More than a few of us can identify with Charlie Brown· Life gets rough at times. · Some of the choices we have to make are difficult. We find ourselves in a position, like the old saying, "between a rock and a hard place." We are stuck between two possibilities where an argument could be made for: Should I stay or Should I Go! Guess what, it could go either way. Such a situation is called a dilemma. Should I leave the marriage or hang in there hoping he/she will change; Should I buy the house now, the economy is picking up, but my job doesn’t look too secure right now, Should I go on vacation, I really don’t have the money right now, but If i don’t go, I might not get another opportunity for a few years, Should I accept my calling, I don’t feel worthy, I don’t feel qualified, I don’t have the time to devote to study, I don’t pray like Minister Smith. We use every excuse in the book and sadly, some never make a decision. But if the truth be told, when you do not act at all, You have Already Mad Your Decision. In Action Is a Decision!!!
Have you ever felt like you were between a rock and a hard place? Either way you chose to go would be difficult.
Every day of our life we live under pressure. Decisions come at us like machine gun bullets. Some of these bullets are going to hit us right between the eyes. We have to make choices from the time we awake until we close our eyes in sleep. Every choice we make carries with it some kind of result. These results can be good or bad. This particular letter was written from a jail cell in Philippe· Paul was torn between two powerful desires. “Sometimes I want to go on living and sometimes I long to be with Christ.” Paul had examined his situation and had recognized that to go on and be with the Lord in heaven would be far better than to continue as things were at that time. Listen, the Brother was tired!
He had endured personal attacks, physical hardships on the road during his missionary trips, folks lied on him, talked about his ministry, said he wasn’t that great of a preacer, he doesn’t have the power he say he has,. He had a job, a skill, preach without pay, didn’t ask for money and folk still talked about him. The Judiazers the religious folk tried to kill him, John Mark left him, his mentees sometimes got on his nerves, or got nervous and insecure, he had to keep writing them letters of encouragement. He told Timothy, “ Man up and take some wine for your ulsers. Paul went without sleep, food, and shelter. A snake bit him, his friends had to throw him over a wall so he wouldn’t be found and killed and the list goes on and on. But tell you neighbor, “THAT’S WHAT MINISTRY IS ABOUT.”
Paul had all the right reasons for saying: “Peace Out!” I’m Otta here! But what did Paul wind up doing?· Paul wound up staying because we hear these words, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” 2 Tim. 4:7 KJV. Paul wound up doing what he knew was right for the Church and that was remaining here in this life until his time was fulfilled.
Doing what’s right isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Doing what is right can be very difficult and costly. Paul said that for him to go on and be with the Lord would be far better for him, but to remain will be more needful to the people he was called to minister to and disciple. He knew that his efforts would benefit them and further grow these churches, some of which were in its infancy stage.
Later on in Paul’s life, the Bible makes it clear when his resolve to stay behind changed and the Lord was letting him know, Son, You will be coming home soon. These are some of the words he penned near his end.
Philippians 2:17 Yes, and if I be offered on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. …
2 Tomothy 4:6: But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6For I already being poured out like a drink offering, and thetime of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.…
When I got the news about Pastor Ruth’s death, I was stunned, shocked, in a state of disbelief. I couldn’t believe she was gone. She was just at my anniversary last month, leading praise and worship and being the M.C. I invited her over to dinner to further fellowship with the Bishop and his wife. The last week of August, she picked me up and we attended the Reset Retreat that Beverly Vaughn was hosting. Her Goddaughter, Katrina joined us and the three of us roomed together. There were so many pictures of her ministering and praying for women in those final minutes of the retreat. It will be difficult to get them out of my mind. At one point, while in my room, I was saying to God that I just don’t get You!! I don’t understand what You are doing. Surely, her word down here cannot be finished. But, He reminded me that I’m not supposed to understand Him because His ways are mot my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts. God is indeed a mystery, and He keeps proving Himself to be just that over and over again.
It’s really painful when a friend or a loved one dies. Pastor Ruth’s death could be considered, an untimely death to us. But it was already written in the Book of life from the beginning. We’re all stunned and we’re hurting about her leaving. It’s Hard to understand it, but we have to face the reality: The Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is “A time to be born, and a time to die.”
The Bible tells us of many wonderful things about death. We find these things however to be very difficult to believe. We think of it as a hideous monster to cut off all our joys when it comes upon us because we think of death as an end to all good things. We think of death as a time of separation. We think of death as a loss –a loss of a great life, a loss of a beloved person. Death is nothing but losing.
But that is not what the bible says about death. There is a verse in the word of God that says, “Death is gain.” Look at Philippians 1: 21 Gain means, “something is acquired,” “something is taken possession of.” Gain means, “to increase,” “get an advantage.” When Paul says, “To die is gain” it means, in death one is “getting an advantage, is acquiring something, or is taking possession of.” What does a person gain when he dies? What is he going to acquire, or to take possession of when he leaves this world? Let’s find the answer of these questions in the Bible. First of all, let’s not forget that Paul is writing as a Christian here. Thus he indicates that if a person has a right relationship with Jesus when they die they gain several blessings.
Our Lord Jesus Himself has promised a multitude of blessings to those who believe in Him when they die. No - not money or fame or fortune – but blessings unimaginable. Let me mention three blessings that the believers gain when they die. It’s my hope that it will bring both comfort and enlightenment to us all amidst this trying time of Pastor Ruth’s death.
This life, this reality, tells us that in death one leaves the imperfect life on earth for the perfect life in heaven. Now, don’t make the mistake to think that death ends everything. The Lord Jesus gives a very enlightening promise saying: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in Me, though he dies, he will live. And he who lives and believes in Me will never die.” Death is not the end of your existence. In death, we are not leaving the world of the living to go the world of death, but we leave the world of the dying to go the world of the living.
Ours is a world of chaos and troubles, evils and destruction. That is so easy to see. Just read newspapers, listen to news on TV and Radios, and you will realize how evil is the world we live in. Someone wisely commented: “The world has no safe place for everyone.” Evil would befall on us at any time.” We see that yesterday with the bombings in New York City, the Pulse shooting in Florida, The massacres in Turkey, France and Belgium and the ongoing conflict of war in Syria and the Middle East.
This is a cruel world. But the place that God has prepared for us is the place of eternal bliss, a place of perfect peace. The beautiful side of death is that, it will transfer us from this evil world to a perfect home of true life and happiness. In this world, we don’t have perfect fellowship. There are many things that either hinder or cease your fellowship with the people you love. Let me just name a few: attitude, anger, unforgiveness, and indifference. Next on the list is separation through physical death and distance. In heaven, there’s no such thing as separation. There’s no such thing as relational conflict. We will live in perfect harmony. That’s what you gain when you die and go to heaven.
Just look around, what can you see –imperfections. The world is full of that. You and I are full of that. One just needs to see himself intently before a mirror to find that you have flaws. Apostle Howard said in last Friday, “We are a selfish people. All we think about is me, myself and I.” The Bible says, that in the last days, “The hearts of the people will grow cold!” And pride is the sin that will keeps you in a narcissistic state of self-absorption. There’s no such thing as a flawless person. You have an attitude that other people dislike! At times you can make wrong decisions and you will tick somebody off. You and I have a defective heart, a lower nature that we must constantly beat down, or else it will rear its ugly heard at the most inappropriate time. The consequences of sin will leave us messed-up, jacked up, tore up, from the floor up, giving us much distress.
But when you die, you are no longer subject to these imperfections. Defective human nature character flaws if you will, will no longer distress you anymore. While it is thought that a person will not receive the perfect body right at the moment of physical death, he has the hope and assurance that when Jesus returns, the believers will receive a perfectly transformed nature; the believers will then be clothed with the glorious body, a heavenly body that is, powerful, immortal, and incorruptible.
But till then Beloved, The Bible says to: Work out your own soul salvation with fear and trembling. Another word for Salvation is Deliverance! Jesus is Deliverance. His Name means Deliverance. Some of us need to work out our Deliverance,
- Because that is the thing that is keeping us bound.
- That is the thing that makes us rebellious, hard headed and stiff-necked.
- That is the thing that makes us jealous, envious, and competitive in ministry.
- That is the thing that makes us angry, bitter, guarded, suspicious and unforgiving toward our neighbor.
- That is the thing that is keeping us from doing the will of God.
- That is the thing that makes us indifferent to hurting people.
- That is the thing that makes us indecisive, never coming to a conclusion.
- That is the thing that makes us turn our back on our calling.
- That is the thing that makes us always learning, coming to church, Bible study, but never coming into the knowledge of the truth.
- That is the thing that is keeping us from doing the will of God.
- That is the thing that blocks our DESTINY!
- That is the thing that keeps us from becoming an Ephesians Baptized, Born Again, Holy Ghost Filled, Praying Interceding, Soldier Who Is An Effective, Fully Equipped, Card Carrying Member of the Kingdom of God.
This was in my spirit, so I preached it yesterday. I hope you received something from this message.
DON'T FORGET TO SAY YOUR PRAYERS!!!