Tues, Jun 2, 2020

Fight the Good Fight, Pt. 2

2 Timothy 4:7-8

Good morning Anthem…

It’s been an emotional week on top of 3 months of quarantine. I realize that a lot of us are swirling a bit and looking for a foundation. We read Psalm 40 at our family worship this morning, it says:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

The importance of this Psalm for us was the drawing up from the pit and setting us on the rock. That’s our day today… asking the Lord to draw us up and place our feet on the rock. For that, we look to Jesus through the Scriptures. This is a devotional that my dad wrote last week, but it feels so helpful to think about the end of our lives and what it will take to move diligently and faithfully towards that day. So, here we go:

In the last devotion, I started talking about 3 phrases in 2 Timothy 4:7 that in Paul’s view (and I agree) define a life worth living. We looked at the first phrase, 

I have fought the good fight.

In the second phrase, Paul draws a different picture of the Christian life, 

I have finished the course.

Are you starting to see a pattern? Paul describes our lives as a fight and a race. What hit me at an early age is that our relationship with Jesus is something that demands our best, most intense effort coupled with the daily receiving of the grace of God.

Richard Foster said it well in his book Streams of Living Water:

Effort is not the opposite of grace; works is. 
Works has to do with merit or earning, and the effort we are called to undertake 
has nothing whatever to do with meriting or earning anything.

So what does Paul mean when he says, I have finished the course? The truth is that God has a course he has created for you.

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. – Ephesians 2:10

When you became a child of God that was the starting gun for the rest of your life. You began a life of discovering and living out the good works that God has prepared for you to walk in them.

Exercise 1: Read Hebrews 12:1-2. The weights are neutral things in your life that soak up your time and energy to prevent you from running the race. Sins that entangle or cling tightly are sins Satan can use to trip you up any time he wants.

Take a few minutes and do an inventory. Journal: What are the weights that Jesus wants me to lay aside? How would my life become more effective if I laid them aside? 

Second, What are the sins, that continually trip me up? How can I lay those aside?
This is a course of growing to become like Jesus. This is a course of using the gifts, abilities and resources God has entrusted to you to build his kingdom and serve others. This is a course of you bearing witness with your life and words to the truth and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Exercise 2: Take some time to reflect on what God has invested in you. What are your talents, gifts, resources, and interests? How could you use those to extend God’s kingdom and serve others for the glory of God?

Finally, Paul says: 

I have kept the faith.

This is fairly simple. It simply means that Paul always lived with his faith as the foundation of his thinking and the driving force for his behavior, actions, and words.

Exercise 3: What are the times and places where you are tempted to lay down your faith and live as one who doesn’t know God? What are you going to do about that?

My prayer for you is that you will learn that every day is a gift from God and it is way too precious to waste it by living for yourself. The King is coming and when he comes he will hold us accountable for the lives we have lived while on this earth. 

In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, 
which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; 
and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:8