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WHAT DOES IT TAKE

TO LIVE A LIFE OF SPIRITUAL EXCELLENCE?


2 Timothy 2:1-7
November 25, 2007

INTRODUCTION: Seneca the first century Roman philosopher


said, Life is like a play; its not the length but the excellence of
the activity that matters. Excellence is doing ordinary things
extraordinarily well. Its living above the curve, its going the
second mile, and refusing to give anything less than ones best.
This is what Paul is wanting to see in the life of Timothy, the
young man to whom he is writing. He is giving him a how to if
you will of living with spiritual excellence.

Timothy was the Apostle Paul's son in the faith and a leader in the
church at Ephesus. Paul founded that church (Acts 19), but by the
time he wrote his second epistle to Timothy, the church and its
leaders were characterized by doctrinal error and sinful behavior.
And by the way, bad behavior is always attached to bad beliefs.

Paul sent Timothy to Ephesus to rectify the problems in that


church. First Timothy contains Paul's instructions to Timothy on
how to set the Ephesians church in order. Second Timothy was
written to encourage Timothy to "be strong" (2 Timothy. 2:1) at a
time when he was apparently experiencing a lack of resolve in
performing his duties. In other words, he was not living in a state
of spiritual excellence.

Second Timothy is the last letter Paul wrote. It was written shortly
before he gave his life in the cause of Christ. He wanted to pass the
baton of spiritual leadership to Timothy, and he didn't want
Timothy to accept it in a weak state. The church was experiencing
persecution in Rome, many wouldn't accept the instructions
Timothy received from Paul, and Timothy was confronted by
sophisticated philosophical opposition. Paul knew Timothy was
young and apparently of timid disposition. In the face of such
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circumstances he required strength of will. Paul thus writes to him,
telling him as it was from his death bed what it takes to be a
follower of Christ who impacts and influences people for God and
good. He does so by using four teaching illustrations that reveal
what it takes to live a life of spiritual excellence.

I. THE TEACHING MENTOR.

Paul is going to tell Timothy something very valuable: that


if you want to live in spiritual excellence, you must
continue to be mentored by great people, and at the same
time mentor others. Learn to be both a student and a
teacher.

A. The Example Given.

you therefore my son the word therefore connects what


Paul was saying in chapter one with what he is now saying
in chapter two. Therefore, Pauls words to Timothy in
verses 1-7 are nothing more than a continuation of Pauls
communication in chapter one.

In Chapter one Paul is urging Timothy to step up to the


plate, and fulfill his duty as a servant of Almighty God.
Urges him to get fired up in verse 6

It is vital that every believer come to an


understanding of how to fire themselves up, apart
from anyone or anything else.

ILLUSTRATE: Peter writing to a church down in


the despair of persecution, says stir yourselves up
by remembering. When we remember what Christ
has done, it should do something to us.
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Urges him to be courageous in verse 7

Dont back down from a challenge.

Urges him to recall his purpose in verses 9-10

Let your purpose be your rudder.

Urges him to trust in the faithfulness of God in


verse 12

In Verse 13 urges him to stay the course.

In purity, in doctrine, in loyalty, in essence finish


well.

Then Paul gives Timothy a real life illustration of what he


desires to see fleshed out, in and through, his life.

2 Timothy 1:15 This you know, that all those in Asia


have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus
and Hermogenes. 16 The Lord grant mercy to the
household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me,
and was not ashamed of my chain; 17 but when he
arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and
found me. 18 The Lord grant to him that he may find
mercy from the Lord in that Day and you know very
well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus.

Because of Pauls radical commitment to Jesus Christ and


because of his growing unpopularity, many had turned their
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back on Paul and the Lords work among those were
Phygellus and Hermogenes. However, there was one that
had remained incredibly faithful, Onesiphorus. Paul wanted
Timothy to imitate this faithful man of Gods example.

1. His Example in Encouragement.

He often refreshed me literally means to cool off, to


relieve the effects of exhausting heat. Onesiphorus no
doubt brought much needed supplies to Paul, but more
than that, he brought him comfort in an uncomfortable
situation. He was a source of encouragement for Paul.

Proverbs 12:25 anxiety in the heart of a man causes


depression but a good word makes it glad.

Paul desired to see Timothy be an encourager in the life of


other saints. He knew firsthand the importance of
encouragement.

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,


So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.

Hebrews 3:13 encourage one another daily.

Life is hard, and every day we should look for


opportunities to speak encouragement into the lives of
those around us.

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ILLUSTRATE: No matter what situation those around
may be in, we can have a word of encouragement.
Im lonely I know a friend that sticks closer than
a brother.
Im fearful God is in control, He is on His throne.
Im un-loved For God so loved the world that He
gave his only Son.
Im in need God is able to supply our need
according to his riches in glory.
Ive sinned If we confess our sins, he is faithful
to forgive us.
Im under attack no weapon formed against us
shall prosper. And when the enemy comes in like a
flood the Lord shall raise up a standard against him.
Im intimidated by the enemy greater is He that is
in you, than he that is in the world.
Im facing death yea thought I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil.

2. His Example in Bravery.

He was not ashamed of my chains Onesiphorus was


courageous enough to seek Paul out and risk his own life in
order to serve the imprisoned apostle. Paul knew Timothy
battled with timidity and fear, so he gives the example of
Onesiphorus in hopes Timothy would live in courage not
cowardice.

2 Timothy 1:7-9 For God has not given us a spirit of


fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our

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Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the
sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

Fear tends to be gripping to the point of paralyzing the one


afflicted. Timothy could never be fully used of God as long
as he lived life in fear.

ILLUSTRATE: Before God could use someone he had to


deal with their fear.
Abraham fear not
Moses
Joshua
Gideon

3. His Example in Friendship.

He sought me out Onesiphorus went looking for Paul;


he did not wait until he was asked. He went because he
knew there was a need. He took the initiative.

Proverbs 18:24 A man who has friends must himself


be friendly,

ILLUSTRATE: We need to get rid of the let them come


to us mentality. Ex: they didnt talk to me, did you talk to
them?

The reason many have no relationships, they dont deserve


them. They have not biblically fulfilled their responsibility
of first being friendly.

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4. His Example in Servitude.

He ministered to me speaks of meeting ones need. And


according to Jesus, it is a mark of greatness.

Matthew 20:26-28 Yet it shall not be so among you;


but whoever desires to become great among you, let him
be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first
among you, let him be your slave 28 just as the Son
of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to
give His life a ransom for many."

Greatness is not obtained by popularity, talent, dynamic, or


charisma, but rather by having a heart to serve. And a heart
to serve always begins with having a heart for the Lord.

ILLUSTRATE: Peter and Jesus, do you love me, and then


feed my sheep.

When we serve people, we actually are serving the Lord.


And when we love the Lord, we cant help but serve
people.

Matthew 25:35 for I was hungry and you gave Me


food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a
stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you
clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in
prison and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous
will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You
hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or
naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You
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sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 And the King
will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you,
inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My
brethren, you did it to Me.' 41 "Then He will also say to
those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed,
into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his
angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I
was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a
stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did
not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit
Me.' 44 "Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord,
when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or
naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to
You?' 45 Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly,
I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the
least of these, you did not do it to Me.'

ILLUSTRATE: Thats why you ought to be serving


somewhere in this ministry. What Onesiphorus did He
might as well been doing to Jesus.
Greet someone like you are greeting Jesus.
Sing like you are singing to Jesus.
Show interest like you are dealing with Jesus.
Teach like you are teaching to Jesus

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we are receiving a


kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by
which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and
godly fear.

2 Timothy 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve with a pure


conscience,
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Paul served God with no regrets.

When others had left Paul, this man Onesiphorus stayed


faithful. And Timothy needed to learn from his example.

B. The Encouragement.

My son Paul had led Timothy to faith in Christ, and then


brought the young man under his wing, investing in him, in
order to help mold and shape him into Gods man. Paul was
Timothys spiritual father.

1 Corinthians 4:14-17 I do not write these things to


shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15
For though you might have ten thousand instructors in
Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ
Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16
Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I
have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and
faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my
ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.

Timothy was Timothys spiritual trainer. He modeled


Christianity in front of Timothy providing him with an
example of what he was to be. He mentored by both
emulation and exhortation.

Titus 2:1-8 But as for you, speak the things which are
proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be
sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in
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patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be
reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much
wine, teachers of good things 4 that they admonish
the young women to love their husbands, to love their
children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good,
obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God
may not be blasphemed. 6 Likewise, exhort the young
men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing
yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine
showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound
speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an
opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of
you.

Gods plan for developing fully devoted followers of Christ


involves every believer mentoring younger believers,
pouring their life into those coming behind them.

ILLUSTRATE: We are all to be investing in someone.


This is why some churches have the same problem
generation after generation, because thats what they have
passed down.

Are you actively pouring into someone elses life?

C. The Endowment.

Be strong in the grace that is in Jesus Christ literally


means keep on being empowered. Timothy could not afford
to be weak for one day. He must draw his strength from the
Lord.

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Ephesians 6:10 finally my brethren be strong in the
Lord and in the power of His might.

Believers do not operate in the power of their own strength


but rather get connected to God and operate through his
resources.

Strong in the grace Paul encouraged Timothy to take


advantage of the Grace of God. The Grace of God is Gods
help toward the needy. For not only does God help the
needy sinner, but also the needy saint, by giving them the
required energy for their task.

Isaiah 40:29-41:1 He gives power to the weak, And to


those who have no might He increases strength. 30 Even
the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men
shall utterly fall, 31 But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with
wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

As believers we exist in the sphere of grace through our


union with Christ. It's the grace of God that empowers
believers. Therefore, this strength comes as a result of a
believers continued active cooperation with the Spirit of
God.

Zechariah 4:6 "This is the word of the Lord to


Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My
Spirit,' Says the Lord of hosts.

Paul wanted Timothy to understand that whenever God


called you to a task, he would give you all you need to
accomplish the task.

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Isaiah 41:10 be not dismayed for I am your God. I
will strengthen you, Yes I will help you, I will uphold
you with my righteous right hand.

ILLUSTRATE: God gives His own what they need to


complete the task.
Abraham to leave home
Noah and the Ark (never built an ark before)
Joseph to face the difficulty in his life.
David and Goliath
3 Hebrew Children and the fiery furnace
Moses before Pharaoh
Joshua before the Jordan
Solomon building the temple

When you are strong in the Lord you are ready for the task,
and resolved to see it completed.

E. The Entrusting.

And the things you have heard from me among many


witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able
to teach others also. Listen to what Paul is saying: he
says, take what you have been taught and begin to teach it
to others.

Commit literally means to deposit under anothers care.


Timothy was to deposit the foundational truths of Gods
word into the lives of others in order that they may in turn
do the same.

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Faithful men believing, loyal, and reliable. Those who
would not compromise in the face of adversity or
persecution, in other words those who would not stray from
the path of the truth:

ILLUSTRATE: We need to ensure we are passing down


the foundation for biblical doctrine.
Inerrancy of Scripture all 66 books.
Jesus Christ virgin born
Jesus Christ sinless
Jesus Christ his vicarious death on the cross
The Blood Atonement.
Salvation by grace alone through faith alone in
Christ alone.
The Resurrection from the dead
The Church is the body of Christ
The exclusivity of Christ
The holiness of the believer
The return of Christ

The torch of the heavenly light must be transmitted


unquenched from one generation to another Timothy had
to see himself as an intermediary between the Apostolic
and latter ages. And we also must see ourselves as a link
between generations. This is how truth is guarded!

The true Apostolic Succession was not of office but of


doctrine. Jesus taught the twelve apostles; they taught the
next generation of teachers; and that chain of doctrinal truth
has continued down to today. As Christians, we are a part
of a living chain of doctrinal truth that reaches back to
Christ Himself. In Acts 1:1 Luke wrote that the first
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account he composed (the gospel of Luke) was "about all
that Jesus began to do and teach" (emphasis added).
Though He finished the work of redemption, Jesus only
began the work of teaching and preaching the truth of the
gospel. That work must continue to go on as an
indestructible chain

ILLUSTRATE: I am a part of a truth that goes back to the


patriarchs. I am a link in a chain that goes back to the
apostles. Painting of The Legacy.

We are not called to pass down traditions, or preferences,


but we are called to pass down the truth of Gods word.
The church is not a museum of preservation but simply the
track where one runner passes the baton to another.

Our responsibility:

1. Be a student of the truth study to show yourself


approved. You should know your Bible.
2. Be able to clearly communicate the truth. Be ready to
give an answer for the hope that lies within you.
3. Be loyal to the truth. Never compromise. Be loyal in
your teaching be it by lecture or life.

CONCLUSION: Paul gives Timothy a picture of a mentor to help


him understand what He needed to be to live at a level of
excellence. What does this mean to you and me?

1. We are to continually be learning from those around us.


(Surround myself with the right people)
2. We are to be continually teaching those around us. (I must live
the life to do this)

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II. THE TENACIOUS SOLDIER.

A. The Soldiers Perseverance.

Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ a


real soldier doesnt give up when the going gets tough.
They have a never give up mentality.

Endure hardness speaks of a willingness to endure


harsh treatment. It is living with perseverance.

Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in


tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces
perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and
character, hope.

James 5:11 =Indeed we count them blessed who endure.


You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the
end intended by the Lord that the Lord is very
compassionate and merciful.

ILLUSTRATE: Thank God Jesus went on!

B. The Soldiers Priority.

No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the


affairs of this life a soldier must not become distracted
with anything that would hinder his performance. His focus
must be determined by priority. Paul is attempting to teach
Timothy that he was to live with eternity in mind.

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2 Corinthians 4:18 while we do not look at the things
which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For
the things which are seen are temporary, but the things
which are not seen are eternal.

As long as Timothy placed priority on this life, he would


not be as effective from an eternal perspective. Therefore,
Paul is calling him to make Christ the number one priority.

Matthew 6:25-34 "Therefore I say to you, do not


worry about your life, what you will eat or what you
will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.
Is not life more than food and the body more than
clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they
neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your
heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value
than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one
cubit to his stature? 28 "So why do you worry about
clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow:
they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that
even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one
of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field,
which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven,
will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
31 "Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we
eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we
wear?' 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek.
For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these
things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His
righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for
tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for
the day is its own trouble.
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The challenge in life is to keep things in proper perspective.
When our attention is taken away from the main thing, a
distraction enters in. A distraction occurs when something
becomes of more interest or value that the given priority.

Entangles himself entangles literally means to be


interwoven, to be tied up. Instead of being able to perform
his duty the soldier is uselessly tied up with distractions.
This causes him to be hindered in his activity for God, until
he can lay it aside.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore we also, since we are


surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay
aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares
us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set
before us,

Weight and sin distractions of different kinds. All


distractions may not be sin. But all distractions are un-
healthy because they break the Lordship of Christ in our
lives.

Luke 9:57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the


road, that someone said to Him, "Lord, I will follow
You wherever You go." 58 And Jesus said to him,
"Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but
the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." 59 Then
He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord,
let me first go and bury my father." 60 Jesus said to
him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and
preach the kingdom of God."
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61 And another also said, "Lord, I will follow You, but
let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my
house." 62 But Jesus said to him, "No one, having put
his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the
kingdom of God."

Distractions cause what should be the priority to be


neglected or ignored.

QUESTION: Is there anything in my life that is a weight


or sin that hinders my service to God?
An Attitude.
An Action.
A Relationship.
A Habit.
A Bottle
A Desire

C. The Soldiers Passion.

That he may please Him who enlisted him as a soldier


the soldier is always to be conscious that he is there to
please his/her commander and chief. Likewise the goal of
Timothys life was to bring pleasure to God.

2 Corinthians 5:9-11 Therefore we make it our aim,


whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of
Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the
body, according to what he has done, whether good or
bad.

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ILLUSTRATE: The greatest objective in ministry must be
to please God and not self or people.

Colossians 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the


Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good
work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

The more we please him, the more productive we become


in the kingdom.

Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace who


brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great
Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the
everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every
good work to do His will, working in you what is well
pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be
glory forever and ever. Amen.

When we please God, we are simply allowing Him to work


in and through us.

ILLUSTRATION: Leonardo da Vinci once took a friend


of his to see his masterpiece of the "Last Supper." The
friend's first comment was, "The most striking thing in the
picture is the cup." The artist immediately took his brush
and wiped out the cup, saying, "Nothing in my painting
shall attract more attention than the face of my Master."

Nothing should mean more to us than to please God.

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III. THE TRAINING ATHLETE.

A. His Discipline.
Anyone who competes in athletics As Paul uses an
Olympic Athlete as an illustration, it is important for us to
know that the Olympic athlete had to contract to train at a
minimum of 10 months for the event they were to compete
in - to compete required discipline.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who


run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in
such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone
who competes for the prize is temperate in all things.
Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for
an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not
with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the
air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into
subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I
myself should become disqualified.

Delayed gratification: give up the passing pleasure of the


moment for the lasting pleasure of eternity.

ILLUSTRATE: Every believer needs a spiritual regiment


training to make the greatest difference.

B. His Devotion.

He is not crowned unless he competes according to the


rules there is no reward for the one who plays outside
the rules. Therefore as a believer Timothy was to live
inside the rules and parameters of Gods word.

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James 1:22-25 But be doers of the word, and not
hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a
hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man
observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he
observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets
what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the
perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a
forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be
blessed in what he does.

I am to put Gods word into action for obedience brings the


greatest happiness.

Luke 11:27-29 And it happened, as He spoke these


things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her
voice and said to Him," Blessed is the womb that bore
You, and the breasts which nursed You!" 28 But He
said, "More than that, blessed are those who hear the
word of God and keep it!"

ILLUSTRATE: The blessing to be Mary, the favor, but its


greater to be obedient.

Obedience to Gods word gives evidence of conversion.

1 John 2:3-6 Now by this we know that we know Him,


if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know
Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar,
and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His
word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this
we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in
Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
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When we live like the word says, we are ultimately living
the example of Jesus.

IV. THE TOILING FARMER.

A. Effort.

The hardworking farmer speaks of working to the


point of exhaustion. Timothy would need to work tirelessly
in order to live a life of excellence.

A farmers job is to do all that is necessary to bring in a


crop.

Galatians 6:7-9 Do not be deceived, God is not


mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also
reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap
corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the
Spirit reap everlasting life. 9 And let us not grow weary
while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we
do not lose heart.

By painting the picture of the farmer Paul is calling


Timothy to faithfully sow the seed of Gods word. A seed
in the bag will never produce a harvest.

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THE POWER OF THE SEED.

1. It Saves.

1 Peter 1:23, having been born again, not of


corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of
God which lives and abides forever

2. It Strengthens.

1 Peter 2:2, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of


the word, that you may grow thereby

3. It Sets Free.

John 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the
truth shall make you free."

ILLUSTRATE: Seed that can break concrete.

4. It Sustains.

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, "It is


written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every
word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'"

5. It Shows.

Psalms 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet


And a light to my path.
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B. Enjoyment.

First to partake of the crops the faithful farmer is


rewarded by the joy of the harvest.

Psalms 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears


Shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.

ILLUSTRATE: individuals who have come through and


labor in Celebrate Recovery

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