I. "FINALLY MY BRETHREN."
A. We are obviously coming to the end of the instruction by Paul. It is as though he is now coming to the summation of the things he has been saying to them.
B. With this verse we enter into the final exhortation.
II. "BE STRONG IN THE LORD."
A. In chapter three Paul prays for them that they might be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man.
1. The word translated might in the Greek is dunamai which is the same root word translated power in Acts 1:8
where Jesus said, "You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you."
2. His prayer was then that they might know the power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives doing for them what they could not do for themselves.
B. Note that he is not just saying "Be strong."
1. Many times that is what we say to people.
a. Button your upper lip.
b. You must learn just to be strong.
2. He is saying, "Be strong in the Lord."
3. Many of us are weak in ourselves, but our strength comes from the Lord.
4. Paul declared that he would glory in his weaknesses that the power of God might be revealed in Him. For when he was weak, Paul said, "Then was he strong."
5. You are in your most vulnerable state when you think that you are strong enough to handle the temptation or situation without the help of the Lord.
a. Peter said to the Lord, "I would never deny you." and when Jesus responded, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me thrice." Peter answered, "If they would slay me I would not deny you."
b. But what happened? We know the story all too well. Peter, in the area where he felt so strong in himself, failed miserably.
C. When Joshua took over the leadership of the nation at the death of Moses, God said to him.
Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest.
1. The repeated commandment was to be strong and courageous and then the key to his strength and courage was given. "For the Lord thy God is with you where ever you go."
D. David commissioned his son Solomon to build the temple with these words.
Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do [it].
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do [it]: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, [even] my God, [will be] with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
1. Again the courage and the strength was to come from the realization that the Lord was with him.
2. David said, "He will not fail you or forsake you."
3. David was well aware of the help and strength that God gave to those who trusted in Him. Consider his contest with Goliath. In Psalm 138:3
David said, "In the day that I cried to You, You answered me and strengthened me with strength in my soul."
E. God said to Isaiah,
Say to them [that are] of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come [with] vengeance, [even] God [with] a recompence; he will come and save you.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.
F. When the children of Israel came back from their captivity in Babylon and had begun the work of rebuilding the temple the prophet Haggai said to them,
Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I [am] with you, saith the LORD of hosts:
1. Again the key to it all is found in the words, "For I am with you."
2. If God be for us, who can be against us?
G. When Paul had thrice asked for divine help in delivering him from the thorn in the flesh, the Lord answered his prayer with the words, "My grace is sufficient for thee, My strength is made perfect in weakness."
III. "IN THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT."
A. Paul prayed for them in chapter one that they might know the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe. That same power by which Christ was raised from the dead.
1. He wanted you to know the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.
B. It is so interesting how that we are prone to measure things on a scale of one to ten.
1. From simple through difficult to hard to improbable to impossible.
2. The word impossible is not in God's vocabulary.
a. Jesus said, "With God all things are possible."
b. God said to Jeremiah,
Behold, I [am] the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
3. Difficulty must be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work, and when God is the agent, any talk of difficulty is absurd.
4. When you put God into any equation in your life, you must forget the scale of one to ten.
C. When Sarah heard the Lord tell Abraham that Sarah was going to have a son, she laughed at the thought of something as incredible as that, the angel then said,
Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.
D. It is not a matter of your strength or weakness, it is a matter of His strength, "The power of His might."
E. The question then is "Can God do it?"
1. You say, "Of course God can do it."
2. Good, you have just taken the first step on the path to victory.
3. Abraham the man of faith, believed that what God had promised He was able also to perform.
F. So be strong in the Lord and the power of His might.
IV. PAUL IS NOW GOING TO TELL THEM OF THE SPIRITUAL BATTLE THAT WE ARE IN, BUT BEFORE HE EVEN COMES TO THE BATTLE, HE SHOWS US OUR VICTORY. IT IS IN THE LORD AND THE POWER OF HIS MIGHT, SO WE HAVE THE VICTORY BEFORE WE EVEN ENGAGE IN THE FIGHT.