Good morning everyone. Greetings in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
First of all, I am grateful to be able to worship together in Creekside
Church of the Brethren here in Elkhart. I would like to give thanks
to Pastor Rosanna McFadden who has invited us to deliver the sermon
and also to share our journey at AMBS.
As I was preparing this sermon, my heart was deeply moved by some
news that happened this early 2020 especially in Indonesia, where
our capital city, Jakarta was flooding really badly. My heart was
also sad with the forest burning in Australia, where we can see
all the animals were suffered, many people lost their possessions
all of a sudden. My heart was also cried with the Philippines who
had a heavy eruption of Taal volcano. My heart was broken with the
Ukraine plane shot down in Iran, also the rise of conflict in Iran
and the middle east. Is this a happy new year? When will these calamities
end? Why do people keep on fighting with each other? Where is peace?
Where is justice? Why there is suffering? Why evil exists? When
all of this hardship and trial finish?
Today I would like to share about Starting Well-Finishing Well.
What comes to your mind when you hear this term? Starting Well-Finishing
Well? How many of you like to make a resolution for the new year?
New diet plan? New exercise plan? New investment? New ministry?
For a student like me, I will think about starting the new semester
and finishing the semester with a good grade. Our family just moved
from Indonesia to the US since I was accepted to AMBS. So, I just
started my journey last August of last year. I am now expecting
to finish my degree for about two or two and a half years. What
about planning for a family vacation this year? Or moving to a new
house? Yes, starting something is really fun, it’s exciting.
But, what about finishing well until the end? What about in real
life like marriage, how long have you been married? Do you still
have the same love and passion as when you started your journey
with your spouse? Are we struggling with our marriage? Feeling lost,
feeling lonely? What about in your workplace or carrier or business?
Are you doing your very best performance now? Or sometimes you have
a thought to stop or to quit? What about in your personal walk with
God? Any excitement to continue our walk with God throughout this
year? Or do we have fear or anxiety about how our lives look like
this year? George Mueller says, “The beginning of anxiety
is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end
What are the implications of knowing that Jesus is the Alpha and
Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End?
1. It gives us faith and vision to walk in this life: in Jesus
First of all, we need to understand the context of Revelation.
Nelson Kraybill in his book Apocalypse and Allegiance says, “John
championed the same hope for Christ’s return that animates
the church today, but his vision does not predict specific political,
cultural, or natural events of the twenty-first century. He received
his vision in the first-century Mediterranean context and symbols
in his work relate primarily to the realities of that era. But the
world he inhabited-the Roman Empire-and the symbolic universe his
vision created have uncanny parallels to our circumstances today.”
John 1: 9-13 says, “The true light, which enlightens everyone,
was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came
into being through him, yet the world did not know him. He came
to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But
to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the power
to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the
will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.”
Jesus says Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth,
and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”
(John 14: 6).
Douglas John Hall asks a provocative question: “We may be
on the way, but where are we going? He suggests that if we are to
be true followers of the Way, we must have our goal clearly in mind.
Our goal is to “come to the unity of the faith and of the
knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the
full stature of Christ” (Eph. 4: 13).
* Testimony of a swimmer. There was a race, there was a starting
line, there was the finish line. Our coach was standing there, and
walking from the starting line to the finish line. He was already
there, he encouraged me, and walked with me.
Jesus is the starting point, the processing point and the finishing
point of our life.
2. It gives us security and assurance in life: in Jesus
“See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according
to everyone’s work. Blessed are those who wash their robes
so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter
the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators
and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices
falsehood” (Revelation 22: 12-15).
“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only
true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17: 3).
“Assurance of Christ’s return gives suffering Christians
the strength to endure. We can look forward to his return as king
and judge. We must be ready at all times by keeping our faith strong.”
* Testimony about struggle during my first seminary and early ministry.
Almost gave up not finishing seminary.
3. It gives us hope that every beginning has an end: in Jesus forever
“And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp
or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign
forever and ever” (Revelation 22: 5).
“To them, God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles
are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in
you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1: 27).
“Our great hope is that what Christ promises will come true.
When we have confidence in our final destination, we can follow
Christ with unwavering dedication no matter what we must face. We
can be encouraged by hope in Christ’s return.”
* Second testimony: the journey of Hope (God given Chloe in 2010:
it changed our direction and priority in life). During those times,
all we can see were dark tunnel… cannot see our future looks
4. It gives us peace and comfort: in Jesus
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not
give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled,
and do not let them be afraid” (John 14: 7).
“One day God will create a new heaven and a new earth. All
believers will live with Him forever in perfect peace and security.
Those who have already died will be raised to life. These promises
for the future bring us hope.” He is already there, in our
future, He has arrived at the end of time.
5. It gives us joy and perseverance: He walks with us
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing
them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age”
(Matthew 28: 19-20).
When is the end of the age? When is the end of time?
“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord,
is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods
that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive
power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my
witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends
of the earth.”
“But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels
of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matt. 24: 36).
Keep on walking with Him, keep on doing our best to serve Him in
whatever we do.
6. It gives us an example as His disciple: Jesus had started well
and finished well
“When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is
finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit”
(John 19: 30).