Summary: Paul understands that his life is drawing to an end and pens these encouraging words to ministers and believers in difficult ministries.
Introduction - Running toward Unseen Goal
United States runner Marla Runyon has been legally blind for 22 years. Even so, she competed in the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. In fact she qualified for the finals in the 1500 meter race. (Marla finished eighth, three seconds behind the medal winners.)
How does she do it? Marla can’t see in color, and what she does see is just a fuzzy blob. In a race she just follows the blob of figures in front of her. She told TV commentator Tom Hammonds that the real difficulty was in rounding the final turn and "racing toward a finish line that I can’t see. I just know where it is."
Harry Hebert, Lawrenceburg, Kentucky; Bruce Bates, Cumberland, Rhode Island; from NBC TV
As we race toward the finish line of life, we only need to know where the finish line is. Life can be fuzzy and out of focus but God’s Word encourages us as we run His race! Paul will finish his race a winner. It was clear for him. Is it for us?
Paul encourages us to...
PREACH THE WORD! (1-2)
The word preach is the Greek word ’kerrusso’. It illustrates to us the importance and source of the proclamation. It is not our word but His Word! We are given 4 ideas how to fulfill this exhortation.
Our commitment is to the glory of God! 1a
Notice that Paul tells us it is in God’s Presence that we preach the Word. It requires commitment from us regardless of the cost or response.
Our accountability is to His appearing and kingdom 1b
This accountability is for believers who will stand before Christ as the "living" in His epiphany or appearance. The "dead" are the unbelievers who will stand before Him at the Kingdom judgement. As His heralds we have a mission to accomplish. We are accountable.
Our urgency is to preach and be ready 2a
To be ready means to stay at one’s post, task, or duty. This military term gives the idea that we are to do it when it is convenient or inconvenient. We are to obey our Commander-in-General until we are relieved of duty!
Our encounters will deal with people. 2b
We are to Reprove them. That simply means we are patiently convince them of their sins. (ie. Non-believers)
We are to Rebuke them. This idea delivers either censure or sharp reprimand for their disobedience. (ie. Believers)
And then we are to Encourage them. This means to urge or call alongside in encouragement. And we do this ALL
with patient endurance & sound teaching
Ill – A Reminder of what’s really important
It was a 99-degree September day in San Antonio, when a 10 month-old baby girl was accidentally locked inside a parked car by her aunt. Frantically the mother and aunt ran around the auto in near hysteria, while a neighbor attempted to unlock the car with a clothes hanger. Soon the infant was turning purple and had foam on her mouth.
It had become a life-or-death situation when Fred Arriola, a wrecker driver, arrived on the scene. He grabbed a hammer and smashed the back window of the car to set her free. Was he heralded a hero? He said, "The lady was mad at me because I broke the window. I just thought, What’s more important--the baby or the window?" Sometimes priorities get out of order, and a Fred Arriola reminds us what’s important.
Ray Tiemann, Fredericksburg, Texas. Leadership, Vol. 11, no. 3.
Many times we need a reminder of our priorities as ministers and lay members. Preachers, Bible study teachers, workers, and Christians need to know their calling and never forget the important stuff.
Secondly, Paul encourages us to...
PENETRATE THE CULTURE! (3-4)
There is a Cultural Doctrine 3a
We face real issues regarding world-view, abortion, and sexual issues in today’s society. The world delivers a message through it’s system. As believers we must teach a biblical world-view.
There is a Cultural Deterioration 3b
Scripture indicates that self-determination and selfishness will deteriorate the fabric of society.
Ill - Deterioration of Society
In 1947, sociologist and historian Dr. Carle Zimmerman studied the deterioration and ultimate disintegration of various cultures. He found that in each society the disintegration of the culture was preceded by the disintegration of the family. He discovered 11 common elements that were always present. Here are five of those eleven common elements:
1) An increase in rapid easy cause less "faultless" divorce.
2) Fewer children, and less respect for parents and parenthood.
3) A break down of most inhibitions against adultery.
4) The rapid rise and spread of juvenile delinquency.
5) Common acceptance of all forms of sexual perversion.
(Carle Zimmerman, Family and Civilization, (New York: Harper and Brothers) 1947. pp 776-77) Contributed by: Tim Richards