Paul’s Last Requests​

Paul’s Last Requests—October 27, 2019—DBC—Dr. Denny
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Introduction:  Paul Gussman was dying.  He had a good life.  He was a famous tv announcer and writer.  He wrote the pilot episode of Days of Our Lives among other shows.  As he became ill, he said he wanted his last words to be memorable. In his final moments, his daughter reminded him of this and he gently removed his oxygen mask and whispered, “And now a word from our sponsors.” 

Background to Text:  And as we move to our Scripture today, I can almost hear Paul’s last words, “and now a word from my Sponsor.”
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2 Timothy 4 is perhaps the most intimate glimpse we will ever have of the great old apostle.  There should be a veil over this passage.  It’s so private as death always is.  In our last moments, we don’t people peeking through the door whispering.  It’s a time for the last and final thoughts before the curtain falls.  And yet Paul manages from his death bed to put it all in this personal letter.  And so this morning we will all step into his hospital room and watch the great man die.  We listen to his final requests and learn from a saint how it all works.

  1. Come to Me Soon—(2 Tim 4:9). “Make every effort to come to me soon.”

If you listen closely and hold your ear next to the letter, you can hear the sound of people leaving. And the sad truth is that Paul died alone.  It’s a somber note to sound after the symphony has ended that was his life.

First Demas left him.(v10)–  So tragic.  We don’t know a lot about Demas but we know this:  he deserted his friend, mentor, and guide in his last days.  “For Demas, having loved this present world has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”  No farewells.  No thank you’s.  No warm handshake or tears of sorrow for the suffering apostle.  Nothing but a swift exit from the stage.  Demas deserted me.

But more left.  Crescens slipped away to Galatia—Titus went to Dalmatia—Tychicus sailed off to Ephesus.  Some of these went on Paul’s command; others just left.

It’s a sad thing to die alone and the apostle was almost alone in his last hours.  Only Luke remained.

*A health care aid in a geriatric ward told this true story.  He said that as he made his rounds, he noticed a woman so frail and old that she looked dead.  But when he stepped to her bedside she suddenly motioned to him.  The aid came and put his ear next to her mouth and heard her sigh these final words.  “I just wanted to say ‘good-bye’ to someone.”  She died a few days later.

Can you hear Paul’s last request?  It is much the same as the old dying woman.  Paul with a weakened voice says, “Make every effort to come to me soon.”

  1. Bring my Cloak (2Tim 4:13)—Paul’s second final request was a simple one: “Bring the cloak which I left at Troas…”.

On September 19, 1952, a much-beloved character was born.  You all know him.  He lives even to this day.  His birth was most unusual.  An artist named Charles Schulz picked up his pen one morning and made a few bold strokes in his sketchbook.  And before long he had a little boy sitting with an innocent expression sucking his thumb and holding very closely a blue blanket.  When Schulz was asked about him he said, “Linus, my serious side, is the house intellectual, bright, well-informed which, I suppose may contribute to his feelings of insecurity.”  One time when Lucy snatched his blanket away and buried it Linus nearly had a breakdown.  He dug up the neighborhood for days trying to find it until Snoopy finally dug it up.

We get attached to things and in a similar ways, Paul was attached to his cloak.  He didn’t want to leave it at Troas, but the weather was hot then and the cloak was heavy.  So he left it with Carpus, a dear friend and told him to guard it with his life.  But now that winter is coming and Paul is alone and dying in a cold Roman cell, he wants it.  It’s one of his final requests.

Why the cloak?  Perhaps it brought back fond memories of his journeys to the church’s over all those years of endless traveling.  Over many years and three separate long missionary journeys, Paul had the cloak. He wore it when men and women fell on their knees trusting Christ as their savior and he wore it at banquets and long road trips between towns.  It was a link to his accomplishments. He wanted it back now.  He was cold and he needed warm memories. 

  1. Bring the Parchments– τὰς μεμβράνας  (2 Tim 4:13)—The Greek word is membranos (our word for membrane.  These are documents made from leather skins.  Paul found great comfort in his book and parchments.  But why these parchments?  Perhaps they were some personal letters he had not finished writing yet or maybe they were some of the letters to the churches that he wanted to read over again.

*Do you have any old letters or cards someone in a shoebox that you have kept all these days?  When you take them out and see the handwriting, It is easy to imagine the handwriting them as if it just happened.

*I found such a letter from my mother recently.  I had written her a poem about August many long years ago.  And then I forgot about it.  But one day I received a letter from my mother.  She was an artist and she had painted all over around the lines of the poem, pretty leaves falling from trees.  It brings it all back.

Paul said, “Bring me my letters, bring me the parchments. 

Conclusion:

Paul’s final request is unspoken.  He utters it silently to the Lord.  Just before he died he turned his face toward heaven and with the greatest anticipation whispered, And bring me the crown of righteousness

The Path to Citizenship

The Path to Citizenship–Phil. 3:17-4:1. DBC—March 15, 2017—David R Denny
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Introduction:  We live in a political world and as you know politics is a messy road.  But our text today drives us right into the fray and we can’t avoid it.  In fact, Paul uses a Greek word from which we derive our word for politics.  His word is politeuma.     πολίτευμα, ατος, τό.       It means CITIZENSHIP. I don’t think Paul liked politics too much since this is the only recorded time he ever used this word. But he did use it and so we will follow him this morning.

*Citizenship Test:  If you go to the web site: U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services you can get the 10 test questions an immigrant must know to become a citizen. I thought I would give you this test this morning.  I think we have time.  This is an oral test administered by an immigration officer.  He can ask any 10 of the 100 questions.  You must answer 6 out of the 10 correctly.  So if you have a pen right down your answers and then we will grade them.  —

1. What is the supreme law of the land? (Constitution).
2.  What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? (the Bill of Rights).                   3. The idea of self-government is in the first three words of the Constitution.  What are these three words?  (We the People).

Textual study: In our text, Paul says that if you are a believer then you have a unique citizenship.  It is different than the citizenship of the USA. A Christian is a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20.  “For our citizenship is in heaven…”.  This thought sent chills down Paul’s spine.  He knew there was more to life than this world’s pains or sorrows or meaningless daily routines.  There was another word and that was where his citizenship was.  And so for us as well.  Our home is Heaven and it is for that home that we eagerly await.

*Mutiny at the Hyphasis.  One of the greatest stories in all of ancient history is when Alexander the Great’s troops mutinied against him.  For over a decade his Macedonian brothers had followed him all over the known world fighting his battles, claiming more and more territory. They conquered Europe and Palestine and Egypt and Babylon and Persia and now Alexander wanted to conquer India. But it was here on the banks of the Hyphasis River that the men said no.  No more.  The year was 326 and the men were weary of battle.

 

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Mutiny at the Hyphasis–Alexander the Great

They were already filthy rich from the spoils of war.  They missed home.  They missed their wives and children who had grown up without them.  They wanted to go home. Their citizenship was not here on the edge of the world.  Their home was Macedonia.   When they told him no, he couldn’t believe it.  He was so upset he stormed off into his tent and didn’t come out for three days. But the soldiers held firm.  And so suddenly Alexander saw that it was over. And he told them perhaps it was time to go home after all.  When he said this, the soldiers shouted for joy and wept. They all called for blessings on Alexander who though undefeated in all his battles had let himself be defeated by the.

 

What is it they wanted?  They wanted to go home.  It is the same thing Paul wanted and it is our supreme goal as well.  We have citizenship in America for which we give thanks daily.  But it is not our home.  —

*I’ve been a tumbleweed all my life.  My dad moved every two years in the military and so I’ve moved and lived everywhere. But I feel like the Eastern Shore will be my last port of call.  This is it for me.  No more wandering. BUT IT IS NOT MY HOME.  For my citizenship—my home—is in heaven.

* Green, green grass of homegrass of home.jpgThere is a song I hear every once in a while on the radio.  When it starts to play, I usually stop what I am doing and just listen.  It’s a sad song about home.——Read lyrics.

 

Textual thought:  Paul too became very emotional when he spoke of home.  In Phil. 3:18. He said that although he wished everyone was walking with him to his heavenly home, he knew that many were not with him.  There were those he said who cared more about this world. “Their minds are set on earthly things”. He said.  And when he thought of these things the text says he wept. (3:18).

*This reminds me of the Prodigal son.  He left home and his loving family preferring the baubles of this world.  And every day the father wept just as Paul did for those he knew that had sold out.            But what a happy day it was when the son came home again.

Conclusion:   Where is your citizenship?  The path to citizenship comes through the cross.  When you place your faith in Christ and call upon him to be your Savior, then you too will be handed the keys to home.  Heaven will be yours.