Summary: a message about the last valley we must cross.
“The Views from the Valley”
2 Timothy 4:16 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. 17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Have you ever wondered how preachers select the topics or texts that they are going to preach from? Primarily for me they come from the Scripture reading during my devotional times but sometimes they come from my own experiences or that of others that I come in contact with. This past week a friend and I were talking and my friend shared a burden and the nature of the burden led my heart and mind to the text and topic that I want to share with you this morning the Lord being my helper.
When you try to describe the life of Paul you run out of superlatives. He was a great soul, a master teacher and preacher; author, mentor, evangelist, missionary, church planter and the list goes on and on. Paul had his mountaintops and but he also had his valleys. In 2 Corinthians 12:1 he speaks of a mountaintop experience; “It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) 4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.”He also suffered greatly as he sought to take the name of Jesus to the world. But then he also experienced valleys too; Listen to his own words as he describes some of his valleys…2 Corinthians 11:21 I speak as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. Howbeit whereinsoever any is bold, (I speak foolishly,) I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. 28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.
This morning I want to share some thoughts about Paul’s last valley. The Psalmist David described it as, “the valley of the shadow…” In our text Paul is in his final imprisonment in the Mamartine prison in Rome. It wouldn’t be long until he finds “a shallow place to cross” and he writes to Timothy and if we are willing, and will read this text carefully we can discern his state of heart and mind. First, I let’s examine:
I. Paul’s Outward View
In this last valley it is perfectly natural for us to think about the people who have been in our lives and Paul is no exception. He mentions:
a. His fellow-workers v. 10
He begins this section by mentioning the desertion of a member of the mission’s team by the name of Demas. What happens with Crecens and Titus we can only speculate but it must have been difficult for him. In v. 16 we learn that at his first hearing before Ceasar no one “stood with him…but all men forsook him.” There was obviously disappointment but no hint bitterness. Paul choose not to die a bitter man. You and I have the same choice; we can get bitter or we can get better!
b. His friends v. 11-12
Thankfully at the last some of his friends return to minister to him. Luke is mentioned specifically and we can probably assume that he stayed with Paul until the end. Luke is the second most important writer in the NT and two books were authored by him; the gospel that bears his name and the book of Acts. His narrative is the most complete beginning with the birth of John the Baptist and ending with the gospel being preached in Rome. He is also the only gentile author in the NT. He is a missionary, church planter, author, doctor and loyal friend to Paul.