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He has given us heroes of the past, to learn from
Hebrews 11 - Examples of many who trusted God and proved it by their actions. [The entire Bible contains examples, both good and bad, for us to learn from.]
He has given us everything we need, to do great things
2 Peter 1:3-4 - God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
Ephesians 2:10 - God has prepared something special for each of us.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 - He has given us the gifts and abilities to do these things.
Philippians 1:6 - He is also working in us, so that the good works he began in us will one day be completely accomplished. (He is doing many great things in us. His enabling us to do our great things is only one small part of the total!)
(The world LIES to us.)
* The world lies to us, about what constitutes a hero. *
Characteristics of a True Hero (Contrasted to the World's False Perception of a Hero)
Humble, not proud.
James 1:9-11; 4:6 - The humble person (the person who does not exalt himself) is in a high, exalted position, as far as God is concerned. God shows kindness to him. In contrast, God is against the proud. Those who think they have reason for being proud might as well boast about their lowliness, for they are soon going to lose all that they have... and become "nothings."
Romans 12:16 - We must be willing to associate with those who are "lowly." We must not consider ourselves "superior" to them.
Weak, not strong.
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 - God's strength is most visible when our weakness is the greatest - when we find ourselves to be totally powerless. This is why we can be content, and can trust God in circumstances that leave us without any strength of our own.
2 Corinthians 4:7, 16 - On the "outside," we are like jars of clay: weakness. On the "inside," we have a treasure from God: strength and life. [Read the entire chapter. We are the clay, the weakness. The treasure is the good news about Christ, the source of life, along with the power (from God) to proclaim and to live this good news.]
Last, not first; servant, not ruler.
Matthew 20:25-28 - People of the world like to rule over others; they like being called "Number 1." But you are to be different: You are to follow Jesus' example and be a servant of others, instead.
Mark 9:35 - The servant, and the one who is the "least" - God considers them to be the "first" and the most important.
Working together, not competing against each other.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 - God has given each of us a task. We each do our part, but God brings about the results. (We are co-workers with God!)
Galatians 6:4 - Each of us should evaluate our own actions, without comparing ourselves to others.
Hated by the world, rather than loved by it.
Luke 6:22-23, 26; Matthew 5:10-12 - The world honors false teachers (and those who are like them); it despises and mistreats people who are loyal to God. [NOTE: Their hatred is present because of our association with Jesus, not because we have committed any wrongs against them! (See also 1 Peter 4:15: We'd better make sure that their hostility isn't because of us committing sins against them!)]
Some more comments about being a servant / slave
Everyone is a slave to something.
2 Peter 2:19 - You are a slave to whatever controls you.
We are either a slave to righteousness or a slave to sin.
Romans 6:16-23 - The world thinks it's free when it abandons righteousness; actually, it's a slave to sin (and death). In contrast, those who become "slaves" to righteousness become free from sin's slavery, and are free to experience life eternal.
John 8:31-32, 34 - Those who sin are the real slaves; those who pay attention to Jesus and who become his disciples, are the ones who are free.
[Note that the world's idea of "freedom" is to be enslaved by sin. Our concept of "freedom" is to be free from sin's control.]
Two examples we should consider
Jesus... the ultimate example.
Philippians 2:5-11 - Jesus had everything, but was willing to give-up all that he had for us. (See also Isaiah 53.)
The apostle Paul... one of the best human examples.
2 Corinthians 4:8-12; 11:22-29 - Paul endured all kinds of difficulties for the sake of others. (See also 1 Corinthians 9:19-23: He did this willingly.)
We can expect opposition and difficulties
Consider the way they treated Jesus. Since they treated our master that way, it's just natural that they would also treat us that way.
John 15:18-19 - The world hates those who are not a part of it.
1 John 3:13 - We should not be surprised when the world hates us!
When we endure these trials, we are becoming more like Christ. And if we share in his suffering, we will also share in his glory. (This is guaranteed!)
1 Peter 4:12-16 - When we are willing to endure trials because of our loyalty to Jesus, it is evidence that we belong to God, and that God is with us.
Romans 8:16-17 - We will one day enjoy, along with Jesus, the eternal inheritance that belongs to God's children. (Jesus is God's Son by nature; we are children of God by adoption into his family - Ephesians 1:5.)
God will use these trials as discipline, to purify us. (And when he does this, it will also show that we are his children.)
Hebrews 12:7-11 - We can consider the trials we endure to be a type of discipline, being used by God, to help us grow up. Furthermore, the very presence of discipline can be an encouragement: Since God only disciplines his own children (and only does it for their good) it proves that we are his children! [If God never disciplined us, we would have a good reason to wonder if we were his children.]
1 Peter 1:6-7 - Trials test our faith and prove whether or not it is genuine. It purifies our faith, better than a refiner's fire purifies gold.
We may have difficulties... but the day is coming, in which the world is going to have it a lot worse.
1 Peter 4:17-18 - Things may be difficult for us now... but look at how much worse it's going to be, for the unsaved! [Salvation is not an "easy" matter. It took the death of Jesus to take away our sin. It took his resurrection to give us new life. And it takes his Spirit to give us the power to live that new life. All people will experience some type of judgment. When we (Jesus' disciples) experience "judgment" in this present life (persecution, discipline from God, etc.), we have a hope to look forward to. The unsaved, however, do not have any of this; they have nothing to hold on to, which will enable them to survive the judgment they will someday experience.]
Focus on Jesus and eternity... and don't give-up.
Hebrews 10:25; 12:2-3 - We need to get together on a regular basis, to encourage each other. We also need to focus on Jesus: He made it triumphantly, through trials much worse than ours. And he - the one who gives us our faith, and who also builds it up - is in the process of bringing us victorious through our own trials.
We have a good reason to not give-up when trials come
We have a power from God that is greater than any trial we may face.
God himself helps us in our journey.
Romans 8:26 - The Spirit prays for us. (He is qualified because he knows the good that God wants to accomplish in us.)
Hebrews 2:18 - Jesus helps us when we go through trials. (He is qualified because he has also endured trials.)
Come what may, the end result is guaranteed!
Romans 8:28-39 - Nothing can win over us! Nothing can separate us from God's love.
We can expect our trials to accomplish great things.
2 Corinthians 4:7; 12:9 - God's power becomes more visible, when contrasted with our weakness.
1 Peter 5:6 - God will exalt us (lift us up) at the right time.
Dennis Hinks © 1999