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A Great Ending
“A good start needs a better ending, and a good ending gives a better start.”
As we are about to enter into our new sanctuary, a couple words came to mind as I was thinking about what the Lord would want to say as we make this transition, and the words were “ending,” and “beginning.”
Therefore, today I’d like to talk about this issue of ending, or as the title of the message and my beginning statement alludes to, and that is our need to have a great ending so we can have a strong beginning.
Next week, as we enter into our new sanctuary, I’d like to share about having a strong beginning as we look at Joshua when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River and enter into the Promised Land.
What I have come to realize, is that because we are so consumed with what has happened in the past that we make adjustments to our present to compensate. But the problem is that in making these adjustments we never consider how they are going to affect our future.
Will these adjustments produce godly fruit where in the end we’ll hear the Lord say, “Well done good and faithful servant,” (Matthew 25:23).
A good ending, therefore, should be our main objective, our primary goal, and our top priority. And to accomplish this, all of our decisions and actions should be directed toward this singular goal of hearing these words spoken over us when our lives have ended and we enter into our Promise Land, that is, eternal life in heaven.
Today’s message, “A Great Ending,” may be viewed by some as focusing on our past, but it isn’t; rather it is focusing on our future so we can live our lives in such a way that we can have a great ending.
I’d like to take a look at three people from the Bible who had a great ending. These three are King David, and Apostle Paul, and Jesus. And I’d like to look at then what the Lord says is needed to have a great ending.
So let’s begin by looking at King David, and the reason he had a great ending is because He served God by …
1. Serving Others
The testimony of the Holy Spirit concerning David’s ending says,
“For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep.” (Acts 13:36 NKJV)
Besides being a king and soldier, David was a servant. He grew up serving his father and his family. He served King Saul when Saul both loved and hated him. He served the nation of Israel, but more importantly he served God all of his life.
When we look at the life of King David, however, it’s his beginnings that we pay the most attention to, like his victory over the giant Goliath, or we pay attention to his many sins, like his adulterous affair with Bathsheba. But little if any attention is given to his end, and mainly because there’s not much written about it.
But what the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts says speaks volumes. David wasn’t perfect; in fact he was far from it, but the Bible says that he was God’s man.
“I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.” (Acts 13:22 NKJV)
David was a man after God’s own heart, because He served God’s purposes by serving others.
I’ve always liked what Chuck Smith, the founder of the Calvary Chapel movement, said concerning our service to others. He said, “When we minister to others, God will minister to us even more.”
To have a great ending we must serve God by serving others, which is at the heart of our mission statement, which is “to make a difference in our community for Christ.”
What are we living for? Are we living to serve our own goals or God’s purposes? Do we think we’re here to please ourselves, or are we here to serve God by serving others?
So we need to ask ourselves how can we serve our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, or those we don’t even know? How can we serve this present generation?
Therefore, we can have a great ending by serving God by serving others.
Our next person is the Apostle Paul, and he had a great ending because he was …
2. Keeping the Faith
In 2003, the Ohio State Buckeyes faced the Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl. Right before the game, Ohio State’s coach, Jim Tressel, asked his players one question. “How do you want to be remembered?”
Their answer came when the game was over. Ohio State pulled one of the greatest upsets in college football history by defeating the Miami and winning the national championship.
Paul answered this question about ending well from a Roman prison cell, and he did so with the knowledge that he could be put to death at any time. We might say that Paul wrote his own epitaph.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8a NIV)
By faith we must believe in and follow God’s path, plan, and purpose for our lives. We must fight the good fight and finish the race God has set before us, but not so much by our actions and deeds, but rather by faith.
We must not allow the problems of this life to dictate our actions; otherwise we won’t have the great ending God has in store.
How can we live a life of faith and have that great ending like Paul?
Living A Disciplined Life
“I have fought the good fight.” (2 Timothy 4:7a)
Paul continued towards God’s goal even with everything he went through, which included trouble, distress, tribulation, trials, and hardships beyond what we could even imagine, and he did so by being disciplined in his walk with God.
How else can we explain the lengthy list of Paul’s trials? Five times he was whipped, three times he was beaten, and once he was stoned and left for dead. He was in constant peril by both man and the elements, not to mention being shipwrecked on several occasions. And he was weak because he often would go without food and sleep (2 Corinthians 11:21-33)
And so Paul led a disciplined life, because he was disciplined in his walk with the Lord.
This leads me to the second thing Paul said, and that is he lived a directional life.
Living A Directional Life
“I have finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4:7b)
Paul followed the course laid out for Him by God. Whether in good times or bad, happy or sad, and in pain and suffering, Paul set his sights toward the goal, that is, the high calling of Jesus Christ, and he was always heading towards the finish.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NIV)
And finally, Paul kept the faith, because he didn’t let the doubts sway or dissuade him. He didn’t back down, nor did he compromise; instead he taught God’s word and shared the gospel message of Jesus Christ no matter what condition he was in.
David’s end reveals our need to serve others. Paul’s end shows us that we need to also keep the faith. But there’s one more ending that ties it all together, and that’s Jesus’s ending.
3. Fulfilling God’s Will
From His birth to His death, Jesus fulfilled the Father’s will, and this is exactly what we see at His ending. Even in the agony of knowing what lay before Him, how he would be scourged, crucified, and for the first time before time even began He would be separated from the Father because of our sins, yet He prayed for the Father’s will to be accomplished.
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39 NKJV)
Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, David was speaking the heart of the Messiah saying,
“Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:7 NKJV)
And there upon the cross Jesus finished well saying, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing,” and, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit,” (Luke 23:34, 46).
Jesus finished well because He fulfilled His Father’s will.
What then is God’s revealed will for us, so we can have a great ending? What is God’s will so we can fulfill it?
The Great Commandment
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39 NKJV)
God created us to have a love relationship with us, and His love for us knows no bounds.
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)
And God wants that same sort of love from us, that is, He wants us to love Him unconditionally, to love Him with the whole of our being, just as He loved us by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. But how can we show Him this sort of love?
We show God our love by loving others. This is what Jesus meant by adding a second command saying that it was “like” the first.
God’s will is also …
The Great Commission
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV)
God not only created us to have this wonderful loving relationship with Him, but He also created us with a purpose in mind, and that is to get this message of His love out to as many people as we can.
To fulfill God’s will, to have that great ending, we need to be witnesses for Jesus Christ, not only in what we say, but in how we live out our lives before others.
There’s a statement that seems to sum up this whole idea, and that is that we are the only Bible some people are ever going to read. Knowing that, what are they reading in our lives, and is it showing them God’s love and forgiveness?
And so the best ending we can have is to hear in words of Jesus saying, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.” (Matthew 25:23).
But to hear these words it begins with our faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV)
Let’s therefore take that walk of faith as we prepare for our new sanctuary and have that great ending in the sight of God.
Let’s begin serving this present generation by the will of God by making a difference in our community for Christ. Then by faith, let’s fulfill God’s will by faithfully loving Him and others, and then going out and sharing this good news to everyone we meet.
So the question becomes, what kind of legacy do we want to leave behind. In other words, what would we like our tombstones to say, and how do we want to be remembered?”
Will it say that we had a great ending like King David by fulfilling God’s purpose for this generation? Will it say that we loved God with the whole of our hearts, and loved others with that same love?
How we end is determine by how we use what God has so gracious given to us.
In the parable of the talents, those that wisely invest what God has given them are given not only the same back, but also more. But for those who hide what God has given, Jesus said that when the master returns He will take away what they have, and give it to those who have been faithful, and then toss these unfaithful servants into the fire where there’s weeping, wailing, and a gnashing of teeth.
Therefore, let’s have a great ending so that we can have a strong beginning, which is what we’ll look at next week in our time together in our new sanctuary.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study