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Endure

October 13th 2013 by Joel Schultz

St. Paul endured much for the sake of the Gospel by remembering Jesus Christ risen from the dead. That is our same encouragement when the storms of life blow over us - "Remember Jesus Christ, raisen from the dead." ead or listen to find out more.

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Proper 23C – 2 Timothy 2:8-13 – “Endure” – October 13, 2013

In his book, In the Eye of the Storm, Max Lucado write about Chippie the Parakeet: “Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up and blown over.

The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She had barely said ‘hello’ when ‘sssopp!’ Chippie got sucked in. The bird owner gasped, hung up the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie – still alive but stunned.

Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced into the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do – she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the bird with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

A few days later after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. ‘Well,’ she replied, ‘Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore – he just sits and stares.’

It is not hard to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over... that is enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart. Can you relate to Chippie? Most of us can. One minute you are seated in familiar territory with a song on your lips, then........ The pink slip comes. The rejection letter arrives. The doctor calls. The divorce papers are delivered. The check bounces. A policeman knocks at your door.

Sssopp! You are sucked into a black cavern of doubts, doused with the cold water of reality, and stung with the hot air of empty promises. The life that had been so calm is now so stormy. You are hail stormed by demands. Assailed by doubts. Pummeled by questions. And somewhere in the trauma, you lose your joy. Somewhere in the storm, you lose your song.”

Disappointment. Trouble. Distress. Trial. Hardship. Paul was well-acquainted with it all. Paul was in prison – chained like a criminal. This was not the house arrest in Rome that we read about in the Book of Acts. Rather, Paul is now in prison in Rome awaiting execution. 2 Timothy is possibly the last letter he wrote. Paul’s trouble and trials are revealed in chapter 4 of this letter where Paul writes, “Demas has deserted me” (4:10). “Alexander the metal worker did me a great harm” (4:14). “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me” (4:16).

Alone, imprisoned, and facing death. And yet Paul does not give up and despair in the face of his trials and struggles. Rather, he takes the opportunity to encourage the young pastor Timothy. Paul knew the trials and suffering which quite possibly lay ahead of his co-worker Timothy. So he sought to encourage Timothy to extend spiritual strength and reassurance so that he would be strong in the grace of God.

This encouragement speaks to us as well. Paul’s encouragement: “Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead” (v.8). Hold fast to the faithfulness of God and endure!

Some Christians misread God’s promises in Scripture to mean that He promises a trouble-free life. But Jesus Himself forewarned in John 16, “in this world you will have trouble” (16:33). Bad things happen to God’s people because we live in a sinful world. There will be trouble and hardship and trials and even persecution. But Jesus goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Trouble, hardship, struggle....are nothing new to God’s people. Life in Christ does not exempt us from trials but calls us to endure. Endure as you “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.”

You see, Paul is encouraging us, in the face of our trials, to look at Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to find the power to endure in the faith. The Pharisees and Priests plotted against Him. His own disciples misunderstood His mission. Peter denied Him. The disciples deserted Him. He was whipped and beaten. Though innocent, Jesus heard Pilate’s tragic sentence, “Let Him be crucified.” Finally our Lord faced the cross alone.

Though trial beset Jesus, He sought to do the Father’s will. And through Jesus’ suffering and death, God carried out His plan of salvation – sinful people, like you and me, are reconciled, made right with God once more. And in His resurrection He proclaims victory over sin, death, and the power of the devil – once and for all!

Paul’s encouragement is to endure by remembering Jesus. For in remembering God’s faithfulness we are strengthened for our own struggles. For in Christ’s victory we find our victory over this sinful world. When suffering and trials come, the child of God can endure knowing that the promise of the Gospel is sure – Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and God will always remain faithful.

Paul writes of our certainty in the face of this sinful world in Romans 8. Paul understood that because Christ is raised from the dead and because God is always faithful, nothing can separate us from His love in Christ Jesus. “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?..... Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?..... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord@ (Rom 8:31, 35, 37-39).

With all that said, however, it can still be difficult to endure. All the talk about enduring to the end, about standing tall for Christ, sounds great. But when in the depths, when disappointment or betrayal overwhelms, when we are sucked in, washed up, and blown over it can become difficult to endure.

Each of us can identify his or her own weaknesses. We can identify those times that we have failed to endure because we didn’t “fix our eyes on Jesus” – because we didn’t “remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.” In our text, Paul points out our vulnerability. We can disown Christ and become unfaithful. We may fail and miss the mark, but God remains ever faithful to His promises. He would not be God if He were to become unfaithful. God remains true to Himself. God is love. He will remain faithful.

To disown God and reject His grace in unbelief will indeed result in God’s rejection. But God invites the sinner to repent – to return. When the sinner does, he will find the same grace and forgiveness from which he had turned. It is a forgiveness offered and given freely each time we fail to endure in the faith.

But the really great news is that the Lord does not leave us to endure in the faith and remember Jesus Christ on our own. When we are sucked in, washed up, and blown over by the struggles and trials and difficulties of this world, we have a God who comes to us in Word and Sacrament with His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation to strengthen our faith and help us to endure.

Near the end of 2 Timothy, despite Paul’s circumstances, Paul knows that God has sustained him. He writes, “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength” (4:17). Your faithful God also stands by your side and gives you strength.

When swamped by life, remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Remember Jesus who comes to you in His Word. Remember Jesus who comes to you physically in, with, and under bread and wine. Remember Jesus who caused the old sinful nature within you to be drowned in the waters of holy Baptism. Remember Jesus who speaks through the Words of the pastor in the absolution assuring you of forgiveness. Remember Jesus who invites you to come to Him in prayer to cast all your burdens on Him. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and although the road may be difficult, you will not lose your song! Amen!

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