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Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 1/24/2014
(edited April 2020)
One of the greatest callings of the Christian ministry is to encourage and assist the generation of workers and leaders that are coming along to replace you in the earthly ministry for Christ. Paul sets a great example here in his final charges to Timothy. This is much more than a casual “So Long and Good Luck!”
Verse 1: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”
Eternity is the context for all we do in Jesus’ name. And because of this, just as Christ did, we may find ourselves out of step with the world around us or even the religious sects of our day. But still, Paul says:
Verse 2: “ Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.”
There is no bad time for the Word of God. I have observed that there are many people who will accept God’s Word as part of a funeral, but would be very uncomfortable bringing it up at a party. But the Word is for all of us, all the time. It was meant to be woven into daily life and talked about!
Verses 3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Unfortunately bad religion, false and half-truth religion, are equivalent to no religion at all. The outcomes are the same, and in the end, it is just as evil. But grounded Bible teaching and Bible study are the cures for bad religion.
Verse 5: “But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”
Even living in God’s will and armed with His Word, Paul reminds Timothy, even then your ministry will be tested and challenged. At this time Paul himself was actually under arrest in Rome. His only crime: proclaiming to Gospel to all who would listen.
Verses 6-8: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 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.”
Paul had that eternal perspective and it gave him hope. Though he had both prospered and suffered as a Christian, by the Grace of God, he never surrendered. Halleluiah!
Also, serving the Lord does not mean isolating yourself from everyday life and the people you encounter there. Paul had quite a “gang” of associates. Some treated him very well, some didn’t. So did Jesus. Just look at a painting of the Last Supper. What a crew that was! But Christ stayed engaged with all sorts of people, even at the height of His earthly ministry. And that’s part of any real Christian ministry! I’m so glad Christ wasn’t and isn’t overly choosey about who He reaches out to! Otherwise, to be honest, I would not be here today.
Verses 9-15: “Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry. And Tychicus have I sent to Ephesus. The cloke that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words.”
The Apostle Paul knew all too well that following Christ can be very difficult at times. Yet, Paul is still encouraging and training young Timothy. And we must be careful in our ministries today to remember to keep on functioning, with God’s help, in bad times as well as good times.
Verses 16-18: “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. 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. 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.”
The confidence to associate with others is based on the fact that even if everyone you know were to forsake you at once, as happened to Paul in Rome, you can still rely on the Lord. A great Christian ministry is not measured by the quality of your associates, the money you raise, the books you publish, health, wealth, or your misfortunes, etc. A great Christian life, is great because of the Greatness of the Lord Who stands behind each individual believer.
At my age, you start to realize that we are all flawed and capable of failing each other and the Lord. But even in difficult times and times of weakness, we need to make the effort to maintain our fellowship with each other. Paul confirms this, by example, in his closing remarks:
Verses 19-22: “Salute Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick. Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren. The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.”