Summary: Farewell sermon from Paul’s "Finally" verses.
1. They keep getting worse & worse.
2. As I stand before you for the last time I want to make sure that I say the important things. In order to do that I’d like to look at the letters of Paul. In many of these letters to the churches, Paul writes verses beginning with "Finally Brothers" as a way of saying, don’t forget this. I’d like to look at some of these today.
The first is the one we just read in our new testament reading…
I. Be strong in the Lord
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
This is a reminder of our source of strength. Sometimes we look to a teacher or a leader as our source of strength, but any good Christian leader should be pointing us back to the Lord as the source of strength. It is HIS mighty power that we rely upon. In our OT reading we heard the Lord’s words to Joshua as the nation of Israel set out to conquer the promised land without Moses--Moses the legendary leader who brought them out of Egypt. But God’s words to them were, "Be strong for I am with you."
I’m no Moses, but as I bid farewell to this flock, let me remind you that the Lord is Your strength.
Next Let’s go to the book of Philippians where Paul exhorts us, Finally, Brothers:
II. Rejoice in the Lord
Philippians 3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!
The Lord is not only our source of strength but our source of Joy. If you have trusted in Jesus for salvation, You have something to be Joyful about. Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice.
Don’t live your life in deadpan seriousness, enjoy the Joy of the Lord
A conference at a Presbyterian church in Omaha. People were given helium filled balloons and told to release them at some point in the service when they felt like expressing the joy in their hearts. Since they were Presbyterians, they weren’t free to say "Hallelujah, Praise the Lord." All through the service balloons ascended, but when it was over 1/3 of the balloons were unreleased. Let your balloon go. (Bruce Larson, Luke, p. 43.)
Don’t keep waiting for something tomorrow to make you happy. Have you heard that saying that life is what happens while you’re waiting for something else? Don’t wait for something else to be Joyful. You have the Lord today, rejoice in the Lord!
Turn to the next chapter for the next Finally, Paul liked closing so much he did it several times per letter. Finally, brothers…
III. Focus on the Positive
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Get your perspective right. This goes a long way toward the Joy part.
When you stand behind the chapel here you can choose to look at the dumpsters or the children laughing on the playground.
When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, "He’s so big we can never kill him." David looked at the same giant and though, "He’s so big I can’t miss."
A shoe manufacturer who decided to open the Congo market sent two salesmen to the undeveloped territory. One salesman cabled back: "Prospect here nil. No one wears shoes." The other salesman reported enthusiastically, "Market potential terrific! Everyone is barefooted."
During WWII General Creighton Abrams found himself and his troops surrounded on all sides. He told his officers, "For the first time in the history of this campaign, we are now in a position to attack the enemy in any direction."
What are you going to dwell on? Let’s dwell not on what’s disappointing and confusing but on what is good, what God has done and is doing.
Next is a request I have from you. Finally brothers…
IV. Pray for Us
2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.
We don’t know exactly where the Lord is sending us, but pray that God prepares the way. As we send our ground troops into battle, we use the artillery to prepare the battlefield. We may not know the grid coordinates to send that spiritual heavy artillery of prayer, but God does, so I ask you to prepare the field of battle for wherever the Lord might send us, that we might have the opportunity to do good ministry, to share the good news about Jesus and see Him lifted up.
Finally, is my prayer or blessing for you. Finally brothers…