Sunday, May 17, 2009


2 Timothy 4 The end of a life


6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on bthat Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Ross Sams' neighbor's cat was run over by a car, and the mother quickly disposed of the remains before her four-year-old son Billy found out about it. After a few days, though, Billy finally asked about the cat.

"Billy, the cat died," his mother explained. "But it's all right. He's up in heaven with God."

The boy asked, "What in the world would God want with a dead cat?"

In PNG, “ I’ll race you to the corner” ..I looked behind and there were three others running too. Why? Well we thought you knew something we didn’t!” I’m a nuclear bomb maker.. if I’m running you better catch me.

When you're near death, your final words will tend to be stripped of any hypocrisy and reflect your view of life. Near the end of his life, the notorious French statesman Talleyrand wrote, "Eighty-three years have passed! I am not sure I am pleased when I think back over how those years were spent. How many useless uproars there were; how many failures; how many outrageous complications; how much wasted emotion and energy, and how much wasted ability! Hatreds have been aroused, illusions lost, tastes jaded. And with what result? Moral and physical exhaustion, complete discouragement with respect to the future, deep disgust with repect to the past" (J. F. Bernard, Talleyrand: A Biography [N. Y. : G. P. Putnom's Sons, 1973], pp. 599-600). 

Paul's response to his imminent death is a stark contrast to that of the despairing unbeliever: "I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:6-8). His words convey hope, joy, and victory, not despair or frustration. 

1. Look at the present--the close of Paul's life--and reveals his readiness.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close.

Phil 1: 21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to depart and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. For me to live is Christ.

A Personal Experience .. Tramp.. “have you got anything for a cold?” to chemist.. “Have you brought a prescription?” “No, but I brought my cold!”

A Present Experience

A Practical Experience

and to die is gain. A Possible Experience “Safe In the Arms of Jesus!” yes it can be true!

Instead of being terrified by death, Paul viewed it as a "departure" (Gk. , analusis). His positive outlook reminds me of an African funeral custom. When a Christian dies, the people there say, "He's arrived," not "He's gone. " Furthermore, Barclay noted four ways that analusis pictures death

a) Loosening an animal from its yoke "It is the word for unyoking an animal from the shafts of the cart or the plough. Death to Paul was rest from toil. " He would be glad to lay the burden down.

b) Loosening a prisoner from his chains "It is the word for loosening bonds or fetters. Death for Paul was a release. He was to exchange the confines of a Roman prison for the glorious liberty of the courts of heaven. " Death would release Paul from the bondage of indwelling sin and set him free to enjoy the glorious liberty of righteousness.

c) Loosening the ropes of a tent "It is the word for loosening the ropes of a tent. For Paul it was time to strike camp again. Many a journey he made across the roads of Asia Minor and of Europe. Now he was setting out on his last and greatest journey; he was taking the road that led to God. " Paul was a tentmaker by trade (Acts 18:3) , so he knew how to pull up stakes and break camp. Soon his own bodily tent would be taken down that he might embark on a heavenly journey.

d) To loose the ropes from a ship "It is the word for loosening the mooring-ropes of a ship. Many a time Paul had felt his ship leave the harbour for the deep waters. Now he is to launch out into the greatest deep of all, setting sail to cross the waters of death to arrive in the haven of eternity. " You secure a ship in its harbor by tying it to sturdy poles with rope. When it's time for the ship to leave harbor, the ropes are released. The ropes of Paul's earthly life would soon be let loose that he might set sail for the harbor of heaven.

For us as Christians, death lays down our yoke of sin that we might receive our heavenly rest. Death lays aside our shackle of sin that we might be free from its presence. Death takes down our earthly tent that we might take up our heavenly residence. Death casts off our ropes of sin that we might set sail for heaven. Those pictorial truths give us all the more reason not to fear death (cf. 1 Cor. 15:55-57). 

I believe Paul faced death the same way Christ did. Jesus said, "No one has taken [my life] away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative" (John 10:18). As for Paul, he didn't avoid death by denying the faith or compromising his situation. He didn't become frustrated and ask, "How can this happen?" Rather, he willingly took up his cross by following Christ even to the point of death (cf. Matt. 16:24). 

For the clock of life is wound but once. And no one has the power, To tell just when the hand will stop, At late or early hour.
Now is the time we have. Live, love, toil, work with a will, Do not wait for tomorrow, For the clock may then be still.

Over 1300 years ago in the portion of pagan England called Northumbria, the first Christian missionaries arrived. They came to the courts of King Edwin of Northumbria, and in his great hall ablaze with the light of many torches these Christian missionaries gave their first sermon on the Christian faith. When they had finished, one old chieftain asked -

"Can this new religion tell us anything of what happens after death?

The soul of man is like a sparrow flying through this lighted hall.

It enters at one door from the darkness outside, flits through the

light and warmth, and passes out into the dark again.

Can your new religion solve for us the mystery?"

2. Look at the past--the course of Paul's life--and reveals his faithfulness.

2 Tim 4: 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Faithful to the Fight, Faithful to The Finish and Faithful to the Faith!

He didn’t give up, he didn’t Quit. Greatest preacher 1,600 years ago - Chrysostom. “Golden mouthed.” Very popular with people, and a brilliant scholar.

Chrysostom was bold when it came to condemning sin and he was called before the Emperor, whom he had offended. He threatened Chrysostom with exile unless he apologized. Chrysostom replied, “You cannot exile me because this world is my father's house.”

“I will kill you,” said the Emperor. “No, you cannot, because my life is hid with Christ in God.”

“I will take away your treasures.” “No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”

The Emperor was furious at this point. “I will drive you away from man and you shall have no friend left.” “No, you cannot, for I have a friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me... “I defy you; for there is nothing that you can do to hurt me!”

From Henry Hart Milman, “History of Christianity,” (New York: Crowell, 1881), 4:144

The Mission was too great!

Acts 9: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Acts 26:  When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’15 “But I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ “And the Lord replied: ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But get up and stand on your feet. For I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and a witness of things you have seen, and of things in which I will appear to you. 17 I will rescue you from the people and from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ 19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.

Henry Lyte's hymn "Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken":

Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
Perish every fond ambition, all I've sought, and hoped, and known;
Yet how rich is my condition, God and heaven are still my own!

Haste thee on from grace to glory, armed by faith and winged by prayer;
Heaven's eternal day's before thee, God's own hand shall guide thee there. 

Soon shall close thy earthly mission, swift shall pass thy pilgrim days,
Hope shall change to glad fruition, faith to sight, and prayer to praise. 

The Message was too good!

18 to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

That’s why Paul says Prach the Word, do the work of an evangelist! Evangelist… evangellion… gospel.. good news! The message is too good.

darkness to light

power of Satan to God PNG, Newcastle.

receive forgiveness of sins reconciled to God!

a share heaven!!

This world is all a fleeting show For man’s illusion given; The smiles of joy, the tears of woe, deceitful shine deceitful flow There’s nothing true but heaven.

And false the light on glory’s plume As fading hues of evening. And love and hope and beauty’s bloom As garlands gathered for the tomb There’s nothing bright but heaven!

3. Look at the future--the crown of Paul's life--and reveals his reward.

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Personal achievement

Providential Acknowledgement

“Well done!” 2 Cor 5 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad.

Prominent Accomplishment

In his book Dying Thoughts the Puritan Richard Baxter, a preacher for over forty years, wrote, "Many serious Christians, through the weakness of their trust in God, live in this perplexed strait, weary of living and afraid of dying, continually pressed between grief and fear. But Paul's strait was between two joys, which of them he should desire most. And if that be my case, what should much interrupt my peace or pleasure? If I live, it is for Christ, for his service. . . . If I die presently, it is my gain; God, who appoints me my work, limits my time; and surely his glorious reward can never be unseasonable, or come too soon, if it be the time that he appoints" ([Grand Rapids: Baker, 1976], pp. 19-20). Can you say with Paul, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil 1:21) ? Ask the Lord to help you have a biblical attitude toward life and death.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


2 Chronicles 30:13 Days of Revival


I received some very solemn and upsetting news this week.


“Awaken O Sleeper”: Disturbing a Denomination at the Crossroads Working Paper No. 1

Changes in religious affiliation are captured statistically by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) every five years through census research (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996, 2001, 2006). ABS research is based on households identifying themselves as belonging to a particular religious affiliation. Changes over the last 10 years only are presented in this paper following changes to the ABS data collection instruments since 1991. Over the last decade, Baptist Churches across NSW and the ACT experienced zero aggregate growth Although the Baptist churches in NSW and ACT failed to grow numerically, they did manage to avoid the negative growth experienced by all other Christian denominations during the same period. Relative to Baptist Churches in other Australian states and territories, the growth of Baptist churches in NSW and ACT was less than the average growth observed across Australia (7 percent) over that same period. In addition to Baptist churches in NSW and ACT failing to grow, their age profile also increased steadily, summarised in Figure 4. Over the last 10 years, Baptist Churches experienced negative growth across all age ranges under 45 years. This rate of decline was three to five times faster than the Australian average in the 15-24 year old and 35 to 44 year old ranges. According to estimates provided by field staff from Ministry Support and Development, approximately 100 out of 340 (almost one third) Baptist churches in NSW and ACT are under “serious stress” affecting their very viability (Clendinning, 2008). There is a serious threat of closure as a result of small congregational size relative to property responsibilities and/or poor church health.

Some churches have also experienced significant difficulty recruiting pastoral staff as a result of low numbers of trained pastors entering vocational ministry. Although Morling College has graduated an average of 13 BUNSW accredited students each year over the last 11 years (Clifford, 2009), only four Morling College students became vocational Baptist church pastors in 2007 (Clendinning, 2008), dropping to three in 2008 (Clendinning, 2009).

Last Wednesday David and I attended a meeting with the  Leadership of an evangelistic parachurch organisation at the University. In a short discussion with the lady in charge of this area she said to me “We have to build a base here first. It may take years before we have a solid enough group here at the Callaghan campus to reach out to the campus in town.” Ahh but the Lord can act suddenly if He wills. And I related several events where in time past the Christian work had suddenly grown through conversions. At the Wollongong campus, the Christian Fellowship grew from 5 to 120 in a few weeks, as bible study groups were established on the campus. Many of those who came to know the Lord have since gone into full time ministry.

A Youth group grew from 7 converted people to 80 in 6 weeks of prayer. In fact it may be said, as J I Packer staed,  that the Lord can do more in a short season of revival (in adding to the numbers of people in churches) than He does in the long periods of hard steady slogging work that has to be done in the normal course of church life.

J.A.Broadus, the Southern Baptist Church Father once wrote

There are seasons in the spiritual sphere-sowing seasons and reaping seasons, just as there are in farming. "Say not ye," said Jesus, "There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest?"-that is to say, it was four months from that time till the harvest. They sowed their wheat in December; they began to reap it in April. "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."
In the spiritual sphere it was a harvest time then, and they were bidden to go forth and reap the harvest that waved white and perishing. We can see, as we look back, that the ends of all the ages had now come to that time; that the long course of providential preparation, dimly outlined in the Old Testament, had led to the state of Things that then prevailed; that the fullness of the times had come, when God sent forth his Son to teach men and to atone for men, and to rise again and come forth as their Saviour, and that his servants should go forth in his name. And the like has been true in many other seasons of Christianity; there have been great reaping times, when men have harvested the fruits which come from the seed scattered by others long before.
This principle is true In individual churches, that there are seasons of sowing and reaping. It has to be so. We sometimes say we do not believe in the revival idea; we think there ought to he revival in the church all the time. If you mean that we ought always to he seeking for spiritual fruits, always aiming at spiritual advancement, it is true. But if you mean that you expect that piety will go on with even current in the church, that there will be just as much sowing and reaping at any one time as at any other, then you will certainly be disappointed. That is not the law of human nature. That is not possible in the world. Periodicity pervades the universe. Periodicity controls the life of all individuals, shows itself in the operations of our minds. Periodicity necessarily appears in the spiritual sphere also. People have Their ups and downs. They ought to strive against falling low. They ought not to be content with growing cold. They ought to seek to maintain good health of body all the while, but it will not be always equally good; and good health of mind and soul all the time, but it 'will not be always equally good. They ought to be seeking to reap a harvest of spiritual good among those around the mall the while; but they will have seasons which are rather of sowing, and other seasons which will be rather of reaping.
Oh! do you want to see a great season of harvest among your own congregation? And do you not know, brethren, as well as the preacher can tell you, what is necessary in order that you may see it? what are the conditions but deepened spiritual life in your own individual souls, stronger spiritual examples set forth in your lives, more earnest spirituality in your homes, a truer standard in your business and social relations to mankind, more of heartfelt prayer of God's blessing, and more untiring and patient and persevering effort, in season and out of season, to bring others to seek their salvation?


Hezekiah's dad Ahaz was bad news! He desecrated and closed the temple. He encouraged false worship. Judea was on the downward spin for many many years. Now Hezekiah was 25 years old and there began the longest revival recorded in the Bible. He gathered people together, he reconsecrated the temple and in 16 days reversed all the bad things that his dad had spent so many years doing. He celebrated Passover.  In 16 short days he reversed all the policies of his dad and brought about a real revival in the land of Judea.

Walter kaiser rightly notes that the book of Chronicles records several vital revivals. Each of the revivals highlights a different theme which may be found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.

"If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land."

As I prepared this message I noticed how last year about this time we had sat down and read about the revival under Asa, we saw that the issue was seeking God's face. 

Theme of Chronicles is revival, 5 revivals detailed.
The theme of 2 Chronicles Is Found in 2 Chron 7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
King Rehoboam discovered in chs. 11 and 12 "humble yourself"
King Asa  discovers "Seek my face" chapters 14-16
King Jehoshaphat discovered in chapters 17-20 "Pray"
King Hezekiah discovers in chapters 29-32 "Turn from your wicked ways"
and King Josiah discovers in Chapters 34, 35  "Humble yourselves"
“Revival is the sovereign work of God where He restores His own backslidden people to repentance, faith and obedience.”


What Hezekiah did you and I can do. 13 And many people came together in Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great assembly.14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron Valley. 15 And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month. And the priests and the Levites were ashamed, so that they consecrated themselves and brought burnt offerings into the house of the LORD. 16 They took their accustomed posts according to the Law of Moses the man of God. The priests threw the blood that they received from the hand of the Levites. 17 For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. 18 For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, "May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." 20 And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.

1. Remove the Substitutes For God From your Life. 14 They set to work and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for burning incense they took away and threw into the Kidron Valley.

2 Chron 28:24 Then Ahaz gathered up the utensils of God’s temple, cut them into pieces, shut the doors of the Lord’s temple, and made himself altars on every street corner in Jerusalem. 25 He made high places in every city of Judah to offer incense to other gods, and he provoked the God of his ancestors.

Altars everywhere.. every corner! There are so many altars that pull us away from the God we are supposed to worship. The visible gods, those that pull you away from reading God’s Word and praying. A slow moving away from God. We substitute something for God. The things we turn to rather than turning to God. Sometimes we use food as a substitute for anxiety. Your passions priorities and activities. Your career! Chucked the idol in the Kedron valley. Everyone of us has taken some idols to the Kidron valley .. dusted our hands off and said.. I’m done with that idol. And we go back and get it! The dearest idol I have known whate’er that idol be, help me to wrench it from my heart and worship only Thee.

2 chronicles 7:14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves, pray and seek My face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

“. . .turn from their wicked ways. . .” The ways of some “Christians” is a stench in God’s nostrils. Their soap operas, their R--rated movies, their unholy conduct displeases God! Their foolish talking and jesting grieves the Holy Spirit. As does their unforgiveness, their bitterness, their evil speaking. Do you know that such things are evil? Proverbs 28:13 warns, “He who covers his sin will not prosper. But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”
“Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).
If we look at the church today, not just our fellowship here but the Church in general, we are at a time when we need revival. Christians seem to have lost their passion for God, they have lost their passion to walk according to God’s commandments. Many church services are just social gatherings or entertainment.
There must be a turning from everything that is not of God.
B. B. McKinney penned these words in 1927 in the 3rd stanza of his hymn: “Lord, Send a Revival”: “Send a revival among Thine own, Help us to turn from our sins away, Let us get nearer the Father’s throne, Revive us again, we pray.”
2. Set your Heart On Seeking God "May the good LORD pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, Jer 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. Hos 10:12 break up your untilled ground. It is time to seek the Lord until He comes and sends righteousness on you like the rain.

Dig deep. Till real deep! Don’t just scratch the surface. Dig up the roots of bitterness and anger and hurt that are so deep. Forgiveness! If there is to be true revival bring out the tiller and dig up the hardened ground. Bitterness prideful rebellion. That stops God’s word penetrating our lives. We can wear a superficial mask and we can be happy just scratching the soil rather than digging up the deep things.

AT Pierson there has never been a spiritual awakening in a country or a locality that did not begin with united prayer.

How many people realize there was a moral slump after the American revolution.. drunkenness was epidemic. Of a population of 5 million, 15, 000 drunks buried each year, 3000,000 confirmed alcoholics.

The Churches were empty.

The Methodists were going out the back door. This was their worst season.  Congregationalists, who were  stronger, in 16years he had not taken in one young person into fellowship.

The Anglican Bishop took up new employment.

The Church was too far gone ever to be redeemed.

Voltaire had said at that time "Christianity will be forgotten in 30 years time."

KS Lattourette it seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men. The churches had their backs to the wall.

But God changed that situation. He drew His people to prayer.

John Erskine, Scots preacher pleasing for the people of Scotland to unite together for prayer.  Jonathon Edwards wrote his treatise titled, An Humble Attempt to Promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union of God’s People in Extraordinary Prayer, for the Revival of Religion and Advancement of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth

“. . . will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways. . .” (2 Chronicles 7:14b)
A. “. . .humble themselves. . .” Revival does not come to the proud.
Micah 6:8 clearly states, "He has shown you, O man what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?"
It is written of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16 that he ". . .was lifted up to his destruction."
James 4:6b tells us ". . .God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Verse 10 goes on to say, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."
1 Peter 5:5b-7 says, "Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,
casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
We read in Philippians 2:8 of our Lord Jesus who, ". . . humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."
We must ask ourselves this pointed question: "Am I haughty or humble?"
B. “. . .pray. . .”
1. Selflessly
James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
2. Earnestly James 5:16b-18 “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”
3. Definitely Charles G. Finney, “I have prayed all night, not because God was reluctant to hear me, but because I had to get my heart ready for what God had to say.” As the old timers talk about “pray through”.
George Mueller said, “I live in the spirit of prayer. I pray as I walk about, when I lie down and when I rise up. And the answers are always coming.”
C. “. . .seek My face. . .”
The Amplified Bible brings this verse home, “Seek, crave and require of necessity My face. . .” O that we would crave the face of God most earnestly! God give us an unquenchable longing, a fervent craving, and an ever increasing hunger for You! If there is one thing the church has lost it is a hunger for God.
As Hosea the prophet tells us “. . .it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”
The prophet Isaiah proclaims, “Seek the Lord while He may be found call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6)
The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that “. . .he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
According to Avery Willis, the situation of 2 Chronicles 6 and 7 involves a “Solemn Assembly” which is a call to nation wide seeking of the Lord’s face and favor.
Willis cites several passages in which this was the case. For example, Asa in 2 Chronicles 15:2; Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20; Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 29-31; Josiah in 2 Chronicles 34 and Joel in Joel 1:14; 2:1,12-17.
D. Turn from their wicked ways

3. Do not let anything hinder you from experiencing revival.

16-19 The Levites handed the blood over.. but it was supposed to be the heads of the families, the fathers. Because no one was ready, the Levites took the responsibility . it was different from what the rules stated. 18-20 even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness."

Was God more concerned with the heart or the rituals? Psa 51: 16 You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. 17 The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

What happened? 25 The whole assembly of Judah, and the priests and the Levites, and the whole assembly that came out of Israel, and the sojourners who came out of the land of Israel, and the sojourners who lived in Judah, rejoiced.26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem. 27 Then the priests and the Levites arose and blessed the people, and their voice was heard, and their prayer came to his holy habitation in heaven.

RA Torrey. Revival is a time when God visits His people and imparts new life to them Revival is getting hold of hearts of believers and then they get hold of those who don’t know Christ. Revival? Draw a circle around yourself and pray that God would change everything inside that circle. Gypsy Smith.

Rick Warren rightly says ; The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT), “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.”

More than anything I know you want to be used by God. It isn’t the best preachers who get used by God. It isn’t the best leaders.. God uses those leaders who regularly get right with him.

Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you” (Joshua 3:5 NLT). If you want God to do something great in your future, you’ve got to start by settling the accounts of the past.

It doesn’t mean you have to be perfect – because no one is. But it does mean you need to be quick to confess and receive forgiveness when needed. Augustine said, “The confession of bad works is the beginning of good works.” God wants to do something incredible through you. But he’s going to start by dealing with your past. You’ve got to confess your sin to him.

Review every area of your life. Get away with a Bible, a piece of paper, and a pen, and ask God to let you know what’s coming between you and him. Don’t rush it. Take your time and write it all down. Nobody will see this. It’s between you and God.

Repent of every sin. Take responsibility for every sin you’ve written down. Don’t rationalize them. Don’t minimize them. Tell God what you did was a sin and you won’t do it anymore. Real repentance isn’t apologizing for your sin. It’s admitting it, turning away from it, and accepting God’s grace for it.

Make restitution. As you make your list, notice the sins that have impacted other people. Maybe you’ve hurt someone or mistreated him. If the person is still alive, make it right – as soon as possible. Don’t just apologize either. If you’ve stolen from the person, give back what you’ve taken. If you’ve cheated somebody, repay him.

Receive God’s forgiveness. Now you’re ready to receive God’s forgiveness. The Bible says you can go boldly to the throne of God and receive grace and mercy. God won’t reject you or scold you. He’ll give you his grace. That’s a promise from his Word.

Repeat these steps regularly. Confession is like a bath. If you don’t take one regularly, you’ll start to stink. Make confession a regular habit in your life


We need revival. To see it we must "humble ourselves, and pray and seek the Lord's face and turn from our wicked ways"

Will you do that? Will you follow Hezekiah's example and turn from anything that is turning you from the Lord?

Will you "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us?"

Will you put aside those sins that so trip you up?

Review every area of your life.

Repent of every sin.

Make restitution.

Receive God’s forgiveness

Draw a circle around yourself and pray that God would change everything inside that circle.

Saturday, May 09, 2009


2 Timothy 4:8-18 How to Keep On Keeping On


8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
9 Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me:
10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.
11 Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.
12 And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus.
13 The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:
15 Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.
16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge.
17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
19 Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus.
20 Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.
21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Of course everyone over 50 remembers the old add by Rolf Harris.. the paint that keeps on keeping on.

My dad worked for the paint company at that time. Someone had made a mistake at Dulux with a batch of brown paint. They had poured too much of one of the components into the batch. The paint didn’t look right when it was poured into the containers so they retested it and found it wasn’t up to expectations. I think the product supervisor was in strife and all these thousands of gallons of paint had to be tipped out. Someone gave a young kid the job of painting the back fence of the factory with the paint… a few years later someone noticed something interesting. The back fence never needed repainting. Subject to the weather, it just never needed repainting. So they had come up with a brand new product.. weathershield paint. Paint that would keep on keeping on. Even in the midst of tragedy you can keep on keeping on.

One of the easiest things for any of us to do when it seems like nothing is "going our way", is for us to just give up and QUIT, just "throw up our hands" and walk away. At the time, it seems the easiest way out, I know. And all the while, we'll be telling ourselves, "It's the thing to do. I've all the reason in the world to quit. I'm justified in my actions." Moreover, the enemy of our soul will be there, ever ready to pat us on the back and "console" us with, "You have good excuse to quit.” Winter is coming, and many times that feels like the time to quit. I am getting older..and so are you.. and I find winter hard.

The Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, and he tell s Timothy , Come before winter.. its getting cold.. bring the cloak.. Paul is there as the result of persecution under Nero. He realized when he wrote this letter that his death was near. Alone and cold in his dungeon, the veteran missionary wrote this letter of encouragement to his beloved son the ministry, Timothy. Soon afterward according to tradition he was beheaded on the Ostian way. (Just outside of Rome) I am sure that there were times in the life of Paul, when he would like to have retreated, but on his greatest moments of human despondency we always find these words of encouragement, I CAN GO ON. There will be times in your life as a good soldier of Jesus Christ that you will feel like retreating, you will ask the question, "Is it really worth it?" and you feel just like giving up. Here are some reasons Christians feel like giving up:

People Wouldn’t life be wonderful if weren’t for people. Then again, our greatest delights and our deepest regrets come from people.

Problems Illness restricting us. Worries that destroy us.

Pressure Thlipsis.. cutting like. Pressures. Stress. 2 Cor 4:8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

Position Erwin Lutzer: Pastor to Pastor writes A friend of mine, fresh out of Bible College, became the pastor of a small country church. One day the elders asked him to visit a wealthy member who hadn’t been attending regularly but continued to contribute to the church coffers. “We don’t think he’s even a Christian,” they said. So at their insistence, he visited the old gentleman and asked him point-blank if he was saved. The man became incensed at the pastor’s audacity to suggest that he, a self-made man, was not a Christian. Several weeks later, the church building burned down. The congregation met in a schoolroom to decide what to do. After the decision was made to rebuild, the man whose salvation had been questioned stood up. “This young man had the nerve to question whether I was a Christian-what do you suggest we do about it?” He sat down with an air of importance, waiting for a response. –Silence. “I move we terminate him as pastor,” the man said. There was some discussion, but not one of the elders rose to defend their pastor and explain that he had been acting on their requests. Later a vote was taken, and the young man was given two weeks to resign. After the meeting, no one came to speak to him except a school janitor, who heard over the public address system what had happened. The pastor left the building and began walking in blinding rain mile after mile… That was 35 years ago. He never pastored another church.

2 Tim 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; …But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, Endunamoo in simple terms means "to put power in" (like a car needs gas for power) and so to make strong, vigorous, to strengthen, or to be strengthened, enabled or empowered inwardly. This word is found only in biblical and ecclesiastical Greek. The idea is to cause one to be able to function or do something. It can refer to physical strengthening as in (Heb11:34) but more often endunamoo refers to spiritual or moral strengthening.

Verses 17, 18, and 22 all begin with, “the Lord.” These verses reveal five things about our Lord:

A. He is the sovereign Lord. He was sovereign over Paul’s circumstances, as unpleasant as they were. If the sovereign Lord had chosen to do so, He easily could have rescued Paul from that dungeon and given him more years of effective ministry. Some commentators interpret Paul’s words in 4:18, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed,” as referring to his being rescued from personal temptation to sin. While it is true that God does that, I do not think that that fits the context here. Paul was referring to the evil deeds of wicked men. As it turned out, the Lord did not choose to deliver Paul from such evil deeds, although He did deliver Paul through them. We see the same thing in Hebrews 11, where the author chronicles how many were delivered from great trials by faith in God. But without skipping a beat, he also tells how many suffered horrible deaths as they trusted in God (Heb. 11:35-37). In both cases, God still reigned on high. Even if evil people do terrible things to us, we can trust in the sovereign God, whose plans cannot be thwarted.

B. He is the ever-present Lord. Paul writes (4:17), “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me….” Also (4:22), “The Lord be with your spirit.” Whether the Lord actually appeared to Paul or whether he knew in his spirit that the Lord stood with him, I don’t know. But as Hebrews 13:5 assures us, “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” No matter how difficult your circumstances, if your trust is in the living Lord Jesus Christ, His promise is, “I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20).

C. He is the saving Lord. He “will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom” (4:18). Jesus promised (John 6:39), “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me, I lose nothing; but raise it up on the last day.” If by God’s sovereign grace, you have trusted in Christ to save you from your sins, then His promise to you is sure. He won’t lose you on judgment day!

D. He is the glorious Lord. “To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (4:18). As Paul clearly shows in 1 Corinthians 1, you had nothing to do with your salvation. It originated in God’s sovereign choice (three times in 1 Cor. 1:27, 28), “so that no man may boast before God” (1 Cor. 1:29). Since God ordained your salvation before the foundation of the world, since Christ willingly came to save all that the Father had given Him, and since He promises that He will not lose any of those, all praise and glory go unto Him!

E. He is the gracious Lord. Paul’s final written words are, “Grace be with you.” John Stott (Guard the Gospel [IVP], p. 127) says that grace is “the word in which all Paul’s theology is distilled.” The word your in the first half of verse 22 is singular in Greek, but when Paul writes, “Grace be with you,” you is plural. This means that Paul expected us to read Timothy’s mail. God’s grace is for you! He saved you by His grace. He wants you to walk daily by His grace. Because salvation is all of grace, He gets all the glory. Concerning 4:22 and 4:18, Stott observes (ibid.), “It would be difficult to find a better summary than these two sentences of the apostle’s life and ambition. First, he received grace from Christ. Then he returned glory to Christ. ‘From Him grace; to Him glory.’ In all our Christian life and service we should desire no other philosophy than this.” Since we all face the inevitability of death, it is crucial that you share Paul’s commitment to the living Lord Jesus Christ. If He has saved you by His grace, then death will usher you into His glorious presence, where you will glorify Him throughout all eternity!


2 Tim 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Paul had written three years before requesting that someone would come to his defense but no one cared enough to respond. Look at the many people he had won to Jesus. Look at the many people he had ministered to. Look at the many people he had clothed and fed. But in his hour of need seemingly no man cared for his soul.

Matthew 10 : 23 When they persecute you in one town, escape to another. For I assure you: You will not have covered the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 24 A disciple is not above his teacher, or a slave above his master. 25 It is enough for a disciple to become like his teacher and a slave like his master. If they called the head of the house ‘Beelzebul,’ how much more the members of his household!

Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I came to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.37 The person who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; the person who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

There will be times in your life that you will need someone, you’ve been a friend, you’ve loved, you’ve ministered and you’ve been faithful. But in your hour of need you will have to walk alone. Think of Jesus, on the path of Gethsemane , His disciples fell asleep. Surely the heart of the Saviour was broken but He knew he must fulfil the will of the Father.


2 Tim 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Demas had forsaken Paul, Titus was busy ministering, and now Paul asks that no blame be laid to their charge. Paul was willing to forgive and forget, the mark of a great man.

Many times when we feel we have been betrayed, we say, " I’ll get even" but the true mark of the Christian is to forgive. Three sorts of people had forsaken Paul.

(1) The believers there in Rome had not been as helpful as they could and should have been.

It was a tense time, when Nero was torturing and killing Christians. To testify in court on Paul’s behalf would have been extremely dangerous, if not deadly. So at his preliminary hearing, no one stood with him. I don’t know where Luke was; perhaps he had not yet arrived at Paul’s side. But Paul is patient with their weakness, graciously echoing the words of Jesus, “may it not be counted against them.”

I cannot honestly say that I would be willing to step forward as a martyr if I had the chance to hide. It would require God’s special grace to give me such courage. But I know that I will never take such a stand if I am unwilling to be bold for the gospel in situations of lesser consequences. If I don’t speak out for Christ just to save myself a little embarrassment, then I won’t speak out for Him when my life is on the line.

(2) Then there was Alexander, who was superficially committed, but in reality opposed to the cause of Christ. Paul warns Timothy about Alexander the coppersmith, who had done him much harm. Perhaps as Timothy traveled to be with Paul, he would be passing through the city where Alexander lived.

It may have been Troas, where Paul’s coat and books were left behind, perhaps when he was suddenly arrested. Alexander was a common name, so we don’t know if this is the same man that Paul had delivered over to Satan (1 Tim. 1:20). But it is likely that he had professed to be a believer, but he had turned against Paul, vigorously opposed his teaching, and had informed the Roman authorities about him, leading to his arrest. The best manuscripts of 4:14 read, “the Lord will repay him according to his deeds,” not (as KJV), “may the Lord repay him.” Paul was stating a fact, not calling down a curse on him. The fact of God’s judgment of the wicked is a source of comfort and even joy for God’s persecuted people (Rev. 18:20). Calvin points out that it was not personal revenge that led Paul to say those words, but rather his love for God’s truth. Alexander had opposed Paul’s teaching, and Paul knew that such opposition to the truth would cause great spiritual damage to many people. There are people who join the church for anticipated benefits. When the truth confronts their sinful motives, they become dangerous enemies, like Alexander, who cause much harm. Beware of a superficial commitment to the cause of Christ, when really your motive is just to get something for yourself!

(3) Demas was formerly committed, but deserted the cause of Christ for the world. Paul was probably more disappointed over Demas than with any of the others. When he had written to Philemon (v. 24) a few years before, Paul included Demas among his “fellow workers.” He had been a part of Paul’s team (see also, Col. 4:14). But now, when identifying with the apostle may have meant death, Demas had deserted him. Rather than loving the Lord’s appearing (4:8), Demas had loved this present world. Paul was left shivering without even a warm coat, while Demas took off to pursue “the good life.” We don’t know whether Demas later came to his senses and, like Peter after his denials, repented.


2 Tim 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.

Paul had won many converts to Christ and he knew that if he did not go on many would follow in his footsteps. He didn’t want to be a stumbling block. So many times I have seen many retreat and return to the world and watch as young Christians are hurt and disappointed , soon they follow in their steps.

4:11: “Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” The NIV puts it, “he is helpful to me in my ministry.” In your ministry? Paul, don’t you ever quit? No! Look at 4:16-17: At Paul’s preliminary hearing, none of the Roman Christians were willing to risk their necks to stand with him. If there was ever a time for a man to think about saving his own skin, this was it. Surely, Paul would not say anything to endanger his case! Yet here he is, proclaiming the gospel in the Roman court, “that all the Gentiles might hear.” Stott (p. 125) observes, “If ever there was a sermon preached ‘out of season,’ this was it!” God graciously delivered him from death at that hearing (“the lion’s mouth” is probably a general expression for death; Roman citizens were not thrown to the lions in the stadium). We can apply this by realizing that whatever circumstances God puts us in, no matter how difficult, are an opportunity for proclaiming the gospel. As long as we are mentally able, if we end up in the hospital or a nursing home, it’s a new audience to tell about Christ.

A young preacher was leaving his church for a new work. Someone said, "preacher I guess you are packing". The preacher said that he had only a few things to pack into boxes. Then this person said, "there is on thing that you will not be able to pack and you will have to leave it behind." "What is that", the preacher asked. "Your influence".

Paul was not a Lone Ranger. These verses brim with the names of Paul’s fellow-workers in the cause of Christ. Timothy is foremost, of course. But also there is Crescens (4:10). This is all that we know of him, but he was faithful enough for Paul to send him to minister in the difficult Galatian region. Titus, another faithful man, had finished his assignment on Crete and now was off to Dalmatia (the Balkan area).

Luke, ever faithful, was by Paul’s side, probably taking down this letter. Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark with him. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but had deserted them and returned home. Later, Barnabas, who was Mark’s cousin, wanted to give him another try, but Paul adamantly refused, leading to a split between the two great missionaries. So Barnabas had taken Mark and gone to Cyprus. His patient encouragement with Mark had paid off. Now Paul wants Mark to be with him as he faces the end. Tychicus (4:12) probably delivered this letter to Timothy and stayed on in Ephesus as his replacement (“sent” may be translated, “am sending”). Carpus (4:13) was Paul’s host in Troas, perhaps where he had been arrested. Prisca and Aquila (4:19) were Paul’s fellow tentmakers, who often hosted the church in their homes. Paul greets the household of Onesiphorus (see 1:15-18), who either had not yet returned home after visiting Paul in Rome, or who may have lost his life ministering to the apostle in his imprisonment. Erastus (4:20) was the city treasurer of Corinth. Trophimus (4:20) was a Gentile native of Ephesus. He was with Paul in Jerusalem, when Paul’s enemies falsely accused him of bringing a Gentile into the temple, leading to Paul’s arrest.

Paul sends greetings (4:21) from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia, along with all the brethren in Rome. Irenaeus and Eusebius mention a Linus who was the first bishop of Rome after the deaths of Paul and Peter (Stott, p. 118). Tacitus, the Roman historian, mentions a Roman noble named Pudens who married a British princess named Claudia (William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Westminster Press], rev. ed., pp. 222-223). If these are the same people, then we have here a link to British Christianity. Paul was not a loner. He was committed to the cause of Christ with many others, and they labored together.


2 Tim 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Paul knew somewhere in his heart that heaven would be worth it all. The day of great exchange:

LONELINESS TO LIGHT Rev 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.

Rev 7:15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

SADNESS TO SATISFACTION 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;

HURTS TO HALLELUJAHS and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying

DESPERATION TO DELIGHT neither shall there be any more pain:

HIS CROSS FOR A CROWN, for the former things are passed away.

2 Tim 4:7




27    "Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.

28    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

29    Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will.

30    But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

31    Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

32    "Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.

33    But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

34    "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.

35    For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';

36    and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'

37    He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

38    And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

39    He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.


It is a wonderful thing to see when many people respond to the appeals of an enthusiastic evangelist, but sometimes all that glitters is not gold! Converts are counted! But do all the converts continue? No, with some the fall out rate is pretty high! It's not the number of decision cards signed, nor by the kids gathering at the front of the stage. True converts are seen when they in turn try and win others to Christ a year later, two years later 20 years later and more.

Ivor Powell wrote, "The disciples were to go forth into the highways and byways of life preaching this message, and constantly were to watch for four things:
(1) Contrition, (2) Conversion, (3) Confession, (4) Consecration. If any one of these important features were not seen in the life of the convert, then his profession of faith was suspect. Contrition without confession only led to continuing misery. Conversion which did not produce consecration, could be as meaningless as the acceptance of dead dogma. Conversion meant turning from something to Someone, and if the professed convert did not desire to serve the Lord, then, obviously, there was something wrong, either with his eyesight, or with his soul. Good works would never be sufficient unless they were preceded by repentance and regeneration. The entire gospel preached by the disciples revolved around these facets of truth, and even today the same spiritual laws apply."

The coming of Christ stirred the hearts of Israel as they had never previously been stirred, and from all parts of the country crowds rushed to hear the new Teacher. Every miracle gave promise of greater things to come, and the fact that He gave peace to innumerable sufferers, seemed to guarantee that soon He would be able to bring peace to the troubled nation. Then to the consternation of His followers, He said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother... .And a man's foes shall be they of his own household" (vv. 35,36).

I. The Courage to Confess Him (V32-33)

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven (vv. 32-33).
This probably is one of the most potent of all the sayings of Christ. The disciples were to preach the gospel but, always, the Lord should be the theme of their message. Everything should revolve around Him. Men's moral character; church affiliation and reputation might be important, but these would have little influence upon eternal values. Every listener was to be confronted with Jesus of Nazareth. His words were to be of preeminent importance; His Cross the gateway to a new life; His gift of salvation was either to be accepted or rejected. Men had to be informed that, as they treated the Son of God, so would they be judged when they appeared before God. The salvation of their souls was of paramount importance; it would affect their eternal existence. If they truly confessed the Savior, then He would confess them; if they rejected Him, they had no hope for eternity. That precisely was His message, and it matters not how theologians and others might dilute the message; that was, and still is, the message given by Christ. He described two decisions and two destinies, either irrevocably connected with the other. The message that the Lord Jesus is giving is the same that Paul endorses in Romans 10. This is not another gospel, Some people think, well Paul sways I am saved by faith and Jesus says I am saved by confessing! Listen to what the apostle Paul said in Romans 10. This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame.

He is saying that the faith that saves always wants to confess. It always wants to own up and tell others that Jesus Christ is their Saviour and Lord. There is no such thing as secret service saints! No SSS! There are no undercover Christians! A person either owns Jesus Christ as theor Saviour and Lord or they don't. Have you owned Him cheerfully, fully, lovingly? Are you grateful that the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you? One way you tell others is by owning Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord publicly through believer's baptism. That is one place where we tell the world that we are Christians! If you haven't publicly testified to Him that way, why not arrange to do so today! The sooner the better!


II. The Courage To Contend For Him

35    For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';

36    and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'

37    He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

''For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother" (v.35a), and we might add "a friend against his friend.'' The incoming of the gospel message leads to a complete transformation in the outlook of men. The convert's former associates will probably misunderstand his motives; they might even persecute him in his new faith. In order to follow the Lord Jesus, the Christian may have to renounce his old delights and forsake many of his former friends. The business man may find it necessary to revise all his ideas about how business is to be conducted. The husband who comes to know the Lord may be despised by his wife, for his over religiosity. Parents may feel their children have become part of a cult, because they no longer go out drinking, but prefer to go to Bible study instead. My parents were greatly concerned when I stopped going surfing Sunday's with them to go to church instead. I remember talking with my grandmother one day after she came to know the Lord, about a family meeting that was held to kick me out of the family for choosing to go to Bible College. The vote went three to one for kicking me out. Amazingly, she said, my dad voted for me to stay in the family! "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace" (16:33). But He qualified both of those promises, explaining in the first instance, not as the world gives, do I give [peace] to you" (14:27,), and in the second, "In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (16:31,).

At the second coming of Christ a perfect kingdom of peace on earth will be established, ushered in and sovereignly sustained by the Prince of Peace. But for now, during the interval between His two comings, the gospel that brings inner peace to those who believe will also be the cause of their being misunderstood, maligned, and mistreated by those who do not believe—including those nearest and dearest to them. The most heart-rending divisions are always among those who are closest to us. Nowhere can feelings be hurt more deeply than in the home.

Because the intervention in history by the Son of God was going to split and fracture human relationships, Jesus determined that His disciples be prepared for that experience. Martin Luther said, "If our gospel were received in peace, it would not be the true gospel." Luther's preaching and teaching produced the greatest rift in the history of religion, challenging the unbiblical teachings and practices of the Catholic Church and shattering its millennium of complacency and political power.

Becoming a Christian requires affirming the lordship of Christ to the point where you are willing to forsake everything else. It is not simply raising a hand, signing a card, or walking down an aisle and declaring love for Jesus. Salvation is by faith alone, apart from any works at all; but faith that is genuine will be manifested in a commitment that cannot be swayed by any influence. The Christian is to love his family with self-sacrificing love. Christian husbands and wives are to love each other and their children with unreserved devotion. Christian children are to love, respect, and care for their parents as unto the Lord. But a believer's commitment to Christ is so profound and far-reaching that any relationship that endangers that relationship must be sacrificed if necessary.

I discussed this at length on Friday with Vince Wall. He spoke of what it cost him in his family life to depart from the Catholic church, the church of his family, to stand out for Jesus Christ. It can cost you too!

John Bunyan was told to quit preaching or be thrown in prison. He knew that if he went to prison his wife and children would be left destitute. They had little enough to eat and wear when he was free; but if he were imprisoned they would be totally impoverished. Yet he knew he must preach the gospel God had called him to preach. Because he refused to stop preaching, he was imprisoned; and from his cell he wrote,

The parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the flesh from my bones; and that not only because I am somewhat too fond of these great mercies, but also because I would have often brought to my mind the many hardships, miseries, and wants that my poor family was like to meet with, should I be taken from them, especially my poor blind child, who lay nearer my heart than all I have besides. Oh, the thought of the hardship I thought my blind one might go under would break my heart pieces. But yet, recalling myself I thought I must venture all with God, though it goeth to the quick to leave you. Oh, I saw in this condition I was a man who was pulling down his house upon the head of his wife and children; yet thought I, I must do it. I must do it.

When Hugh Latimer was preaching one day in the presence of King Henry VIII, he reports that he said to himself, "Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the king is here; be careful what you say." Then he said to himself, "Latimer! Latimer! Remember that the King of kings is here; be careful what you do not say." For such unflinching faithfulness Latimer was eventually burned at the stake. But He feared failing God more than he feared offending men.
Over a period of some 300 years of terrible persecution, ten generations of Christians dug nearly 600 miles of catacombs beneath and around the city of Rome. Archaeologists estimate that perhaps a total of 4 million bodies were buried there. A common inscription found in the catacombs is the sign of the fish, the Greek word for which (ichthus) was used as an acrostic for "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." Another common inscription found there is "The Word of God is not bound." During the most prolonged period of persecution in the history of the church, those believers revered God more than they feared man. Since that day, many more millions have given their lives for the cause of Christ. Perhaps as many as 50 million believers were martyred during the Dark Ages, and millions more have been martyred in our own century, largely by communist regimes in Europe, Asia, and Africa. As is said of Lord Lawrence on his memorial in Westminster Abbey, they feared man so little because they feared God so much.

III. The Faith To Forfeit For Him

38    And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

39    He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.


Jesus requires superior love. In comparison to Christ, we hate the people we love.

This changes our perspective.

Matthew 16:24 (NKJV) "Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'" In Luke's account, a little word is added. Luke 9:23 (NKJV) "Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'" It is amazing how people misunderstand this passage. Many see painful and uncomfortable circumstances as their cross. "This bad back is just the cross I have to bear." "My mean husband is the cross I have to bear". That is not what Jesus meant.

Jesus requires exclusive loyalty. Through the cross of Christ, we die to the life we live.

This changes our priorities.

The cross He spoke of was one that was voluntarily picked up. In the New Testament context, a cross meant one thing only: death! Just a few years before Jesus spoke these words, a zealot named Judas led a revolt against the Roman occupation forces and the Roman General Varus ordered the crucifixion of 2000 Jews. The crosses lined the roads of Galilee for all to see. When Jesus spoke of taking up the cross, the original hearers knew immediately that He was referring to their death. What exactly was Jesus referring to when He said that He expected every one of His disciples to take up their cross? It had one meaning on that side of His crucifixion and it has an additional meaning on this side of Jesus' crucifixion. First, it means that we must be willing to follow Him to physical death. Do you have that kind of commitment to Christ – a commitment that you are willing to die? Church history is filled with people who chose death in following Christ. Even today, many of our missionaries are putting their physical lives on the line to obey God's appointment sending them to dangerous places to make disciples of every people group. Instead of putting their own safety and comfort first, they lose their life daily to glorify their Savior and calling out that general call to those who do not know Him to come to Him. In many countries today, believers are risking imprisonment and death just to gather together with other believers to worship.

Florence Nightingale wrote in her diary: "I am thirty years of age, the age at which Christ began His mission. Now, no more childish things, no more vain things." Years later, near the end of her heroic life of service, she was asked the secret of her ability to accomplish so much for the Lord. She replied, "I can give only one explanation, and that is this: I have kept nothing back from God." That is exactly what Jesus is talking about in this passage—keeping nothing back from Him.

Jesus requires total loss. For the cause of Christ, we give up everything we have.

This changes our possessions.

When the famous surgeon Howard A. Kelly graduated from medical school he wrote in his diary: "Today I dedicate myself, my time, my capabilities, my ambition, everything to Him. Blessed Lord, sanctify me to Thy uses; give me no worldly success which may not lead me nearer to my Saviour."

Jesus is supremely loving. He is worthy!

Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows. (10:29-31)
Jesus assures the twelve, and every person who would ever trust in Him, that they are dear to their heavenly Father. With divine intimacy and intensity the Lord loves and cherishes those who belong to Him, and He will not allow any permanent harm come to them.
An assarion (cent) was the smallest coin in circulation in Jesus' day and was worth one-sixteenth of a denarius, the average daily wage for a laborer. One such cent would buy two sparrows, which were as common and relatively valueless in New Testament times as they are today. Roasted sparrows were often served as cheap finger food, as a type of appetizer or hors d'oeuvre.
Yet not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from your Father, Jesus says. This most insignificant of little birds cannot even fall without God's knowledge. In some Greek usages, the word for fall is translated as "hop"—in which case a little sparrow cannot even hop on the ground without God's knowledge!
Jesus is supremely loyal. He will be faithful!

Jesus sacrificed the supreme loss. He is our reward !

Soon after graduating from college, Jim Elliot wrote in his diary: "God, I pray Thee, light these idle sticks of my life that I may burn for Thee. Consume my life, my God, for it is Thine. I seek not a long life but a full one like You, Lord Jesus." God answered that prayer, and in the flower of young manhood Jim Elliot's life was cut short by the spear of an Auca Indian is he and several other ynLlflf', iieil 'oti',lit I the gospel deep into the jungles of Ecuador.
Jonathan Edwards, the great preacher and theologian whom God used to bring revival to colonial America, wrote:
I claim no right to myself, no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me. Neither do I have any right to this body or its members, no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears or eyes. I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own. I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him, I have given every power so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect. I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace 1 will not fail. I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness. His law is the constant rule of my obedience. I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh and the devil to the end of my life. I will adhere to the faith of the gospel however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be. I pray God for the sake of others to look on this as self-dedication. Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own. I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business. If I murmur in the least at affliction, if I am in any way uncharitable, if I revenge my own case, if I do anything purely to please myself or omit anything because it is a great denial, if I trust myself, if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me, or if I am in any way proud, l shall act as my own and not God's. But I purpose to be absolutely His.

G.D.Watson (1845-1924) was a Wesleyan Methodist minister and evangelist based in Los Angeles. His evangelistic campaigns took him to England, the West Indies, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Korea.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
(Matthew 16:24-25)
If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.
Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.
The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.
God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.
So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.
God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.

Monday, May 04, 2009


2 Timothy 4:1-8 How To Finish Well


1. I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:

2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;

4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.

5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

I guess in a worldly way we were all somewhat gratified by the agreement of the CEO of Macquarie Bank to take a pay cut this year.

2006 “Macquarie Bank Ltd bosses remain the highest paid in Australia, taking home a massive $143 million in total last financial year with chief executive Allan Moss himself receiving $21.2 million.”

SYDNEY, May 1, 2009 (AFP) - The chief executive of Australia's largest investment bank, Macquarie Group, has taken a 99 percent pay cut after its annual profit plunged by more than half, the bank revealed Friday. The move came as the bank, once dubbed the "millionaire's factory," posted a massive 52 percent drop in profit to 871 million Australian dollars (947 million Singapore dollars), Macquarie's first profit drop in 17 years. Chief Executive Nicholas Moore saw his full year remuneration for fiscal year to March 2009 drop to 290,756 Australian dollars (210,885 US) from 26.75 million the previous year, figures released by the bank showed.

He reduced his wage to a mere $200,000, because he hadn’t performed well in investing for the bank. At least we could see he was concerned to do what was right, now that his wage was under the scrutiny of the nation as we face economic meltdown and recession.

Your life will be under scrutiny.

The apostle Paul is facing death. He is facing appearing before the Judgement seat of Christ. He ahs to consider what is really important right now in the light of stepping into eternity.

The apostle Paul has in the previous few chapters told us about the terrible days of apostasy that would come upon the world before the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. His statements about the moral declension in the church and the false teachings that would abound have seriously come to pass in our day with greater magnitude than any other time in history.

Today the Western church , protestant churches, are at a crossroads.

There has been a rise in secularism and atheism in our Australian society.

The church has never fared worse in Australia than it is right now.

Paul has already told us that there is only one solution, the Word of God. You and I need the Word of God.

We need the Word of God because It alone points us to true salvation.

2 Timothy 3:15  and that from childhood you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
We need the Word of God because It alone establishes us as Christians.

16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,

We need the Word of God because It alone completes us and makes us adequate for all of life’s trials.
17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Now Paul is going to tell us how important it is to do what is important. How do you know what is important? The bottom line is that in a world that is saling to hell we must do the important thing. We must finish well!

1. Finish Well By Doing What Counts.

When people file out after church, they sometimes say things to their pastors that they probably didn’t intend to come out that way. Here are a few that pastors have heard:

“Pastor, you always manage to find something to fill up the time.”

“I don’t care what they say, I like your sermons.”

“If I’d known you were going to be good today, I’d have brought a neighbour.”

“We shouldn’t make you preach so often.”

“Pastor, every week you’re better than next week.”

Preaching has fallen on hard times. Even many pastors do not believe in the relevancy of preaching in our TV age, where people have developed shorter attention spans. They contend that we ought to abandon doctrinal sermons in favour of more emotional forms of communication, such as drama and storytelling.

I'll be the first to admit that a lot of preachers are boring and irrelevant. Listening to their sermons is a lot like P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster described listening to a violin solo: “It was loud in spots and less loud in other spots, and it had that quality which I have noticed in all violin solos, of seeming to last much longer than it actually did.”

J. I. Packer who wrote (A Quest for Godliness [Crossway Books], p. 282), “We shall never perform a more important task than preaching. If we are not willing to give time to sermon preparation, we are not fit to preach, and have no business in the ministry at all.” He argues (p. 281) that “the well-being of the church today depends in large measure on a revival of preaching in the Puritan vein. He says (p. 283), “... to the Puritan, faithful preaching was the basic ingredient in faithful pastoring.”

Preaching the Word and hearing the Word are essential for God's people.

These words are important enough as they stand, but they take on more weight when you realize that they are Paul's final charge to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. Paul could not have emphasized the essential nature of preaching any more strongly: “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word ....” (2 Tim. 4:1-2a).

It follows, of course, that if preaching the Word is so important, then hearing the Word preached is also top priority, because a man does not preach to himself. It also reminds us that in many ways we are all involved in this precious work , and we all are preachers.

The famous preacher, Dr. Campbell Morgan, has four sons, all preachers. The story is told that, on one occasion, the whole of the family was at home when a friend called. They made room for him in the circle round the fireside. There at one end was the Doctor himself; at the other, Mrs. Morgan; in between, the four sons, and the friend. Presently, in the course of the conversation, the visitor turned to one of the sons and said, "Howard, who is the best preacher in your family?" All eyes turned in the Doctor's direction, for it would certainly be he that would get the crown! But Howard surprised them all by looking to the opposite corner, and saying, as if there could be no second opinion, "Why, Mother, of course!" She was the one member of the family that wasn't a preacher, and she was the best preacher of them all!

Why preach?

The Word should be preached because of the serious issues at stake.

The word translated “solemnly charge” (1 Tim. 5:21; 2 Tim. 2:14) has a legal nuance: Paul is calling Timothy in front of God's judicial bench and charging him under oath with the awesome task of proclaiming God's Word to those who also will someday stand in front of that bench for judgment by Christ Jesus who will return to reign over all.

There is the serious issue of Judgement.

The verb “is” (before “to judge”) literally means, “is about to.” It imparts the urgency of the task. The day is soon coming when Christ will return. He came the first time as the suffering Savior to redeem us from our sins. But the second time He will come as the Sovereign King, to put down all rebellion and to judge the living and the dead. That includes you may be hovering somewhere between those two realms. Although as believers in Christ, we will not face condemnation, we all will stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).

This means that life is a serious matter. Every human being must someday stand before the living God to give an account of his or her life. The Word of God tells us how to live so that we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.” Preaching is important because of the seriousness of this fact.

Christ will appear and set up His kingdom. The word “appear” was used of the Emperor's visit to a province or town. Just before his visit, things were put in perfect order. The garbage was cleaned up, the streets were swept and the buildings were scrubbed clean for his appearing.

There is the serious issue of Scripture.

Scripture gives us “the wisdom that leads to salvation” and equips us for every good work (3:15-17). Scripture reveals to us “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3). If a man doesn't explain and apply Scripture, his preaching may be entertaining and inspirational; but it will lack life-changing power.

There is the Serious Issue Of Salvation.

Romans 10: 9 if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation. 11 Now the Scripture says, No one who believes on Him will be put to shame, 12 for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

14 But how can they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How welcome are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

Picture a paramedic unit on call, ready to save someone’s life. Souls are perishing without Christ. Christians are straying from the fold. Proclaim God's Word whenever and wherever you can!

To do this, a preacher must make an appeal to the reason of the hearers: “Reprove.” The word is a legal term that means to present your case in such a manner as to convince your opponent of his wrong. A preacher must not simply give an emotional harangue. He must present his case in a logically convincing manner from the Word so that his hearers are persuaded that what it is saying is right even when their behavior is wrong. The Holy Spirit’s task is to reprove (= convict) the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). He does this largely through Spirit-filled biblical preaching.

Second, a preacher must make an appeal to the conscience of the hearers: “Rebuke.” This moral aspect of preaching says, “You are wrong; you need to repent!” We tend not to like that sort of thing, but it is desperately needed in our day of watered-down, feel good Christianity. William Barclay was right when he wrote (The Daily Study Bible [Westminster Press], p. 207): “Any teacher ... whose teaching tends to make men think less of sin is a menace to Christianity and to mankind.”

Third, a preacher must make an appeal to the will and emotions of the hearers: “Exhort.” The word has the nuance of encouraging someone to right behavior. Some people need rebuke and some need encouragement. If you encourage those who need rebuking, you assist them to go on sinning. But if you rebuke those who need encouragement, you'll discourage them. Someone has said that the preacher’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Only the Holy Spirit can take the Word and apply it individually to a congregation made up of all sorts of needs.

There is the Serious Issue Of Deception

Paul warns Timothy that the time will come when people in the church is the implication) will not endure sound doctrine, but rather, wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate (lit., “heap up”) teachers in accordance to their own desires. They will find teachers who tell them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear.

“Sound doctrine” is one of Paul's frequent themes in the pastoral epistles (1 Tim. 1:10 whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching ; 2 Tim. 4:3; Titus 1:9 holding to the faithful message as taught, so that he will be able both to encourage with sound teaching and to refute those who contradict it.

2:1 But you must speak what is consistent with sound teaching.

“sound words” in 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13 Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

“Sound” means healthy (we derive our word “hygienic” from it). Sound teaching results in healthy Christian living. Note that such healthy teaching is set in contrast to what people like and thus it must be “endured”! This implies that, like health food, it doesn't always feel good at the moment, because it confronts our selfish desires, but in the long run it yields healthy Christianity.

In 4:4, Paul says that people will turn aside from the truth to myths—the religious ideas of men as opposed to God's revelation in the Word.

2. Finish Well By Presenting Something Complete.

5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

“But you ...” (3:10, 14). It is a pointed reminder that a man of God must go against the flow, even, at times, against the “Christian” flow.

First, “Be sober” (literally, “Don't be drunk”). When people get intoxicated with the latest winds of false doctrine, you’re the designated driver. Keep your head about you and continue preaching the truth.

Don’t let your ministry become incomplete through indolence.

Second, “Endure hardship.” If you preach the truth of God’s Word, you will catch flak. Harry Ironside said that he occasionally received letters from people in his congregation (invariably people he didn’t know personally) who would say, “I don't like your preaching; and I don't think you had any right to expose me in the way you did. I don't know who has been talking to you about me.” And they always closed by saying, “It’s not true.” His comment was, “If you throw a stone into a pack of dogs and one of them yelps, you know who got hit.”

Daniel Niles, once shared-a story about a young missionary couple who labored long and hard for in the midst of a rather primitive tribe in the New Hebrides Islands.

For months and even years there were no visible results until...finally, one day, one family became Christians. Now it seemed that the future of their whole ministry to that tribe rested on the future of that one family. But what should happen? The child in that very family contracted a horrible disease.

As you can imagine, the parents prayed desperately for the recovery of that child. They brought him to the missionaries and the missionaries prayed as never before that God would hold back this enemy and show these superstitious people the power of prayer and the Christian faith.

But, nevertheless, the child died. And the missionaries were devastated. They went on with their work as before, but the future success of that mission work just didn't seem very hopeful. They feared that their ministry to that people would just collapse.

But 3 months later, the leader of the tribe came to the missionary hut and said, "We, too, want to become Christians." The missionaries were overfilled with joy, but surprised, really, and wondered, "Why?" "What would lead this chief and his tribe to make this wonderful decision?"

So they asked him. And this is what he said, "We, too, want to have a God that makes us strong to face death. We have never seen death faced the way you and the parents of that boy faced it. We want that strength too."

This morning I told you of the Joseph Tson. This evening think about the first American Foreign Missionary was Adoniram Judson in the late 1700’s. He was a missionary in Burma which is today called Myanmar. He was imprisoned and put in shackles until there were grotesque scars on his wrists and hands. Later, he went before the King to get permission to preach in a certain place. The King said, “I am willing for a dozen preachers to go, but not you. Not with those hands! My people are not such fools as to take note of your preaching, but they will take notice of those scarred hands”. On of the early church Fathers said that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

Don’t let your ministry become incomplete through cowardice.

Third, “Do the work of an evangelist.” Don’t get sidetracked by those in the church who criticize you, but keep going after lost people. Evangelism is the cutting edge of the church’s ministry.

There is nothing more important than seeing a soul saved.

Don’t let your ministry become incomplete through foolishness.

We can get all hung up on things that don’t count. We can get hung up on what the council should or shouldn’t give us. And we can forget the unsaved guests who came to church and not talk to them.

We can get hung up on the secondaries and neglect the primary.

Finally, “Fulfil your ministry.” Paul is saying, “Don’t leave the ministry and go into an easier line of work just because you run into opposition. Fulfil your mission as a preacher of God's truth! Follow me in fighting the good fight so that you will finish the course” (4:7). John Calvin explains, “The more extraordinary the eagerness of wicked men to despise the doctrine of Christ, the more zealous should godly ministers be to defend it, and the more strenuous should be their efforts to preserve it entire; and not only so, but also by their diligence to ward off the attacks of Satan” (Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 255). Stephen Olford, a godly preacher whose father was a missionary, was once about to speak at the English Keswick Convention I understand, when he was called off the platform by an emergency phone call. His mother was on the line and she told him that his father was dying. Stephen told her that he would go back to the meeting and explain the situation. They could make do with someone else, and he would come immediately. But his mother said, “No, your father doesn’t want you to do that. He said, ‘Tell the boy to preach the Word.’”

Preaching the Word and hearing the Word are essential for God’s people.

3. Finish Well By Persevering For The Crown.

Once we know what is important, we should not get discouraged from persevering towards the end of the goal. So often we feel like quitting.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you mut--but don't you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns, As everyone of us sometimes learns,

And many a failure turns about When he might have won had he stuck it out;

Don't give up, though the pace seems slow You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than It seems to a faint and falters man,

Often the struggler has given up, When he might have captured the victor's cup

And he learned too late, when night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out The silver tint to the clouds of doubt

And you never can tell how close you are, It may be near when it seems afar;

So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit. It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit!

The man who once most wisely said, Be sure you're right, then go ahead,

Might as well have added this, to wit: Be sure you're wrong before you quit.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

He pictures death as a religious rite.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and

He pictures death as a release.

the time of my departure is at hand.

He pictures death as a contest.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

And the thing that makes him persevere is the thought of a wreath at the end of it.

8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

It’s the runner’s wreath.

It’s the boxer’s wreath.

Will there be a wreath, a crown for you?

I am thinking today of that beautiful land I shall reach when the sun goeth down;
When through wonderful grace by my Savior I stand, Will there be any stars in my crown?

Refrain Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest Will there be any stars in my crown?

In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray, Let me watch as a winner of souls,
That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day, When His praise like the sea billow rolls.

O what joy it will be when His face I behold, Living gems at his feet to lay down!
It would sweeten my bliss in the city of gold, Should there be any stars in my crown.

Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown When at evening the sun goeth down?
When I wake with the blest in the mansions of rest Will there be any stars in my crown?

I EXPECT you know your Pilgrim's Progress, and will recall that after Pilgrim has passed through the Wicket Gate, and has thus really become a Christian, the very first thing that happens to him is a visit to Interpreter's House. There is so much for him to learn if he is successfully to pursue his journey. And, again, what is the very first thing that is there shown him? He is taken into a room to look upon a picture that hangs on the wall - it is a picture of a preacher. As if John Bunyan would impress upon the new convert that, while he is to become many things, his first responsibility is to be, in some sense, a preacher. Call the presentment up to mind - "eyes lifted to Heaven; the best of books in his hand; the law of truth written upon his lips; the world was behind his back; it stood as if it pleaded with men; and a crown of gold did hang over his head."

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