“A Partaker in Sufferings?” (“Partake” Series #3)

FBC Earlville 5-19-13 10:30 AM Rev. J.B. Stopford, Pastor

INTRODUCTION Today’s Special #1 – “A Trash Funny”
Trying to do his share to help the environment, the pastor set up a trash basket at his church and posted above it this suggestion: “Empty water bottles here.”
He should have been a little more specific, because when he went to check it later, he didn’t find any bottles in it. But it was full of water.
Today’s Special #2 – “A Trash Can Funny”
A wise old gentleman retired and purchased a modest home in the summer near a junior high school. He spent the first few weeks of his retirement in peace and contentment.
Then a new school year began. The very next afternoon three young boys full of youthful afterschool enthusiasm came down his street beating merrily on every trash can they encountered. The crashing percussion continued day after day, until finally the wise old man decided it was time to take some action.
The next afternoon, he walked out to meet the young percussionists as they banged their way down the street. Stopping them, he said, “You kids are a lot of fun. I like to see you express your exuberance like that. I used to do the same thing when I was your age. Will you do me a favor? I’ll give you each a dollar if you’ll promise to come around every day and do your thing.”
The kids were elated and continued to do a bang-up job on the trash cans. A few days later, the wily retiree approached them again as they drummed their way down the street. “Look” he said, “I haven’t received my Social Security (pension) check yet, so I’m not going to be able to give you more than 25 cents. Will that be okay?”
“A lousy quarter?!” the drum leader exclaimed. “If you think we’re going to waste our time beating these cans around for a quarter, you’re nuts! No way, mister. We quit!”
And the old man enjoyed peace and serenity for the rest of his days.

The word for today is “partake” and its variations. We have learned that it means “to share communion”, “to be one with someone or something”. In its richest form in our relationship with God, it means “to abide with God, to commune with Him.” Literally, it means “to partner” – to be one with God’s purposes, plans, provisions, and character.
Purpose: In 2 Timothy 1:8, in itself a strange verse: an invite to partner with [“join with”- NIV] Paul in the sufferings for the gospel. We are reminded that he is in prison in Rome, he is nearing his impending death. And thus 2 Timothy is his final letter, written to his son in the faith, Timothy.
There is much in the following verses. Let’s zero in on 3 thoughts.

God has a desire to be a deliverer – in fact, if we search hard enough, we will find Him to be the only deliverer worthy of our trust!
Yet His delivering (“saved us”) surprisingly comes from 3 viewpoints unique to Him alone: #1 not because of anything we have done #2 because of His own purpose (and grace) #3 before the beginning of time!
Check these verses out! John 17:24 (“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”); Ephesians 1:4 (“just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love”); Revelation 13:8 (“the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”)
These show a personal, all powerful, all knowing, all present God Who has loved us with an everlasting love, a love which cannot be bought or earned by any merit or deed of our own.
The true God is a God of purpose. His purposes involved the cross; His purposes involve meeting each one of us right where we are.
So where are you today? Have you found life to be empty – and repeatedly so? That is understandable, for, as the ancients said, God has given each of us a God-shaped vacuum that yearns for substance – and apart from a partnership with the eternal God, we will be left empty.
So HOW do we enter into God’s purpose? Verse 10 tells us!

Illus.: Do you remember the TV show, The A-Team? Hannibal Smith, Faceman, Howling Mad Murdock, and of course, B.A. Baracus (Mr. T himself!), would join forces each week to help the helpless. And against impossible odds, Hannibal would every week utter his famous line: “I love it when a plan comes together!”
God seemingly faced impossible odds. He had – and still has! – a creation in rebellion against Him. Due to our rebellion, we each face death – both physical and spiritual. We have all experienced that hurt, whether at a funeral home, or in our hearts. An impossible situation – how can man be made right with God? HOW can God meet me where I am?
And God said, “I love it when a plan comes together.” And the plan is called “the gospel” = GOOD NEWS! 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”). John 3:16 is considered “the Bible in a verse”. If you know it, say it with me (“for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”)!
And the end result is a partnership with God, an agreement with His plan – not church, but a relationship with the living God! Have you entered God’s plan? Are you hungry for it?

This is an amazing verse! Because throughout the NT we learn about who Paul was before he became a Christian. He was a murderer – of Christians! He thought he was doing God a favor to eliminate the known world of all those who didn’t agree with his narrow religion. After he became a Christian – or better, after God interrupted his world to show him the light of the gospel – he entered into his divine appointment: to share the good news, the gospel, of Christ to all the world.
This should speak volumes to each of us: even here in Earlville, God has a place, a divine appointment, that He wants each of us to fill. Whether in your marriage, your neighborhood, your work, your community, the eternal God is personal, and wants to personally use each of us. Do you know your divine appointment?

Paul is about to be executed in Rome- probably by being beheaded – for his faith. He is writing a farewell letter to his son in the faith. He should be somber, almost gloomy. But how is he?
#1 Paul is not surprised by his suffering, but rather embraces it
#2 Paul’s life has a foundation, an assurance “for I know” = I couldn’t be more sure of my ground (Message); I am fully personally acquainted with, I have personally applied God’s truth to my life and heart
#3 Paul’s life has an eternal conviction, regardless of the brevity of his life – that his life is entrusted into the hands of the eternal God Who can keep – guard, protect, take care of it – right to the end.
Go over 3 points.
What is your trust? (the cross? the gospel?)
Who is your trust? (the Lord Jesus and His death alone?)
OR are you on shaky ground that needs a foundation?
Where are you today in your journey – have you come to the cross? do you need to come? are you ready to come?
Jesus said, “come unto Me all Who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Are you resting in His deliverance alone?

Let me pray for those who love Jesus, to give thanks for our being recipients of God’s love. And let me pray for those who don’t know Jesus – would you like to come to Him today?


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