk in life, there are also times when the Lord Himself undertakes to help you and me in most glorious manner - but that is another matter. If we consider the Christian life as that of a new birth, a scriptural picture and idea, we are gloriously and wonderfully born of God s Spirit - without our aid or help, then we are to grow up in Christ, to be mature, to be strong in the Lord, to maintain that maturity, strength and well-being. To get there we need certain things to allow us to grow and mature. We need nourishment - food and drink. We need to feed on Jesus i.e. feed on the living Word by means of the written word - the Bible. As we feed on Him, we will find He provides all we need and it will increase our desire and appetite for Him. We are not to neglect our feeding on Christ through His word. We are to read it, study it and apply it to our lives. This is true of our own private reading and of the preaching of His word. Timothy was pointed to this by the apostle Paul. There was Paul ready to face death, aware his time was limited, He wrote of the last times and pointed Timothy not to philosophy, to experiences, to situations or to himself, but pointed Timothy to the word of God as being sufficient in the worst of conditions and situations - those verses we read in 2 Timothy 3:14-16 are in the context of suffering persecution, with false teachers and imposters about! I will keep on stressing that the word of God is vital in our Christian lives. Imagine a highly trained athlete and starve him or her of nourishment for 2 months, then I d be ready to race them! We need to feed on God s word daily for our souls to grow and it helps us to be strong in the Lord. If the Bible is not necessary for us, why did God preserve it, safeguard it for us? Why are there so many encouragements to read and study it in its pages? The Bible is given to make us wise unto salvation and also to equip and strengthen us, to build us up in our most holy faith. We are to learn from the scriptures. We are all at different stages in our Christian life some of us need the sincere milk of the word, others are able to take strong meat. We are nourished as we learn - not merely intellectually, but experientially. Another means of nourishment is prayer. Not merely asking, but adoring God, praising and waiting upon Him - both privately as an individual and DEC ~ 4 ~ publicly together. We are not to just jump in with our words, but take time to realise God is Our Father, who art in heaven to think on such things will help us and nourish us at the wonder of this sweet and glorious truth and it will nourish us too. We have the privilege of using the means of grace - fellowship of other believers in the church, the Lord s Table and baptism. Yet along with nourishment, we need to exercise. Too much food, too little exercise and we become overweight, flabby, out of condition and lethargic. Our bodies need exercise. In the Bible we are told that Christians are to run the race, the fight the fight, to be strong, to build themselves up in the faith and the love of God (Jude 20-21). Our faith is to be exercised; we must constantly be in training, doing spiritual workouts and exercises! I guess now you want ideas for spiritual workouts and exercises! Take hold on precious promises and plead them as we run the race looking ahead. If we feel weak, ready to give up then we are to recall promises e.g. He is ever with us and He will never leave us or forsake us; He will be a shade on our right hand; He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. We are to exercise our hearts and minds on such verses and apply them to ourselves. We are to also remember what He has promised us not just this life, but the life to come in heaven and this is to cause us to look ahead, to have a great and certain hope. Thinking on our Lord and the things He has prepared for us should cause us to delight in Him as we know His love and grace in part now, we know the hope we have and it should cause us to turn attention from ourselves, to look upward to Him. As we do so this should cause us to exert effort in praying for and telling others of Him - families, our friends, our neighbours and our colleagues who are all without hope if they are not in Christ. As we do this we will exercise ourselves in seeking to speak wisely and lovingly for Him to them. As we exercise we will realise that we need the nourishment and will find we have more appetite for the Bible, for prayer. We need to exercise our senses, hearts and minds in God s word as it is read and preached. We are to make the most of every opportunity. The Hebrew Christians should have been on strong meat, but had to be given milk. The author of the book of Hebrews had many things to say to encourage them, one of which was not to forsake the assembling of themselves together. As a church, as a congregation we are to look at and hear God s word. If players and team DEC ~ 5 ~ neglect training as individuals, or training together as a team then their playing standard would go down! I ve been there and experienced that! Top teams in whatever sport around the world will often see recordings of games of their opposition - to detect their weaknesses and to see how other teams have overcome their strengths and utilised their weaknesses. We are to exercise our hearts and minds in the examples of the greats of the Bible - to learn, be warned of their mistakes and also to learn from their encouragements. Yet in all we are to fix our eyes upon the Lord Jesus and always be exercised to be like Him in word, thought and deed. All those things will involve self-discipline - to do that which we should do, to subdue wrong desires, even to deny ourselves legitimate things that will not be beneficial. It will mean cutting out things that will undermine our spiritual growth that will hinder our spiritual development and strength. Our aim is to be Christ-like in character, in attitude, actions and words. We are to feed on Him through the means He has provided; to be exercising where we can - gifts, talents, to be witnesses to Him, to be in prayer for such opportunities, to build each other up and to grow in the love, grace and knowledge of God. I want us all to realise that the Lord would not have us remain immature, ignorant or weak, but that we would go on to maturity, to be wise and strong. We need to be strong in the Lord and His mighty power. This is no vain hope or impossible dream, but is available for each and every believer, for the Lord is with us by His Holy Spirit, to encourage us on, to empower us, to draw near to us as we draw near to Him. We are not on our own, even as we seek to be strong in the Lord, we have the gracious Holy Spirit enabling us, giving us grace and mercy to go on, to be with us and make intercession for us even at those times when we feel we cannot pray for ourselves. So as brothers and sisters in Christ, we are to keep on going on, keep on being strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. DEC ~ 6 ~
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