Fri, May 29, 2020

Fight the Good Fight, Pt. 1

Hey Anthem fam!

As the days and weeks of this quarantine life roll on, we want to press deeper into the things of God. I keep thinking when I’m out on a run or a walk that I want to “mine” this season for all I can... God, what do you want to refine in me? Today we get to hear from my dad, Steve Larson. He has written a pair of devotionals that deal with a life “structure” that honors God and bears significance. He does give journaling assignments, so if you haven’t gone through the devotional from Wednesday (5/27) , it’s a helpful prep for today!

Hi, I’m Steve Larson. At this point in my life, my greatest claim to fame is that I’m Matt’s Dad . This year, I’ll be turning 70 years old. It’s strange, all my life, I’ve never felt as old as my age indicates. When I was 40, I felt like a beginner in ministry. At 50, I felt like I was finally beginning to figure some things out. At 60, I felt like I honestly had something of value to pass on to others and as I approach 70, I’m discovering new depts in my relationship with Jesus!

At an early age, one Scripture captured my imagination: 2 Timothy 4:7-8

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 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 4:7–8 (NASB95)

Paul defined a life worth living in 3 succinct phrases. All three of these phrases demand that we focus on things that we cannot see as opposed to the stuff in this world that is visible and ultimately short lived. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:7: We walk by faith (focus on the unseen, eternal reality) and not by sight (focus on the visible, temporal reality).

“I have fought the good fight.”
“I have finished the course.”
“I have kept the faith.”

In this devotion and the next one, I’d like to focus on these three phrases which give a wonderful structure for a life that will be significant, influential, and pleasing to God!

These three phrases have excited and directed my life for nearly 50 years. More than everything else, I wanted my life to be worth living in the eyes of Jesus. . .I want to hear him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Let’s look at the first statement: “I have fought the good fight.” 

This tells me two things about life. Number one, I have a literal, powerful enemy who wants to defeat God’s purposes in my life. Read Ephesians 6:10-12, 1 Peter 5:8-9, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 4:26-27

Exercise #1 Take a moment and journal what you learn about Satan and his desires for your life. How does Satan and his army want to defeat you? What tools does he use?

Then begin journaling thoughts that come into your mind. Think of fearful thoughts, reminders of past hurts, discouraging thoughts, thoughts that stir anger. Many of these are attacks of Satan against you. 

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul brings up the fact that we are fighting a war, but not a physical war. Our war against Satan is being fought in our minds. Are we going to believe the lies of Satan, of this world, and of our flesh? Or, are we willing to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”?

Satan wants to discourage you through lies, he wants to divide you from other believers, he wants you to fall into sin to destroy your witness. Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief (Satan) comes to steal and kill and destroy.” Both Peter and James (4:7) challenge us to “resist the devil.” 

It’s so important for me to remember that people are not my enemies. Satan, who is called, the accuser of the brethren is my real enemy.

Exercise # 2 – How would it change your life if you woke up realizing that you have an enemy who wants to steal the joy, power, and influence of your salvation from you (John 10:10)? What would change in your thinking and behavior? Journal your answer.

I grieve because it seems like many American Christians don’t realize that we are in a fight and so they are unprepared for the attacks of Satan. What’s so exciting to me is that once you begin to “fight the good fight” you will experience victory. James 4:7 promises: resist the devil and he will flee from you!