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Summary: We are encouraged to keep our forward momentum going in ministry by focusing on the things of Christ.

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CONSIDER THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STRONG AND A WEAK CUP OF TEA. BOTH TYPES CONTAIN THE SAME INGREDIENTS OF WATER AND TEA.

THE DIFFERENCE IS THAT THE STRONG CUP OF TEA RESULTS FROM THE TEA LEAVES’ IMMERSION IN THE WATER LONGER, ALLOWING THE WATER MORE TIME TO GET INTO THE TEA AND THE TEA INTO THE WATER.

THE LONGER THE STEEPING PROCESS, THE STRONGER THE CUP OF TEA. IN THE SAME WAY, THE LENGTH OF TIME WE SPEND IN GOD’S WORD, IN PRAYER, AND DISCIPLESHIP DETERMINES HOW DEEPLY THEY BECOME A PART OF US.

JUST LIKE THE TEA, THE LONGER WE ARE IN THE WORD, IN PRAYER AND IN SERVICE, THE "STRONGER" WE BECOME AS LIVING WITNESSES TO THE REALITY OF JESUS CHRIST.

PAUL WAS ONE WHO LIVED OUT THE REALITY OF JESUS IN HIS PERSONAL MINISTRY. LOCKED AWAY IN PRISON, PAUL NOW REFLECTS BACK OVER HIS OWN LIFE, HIS TRIALS AND VICTORIES IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST. HE KNOWS THE END IS NEAR AND THAT DEATH KNOCKS AT HIS HEART’S DOOR.

HE IS NOT BITTER NOR DOES HE EXPRESS ANY REGRETS. PAUL WRITES IN A STATE OF JOYFUL ANTICIPATION OF MEETING HIS LORD AND SAVIOR FACE TO FACE. "FOR I AM ALREADY BEING POURED OUT LIKE A DRINK OFFERING, AND THE TIME HAS COME FOR MY DEPARTURE" HE SAYS IN VERSE 6.

THE WORD "OFFERING" WHICH PAUL USES HERE SPECIFICALLY REFERS TO THE OLD TESTAMENT RITUAL OF POURING OUT OF A DRINK OFFERING.

NUMBERS 15:1-10, GIVES US AN EXAMPLE OF HOW GOD’S PEOPLE TOOK A LAMB, RAM OR BULLOCK TO THE TEMPLE FOR A BURNT SACRIFICE.

ALONG WITH THE ANIMAL, THE WORSHIPPER ALSO BROUGHT WINE TO BE POURED OUT AS AN OFFERING. WINE IN THE BIBLE IS A SYMBOL OF JOY.

THE POURING OUT OF THE WINE DEMONSTRATED THAT THE WORSHIPPER FOUND JOY IN THE SACRIFICE BEING MADE. SO, WHEN PAUL REFERRED TO HIS DEATH AS A DRINK OFFERING, HE WAS SAYING THAT HE LOOKED UPON HIS LIFE OF SACRIFICE WITH JOY.

HE HAD NO REGRETS ABOUT HIS SERVICE FOR GOD OR THE SUFFERING IT CAUSED HIM. HE NEVER THOUGHT OF QUITTING OR LEAVING THE MINISTRY ALTOGETHER.

HOW COULD PAUL HAVE SUCH A POSITIVE OUTLOOK EVEN IN A SITUATION THAT HAD NO HOPE? LIKE THE STRONG CUP OF TEA, PAUL BUILT HIS LIFE UPON A SOLID FOUNDATION BY SPENDING LONG PERIODS OF TIME IN THE SCRIPTURES, ON HIS KNEES IN PRAYER, IN CONTACT WITH CLOSE FRIENDS, AND COMMUNION WITH GOD.

THIS IS WHAT PAUL IS ENCOURAGING TIMOTHY TO DO. WE MODEL THIS PLAN FOR TIMOTHY IN OUR OWN LIVES. WHEN WE DO, WE CAN BEGIN TO LOOK AT OUR LIFE OF SERVICE TO GOD AS A BLESSING RATHER THAN AN INCONVENIENCE.

IN THIS NEW ATTITUDE OF SERVICE TO GOD THROUGH THE CHURCH AND IN THE COMMUNITY, MINISTRY WILL LIVE ITSELF OUT WITH ANTICIPATED JOY INSTEAD OF DYING OUT IN AGONY BECAUSE WE JUST BARELY CHURNED OUT ONE MORE ANNUAL TRADITION ON THE CHURCH CALENDAR.

IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT A LOT OF CHRISTIANS NEED TO REGAIN THEIR SPIRITUAL MOMENTUM? IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT A LOT OF CHURCHES NEED TO PUT THE MOMENTUM BACK INTO THEIR SPIRITUALITY?

WHEN JOY IS RETURNED AND MOMENTUM IS REGAINED IN MINISTRY, JUST IMAGINE ALL THE WONDERFUL THINGS THAT COULD START HAPPENING!

FOR EXAMPLE, FUND-RAISERS TO MEET THE BUDGET GO BACK TO BEING WAYS OF RAISING SUPPORT FOR MISSIONS AND MINISTRY PROJECTS. THE LEAST SUPPORTED MINISTRY IN THE CHURCH IS NO LONGER THE PRAYER SERVICE.


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