WORSHIP GUIDE |

July

30

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July

31

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2022

Intentional Transitions: Finishing Well

A message from
Pastor John Tardonia

2 Timothy 4:6-8(ESV)

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2 Timothy 4:6-8(ESV)

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up 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 to all who have loved his appearing.

Worship Focus

Today we worship God as the Author and Finisher of our Faith. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can run the race set before us and honor Him.

Digging Deeper

THIS WEEK'S Bible study

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Transitions: Intentional Transitions: Finishing Well

Last week, we learned that a conversation with Jesus can change our thinking, even when we are certain we are right. Nicodemus, a Pharisee, came to Jesus at night, with curiosity. He walked away from their talk with a new perspective that could have only come from Jesus, and an outlook full of light and truth. In order to help Nicodemus transition from his old way of thinking to a new one, Jesus had to show Nicodemus the  blind spot that hindered him. He had made assumptions about who Israel’s Messiah would be and what He would do in the world. Jesus helped him see the truth, like He does every person who comes to Him in prayer and through His word. But, it is up to us to believe His words and then act on them. 

This week, we’ll focus on the Apostle Paul who was facing a transition that we all must face eventually. In a letter he wrote to Timothy, a man who was like a son to him, Paul conveys his belief that he would soon die. Paul was unafraid of this transition. He was committed to finishing his life well. 

There is a time appointed for every person to die, but in the meantime, we can be confident that our lives have a great purpose and that all of who we are and everything we’ve experienced makes a contribution to God’s purposes. Each of our lives can be an answer to this prayer: “Thy will be done on earth” as God conforms our lives to reflect the realities of a place we cannot know yet, heaven.

How to Use This Guide 

Thank you for taking the time to do this Bible study. When we dig deeper into God’s word, He promises to bless us. We follow in the footsteps of King David, who wrote in Psalm 119:105: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

This guide will provide a weekly framework for spiritual conversations with friends or family. We encourage you to reach out to a friend or two, pick a time to get together each week, and work through this guide together. This Bible study can also be a good tool for families, perhaps coordinated with mealtimes.

What does the Bible say?

Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

We have a short passage this week. But, don’t let Paul’s brevity fool you. In this assessment of his life, he is succinct, but also characteristically meaningful in his choice of words and images. When Paul summarizes where he stood in Christ, he communicates the priorities that have shaped his life. We can see how our own agendas line up with Paul’s and thus determine how we will feel about our life when it is time for us to transition into heaven. 

In these few verses, we can see evidence of Paul’s life-affirming credo in 1 Corinthians 9:22. There he says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” The reason behind this approach is in verse 23: “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” Paul’s perspective is that nothing in his life was to be wasted and all must be focused on sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with others. 

Paul was born a Jew and trained to be an expert in Judaism. But, he was also a Roman citizen and a world traveler who became an expert in the way non-Jewish people (gentiles) lived. He loved the Scriptures of his people and knew them well. He also knew enough about the important philosophers of his day whose thought influenced how the larger population who were his target audience perceived the world. In 2 Timothy 4:6-8, as Paul summed up his life, we see evidence that he lived a full life in all the spheres where God placed him. We can do the same as we thrive wherever God plants us. 

There are two ideas in 2 Timothy 4:6. The first hearkens back to Paul’s Jewish identity as it is laid out in the Old Testament. The second communicates that Paul knew his life was drawing near to its end. 

Read about the installation of the drink offering in Numbers 15:1-12 and 28:7, 24. God directed the many offerings He required from His people, Israel. These sacrifices were designed to keep His relationship with Israel intact and healthy. Priests officiated these activities on behalf of the rest of the people as they acted as go-betweens who presented the offerings of the people to their holy God. These and other rituals shaped and affirmed Israel’s identity as God’s holy people. Various rites gave Israel her unique qualities and associated the people with their God. 

In Numbers 28:7, we read that the drink offering was to be poured out to the Lord in the place of His presence. In Paul’s mind, his entire life was a drink offering as he poured himself out to the Lord everywhere he went. Since Paul believed the Holy Spirit resided within Him, then this was a commitment he made from the inside out. He must have had a sense that he was approaching the end of his life. Perhaps he perceived that his letter to Timothy was one of the last tasks to be completed. 

What difference would it make if you considered your life as a drink offering, poured out to the Lord? This perspective lays everything on the line and holds nothing back. Paul’s attitude expressed his gratitude for the grace that God had shown to him. Ancient sacrifices were often designed to mimic a meal. Worshipers came near to where their god resided, offered animals, and sometimes grain to the god. A drink offering could also be poured out in the god’s presence. This special meal was a sign of fellowship with the deity. So, when Paul uses the imagery of the drink offering, it is not merely a ritual without meaning. He is invoking an image that describes his relationship with God. As he wrote in Romans 12:1, Paul believed that in light of all that God has done, we are to present our bodies as living sacrifices to Him. This is how and why Christ-followers are to live a life of worship. Giving ourselves over to God does not just happen when we are in a church building. We pour ourselves out in response to what God has done for us every day and everywhere we go. As Paul gives his final assessment of his life, he begins by stating that first and foremost, he is a worshiper of God.

In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul lays out three ways he has poured himself out to God in worship. What are the three “I have” statements Paul makes to describe his life? Let’s look at each of these in turn. If Paul's first statement hearkens back to his Jewish background, the second two may be attached to the knowledge he had gained about non-Jewish people, gentiles. These were the people God had called him to reach. Paul’s life as a Christ-follower began with an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. This experience inaugurated a transition in Paul’s thinking and brought a new calling and purpose to his life. Before, Paul had zealously persecuted Christ-followers. After Jesus’ intervention, Paul became a Christ-follower and devoted the rest of his life to sharing the gospel with others, especially gentiles. Let’s look at the next two statements from a gentile point of view.

I have fought the good fight.

The first thing we can observe is that Paul was not above using the language of the people he wanted to reach. Greece was known for its Olympic games in which fights were contests between opponents. However, Paul’s opponents were not other people. In Ephesians 6:12, we read that Paul didn’t struggle against other people of flesh and blood, but against “the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). Read about the armor he suggests that all Christ-followers should adopt for this fight in Ephesians 6:10-18. 

The Christian life can be viewed as a fight against the forces of evil. Notice that in 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul did not say that he had won the fight, but that he fought the good fight. We must also have this outlook as we live in a fallen world where evil tries to overcome good. In the end, God will win this fight and evil will be defeated for good (see Revelation 21:4). But, until then, we must do our part and never let up. When we transition into heaven, we will be glad that we never gave up the fight against evil. 

I have finished the race.

Here is another reference that Greeks would understand. In Greek culture, there were races one could participate in or observe. Whether on horseback or on foot, these events were an important part of the fabric of life. 

This isn’t the only time Paul mentions finishing the race. 2 Timothy was written to Timothy who was living in Ephesus. Paul had deep friendships in this city and had lived there for a time himself. If Timothy were to have shared Paul’s words to the Christ-followers in Ephesus, some of them might have remembered Paul’s last words to them when he said goodbye in Miletus on his way to Jerusalem. At that time, recorded in Acts 20:17-38, Paul was headed to Jerusalem where he was sure he would face persecution and perhaps even death. Paul sent a message to his friends in Ephesus and asked them to meet him on his way. He told this group that it would be the last time he would see them. In these private moments, Paul expressed his desire and drive to finish his course (or race) and complete the mission that he had received from the Lord Jesus (see Acts 20:24). This mission was “to testify to the good news of God’s grace.” At that point, Paul did not feel that he had completed the race. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he did suffer. He was imprisoned and eventually sent to Rome to await his audience with Ceasar. You can read about Paul’s last years in Acts 21-28. Between the time he spent with his friends from Ephesus and the moments when he wrote his letter to Timothy, Paul could now say that he had finished the race. 

These are amazing words. Can you imagine being able to say at the end of your life that you have completed all that God has called you to do? What would you need to do in order to finish the race God has appointed for you? What priorities would have to change? How do your activities further God’s mission? Maybe you could think of your mission in terms of people. Who has God put in your life? The ones you see at home, school, work, clubs, in your neighborhood, and in your church, these are people within your missional sphere. We should think outside these parameters too. Where is God calling you to serve Him? Are you willing to run the race He has set before you?

I have kept the faith.

In this statement, we can see Paul’s worlds converging. When he speaks of “the faith” he could be referring to the body of truth as contained in the Jewish Scriptures and the beliefs he had come to know as a result of his encounter with Jesus. Keeping the faith could also mean that he had stayed true to his faith in Jesus, even to the point of suffering for it. Paul never did waver in his belief in Jesus. There is also a third aspect of faith that is in concert with how people in the first-century thought about it. Faith, or pístis, had to do with trustworthiness. We could also translate the phrase this way, “I have guarded the faith.” This translation takes in the first-century idea that we should be faithful with what has been entrusted to us. Paul attributed his faith to God. Since God had given faith to him, Paul guarded and protected it as a good trustee. He treated this gift as precious, and made sure it grew and was shared with others. 

Think about the faith that has been entrusted to you by God. How do you take care of it? Is it growing? Do you read the Bible and study it? Are you learning about God? Are you faithful in your relationship with God and with others? Are you sharing your faith with others and living out its truths for the people around you to see? These questions can keep us accountable to be faithful with all that God has given to us. Keeping these things in mind every day will help us be able to say with truthfulness at the end of our life, “I have kept the faith.”

In 2 Timothy 4:8, Paul goes on to talk about the reward he is expecting from Jesus when he arrives in heaven. What is it? Who will award it to him? Who else can expect this kind of crown? Paul had already used this imagery in 1 Corinthians 9:25. What do you read there? What is different about the wreath Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 9:25 and the crown he refers to in 2 Timothy 4:8? Read what Paul says about how we can think of our life like a race in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. As you take in these words, realize that Paul can only talk about his expectation of a crown of righteousness in heaven because he had lived the kind of life he describes in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. 

Do you remember what we said about Paul’s credo and purpose from 1 Corinthians 9:22 at the beginning of this study? Paul says, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul also gives the reason behind this approach is in verse 23: “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” This is also to be every Christ-follower’s life’s purpose. What are you doing with the faith God has given to you? There will come a time when we will die and transition into heaven. May we all live in such a way that we can say with Paul, 

I have poured out my life as an offering to God.

I have fought the good fight.

I have finished the race.

I have kept the faith.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we do not know the day of our death. But, we do know that You have entrusted us with faith in You that we are to steward well. Thank You for this precious gift that came to us because of Your great sacrifice on the cross. May Your goodness infiltrate our hearts and spur us on to fight the good fight and finish the race You have set before us. May we keep the faith and be happy about the way we have chosen to live our lives when we see You face to face someday in heaven. Amen.

About This Sermon Series

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

READ MORE +

Transitions, as we know, are part of life. We experience personal, familial, vocational, cultural, national, and even organizational transitions. In fact, Northland is a church in the midst of change and transition. We have called our new lead pastor, Dr. Josh Laxton. Interestingly, while we experience a myriad of transitions in a lifetime, there is a difference between change and transition. Change is situational whereas transition is psychological. In other words, transition involves processing the change.

After experiencing a change and transition, we can look back and see that we were changed—or better yet transformed. And who you became, the kind of transformation that occurred in that transition was the direct result of how you processed or didn’t process the change.

In this series, Transitions, we will take you on a journey through Scripture looking at various transitions in the life God’s people as well as various passages that deal with how we should process changes in our life. Our hope and prayer in this series is that you will learn how to process the various changes in life and allow the Holy Spirit to use transitions to conform you more into the image of Jesus.

Upcoming Weekends

» August 6-7
TRANSITIONS | Questions Sufferers Ask |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

» August 13-14
TRANSITIONS | Transitioning Church: Ready or Not |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

Upcoming Worship Services

» August 6-7
TRANSITIONS | Questions Sufferers Ask |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

» August 13-14
TRANSITIONS | Transitioning Church: Ready or Not |
Lead Pastor Josh Laxton

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Need for Fiscal (7/1/20-6/30/21) $9.5M
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If you'd like to learn more or have questions related to finances at Northland, contact our finance team at FinanceTeam@NorthlandChurch.net.
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