Summary: We want things that benefit our life. So one of the questions that we often find ourselves asking is, "Does it work? Does it really work?" (*Powerpoint available - #282)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(REVISED - 2016)
(PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #282.)
TEXT: 2 Timothy 4:16-18
ILL. Ethel & I don’t go to see many movies, but we saw one a number of years ago that is hard to forget. The name of it is “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Maybe you have seen it too.
It’s the story of a talented musician in Oregon with a dream of achieving fame & success as a composer of classical music. But that will take time to accomplish.
So meanwhile, in order to support himself & his wife, he takes a job as a band director at the local high school. He believes that the job will only be a temporary one until he has achieved his goal.
At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano each evening after putting in a full day with his students
But, as family demands increase – including the discovery that his infant son is deaf, Mr. Holland finally begins to recognize that his dream of leaving a lasting legacy in the world of classical music is just that – merely a dream.
Thirty-five years pass, & near the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland in the midst of a school board battle. Funds are low & the school board has decided to reduce the budget by eliminating the music & drama classes at the school.
Mr. Holland believes that is a mistake & he passionately defends the role of music & arts in education. For him, what had begun as a temporary job had turned into a 35-year mission of pouring his heart & his love of music into the lives of his students.
But to no avail. The decision was made. The next school year there will be no band or music classes at the high school, & it is time for him to retire.
The school year ends, & a few days later Mr. Holland returns to clear out his belongings from the school. He has taught his final class. Filled with sorrow & regret he boxes up the artifacts that represent the tools of his trade & the reminders of his many class years. His wife & son are helping him.
Finally they’re finished, & he leaves his classroom for the last time. As he walks down the hall he feels old & tired & empty & disappointed with his life.
A. We have all experienced feelings of disappointment, haven’t we? Even the great Apostle Paul felt disappointment. And we’re going to talk about that in just a few moments.
But before we do, let me suggest that most of us are looking for things to make our life better. "Will this benefit me?” we ask. “Will this make life a little easier for me?"
And once we're convinced it will work, & we can afford it, then we usually try to get it, because we want things that benefit us. So one of the questions that we often ask is, "Does it work? Does it really work?"
B. That question can be applied to Christianity, too. "Does it work?" While some may scoff, millions can testify, "It does work! We've found real blessings in being a Christian, for it changed our lives & our relationship with others. It really works!"
Now if that is true – if it really does lead to changed lives filled with love & joy & peace, then why aren't more people clamoring to become Christians, saying, "I want Jesus as my Savior & Lord, too"?
C. Maybe part of the answer is that we haven’t presented His message very clearly. Or maybe people have come with false & self centered expectations, & thus ended up disappointed when God hasn’t given them everything they wanted or expected.
You see, I think the question isn't, "Does Christianity work?" The important question is, "How? How does Christianity work? What is there about Christ's teachings that makes a difference in our lives?" To answer that, let's look at 2 Timothy, chapter 4.
As he writes these words, the Apostle Paul is in prison, charged with insurrection against the Roman Empire. He has spent almost 4 years in prison, 2 back in Israel, & nearly 2 more in Rome.
He has already appeared in Emperor Nero's court at least once, & now the court is waiting for more evidence to arrive from his accusers.
PROP. So he writes these words that we find in 2 Timothy 4, & in them is revealed the way Christianity works & makes a difference in our lives.
I. GOD GIVES US GRACE TO FACE THE DISAPPOINTMENTS OF LIFE