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How to End Well - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley
The Truth Network Radio
December 29, 2023 12:00 am

How to End Well - Part 2

In Touch / Charles Stanley

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December 29, 2023 12:00 am

Be encouraged to leave behind a good legacy and ensure that you will spend eternity in heaven with God.

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In Touch
Charles Stanley

Welcome to the In Touch Podcast with Charles Stanley for Friday, December twenty-ninth. It's not how you begin that matters, but how you run the race God has planned for you. Today's podcast expands on that thought and helps you leave the past behind so you can end well. Are you ready to meet the Lord? How do you want to leave this life?

What do you want to leave behind? Well, certainly if you really and truly believe what oftentimes we say we believe, the Word of God, then as a believer you have no reason to fear death. If you're living in sin, then you've got some reasons to be thinking seriously about your lifestyle and meeting the Lord. If you're an unbeliever, that's the last thing that you want to happen to you, and that is to die without Christ.

So I want to ask you this question. If God were to call you die, don't get into that preacher trying to scare me. If I thought I could scare you into heaven, I would do it, but I can't. But I can tell you the truth to say this, you need to take your life seriously. You likewise need to take death seriously because you do not know when it's going to happen. And your fuzzy beliefs about God and death will not make a bit of difference. It's crystal clear in the Word of God that every single one of us will give an account for the life that we've lived. And to live your life without God, to be caught up in mere pleasure and materialism, ends up by simply saying this, God calls that kind of person a fool for living that kind of life. So none of us want to end our life that way.

So the question is, how can we end our life well? So I want you to turn, if you will, to Second Timothy. And so, if you will notice beginning in the sixth verse of this fourth chapter, Paul says, For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought thee good fight, I have finished thee course, and I have kept thee faith. In the future 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 also to those who love His appearing.

Well, I think about the whole idea of being ready to face death. When he says, for example, he's poured out as a drink offering, here's what he's saying. He's saying, you know, my life has been given to the Lord.

And when he said in Romans chapter twelve, for example, Present your bodies a living sacrifice, wholly acceptable unto God, which is the reasonable right thing for us to do. What is he saying to us? Simply this, we've been saved by His grace. We belong to Him. We are His purchased possession.

And being the purchased possession of God, we are to live each day surrendered to His will, surrendered to His purpose, surrendered to His cause. What does God want to do in your life on a given day? You have an occupation, you have a vocation, you work in the business world, but how does He want you to live it out there? What does He want you to accomplish there? What does He want to do through you there?

God wants to work in the life of His children. And He says, listen, I'm ready. And He says, the truth is, I'm already released. Cables are cut, ropes are cut, I'm ready to go.

He was ready. Think about this, you're not really and truly ready to live till you're ready to die. And you're not ready to die until you're ready to live because it's all mixed up together. We live a godly life because we desire to.

What does that do? It equips us and makes it possible for us to be able to face death at any moment and any time absolutely confident of what's next. And so, for a believer to be afraid of death is sort of strange.

Think about this, for example. He said, I'm already being poured out as a drink offering. The time of my departure's come. And then listen to how he makes this next statement. He says, I've fought the good fight.

I've finished the course. I've kept the faith. And what he's simply saying is this. He's simply saying, he's recalling his past with thanksgiving and confidence. And he says, I've fought the good fight. The word is a word from which we get agony from, agonizomai.

We get the word agony. And so, he's talking about this struggle. When he says, I've fought the good fight, he's not talking about physical fighting, but he's talking about spiritual battles. And listen, when he says, I've fought the good fight, the Christian life is a struggle.

We would all agree to that, amen? It's a struggle at times. It is a battle. We're fighting principalities and powers and things to come, for example. And the devil, we have to deal with that. We have to deal with sin and temptations and trials and struggles. We have to deal with opposition and people's criticism and all the rest. We have to deal with disappointments in life and heartache and sorrow and loss.

All of these things are a struggle. And so, he admits that there's a struggle in the Christian life. Can you end well? Yes, we can end well by doing what? Living a godly life and acknowledging it is a struggle.

Acknowledging their temptations, acknowledging their trials. And as long as you and I are breathing, there's not going to ever come a time when we say, Well, that's over. It won't be over till it's over, till life is over. Listen to what he says, he said, I've kept the faith. He says, I've finished the course. When he says finish the course, what does he mean? He means that the work that God called him to do, he's finished it. That is, he's done his best to do exactly what God called him to do.

Somebody says, Okay, now wait a minute. That's what I'm going to talk about. God has not called me to be a missionary preacher. So, what's my course? Here's your course. That is, whatever God has equipped you to do and called you to do is the course that God has set for your life.

It may be to be a godly mother, a godly wife, raising those children, teaching them the things of God, and becoming the person that God wants you to be. That may be part of the course of your life. Or it may be that whatever you, your occupation is, whatever your occupation is, this is certain. God called you to give your best, do your best in that vocation, be honest, be credible, have a good witness, share your testimony, help others, give yourself away. That is an honorable course.

It is an honorable course. And so, whatever God has called you to do in life, you're to do with all of your heart. And the Scripture says very clearly in Colossians, for one place, that you and I are to do our work as unto the Lord.

Whatever you're doing, you're to do it as if you were doing it for Jesus because the truth is you are. You are His servant. You've given yourself to Him.

You belong to Him. He's claimed you as one of His servants and therefore, you and I are responsible to give it our best no matter what we do. If you want to end well, listen, you can't do a sloppy job. If you want to end well, you can't do as little as you can possibly do. If you're going to end well, you stay the course. And this is what He's saying.

He says, I have finished the course. And sometimes I'll talk to pastors who are going through a difficult time in their church and oftentimes I hear them say this. They'll tell me what somebody's done to them. You know what? I don't have to put up with that. You know what I say to them?

Yes, you do. It just may be that what you're putting up with is God's way of sanding and sifting and sculpturing and working in your life and getting you ready for a greater act of service. But if you want to just quit, fold your tent, go somewhere that appears to be easier, that is not, listen, that is not the course of God.

Now, if God chooses to move you, that's one thing. You're just going to quit because it's hard. You're going to give up because of the way people treat you.

You don't think people appreciate you. They don't pay you enough. They don't do this.

They don't do that. You can't use that as an excuse for walking away from the course that God has you at this particular point. And when people have the privilege of serving God and they say, well, it's just not convenient for me. When was that an issue? When in the Bible is convenience an issue? Well, I don't think I'm appreciated.

When is that an issue? That's not in the Word of God. And you see, what happens is that people get off course out of the will of God because something happens in their life that they don't particularly like and they think people mistreat them.

Well, you know what? Join the crowd. Because the truth is if you live a godly life, He says, if you live godly in Christ Jesus, you will suffer persecution. Well, they're gossiping about me, praise the Lord.

Well, they don't like me because of my testimony. Glory to God. In other words, all the things that make you want to quit and fold up your tent and walk away are all the things that Paul said, Timothy, here's what you watch for. Stay the course. You don't quit.

You don't give up. You don't leave because somebody doesn't particularly happen to like you or like your testimony. They don't be around, they don't like being around you. So, when a person says, well, but you know what, I just don't think, I just don't like this and, you know, I want to be what God wants me to be, but, but what? If I'm what God wants me to be, the way people treat me is not an issue. How much I get paid is not an issue. What they say about me is not an issue.

What they like me not an issue. None of that's an issue. The issue, listen, is that God has set us on a course. Naturally, He's going to put you as a believer in the midst of people who don't believe what you believe and who don't like what you like, who don't want you to mention Jesus. He said, listen, Timothy, you don't give up, you don't quit, no matter what. Can't go by your feelings. If you go by your feelings, that won't work.

Absolutely will not work. And so, he says, got to finish the course. And Paul says, I finished it. Then he says, I kept the faith. What he means by that is this, in the midst of all of this turmoil and battling and fighting and all of the things that he had to face in life, he never lost his faith in the promises of God, which said, neither life, nor death, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things, nor come, nor things in the future. Listen, he said, or sword, nothing that can separate him from the love of God. Here's a man who believed the promises of God. And so, he says, I've kept the faith.

Doctrinely, he knew exactly what he believed. But what he's referring to is this, in the midst of trials, tribulations, difficulty, hardship, pain, you name it. Here's what he says, I don't waver. He says, I did not waver, I've kept the faith. What I believed about the Lord Jesus Christ, I still believe I do not give it up no matter what.

Now listen carefully. A lot of folks want to go by their feelings. And you can't go by your feelings. You have to go by what you and I know in our heart.

And there have been times in my life when I'd like to go by my feelings, but it doesn't work. I can remember the only time that I've ever been tempted, even been tempted to want to quit is when, before I became the pastor of First Baptist and a lot of folks didn't like me and want to get rid of me and so forth. And I remember sitting in my study. I lived in Kentucky at that time. I was sitting there one night thinking about all the things they were saying about me and accusing me of, which some of most of which I wish were true. And so, I'm sitting there thinking. I was working on a sermon. It was a little difficult. And I thought, God, I don't even want to be their pastor. They're so mean. I don't even, I just want to walk away.

Just forget it. I can still remember exactly what the Lord said to me. It's like He said to me, is that what I said? No, Lord, that's not what You said. And I probably wasn't totally serious at that time because I'm not a quitter.

I don't run. And so, but at that moment, I want to say, let them have it. But you know what? You have to believe what God said. And I knew that the Lord was going to make me the pastor. I knew exactly what He said to me. And I knew that there was no way in the world, no matter what happened, I had to believe what He said, not what I saw and not what I felt. Now listen carefully. If you're going to end well in life, you cannot follow the Lord Jesus Christ based on your feelings or by what you see.

You cannot. And I remember walking out on Sunday morning and I sort of knew at that time who was for me and who was against me. And when I would count, I can still remember this, I'd stand in pulpit and I'd look around and I'd think, God, if I count, there's no way.

It's like God said, stop counting. And every time I would begin to question, it's like the Lord would send me to my knees to get on my face and have Him remind me of this one thing. Are you going to believe what I said to you? Are you going to believe what you see and what you feel? You cannot obey me based on feelings and sight, but based on what I said. Finally, I got through with that.

And finally, I caught on what He was saying to me. If you go by feelings and by sight, you'll quit. Sometimes you just want to walk away. You do not have the privilege to walking out of the will of God.

You can walk out, but it's not a privilege He gives you. We're to stay the course no matter what. We're to keep the faith and believe Him, not by feelings, but by what? By simply trusting Him, not by sight. Then notice what He said. He says, I've kept the faith, I've finished the course, no matter what happens, Paul said, not giving up, not quitting, no matter what. Then He said, I'm looking for this reward. Notice how He said it. He said, in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day. Now watch, watch this.

This includes you. And not only to me, but also to all who love His appearing. Here's what He says, for all of us who are believers, the righteous Judge has laid up. Now that word, laid up, means safety to the point that nothing can take it away. So He's simply saying to all of us who love Him, our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, He says, there is laid up for us in heaven this treasure, this reward, this crown of righteousness which no one can take away from us.

You know what that means? Absent from the body, present with the Lord, rewards. So why should you be afraid? Somebody says, well, what about all that sin I've committed?

Well, what about all those things in my life that have not been right? Well, He's going to reward us on the basis of the life that we've lived, the things that we have done that have been honorable and acceptable in His sight, and on the basis of the truth that you and I have known. And so every believer is going to be rewarded something.

And so this is why people are so blind. They don't have any idea. In other words, their idea is one of these days I'm going to die.

No. As a believer, we're going to be rewarded for the life that we live. And if you've lived a life that's selfish and materialistic and all the rest, your rewards are going to be few. And if you end well, doing what? Even till the last days of your life, giving yourself away. Ready, prepared, trusting.

Hold to the course that God has given you. Trusting Him through it all, no matter what. And coming to these last times and with absolute assurance that God has to reward for you. Think about, how do you end well? You end well, as He says in this passage, by what? You end well by giving yourself away, totally, the last days of your life, serving Him. You end well by being ready. Listen, living a life that's so surrendered, a life of sacrifice to Him that no matter what happens, no matter what happens, we're His, we're in His arms.

He's protecting and watching over us. A life in which you could say, listen, fought a good fight, finished the course, and I've kept the faith. And a life, what? Anticipating the reward that God has for us. So, what are you going to do about your life? You're going to finish one way or the other. Will you finish serving Him? Will you finish with confidence and assurance that you're heaven bound? Will you be able to say, kept the faith, finished the course, ready, didn't give up, didn't quit all the times I've tempted to quit, tempted to give up? But it's best I know my heart. I've tried to live an obedient life before the Father. Will you be able to say that?

Then you have no reason to fear death because, you see, you're living ready, and God is waiting to give you His reward. Thank you for listening to part two of How to End Well. If you'd like to know more about Charles Stanley or In Touch Ministries, stop by intouch.org. This podcast is a presentation of In Touch Ministries, Atlanta, Georgia.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-29 05:40:00 / 2023-12-29 05:48:13 / 8

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