2019-12-29 – 2 Timothy 4.1-8 – Finishing Well
Bible Text: 2 Timothy 4:1-8 | Preacher: Pastor Jerry Higdon | Series: New Year | 2017-12-31 – 2 Timothy 4:1-8 – Finishing Well
(Amazing Holiday weather outside; Church Lock-In)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
I pray you all had a wonderful Christmas experience, I know I sure did J Christmas reminds me how much I am blessed with family, friends and this church especially. However, at this point some of you may be experiencing what is sometimes referred to as the Christmas let down – disappointed that the Christmas magic is over, and I understand that, but in reflection of the Christmas story, think about what the shepherds must have felt. They saw the angels with their own eyes, and even spent some time with baby Jesus Himself. However at some point they had to leave that manger scene, the Holy birthday party was over. Scripture tells us though that “the shepherds returned praising God for all they had seen”. Perhaps we can learn something from those shepherds. Even though Christmas is over, we should endeavor to continue thinking about the positive things of Christmas, continue thanking God for Jesus in the days ahead, and continue proclaiming His Joy to the World as we move forward in faith. Okay?
Last week we declared that Christmas time is “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. We saw in scripture how God perfectly orchestrated the perfect solution at the perfect time to demonstrate His perfect Grace in the birth of Jesus Christ. Then on Christmas-Eve we read through the Christmas story as depicted in the Gospel books of Luke and Matthew, and we sang those beautiful and cherished Christmas Carols. What a joy it was to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus. Thank you to all who attended and contributed to those blessed festivities.
Now today’s message is a tribute to the closing of this year 2019, as New Years day will be celebrated this coming Wednesday already. This message is entitled Finishing Well. Finishing our year well, but more specifically as Christ followers we should also be striving towards finishing our earthly lives well too.
Please turn to 2 Timothy 4, in pew Bibles pg. 1052 of the Inspired, Infallible and Living Word of God, but let us first start with prayer..
What we are going to read now in scripture is actually the closing thoughts of a letter from the Apostle Paul, who wrote almost a third of the New Testament. Paul wrote these last words to his understudy Timothy while he was being held in prison, and right before he was sadly beheaded as traditions tells us. We know that Paul was in a cold prison cell and he was downtrodden, however as these verses convey, Paul was still enduring his suffering, and carrying out his ministry fully as he wrote this impassioned letter. Starting at verse one, He wrote:
1 I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of his appearing and his kingdom: 2 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear what they want to hear.
4 They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.
5 But as for you, exercise self-control in everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
So Paul instructs Timothy then, and effectively us today, to preach, proclaim and encourage the Gospel message to the world. And also to convince, rebuke and encourage each other as we are going about doing it.
Paul warned them and us about a time in the future when people will not put up with sound doctrine anymore. When people will be wandering away to just about any other thing except the Bible for inspiration and instruction. Kind of sounds like that today doesn’t it? Sadly, not only do many people not trust the Bible today, but they go to far lengths attempting to make a mockery of it even. Interestingly though, you might notice that critics hardly ever attempt to make fun of any other religious book except the Bible, perhaps because they might be in fear of their lives for doing so. But our Christian Bible is open to all for ridicule for many reasons; and the main reason, I would argue, is because it is true.
There is so much evidence that supports God’s word, much more than any other book written about human behavior and history, let alone the proven geological or the spiritual positions it poses. People attack the Bible because it also calls out the people’s sins, and it brings light onto their dark folly. The Bible is also a target due to God’s righteousness that shines brightly against the backdrop of dark human sin. Sadly indelibly people become pawns for Satan as he urges people to mistrust the Bible’s instruction, just like he urged Eve to mistrust God’s word back in the Garden of Eden. Fact is, there is nothing new with Satan’s schemes, and God’s holy word is always true and trustworthy.
This Bible is simply an amazing gift from God. I frequently refer to it as the Inspired, Infallible, and living Word of God, because it is the Inspired, Infallible and living Word of God. If you ever find anything in this Bible that you think might be contradictory to those terms, please let me know. I have been reading and studying it for years and not only do I find it meeting that mark, but it amazes me as there is something in it for everyone at all stages in life.
The Bible is actually a library of 66 books, originally penned in 3 languages from 3 different continents, written by 44 authors over a period of about 1500 years. The 39 books of the Old Testament were composed between 1400 and 400 B.C. And the 27 books of the New Testament were written between 50 and 100 A.D. But the most amazing thing is that the Bible is really one complete story. One story that shows above all else, God’s enduring and insufferable love for us.
Paul calls this Bible sound doctrine and the truth, and says that we should not only pay attention to it, but we should endeavor to preach it, teach it, and proclaim it to the community, and to the nations. Are ya with me on this?
Paul continues here in verse 6 of 2nd Timothy 4:
6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved his appearing.
Again, this is kind of a farewell letter from Paul to his apprentice Timothy. It is sad when we think of our loved ones that are preparing to die or have already passed on. At this stage in my life, I have been blessed with many friends, mentors and relatives that have sadly passed away and I miss them dearly. But as Christians, we can also celebrate their lives as we remember them, especially knowing that we will see them again in heaven. Paul, in this letter, is attempting here to be an encourager and a good example of a solid sold-out Christian leader to his protégé Timothy. And as we see in these verses, there is something special about people’s last words. At this point Paul knew that he didn’t have long for the world. People in that position have no reason to boast, brag or lie. Some of the most truthful and trusted words a person speaks are in their final days, as they have nothing to gain or lose by giving them.
Paul considered Timothy to be like his own son. Paul knew that Timothy’s learning would be a big part of his legacy and the lasting fruit of his ministry. Like Paul, we all should be endeavoring to mentor somebody. Jesus also is a great example for us today in this. In John 15:16, Jesus said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will remain”. That is God’s will for each of us. He wants each of us to leave a Christian legacy. Question: Who is your protégé? What is the fruit of your ministry that you would like to remain after you’re gone? Something worthy to ponder indeed.
In Paul’s last verses here, we should also notice that although he was dire straits, he also has a tone of victory in his writing. He said, “I have fought a good fight”, “I have finished the race”, and “I have kept the faith”.
I will talk briefly about each of these.
“I have fought a good fight”: As Christians, you might realize our fight is both outside of us and inside of us. We know that Paul was chained-up in a cold place and he was in prison, that is the outside the body situation. Not to mention the fact that he also wrote about the times he was beaten, shipwrecked, left for dead, and a number of other external life challenges. Paul had truly fought a “good fight” externally, but also internally as well. In 1 Corinthians 9 he also wrote: “I discipline my body and I keep it under control, lest I be disqualified” He also said that he had to tell himself over and over again, “no”. Paul is admitting that there is a battle that raged inside him, and each one of us should admit we have that same internal struggle. On top of all that, Satan and the world at large, also tries to manipulate us all the time, which adds to the stress we feel.
I’m here to tell ya folks, this is a spiritual battle we face in the world today. And that is why Paul wrote earlier in Ephesians 6, that we should “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can make your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
That is also another reason why Jesus gave us the Church and He sent the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that we can stand up against the devils schemes. We need to take this threat seriously and we should be in constant prayer about this so we too can say with some assurance on our death bed like Paul, that “I have fought a good fight”, and finished well. And that is the next phrase, Paul said:
“I have finished the race”: The image of our lives as a race, is what Paul talks about frequently in his writings. You may recall in Philippians 3, Paul said, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have laid hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize of God’s heavenly calling in Christ Jesus.” Paul knew where the finish line was and he didn’t turn around to see where he was running from or what was behind him. He was looking for the prize ahead in Heaven.
Like Paul, are you “pressing on” in your life? If not maybe you are looking too much about where you have been instead of where you are going. The enemy Satan and the world’s lie is that you have to constantly look back and deal with the past. Well I’m here to tell ya, you cannot run the race while you are always looking back. I have seen so many people get stuck in the past. Many of us are shipwrecked in our effectiveness. Paul especially had many things in his past that he was regretful for. If anyone had a reason to reflect and get stuck in the past it is Paul. But Paul gave his grievances, his woes, his regrets to God, and we should do likewise. God can deal with your past when you can’t. Press on, walk forward and trust God with your past. That is His will for you. Finish the race that God has placed in front of you. Finally, Paul also said:
“I have kept the faith”: Meaning, not letting go of the fundamentals of the Gospel message, and staying faithful to your calling. The Bible talks about this in Ephesians 2, It says “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”.
God prepared His mission for you before you were even born. You are not here just to enjoy the pleasures of life, you are here to serve Him. That is our ultimate purpose as Christians. We are to walk in faith and do what God wants us to do. There is a huge percentage of Christians that are not serving God within or outside of the church; and that is so sad. That is not God’s will for you, and that life will never satisfy your soul. We are called to a greater purpose. To keep the faith, to serve Him and His purpose with everything we have.
What you do now will be rewarded in heaven, and it will be a reward that will last throughout all eternity. I want to serve God, I want to perform well for Him. I want to hear the words “well done my good and faithful servant”. According to Paul here, he kept the faith; finished the race and fought the good fight. That’s what I want to be able to proclaim on my death bed. How about you?
God’s word says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. Through His power, His strength and His spirit. That’s the way we are to serve. Let go and Let God do His mighty work through you. Let us finish this year and finish this life in such a way that will make our Father in Heaven proud. And may we all be Finishing Well together, for His purpose and glory.
I have given a lot of thought to how one might finish well. Although a number of things could be said, I have come to the conclusion that there are three fundamental actions we can take to help us in this regard. may I suggest:
First; a daily time of personal communion with God. Communion, being quiet time, prayer and reading God’s word. I know some of you are readers, but some don’t hardly ever pick up a book. I will implore you to consider as part of your personal sacrifice to God, to read and pray daily. Give to the Lord in this, and you will be blessed I promise. I have started again reading through the Bible and I am enjoying it so much. As I get older (and hopefully wiser), I find myself loving God’s word more and more, and I know you would to. I printed out for you a “Read the New Testament in a Year” plan, and I offer it to you today.
Second; a daily adoption of the Gospel. Consider Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” As Christians we know our home in heaven is secure, so every breath we take now has a Godly purpose. Every prayer we lift up should be seasoned with thankfulness because we know all our sins are forgiven by God as a result of Jesus Christ dying on the cross at Calvary. Daily we should strive to realize anew what an amazing gift we have been given and re-adopt the Gospel message into our person. Don’t just read it, absorb it, and adopt it into your character daily.
Third; a daily commitment to God as a living sacrifice. For this I direct your attention to Romans 12:1 where Paul wrote, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God..” As we reflect on the Gospel and what God has done for us in Christ, this should lead us to present ourselves daily, as living sacrifices. Christians should want to serve God. Like Paul, I appeal to you to choose to serve God for His and your good pleasure, and may your joy in this be complete.
We are now finishing the Year of our Lord 2019, and starting the Year of our Lord 2020, may this New Year bring each of you His purpose, His comfort, and His eternal joy. And may God continue to use His First Baptist Church in mighty way going forward.
As we close, I want to share with you some of the highlights of this year past.
2019 Reflections of Orion First Baptist
7 Baptisms, 12 new members
Conducted a Young Men’s study and a ‘Ladies Night Out with the Lord’ study group
Put on a Yard Sale for camp, and participated in a SBC Bible Camp with youth at Streator, IL
Conducted a Vacation Bible School with the help of FBC Palestine Texas
Built a Parade Float with our new metal Church Silhouette
Put on a Night of Praise concert with TC Boyd & David Overstreet
Hosted a Creation Science seminar
Sent a care box to a missionary in India
Girl Scouts now meeting in our basement bi-weekly
Decorated the Church for Christmas and received a 2nd Place award
Went Christmas Caroling and had a special Christmas-Eve service
Added a bathroom and coffee buffet; Landscaped the front; Blinds in the basement, New Pastors office; Ping-Pong, Foosball, Video Games; and Two Conference Tables for Sunday School. Also repaired the wall behind the Organ
Had 2 Youth picnic events (High-Noon Showdown) and started a new NISBY quarterly youth program. Youth outings to Bowling, Movies, Baseball & Hockey
Jeremy became a Pastor Apprentice
We have so much to be thankful for in this past year. Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord. And I am excited to even think about what lies ahead for us.
Romans 8:31 says, “What then shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”, Amen?