13 Weeks – 1/11/2016 to 4/8/2016
Overview – Ray Robinson is an author, journalist, and magazine editor. He compiled a book called, “Famous Last Words”. It contains the remembered or recorded last words of famous people. One of the most interesting is the first in the book, from Douglas Fairbanks who said these words moments before his death, “I’ve never felt better!”
The last book or letter that the Apostle Paul wrote chronologically is 2nd Timothy. He was in Rome, awaiting execution. He writes a powerful, poignant letter to a young minister named Timothy. What he said to Timothy, speaks to us today in 2016! We include two messages to another young minister named Titus at the end of the series. (The message on servanthood from Titus 1 was one of the most requested messages given. It includes the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song, “You Gotta Serve Somebody.”)
Week 13 – 4/04/2016
Qualified to Lead?
This Week – The only “offices” described in detail in the early church were the leadership positions of “elder” and “deacon”. The Apostle Paul in both First Timothy and in Titus tells these two young ministers what the qualifications for these are! This week we look at verses 5 through 9 of the first chapter of Titus to see what the Lord is looking for in elders or shepherds of the flock. Some of them may actually surprise you.
Monday – We spent over 18 years in our first ministry in Columbus, Ohio. People often ask, “Why did you spend so many years in one church?” The answer has to do with the comments of an elder that were made to us in the very first month of our ministry there. What he said set the tone for the next 18 years! It really did, even though he had no idea of the importance of those words.
Tuesday – We begin with the very first qualification: “an elder must be blameless”. Blameless doesn’t mean perfect, it means there is no accusation waiting around the corner for that person. He then talks about an elder’s relationship with his wife and children. Isn’t it interesting how one’s family life is the “breeding ground” for both positive and negative observations about our lives? That’s true for us all!
Wednesday – We talk about uncontrolled anger being a disqualifier for an elder. Anger can do so much damage in a marriage or a family. Anger can do damage in a church. That’s why the Apostle Paul said an elder cannot be “quick-tempered”. Think of all the damage you have observed in the lives of people in your own journey in life because of anger. Anger has long term effects in relationships.
Thursday – Paul talks about the importance of what an elder believes as a qualifier or disqualifier for that office. He must hold firmly to basic Biblical doctrine. Why? What you and I believe impacts how we live! What we believe or don’t believe about the resurrection impacts how we die! We reflect what we really believe in conversation and in behavior.
Friday – We close with an illustration of Dr. Bruce Larson who says that there are one-dimensional people, two- dimensional people, and yes you guessed it, three- dimensional people. We explain the difference and tell why an elder must be a three-dimensional person. (There are a lot of marriages that are one or two- dimensional relationships.) Three- dimensional people believe that “life is about you, me, and the Lord.”
Week 12 – 3/28/2016
You’ve got to Serve Somebody
This Week – Between the writing of first and second Timothy, Paul wrote a letter to another young minister by the name of Titus. Titus ministered on the island of Crete (now a part of Greece) at Paul’s request. Paul asked him to appoint and ordain elders in the churches on the island. This week and next, just two messages from Paul’s letter to Titus. This one is about being a servant, we all serve someone! Next week’s message is about the qualifications of an elder.
Monday – We begin with the lyrics of Bob Dylan’s song, “You Gotta Serve Somebody”. The refrain is this, “It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody”. In point of fact, that’s true! As narrow minded as that statement may be, there is truth in it. We choose whom and what we serve in this life. Paul simply identifies himself in verse one as “a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ.”
Tuesday – We read the text from Titus 1:1-5. We tell the story of a cousin of mine who had an encounter with a man dressed like a hard-core biker. He was dressed like the epitome of a “Hell’s Angel” type of character. My cousin found out that his outfit was all a prop, and he really was nothing like his “costume”. You need to hear what this man told my cousin. We all serve somebody!
Wednesday – Tell me not what you believe, but what you really believe and I’ll tell you how you live. What we truly believe determines how we live. Paul told Titus that “knowledge of the truth leads to godliness”. Our lifestyle is always impacted by our belief system. Therefore, it does matter what you and I believe!
Thursday – In verse three, Paul talks about God working in His “appointed season”. God has timing for everything in your life. You may remember a time in your life when you couldn’t care less about the spiritual. Now you do care. Why? God in His appointed season worked in and through something in your life that happened. It may have been a crisis, a death, a divorce, or a problem with work. God works in our lives through those “seasons”.
Friday – We close the message with a story from the book and movie, “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe. It was about the four qualities that the seven original U.S. astronauts possessed. We talk about what those four qualities were, and then share how they have nothing to do with your relationship with the Lord! We all are called simply and powerfully to be God’s servants. As Bob Dylan’s song says, “You gotta serve somebody, it may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody!”
Week 11 – 3/21/2016
II Timothy 4:9-18
This Week – This is the last message in the “Last Words” series from ii Timothy. Paul deals with what we are calling “relational pain” or the pain caused by damaged relationships. They could be relationships in the home, work, school, and even the church. Paul describes being deserted and even betrayed by those who were close to him.
Monday – We begin with a somewhat humorous story that is actually very sad. To me, it’s more than sad, it’s tragic! It’s about a fractured relationship in the church, never to be repaired because of never seeing the person again. Paul tells Timothy of the people who left or deserted him, right when he needed them the most. He also tells of people who “came against” his ministry. You may have people in your life who have done the same or worse!
Tuesday – A minister from Toronto by the name of Darryl Dash tells of the relational pain in his life and ministry. What relationship pain have you gone through in the last year or the last 5 years? Most people can think of those who have deserted them or worse. Desertion is no small thing, especially when it happens to you!
Wednesday – Paul identifies a man named Alexander (a metal worker by profession) who did him and his ministry a great deal of harm. Has anyone ever done you harm in your job or life in general? Darryl tells of a dramatic personal example in his life. My guess is that there will be many who listen to this will be able to relate. What about you?
Thursday – Paul was able to say that “the Lord stood with him by his side.” That’s more than wishful thinking; it was an affirmation of truth in his life. We share how one psychologist believes that the new college student, the recently divorced person, or the recently widowed man or woman experiences loneliness in a profound way. The words of Paul speak to that loneliness! They just may speak to you today!
Friday – We close with a story from a woman in Cincinnati who shares how she believed in God, but not “too much”. And yet part of her yearned to have a relationship with a God interested in her life day to day. Paul tells Timothy that “the Lord stands with me and gives me strength.” If that statement is true, wouldn’t you like to have a relationship with Him? You can. You really can!
Week 10 – 3/14/2016
A Benediction for Life
II Timothy 4:6-8
This Week – This is our 300th week of broadcast on the Family Talk Channel on Sirius/XM! Friday’s program has the designation of number 1,500. The message is from the last chapter of 2nd Timothy, just 3 verses. It is Paul’s “benediction” on his life and ministry. It will speak to you in a powerful way using just 70 words. How would you sum up your life in about 70 words to your family and friends?
Monday – Lou Gehrig’s farewell to baseball fans at Yankee Stadium generations ago is still remembered. In a very real sense, he spoke a “benediction” on his life and career. So does the Apostle Paul in 2nd Timothy 4, verses 6 through 8. He speaks of his life in terms on being poured out in service to the Lord. What or for whom do you pour out your life?
Tuesday – Pouring out your life is a figurative expression for the giving of your time, talent, and treasure to something or someone. We all pour out our lives for something. Most people pour out their lives for the temporary. Whatever that is, it may seem important now. But it terms of eternity, will it really matter? It terms of forever, will it count?
Wednesday – Paul uses athletic illustrations to describe his journey: “fighting the good fight, running the race, and keeping the faith”. Keeping the faith doesn’t simply mean you retain it, it means you hold onto it to pass it on to someone else! Parents today want to pass on athletic skills, technological skills, and academic knowledge. But do we have the same interest in passing on the hope of eternal life through Christ? Do we really?
Thursday – We share a story about Billy Graham’s life and ministry. One of his daughters shared with me at a church that we visited in North Carolina that he was looking forward to being with the Lord and of course being reunited with his wife, Ruth. What are you looking forward to? We usually look forward to that which we love. We long to be with the people we really love. Hopefully we long to be with the Lord!
Friday – The early church lived in daily anticipation of the Lord’s return. In our culture, we live in daily anticipation of the next economic crisis, the next tragedy, the next election. We live in daily anticipation of anything and everything but the return of Christ. Does that need to change in your life and mine? It does in mine! What about you?
Week 9 – 3/7/2016
When Learning Begins?
II Timothy 3:12-17
This Week – When do you think that you started to learn in life? Preschool, Kindergarten, or even first grade might be your answer. According to the Apostle Paul, he told Timothy that he “learned the scriptures from infancy!” Is that even possible? We talk about what and how we learn according to the word of God.
Monday – We begin by telling of a young lady who tells of her learning at a very young age. Her knowledge would be considered precocious (unusually advanced) for a six-year old. How old does one need to be before they are influenced spiritually? Paul deals with that issue; his comments may surprise you. He actually believed that Timothy “learned” about spiritual things from his infancy! Listen to this message and come to your own decision.
Tuesday – We begin today’s program by referencing verse 12 where Paul says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ will be persecuted.” That comes as a surprise to some. Persecution can take on different forms and different degrees. Then Paul tells Timothy about his learning scripture from infancy from his mother and grandmother. What have you learned from infancy? Probably more than you know or can even imagine. We explain why.
Wednesday – Did you know that in ancient Jewish culture, the belief was that spiritual truth was even conveyed through the mother’s milk! That seems totally preposterous to people today. Yet, is it possible that we convey truth to children by praying over them and speaking spiritual truth into their lives, even if they don’t seem to understand intellectually? I think so and further expound why.
Thursday – Have you ever been with a person perhaps in a coma or even dying, and you wondered about speaking to them in that situation? We talk about speaking to a person’s “spirit”, not just their mind. This is pretty dramatic stuff, and I don’t expect everyone to accept it. But I do hope you will at least listen to it and consider the possibility as it relates to small children and their spiritual growth.
Friday – We conclude by looking at parental influence on children, spiritually. Even nothing shared by a parent is “spiritual influence”, whether we admit that or not. How were you influenced by parents, grandparents, and other significant people in your life? I share about going through the personal effects of my parents before the sale of their home. It gave me a chance to think about their spiritual influence on my life. Someday, people will be reflecting on your influence or lack of it!
Week 8 – 2/29/2016
19 Traits to Avoid!
II Timothy 3:1-5
This Week – The most common humorous description of a sermon is this: “three points and a poem”. Preachers are taught not to have too many points in their messages; people simply can’t remember them. This week we discuss 19 traits in ungodly people! The Apostle Paul told Timothy to have nothing to do with these traits or the people who exhibit them!
Monday – We begin with a quote from a Kristin Dalton Wolfe who wrote about 12 traits that one should look for in a prospective mate. She believes that they are “non-negotiable”; meaning the people we are considering should exhibit them in real life. Paul told Timothy to avoid 19 characteristics in life that are in direct opposition to the One we serve. Do you and I see any of them in our lives?
Tuesday – We read the text that begins with the phrase, “There will be terrible times in the last days”. In my opinion, the last days are now! In a sense, the “last days” began with the resurrection of Christ from the dead. Then Paul says in the last days, people will be “lovers of themselves and lovers of money”. That describes narcissism and materialism. That covers it all in our culture in 2016, doesn’t’ it?
Wednesday – People will be “boastful, proud, and abusive”. Is it possible that the first two have a connection with Facebook phenomena in our culture? I think so. One psychologist believes that Facebook is a venue for people to expose their pride and boasting. Abusive has to do with to do with being “verbally hurtful”. “Disobedient to parents” is something that people rarely think about in our culture today, yet it matters to the Lord. Even if you don’t like your parents, you better be careful how you treat them!
Thursday – “Without self-control” has to do with people being a slave to their appetites. We live in a country full of slaves to many things. “Treacherous” has to do with breaking promises to your own advantage. Yet that term describes people you and I know. You may have people in your own family who are treacherous! “Conceited” has to do with being blind to the ugliness of self-obsession.
Friday – The last characteristic of the “ungodly” is this: “having a form of godliness, but denying its power!” A Person can be religious, yet not really spiritual. It’s an outward pretense, but not an inward reality. It knows the ritual, but not necessarily the God who made us, loves us, and bought us with the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. God wants to have a relationship with you and me! He really does!
Week 7 – 2/22/2016
II Timothy 2:22-26
This Week – Every minister gets anonymous letters, sooner or later. It comes with the job. We begin our message this week from 2nd Timothy by reading an actual anonymous letter that I received in 2010. The person ended the letter with this admonition, “So Randy, be blessed and be a blessing.” Many people never think about being a blessing in the life of someone else. What about you?
Monday – I tell about receiving an anonymous letter about a message I gave one Sunday morning. The message included stories about my experiences with flying that I thought were “funny”. The person writing saw a more serious and even spiritual side to those events. It was convicting to me about being open to being a blessing, even to strangers. Listen and see what you think!
Tuesday – We begin by reading the text in 2nd Timothy. It begins with two familiar terms: “Flee and Pursue”. It’s the second time in the two letters to Timothy that Paul tells him there are things you need to “flee”; there are also things you and I need to “pursue”. Most people can think of what they need to flee in life: it’s usually a place or places or it’s a person or people! Isn’t that possibly true in your life?
Wednesday – Paul tells Timothy that he must not be a person who loves to quarrel. Is there anyone in your family or circle of influence that loves to argue? We all know people who love to argue politics and/or religion. Think about the people that used to be in your life who no longer our because of a quarrel. Quarreling usually leads to division and separation with other people. We avoid the people in our lives with whom we have quarreled.
Thursday – Paul tells Timothy that God gives or “grants” the inclination of people to repent. We need to pray for the Lord to grant a “spirit of repentance” to those we are concerned about. Instead of complaining about people’s unrepentant attitudes, maybe we need to ask God to intervene in their lives by granting repentance and leading them to a knowledge of the truth. Why? That’s what Paul says God can and will do!
Friday – We conclude with a powerful story about a man named Demetri from Russia who struggled in believing the truth about the Lord and His grace and power. What a Christian man in Germany by the name of Igor said to Demetri, just may speak to you! God does bless others through us! Are you opened to being used by the Lord to bless someone in your circle?
Week 6 – 2/15/2016
Handle with Care
II Timothy 2:14-19
This Week – Often, I will take an idea or concept from scripture and try to condense it into a few words or phrases. Why? It helps you and me to remember. I begin by doing that with the entire Bible! As presumptuous as it may seem, I believe the Bible can be condensed down to two words: law and gospel. Law has to do with the demands of a Holy God; gospel has to do with the good news that there is deliverance through Christ. Paul tells Timothy how to handle the word of God: correctly and carefully!
Monday – The author who greatly influenced the famous writer C.S. Lewis said that when people stop believing in God and believing in God’s word, something happens. He said it wasn’t a case of where they started to believe in nothing; it was a case of where they were open to believe anything! It matters how ministers and teachers “handle” the word of God.
Tuesday – We quote Alistair Begg , a Scottish preacher from Cleveland who says that if there ever was a time the Bible needed to be taught systematically and seriously, it is now! So many people are Biblically ignorant; they couldn’t a quote a single verse from the Bible! We live in an age where even ministers treat the Bible with suspicion and doubt. What we “do” with the word of God does matter!
Wednesday – We tell the story of a young lady from Chicago who struggles with the disease commonly referred to as “lupus” (systemic lupus erythematosus). She tells of the strength she draws upon to keep her going with a chronic illness. The source is nothing less than God’s word! With an uncertain medical situation day to day, she leans on the certainty of scripture. What do you lean on?
Thursday – Paul tells Timothy that “everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness”. To “confess the name” means we recognize who and what Jesus is in our lives. That is no small thing. If you are married, you “confess the name of your spouse”, meaning you identify who and what they are in your life! Again, no small thing! Turning away from wickedness means different things to different people, but it means something to everyone reading this.
Friday – We close with a powerful, yet depressing story about a woman from New Jersey who was the victim of a horrible crime. She was a seamstress. Her granddaughter Susan tells how that after the crime, she never sewed something “new” ever again. She only “mended” things. Susan wonders if that was a symbolic picture of her life, mending and repairing things. The Gospel of Christ is about repairing, restoring, and reclaiming that which was lost. That’s true with you and me! What needs mending in your life?
Week 5 – 2/08/2016
II Timothy 2:11-13
This Week – Can you define the word endurance? Or is it one of those words that you have a sense of the meaning, but not sure you can define it? Endurance can be physical or emotional. But endurance has a spiritual component. It’s about spiritual endurance that we talk about all this week on CrossHope.
Monday – The text we study this week is actually thought to be a hymn in the early church! It opens with, “If we die with Him, we will live with Him. If we endure, we will reign with Him.” Endurance is an important word to the Lord. Endurance means to last in spite of opposition; it’s keeping on in spite of setbacks in life. What do you endure for the Lord?
Tuesday – We begin with the phrase, “If we die with Him, we will live with Him.” We all know people that have died with anger, bitterness, or resentment. To die with Christ is to recognize the power of the cross in every aspect of our lives. The cross “defines” who we are and what we do! What defines you?
Wednesday – The second phrase says, “If we endure, we will reign with Him”. What is it you feel that you have to endure in your life? We share a story told by Christian psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud talking about things we endure that may surprise you. The third phrase is frightening: “If we disown Him, He will also disown us!” If that’s true, it’s one of the most frightening statements in the New Testament.
Thursday – We tell the true story of missionaries who discovered the faithfulness of God in a life and death situation in Peru, South America. They discover, at least for them, God worked in their “praise and endurance” in a powerful way. This story may speak to your life. The Bible says that “God inhabits the praise of His people”. Do you and I offer God a place to inhabit with our praise?
Friday – We close with the illustration of a man I see every Sunday morning posting signs on street corners that advertise properties for sale. That’s his job! Is it possible that we are “signs” of God’s word and truth in the lives of other people? I think we are! Have you ever thought of yourself as a “sign” to other people in your family or work? Your endurance is a sign of your faithfulness to the Lord God almighty!
Week 4 – 2/01/2016
The Difficulty of Life
II Timothy 2:1-10
This Week – The first line of a book by Dr. Scott Peck has three simple words: “Life is difficult”. Life is difficult because marriage is difficult, raising children is difficult, and maintaining a job or career can be difficult. The list goes on! The difficulty of life is what we discuss all this week from the book of II Timothy 2:1-10. Paul tells Timothy that ministry or serving Christ is difficult!
Monday – Paul doesn’t “sugar coat” what it means to serve the Lord. He speaks of hardship, suffering, and even being chained like a criminal for the cause of Christ. It’s certainly not a message of “health and wealth”. It’s an honest observation of real life and real ministry. Most people can relate!
Tuesday – The Apostle Paul was probably in a cell that was more like a cistern: an opening in the top, no windows on the walls of the cell. To add insult to injury, he is chained to the wall as if he were a flight risk. We talk about how that we all have been given grace, but we also have been given “a grace”. Grace is unmerited favor; grace can also mean a gift of God for spiritual purposes in our lives. We all have both!
Wednesday – We tell a story of a man who had major anger toward the Lord for the suffering that he felt his father endured. His outburst of anger at his father’s grave will perhaps speak to you and me of the anger we sometimes feel toward the Lord. Have you ever been angry at the Lord and willing to admit it?
Thursday – We talk about a woman named Angela who became a Christian right before she was arrested and sentenced to prison for an “old offense” in her past. Her story is powerful because she used her prison experience to teach the Bible and witness to other inmates. Paul said that even though he was in chains for the cause of Christ, God’s word was not chained! That was true for Angela!
Friday – Can you think of how you have suffered for Christ’s sake? Paul told Timothy, “Remember Jesus Christ, He’s our focus in suffering.” Our hope is not in the economy, it’s not in the election of 2016, and it’s not that things are going to improve. Things may worsen! Our hope is in the One who IS hope in a hopeless world.
Week 3 – 1/25/2016
Keeping the Word?
II Timothy 1:13-18
This Week – Never before has there been more pressure to conform to the world system apart from Christ. The message we air this week on CrossHope was given on the Sunday after the Supreme Court decision on marriage. People thought I would have a message addressing that issue specifically. I didn’t; I simply preached the message I had planned to share from II Timothy. It spoke to the issue! The choice for all of us is this: we either keep the word of God or we don’t!
Monday – We begin with a quote of Dr. Charles Stanley where he says that most Christians are committed to the Lord as long as it doesn’t involve criticism, unpopularity, or rejection. His statement is amazingly accurate in terms of today’s culture. We read where Paul told Timothy, “Keep the word of God”. Keeping the word of God may very well lead to rejection, criticism, and unpopularity.
Tuesday – To “keep” the word of God is no small thing. The opposite of keeping is to let go or abandon something. Keeping the word of God is an act of the will. We don’t drift into keeping it, we make a decision to do so. Sooner or later, we have to decide what we’re going to do with the word of God in our lives. Do we keep it? Or do we let go of it?
Wednesday – We quote Oswald Chambers who said, “We don’t abandon our will when we become a Christian, we exercise it!” Obedience to the word of God is the gold standard of commitment. We can talk about commitment endlessly; obedience to His word says it all! We keep the word of God and we keep our alignment with other people who obey.
Thursday – This just may be the most important message of this series, not because I intended that to be so. It just happens to speak to the culture more than any other of the series. We tell the story of a country singer from Texas who describes his journey through the world of “drugs, sex, and rock and roll”. What he observed just may speak to you today in a powerful way.
Friday – We close with a powerful story of a funeral where there were both believers and non-believers in attendance. The minister realized that he was speaking to a “mixed crowd”. What he said to the audience will speak to you and to those who aren’t sure what they believe. Belief ultimately is not a feeling or an opinion; it’s a decision!
Week 2 – 1/18/2016
Life, Death, and Eternity
II Timothy 1:8-12
This Week – There are three words that say it all to me about our existence: life, death, and eternity. Everything that we can think of can be placed under those three headings. Jesus Christ has the “last word” on all three. If Jesus is really who He claimed to be, it’s the most natural thing in the world to look to Him for the final word on everything! The Apostle Paul states that he was appointed as a herald (the bearer of good news), an apostle (one who is sent) and a teacher of this message. That’s what we discuss all this week on CrossHope.
Monday – We begin with talking about presidential candidate, Carly Fiorina and her struggle with cancer. There’s nothing political about dealing with a terminal illness. Her struggle is common to millions of people each year in our world. We use her story to introduce the text from II Timothy 1:8-12. Paul says that Christ has not only destroyed death, He has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel! That’s no small thing.
Tuesday – Christianity is ultimately about a person, Jesus Christ. If He is the One who has destroyed death, why would you and I look to anyone else? Sharing the Gospel is ultimately sharing a person with people. It’s all about knowing Him. Christianity has its risks, but it’s worth it, because of the One we believe in.
Wednesday – Verse 9 says that God has called us to holiness. Holy simply means different or separate. Most people think that’s because God wants us to be “nice”. Has nothing to do with niceness; it has to do with what we do with our lives. We share about people who recognize God is involved in our life in every aspect, including our careers.
Thursday – We go back to the story of Carly Fiorina and her struggle with cancer. She says that a person needs to have complete confidence in the one treating our illness. If that’s true on a physical level on this earth, how much more important is it for us to have confidence in the One who claims to be the “resurrection and the life”! Trust God to do what He says!
Friday – We close with the story of a young lady from Indianapolis who quotes a billboard sign promoting atheism. The sign says “You don’t need God to hope, you don’t need God to care, you don’t need God to love, and you don’t need God to live.” We address all four of those issues from this text. If what Paul says is true, we need God for all of the above! We really do.
Week 1 – 1/11/2016
The First Last Words
II Timothy 1:1-7