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Seasons Change


"Make every effort to come to me soon; 10 for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 12 But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. 13 When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

16 At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

19 Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. 21 Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.

22 The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you." 


Good Morning My Beloved,

Welcome to worship this Lord's Day!
We are so very grateful for our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ from around the world, we are so thankful that you are all with us today. 
There will soon come a day, when each one of you, who are listening as I give this message, will have fought their final battle. Undoubtedly, there will be some, who would see this as an inglorious end. Many, professing Christians, will sarcastically assert that this is unreasonable, who refuse to compromise their views, insisting that these words are unimportant. However, there will be another chapter unfolding in our lives, one which is presently unseen.

Though we may not know the means by which we each will die, we do know that we will each die alone, as no one else can do the dying for us. We will long for the fleeting comfort of those we dearly love, family, close friends on whom we have leaned on in years past; and we will be keenly aware of those who fled, unable to stand with us. However, above all, we must be forewarned that we will be engaged in combat throughout our lives as Christians, as those who have gone before us, and we too, will have our own battles to face until the very end.

Our lives, our very thoughts, are often compared to the annual seasons; and just as there are seasons to every year, so too are our lives are played out in a seasonal environment. Our life span can be compared to seasons. Birth and infancy are often times compared to spring, with the promise of all that lies ahead. Youth and young adulthood are seen as summer, when the vigor of youth and the vibrancy of life is pronounced. Middle age is viewed as the fall of life, when we are reaping, gathering, preparing for the dark days of the future that lie ahead. And in our aged, final years are frequently referred to as the winter of our lives. The dismal winter season, is the sign that the cycle of life is nearly complete.

As our eyes begin to dim and lose their twinkle, our hair diminishes, and what's left of it turns to grey, as the bodily systems begin to weaken and ultimately fail, as we near our long journey home, our preparation for the inevitable, now assumes a new urgency. We quickly begin to realize, that anything that we must do, must be accomplished soon, and very soon as would anything that others would do for us. The brilliance of a once great mind, rapidly moving from subject-to-subject. Our sentences now few, sharp, and urgent; reveal a solemnity, as they assume a greater poignancy in light of our finality. With little left to linger, but the expectation of our pleas of loneliness, grasping at the final few hours of life, now quickly fading.

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Heavenly Father,

Father, thank You for this Word. Thank You for these great truths, may they open our eyes and remind us just how important we all are to each other. Thank You even for the discouraging things, because You have given us people, the richest treasure, to come alongside us, to help us carry our burdens. Lord, grant us a great love for those around us, give us a great commitment to them. Strengthen us through Your Holy Spirit, that we might strengthen each other. Lord, encouraged us that in the midst of all of this, You will stand with us and strengthen us and the Gospel will be fully proclaimed. May these Words penetrate each of our hearts, so that we would respond as You would want us to.
In Jesus' name
Today's Message: Seasons Change

Death is inevitable and since our bodies are aging, it reminds us daily that we’re not getting any younger, you would think that everyone would face the facts and prepare for what is inevitable. Many try to reassure themselves that it will somehow all be okay; saying things like "If there is a God, He will surely be nice to me. After all, I’ve done the best that I could. "But rather than the reassurance of lasting youth, God’s Word gives us clear, straightforward counsel on how to face the end of our lives.

Our text is one of those portions of Scripture that at first glance makes you wonder why would God include it on the inspired page. As Paul concludes what would be his final letter to his beloved son in the faith, he urges Timothy to make every effort to come to him before winter. He shares a number of personal greetings and some requests for personal items that he wants Timothy to bring to him. I’m convinced that the Holy Spirit placed this information in front of Timothy, and indirectly in front of us, for a reason.

However, upon closer inspection, these verses reveal to us many practical insights into this great man of God and what made him who he was. On the one hand, he was very human. His loneliness cries out within these verses. He is grappling with feelings of abandonment in his time of great need. He is disappointed with certain people. On the other hand, he is strong and confident in the Lord as he faces certain execution.  

The harsh reality of our disappointment with people, our struggles and problems, is offset by strong confidence in the Lord. In our text, we see Paul facing the various trials of the winter season of life in the Lord. 

The Apostle Paul frequently used allusions to combat to emphasize the Christian life. It is not that he was advocating violence, because in fact, he did not, rather he recognized that the child of God will be constantly engaged in a powerful spiritual battle with unseen forces. Let's consider a few examples of the Apostle Paul’s view of the Christian life.

In Ephesians chapter 6 Paul says "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

Paul presented this concept to the Thessalonian Christians when he wrote in I Thessalonians 5:8-11, "But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing."

And in II Corinthians 10:3-6, Paul urges believers to engage in spiritual combat. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but  divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete."

To be clear, Christians are not a warlike people. We are to seek peace with all people. In fact, we are taught in Romans 12:17-21, "Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. "But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

As followers of Christ, we do have battles!  However, our battles are not with people. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12, that "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places."

While it is certainly true, that people, even so called professing Christians, will attack us, seeking to destroy our witness or injure our ministry. Simply because we have committed our life to Christ Jesus the Lord, however, we recognize that behind those assaults, is the malevolent force of the wicked one who opposes all that is righteous and godly. If we surrender to the flesh and strike out as those attacking us strike out at us, we will have given  in to the flesh and therefore, will have dishonored the Lord God by whose Name we are called.

Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:34-36, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household."

The challenge that we face, as one who follows Jesus Christ, has not changed from the earlier command that was given, "Fight the good fight of the faith." As with our Lord, the Christian life must end in what appears to the world defeat! Now allow me to be very clear on this, this does not mean that we are always defeated in every battle. As followers of Christ, we can anticipate victory in the battles we face throughout this life; and we are confident that we shall be victorious in Christ at the last. However, as you rely on the Lord, you should anticipate victory in the trials you are called to endure. 

Nevertheless, at the last we each must know that we shall succumb to the last enemy, as we will pass through the dark waters separating this life from the life to come. From the viewpoint of those of this dark, and dying world, it may appear as though the Christian has foolishly chosen to follow the Savior. However, our choice only appears foolish because they are incapable of seeing clearly, their eyes are blinded by the god of this age, Satan. 

Though Paul was a Roman citizen, a fact that he had used to his advantage on several occasions, his life would soon be violently taken from him.

Open your Bibles with me to the Second Book of Timothy. In our ongoing study of this wonderful epistle, we come to these final 13 verses of Paul's final letter before his execution, turn with me to verses 9 through 22. I would encourage you to follow along with me as I read, to set the text in our minds, as we prepare our hearts for a look at the end of our beloved Apostle Paul's life and ministry here on earth. II Timothy 4:9-22.

"Make every effort to come to me soon; for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica; Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service.  But Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greet Prisca and Aquila, and the household of Onesiphorus. Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus. Make every effort to come before winter. Eubulus greets you, also Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren.
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you."

In this life, we all make commitments, however, many of them are made without our even thinking about them. We commit to our jobs, we commit to spending our free time to either study the Word, or waste it on mindless entertainment offered by this world. The Apostle Paul was first and foremost committed to the Living Savior Jesus Christ, with whom he enjoyed daily fellowship, even while in that cold, dark dungeon in Rome. I'd like to draw your attention to verses 17, 18 and 22, which all begin with "the Lord."  

As unpleasant as Paul's circumstances were, the Lord was sovereign over them all. If the Lord had so chosen  He could have easily rescued Paul from that dungeon and given him more years of effective ministry. In fact, there are a number of people who often misinterpret verse 18, in which Paul writes "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." to mean Paul referring to his being rescued from personal temptation to sin. While it is certainly true, God does do that, however, I do not believe that fits the context of what Paul is saying here. I believe that what Paul was referring to, are the evil deeds of wicked men. However, as it turned out, the Lord did not choose to deliver Paul from such evil deeds, although He did deliver Paul through them.

The writer of Hebrews, in chapter 11, tells how many were delivered from great trials by faith in God. And, without skipping a single beat, in verses 35-38, he tells how many suffered horrible deaths as they trusted in God. However, allow me to point out, even if evil men do terrible things to us, God still reigns on high, therefore, we can always trust in the Sovereign God, whose plans cannot be thwarted by the attempts of men.

Paul, now alone, facing the daunting prospect of beheading while isolated from beloved friends, a condemned prisoner, carefully analyzed his untenable and unenviable situation. In verse 17, he writes "But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me," in verse 18 he writes "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed" and in verse 22 Paul tells us "The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you." Though we do not know if the Lord actually appeared to Paul or whether he knew in his spirit that the Lord stood with him, we do know that no matter how difficult your circumstances may be, if your trust is in the Lord Jesus Christ, His promise to you is, "I am with you always."

And, as the writer of Hebrews 13:5-6 tells us "for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you," so that we confidently say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?"

In the middle of verse 18, Paul writes "..and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom;" If by God’s grace, you have entrusted your life to Jesus Christ, to save you from your sins, then His promise in John 6:39, is surely for you. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day." You can be assured that He won’t lose you on judgment day!

Then, at the end of verse 18, Paul says to "Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen."

In other words, since it is God, Who ordained your salvation before the foundation of the world, since Christ willingly came to save all that the Father had given Him, and since He promises that He will not lose any of those who belong to Him, "all praise and glory go unto Him! 

Paul's last written final words, were recorded at the end of verse 22, "Grace be with you." I believe its worthy to note, that the you is plural. This would clearly indicate, at least to me, that the Apostle Paul fully expected us to read his letter to Timothy. Paul is telling us, that God’s grace is for you! God has saved you by His grace. He desires you to walk daily by His grace. And, because salvation is all of grace, God alone gets all the glory. From Him grace; to Him glory. Paul received grace from Christ. Then he returned glory to Christ. I do not believe there is any better philosophy than this, to summarize the Christian life.

Beloved, since it is inevitable, that we will all one day face death, I believe, it is absolutely crucial that you share Paul’s commitment to the Living Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. And, if He has indeed saved you by His grace, then in death, you will surely be ushered into His glorious presence, where you will spend all of eternity, glorifying Him!

Since his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul had been tirelessly abounding in the work of our Lord. You might be inclined to think that now, being imprisoned in this dungeon, it would have slowed him down. But here he is, in the final hours of his life, still going strong for Christ.

Paul, at his preliminary hearing, would surely not say anything to endanger his case! If ever there was a sermon preached ‘out of season,’ verses 16 and 17, was it! "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that through me the proclamation might be fully accomplished, and that all the Gentiles might hear; and I was rescued out of the lion’s mouth." God graciously delivered him from death at that hearing, we can assume that "the lion’s mouth" is most likely a general expression for death; because Paul, being a Roman citizen, was not allowed to be thrown to the lions in the stadium. Ultimately, Paul was sentenced to death under Nero. As a citizen, he would not be crucified; neither would he be burned alive as many would suffer under the mad emperor. The Apostle Paul would be beheaded as a privilege of citizenship. His lifeless body would be cast into an unmarked grave, so that no one would be able to show respect to his memory through proper burial rites.

I believe there is a lesson in this for each of us today, that whatever circumstances God puts us in, no matter how difficult, it is an opportunity for proclaiming the gospel. As long as we are mentally capable, whether we end up in jail, the hospital or a nursing home, we'll have been given a new opportunity, with a new audience, to share with them the Good News about Jesus Christ.  

The Roman Christians were unwilling to risk their necks to stand with Paul, the Emperor Nero was torturing and killing Christians. It would have been extremely dangerous, if not deadly, for them to testify on Paul's behalf. We do not know where Luke was at this time; perhaps he had not yet arrived. However, Paul being patient with their weakness, graciously echoed the words of Jesus, "may it not be counted against them."

Beloved, one does not need not be a prophet to recognize disturbing trends in contemporary society as the Christian faith is pushed hard against by a variety of opponents. Anyone who believes our society is a friend of the Christian faith, must blindly ignore the attitudes which are prevalent in our society today. Society has never been inclined to accept the faithful of Christ.

Unfortunately, there are a number of people who come to Christ, simply for anticipated benefits. However, when the truth confronts their sinful motives, they become dangerous enemies, like Alexander the coppersmith, who will cause much harm. It is believed that he professed to be a believer, but had turned against Paul and his teaching, and had informed the Roman authorities about him, leading to his arrest. Timothy may have traveled to be with Paul, its possible that he would be passing through the city where Alexander lived. It may have been Troas, where Paul’s coat and books were left behind, when he was suddenly arrested. Alexander was a relatively common name, so we cannot be certain if this is the same man that Paul had delivered over to Satan. We must be cautious of a superficial commitment to the cause of Christ, when the motive is simply to obtain something for ourselves! 

It is likely that Paul would have been more disappointed over Demas than with any of the others. When he had written to Philemon, just a few years prior, Paul included Demas among his "fellow workers." However, now, when identifying with Paul would almost certainly mean death, Demas "having loved this present world," chose to desert Paul in his time of great need. Paul was left cold, shivering without even a coat. While I do not claim to know why this world’s enticements are strong, I can assure you that they are. 

I have seen many prominent men of faith, fall victim to the snares of the enemy. Jimmy Swaggert, who was implicated in a sex scandal involving a prostitute initially resulting in his suspension, and ultimately defrocking, by the Assemblies of God. And, just three years later he was implicated in another scandal involving a prostitute. Then, there was Jim Bakker, who can forget that and Jerry Falwell Jr., the list just goes on and on. Jesus warned in Luke 6:26 "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way."

However, even so, Paul was not the Lone Ranger. Ever faithful Luke, was at his side, likely taking down this very letter to Timothy. Paul asked Timothy to bring Mark with him. Mark had accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but had deserted them and returned home. Later, Barnabas, who was Mark’s cousin, wanted to give him another try, but Paul adamantly refused, leading to a split between the two great missionaries. So Barnabas had taken Mark and gone to Cyprus. His patient encouragement with Mark had paid off. Now Paul wants Mark to be with him as he faces the end.

It was probably Tychicus, who delivered this letter to Timothy, then stayed on in Ephesus as his replacement. Carpus, was Paul’s host in Troas, possibly where he had been arrested. Prisca and Aquila were Paul’s fellow tent makers, who often hosted the church in their homes. Paul greets the household of Onesiphorus, who either had not yet returned home after visiting Paul in Rome, or who may have even lost his life ministering to Paul in his imprisonment.

Erastus,was the city treasurer in Corinth. Trophimus, was a Gentile native of Ephesus. He was with Paul in Jerusalem, when Paul’s enemies falsely accused him of bringing a Gentile into the temple, leading to Paul’s arrest. The fact that Paul, who had the gift of healing, left Trophimus sick at Miletus, shows either that these supernatural gifts were fading or, that it is not always God’s will to heal supernaturally.

The Apostle Paul sends greetings from Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia, along with all the brethren in Rome. Irenaeus and Eusebius mention a Linus who was the first bishop of Rome after the deaths of Paul and Peter. Tacitus, the Roman historian, mentions a Roman noble named Pudens, who married a British princess named Claudia. If these are the same people, then we have a link to British Christianity, from which our American Christianity largely came. However, the point is, Paul was not a loner. He was committed with many others, to the cause of Christ and they labored together. When life’s end comes, and it will for all of us, sooner or later, we will be able to better face it, if we are part of a body of committed believers, who uphold one another in the great cause of our Savior.

In Closing...

Reading the Bible helps us become more Christ-like, more loving, and more humble. If we allow ourselves to become filled with pride, then we have missed the entire point. The more you read and study the Bible, I'm sure you will discover as I have, just how little you know.

There are many Christians who would find themselves in despair, imagining that Jesus had included us to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, when in His prayer request to the Father, He said "I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;" Increasingly, the prevalent sentiment which is expressed within society, is that the Christians faith should be forced to be confined to what is being done within the four walls of the church building. Sadly, many legislators elected to direct the affairs of our nation, appear to have adopted the worldly view that Christians should not be permitted to live out their faith in the public arena. Our biblical morality may be tolerated as long as some sinner is not made to feel uncomfortable; however, you can anticipate that the conscientious Christian will be publicly shamed, censured and likely charged with a hate crime, should  he make his moral views known publicly.

When local bakers no longer have the right to refuse to compromise their beliefs, when photographers are condemned and fined for refusing to surrender to the god of this age, when florists are compelled to participate in those acts which violate biblical standards, when teachers are not permitted to openly hold opinions that are contrary to the modern sexual code of ethics and when Christian schools cannot expect adherence to biblical morality without condemnation by the court systems, it cannot any longer be denied, that the Christian faith is under assault!

Allow me to be so bold as to say, if we do not speak out for Jesus Christ just to save ourselves from a bit of embarrassment, among family, friends and co-workers, then certainly we will not speak out for Him when our very life is on the line. Tragically, even many professed followers of Christ adopt an attitude of silence in the face of wickedness.

The inhabitants of this darkened world would much prefer that we, as the faithful of the Lord, would just keep silent, or better yet, disappear. Yet, this world still expects the churches to be available to meet their selfish expectations of providing a suitable place for wedding ceremonies or the funeral of their loved ones. But in between the marriage and the funeral, they demand we not make them to feel uncomfortable about their lack of relationship with God.

And, so the Christian will likely die alone, without the comfort of family and friends in the end. While it may be true, that each of us does indeed die alone! However, we are not truly alone. As our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ awaits, standing to receive His own to Himself; while in this life, the faithful may become distracted, however, their prayers for comfort and strength will have ascended before the throne of God. And, at last, the child of God will rejoice in final victory over the evil one of this age, welcomed into the arms of our Savior.

May it be so..

And now may the Lord bless you and keep you;

the Lord make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;

The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.

Now and forever, in Jesus' name

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The Brian Monzon Ministries



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