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In 1979 Dr. Larry Reynolds moved to Denton, Texas, to become the founding pastor of Southmont Baptist Church. During his twenty-eight year ministry at Southmont, the church grew to a membership of more than 1800. The church, which began in a small storefront, now meets on a campus that includes three educational buildings, a fellowship hall, an activities center, and sanctuary. After retiring as the Senior Pastor of Southmont in December, 2006, Pastor Reynolds has remained active in the Denton area conducting weddings, funerals, and leading Bible studies. He and his wife, Carol, have traveled extensively. In addition to five trips to Israel, they have visited Jordan, Greece, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Peru, Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.

Enoch

Enoch
(Genesis 5:21-24)

1.      If you are a sports fan you are aware of some of the iconic moments in the history of sports…
·         Lou Gehrig’s famous farewell address at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939….
·         Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard around the world” hit on October 3, 1951 to give the NY Giants a pennant winning game over their arch rival, the Brooklyn Dodgers…
·         Joe Namath leading the NY Jets to an unlikely victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III on January 16, 1969…
And on any such list of iconic moments in sports history should be something that happened in in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain...it was the semi-finals of the 400 meter race and Derek Redmond from England was considered a strong contender for a medal...the starter fired the gun and the race started...for first 140 meters of the race Derek Redmond was in strong position...but then his hamstring gave way and he collapsed to the ground in a ball of pain and tears...medical personal immediately ran to assist them but he waved them away...even if he could not win the race, he was determined to finish...so he crawled back into his lane and began to hobble his way along the track...at that point Derek’s father, Jim Redmond burst out of the stands...he pushed past security guards and ran to his son...in one of the enduring images from the world of sports, he placed his arm around Derek and supported him has he hobbled the rest of the way...
2.      And that scene from the world of sports is a graphic reminder of how our Heavenly Father relates to us...we are in a race...it is a long, and sometimes difficult race...things happen along the way which can knock us off our feet and get us off track...but we have a Father who is ever ready to stand beside us, support us, and take us all the way to the finish line...
3.      As we continue looking at some the great characters in the Bible, we are going to look at a person who stayed with it all the way to the end...it is amazing how much the Bible has to say about the importance of perseverance, staying with it, continuing in the faith...the clear teaching of Scripture is that the mark of a true believer is perseverance...those who stay with it are real Christians, those who drop by the wayside are not...that’s what John said in I John 2:19...said that those who quit, drop out before crossing the finish line, do so because “...they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us...” ...in other words, those who quit the faith give indication that their faith was not genuine in the first place...As the old country preacher put it, “If your faith fizzles at the finish it was faulty at the first.”
4.      Want to direct your to a rather obscure person in the Bible...his name is mentioned only a few times...virtually all that we know about him is found in four verses in Genesis 5...his name was Enoch...look at Genesis 5:21-24...(text)

T.S. - Enoch belonged to the seventh generation after Adam...many legends have arisen about him...for example it's been said of Enoch that he was the first tailor, the first cobbler, and the first to put pen and paper together to create books...all that is mere speculation...but there is one thing we know about Enoch for sure...he was a man of faith who walked with God all the way to the finish line...

Genesis 5 is basically a genealogy of the generations from Adam to Noah...nine people are mentioned by name in this genealogy...and of eight of them it is simply “...he became the father of...lived a certain number of years, “...and he died...”...eight times in this chapter you will find that formula...but the life and death of Enoch is reported in a completely different way...we are told Enoch was the father of Methuselah and we are told how many years he lived, but we’re also told something else very significant about him...v.24 tells us that “...Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”...

In other words, he remained faithful all the way to the end...and from Enoch’s example I want to share with you some characteristics of faith that continues, perseveres to the end...

I.    Faith that continues does not get overly entangled with the world
1.   Enoch was born into a very immoral world...his great grandson was Noah...by the time of Noah the moral climate to the world is described with this statement in Genesis 6:5 - "...the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and ... every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."...no doubt that slide to moral perversion had begun long before even the generation of Enoch...
2.   But it is clear as you read about Enoch within the context of this chapter, there was something different about him...of all the people listed here, he is the only one who is said to have “walked with God”...and not once, but twice, we are told that about him...as opposed to walking with the world, as did those who came before and after him, Enoch chose a different kind of life...he chose to walk with God...

  1. In his farewell address to the young nation, George Washington, our first President, warned of the danger of becoming entangled in foreign alliances...and the Scripture warns God’s people over and over of the danger of becoming too entangled in a world order which has always been hostile toward God and His ways...
  2. As believers we walk a fine line of being “in” the world but not “of” the world as Jesus so eloquently put it in John 17...but the difficulty comes in trying to sort out what it means to be in the world but not becoming too entangled with the world...and there are two extremes we must avoid as we struggle with how to relate to the world around us...
    • The extreme of withdrawal from the world – In Christian history there have been those who have attempted to separate themselves totally from the world in which they live...[Near Meteora, Greece are some impressive monasteries which were built for the express purpose of separating Christians from the world...during the monastic movement early in Christian history it was believed the more removed from the world one was the more spiritual that person must be...but that kind of thinking runs contrary to the clear biblical teaching that Christians are to be salt and light to the world and that we are to take the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth...]...must avoid the extreme of radical withdrawal from the world...we will not impact the world living in safe enclaves behind literal or figurative walls...and we’ll not impact the world if our only expression of our Christian faith takes place within the walls of a church building or the safety of a Christian fellowship...but as we struggle with how to relate to our world there is the opposite extreme which we must also avoid...that is...
    • The extreme of being assimilated by the world – It seems to me the greater danger facing God’s people in the world today is becoming so much like the world that we have nothing of value or substance to offer the world...if our lives—our values, our priorities, our loves—are no different from those of those who are not believers, why should they want what we have?...if the rate of broken homes and alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity and other social ills is no different among believers than the population as a whole, how can we expect to have any significant impact on our culture...the Bible is clear about this...Romans 12:2  says it well: “...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
3.   And one thing we can learn from Enoch is that faith that makes it all the way to the finish line does not become overly entangled with the world...

II.  Faith that continues keeps its focus on what is really important
1.   Genesis 5 divides Enoch's life into two segments...the first segment is described in v.21 which says, "And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah."...notice there is no mention of Enoch's relationship with God during that part of his life...the second segment is described in v.22 which says, "Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became father of Methuselah..."...apparently the birth of his first child brought a spiritual awakening to Enoch's life...at the birth of Methuselah he began to and continued to focus on the really important things of life...
  1. There's an entire sermon just in that thought...we spend so much of our time and energy and resources grappling with things and worrying about things which don’t amount to a hill of beans in the long view of life...and reason we do that is because we’re not very good at distinguishing between what is really important and what is at best secondary...tragically, many a relationship has been ruined over some insignificant dispute and many a church has been destroyed over some petty difference of opinion...
  2. One of the keys to continuing in the faith is keeping things simple by focusing on those things which really matter...

  1. I remember reading an interesting story about Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy’s fast food chain...may not know that Dave Thomas was also instrumental in the success of another major fast food chain...was at a fund-raising banquet...person at table was complaining about how busy he was...”I really shouldn’t be here tonight,” he moaned...then asked, “Why is life so cluttered?”...Dave Thomas replied, “Maybe it’s because we allow it to be.”...then he told about his first major assignment in the restaurant business...when 29 years old with 4 children was sent to Columbus, Ohio to manage a chain of 4 restaurants which were in deep trouble...one of the products sold in the restaurants was fried chicken with a unique recipe created by a colorful character from Kentucky...the restaurants which were about to go under had a very large menu and stocked many different food items...Thomas decided to simplify things...he sold the excess inventory and limited the menu to a few basic items—chicken, salad, dessert, and beverages...business picked up and the name of the restaurants was changed to Colonel Sanders Kentucky Fried chicken...and the rest, as they say, is history...[Higher Than the Top, pp.83-87]
  2. When Jesus first sent out the 12 disciples He told them, “Focus on that which is really important.  Proclaim the kingdom of God is at hand.  Do what you can to help people.  Don’t worry about possessions.  Travel light and keep moving.”
  3. That’s not bad advice for us today...we are so prone to clutter our lives with unnecessary things...it’s little wonder some Christians don’t make it  to the finish line of  faith...they are carrying so much baggage and so many concerns, they invariably break down under the load...
Conclusion
1.      There’s a wonderful little story which I sometimes tell at the funeral service of a longtime Christian...it’s about young girl in Sunday School  who was asked to tell the story of Enoch...here’s how she told it...”Enoch walked with God.  He walked and he walked and he walked and he kept on walking.  One day God said to Enoch.  ‘Enoch, we’ve come so far together, why don’t you just come in and live with me?’”

2.      And if you want to walk with God all the way until God calls you  to live with Him do what Enoch did...don’t get overly entangled in the world and keep your focus on that which is really important...