1 Chronicles 2:1-8 – It’s Not How You Start, But How You Finish…

Posted: November 10, 2019 in 13-1 Chronicles

1 Chronicles 2:1-8

Descendants of Israel & Judah

It is interesting to think about how my life has taken its twists and turns that have led me to this place, being the pastor of Lamar United Methodist Church. I am sure that there are folks that live in Travelers Rest, SC and Greenville, SC that would chuckle quite a bit if they heard that I was now a pastor. I grew up as a preacher’s kid. I was even in church for many years after adulthood through the end of my first marriage. But as a teenager and as a person in my twenties and early thirties, I attended church in name and space only. As the old saying goes, “I went to church on Sunday and lived like hell the rest of the week.” Sure, there were moments of deep reflection at good sermons along the way and I thought I was a good person to offset my lack of adherence to the right way of living. In those days, I thought of Christianity as being about do’s and don’ts. And, I just couldn’t maintain that right path with the pull of the pleasures of this world. Add to that, my first wife’s family church (that my dad served for 4 years and then I stayed after marriage) resembled more of a social club than it did a spirit-filled and challenging church. So, after my first marriage disintegrated when I was 31, I quit going to church for about 7 or 8 years. It was not until I was 39 years old and it was December 2001 that I accepted Christ as my Savior.

He may have been my Savior but the Holy Spirit had much to do to make Jesus my Lord. It was a baby Christian from a spiritual maturity standpoint for a long time. It was not until I met Pastor Luke Brower in August 2009 that I began to really grow up, spiritually speaking. From Luke, the Lord handed me off to Pastor Jeff Hickman at LifeSong Church and then to Pastor Tim Bowman of Calvary Church. Under the leadership of these men, I was forged into a willing soul to follow God’s calling on my heart. Other men such as Dr. William Cashion and Dr. Larry McDonald at North Greenville University where I got my Master of Arts in Christian Ministry degree were influential in shaping my call to ministry. And now, here I am today about to preach my 20th sermon at Lamar UMC this Sunday morning in the fall of 2019.

I am sure there are people that would laugh. I am sure that there are people that would say that I may have been mean or hurt them over the years that would say that they cannot believe I am a pastor. But that’s the thing, we can change our outcome through Jesus Christ. He can change us and mold us into something made useful to the kingdom. When I look back at the man that I used to be (and not that I am some super-virtuous person now), I am amazed at where God has me now. I have to chuckle myself. It just amazes me sometimes that people even call me pastor. I am humbled by what I am now vs. what I was before Jesus radically changed my life from the inside out (and is still changing me from the inside out). I am humbled by the family legacy of pastoral ministry of which I am now a part. Where would I be without that providential favor from God? But yet, here I am. I am thankful that the Lord has me where He has me. I know with each passing week that this is what I was called to do. All of it (even on those weeks where I am just completely worn out by the end of the week).

It does not matter how you start the raise or even how you are doing in the middle of the race. It matters how you finish the race. Could you imagine the thoughts and words of disbelief of many of the early Christians when Paul became a Christian? Shock, disbelief, fear, anger, among other emotions. But the Christian-murdering Paul went on to become the most influential man in Christianity outside of Jesus Christ himself. It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you end it.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through 1 Chronicles 2:1-8 this morning and I read about this guy, Er. Here, he is mentioned just this once in the Bible (as far as I can tell) and the only mention is that he was a wicked man and that God judged him for it. That’s it. It got me to thinking about what people in my past may think of me being a minister. That thought led me to think of the wonderful Reclaimer, Jesus Christ and how He sends the Holy Spirit to dwell in us after we accept Him as our Savior. How sad it must be that Er’s story is complete and he was judged as evil. How sad for Er’s eternity. Let us read this passage now:

Chapter 2

1 The sons of Israel[a] were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, 2 Dan, Joseph, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

Descendants of Judah

3 Judah had three sons from Bathshua, a Canaanite woman. Their names were Er, Onan, and Shelah. But the Lord saw that the oldest son, Er, was a wicked man, so he killed him. 4 Later Judah had twin sons from Tamar, his widowed daughter-in-law. Their names were Perez and Zerah. So Judah had five sons in all.

5 The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul.

6 The sons of Zerah were Zimri, Ethan, Heman, Calcol, and Darda[b]—five in all.

7 The son of Carmi (a descendant of Zimri) was Achan,[c] who brought disaster on Israel by taking plunder that had been set apart for the Lord.[d]

8 The son of Ethan was Azariah.

In this genealogy, not only do we see a list of names but also insights into some of the people named. Here, almost as an epitaph, the genealogy states that Er “was a wicked man” so the Lord killed him (v. 3). Now, thousands of years later, this statement is all we know of the man. Each of us is forging a reputation, developing personal qualities by which we will be remembered. How would God summarize your life up to now? Some defiantly claim that how they live their lives is their own business. However, Scripture teaches us that the way we live today will determine how you will be remembered by others and how you will be judged by God in the absence of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Where will your story finish? Will you be judged as evil by the Lord? We all would be in the absence of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. We all would be based on the merits of our lives in front of the just and righteous Judge, our Father in heaven. I know I would be. Even now as a pastor, I would still fall short of the perfection needed to exist in heaven with the Father. It is only through the reclamation project that Jesus started in my life in December 2001 that I can fully expect to be in heaven with my Father in heaven. It is only through the grace covering of Jesus Christ that I will not pay the penalty for my sin-filled nature. Just one sin condemns us much less a fully-loaded lifetime of sins that we commit. We have no leg to stand on. On our own merits, we are Er. We are and will be judged as evil and condemned to an eternity in hell in the absence of accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is only then that His perfection, his holiness, his purity, all those things that we need to be in the presence of God in heaven, are imputed to us.

If God was writing your epitaph today, what would He say? Would He judge you with the same sentence as Er? It’s never too late to accept Jesus as your Savior. It’s not how you start the race. It’s not how you are running the race now. It’s how you finish.

Amen and Amen.

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