November 16, 2021

 

Photo Credit: Gripped, The Climbing Magazine, October 29, 2021, Normal Purge Climbing World Highest 14 Peaks In 189 Days

I am sure that most of us have come to a time in our lives, when we felt like giving up. It may have been the daily pressures of work or your business. It may have been that the spiritual burden you were carrying on your heart became too heavy to bear alone. It may have been the worries about the future that dragged you down to the point of giving up. I believe that all of us would agree there are times when the burdens of life become like a dripping faucet, gnawing away on our spirits.

Sooner or later, every man and woman of God comes to a point in life where they feel like giving up. Some feel as though the journey has become too long, and the sun is too hot to keep plowing the frustrating field of life. In this sermon, I want to encourage you.

Some of the greatest men in the Bible felt like giving up. One of these men was the Apostle Paul. While he left Athens, and headed for Corinth, he became discouraged in his own ministry. In 1 Corinthians 2:3, Paul wrote, “I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” He was nervous and weak in body. This was his state of mind when he arrived in Corinth.

Paul felt like giving up because of fatigue. He was not only preaching the gospel continuously, but also working to support himself, by way of a tent making trade. He was making tents with Aquila and Priscilla. Paul was absorbed with preaching the gospel without becoming a burden to anyone else. However, when one becomes down physically, he usually gets down spiritually. The condition of the body can affect the emotional spirit. It has been said that the body, soul, and spirit live so close together that they catch one another’s diseases.

Also, Paul probably felt like a failure at this time. He walked over fifty miles from Athens, Greece to Corinth. Along the way, he had time to reflect about his ministry in Athens. His results in Athens were minimal. The philosopher had called him a “bird brain” or a “seed picker”. The ridicule had hurt Paul’s spirit more than the persecution of Thessalonica or Berea. Every preacher who understands the importance of winning then losing, has felt, at times, a failure.

Further, Paul was most likely frustrated at this time. He has to come to the city of Corinth. Its population was over 200,00 people. Athens was filled with idolatry; but Corinth was filled with immorality. It was the “vanity fair” of the ancient world. This city was given over to sports, shows, and sexuality.

Corinth was so immoral, that behind it, nearly 2000 feet above sea level, rose the rocky eminence called the Acrocorinth. On top, stood the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. A thousand female slaves served her, and roamed the city streets by night as prostitutes. The sexual promiscuity of Corinth was so widely known that korinthia romance meant “to practice immorality”. The verb corinthinize was used to describe someone who was totally departed in his character.

When Paul surveyed this city, he knew that the task of establishing churches would be a difficult one. He probably felt like saying, “Lord, stop the world and let me off. I want to go back to Tarsus, and make tents the rest of my life.”

However, when we need Christ, he is always there to minister to us. God gave Paul a vision, to encourage him not to give up. Today, the words of Christ in the vision inspire us to stay in the battle and never quit serving the Lord. It is always too soon to quit serving Christ. There are several reasons for believing that it is always too soon to quit serving Christ.

The first reason is because:

I. We Have Gods Pronouncements (Acts 10:6-9)

religious_cross_glowing.jpgWe read, “Then spoke the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not the peace.” The NASB says, “And the lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking, and do not be silent.” “Do not be afraid… is a present imperative with two negatives around it. In essence, the Lord said, “Do not be afraid anymore”.

Fear shuts the mouths of more Christians than anything else. We are to speak the truth in love, and let God take care of the problems. Some are afraid to tell the truth about Jesus Christ in the home because they know what the results will be. Young people are hindered from spreading the gospel on school campuses because of the fear of ridicule. Fear drains our spiritual stamina away. It short circuits our effectiveness in evangelizing the lost. However, God says that it is too soon to quit sharing Christ with the unsaved.

Whenever God is blessing a ministry, you can expect increased opposition as well as increased opportunities. The enemy becomes angry when we invade his territory and liberate his slaves. The opposition should encourage us. In Thessalonica and Berea, the Jewish opposition forced Paul to leave their cities. However, in Corinth, the Lord encouraged him to stick it out, and get the job done. It was too soon to quit.

Paul had become bold and vocal for Christ. He shook out his garments, and said, “Your blood be upon your heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go to the Gentiles” (v.6). To shake out one’s garments was an act of judgment. In essence he said, “you have had your opportunity, but now it is over.” (Neh. 5:13, Acts 13:51, Matt 10:14)

To have blood “on your hands” means that you bear responsibility for another’s death because you failed to him (Ezek 3:17-21, 33:1-9). But to have blood “on your head” means that you are to blame for your own judgement (Joshua, 2:19)

Are our hands clean? Have we warned this generation of the coming judgement? Do you have blood on your head? Have you resisted Christ as your personal Savior? You are one day closer to meeting God today than you were yesterday.

When the opposition came, Paul set up his base operations next door to the Synagogue in Titus Justus’ house. The “Crispus”, the chief ruler of the Synagogue believed in the Lord with all his house; many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized. (v.8)

The synagogue included two important officials: The “angel of the synagogue” was the regular minister. He was responsible to pray and preach and take care of the law and appoint those who should read it. The “ruler of the synagogue” had charge of its other affairs, including regulating the service. This was the function performed by Crispus.

People from all walks of life were accepting Christ. They flooded into the church next door to the synagogue. No doubt, that enraged the Jewish crowds to cause them to oppose the Gentile Church. Paul could visualize what was about to happen. He had seen it in the past.

Then, Christ spoke to him and said that it was too soon to quit. Christ inspired him to fight fear with faith, and to speak the truth. Trying times are not times to quit trying. Successful times are not times to stop serving.

When you are scorned for your righteous commitment to Christ, remember it is too soon to quit. When revival breaks out in church it is still too soon to quit. Whether it be hard times or high times, it is always too soon to quit. Our surroundings and circumstances are not to detract from our faithful service to Christ.

On August 3, 1992, at the summer Olympics in Barcelona: Deric Redmen finished dead last in the 100 meter sprint. His time was probably the worst ever. He received no gold, sliver, or bronze medal. Yet, as Redmen ran the course, the grandstands erupted with applause. Many people stood to cheer him on, not because he was the fastest, but because he finished the race.

Shortly after leaving the starting blocks, this runner from Great Britain pulled a hamstring, and fell to the ground in obvious, terrible pain. He had been expected to win the gold medal. The medical team rushed on to the track to help him out. Surprisingly, Redmen refused medical help. He struggled to his feet and began a painful journey to the finish line. When the crowd saw his commitment to finish, tens of thousands stood and began to cheer him on.

His father, who was in the grandstand, began to make his way to the track. The security guards at first, would not let him on to the track. He said, “This is my son out there, hobbling along on the track.” Once his father was permitted to pass through the gate, he came to his son’s side, and they slowly, painfully made their way. There was thundering applause from the grandstands.

When the father and son were close to the finish line, the father let go so his son could complete his race alone. When Redmen crossed the line, the applause continued for several moments; not because he won a medal, but because he refused to quit!

The Christian who never quits inspires others to run the race. When you are in the race of your life, your Heavenly Father will come down the grandstand of glory, to come along beside you to help to finish the race He has given you to run!

The second reason that it is always too soon to quit is:

II. We Have God’s PRESENCE (Acts 18:10a)

We read in Acts 18:10, “For I am with thee…”

This promise applies to every child of God. God has promised his presence in the life of every believer. At the beginning of Matthew’s gospel, he writes about Emmanuel (God with us) and at the end of his book he writes that Jesus said, “I am with you to the end of the age”.

I encourage you to make this personal in your life. If you have Jesus in your life, then it is always too soon to quit. Paul knew what it was like to be deserted by friend. He said, “At my first defense, no man stood with me. But all men forsake me… but the Lord stood with me and strengthened me… (2 Tim. 4:16-17). Even though our friends may walk away from us, Jesus will stand with us.

The story is about a Greek college student who said to his pastor, “In Hebrews 13:5, you will find these words “I will never leave you or forsake you.” This passage is very intensive in form. Literally, the writer said, “I will never, no never, no never leave you or forsake you…” His pastor said, “The Lord may have to tell you three times that He is always with you. Yet, I only need to hear it one time!”

Jesus is with us in our sorrows. One of the most precious verses in all the Bible is “Jesus wept.”

Why did Jesus weep? He knew that he was getting ready to resurrect Lazarus from the grave. He knew that death was in the stranglehold. The reason Jesus wept instead of laughing is because in the face of human sorrow he is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. It is always too soon to quit.

Jesus’s presence is with us in death. “Though I walk through the balls of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because thou are with me”. (Ps 23:4) It is always too soon to quit. The third reason that it is always too soon to quit is because:

III. We Have God’s Protection (Acts 18:10b)

We read, “… and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee…”

God is promising to protect Paul so the gospel could be preached in Corinth. Dr. Luke shares only one example of divine protection during Paul’s ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:12-17). The Jews attacked Paul and forced him to go to court. Paul, who was a Roman citizen, was prepared to defend himself; but this turned out to be unnecessary because Gallo defended Paul! Gallo refused to try the case because he saw that the issue was the interpretation of the Jewish religion, and not Roman law. So, Paul stood before the “bema” (raised platform in the agora) and was vindicated and protected by God.

The Saint of God is immortal until God is finished with him. The safest place to be is in the will of God. The power of life and death are not in the hands of this world. They are in the hands of our resurrected Lord. He has the keys of death, Hell, and the grave. If you are in the will of God, then you are immortal until God has completed his work in you, and through you.

We are well protected as the people of God. Above us is the protecting cloud of Glory. Underneath us are the everlasting arms of God. Ahead of us, the lord is our guide. Behind us, Christ is our guard. It is always too soon to quit because we are well protected by God.

We are not to say, “If we proclaim Christ, we are liable to die”. We should say, “If we don’t preach Christ, we might as well die”. Jesus has abolished death and brought life and immortality to God’s people. He has taken death out of death, gloom out of the grave, and fear out of our future. It is always too soon to quit.

God will protect us in all the situations of life that confront us. When you are scorned for sharing Christ, he will wrap his arms around you. In the time of sickness or even death, Jesus will walk with you. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. I say it again: It is always too soon to quit.

More than 2,000 years ago, the Greeks and the Persians were fighting in what is called, The Battle of Marathon. Once it became clear that the Greeks were going to win the battle, the general of the Greek army requested a young Greek soldier to run from Marathon to Athens to announce to the Magistrates that the battle was over and the Greeks had won.

Throughout the night, this young soldier ran from the battlefield to where the Magistrates were meeting in Athens. The distance was 26.2 miles; the same distance of the Marathon race in the Olympics. When he arrived at the Magistrates in Athens, he announced, “We have won. The battle is over!”

Each of us are running the Christian race. We cannot quit until our race is won. We must declare to this world, “Christ has won the battle over sin, hell and the devil. Give your lives to Christ while you can.” The final reason that it is always too soon to quit is:

IV. We Have God’s Providence (Acts 18:10c)

We need to read carefully the following words:“… for I have much people in this city.”

Paul did not see Corinth the way that God saw Corinth. As he walked through the city, he saw the outward politics, pride, and prevision of the people. Paul saw a wicked and corrupt atmosphere all around him. He saw the people as puppets whose strings were being manipulated by the devil.

God saw the hungry hearts of the people of Corinth. This city was a ripened harvest field. They were lonely, and disillusioned by pleasure worldliness.

They had drunk from Satan’s broken citizens and poisoned wells and left with no hope for the future. These people included sailors who were tired of drunkenness and debauchery. Also, there were broken women who were cast-offs of the temples where sin was their daily bread. The businessmen of Corinth could buy everything but true happiness. There were people hungry for the truth.

God wanted Paul to know that there were people in Corinth that belonged to him. God knew everyone who was going to be saved. God saw the people who had tried everything conceivable on the road to happiness but ended up on a dead-end street.

When you know that people are going to be saved, this will motivate you to do the work of Christ. Today, there is no better time to lead people to Christ. It is God’s responsibility to save sinners. The least likely person to find Christ may very well be the next one saved.

God changed Paul’s perspective. Paul probably began to walk down the streets of Corinth saying, “I wonder, if that is one of them right there..” The apostle continued in Corinth for 18 months knowing that God was with him and that he was going to save people. Paul learned that it is always too soon to quit.

There was a young boy who toured a car factory with his father. While there, he saw an electro-magnetic crane move a large railroad car filled with what seemed to be junk steel. At the flip of a switch, everything in that car leaped up to the magnetic crane. Then, he saw a strange thing, some pieces of steel fell back into the car.

He waited until the others had left on the tour and then climbed up to look inside and find out why these pieces fell back in. He found they were not steel at all; lying on the bottom of the car were some old two-by-fours, a broom handle, and some broken pieces of wood. Only objects made of the right components responded to the magnet; the rest were left behind. You must have the right components to be lifted up.

Why is it too soon to quit? Soon, and very soon, Jesus Christ is coming again. Only those who have the right Christian components will be lifted up. Until He returns, we have God’s Pronouncement, Presence, Protection and Providence.

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