The Messenger Matters

July 7, 2024

Book: 2 Timothy

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Scripture: 2 Timothy 1:15-18

Good News is not very helpful if the message is garbled or undelivered. Last Sunday Jamie challenged us to unashamedly keep the Good News (the Gospel) clear. In this text, Paul urges us to make sure it keeps getting delivered by encouraging the messengers who bring it.

Good morning church. My first exposure to World War I was as a little tot and a dear elderly man in our little rural community, who acted very strange. Mom told me he was in the war. I didn’t know much about that war till elementary school and history class, and started reading about the muddy trenches, the grenades, the advanced artillery, mustard gas, flamethrowers. 10 million men, they estimate died in those trenches and as many civilians. And watching that dear elderly old man i wondered if the 10 million in the trenches who died weren’t the lucky ones. So it’s no wonder that the world erupted in jubilation on November 11th, 1918, at 5 a.m. They signed the truce and a telegram was sent from the chief commander of the Allied forces to all fronts. It’s this telegram that is I believe, French. I’ll translate it for you. Essentially it says all hostilities shall cease in all theatres at 11 a.m. French time today. What a message. Essentially, that’s Paul’s message. In all of his letters, he passionately proclaimed God’s telegram, the gospel. That not just the truce, but peace had been achieved through our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s in all of his letters, even that little Philemon letter on forgiving someone. It’s embedded in there. Nowhere better than in Romans chapter five. After four chapters of talking about the war between us rebel sinful creatures and a holy creator who loves us but can’t look on sin. You heard Pastor Larry talk about that.

He writes these 37 words in Greek, Romans 5:1-2. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exalt or rejoice. There’s the jubilation, in the hope of the glory of God. Now I got to tell you, as a teacher at heart, I came this close this morning to having you take ten minutes huddling up in little clusters and memorizing God’s telegram. Romans 5:1-2. No, I came really close. Instead, I put it on the front of your bulletin, hoping you’d snip it off and put it in your purse or fridge. I also printed up a bunch of these. I left them at the welcome desk, though I was tempted to put them all over the building in the restrooms even. But we have a rule against that. Why? Here’s the first thing to take away. Because if you’re a follower of Jesus, you are a messenger of that good news. Peace with God has been achieved through Jesus Christ our Lord. You’re a messenger if you’re a believer in Jesus. I know that Jesus said in the sermon on the Mount, you are the light of the world. What did he mean by that? Spread the good news. He called those assembled before he left witnesses of what.. peace has been achieved through him with God.

You heard this morning, just now read from 2 Corinthians chapter 5. You are ambassadors, ministers of reconciliation. Doing what? That God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might have the righteousness of God in Him. There’s peace, people through Jesus, and we are to declare it. I got a phone call this week. I’m pretty sure it was somebody from outside the church. I answered the phone. She goes, do you happen to be a pastor of the church? I went, got to plead guilty. She says, I got two adult children. One of them is a Jesus person, and the other one has nothing to do with God. And the Jesus one won’t leave the other one alone, and it’s really causing disruption in the family. How do you advise me to counsel them? And I thought for a moment. I said, well, let me just say two things. First of all, toward your daughter who loves Jesus. If she was a researcher at the clinic and came up with a cure for Alzheimer’s, should she keep it to herself? That would be wicked. I told her that Peter tells us be ready at all times to give a defense for the hope that’s in you with gentleness and reverence. So on that daughter’s side, she’s got a point. She has a message that needs to be delivered. On your other daughter’s point, that passage in Peter about be ready at all times to give a defense says to anyone who asks you. Sometimes you got to listen for the ask because people who are struggling, who need to know about peace with God, don’t even really know how to ask the question. And Jesus himself, he had no desire to force truth on hearts that were not ready. I told her he even spoke in parables purposely to hide truth from people who weren’t prepared for God’s telegram. Peace had been achieved through our Lord Jesus Christ. So I basically said I’d tell the daughter who has Jesus to pray for a nudge from him when she should speak and when she should be quiet. The point is, though, we’re messengers, all of us, if we’re followers of Jesus. Last week Jamie talked to us from the previous section of this letter. Don’t be ashamed of that message messengers. Guard it as a treasure. We’re going to hear later in other sermons, be accurate to handle it well, and a number of other exhortations from Paul, because this message was his heartbeat. In today’s text, we’re going to move from the message to the messenger. The messengers of the good news matter. Now, I only have four verses, and on first sight, they don’t look real too deep and weighty, but they are loaded with application. So let’s take a look at them this morning from 3 Timothy 1: 15-18. I’m gonna look at verse 15 first, and then we’ll look at 16 through 18 next. You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Fidelis and Hermogenes. You

who? Timothy. He’s writing to Timothy. He led him to faith in Christ. He shared God’s telegram with Timothy at Lystra. The young man went all in. Paul spent the rest of his ministry with this young lad by his side, or his chief assigned person in key church of Ephesus. He’s the closest thing to his own son. He’s mentored him and now he’s writing this letter. You, Timothy, you’re aware of what I’m about to say. You’ve experienced this, Pastor Tim, that all who are in Asia have turned aside. All who are in Asia. Asia, by the way, is Timothy’s area. Ephesus is the capital city. It’s where Paul spent three years, the longest period of time on his third missionary journey, planting churches, teaching. All those churches in revelation that are mentioned, probably planted during that time. Colossae, planted during that time. Did everybody in Asia turn away from Paul? Timothy hadn’t turned away. We’ll meet someone in the next verse,Anisoporus. He hadn’t turned away. His household hadn’t turned away. At the end of Timothy, the second letter, Paul says, Greet Priscilla and Aquila. They haven’t turned away. On the third missionary journey, those elders from Ephesus who wept in Paul’s arms as he left, they hadn’t turned away. But it can seem like everyone’s turned away from you when you’re a messenger of the good news, right? In a hostile culture.

Elijah was like this in the Old Testament, a hostile culture, pressure against him. He says to God, I only am left and they’re trying to take me out too, what are you going to do? And God says, Elijah, I got 7000 prophets just waiting to come on deck. It’s okay, I got this. But it can feel lonely. All who are in Asia, what did they do? They’ve turned away. So this is interesting. It’s used in scripture of when somebody comes and asks you of something, Jesus and the sermon on the Mount, don’t turn them away. Don’t say I’m too busy. Maybe later. It’s used of returning your sword to the sheath, putting away your weapon. Paul writes it in a passive voice. What does that mean? They didn’t actively do this. It slowly happened to them. It didn’t just blow up. They had a slow leak. Life happened, probably. And he calls out two guys as examples. They’re the only times they show up. But then there’s two words in there that are so shocking from Paul. They’ve turned away from me. Wouldn’t you expect him to say from the message? Paul, what’s going on Paul? Paul was a rigorous crusader. It seemed like his life didn’t matter. I mean, he was fearless. He was only that tall, church historian said. But man, did he live big.

First missionary journey. He goes town to town to town. Pressure. Antagonism. Hostility.

Threats. Threatening to be, stoned. Lystra – he was stoned. Some people think to death. They thought he was dead. He revives. What does he do? Goes back into Lystra to deliver this. And when he gets done with the loop of those towns, he goes back through them all to establish elders and encourage people. So if you’re thinking Paul’s having a pity party, I mean, this something he’s trying to teach Timothy something here. Let’s see what it is. First of all, Paul says, for me, I think because of his circumstances. He’s in Mamertine prison. Show it to them, Joel. How do you like that? Below grade. And that might have been the luxury suite. Paul was imprisoned a couple of years earlier under house arrest in Rome. Not a bad gig, comparatively. Yeah, I imagine sometimes he was guarded, maybe even chained to somebody sometimes. But people could come and go visit. He wrote two, three, maybe more of his most amazing letters from that house arrest. Then he was released. Here it’s a few years later, I believe. By now Rome is burned. Christians are being dipped in tar and used to light Nero’s courtyard as tiki torches. And Paul’s the ringleader. He’s thrown into Mamertine. This is death row. Nobody comes out of Mamertine. It’s just a matter of time. You just wait for the next set of heavy boots in the hall and wonder if they’re coming for you.

So part of why he might have said this to Timothy is a bit of a pity party. His circumstances were rough. And don’t some of you messengers have kind of some difficult circumstances? You need something. We messengers need something. Messengers matter. They’ve turned away from me. But he gives us an example of someone who hadn’t. Someone who did something that we all need to hear about if we’re going to be effective long term messengers of God’s telegram, the good news.

Look at verses 16 through 18. And I’m going to make four observations for us this morning. How to be like this guy Onesiphorus. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of a Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he arrived in Rome, he searched for me earnestly and found me. May the Lord grant him to find from the Lord on that day, mercy. And you know well all the services he rendered at Ephesus. You know about those, too, don’t you, Timothy? Four observations here. How we can be like a Onesiphorus. First of all, what did he do to Paul? He refreshed him. Now, here’s the place I wish I could take you to, all the places in the New Testament that word was used. This is the only place. Classical literature

makes it sound like it was to provide fresh air.

And of course, if you’re in Mamertine below grade, that’s probably exactly what Paul would love. Some fresh air, but in this case, metaphorically, encouragement. There’s a lot more older folks in this service, so maybe I’ll get more hands. When I was a kid, I watched a show called Sea Hunt, Lloyd Bridges. Who’s seen that? Come on, put them up. Oh, I see some hands. He worked for, like, the Coast Guard. And he was the good guy. Every show he’d go below water to rescue or retrieve something or whatever. And I did not know how many bad actors there were under the sea. Oh, my. Maybe that’s why I don’t swim much. Every episode, it seemed like somebody was down there with a knife and they would cut the scuba tank, air hose on one of these guys. And what would they do? A partner would come and share air. You picture this? And they get to the surface safe. That’s what we need messengers. Other believers to refresh us because sharing the message is difficult. Did you absorb that? That’s what Onesiphorus did and it mattered. Here is how he did it. Four things.

Number one, he searched and found Paul. It was intentional. And that’s in the active voice. He was continually doing that. Can you imagine that job in Rome? A Christian looking for the ringleader. Where is he? Have you seen him? Do you know where they have him?

Second, he often did this. And do you notice at the very end of the passage, and you know, Timothy, the service he rendered to you at Ephesus? This is habitual. It’s a habit, not just a one time thing. And by the way, it affected his household. You notice that too.

Three. He was not ashamed. Actually, Paul changes voices here. It’s very instructive. He changes, actually to a different kind of verb. It’s one that’s a wish or a hope, not a fact. He’s saying, oh, I hope he wasn’t ashamed of me. It’s very uncomfortable. It can be uncomfortable. Can it be uncomfortable to do this in your workplace? To encourage somebody who’s a messenger of the gospel or living out the things of Christ? Students? Uncomfortable with that student who’s following Jesus in your school to identify with him? Well, I hope you’re not ashamed.

And fourth, he says, may God grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, may Onesiphorus find mercy from the Lord on that day. It was probably costly. The household of Onesiphorus, it could be that they just had to put up in his absence. Daddy is gone. Take care of things without him in Rome. It could be that Onesiphorus paid the ultimate price. May God have mercy on him on that day. It was costly. So giving refreshment to the messenger who matters should be intentional. We should have a plan. Habitual, ongoing. You’ll see, I hope in a moment why that’s so important.

It can be uncomfortable and it can be costly. Now, when is the last time maybe you walked down the hall of the children’s department and you found Susan in tadpoles, and you gave her some fresh air. Now I know Susan. What would Susan do? She’d Pooh Pooh it. Oh, you don’t need to thank me. I do this for Jesus. I used to say this all the time. I used to go there’s only one opinion that matters, it’s the Lord’s. And there’s only one set of hands I need to hear applause from. And I was afraid that if you pat me on the back, my head would swell. Right? But this passage and others in Scripture say the messenger needs to be encouraged. I’ll give you just a couple of examples. Jesus needed to be encouraged because he was human. If you don’t believe that, I’d suggest you to go to the three passages where God the Father speaks over him. In the Gospels, it said his baptism when he’s starting out ministry this you are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. It’s at the Mount of Transfiguration, when he’s turning from one ministry toward the cross, and God speaks over him in front of the disciples. This is my beloved son. Listen to him. It happens the night before his death. Where Jesus in the crucible hears God say, you have glorified me and you’ll glorify me again.

If that isn’t giving Jesus air, I don’t know what is. And Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane says to three disciples, come with me. My heart is burdened to the point of death. Watch with me. And when he catches them sleeping, he goes, could you not watch with me one hour? Jesus needed encouragement to be refreshed as God’s ultimate messenger of the good news. And if Jesus needed it, how much more we. Jesus was human. And that’s the last reason Paul said they turned away from me. I need to be refreshed is because we’re human. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, encourage one another and build each other up. Fresh air to continue to carry the message. Make sense? So encourage each other, people believers, to carry that message forward in word and deed. Find those little

things to spur each other on.

Now I want to close by spending a little time with vocational messengers of the good news, missionaries and pastors. I don’t know a lot about being a missionary. I don’t know what it’s like to be in Rick and Becky Mackey’s shoes, but I trust what I’m going to share with you is they shake their head and go, that’s pretty close. But I do know what it’s like to be a pastor messenger in our culture. So I’m going to share three little metaphors with you. I’m going to pick on Kyle and John. Pastor Kyle and Pastor John, Kyle does the most of the leadership and teaching parts of the staff.

John provides leadership and teaching to our youth. What’s it like to be them? Well, it’s like being a hockey goalie in the NHL. You make 45 saves of pucks coming at you at 105 miles an hour through 8 or 10 players, and you make those saves. But when you let one through, a big red light comes on and people in the stands roll their eyes and boo. Oh good night. We’re talking about expectations here. For those who carry the message forward, what are your expectations? Refresh the messenger. How do you do that? Well, thank them for their mundane saves of shepherding, those little things that they’re paid to do. By the way, I’ve got to stop and say this. I think this church is amazing at being grateful and showing honor. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said to people this phrase, the appreciation I feel at this church is palpable. But I make the cinnamon rolls, people. Now I’ve got two apprentices who have found their place to serve. That’s a shameless plug for next week. But I don’t do the decision making and the teaching and the gut wrenching things that they and Pastor Larry and others do. So when they make mistakes and they will, they’ll let one through. Sometimes dumb mistakes, sometimes tiptoe too close to temptation, sometimes addiction. And sometimes we need to be sat down for a while like a hockey player. But what will you do? Well, I hope you don’t do what they did at Grand Forks when I was in college, 1978 through 82 UND. The only thing they did well as a sport was hockey, and they were really good at it. And when the opposing team would let one through, you know, UND never let one through. The whole crowd would stand to their feet, 10,000 people, and they would chant SIEVE, SIEVE, SIEVE, and they’d throw anything they could out on the ice, tea strainers, colanders, screen doors. It was a zoo. How do you channel a Onesiphorus? Those expectations of your pastors thank them for the mundane things. And when they do make a screw up,

don’t chant sieve. Show grace. Got it. Number two, bus driver in the fog. Oh, this is pertinent. You ever driven in the fog where you can only see the little white line on the right bumper? Anybody done this? Shame on you. I did this 1979 in March, coming back from spring break at Daytona Beach. 15 passenger van. I had the leg from Minneapolis to Grand Forks, middle of the night in March. It was so thick, the fog, I could only see that white line and I kept going. What an idiot, with people sleeping behind me. How do you channel Onesiphorus? Or how do you model him? How do you act like him? Well, wouldn’t it have been great if one of those people sleeping back there had, you know, woke up, popped up there and went, man, the fog is bad, isn’t it? How about I ride shotgun, keep you awake? We’ll talk. You can slow down. Hey, we can even stop. You know, the journey is important as the destination. And guess what? If we do drive following that white line up one of the exits and get lost. We’ll reroute. That’s how you refresh. You say it’s okay to slow down. God will get us there and acknowledge the fog. Oh, this is big. I’m going to press this a little bit. It’s really hard being in a church, any church where people don’t acknowledge how difficult it is to be responsible and make decisions for 800 or 1000 or 75 people. Oh, I wish you could be in our lead pastor meetings or our lead meetings. The kinds of decisions we have to talk about. Covid. What are we going to do? The election? How do we advise our church? Gender confusion, marriages where the vows have been blown up like World War one? How do we advise them to proceed? And it’s so hard to have folks that say, what are you talking about, fog. It couldn’t be clearer. Paul said, facing similar difficult issues as a pastor, who is sufficient for such things? Acknowledge the fog.

The third one relates to their teaching and the accountability to God. I was a teaching pastor for 12 years in Pennsylvania. Can I get earthy for a moment? A little earthy? So I go into work, maybe 5:00, try to get my heart right, and Michelle would come with the kids right before church, and she’d often and look at me, and I do this. I do 1 or 2. If I did that, she was okay. Everything’s going to be fine. If I did three, she was concerned. If I did four, she would wrap her arms around me and pray for me. You know what this was? How many times I’d been to the bathroom. James says, let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing as such you will incur a stricter judgment, for we all stumble in many ways with this and a deceived heart. And I pictured Jesus in that front seat. Are you smiling on this? And I bet Kyle does that too. And John on Wednesday

nights. How can you be like Onesiphorus and refresh? Well, first of all, you step up and do things you’ve been called to do so men like that can lead and study and pray and teach and shepherd. And then you go to them. I’ll pick on John. I see he’s here this morning. You say, hey, John, uh, due diligence to study God’s word. Pray it up, then summon God’s Spirit to speak and get up here and deliver it. Because the one who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it. Don’t take this so seriously. Do your homework and let her rip. Fresh air.

So we moved back to Rochester in 2005. I was cooked. We moved into a house a half a block from Christ community. What a great church. So we went there. There was a shepherd there, Steve Eckert. Anybody know Steve? What a man. So after a couple of months of seeing how he shepherded God’s people, how he stabilized the journey, how he loved the Lord, modeled it. I went home one day and I wrote him a quick text. It was only 3 or 4 lines and basically said, Steve, I love your heart. You’re such a great shepherd. You just behind the scenes keep us moving forward to become all we can for Jesus. Thank God for you. He told me later he forwarded it to a pastor on the East Coast, and the pastor replied with a two word email. Frame it. It wasn’t because it was such a great email. It was because it was so rare. The messengers matter. Refresh them. You matter messengers refresh one another. So what? So here’s first Timothy, chapter one in review. Three so whats? Act on God’s message. Have you acted on this message? They said in World War One a number of people got this telegram and they didn’t act on it. They didn’t believe it, they didn’t act on it and there were many more casualties. What’s keeping you from acting on the message? We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. I’d love to have coffee with you, or have one of the women in this church sit down with you and find out what’s keeping you. The war is over, people, thanks to Jesus. The second thing is deliver the message messengers. Some theaters of especially Africa and Russia didn’t get the message in time, and fighting went on for days and the results were tragic. Deliver the message clearly. Memorize this, meditate on some of those terms and share it with others. And third, refresh the messenger. The ones around you and those called vocation. When’s the last time you sent a note to a missionary church planters? The messengers matter. This needs to move forward for the glory of God.

Historians said on the front in France on Armistice Day, there was fighting intense fighting right up until 11:00. And then the guns fell silent. And there was this eerie silence for a moment. And then something they said that sounded a lot like a breeze blowing wafted up, and they realized that’s not a breeze. That’s men in every language jubilantly celebrating peace. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. People of Calvary, let’s see what you’ve got. Let’s rejoice over him. And God’s people said Amen.

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