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Worship Theme: How Do You Deal With Emotional ‘Good-byes’?
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Message: How Do You Deal With Emotional ‘Good-byes’?
Pastor Terry Reich
I will never forget saying ‘good-bye’ to dad. He was a very sick man his last couple years. He had something called ‘pulmonary fibrosis’. That’s a fancy way of saying that he couldn’t breathe. But his mind was sharp as a tack hours before leaving to be with the Lord. We were gathered around him in the hospital. His speaking was labored, but we conversed at the same level we would have 30 years ago. My brother Dan, also a pastor, and I said ‘good-bye’. ‘Thank you for everything!’ ‘See you in heaven.’ But we were pastors and it was late Saturday afternoon. We both had worship services the next morning. Our father departed this life about 6 hours later, as our daughter, my sister, and mom sang hymns at his bedside. Many of you; most of you, can probably share similar emotional ‘good-byes’.
How Do You Deal with Emotional ‘Good- byes’
- Paul is saying ‘good-bye’ (5)
- Have a little faith (6,7)
- The Gospel crushes evil (8,9)
- Jesus is the ‘Great Destroyer’ (10)
2 Timothy is a very unique epistle of the Apostle Paul. It was the last thing he wrote before his death. He knew that his days, if not hours, were numbered. Timothy was one of his dearest friends and closest workers. Timothy was like his son. Paul comments on his mom and grandma’s faith. Sounds like he knew him pretty well! One would expect this final letter to be very personal and emotional. It is. How blessed so many of us were to have believing parents and grandparents! Maybe they didn’t always verbalize and express that faith, but they lived it. They took us to church. They taught us to pray. They made a big deal out of Christmas, Good Friday and Easter and they made sure we knew why. Praise God for Christian dads! Dad died in May, so we didn’t make Father’s Day in 2017, but we share the same Father.
‘Have a little faith!’ “I am reminded of your sincere faith.” “Fan into flame (that) gift of God.” The laying on of hands here reminds us of ordination. Paul had ordained Timothy into service as a pastor. “The gift” spoken of here was Timothy’s wonderful abilities to teach the Word and shepherd souls. It was Timothy’s calling and he was blessed with the gifts to do it. His biggest challenge? Paul speaks of it in his first letter to Timothy, ch.4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young.” Paul encourages us here, as he did the young, timid pastor he was writing to – “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
This is timely encouragement for us today. We tend to be way too timid when it comes to our faith. How many of us have been accused of being too ‘outspoken’ when it comes to matters of faith, God’s Word, or our Savior? God’s Word is the most powerful, most beautiful, most loving and awesome force on earth. Yet so often we’re scared to use it. God forgive us for all the times when we should have spoken up, but timidly remained silent. May His Spirit empower us to loving, faithful, and frequent use of the Gospel.
It’s like Paul is talking to us – “so do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord…. join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” That Word crushes evil! That is our theme for today and that is why Paul encourages Timothy and us all the more to use it. There is SO much here in verses 8 and 9, one could easily devote the 20-minute sermon to these two verses alone. Three things to note about this powerful gift. First, the Source of that power; “by the power of God. He has saved us.” Paul’s boldness had landed him in prison. So, he tells Timothy, ‘don’t start being ashamed of me now’, but rather, use your gifts all the more. Paul’s execution would be hard on Timothy; all the more reason to share Christ, the Source of all that is good and eternal.
Second powerful point in vs. 9; we were called “to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.” As the world plummets into ever deeper and darker depths of sin, our call to a holy life means we WILL stick out like sore thumbs. Jesus called us the salt of the earth and lights in a sin-darkened world. We really do offer lost souls an alternative to this messed-up place! We need to always be ready to give answer to the hope that He has placed in us. And when were we called into this grace? “This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.” Pretty hard for me to mess up this call to grace since you and I were called into this grace before Adam and Eve existed!
Here’s the power. Here’s the answer to the only real questions that matter. Here’s where we look when saying ‘good-bye’, hearing the diagnosis, seeing the pain, or whatever lies down life’s rocky road… “This grace…. has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” The Great Destroyer! What was once the ultimate and scariest enemy is now called nothing more than ‘falling asleep’ in God’s Word. What the disciples thought was the end on Easter morning, proved to be the ultimate and eternal beginning! Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep!
There will be sad ‘good-byes’ while we’re still here. Paul showed us, in spite of the sad reality, that a far more joyful reality is coming. It was not difficult to say good-bye to our father. We walked out of that hospital room knowing that it would be the last time we would see him… but that it would not be the last time we would see dad. It’s not difficult to write a funeral sermon when the ashes before us used to be the home of a lovely, redeemed child of God. It’s not difficult to face setbacks, sadness, and loss while journeying here below, because above is waiting. The fact is, when it came to Paul and Timothy, it was not ‘good-bye’, but simply ‘til we meet again.’ The same will forever be true, praise God and ‘thank you, Jesus’, for you and me. There’s no such thing as good-bye for children of God! ‘Til we meet again! AMEN.