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December 3, 2021 2:00 am
Cemeteries remind us about the unavoidable certainty of death—and to think about our future. In the message "The Last Dance: Instructions on How to Die Well," Skip considers how you can face the end of life on this earth with no regrets.
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Decide to be faithful. That's how to die will decide right now.
Even if you haven't been so faithful up to this point that today will be the reset side to be very a look at verse seven verse seven is survived by five finish the race. I Think Paul sums up his whole life.
One possible avoid talking about wherever he spoke plainly about and anticipated as the finish line for his spiritual race would finally be with Jesus today on connect with Skip Heitzigs, Skip shares how you can look faithful so you can finish your spiritual race.
Well, forgettable. Tonight is I want to invite you to join the tour of Israel 2022.
I've been there a number of times and visiting the places where the events of the Bible unfolded, it just doesn't get old register by November 30 using combo code connect Israel to receive $150 off tour price get all the tour information and inspiration. Cruises.com/C a VQ Thanksgiving. Now we are in second Timothy chapter 4 is Skip Heitzigs. It gets into today's message there was a man who got out the beer block on the head when into a deep coma for a long time thought it was dead.
They sent them to the funeral home and are there in the mortuary. They did with him what they would normally do with anybody thought that they put in a casket while at two in the morning and that dimly lit room all alone.
The man sat up in a casket. He looked around and he said and what's going on. If I am alive why my in this casket and find dad.
Why do I still have to go to the bathroom I'm going to venture a guess that this may be the most unusual sermon you have heard in your life unusual because it has nothing to do with life. It has everything to do with death. I want to talk to you about how to die well I told you it would be an unusual sermon. See most messages most teachings. Most sermons are all about life, spiritual life, how to grow spiritually, how to have great relationships, solid marriages how to help others grow in their faith, how to go through trials. All of the things that deal with life but what we have before us in second Timothy are the last words of a dying man.
Paul the apostle knows he is going to die imminently. He writes this letter knowing his days, perhaps weeks, or maybe just hours left to live, and I have discovered that people's final words are the most revealing words when people die they get really honest, I progress he is stripped away, and what you may have thought they were may come out differently. In their last words always been interested in the final words of dying men or women. I found it fascinating that when Mahatma Gandhi for all that he did for India and for all that he said he believed in nobly when he died he said. My days are numbered for the first time in 50 years. I find myself in the slough of despond all about me is darkness and I am praying for life Voltaire this this fascinates me. Voltaire was one of the most outspoken critics against the Christian faith thought himself to be intellectually superior those poor dumb Christians out there, and he often wrote against believers when he died. However, he said out loud. I am abandoned by God and man. I shall go to hell and he cried out. Oh Christ oh Jesus Christ, he cried out all night long. So much so that the nurse attending him said for all the money in Europe.
She never wanted to attend the death of another unbeliever. When Buddha died, he uttered these words, I have not yet attained my goal now compare those to the words of the apostle in chapter 4 of second Timothy verse six for I am already being poured out as a drink offering the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that day and not to me only, but also to all who have loved his appearing. You know that I've discovered that most people do not like to talk about death so uncomfortable subject, and sometimes even fun to bring it out just to watch people squirm a little bit talk about that and am withers a number of reasons why I had this discussion with the funeral director this week, but she said it's amazing how much people do not want to talk about the subject, but for some of us the road ahead is much shorter than the road behind, so we think about death a little bit differently as we get closer to it. CS Lewis said as we grow older we become like old cars more repairs and replacement parts are necessary. We must just look forward to the fine new machines. The latest resurrection model waiting for us in the divine garage like a will.
The closer we get to that garage. The more dominant the idea of the reality of death becomes so, we wonder about it.
We wonder what it's good to be like for us. I had a staff member who left here years ago planted a church very successful.
His wife grew ill.
She's in heaven now before she died. I went to visit her in the hospital I was there with her husband and she said honey, I'd like a few moments, along with skip.
I want to talk about death in heaven and easy sure you don't want to hear me. He's a pastor he's good is now. I love you but I just want time alone with my pastor so she had all sorts of questions about what it would feel like what you would see what she would experience people she would see do I have to hang out in heaven with all the Christians I know who are there but I never like hanging out with hundred enough stuff. We all think about the name of this message is the last dance like others we borrowed it from the TV series basketball documentary series how in 1997 the coach of the Chicago Bulls. Phil Jackson announced it would be his last season he called at the final dance. The last dance and the series depicts how Michael Jordan and other great team members gave it their all and took the championship the last dance we are in. As you know, second Timothy chapter 4 where in three verses alone just three verses, Paul looks at his life. Presently, his life past and his life. Future. Talk about using an economy of words. All of that is wrapped up in these three verses and I will just say as we start to get into this.
This is the way to go. This is a way to die. This is the way to go out when you know how to go out.
You know how to go forward. You know how to live when you know how to die so I want to do in these verses and will look at a few others is give you four main ingredients to dying well. As a Christian it's get into it. First of all face the inevitable happened. In verse six, Paul says, for I am already being poured out as a drink offering in the time of my you could translate the next word death deceased he calls a departure is at hand. Paul is so matter-of-fact he's in jail any ghosts over Z I'm about to die and I know it. What I love about Paul is he doesn't avoid the subject's and say how much he shockingly is abrupt about it and very plain about. I'll show you what I mean by abrupt shockingly abrupt. Paul the apostle not only knows that he's going to die Paul the apostle knows how he is going to die is a Roman citizen. Roman citizens didn't get crucified.
Roman citizens got decapitated Paul knew that was his future and he describes it as being poured out like a drink offering, he knows it's a blood event he had seen it before, but he uses Jewish language. She takes us back to the Old Testament drink offering, he calls it comes to us in Exodus 29 in Numbers 15. Let me describe it for you in the Old Testament there was an offering called the burnt offering, the burnt offering was an animal put on an altar wholly consumed. They didn't take parts often medium date date they barbecue the whole thing. The burnt offering was for sin. On top of the burnt offering was placed. Oil poured oil and flour so can you just imagine what that would smell like barbecued lamb or beef with baked bread. Then on top of that was poured the drink offering, which was a libation of sweet wine poured over the sacrifice so it all became what God described as a sweet smelling sacrifice or saver to the Lord was the drink offer.
Paul is saying that is my life is my life I've wholly been consumed like the burnt offering from the Damascus Road. To this day 30 years.
My life is been consumed for his glory.
And now, to top it off I'm about to be executed and the spelling of my blood at that event is like the drink offering being poured out to complete the sacrifice.
See what I mean by shockingly stark and honest about it. That is what he is describing Melanie take you back fill in a little gap. Paul had been in a Roman prison before he been many persons, but he was in Rome once before and when he was in Rome the first time in prison. He wrote a letter to the Philippian church. He did know if he is in the liver died in that first trial he ended up living for considerable amount of time after that. But he didn't know at the time of my delivery die. But then he said he rightly writes this to the Philippians 4 if I am being poured out as a drink offering the strengthening of your faith.
I'm glad then he said if then it was hypothetical.
Now it's real it's actual he knows this is the end and he faces it and he does it plainly and honestly any talks about is not afraid of the subject.
Nor should we ever be afraid of the subject, especially as belief, especially as believers, I think it's good to talk about and it's good to even plan it. I plan mine down to the song or songs that will be some did you know that Solomon in the Old Testament basically said going to a funeral is more beneficial to going on vacation. Listen to what he writes. This is Ecclesiastes it's better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting. That's his way of saying funeral is better than a party for that is the end of all men, and the living will take it to heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. You see when you live with death in mind, you live differently. First of all because you don't know what's can happen. You don't schedule it right. It's not you, it's not something you put on your calendar so like 8 o'clock go to work 1030 workout 12 o'clock he lunch 2 o'clock die. You don't get that luxury. Even though the Bible says it is appointed for every man wants to die after this the judgment. God is made an appointment with you for your death, but he hadn't told you when the appointment is, but it will happen. And when you live that way you live differently and you live wisely because you realize I have a certain amount of time. This lifetime is in the cost me my life and so I want to invest it to want to just wasted was I going to a lawyer if you go to a lawyer and a lawyer before he begins her, she says, before we start, I just want you to know my rate is $250 an hour at at that point you get down to business.
You don't ask about whether kids or hobbies. You just wanted deal with the business because of the cost. So living with death. As in an inevitability is a healthy way to live and notice how he describes his own death. He says the time of my departure is at hand. I found that's a great word to describe death departure.
We think of the party.
Think of going on a trip right and adventure.
Even when you go to the airport and you look up and you see a sign that says arrivals and departures are people who are leaving the different parts of the country or the world on their trip. But let me tell you about the word quickly. The word departure and interesting where the Paul used is the Greek word on… It means to break up or to unloose, but it was a word that was very descriptive and used a few different ways. In antiquity, first of all, sailors use the word on… Departure for the pulling up of the anchor and the loosening of the ropes on the dock so that that ship could set sail so Paul may be saying I'm leaving the port of earth and I'll be in the harbor of heaven.
That word was used by sailors to describe also on… Departure was used of oxen who would plow a field so farmers would at the end of the day take the heavy yoke on the oxen and unhitch it unloose and set that oxen free so that's a good way to think about death when I die I get unhitched I get unloosed. The work is over the toilet over the labor is over. Revelation 14 describes death that way. Blessed are those who die in the Lord from now on for their the they will cease from their labors and the reward will follow the works on the labors over.
Also, the word on… Was used of slaves or slaveowners for the setting free of the slave when the shackles fell off the ankles are off the risks. He was on a loose right. He was there was a departure and so Paul may have had that in mind, I'll be unchained from this Roman prison will be unchanged from temptations. I'll be unchained from my fallen nature. I'll be set free, but also the word on… Departure was used of travelers, soldiers or travelers when they would break up camp and move their tent somewhere else they would pull up the stakes. Fold the tent up, go somewhere else set it up again.
That was called the on… Or the departure and you know how the Bible talks about our bodies being like a tent you've heard that before. From Paul the apostle, he said in second Corinthians 5. When this earthly tent that we live in is taken down. We have a home in heaven. In eternal body made for us by God, not by human. I'm camping to pull the tent stakes up and move to something permanent you know I love camping always have and I married Lenny II mean I was a hard-core camper if you don't put up tent on a backpack and walk out into the wilderness viewing camp that's out. I can't and I still love tent camping, but I got us put it this way I like it for like a day. If you're out in the tent for a couple days and you start smelling right and you're feeling a little bit sticky and gnarly you long for something permanent, and the longer we live in this tent, we long for something more permanent, something to move into that will never fade away.
What is interesting to me and it always has been, is that though we know were just in a tent.
It's amazing how preoccupied we become with our tents better preserve the tent out of the flaps look today for there's a few more of a note, the tent stakes are legally loose a little bit. We put so much energy into the tent. So much so that when people die at heard this time and time again at funerals casket gets open, people going forward, look down you know they say boy. He looks good. Okay I hope you told him that before, a few days before his death. FB Meyer wrote to a friend of Myers, one of my heroes in the faith, he said, I have just heard to my great surprise that I have but a few days to live.
It may be that before this letter reaches you. I shall have entered the palace listen to that description a minute tent.
I'm going to a palace don't bother to write, we shall meet in the morning will meet in the morning. See you later when I met with our pastor's wife in her hospital room before she went to heaven we were done with our conversation. I was walking out and and she sits Turned around and she said see around the corner. It's just that quick. It will feel like now here's a little FYI. History tells us that the apostle Paul was only 58 years old when he died he may have been 60 may have even been 62. But most scholars place right around 60 probably 58 years old and here's a 58-year-old man in prison who could plant many more churches and do more work, but he knows this is it this is it. It's time. The time for my aunt… My departure. My setting sail my being unshackled has come so face the inevitable second decide to be faithful decide to be faithful is how to die well decide right now.
Even if you haven't been so faithful up to this point that today will be the reset side to be faithful to look at verse seven verse seven he says I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I've kept the faith. Paul sums up his whole life in one verse with these words when you read those words. Is there any sense of regret in them not. There's no regret.
There's no sense of on fulfillment. There's no disappointment. There's no incomplete bucket list, and I wish I could've done that are gone there is I've done it.
I've completed it so he faces death with satisfaction. Why is that it's because he had made a decision years earlier that he was to be faithful to God that he was in a follow God's will. Throughout the course of his life that would be his. His singular passion.
Remember when he was on the Damascus Road still unconverted, he gets knocked off his high horse literally is on the ground. He asked two questions. Question number one.
Who are you, it's good to find out who are you, Lord answer, I'm Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Second question in the second question, he spent his whole life getting answer. What do you want me to do.
What do you want me to do this man spent his entire 30 year spiritual ministry career answering the question, what does God want me to do this passion. That's why you can say done as he lived that way.
He made the decision to be faithful would be great to look back over your life with absolutely no regrets, no disappointments, no misgiving, no sense of on fulfillment. Nothing left undone. If you want that and decide today that faithfulness is going to be your name that Skip the message from the series now Street. Now we want to let you know about a resource God's voice more clearly as you walk 20/20 team almost here now for your spiritual starting in January.
This month their offerings that devotional containing strong for each day the sample from January 1 Martin Luther one has friends after me stank stay in prepare for the greatest adventure of your life. Excerpt at the direction founded gets daily to receive an hardcover gift $35 or more today. This type of teaching history growing plain text messages as our thank you. The victim here in the playlist theory to span energy and life and we all do make sure it's about people that you're building up not just projects the receipt resource kits.com or call 819 to 1888. Did you know there's an exciting biblical resource available right at your fingertips through your mobile device Skip has several Bible reading plans available in the view version Bible simply download the answers Skip shares how you can finish your recent faith. Skip presentation of connection communication changing truth ever-changing time