MAKING A DIFFERENCE

August 3, 2021

This morning I want to speak with you about a goal worth living for. To do that, I want us to listen in on the Apostle Paul.
 
After Paul’s release from prison in Rome, he was again imprisoned under Nero about five years later. It was during this time that he wrote 2 Timothy, his final letter. In contrast to his first imprisonment, when he lived in a “rented house,” he now languished in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal. His friends even had a hard time finding out where he was being kept . Paul knew that his work was done and that his life was nearly at an end. And he had a few sage words for his spiritual son.
 
We live in an age where the work of some people’s entire lives is being undone by the revelations of how they have truly lived.
Out of some 100 detailed bios in the bible -- two out of three ended poorly. Not Paul – he was finishing well. He could say “I have stayed the course.” There are plenty of people who claim to be good and holy, but who live like hell is their real master. Paul was a man who walked his talk.

How do you want to be remembered ?
 
One day three guys were discussing their obituaries. One asked, "What would you like people to say at your wake?" The first guy said, "I want people to say 'He was a great preacher!'" The second guy said, "I want people to say, "He was such a loving father!'" The third guy thought for a moment, then he said, "I want people to say, "Look, he's moving!'"

As we buried my father some months ago, I observed several of the accolades written upon gravestones. There were words like “beloved mother,” “darling son,” “rest in peace,” “asleep in Jesus,” and so on. Ruth Graham’s gravestone says “End of Construction … Thank You For Your Patience.”
I read about a man who’s life was summed up on his gravestone by five words: “A Man of Unquestioned Integrity.”

Suppose it was your tombstone.  What five words would those who knew you best choose?

Writing from a Roman jail, with the certain knowledge that he would soon be dead, Paul looked back at his journey with Christ, and then he looked forward to what would happen after he died.

Then he wrote his own epitaph:
“I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”

Paul knew he was about to finish this life, and could say with purpose and peace, “I’m ready.”

He knew we’re not in the land of the living going to the realm of the dead.
We’re in the land of the dying trying to bring others into the land of the living.

He used an image that would have been familiar to the folks of that day -- a drink offering.

He said, “I am already being poured out like a drink offering." A drink offering was wine poured over a burnt offering. Its purpose was to give a sweet smell as the meal came to an end. Romans often ended a meal or banquet with such an offering.  It meant, “Time to rise and go,”  and was their way of symbolically giving the last drop of glory of the gods.

That’s how Paul viewed his coming death. He intended to give the true God glory when he had just one thing left to give.
He knew "it is time to rise and go.”

Paul never loved the world or the things in the world. He gave his entire life to the Gospel .
Emperor Nero didn’t take his life; Paul had been pouring out his life since the day he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.

There's a coffee brand that is roasted here in Florida. It is Maxwell House. The tagline for their coffee brand has been the same for many years - "GOOD TO THE LAST DROP.

I want my life to like Maxwell House coffee - Good To The Last Drop.

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