Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Wesley Methodist Church Alor Setar

Written by Chan Weng Seng   

Finishing Well by Mr Ch’ng Yeang Boon

2 Timothy 4:1-8

Today we observed “The Call to Ministry” Many of us in the church are already involved in some form of ministry. Some are involved in providing pastoral care, while others are involve in students and children works. Other ministries are in the area of worship as worship leaders, ushers, communion stewards, musician, sound system and even preparing the church service bulletin. While many work behind the scene supporting, praying, giving of money and doing a lot of works that few people notice.

In any church ministry there will be some in the front line preaching, teaching and shepherding the flocks while many would want to stay in the back line doing caring and other supportive role like praying. Ministry like serving the community in the area of the church schools, the church community tuition and medical projects giving their time and energy for the Lord are also important.

But here Paul charged Timothy to do this one very important thing in vs 1-3

I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom. Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction. For there will be a time when people will not tolerate sound teaching.

So whatever ministry or works we maybe doing for God, we need to remind ourselves that we are entrusted with a message to share. Because a time will come when people will not tolerate our message and sound teaching. Jesus himself said to his disciples, work while it is still day when night comes we may not be able to work anymore.

However one thing that we must eventually ask ourselves is “How do we want to be remembered? What do you hope people will say about you after you are gone? How will the people who knew you best, summarize 40 or 50 or 60 or 70 or 80 years of your living?

A man visited the family cemetery for the owners of the 19th-century plantation. He climbed over a low wall and began inspecting the gravestones, most of them 150 years old.

Most of the markers contained phrases like, “Loving father,” “Beloved mother,” “Darling son,” “Rest in Peace,” “Asleep in Jesus,” and so on. Eventually he came to the grave of the man who had owned the plantation for many years. Under his name there was the date of his birth and the date of his death.Then there was a five-word statement that summed up his whole life: “A man of unquestioned integrity.” Just five words. Nothing more, nothing less.Suppose it was our tombstone. What five words would your friends choose for you ? How do we want to be remembered by others?

Here is Paul’s answer to that question. Writing from a Roman jail, with the certain knowledge that he would soon be dead, he looked back at his journey with Christ, and then he looked forward to what would happen after he died. Then he wrote his own epitaph: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8 ).

After an exhaustive study of the men and women of the Bible, Howard Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary concluded that there are approximately 100 detailed biographies in the Bible. He notes that approximately two-thirds of those men and women ended poorly. Either they turned to immorality or they drifted away from the faith or they ended their life in a backslidden condition. The Apostle Paul was not among them. He finished well.

Once when John Wesley was asked to explain the spiritual strength of the early Methodists, he replied, “Our people die well.” But in order to die well, you have to finish well. And tonight our text tells us how that happens. Finishing well doesn’t happen by accident.

John Bingham, “The Penguin”. Serious runners will recognize the name. He has inspired hundreds of thousands of men and women to run for fun, fitness, and self-affirmation. His book, "Marathoning for Mortals", co-authored by Coach Jenny Hadfield, revolutionized long-distance running and walking. Now with another book "Running for Mortals" John and Jenny bring the joy of running to everyone.

Once an overweight man with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham started running. Since then, he has completed 40 marathons races—and developed a whole new outlook. He is both a runner and someone who knows how to motivate others to successfully run marathons. What is his secret? This man used to say this to people “As I stand at the starting line, I know that somewhere out there is a finish line.” That’s a good principle to keep in mind.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, out there somewhere is a finish line for all of us. Most of us probably think the finish line is a few years down the road—maybe ten years or 20 years or 30 years away. For me personally, I don’t know what to expect. If I live as long as my father now, I’ve got at least 26 more years in front of me. If I live longer than my father, I have probably more than that. All I know is, the finish line of life is “out there” somewhere. And it may come sooner for me than I expect. But whether sooner or later, it will come because the Bible said in Hebrews 9:27 “it is appointed unto man once to die”I have an appointment with death. All of us have that appointment with death. We cannot escape that appointment. I don’t know when or where or how, but it’s in God’s book in heaven. That’s one appointment I won’t miss and can’t postpone. As Paul approached his own death, he drew some conclusions about his own life and what would happen next. Based on his words, Iwould like us to think about three questions together.

I. What kind of departure will you have? (v 6)

When Paul says he is being poured out like a drink offering, he is referring to an Old Testament ritual that accompanied certain sacrifices. The Law mandated that when a worshiper brought an offering, part of it was consumed upon the altar and part was given to the priest for his own use. When the offering was consumed by fire, the worshiper would sometimes pour a “drink offering” of wine upon the burning sacrifice. All the wine was to be poured out. None was to be given to the priest. As the wine hit the burning coals, it evaporated and a sweet smell rose from the altar. Keep in mind that wine was a symbol of joy in the Old Testament. The drink offering was a symbolic way of saying, “I gladly give all that I have to the Lord. This sacrifice that I offer is given as a symbol of my wholehearted commitment to God. Nothing is held back. All that I have, I gladly give to my God.” Paul knew that his death was close at hand. He was on death row in Rome and he would never be set free. By speaking of his death as a “drink offering,” he was saying to Timothy, “When you hear of my death, don’t think that Nero has executed me against my will. I gladly lay down my life for my Lord. Nero cannot take my life; I gladly offer it to Christ. My own blood will be like the wine of the drink offering, gladly given to the One who loved me and gave himself for me.” It was Paul’s way of saying, “Don’t weep for me, Timothy. Know this: When I die, I will die smiling.” Paul had already given everything to Jesus. The only thing left to give was his life—and that he gladly gave.

The word “departure” in verse 6 has three word pictures behind it. It refers to a ship hoisting the anchor, raising the sails, leaving the harbour, and setting sail for a distant port.

It also refers to an army that has made camp near a battlefield. To “depart” means to break camp, leave the battlefield, and head for home. It also pictures a man who has been carrying a staggering burden. Now the call comes, “My friend lay your burden down. It’s time to come home.” For Paul, death was like setting sail, breaking camp, laying down his heavy burden, and finally going home to be with the Lord. Was Paul afraid to die? Not at all. Written over his whole life these two words: NO REGRETS. Since he had no regrets, he viewed his death as simply going home to be with the Lord. What kind of departure will you have? Do you have that same confidence about your own death? You can face death with that cheerful faith if you will do what Paul did—offer your life as a “living sacrifice” to the Lord with nothing held back.

II What kind of legacy will you leave? (v. 7)

Billy Sunday, though many people do not know his name, in the first half of the 20th century, he was America’s greatest evangelist—preaching face to face to over 100 million people. He personally shook hands with over one million people who give their heart to Jesus. Engraved on his tombstone are the words of 2 Timothy 4:7 in the King James Version: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” This was the legacy he left behind.

Paul too left a legacy for all of us to see.

First, he lived a disciplined life. “I fought the good fight.” This speaks to the continual struggle that he faced. Think of the words Paul used to describe his own life: trouble, distress, tribulation, trials, and hardships.

In 2 Corinthians 6:4-5 , he described the normal Christian life as including these elements:

But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger

In other passages he spoke of the spiritual opposition he faced—Satan, the forces of darkness, the indwelling power of the flesh, and the spiritual darkness of paganism.

Whatever else can we say about Paul? We can’t say he had an easy life. He never stopped fighting for Jesus until the day he died. Now at last, the struggle is almost over.

Soon his Commander-in-Chief will grant him an Honourable Discharge from the battles of life. He will be promoted from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. By God’s grace, he had fought well and for him, the battle would soon be over.

Second, he lived a directional life. “I have finished my course.” We must not read and think that Paul means, “I did what I wanted to do.”He is not like Frank Sinatra singing, “I did it my way.” Paul means that he followed the course the Lord Jesus set out for him the day he saved him on the road to Damascus. Ever since that day, he had been following the Lord, doing whatever the Lord had for him to do. Whether in good times or bad times, whether in happy circumstances or in the midst of pain and suffering, Paul had walked in the way of the Lord. Now that journey was almost over. He could look back and say, “It wasn’t easy, it was often hard, and sometimes I wondered if I would make it, but now I can see that Jesus led me all the way.” He had reached the finish line at last.

I read about a professor at a Christian college, who along with his son, went on a 1,000-mile backpacking trip from British Columbia to southern California. Together father and son hiked through the mountains of Washington, Oregon and California.

For many days they were alone on the trail, often camping above the 10,000-foot level. They faced every sort of discouragement—lack of food and water, danger from wild animals, danger from robbers they might meet, days of rain and mud, incredible physical exhaustion, the very real possibility of physical injury, not to speak of loneliness, blisters, mosquitoes, and the extremes of heat and cold. Before leaving on the trip, the professor discovered that over 90% of those who set out to hike more than 500 miles never make it. Fifty percent never get started and 40% quit after they start. Only 10% ever finish a long-distance hike. After studying the 10% who succeed, he came to certain conclusions.Some of it involved strenuous training and meticulous logistical preparation. But there was something else involved. He discovered that those who succeeded versus those who failed understood that the biggest block was mental.They knew that their real enemy lay within, not without. Those who succeeded make two important decisions: First, they decided they would finish the trip no matter what happened, and second, they expected bad things to happen and decided they would not be surprised or dismayed. So when the rains turned the trail into a swamp, they didn’t quit because they weren’t surprised. When black clouds of mosquitoes descended like some Old Testament plague, they didn’t quit because they weren’t surprised.

When they faced days of loneliness and nights of hunger, they didn’t quit because they knew it would be like this.In essence, the successful backpackers adopted a certain mindset. They knew that the key was simply putting one foot in front of the other. You take a step and hit the mud. You take another step and see a bear. You take another step and your legs begin to cramp. You take another step and the crazy people come out of the woods. It doesn’t matter. You aren’t surprised because you knew the crazy people would show up sooner or later. So you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually your journey is finished.

I believe this was Paul’s approach to the Christian life. No matter what happened to him, he just kept moving forward by the grace of God. One foot in front of the other, one step at a time, one day at a time. He wasn’t deterred by opposition because he knew it was coming eventually. Our problem is that we’re surprised by trouble. We think the Christian life ought to be easy. It’s not easy, and it’s not supposed to be easy. Today is the day of struggle, combat and warfare. Today we march to battle in the name of the Lord. The day of rest comes later.

Third, he lived a doctrinal life. “I have kept the faith.” This simply means he refused to compromise the truth. When other people fell away, Paul preached the Word. When the world was against him, Paul paid no attention. When it would have been easy to trim his message to save his own life, Paul proclaimed the whole counsel of God. He did not back down, he did not compromise, and he would not preach what people wanted to hear. He kept the faith. Because Paul knew that nothing could touch him that did not come from the hand of God, he never gave in to discouragement. He truly believed that everything that happened to him was for his good and for God’s glory. Therefore, he kept on going for God to the very end. Even the chains of a Roman jail could not destroy his faith or shatter his confidence in God.

He never stopped fighting! He never stopped running! He never stopped believing!

III. What kind of reward will you receive? (v. 8)

“Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8 ).

Here we see Paul’s faith shining so brightly that the darkness of the Roman prison cell seems to disappear. By faith he sees beyond his own beheading. The pain of that moment is now past and the suffering of this life is left far behind. By faith he sees a day (“that day”) when he will receive his reward from the Lord. What will that reward be like? It will be a guaranteed reward. It is “laid up” or “stored” in heaven for Paul.

It will be a glorious reward. It is the crown of righteousness.

It will be a personal reward. Paul will receive his reward from the Lord himself. Note how specific he is about this. It is the Lord, the righteous Judge, who will reward him.

In just a few days Nero, the unrighteous earthly ruler, will have him beheaded. But in “that day” the Lord himself will reverse Nero’s earthly judgment.The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Universe will weigh in on Paul’s case—and his judgment will be final. And it will be personal. Paul won’t be awarded his crown by mail and he won’t receive it from a committee. He will receive it directly from Jesus Christ.

It will be a future reward. Paul will receive his reward on “that day,” the day Jesus Christ returns from heaven.

It will be a shared reward. It is not just for Paul but also for everyone who loves the Lord and longs for his appearing.This is what is ahead for you and me if we will faithfully serve Jesus Christ in this life. Let us be encouraged like a child of God.

The Lord is not so unjust as to forget your suffering for him. He sees all that you go through. He knows all about your struggles. He sees how hard the fight is, how you are sometimes tempted to quit, and how you keep on going when others around you throw in the towel. He sees and he knows and in “that day,” the Lord himself will reward us if we are faithful to him now. So the word of Lord is this: Keep on fighting. Keep on running. Keep on believing. And the best of all is yet to come. It won’t be long now, just a little while and the Lord himself will return, and all our struggles will be over.This hot battle won’t last forever, this long road will soon come to an end, and this old world full of “dangers, toils and snares” won’t last much longer. Hold on to your faith, we as children of God. Keep believing. Stay strong. Put on the whole armour of God. Hold on to your faith and never give up. There’s a finish line out there somewhere, and it’s closer than any of us realize.

We need to Finish Strong! We need to Finish Well! We need to Finish in Faith

By the grace of God, let’s finish strong for Jesus.

Tonight we observe Call to Ministry Sunday… We may not be called into full time ministry like pastor but we definitely are call into some form of ministry for the Lord to serve Him in the church. Brothers and sisters-in Christ, our church is a very small church with about 100 memberships. But God’s ministries for this church are plentiful. Many people have worked hard without complain because they know the rewards ultimately comes from God himself.

The church needs you to serve in the Church School, youth, community tuition, medical project, Chinese service and even in the LCEC. If tonight the message has speak to you tell pastor what ministry you want to get involved. In fact every one of us is welcome to serve in the LCEC. The LCEC means Local Church Executive Council is itself a ministry because we learn from one another as how and what is the best way to serve God for this Church. We may not agreed with each other but we learn to listen, ponder, pray and try to understand others ideas and suggestion. Any decisions made in the LCEC in not by taking votes or sides but through praying and asking God to let us see the reasons for the decisions taken. There must be a unanimous decisions. That’s why some decisions take quite a while to make. This is because we want the best outcome for God in this church and we are accountable to God for any bad decisions taken.

If you want to grow in character and love to serve God, perhaps the LCEC is a good place to begin. I urge all of us to be involved in the church for God. Differences and Disagreements and Discouragement will come but it for the glory of God that we learn to consider other better than us and like Paul said, let finish the race that God has put us there.

We need to Keep on fighting. Keep on running. Keep on believing

How to finish strong, well and keep our faith? Paul told Timothy in vs. 5. You, however, be self-controlled in all things, endure hardship, do an evangelist’s work, fulfil your ministry.

What will be our response and how do we prepare ourselves so as to imitate what Paul has shown us. We need to ask ourselves 3 questions tonight:

I. What kind of departure will we have? (v 6)

II. What kind of legacy will you leave? (v. 7)

III. What kind of reward will you receive? (v. 8)

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