I know sometimes a pastors' conference isn't that easy. It can sort of seem like the Great American Preach-Off. [laughter] You know, it's one after another, after another, all good stuff, all great stuff. I've learned so much. I've been inspired so far but, but if you don't mind, can we pray before we do this one? Can we just ask God's presence and blessing? Father, we never want to presume upon your grace or upon your anointing, and so we're always dependent.
And, Father, we thank you for the time that we have spent so far, the people that we have met, the things we have heard, the good times we've shared, the inspiration that we have gleaned. And, Father, we pray that you'd continue that. And, Father, not only continue a great conference, but beyond this conference as we go back to our churches and our place of influences, our spheres of influence, the plans that we feel like you're calling us to, bless that, we pray. And show us, give real direction to each leader here, in Jesus' name, amen.
Faithfulness is considered a supreme attribute in every area of life, whether it's marriage or work or among friends or in ministry. Faithfulness tops the list. There's a very searching question in Proverbs chapter 20 verse 6, where it says, "Most men can proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?" It's a great question, isn't it? Who can find a faithful man or woman? There was an elderly gentleman who was on his deathbed. And as he was spending his last few hours on earth, one afternoon he smelled the most wonderful smell wafting through the air coming up to his bedroom.
It smelled like freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies. Well, it aroused him. He got enough strength to sit up on the edge of his bed. Following the scent, he propped himself up, leaned against the wall, grabbed the handrailing, and slowly moved down the stairs toward the kitchen. Well, when he got to the kitchen, he looked in and to his amazement and wonder were hundreds of chocolate chip cookies spread out in front of him on newspapers. His mind went nuts. He thought, "Is---is---is this heaven? [laughter] No. It was one final act of love from a faithful wife who wanted to make sure that he would leave this world a happy man."
That's what he thought. And so with one final burst of strength he lunged toward that table in the middle of kitchen, found himself crumpled on the floor, grabbed a cookie, put it to his parched lips. It seemed to revive him. And just as he was going to put it in his mouth, a spatula smacked his hand, and his wife said, "Stay out of those, they're for the funeral." [laughter] Oh, man. Ouch! So much for faithfulness. [laughter] "They're for the funeral." "Who can find a faithful man?"
Well, God bragged about Moses in Numbers, chapter 12, the very chapter we're going to be going through with our fellowship tomorrow night, where God brags on Moses before Aaron and Miriam, and says about Moses, "He is faithful in all my house." Nehemiah bragged about his buddy Hananiah, saying that he was "a faithful man who feared God more than many." Jesus Christ spoke about the "faithful and wise servant" in Matthew 24. And then he gave a parable in Luke's gospel, chapter 19, where she said, "Because you were faithful in little, I will set you over, or give you authority over ten cities."
Out west there's a famous geyser in Yellowstone National Park---what's its name?---Old Faithful. It's not the biggest geyser in the park, it's not the most powerful geyser in the park, but you can count it, you can time it, it's dependable, it's regular. You can always count on Old Faithful. What a great name for a pastor as he ages, Old Faithful. Did you know that 85 times the Bible mentions the word "faithful," 85 times? But get this: only 17 of those times it's a reference of God being faithful; 68 of those times is a reference to man being faithful. Do you find that a little odd?
Here's why I think it is that way: because God is so faithful, it's such a part of his character, it's just taken for granted. Whenever man is faithful, you got to write it down. You gotta record that baby. [laughter] And so we are encouraged toward faithfulness throughout the Scriptures. And who doesn't love that beautiful text in Lamentations 3 where it talks about God's mercies being new every morning, "great is thy faithfulness." Incidentally, that was a hymn written by a pastor who was sick most of his ministry, but could count on God always showing up, always being dependable, always being there when he needed him.
God is faithful. I want to talk to you about that out of Second Timothy, chapter 2. The text I was assigned this afternoon is in verses 11 through 13. Let's read it. "This is a faithful saying: For if we died with him, we shall also live with him. If we endure, we shall also reign with him. If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we are faithless, he remains faithful; he can't deny himself." Now you notice that it begins by saying, "This is a faithful saying."
Now that doesn't mean that everything else he writes in this letter is faithless, or not as faithful, but it's a very interesting and almost odd phrase: "This is a faithful saying." You find that little phrase, "This is a faithful saying," five times in the New Testament, all written by Paul, all of them in the pastoral epistles, either First Timothy, Second Timothy, or Titus. "This is a faithful saying." In other words it's an axiomatic truth. It's a self-evident truth. It's something that the early church commonly held and believed to be true together.
It could be a creed. Some commentators believe that it was actually one of earliest creeds of the church. If not a creed, perhaps a psalm, a hymn, a chorus, a chant of some kind. That's why in most of your Bibles it's written in verse form. Just some beautiful truths, "This is a faithful saying." Now, the reason it's included here---because we want to look at anything contextually---the reason it's put here is to be a motivation to Timothy to be faithful, to continue to be faithful in his ministry toward the Lord. So, let's just follow that train of thought.
If you'll notice in chapter 2, verse 1, he tells Timothy, "be strong"; in verse 3, "endure hardship"; in verse 4, essentially, don't give up the fight, you're engaged in warfare, work hard; in verse 6, the hard working farmer. In verse 10, Paul says, "I endure all things." You see all of these exhortations and testimony speaks of the fact we---because of the truths that I'm sharing with you now---should continue in our ministry and be faithful to the Lord. So, we have this song, this chorus this creed, this chant.
And so let's go through the verses of this song. I wish we could put it to music, but I'll leave that to Malcolm and Alwen. We'll just look at the text ourselves. Now, you'll notice there's four times the word "if" appears. It's a conditional clause: if this, then that. If this is true, then that is true. It happens four times. So I'm simply going to go through these short verses and give you four principles, four principles. Number one, and you can jot this down: when you know how to die, you're ready to live. When you know how to die, then you're ready to live.
This is a faithful saying," he writes to Timothy, "For if we died with him, we shall also live with him." Now let me just tell you, it's tempting to look at this verse and think that he's speaking spiritually. We kind of tend to go there, that he's speaking of spiritual death and spiritual life. And perhaps that's in there. I mean, after all, Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. And if you die, you will live. So certainly that is a biblical idea. However, it could just simply be more simple than that.
If you die physically, and I believe that is the context here. He's speaking of persecution that could lead to possible martyrdom, persecution that could lead to execution. In other words, if somebody sacrifices his life as a Christian, there's hope even in that martyrdom. If you die, you'll also live. But here's the principle: when you get to a point in your life where you are resigned to the will of God, even if it kills you, then you can really live. You are set free to live. Back in the 1800s a missionary by the name of James Calvert went to the Fiji Islands. It was overrun by cannibals.
How would you like that ministry? [laughter] You might think, "I have that ministry." [laughter] These were the real kind. And as he was approaching the Fiji Islands the captain aboard the ship pleaded with James Calvert, "Don't go. You're going to die. And you're going to jeopardize the lives of all these people that you are bringing with you. They're going to kill you and they're going to eat you. You're going to die." James Calvert turned to the captain and said, "Look, we died before we came." How's that for a commitment? Here's a man who knew how to die, he is free to live.
When you know how to die, you are ready to live. Now, I know we hear stories like that, like I just told you, and we think, "How can---how do people do that? How do people make those kind of commitments and say those things?" Here's how: they really actually believed in the faithfulness of God. They actually believed it. It was more than a doctrine. They lived it and they believed it. I mean, how could Daniel, when a law was passed that you can't pray to any other God except the new king on the block, and he opens his windows toward Jerusalem, kneels down three times that day, and prays publicly knowing that it could cost him his life.
How do you do that? You must really believe in the faithfulness of God. Or like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego when the king said, "Is your God going to deliver you?" And they said, "Our God truly can deliver us, but if not, be it known to you, O king, we will not serve, we will not bow down." You got to really believe that God is faithful. Or we have an example here, Paul the apostle, verse 10, "I endure all things." This is his swan song. He's about to die for his faith. In chapter 4 he will say, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Therefore there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, our righteousness Judge, will give to me on that Day."
You don't say those things unless you really believe that God is faithful. So here's the deal: this is the job of a pastor, really, to teach people how to die, so they can really live. I mean, isn't that what we do? We want them saved because it's appointed once to every man once to die, and after this the judgment. Every single person dies, and we're preparing them, essentially, to get that taken care of. Okay, now that you are going to go to heaven when you die, live a little. Have a little freedom now to take a few risks and trust the Lord for some greater things in your life.
That's the principle. When you know how to die, you're ready to live. By the way, that is a great impetus for ministry. It's the reason missionaries go where they go, and it's the reason why pastors say what they say. We all remember that famous story in Second Kings, chapter 7, of the lepers at the gate of Samaria. There's a famine going on. Isn't that a great story? They turn to each other and at the go, "Um, ahem, why are we just sitting here till we die? If we go into the city, we're going to die, because there's a famine in town. If we just sit here, we're going to die, because there's a famine here too."
"So, why don't we get up and just try going to the camp of the Syrians? They may kill us, but you know what? We're going to die. [laughter] We've established that fact. So let's just go there, because maybe, perchance, we won't die. We're going to die anyway, since we're going to die, let's just give it a shot, see the Lord is in this." And lo and behold, the Lord was in it. And that place was vacated and they had all of that food, and all of those spoils. Good question to ask in ministry: why do I sit here until I die? I'm going to die and I know how to die, I'm gonna live a little.
It's interesting, being in ministry over the years we've had our share of death threats, I personally have. One hit the news last week actually. It was broadcast all over the newspaper and the news for some weird reason. But a man threatened me. He said that he was going to kill me and another pastor on staff. And we've had that before, but when the guy says, "I've had a scope of my rifle pointed at the front door of his house, so when he leaves the house I'm going to pull the trigger," you know, that made news. And so from time to time we hear those kinds of things.
And every time I hear something like that about me, I think of a friend of mine that I have who really lives in a war zone. He lives in Beirut, Lebanon. His name is Sammy Dagger. He's an inspiration to me, and I've known him for years. And many years ago when he went to Beirut to help Palestinian refugees and the other side, the opposition was threatening him. One night while he was out in the refugee camps, a man, a terrorist came to the door of his house with a gun, pointed it at his son's head, he has a little boy, and said, "You tell your daddy to stop helping those refugees or I'm going to come in and kill him, you, and your mother."
It scared the family, you can imagine. When Sammy got home and heard about that, well, he was livid, and he took it to prayer. He kept helping the refugees. A few days later the same man came with a gun, pointed it at Sammy's head. And Sammy turned to him, well, he was looking right at him, gun was to his head, and he said, "Pull the trigger you coward! Send me directly to heaven." And he preached Jesus to him with a gun pointed at his head. How do you do that? [laughter] Here's why: when you know how to die, you're ready to live.
Sammy is there, I mean, he's alive, but he knows how to live because he knows how to die. Let me show you a great example of how this motivates people in ministry. The best example I can think of is Peter. You know, we've discussed even and touched on that story in John 21 where Jesus sees him after the resurrection, and says, "Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep." But do you remember, he continues, he says, "Peter, when you were younger, you went wherever you wanted to go, but when you are older, you're going to stretch out your hands, somebody else is going to direct you and take you where you don't want to go"?
And then John gives a little footnote: "P.S. Jesus was speaking about Peter's death." Now you read that and you go, "Well, wait. I fail to see how that is a lot of encouragement to Peter." Oh, it's very encouraging for two reasons. Do you remember at one time Peter boasted that he would die for the Lord? "Lord, if all else happens, if all others forsake you, I will never---I'll die for you." Well, he denied Jesus. But here Jesus is saying, "Peter, there's going to come a day when you're going to go through with it, buddy. You are actually going to make good on your promise, and you will die for me."
But the reason, number two, that it is so encouraging to Peter is it proved to Peter that he would live for a long time. Did you hear what he said? "When you were young, this happened, but when you are old, that's going to happen." Now I'll tell you why this is important to me, because as the story moves on and I get to Acts, chapter 12, I've always been puzzled by a text till I put the two together. In Acts, chapter 12, Herod cuts off the head of James the apostle, puts Peter in prison, intending to kill him the next day and take his head off.
As you read the text it says, "And Peter fell asleep"---hello?!---"between two soldiers with two chains." How to you go to sleep when you're going to die the next day? Because he knew he wasn't going to die the next day. Jesus said, "When you are old, they will direct you." So he knew that "There's coming a day when I'm going to be able to stand for Christ. Until then, I've got a long time to go. I'm going to live a little bit. Good night." [laughter] So that's the first principle: when you know how to die, you're ready to live. "If we died with him, we will also live with him."
Notice the second conditional clause: "If we endure, we shall also reign with him." Now let me give you the second principle based on that: endure like a commoner, and you'll reign like a king. Endure like a commoner, and you'll reign like a king. "If we endure, we will also reign with him." The word "endure," you know what it is, hupomenó, it's patience, the same word. It means to bear up under a load, or remain, hang in there, be steadfast, stick it out, tough it out, endure. Endure like a commoner and you'll reign like a king. Loyalty to God may not cost you your life, but loyalty to God will hurt. It will hurt.
You will endure persecution and hostility. But I want you to know something, fellow pastor or pastor's wife or Christian leader, your God is faithful to notice and to record everything you do for him as a pastor, and one day he'll reward you for it---everything. Everything. He makes note of it, and he'll reward you for it. Jesus said to his twelve disciples, "You who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits upon his throne, you guys are going to sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." What a great promise.
In the New Testament book of First Corinthians 6, Paul said, "Do you not know the saints will judge the world?" And he goes on to say we will judge the angels. I don't think the angels are too stoked about that. Are you? [laughter] We're going to be given positions, greater positions, because of our faithfulness here, because we believe in the faithfulness of God. Endure like a commoner, and you'll reign like a king. Endure, ministry takes endurance. We're called to be servants of people. Pastors serve people. It's not the other way around, by the way.
"Oh, yes, you are my servants, and I am King Pastor." No, no, no, no. You are the servant of the people. You are called to endure their mess, as we mentioned in our first time together. But I gotta say, it's not easy. It does take endurance. The current statistic is that 1,600 ministers leave the ministry every month. They quit for a whole host of reasons, all the way from immorality, to spiritual burnout, to fatigue. There's a number of reasons. Fifty percent in a recent survey said they would work somewhere else if they could find a job somewhere else. A large percentage believe the ministry was actually detrimental to their home and family life.
Huge percentages of people dropping out. Now, those statistics may not apply to you. Maybe you've had no thought of quitting ever before in your life. But I can guarantee that 100 percent of you in this room have discovered that ministry is not what you thought it would be. Am I right about that? You had some conception about it, and then, "Oh, this is what it's about." It's a little bit different. That's why a familiar refrain and gesture whenever a new staff member or pastor on our staff gets hassled for the first time, we put our arm around him and go, "Welcome to the ministry." [laughter]
Because after all, ministry loves company, right? [laughter] And pastoral pressures are very unique. Your role is a unique role. There is no position like it. Pastor, you are in the crosshairs of heaven and hell. God's blessing is upon you, God's Spirit is upon you, and because of that you're a walking target. Do you think hell gives any pastor a standing ovation when he says, "I want to win my community for Christ"? Are you nuts? You can expect opposition, it's part of the territory. It's a very unique position.
Have you ever met someone in the ministry who is unscathed and unscarred? And if you did, did you like him? [laughter] Was he worth talking to? Are you drawn to counsel with that person? Uh-uh, because there's nothing there. You have to go through the tough stuff, the scars, the battle scars. Some of you know about the great missionary Amy Carmichael. She wrote a great little poem about this: "Hast thou no scar? No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand? I hear thee sung as mighty in the land. I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star. Hast thou no scar? Hast thou no wound?"
"Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent. Leaned Me against a tree to die, and rent by ravenous wolves that encompassed me; I swooned. Hast thou no wound? No wound? No scar? Yet, as the Master shall the servant be, and pierced be the feet that follow Me. But thine are whole. Can he have followed far who has no wound or scar?" Listen, when you get to heaven, God isn't going to check out what diplomas you have, but what scars you bear. Those are the real tests of ministry, there's endurance. Endure like a commoner, you will reign like a king.
The third principle based on this third clause is this: trying to hurt God will only hurt you. Notice what it says in verse 12, "If we deny him; he will deny us." Try to hurt God, you're only going to hurt yourself. Now, let me take a stab at trying to explain this, because this is a tough one. Perhaps the text is speaking about an unbeliever whose denial of Jesus Christ simply proves he's an unbeliever. It's that kind of denial. Jesus said, "Whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my Father in heaven." There is an ultimate kind of denial that serves only to prove that a person is an unsaved person.
It's that kind of denial that refuses to repent. That's a possibility, that's what he's speaking about. Or here's a second: maybe he's speaking about a false believer who claims a relationship with the Lord, but hardship and persecution prove that it's just a false believer. Remember Jesus gave a parable about the seed that was sown on rocky soil, and he said, "This is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; but he has no root in himself, he endures only for a while. But when tribulation and persecution arise because of the word, he stumbles," or falls away.
Or here's the third possibility: perhaps he's speaking of a genuine believer who is fighting the Lord's claim on his life, and in so doing loses the fullness of God's blessing. Now, follow me here. Peter denied the Lord, the Bible says, three times. And when he denied the Lord those times, he lost peace, he lost joy, he lost power. He didn't lose salvation, but he lost peace and joy and power. But Jesus came and restored him. Until the restoration he floundered and fumbled, until he was restored, and then filled with the Holy Spirit, and his life completely changed. That's what it could be talking about.
Listen, if God has called you into ministry---you know this---if God has called you into ministry, you will be miserable trying to do anything else. It's like your arm's back, you're against the wall, and he's waiting for you to say uncle. The sooner the better. God called you into ministry, trying to leave that and quit that will make you miserable. Now, the reverse is true. If you try to fit into a ministry God hasn't called you to, you'll also be miserable. Jonah is an example of somebody who tried to get out of the ministry, right?
"The word of the Lord came to Jonah, saying, arise, Jonah, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it." He does a complete about-face, goes in the entirely exact opposite direction, said, "God called me to go 500 miles that way, I know what, I'll go 2,000 miles that way." Not a good plan. "He tried to flee," the Bible says, "from the presence of the Lord." You might say he wanted to become a non-prophet organization. Right? He didn't want this prophet job anymore. You know what? That just took like a second too long for you guys to get. [laughter] I'm just a little bit disappointed, can I say. [laughter]
I had a dog just like Jonah. His name was Toby. He was a springer spaniel. And when I would call him, he would go the other direction. [laughter] It was like clockwork, really. And I'll never forget the day---my wife saw this, so she can attest to it---I saw a car coming down the street and I thought, "Oh, no," and I said, "Toby, come." And then I realized what I had done, because Toby ran into the car. Have you ever heard of a dog running into a car? I've heard of cars running into dogs. He's fine, he just got stunned. But I should have renamed him Jonah right there on the spot. [laughter]
You know how the rest of the story goes? It says that "Jonah went down to Joppa." Jonah went down into the ship. Later on Jonah went down into the gullet of that great fish. Down, down, down. That's the only direction you can go when you try to run from God's call on your life. You're going down, down, down. Then it says something else: "Jonah paid the fare." Just think about this: he took his hard-earned prophet money, whatever that was, and he bought a ticket to go somewhere he never ended up at. Now, there's a great principle here, I don't want you to miss it: when you go your own way, you never arrive at your destination, and you pay for it.
You will pay the fare, but you'll never get to your destination. But listen, when you go God's way, you'll get to his destination and he'll pick up the tab. He'll pay the fare all the way. Jonah illustrates the first part of this principle: he paid the fare, didn't make it to the destination. Somebody else in the Bible illustrates the second part of that. Her name was Jochebed, Moses' mom. Remember when Moses was born, it says in Exodus that little baby was hidden for three months. But one day she had to release that little baby by faith, putting him in a little wicker basket, sailing him down the Nile River for his first boat ride.
Pharaoh's daughter was out bathing, and her handmaids were with her, and they found this little basket. And Moses' sister suggested to the Pharaoh's daughter, "Hey, this is a Hebrew baby, would you like me to find a Hebrew woman to nurse it for you?" Now, listen to what the Pharaoh's daughter said, she said when she found the mother, not knowing it was the mother, "Take this child and nurse him for me, and I will pay you for it." Isn't that a great job for a mom? [laughter] "Take and raise your child, and we'll pay for his whole education."
You see the principle? You go your own way, you'll never make it to your destination and you'll pay for it. You go God's way, you'll arrive at his destination and he picks up the tab. So trying to hurt God, you'll only hurt yourselves. You leave God's plan, you go down. God's given you a mission. Listen, God loves you the way you are, but he loves you way too much to leave you the way you are. And he loves you way too much to let you go. That's how much he loves you. He is determined to use you. You know that famous saying of Saint Augustine, "Lord we are restless until we find our rest in thee"? That's the idea.
There's a great story about Martin Luther. We were talking about him over lunch. And Martin Luther had some fits of depression in his ministry, as you can imagine the battles he fought. And for a period of time he was moping around his house just discouraged and saying bad, you know, sort of negative, unscriptural things. And his wife Katy, Katharina was her name, saw him moping around the house, and so one day she called his bluff. She went in and found a funeral dress, all black, and wore it, wore it around the house all day. And finally Martin said, "Who died?" And she looked at him and said, "Well, I'm sure God must have died."
He said, "Why would you say something like that?" She goes, "Because I've just been watching you, Martin, and by looking at your life, it must be that God is dead." Well, that so shook him. It was a turning point in his own ministry that: "I gotta wrestle through this thing and get a hold of God's will for my life and press on." So he wrote a word that became an adornment at his home, one single Latin word, vivit, V-I-V-I-T, which means "He lives." So that whenever he got down like that, he could remember there is a God in heaven who lives, who loves me, and has got a plan for my life, and I'm not going to run from it. He lives.
So we've seen three principles: when you know how to die, you're ready to live; endure like a commoner, you'll reign like a king; trying to hurt God will only hurt you. And now notice that fourth clause and we'll attach a principle to it. Verse 13, "If we are faithless, he remains faithful; he cannot deny himself." Here's the principle: your failure will never stop his faithfulness. Your failure will never stop his faithfulness. Jonah's a great example still. He fled "from the presence of the Lord. But the Lord"---don't you love that phrase? "But the Lord"---God isn't done yet.
"But the Lord" sent a storm, and the Lord prepared a great fish. Yeah, you may be faithless, but God is always faithful. You might fail, but God is faithful. Peter is also another great example of this. He denied the Lord. That point of failure became for him a testimony for greater usefulness. "Peter, do you love me? Feed my sheep." Now, you know, if the Bible read a little differently, if we read in John---if it were to say something like this: "Peter, I love you, but I can never use you the way I originally intended to use you." Well, you would get that.
We would understand that. We would say, "Yeah, that's justified. I get that. This guy really blew it." But it doesn't say that. "Peter, do you love me? Tend, feed, nourish my sheep and my lambs." And he went on to preach to first sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He went on to lead the first Gentile, Cornelius, to faith in Jesus Christ. He went on to address the Jerusalem council in Acts, chapter 15. Chuck Colson who's now in heaven, who worked for the Nixon White House, he was put in jail because of his dealings and doings.
And he wrote these words: "The real legacy of my life was my biggest failure"---loser, that's my testimony---"that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation---being sent to prison---was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life. He chose to use the one experience in which I could not glory for his glory." Am I speaking to a failure? Am I speaking to somebody who has floundered around in the ministry? And you've come to the conference, but you just---you feel so bad about a series of choices or events that have happened in your life, your ministry?
Listen, your ministry may look different in the future than what it has in the past, for whatever reason, but God still wants to use you in some capacity. First Thessalonians 5:24, "He who called you is faithful, who also will do it." It's time to live, men and women of God. You know how to die, get ready to live. Live a little. Risk a little. You're failure will never stop his faithfulness. Endure whatever you have to, but rely upon his grace to keep you going. Ever read Pilgrim's Progress? Spurgeon read it twice a year, for the most part, one or twice a year.
There's a story in Pilgrim's Progress, in that long story, about when Christian goes to Interpreter's house. Do you remember that scene? And he's taken into a house and he's shown a wall, and burning against that wall is a little fire, a small fire. And there's a man standing in front of the fire pouring water on the fire, but the more water he pours on the fire, the fire grows bigger and brighter and hotter. Then Interpreter shows Christian the secret of why the fire won't go out. He takes him to the other side of the wall to show him another man pouring oil on the fire.
Interpreter explains to Christian the man pouring water on the fire is the devil. Jesus is the one pouring oil on the backside of it. He said, "This is Christ, with the oil of his grace, he continually maintains the work already begun in the hearts of his people." That's the faithfulness of God. Are you weak? Get used to it. He is strong. Are you a failure? Get used to that. He is faithful. You think it's the end? Are you kidding? You're only getting started.
Father, we just think of these thoughts, these principles, this creed, this hymn, this chant, the song of the early church, this axiomatic truth, this self-evident truth put in such a way as we meditate on these principles they speak to us. I pray you would encourage us, Lord. We know we're going to die physically, and we're going to live eternally, that part's taken care of. I pray, Lord, we'd know how to live now because of it, for your glory, with greater purpose, with almost a reckless abandonment to the will of God.
That we would endure whatever we have to endure like a commoner, because one day we're going to reign like a king with the King of Kings. Not try to run from you, but run with you, because we're only hurting ourselves if we do not acknowledge your Lordship. But, Lord, that good news that our failure will never put a cork on you pouring out your faithfulness into our lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you, in Jesus' name, amen.