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Faithful

He is Faithful (2 Timothy 4:9-22)

He is Faithful (2 Timothy 4:9-22)
By Dr. Andy Woods

Good morning everybody. If we could take our Bibles and open them 2 Timothy 4, and verse 9. The title our message this morning is He is Faithful. I want to thank Gabe for filling in last week. Of course, as Bruce just mentioned I was in Australia, which is kind of an interesting place. It’s sort of the inverse of us, our summer is their winter and the first thing I noticed when I got there, I said Ya’all are driving on the wrong side of the road. But being the multi-culturist I am I should say they’re driving on a different side of the road, not the wrong side of the road. But that’s kind of important information when you think about it, like crossing the street, where to look for cars. I found myself getting into the driver’s side of the car a couple of times, their steering wheel is on the opposite side. So the Americans sort of stick out like a sore thumb over there. I learned a lot of interesting terms, like floak, and they kept calling me a bloke, I asked is that an insult of what is that? A bloke is just a generic expression for just a person.

The hood of the car is called the bonnet, the trunk is called the boot. So they said we need to get that out of the boot and I started to take my shoes off a couple of times. And they do have Starbucks over there so that was great. So I was standing in line, I got some coffee and I said can I have some cream. And the guy just looked at me puzzled and someone in the back could see that this linguistic problem and he yells out “ask for milk.” So I said can I have some milk and he knew exactly what I was talking about because cream to them is ice cream, so he’s looking at me kind of strange, like you want ice cream on your coffee. And when they say it’s time for dinner they use the expression tea, it’s time for tea, and to them that means dinner. And then they call dessert supper, so they said it’s time for supper and I was like great, we get another meal. So that was fun.

But it was a good time; their churches over there average about 50 members per congregation. Probably the most orthodox churches there are what’s called the Plymouth Brethren movement, those of you that are familiar with that.

And what was I doing there? I was with a group called Awake to Israel and they had a lot of different speakers there at a particular camp called Awake to Israel. Randall Price has taught there, Mark Hitchcock has taught there, Thomas Ice, Ed Hindson. I guess they finally reached the bottom of the barrel and they asked me to come. And I didn’t know this as well as I know it now but going there, what you discover is their churches are very much into replacement theology, which is basically the view that God is finished with Israel and the church has taken over Israel’s place. And so there was some Australians there that really had a burden to bring to their country pro-Israel, what we call dispensational, pro dispensational teaching. And people literally come from all over to this camp to be exposed to pro-Israel teaching. So that’s what I was doing there. I taught on different subjects related to prophecy for about eight lectures or so.
And the state of their churches, it’s very sad in the sense that some people are even promoting the conference were hauled into disciplinary proceedings from their own churches. So that’s how badly Satan is trying to stamp out any pro-Israel teaching theologically. So I was there to sort of provide the opposite side of it, so I tried to do that. And it was a great experience, I was treated very, very well. They’re very, very proud of their cities and country. I had a chance to tour Sydney and things of that nature. So if you can add to your prayer list Awake to Israel and pray for this group that’s trying to promote Israel and God’s future for Israel, in the nation of Australia, that would be greatly appreciated.

And next week, I was looking at the calendar and it’s the 4th of July weekend, typically on 4th of July weekend I give a patriotic message and so next week we’re not going to be in the book of 2 Timothy, I’m going to be giving a patriotic message and it’s going to be entitled The Bible and Voting. So I want to psychologically prepare you for that in advance. I will not be mentioning any political parties or political personalities. I won’t be mentioning the last trump or any other candidates… someone, by the way, told me we were in the end times. I said why do you think that? Well, the Bible mentions the last trump and we have this guy running. But I won’t be mentioning any political candidates; I won’t be mentioning any political parties. What I’m going to be talking about is principles that evangelicals can use when they cast votes. And these are principles that I’ll go over that you’ll discover can be used in any election, state, local, federal. And so we’re going to be anchoring our case from the Word of God. So if you don’t think that the Bible has anything to say about politics or political issues and pastors should not get involved in those kind of things, then next week would probably be a good week for you to sleep in and miss that because we’re going to be doing that next week.

In the meantime here we are in the book of 2 Timothy. The book of 2 Timothy, as you remember has about four parts to it. It’s a book of encouragement, trying to get young Timothy to not endure to prove he’s saved, we know he’s saved, but to endure in his task. He is the pastor-teacher over the church at Ephesus. So chapter 1 was a basic call to endurance. Chapter 2 is metaphors explaining what endurance looks like. Chapter 3:1 through chapter 4:8 is the section we’ve just emerged from. And that’s the section on apostasy, the predictions that Paul makes about the end times, how the church would have a tendency to deviate from truth. And Paul tells Timothy what he is to do in the midst of the apostasy, the key thing being to preach the Word of God in season and out of season. So it was really a tremendous section on the role that the Bible and the studying of the Bible and the open teaching and proclamation of the Bible is to play within the local church. That’s the only way to protect the church from the inevitable apostasy or departure.

And we come now to the very last section in the book of 2 Timothy, Ed read it to you this morning. It starts in chapter 4, verse 9 and goes all the way through verse 22. It basically is a record of how God meets needs. We are dependent and needy people, are we not? And yet God came through and met six strategic needs in Paul’s life, at the very end of his life.

Now I have to admit that when you come to a section like this, at the end of 2 Timothy, it’s just so tempting to look at this as random, irrelevant biographical information; it’s tempting to just skip over it very quickly, read it without fully understanding what is being said. But you see, our doctrine of verbal plenary Scripture, inspiration, will not allow that approach. Verbal inspiration means the very words of the Bible are inspired; every word God put there for a reason. And plenary means all of Scripture is inspired by God. In fact, Paul told Timothy that, you recall back in chapter 3 and verse 16, where he says, “All Scripture is inspired by God,” so that would also include this section beginning in verse 9 through the end of the book, which at first glance looks like random, boring biographical information. But you see, I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit placed this information in front of Timothy, and indirectly in front of us, for a reason.

And as I read through this material I said to myself, Lord, what is this material doing here? Why give us all of this biographical information at the end of the book? And here’s sort of the conclusion I came to: what Paul is showing Timothy in these final verses is that God came through for Paul in a way that only God could. Paul was at the very, very end of his life; he was at the time of his life when he was most desperate. In fact, this is his, as we’ve said before, his second imprisonment which was completely different than his first imprisonment. His first imprisonment he was in Rome, he had the opportunity to receive visitors and guests. He was not isolated and by himself. He had decent living conditions.

But by the time Paul is in his second Roman imprisonment, from which he wrote 2 Timothy, the world has totally changed. Nero is on the throne, he has, or is about to, burn Rome, most of it to the ground and blame it on the Christians. The first wave of Roman imperial persecution against the church is about to be launched. Paul is about ready to die. He is isolated by himself with very few exceptions. And it was at a time in Paul’s life where he was the most desperate. It was a time in his life where he was the most needy. It was the time in his life where he needed more than any other time in his life to see the faithful hand of God. We really don’t need to see the faithful hand of God during mountaintop experiences; we need to see the faithful hand of God in the midst of the valley, in the midst of the darkness, because it’s in the midst of the valley and the darkness that God really showcases His faithfulness.

And I believe that this is what Paul is revealing to Timothy. Timothy, at a time in my life when I was most desperate God came through for me in six ways. There are six tangible things that God did for me. And Timothy, I want you to understand that I have no corner on God; if God has been faithful to me in the midst of my most difficult time, then guess what? He’s going to be faithful to you. And we can take such great comfort in this final section. We may get through all six of these today, we may not, but the tenor and the tone of this final section is the faithfulness of God. When everyone else is faithless, when we ourselves are faithless, God is faithful. The world may let you down, God, whose character cannot change, never will.

God is in the business, whether it’s a good time or a bad time, He’s is in the business of meeting needs in our lives. In fact, David, in Psalm 37:25 said this: “I have been young and now I am old,” in other words I’ve lived a long time, “Yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging for bread.” David says I have lived a long time and I’ve observed a lot and I’ve seen a lot and here’s something I have never seen; I’ve never seen the needs of the righteous unmet by God.

Paul, in Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply” some of your needs, oh, it doesn’t say that, sorry, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” It is God who has told us, “I will never desert you nor shall I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b) And if there was ever a time for Paul to experience this it would be during this second Roman imprisonment because as we shall see, the man virtually had nothing to rely on but God, and yet God came through. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If things are going great in your life Jesus is the same. If things are going terrible in your life from the human perspective, Jesus is the same.

And God came through for me, Paul says, when no one else would or could, in six practical tangible ways, and guess what Timothy? I have no corner on God, He’s going to come through for you, so don’t be discouraged in the midst of difficulty. And by extension He’s going to come through for us. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the election that everybody is nervous about. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the United States of America. I don’t know what’s going to happen internationally. I just don’t know! I wish I did but I don’t. But I do know one thing; I know that no matter what happens God is faithful. And at the end of the day you can take the faithfulness of God to the bank.

So how did God help Paul? The first way He helped Paul was in the area of loneliness. Paul, as we study these words, was in a position of isolation and loneliness. And it becomes obvious just by reading some of the things he says. If you look at verse 9 it says, “Make every effort” as he’s speaking to Timothy, “to come to me soon.” I’m by myself, I am in isolation, I’m hungry for fellowship. And those that I had trusted have left me. He makes a reference to that in verse 10, “for Demas,” one of his close ministry associates according to Colossians 4:14, and Philemon 24.

[Colossians 4:14, “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.” Philemon 24, “as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.”]

Paul says this of this former associate, “For Demos, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica;” he mentions somebody else here, “Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.” And he mentions all of these people that had once been with him, had once stood with him, and for one reason or another, maybe it was fear of persecution from Nero, maybe it was some other explanation why they had deserted Paul.

Well, who was standing with Paul. He says there in verse 11, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” So Luke and just a handful of others were the only ones left standing with the Apostle Paul. If you’ll go down to verse 12 and he continues to talk this way in terms of his loneliness, he says, “But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus.” Tychicus, and you can study these people throughout Paul’s ministry; these were key people. They had left Paul, either because Paul had dispatched them to other places, they had left Paul because they fell in love with the world, they had left Paul because of the fear of persecution, but Paul, by and large, with very few exceptions, was all by himself.

If you go down to verse 16 he says, “At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me;” and I love this last little line here in verse 16, “may it not be counted against them.” The Bible says that a man of many friends comes to ruin, that’s why you should be careful about your friend list on Facebook, “A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend” the book of Proverbs says, “who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs18:24)

Paul, apparently was injured, or he was wounded by the fact that all of these people had deserted him where he has to actually acknowledge I’m not going to hold a grudge against them. And the fact of the matter is, relationships are things that we need. There are things that God has designed for us to have — basic human interaction with other individuals. In fact, all the way back in the book of Genesis, chapter 2 and verse 18, now this is before sin entered the picture; this is when Adam was walking in a perfect relationship with the Lord. He had unhindered access to God. And yet what does Genesis 2:18 say, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be” what? “alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Isn’t it interesting that at the beginning of human history, before sin even entered the picture, as Adam stood in a perfect relationship with God we see that God designed human beings for human interaction and God looked at Adam in a state of isolation and being alone, having no one, fellow human beings with him, in this case his wife.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. [10] For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. [11] Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? [12] And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”

And I bring this up because a lot of people have what I would call a “Lone Ranger” mentality with Christianity. They do not want to go to a church; the reason they don’t want to go to a church is because the church is filled with hypocrites. To that argument I say well, come on and join, we’ve always got room for one more hypocrite here. Or they’ve been injured in church or someone has hurt them. I remember when I first started in ministry one of the elderly ladies in the church told me something that has stuck with me for a long time. She says: it’s not the unsaved world that’s going to hurt you, it’s your brothers and sisters in Christ that will hurt you because they’re the ones you make yourself vulnerable to. They’re the ones you open yourself up to, and it’s a shocking thing to discover a saved brother or sister in Christ going back into the sin nature and saying something that’s injurious or harmful to us, or doing something against us. And it’s sort of a hard thing to get over because we have a tendency to think that everybody in church is in some kind of glorified state.

The fact of the matter is all of us saved, even saved people are still tainted by that sin nature and we can do things to upset each other; we can do things to injure each other. So a lot of people have experienced this and they withdraw from a church, OR, they go to a church that’s so big that they can be anonymous, they don’t really have to get to know anybody to well. Big churches…and I’m not against big churches, but big churches have a tendency to allow someone to kind of fly under the radar, under the cloak of anonymity, you don’t have to learn anybody’s name, you can just sort of walk in like a movie theater, absorb the show, and then leave.

And that is a far cry from God’s calling on the church. We are not called to be Lone Rangers in Christ, we are called to be part of a body. We’re not called to just come and simply listen to lectures as if there were a lecture hall; sermons are important but there’s so much more to it. We are called to be vulnerable to each other; we are called out of isolation. We are called to be a family and we take each other for what we are, the good, the bad and the ugly.

And so we have this need for human interaction, intimacy, friendship, fellowship. And Paul had that same need. And in this place of isolation it would seem at first glance as if that need was not being met. But watch how the Lord came through for Paul. (Titus 1:17) “But the Lord,” after everybody deserted him, “the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might here; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.” Nobody else stood with me…but God did.

In fact, if you go down to verse 21, towards the end of the chapter, Paul writes to Timothy, “Make every effort to come before winter” he mentions individuals, “Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.” The Lord stood with me, but Timothy, as you come to me the Lord is going to use you to meet a relational need in my life. And isn’t it interesting that at the very end of Paul’s life, when Paul really had no one to depend upon, God was still watching out for Paul at his basic level of need, the need of relationships. And he was going to meet those needs practically, I believe, through Timothy, but even until Timothy arrives Paul is very clear, “the Lord stood with me.” The Lord looked out for me. And Timothy, if He looked out for me He’s going to look out for you, at this basic relational level.

May I just encourage you, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, to let the Lord meet that need in your life. Let Him bring the right relationships, the right friendships into your life in His timing. Don’t resist that, don’t resist community and comradery, and the opportunity to cry, if need be, over the phone with somebody. Be encouraged by somebody. Perhaps that need is not being met in your life but the Lord, as I am understanding the Scripture, wants to meet that need. I’ve seen Him meet that need in my life many times. Do you know the Lord met that need in David’s life through Jonathan, and we can ago on and on in the Bible about how God brought intimacy and friendships into people’s lives. Until you come, Timothy, the Lord is going to help me because the Lord wants to meet a relational need in my life through you.

Now there is a second need that Paul had and that’s the need to be delivered from situations which, from the human vantage point looked impossible. Paul got himself into situations where he thought to himself there’s no way I can get out of this. The only way I can get out of it is if the Lord helps. And he makes a reference to that in verse 17, the second half of the verse, “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished and that all the Gentiles might hear” now look at this last phrase, “and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth.”

In the book of 1 Corinthians, chapter 15 and verse 32, Paul says this, “If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus” Paul talks about being delivered from a lion’s mouth, he talks about fighting the wild beasts in Ephesus…I mean, was Paul literally delivered from an actual lion, like we can see in a zoo? Were these actually beasts? Perhaps, but I have a tendency to think that Paul is using animals as a metaphor for the overwhelming problems that he faced.

In fact, in Paul’s writings he will say things like this concerning certain problems: I despaired to the point of death. The problem, whatever it was, was so big, and I couldn’t see my way out of it, that I began to think to myself the easiest way of escape is just to die. Have you ever been in that kind of situation or circumstance? I think God intentionally puts us in circumstances like that. Because if the circumstance is no bigger than me to handle then I really don’t need God, do I? But if you’re put into a situation or a circumstance that’s greater than you, and you really through human manipulation and energy don’t see a way out it, you’re forced to trust God. And many times in my life I go to God almost as a last resort. I tried this, it hasn’t worked, I tried that and it hasn’t worked, and then I say well, I guess I’m just going to have to trust the Lord through this. And the Lord is saying to me that’s the response I wanted at the beginning; I wanted you to come to Me at the beginning with this problem because I put it intentionally into your life and I’m the only one that can help you.

Paul faced circumstances like this and notice the faithfulness of God, the Lord rescued, he doesn’t say I extricated myself, the Lord rescued me out of the lion’s mouth. When everything else failed God was faithful.

I’m reminded of that hopeless condition that the three Hebrew youths were in, you recall Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, those are their Babylonian names that Nebuchadnezzar changed them to, their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, and you know the story, Daniel 3:9-25, then Nebuchadnezzar because they wouldn’t bow down to a graven image was filled with wrath and his facial expression was altered towards Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, he answered by giving orders to heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. He commanded certain valiant warriors who were in his army to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, in order to cast them into the furnace of blazing fire. These men were tied up in their trousers, their coats, their caps and their other clothes and were cast in the midst of the furnace of blazing fire. For this reason, because the king’s command was urgent and the furnace had been made extremely hot, the flames of the fire slew those who carried Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

Have you ever been in a circumstance like that? Perhaps not of this physical severity but we’ve all been in health related difficulties, financial difficulties, work related difficulties; circumstances that are so big we just don’t see how we can get ourselves out of this one.

Daniel 3:23, “But these three men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, fell into the midst of the furnace, a blazing fire, still tied up. [24] Then Nebuchadnezzar was astounded and stood up in haste. He said to the high officials, was it not three men we cast into the fire. They replied to the king, ‘Certainly, O king.’ [25] He said, ‘Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!’”

I think prior to this event happening in the lives of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, they could have given a good Bible study on the faithfulness of God. But you see, it’s entirely different to experience the faithfulness of God. When they emerged from that furnace they didn’t just have an intellectual Bible based knowledge that God is faithful; they had actually experienced it. And I think their study was no longer just a Bible study, but it was a life experience study.

And let me tell you something, this is what God wants to do with you; this is what God wants to do with me. He is not content for us to simply have some kind of intellectual awareness of God’s faithfulness. He wants us to experience the faithfulness of God. And yet how can we ever get to a point in our lives where we experience the faithfulness of God unless God pushes us to the point of need. It’s not until they actually were in the fire that they experienced God’s faithfulness.

Some of you are in the fire right now. Those of you that are not in the fire don’t celebrate too much because your time is probably right around the corner, you just don’t know it yet. And it’s so easy to become angry at God when circumstances are too big and we don’t see it as the hand of God trying to broaden and deepen our understanding of God’s faithfulness. And it’s in those times where we need to see the hand of God in our lives, when we need to have Scripture memorized, because a lot of time the emergency comes up, the phone call comes, the bad news comes, you don’t have time to sit down with your concordance and look up verses. The only thing you really have to focus on is what you committed to memory.

I think the Scripture, I can’t prove this, but I think this, the Scripture that was going through the minds of those three youths when they went into the fire was Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.”

Even in this minor trip that I had to Australia I didn’t look carefully at my airline ticket, there’s a big difference between departure and boarding. I looked at the departure time, not the boarding time, and I woke up in a strange country, my host had left, I was in this hotel room and I realized that I had just cut off an hour, or I was an hour late. I thought it was boarding at a certain time, actually departing at a certain time when in reality that was the boarding time, you get the drift here, and you know, the first thing that happens is you start to panic, how much is this going to cost me to get another flight? Where am I going to stay? And the Lord just comforted me as I was struggling and scrambling to get to the airport, with just one verse of Scripture. Philippians 4:19 which I read just a moment ago, which says, “My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” Instead of panicking, which is my normal operating procedure, I made a decision this time that I wasn’t going to panic and I was just going to mentally recite that verse. Lord, I don’t know how I’m going to get out of here but You’re going to be faithful and I’m going to claim Your promises. And it’s amazing how just that small Scripture in my mind had such a calming effect. And that was just a minor emergency, I did make it to the plane on time, they were almost taxing out of the runway by the time I got there but I got back.

And there’s things like this that are going to happen in your life and you have to make a choice, are you going to hit the panic button or are you just going to rely upon the promises of God? So God met this need in Paul’s life. In fact, if you go down to verse 18 he gives the impression that God is not going to just meet this need but He’s going to keep meeting needs. Verse 18, “The Lord will rescue me from” notice the word every, “every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever.” As we teach here we are not currently in the kingdom; we believe the kingdom is yet future because once we’re in the kingdom we won’t have needs like this; we won’t have needs like this. We won’t have emergencies like this.

So until the kingdom arrives we have to keep relying upon or trusting God. It’s very clear when you go back to verse 1 that Paul talks about the kingdom being yet future. In fact, when you go over to chapter 4, verse 20 it’s obvious that Paul didn’t believe he was in the kingdom because he says, “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.” In the kingdom everybody’s diseases are healed. Isaiah 35:5-6 indicate that. (Isaiah 35:5-6, “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. [6] Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah.”)

But until the kingdom arises we are a needy people; we are in a place of need, we are in a position of need, we are in a position of dependency, we forget that we are created as dependent beings. And we are in need of seeing over and over again the faithful hand of God. Paul says to Timothy, you know what, God came through for me in this area of deliverance and He’s going to come through for you as well.

There is a third need that the apostle had and this has to do with deliverance, not just from impossible circumstances but deliverance from persecution. Notice, if you will, verse 14, “Alexander he coppersmith did me much harm; The Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” Verse 15, “Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.” Paul here makes reference to somebody and names a name as Paul has a tendency to do in these books. He names somebody that injured Paul; we’re not told exactly what the injury was but the Greek word for harm that’s used here in verses 14 and 15 is the exact same word that Luke uses in Acts 28:5 referring to a snake bite. Acts 28:5, of Paul it says, “However he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm.” Whatever happened to Paul it’s analogous to poison running through his system.

In Matthew 17:15 it says, “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.” Apparently some sort of epilepsy or demon possession; this word for “ill” is the same word that Paul uses to describe harm that was perpetrated on him by Alexander the coppersmith. And it wasn’t a minor injury because of the adjective “much.” Alexander the coppersmith didn’t just offend Paul, didn’t just upset Paul, didn’t just get under Paul’s skin periodically but this is a man that injured Paul in some actual way, whether it was physical, emotional, relational, I don’t know, but this man did something against Paul that wounded Paul to the point where he had a difficult time forgetting about it.

Have you ever been hurt by somebody and no matter how hard you try to push it out of your mind that same wounding or injury keeps coming up, over and over again in the arena of our mind. That’s the kind of thing that Paul is speaking of here. And Alexander the coppersmith was such a troublemaker Paul even warns Timothy, “Be on your guard against him,” verse 15, “for he vigorously opposed our teaching.”

And yet in the midst of that very need God came through for Paul because it says there in verse 14, “the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” Paul took Alexander the coppersmith off his own hook and he placed the man on God’s hook. And that’s what a lot of us need to do with people; we sit up late at night or wake up early in the morning thinking about such and such a person and what they’ve done to us and how they’ve injured us and we think that by harboring an attitude of un-forgiveness that we’re hurting that person when in reality a bitter spirit towards somebody that has injured us, and by the way, we all get hurt, it’s part of living in a fallen world. But harboring an attitude of bitterness towards the person that hurt us doesn’t hurt that person that injured us at all. The only thing it injures is who? Ourselves!

Bitterness is like drinking poison thinking it’s going to hurt somebody else. And it is amazing how the devil has worked to chain God’s people into a place of bondage through an unforgiving attitude towards somebody. And Paul here says the Lord will repay him. Paul wasn’t out trying to seek vengeance; he wasn’t out trying to seek revenge; he wasn’t out trying to plot his next move. He simply took the man and said you’re on God’s hook now. And I discovered a long time ago that if I will not seek vengeance for personal wrongs but rather leave room for the vengeance of God that God has an interesting way of settling the account. Sometimes He deals with people dramatically through discipline, sometimes He exercises complete grace towards that person, but you see, once I put the person on God’s hook they’re no longer my responsibility. “The Lord will repay him,” that’s what Paul says.

The book of Romans, chapter 12, verses 17-19 it says never pay back evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men and if possible so far as it depends upon you be at peace with all men, never take your own revenge beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: vengeance is mine, I will repay, thus saith the Lord.

(Romans 12:17, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. [18] If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. [19] Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay says the Lord.”)

God’s going to do a far better job dealing with Alexander the coppersmith than I ever could, Paul says. I am releasing him to the custody and the sovereignty and the authority of God, and guess who is becoming liberated in the process? Paul says I am. So is it not interesting at the very end of his life even this need that he had for wrongs to be made right he sensed the hand of God meeting that need as God touched Paul’s heart in this place of confinement to the point where Paul could even surrender his opponents to the hand of God. I would encourage you to do that; have you done that to your adversaries and your opponents and people that say unfair things about you? Or act in unbecoming ways towards you? Are you the type of person that’s trying to go out and settle the score or have you released these people to God? As you find you do the latter you’ll find you’re the one that’s liberated and free.

Paul had another need, the need for spiritual hunger. Notice if you will chapter 4 and verse 13, “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.” Well, what are “the books”? When you study this word “book” in Greek, it’s the Greek word biblion, it’s used in Luke 4:17 of the Isaiah scroll. Luke 4:17, when Jesus was in the synagogue in Nazareth it says, “And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,” the same word “book” biblion, is used here. I believe when Paul says “the books” he’s talking about the, what we would call the Old Testament, the Scriptures themselves.

He mentions here in verse 13 “the parchments.” Charles Ryrie, of “the parchments,” said papyri scrolls, the parchments, the skins of Aveilus, used for more precious documents, in this case Paul’s personal copies of the Old Testament. Charles Ryrie says: “The missionary prisoners still wanted to study.” You know, a lot of people think they’re beyond studying; I’ve studied that already, I know that already. Is it not interesting that the man who was trusted with the mysteries of God at the very end of his life wanted to read the Scripture and study it. People that act like they’ve arrived because they’ve read that already in the Bible, I think are missing the point. You never arrive; there are always new things God wants to teach you. I’m astonished that whenever I go back to this book I’m learning new things over and over again, in books that I’ve already read and studied.

Paul says I want to study. And you see, Paul had a need, he needed to be spiritually fed. Paul had that need; if Paul had that need how much more do we have that need! “Man shall not live by bread alone but” on what? “every word that precedes from the mouth of God.” Job 23:12 says, “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.’” 1 Peter 2:2 says, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

You say well pastor, I just don’t have a hunger for the Word of God. Let me tell you something; do you know what destroys your hunger for the Word of God? Junk food. If I’m driving home and my wife tells me she’s prepared a nutritious meal for me and I stop at McDonalds and have the Big Mac value meal and a quarter pounder, not to mention the Sundae with the little nuts on top, I know these things pretty well, I’m confessing some sin here, and I devour this food what appetite is there left for what’s nutritious? See?

What is spiritual junk food? 1 Peter 2:1, right before the verse I just mentioned, tells us what spiritual junk food is, “Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, [2] like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word” of God. If you don’t have an appetite for the Word of God the reason for that is the stomach is filled with junk food, it’s filled with malice and deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander. What Peter is saying is get rid of the junk food and you’ll have an appetite for the true Word of God. And Paul had that need for spiritual nourishment.

And how few spiritual leaders understand this. Spiritual leaders feed others constantly but they themselves need to be fed. That’s why I’m grateful for Sugar Land Bible Church, and an elder board like we have that doesn’t get its pastor running around from activity to activity doing this and doing that, but there’s a guarding, to a certain extent, of the pastor’s personal study and meditation, and even the ability to go to different conferences and be fed himself so he can effectively feed others. Paul had that need and is it not interesting how that need was met as Timothy was to bring to Paul, at the very end of his life, the sacred writings.

Paul had a fifth need and that was a physical need. He had spiritual needs; he also had physical needs. Look at verse 13, “When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus,” why would Paul need a cloak? The simple answer to that is he’s in a dungeon and he’s freezing. Charles Ryrie says this of the cloak: “To protect from cold and the damp of his dungeon.” Even at the very end of his life God was looking out for Paul’s physical needs.

We have physical needs, don’t we? Food, shelter, finances, money, as you get old, sadly hospital expenses and things of that begin to mount up and we think that somehow the grace of God doesn’t cover those circumstances and what we’re learning here is that God would do the looking out for those things. We look at them as minor; to God they’re major.

I’m reminded of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:25 and following, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? [26] Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? [27] And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere. [28] “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, [29] yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. [30] But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!” that’s the problem.

Lord, You’re big enough to get me to heaven one day and pay for my salvation but this rent payment that I’ve got at the end of the month, that’s a problem. And we diminish God and we just don’t trust Him and His ability to meet basic needs in our life which He is more than willing to do.

(Verse 31) “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ [32] For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things” the pagan world is focused on these things; that’s what they’re all worried about, the stock market, the economy, inflation, retirement fund, that’s their focus. “…for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. [34] So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Amen! Inch by inch life’s a cinch; yard by yard life is hard. Stop worrying about what is going to happen tomorrow and start worrying about, or be concerned about am I going to get through today? And you’ll discover that the burdens on your life will start to dramatically shrink when we live day to day. 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxiety on Him,” why? “because He cares for you.” He’s the great shepherd of the sheep, He knows you by name, He knows what your needs are, He knows the specific predicament that you may find yourself in this afternoon.

One more need and we’re finished. Relational! You know, of all of the things that I wish I could jettison in ministry it’s this issue, walking in solidarity with somebody, being on the same page with somebody, having comradery with somebody, accomplishing exploits for God’s purposes with somebody and then there’s a fracture in the fellowship, there’s a disagreement of some kind, there’s a parting of the ways. And the person that you were once in comradery with the fellowship has been broken. If I could get rid of anything in the ministry I would get rid of that because to me that is the most painful.

And this is the very thing that happened to the great apostle Paul because in Acts 13:13, on his first missionary journey, we read these words, “Now Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia; but John” that’s John Mark, “left them and returned to Jerusalem.” We’re not told why John Mark bailed out on missionary journey one, maybe the rigors of being a missionary was too much for him, I don’t know what the circumstances were but this young man said I’ve had enough, I’m done.

And then when we come to missionary journey two Barnabas wants to take Mark with him on missionary journey two and Paul says no way, that brat, or that kid, or whatever he said, is not coming on missionary journey two. And Barnabas, who had traveled with Paul, had such a sharp disagreement that the two of them went their separate says. It says in Acts 15:39, “And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.” Paul and Silas went a different way and they retraced their steps through southern Galatia.

This word “sharp disagreement” I looked this up in Greek, it’s only used twice in the Greek New Testament, but it refers to an intense difference of opinion. It’s not just a minor argument, this was an argument that was so severe that it caused a rupture in the missionary team. And I believe that this is something that plagued Paul his whole life, thinking back on this relationship that he had once had with Barnabas and also Mark, that had been fractured and anybody that goes through something like that knows that the wounds are difficult to close.

And may I just say to you, did you know at the end of Paul’s life God was even looking out for that issue because what does it say here in 2 Timothy 4:11, it’s astounding what it says in light of what I’ve just revealed to you from the book of Acts. Paul says, “Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark,” wasn’t that the same guy that bailed out and they had the disagreement over years earlier? “Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.” This guy that was useless has now become useful in the providence of God. This man that I was alienated from, the relationship has been restored.

And you see, there are people like that in my life, there are people like that in your life, that we want nothing to do with because of some past wounding or disagreement. Can I just encourage you to let the Lord work. You would be shocked at what God will do in terms of healing and restoring a broken relationship. God, that was so interested in Paul’s needs that at the very end of his life he even looked out for his relational needs.

Loneliness, God came through, when nobody else could. Deliverance, God came through when no one else could. Persecution, God came through when no one else could. Spiritual hunger, God came through when no one else could. Physical needs, God came through when no one else could, right down to relational needs.

And how does the book conclude. I love this verse, 22, “The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.” What sustained Paul all of these years was the present tense grace of God. Salvation to Paul was not just a yesterday thing or a tomorrow thing; it was a today thing. It sustained him throughout the difficulties of ministry and sustained him right until his very death. Timothy, I’ve got no corner on God, God is the same yesterday, today and forever. If He helped me He’s going to help you.

So in the midst of inevitable disappointment and discouragement and frustration I want you to turn to God. See, this is not just a bunch of biographical data here, it’s systematic thought contributing to Paul’s point to encourage us in the midst of difficulty. I hope you understand today that God meets needs.

Now there’s a need that we have that we don’t always feel and that’s the need to have our sins forgiven, the greatest need that we have. Jesus has bridged the gap between God and man through His death, burial, resurrection and ascension. He’s done everything possible to need that need, all we must do is respond to it by faith. It’s possible there could be people here that have never responded by faith to receive the free offer of forgiveness that God wants to give them and fix their greatest need that they have, that they may not necessarily feel. If the Spirit of God is doing something in your heart right now as I speak, if He is convicting you in any way, and if you’re unclear of your eternal destiny our exhortation to you at Sugar Land Bible Church, right there where you’re seated, without having to walk an aisle or raise a hand or join a church or fill out a card, simply right there where you’re seated to trust in the promises of Jesus and Jesus alone for the safekeeping of your soul. If it’s something that you’re doing now then you’ve changed your eternal destiny. If it’s something you have done your destiny is forever changed; the greatest need that you have has been met. If it’s something you need more clarification on I’m available after the service to talk. But as we grow in our walk with God let’s start to view God differently, not as the enemy, someone to be angry at because of difficulties but difficulties which are designed by God so that we can tangibly see His faithful hand in our lives, meeting all of these six needs and more. He did it for Timothy, He did it for Paul, He’ll do it for us. Shall we pray.

Father, we’re so grateful for your nature that You are Jehovah Jireh, which mean God provides. Help us, Father, to look for Your faithfulness and Your provision this week as we walk with You, we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said…Amen.

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