Knocked Down But Not Out!

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When Paul wrote the book of 2 Corinthians, he was going through one of the most discouraging moments of his life. He gives us several glimpses of just how severe things were but let’s look at 2 Corinthians 4 today.

We are hard pressed on every side, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair (quitting is not an option). We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out. —2 Corinthians 4:8-9 

One of the things you can count on in this broken world, is that in every area of life — career, work, family, romance, health, relationships, ministry, calling…

Stuff happens…

Pain happens…

Setbacks happen…

Failure happens…

Disappointments happen… 

It’s not “if” it will happen. They’re inevitable.

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If you want to build a dynamic, life-giving marriage…

If you want to pursue physical health…

If your desire is to chase God’s calling…       

If your dream is to plant a church…

If your heart is to serve the poor…

If your goal is to raise godly kids…

If you aspire to build a thriving business that serves the community…       

If you want to finish college…

If you want to pursue a dream in music, theater, film or the arts….

If you’re goal is to leave this world better than you found it…

If you want to follow, serve and love Jesus with all you're your heart, soul, mind and strength…

This is what you can expect…

We are hard pressed on every side, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair (quitting is not an option). We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out. —2 Corinthians 4:8-9 

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There’s this great scene in the movie Rocky Balboa, where Rocky is talking to his young adult son about life.

Rocky is now in retirement. It’s thirty years after the ring of the first bell, and the reigning heavy weight champ, Mason “the Line” Dixon challenges Rocky to come out of retirement for a 10-round “exhibition fight.”  To the surprise of everyone, including his young-adult son, Rocky takes on the challenge. He comes out of retirement to take on an opponent who is stronger, faster and thirty years younger than him.

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His son is struggling with his dad’s decision. He feels that it could be an embarrassment. This is when Sylvester Stallone gives one of the most inspirational speeches in movies:

“You ain’t gonna believe this, but you used to fit right here. (pointing to the palm of his hand.)
 I’d hold you up and say to your mother, “This kid’s gonna be the best kid in the world. This kid’s gonna be somebody better than anybody I ever knew.” And you grew up good and wonderful. It was great just watching you, every day was like a privilege.
Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started looking for something to blame, like a big shadow.
Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.
You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.
That’s how winning is done!
Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!
I’m always gonna love you no matter what. No matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, ya ain’t gonna have a life.”

 That’s what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 4.

“It ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward.”

If I had to sum up what Paul is saying in three simple statements, I would say it like this:

You will get hit. You will go down. You can get up!

Sometimes the pressure, challenges, disappointments and setbacks are so relentless and devastating that they are unexplainable. They leave you questioning God and questioning yourself.

I’ve been there. I’ve done both. I’ve questioned God and myself. I’ve wondered, “God, why have you allowed this?”

I’ve wondered, “Chris, do you really have what it takes to get through this, to pursue this, to create this, to lead this, to see God work in this?

This is another reason I love that quote from Rocky Balboa:

“…if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody [or anything]! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You are better than that!”

We are hard pressed on every side, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair (quitting is not an option). We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We may be knocked down, but we are never knocked out. —2 Corinthians 4:8-9 

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PRESSURE WILL NOT CRUSH US.

We are hard pressed on every side…

The word “pressed” comes from a verb that means “to pressure.” It was sometimes used for walking through a crowd where people surround you and literally press against you. It was also used in pressing grapes. You could actually say it means “to squeeze.”

The word is a pretty broad word and can refer to physical, spiritual, emotional, mental and psychological pressure. That’s why one translation reads like this:

We are under all kinds of pressure…  —2 Corinthians 4:8 NTE

We catch it from every direction but we don’t let them squeeze the life out of us. —2 Corinthians 4:8 Cotton Patch Gospel

Paul describes “the squeeze” in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9.

All of the hardships we passed through crushed us beyond our ability to endure, and we were so completely overwhelmed that we were about to give up entirely. It felt like we had a death sentence written upon our hearts, and we still feel it to this day. It has taught us to lose all faith in ourselves and to place all of our trust in the God who raises the dead. (TPT)

Paul wants us to know that pressure was a part of His life. He regularly got “the squeeze” put on him. But it didn’t “squeeze the life out of him.” It didn’t squash him. It didn’t crush him… AND IT WON'T CRUSH US!

Pressure doesn’t crush us.  It brings out the best in us!

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. —James 1:2-4 MSG

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UNCERTAINTY WILL NOT CRUSH US.

…perplexed, but not in despair…

The word “perplexed” comes from the Greek verb that means “to be at a loss.” When Paul says, “…we are perplexed...” he’s admitting, “I can’t figure out what’s going on. I’m confused. I don’t understand why this is happening to me. I don’t understand why God has allowed this to happen.”

That’s Paul! That’s the guy who wrote half your New Testament! But he’s courageous enough to admit, “I don’t always understand what’s going on.  Sometimes, I’m perplexed, but I’m never driven to despair or to just give up.”

Trust GOD from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for GOD’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. —Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

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RESISTANCE NEVER MEANS GOD HAS ABANDONED YOU.

 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.

The Greek word translated “persecuted” means “to pursue” or “to hunt,” like a hunter pursues his game. That’s what Paul’s life felt like.  He didn’t feel like he could please anybody. He was constantly by the Jewish religious authorities of the first century.

They attacked his character, questioned his motives, mocked his message, belittled his appearance, made fun of his gifts, and even, threatened his life.

Paul described it like this…

We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. —2 Corinthians 4:9 NLT

The word translated "abandoned" is a word used by Jesus, when he was hanging on the cross and cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken or abandoned me?” —Mark 15:34

Paul is big on the idea of “substitution” — the idea of Jesus dying for our sins, in our place. 

In 2 Corinthians 4:9 Paul is reminding us of what Jesus did on the cross and basically saying, “Because God actually did abandon and forsake Jesus while He hung on the cross, that means He will never abandon or forsake us!”

That’s why I love the way The Good News translation reads:

…there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend… —2 Cor 4:9 GNT

Throughout the Bible, opposition, problems, setbacks and challenges are often seen as the door to OPPORTUNITY and BREAKTHROUGH.

The door of opportunity almost always swings on the hinge of opposition.

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GETTING KNOCKED DOWN NEVER MEANS WE’VE BEEN KNOCKED OUT.

 We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

The word “knocked down” means “to be struck down as with a weapon” or “to be thrown down as in a wrestling match.”

Mike Tyson once famously remarked, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

If you live long enough, you’ll get punched in the mouth more than once. Sometimes you’ll see the blow coming. More often than not, it will seem to come out of nowhere.

I love the way William Barclay describes this principle. He writes:

“The supreme characteristic of the Christian is not that he doesn't fall, but that every time he falls he rises again. It is not that he is never beaten, but that he is never ultimately defeated. The Christian may lose a battle, but he knows that in the end he can never lose the war.”

We are not finished yet, because God is not finished yet! He is always working in you and thru you to fulfill His purpose and plan!

We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours. —2 Corinthians 4:7 TPT

Paul says, “You may be nothing but a clay pot, but you’ve got something in you… God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. The extraordinary overflow of power is God’s not yours, so when you feel up against it, lean into Him!”

WHEN YOU FEEL UP AGAINST IT, LEAN INTO HIM.