Going Separate Ways

Zach Fulginiti, Speaker

2 Timothy 4:9-11 | June 16 - Sunday Evening,

Sunday Evening,
June 16
Going Separate Ways | 2 Timothy 4:9-11
Zach Fulginiti, Speaker

If you have a Bible, we will be in the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 4.  We’ll actually begin in verse 9 as opposed to verse 10.

2 Timothy, chapter 4, verse 9.

Paul writes to Timothy: 

“Do your best to come to me soon.  For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.  Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.  Luke alone is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.”

Let’s pray once more.

Lord, as we come to Your Word, we ask for Your help, to understand it, to see it, to apply it, to live it, Lord.  We pray, God, that we would not just look into Your Word idly, but we ask that Your Scriptures would be alive, sharper than any double-edged sword, able to pierce to the joint and marrow.  We thank You for Your Word here tonight and for Paul’s words.  We pray that they would instruct us and helps us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.  

Do you ever get together with old friends?  Maybe you have a group that you grew up with and you guys try to get together once a year.  Maybe it was a group of people that you went to school with, or had a wonderful time in the neighborhood with, and you’ve moved off but you try to get together once more.  Or maybe you grew up playing sports together and that team all gets together one last time.  I know that some of our pastors have seminary friends in which they get together with once a year. 

I’m fortunate to have one of these groups, some men I went to high school with and we try to get together once a year.  We play golf, we laugh, we reminisce about the told times.  You see now, like so many of us, we’re in different places, we have different jobs in different cities, different seasons of life, but once a year this group gets to get together and go back to the old good times, to remember when we were all together.

Our text tonight gives us a picture of four friends who are going in different directions.  Yes, there are many names listed at the end of 2 Timothy, many people that Paul records here, but there are four that I want to highlight and look at tonight.  Four men who used to be friends, who used to be together, who are now in different places.  Physically, they’re in different cities, they’re in different parts of the world, but also spiritually.

These four friends, though not much is said about them in our text by way of here’s an update on life.  Paul doesn’t go into here’s all the things going on.  These four men still speak to us today.

Paul, Demas, Luke, and Mark.  Four friends going separate ways.  Four men who give us different pictures of what life can look like.

Paul is a picture of loneliness.  Demas, a picture of worldliness.  Luke, a picture of faithfulness.  Mark, a picture of usefulness.

Four friends, four pictures, and one lesson from each of their lives that we can glean from today.

So let’s look at these four friends and see what they might have to offer us.

Our first friend that we’ll look at is Paul.  What we see here is that Paul is a picture of loneliness.  Paul is at the end of his ministry, likely near the end of his life.  He writes to his friend and he writes to his protégé, Timothy, from Roman prison.  This is his last letter.  It’s his last written words in the New Testament.  He writes to Timothy here, “Please, come see me.”   

Surely Paul must have known just how important Timothy’s present ministry was, and yet he still says, “Timothy, would you come see me?  Just one last time.”  Paul’s no doubt very lonely.

Here he is at the end of his ministry, at the end of his life, and he is virtually all alone.  Verse 16, in fact, gives us a picture that maybe a trial has been conducted.  Maybe it’s currently under way.  There’s a possibility that Paul will be tried, convicted, and even executed.  All he wants is his old friend to come and spend time with him.  He asks for his friend Timothy to pay him a visit, to bring him a cloak to keep him warm, and to get the books, and above all the parchments.

What are these books and parchments?  It’s very likely that they’re the Scriptures, the very Word of God.

As we look at Paul’s life, at the very end there’s something that this teaches us.  It teaches us a very valuable lesson, that gospel ministry, and indeed truly all of gospel life, must be about Jesus.  Because everything else can be stripped away.  His friends, his ministry, his impact seemingly, can all be stripped away, and here Paul is with nothing else except Jesus. 

The life of a Christian must be about Jesus.  Here is Paul alone but he wants his gospel friend and his gospel disciple.  Here is Paul abandoned, but what is the thing that Paul wants most?  It’s his copy of God’s Word.

The Christian life, indeed, has many aspects, but here we see everything stripped away from Paul and all he wants is his friend, a coat, and his Bible.  His life was about Jesus, his ministry was about Jesus, and at the very end of his road, all Paul wants is Jesus. 

So evident in the letter to Timothy, isn’t it?  We could look up and down 2 Timothy and see all the places in which Paul makes much of Jesus.

Chapter 1, verse 8:  Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord nor of me His prisoner but share in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God.

Chapter 2, verse 10:  Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they may also obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Friends, we do not know how our lives will end, do we?  But it is a possibility that some of us in this room, though we hope not, but some of us may have a similar ending as Paul.  Now thankfully it is still very unlikely that we will be imprisoned for our faith here in this country, we pray that that might be the case, but it might be that we end up just as lonely as Paul one day.

At the very least we have to see that just because we follow Jesus faithfully our entire lives, it’s possible for our friends to leave us, to not be able to be with us.  It’s possible for our wealth and our worldly security to run dry.  It’s in that moment that we are faced with the fact that truly all we have is Jesus.  Will that be enough?

Paul did not pen the lyrics of the song that we just sang, but can’t we see him singing them as if they were his own?  Can’t you see Paul saying, “I had no hope that You would own a rebel to your will, and if You had not loved me first, I would refuse You still, but as I ran my hellbound race indifferent to the cost, Jesus, You looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross.  Hallelujah, all I have is Christ.  Hallelujah, Jesus is my life.”

Paul may not have been able to sing the words that you and I just sang, but he did better than that.  He lived these words out, as we see in verse 6.  He wrote just prior to this, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.  Henceforth, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, He will award to me on that day.”

In this moment, Paul’s life was a picture of loneliness.  But his life also teaches us that for all of those who are in Christ, we are never truly alone.  His life was all about Jesus right up until the very end.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for Demas.  His life was a picture of worldliness.  Verse 10 – For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.

There is much we don’t know about this man Demas.  We don’t know where he’s from.  The Scriptures don’t tell us if he has a family.  We don’t even exactly know from the Scriptures how Paul and Demas met.  He’s only mentioned in the Scriptures two other times.  Demas is mentioned at the end of Colossians as one of Paul’s traveling companions, Colossians chapter 4, verse 14 – Luke, the beloved physician, greets you as does Demas.

He again is mentioned as one of Paul’s companions in his letter to Philemon, and there Demas is described as one of Paul’s fellow workers, a co-laborer in the Gospel, presumably someone more than a friend, someone who was working alongside Paul for the sake of the Gospel.  Philemon 23 and 24 –  Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends his greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

But here, 2 Timothy 4, Demas has deserted Paul.  He’s left him.  Some scholars see Colossians and Philemon not having been written too much prior to 2 Timothy.  Some estimate as early as a year or two prior.  That means that it wasn’t that long ago that this man Demas was a close, trusted friend of Paul’s, and now he’s gone.

In what might have been Paul’s greatest hour of need, Demas left him.  When Paul might have needed friendship the most, Demas was nowhere to be found.  Paul says that Demas was in love with this present world, that is the aeon, the age of this time.  Literally, Demas loved what today could offer more than what tomorrow might bring.  He wanted what the present could offer more than what the future might bring.

If faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen, Demas needed the assurance of things he could see and the conviction of things realized now.

We read this passage earlier in the service, 1 John 2 – do not love the world or the things in the world.  Verse 17 – and the world is passing away along with its desires.  Whoever does the will of God abides forever.

Demas couldn’t see that.  Or he got to the point where he couldn’t believe that, he couldn’t live that out.

Now we don’t know what caused Demas to leave.  Some scholars make a compelling case that it was due to financial incentive.  Thessalonica represented a city with great wealth potential.  It was a key trade route.  Maybe Demas thought he could make more money elsewhere.

Thessalonica also represented a center of philosophy.  Maybe it might have been that Paul’s theology and ministry was too confining for Demas.  Or maybe it just might have been the hardships that came with following Paul.

Again, verse 16 might suggest that Demas’ motivation could have been fear instead of money.  Maybe he was afraid of being associated with a Roman prisoner.  Maybe he was afraid that not only Paul would be executed but he might be executed as well for being associated with Paul.

Whatever the specific reason for Demas’ desertion, it’s clear that Demas chose the comfort and ease that this world was offering instead of remaining by his friend.

We know Paul didn’t want Demas to go.  Right?  We can see that.  It was Paul who had helped start this church.  It could have been at least noted with at least some neutrality that maybe Demas had gone to Thessalonica for some strategic ministry purpose.  That’s how some of the other friends are described, that’s certainly how __ and Titus’ departure are described, but instead Paul notes that Demas was in love with this present world.  Not just that he had gone his separate way, but that he had deserted him.

You know the Lord Jesus once used the same Greek word for deserted during His time on earth.  We’ve translated it in our English Bibles differently, but it is the same word, for in Matthew 27 the Lord Jesus cried out, My God, My God, why have You deserted me?

The same word that the Son of God cried out on the cross when the Father turned His face away, is the same word that Paul uses to describe his friend’s departure.  This paints for us a very sobering picture and I think it gives us a very sobering warning.  The lesson that we should learn from Demas is that we should be honest about just how powerful the seduction of the world is in our hearts.  We need to be honest about just how powerful the seduction of the world is in our own hearts.  If the world, in whatever form it took in Demas’ life, if the world could seduce one of Paul’s companions, one of Paul’s fellow workers, then we need to be honest that we as well could be seduced just like Demas.

I think we need to know what those things are that could lure us away.

1 John 2:16 gives us a good picture of what worldliness could look like – For all that is in the world, the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life is not from the Father but from the world.

John gives us three categories to consider, three temptations.  Might be worth thinking about this in our own lives.  He mentions sensuality, materialism, and pride.

Sensuality being the desires of the flesh, our appetites.

Materialism being our desire for possessions, wealth, security.

Pride, maybe it’s the recognition, the need for recognition, for approval, for applause.

We need to be honest about our temptations, about our proclivities, about the places in our heart where we can easily be tempted and lured by the world.  We should not think that we are immune from the temptation to compromise.  We should to think that it is not possible for us to begin to treasure the things of this world more than the things of heaven.  We should not think that we are exempt from placing more value, more worth in this present age than in the age to come.

Friends, where do you need to be honest about your own heart’s temptations, inclinations, proclivities?  Where is it in your life?  Where is it in mine?

Because whether or not we want to admit it, it is there.  It’s there when we see that ad and our thinking moves from “I could use that” to “I need that.”  It’s there when we endlessly scroll on social media and we think, “I wish I looked like that,” or “I wish my family could be like that.”  It’s there when we are tempted to prioritize our own financial security to the detriment of investing our earthly treasures for heavenly gain.  It’s there when we feel pressure to compromise on what the Bible says about sex in exchange for fleeting pleasures.  It’s there when we can’t pull ourselves away from our phones and yet we see our Bible sitting with beside us.  It’s there when everyone else is doing it at school and you just don’t want to stick out.  It’s there when we sit in traffic and think, “I deserve to be driving that.”  It’s there when we retire and we think, “Now I can finally start living.”  It’s there when we can’t help but second glance at that coworker down the hall.  It’s there when we’re more concerned about the places that we stamp on our passport rather than our citizenship which is in heaven.

Friends, it’s there in all of us.  Where is the temptation to love this present world in you?  Where is it in me?  Because if it can take root in someone like Demas, one of the men who was with Paul and serving with Paul and considered to be a fellow worker, it can take root in you and it can take root in me.

Whatever it was for Demas, he forgot what Paul knew and what he told Timothy, that there’s a crown of righteousness that the Lord will award, but it’s on that day, it’s not on this day.  Paul’s reward wasn’t coming this day.  He knew that it was coming on that day.

Yet even though a close friend has deserted Paul, he wasn’t completely alone.  Because Luke was there.  Luke gives us a picture of faithfulness.  Luke was highly educated.  He was a doctor, he was a physician.  We believe that from Colossians, we understand Luke was probably a Gentile.  He wrote his account of the Gospel, which we know and are familiar with.  He wrote the book of Acts. 

Luke was Paul’s close friend.  He traveled with him.  Acts 16 we see that Luke joined Paul in Asia Minor during his second missionary journey.  Acts 17 we read that Luke was left in Philippi during that second missionary journey but then he was picked back up again with Paul in the third journey, from Acts 20 verse 5.

It was Luke who accompanied Paul on his journey to Jerusalem and Rome.  It’s Luke here in our text that we read about being with Paul during his imprisonment.  In short, Luke was a constant companion to Paul.  In the end, Luke alone is there with him.  He’s a picture of faithfulness to the end. 

Luke’s life teaches us this – he teaches us what a gift a faithful ministry of presence can be.  I mean, don’t we all desire to have a friend like Luke in our lives?  Don’t we desire to have someone like Luke who’s constant, who’s faithful, who’s present, who’s persevering, who’s full of endurance?  Who when we need to have something checked, we don’t have to make an appointment to go to the doctor and he can save us some money because he’s right there just to check that thing out?  A wonderful gift that is.  Don’t have many of those in my life.

Isn’t presence, because that’s what Luke was offering Paul, right?  He offered him is presence.  He was there with him.  Luke alone is with me.  Isn’t presence the one thing that we know that everyone needs at the end of their time here on earth?  When your loved one is near the end, what do you instinctively know?  I know I’ve got to go be with them.  It’s not time to get the will out and to go over the finer points of one’s estate; hopefully that’s been done.

It’s not time to quibble over past grievances.  It’s not time to revisit past disputes.  No, you and I instinctively know that presence is good enough.  To talk, to laugh together, to be able to look one another in the eyes, to hold a hand, to cry, to pray together.  One’s presence can often be the most wonderful gift we can offer.

Don’t underestimate what a gift your faithful presence can be in the life of another believer.  Luke was a tremendous friend to Paul.  We cannot help but notice the contrast between Luke and Demas.  Right?  Because it wasn’t that long ago that Paul wrote of Luke and Demas in Colossians.  It wasn’t that long ago in Philemon that they’re both described as fellow workers.

But now only Luke remains.  Only Luke was able to see with the eyes of faith and to keep loving, and to keep giving, to be a constant enduring friend and to continue to serve Paul.  He knew that being with Paul was worth his time, was indeed worth his life.

Who wouldn’t want a friend like this?  I think we all would.  His life teaches us what a gift that is, what a gift it would be to be a Luke to someone’s Paul.  In our desire probably to have a Luke by our side, maybe it’s possible for us to be a friend like Luke to someone else.  You and I may never be Paul, but we can be Luke, faithful, enduring, present, to the very end. 

Our final friend is Mark.  Mark is a picture of usefulness.  That might sound odd.  We normally don’t describe our friends as useful.  In fact, if we did, it would probably come off not so good.  We actually don’t like to be used by our friends.  It’s often a negative description of friendship gone bad – I felt used.  That’s what we say when someone takes advantage of us in one way or the other.

But Paul describes Mark here as useful, in verse 11 – Timothy, get Mark and bring him with you, for that’s a useful man.  Timothy, I’ve still got some ministry left in me in this prison cell and I could use someone like Mark.

Paul wants to see two people before his time is up – Timothy and Mark.  That’s quite significant.  Because there was a time where Paul and Mark could not stand to be in the same room.  In fact, Paul couldn’t be in the same room as anyone who thought Mark could be useful for any type of Gospel ministry. 

If you have your Bibles, turn with me over to Acts 15.  Acts 15, verse 36, gives us this picture of what Paul used to think of Mark – After some days, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the Word of the Lord and see how they are.”  Now Barnabas wanted to take with them John, called Mark, but Paul thought best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work.  And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other.  Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.

Up until this point in Acts 15 Paul and Barnabas had been a dynamic ministry team, but what we see in this chapter, in these verses, is that these two giants of the early Church go their separate ways.  Not just, hey, you go over here and I’ll go over there.  They have what the ESV describes as a “sharp disagreement” that causes them to have to be separated from one another.

In high school, I was a part of our school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group.  I was one of the leaders of this group.  One day after school the leaders needed to get together and we needed to talk about some of our upcoming plans and events and so forth in the coming months.  Being a student of the prestigious East Mecklenburg High School at the time, we decided to meet at the local Wendy’s, which was on Highway 74, now I believe is a used car dealership, take that for what it may be. 

So the six of us gathered together.  We get our Biggie bags and our junior bacon cheeseburgers and we sit down in what is now a used car dealership, but what was then a Wendy’s.  You remember those Wendy’s that kind of used to have that little extra kind of room, kind of glass room, I don’t know why.  But we sat down in there and we started shooting the breeze before we get into our ministry plans.  All of a sudden, out of the blue, didn’t know where this was coming from, the talk starts to escalate between two leaders over a dispute about someone else who wasn’t there.  Details do not matter.  Before you know it, in the middle of this Wendy’s, this fellowship of Christian athletes group, their leaders needed to be separated.

Apparently this was a very regular occurrence at this Wendy’s because no employees or management even looked twice at us, so maybe that’s why it is now a used car dealership.

That is always what I have imagined the dispute between Paul and Barnabas was like.  There they are, eating at their first century Wendy’s, when Mark’s name gets brought up.  One thing leads to another and all of a sudden Paul is throwing his junior bacon cheeseburgers at Barnabas and Barnabas is hurling his vanilla Frosties back at Paul and they have to be separated.  This is obviously what was happening here in Acts 15.

Obviously an embellishment, but the text in Acts 15 does say that there was a sharp disagreement between these two giants of the first century Church.

We don’t really have a modern equivalent, but you can imagine how severe, how disorienting it would be to have these two church leaders arrive at such a place over one man, Mark.  Verse 38 says the disagreement revolved around Mark.  Because he said I’m not going to Pamphylia, I’m not going to go do what the rest of the group is doing there. Whatever Gospel work they had there, Mark said, “I’m not going.”  Maybe he said, “I can’t go” or “I can’t go right now.”  Barnabas and Mark went one way and Paul and Silas went another. 

Yet here is Paul in prison, on his deathbed, asking Timothy to bring this man back to him, because he’s useful.  We don’t know what changed, but clearly over time Mark had begun to prove himself in both his conduct and his character.  The dispute was years earlier and whatever failings Mark had at the time in the eyes of Paul, Barnabas at the time thought Mark was worth a risk.  Maybe Barnabas was overlooking some youthful immaturities, or maybe he thought those things could be worked out, but Paul did not see it like that.  He didn’t think Mark was up to the challenge of the ministry that was in front of him.

Not surprisingly, Paul didn’t have time for what he perceived to be weak men.  Men who he thought were cowards.  He did not see Mark as useful in Acts 15, but fast forward again to the book of Colossians, many years later.  There’s Paul in prison and who’s there with him?  Mark.  Again in Philemon, Mark is with Paul. 

This teaches us a very important lesson.  Mark’s life teaches us it’s not always how you start, it’s often how you finish.  It took time, likely many years, for Paul to see Mark’s usefulness.  Mark likely had to prove himself.  But that sharp disagreement years later was mended.  Paul wanted Mark to come to him and help him in his last season of ministry.

So maybe no greater compliment could have been given Mark than the man who opposed his presence so sharply now says I need him by my side.  He’s a useful man.

You see, Mark, at least in the eyes of Paul, Mark didn’t start so well.  He left in an hour of need.  He proved himself to Paul that he couldn’t be trusted.  He wasn’t battle ready for the ministry that Paul was undertaking.  But slowly and faithfully over the years, Mark proved his faithfulness, his usefulness in life and ministry.

Demas started well, a fellow worker, but was now far away,

heading in a different direction.

There may be some of us here tonight who didn’t start well in life, who didn’t start well in the Christian life, who may have made some youthful mistakes or showed immaturities.  Mark’s life teaches us that our early shortcomings don’t have to be the end.  It’s not so much how you start as it is how you finish.  Mark was finishing well in the eyes of Paul.

Here we have these four friends who were once all together in life and ministry.  Mark serving the Lord, useful in ministry, asked to join Timothy for Paul’s final season of life.  Mark teaches us it’s not so much how you start as how you finish.

There’s Luke, who has been by Paul’s side, a faithful and loyal friend to the end.  Luke teaches us what a gift the ministry of faithful presence can be.

There’s Demas.  Having left to go to Thessalonica, Demas was a picture of worldliness.  He teaches us that we must be honest about the temptations of the world in our own hearts.

But you know what?  Scholars are actually split on whether or not Demas had in fact deserted his faith along with his friends.  They’re kind of split.  Some say yes, others say no.  We don’t really know.  We aren’t told what happens to Demas.  But many scholars think that Demas had not, in fact, deserted the Lord when he deserted Paul. 

John Calvin writes it was truly ignoble for Demas to prefer the love of this world to Christ and yet we must not suppose that he altogether denied Christ or gave himself up to the allurements of the world, but merely Demas preferred his private convenience or safety to the life of Paul.

The text tells us that Demas deserted Paul.  We don’t know if Demas deserted Jesus.  So there is a chance that one day we meet Demas in glory.  I wonder what he’d say.  I wonder if he thought about that fateful decision to leave Paul.  I wonder if he had replayed that in his mind, the choice of comfort.  My guess is on the other side of eternity, his testimony, should he have been found in Christ, his testimony would be what we are about to sing, what is our hope in life and death, Christ alone, Christ alone, what is our only confidence that our souls belong to Him, who holds our days within His hands, who comes apart from His commands, and what will keep us to the end, the love of Christ in which we stand.

It would not surprise me if one day in Thessalonica this man came to his senses, saw the folly of his ways, and realized how much he had messed up.  The good news is that if that was the case, and I don’t know it was, but if that was the case, that there is forgiveness to be found in the Lord Jesus Christ.  So if Demas did repent, we can rejoice in that and celebrate over that as we should over any repentant sinner, no matter how grievous the action.

Yet Demas’ life is still a warning for us today.  Recently I’ve been stirred again by the life of the missionary martyr Jim Eliot.  A man who saw this world for what it was when he and his family moved to Ecuador to bring the Gospel to a people who had never heard.  Many of us know these famous words, but he was able to see the world as it really was when he wrote in his journal:  He is no fool to give up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

Friends, let’s not be fools.  Let’s not be fools.  Even if it was just for a time, Demas saw the world the other way around.  May that not be the case for you, for me.

Finally, there’s Paul.  He’s in prison.  He’s possibly awaiting execution, reeling from the desertion of one of his fellow workers.  Other friends gone to other Gospel ministry ventures.  He’s a picture of loneliness.  Yet Paul is not broken.  You see, Paul never gave up, even until the last moments, Paul’s asking for his Bible.  He wants Mark to come because he can still be useful, even from a prison cell.  His life teaches us that the Christian life is really all about Jesus, nothing else.  It was about Jesus for Paul when he met Him on the road to Damascus.  It was about Jesus during his life and ministry when he was planting churches and strengthening believers.  And it is still all about Jesus here in our text tonight when he’s imprisoned and awaiting death.

From the moment that Paul met Jesus, it was all about Him.  Paul may have been lonely, but he never gave up, he never gave in, and he never took his eyes off the unfading crown of glory that was promised to him.

But whatever gain I had I count it a loss, for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of what?  Of just knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, and for His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.

Paul lived those words out.  He was living them out in 2 Timothy 4.  Paul was lonely, yes.  But his life teaches us that it was all about Jesus.  May that be the case for us. 

Let’s pray.  Lord, it’s not easy to count everything as loss.  It’s not easy to count our education as loss, our vocation as loss, our relationship status as loss, the prestige of the world as loss, our friendships as loss.  It’s not easy to do that, Lord, unless we count the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ, my Lord, as more.  So we pray, God, that You would give us the eyes of faith to count these things as rubbish in order that we may gain Christ and be found in Him.  We pray for that, Lord.  We thank You for this time tonight.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.