Summary: To challenge the students to make a decision to run right up to the finish and to encourage those that are dropping out of the race to come back right on.
Text: 2 Timothy 4: 6-8
Title: Running Hard to the Finish
Objective: To challenge the students to make a decision to run right up to the finish and to encourage those that are dropping out of the race to come back right on.
Before I began with the actual preaching of the word, I would like to give you a background to 2 Timothy. Second Timothy was written at a time whereby the church was going through a tremendous persecution. The Roman Emperor Nero unleashed a terrible persecution against Christians. Nero set fire to Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Christians were captured and were killed in the most brutal manner. Some were clothed in animal skins and were torn apart by wild beast, some were crucified, while others were burnt as torches to light up the night. The apostle Paul no longer enjoyed the freedom he had during his first arrest. Paul knew that he was going to die and it was in such a context that Paul wrote an intensely personal letter to his son Timothy. Shortly after he wrote this letter he was martyred for the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 2 Tim 4:6-8, Paul told Timothy, Son I am dying, I am passing the baton to you, now run the race. At a time whereby Paul was about to die he made these statements "I am ready to die, because I have fight the good fight, I have finish the race and I have kept the faith". Paul was ready to meet the Lord because he had finish the race. Paul had no regrets as he faces eternity. What was it in his life that enabled him to finish the race?
This morning I will share with you three characteristics in Paul’s life which enabled him to finish the race and I believe that if we are to develop these characteristics in our lives then we would also be able to complete the race.
Firstly I believed that Paul was able to finish the race because he knew the race which he was running.
1. Knowing the Race (Acts 9:15-16)
a. In Acts 9:15-16, the Holy Spirit revealed the calling of Paul to Annias. The call was to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, Kings and to Jews. This call was probably given to Paul at the road to Damascus or during the period of time whereby he waited for Annias to come. Paul knew clearly his mission. He knew what the Lord wanted him to do. Paul knew the places which the Spirit wanted him to preach and places where the Spirit forbids him to do so. The call which Jesus gave him at the road to Damacus never left him and that call was always the focal point of his ministry.
Knowing your mission is very important. If you do not know your calling in life you are just like an athlete who is training for the 100m race and realized that on the competition day you are enrolled by the coach to run a 200m race. The result is that you have already lost the race even before you began.
c. Do you know God’s calling in your life or at least what He wants you to do at this moment? If you do not know and you are doing what you yourself like to do, or what your father wants you to do or even what your pastor want you to do, you will come to realize one day that you have not done a single thing which the Lord wants you to fulfill. All that you’ve done is merely what you in your flesh wants to accomplish and what man wants you to do. If you are at a lost for direction then it is time to withdraw into the very presence of God and seek Him for direction.
T.S Paul was not only a man who knows his race, he runs his race with freedom
2. Running with freedom (Hebrews 12:1)
a. Paul runs his race with freedom because he was not weigh down by the sins in his life. Hebrews 12:1 says let us throw away everything that hinders and the sins that so easily entangles and run with perseverance the race marked for us. Paul was indeed a man who walks in holiness and purity and he did not allow sin to weigh him down in his race. In fact I believed that Paul has a holy hatred for sin and this is evident in all the letters that he wrote to the churches.
b. Are you weigh down by sins, selfish ambition, the love of this world, materialism? If you are not running the race in freedom. In fact you are finding that the race is pretty difficult to run. Oh cut off those things that are hindering you and you will run hard to the finish!