Study from God’s Word… 2nd Timothy: Paul’s entire 2nd letter to Timothy, often considered his last will and testament … Passage for Reflection: 2nd Timothy 4: 7 … NIV I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
My Journal for Today: How many people, in studying the Bible, have impressed you who started well in the faith but could not sustain their early courage and strength. Certainly there was David, who showed such promise and courage, dealing with Goliath in faith as a youth, then taking years to handle the assaults of Saul. He was truly God’s warrior and later God’s King. But, in his later years as King, he fell to temptation with Bathsheba, even to the point of having a dear friend murdered to cover his sin. Then there was David’s Son, Solomon, who was given, by God, more human wisdom than any other man; and he built the great Temple for the Lord. BUT, later in his life he also fell into foolish and fleshly living.
Think of all the contemporary Christian leaders who couldn’t sustain the “good fight.” There was Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard. And yes, all of these men, as well as David and Solomon, after their individual falls and folly, confessed and repented and experienced some degree of restoration in their lives; but they could not seem to sustain their faithful warfare against the flesh, the world, and the Devil during their life trek as a believer, falling prey … especially to their own fleshly desires.
And it was Paul in this final letter to his protégé, Timothy, speaking out strongly with exhortations and warnings to avoid the desires of the flesh (see 2nd Tim. 2: 22); and as he wrote to Timothy (and all Christians) in today’s highlight text, to do what Paul felt he had done as a warrior for Christ, … i.e., to finish the race and keep the faith. Paul may not have started well in his life, being the former persecutor of Christians; but once he let Christ into His heart, Paul was one who definitely finished well.
The question raised by today’s challenging devotional – at least for me – is: … Do I let discouragement or cynicism creep into my mind/heart to the point that it weakens my resolve to finish well as a warrior in God’s army? God has charged me (see Luke 9: 23, Acts 1: 8, and Matt. 28: 19-20) to keep-on-keeping-on in the faith, becoming and remaining strong as His witness and His warrior. Dr. Smith pointedly asks today: If I ever start slipping into a mode of cynical discouragement, what new vision can I capture to keep me going?
And these are questions we all need to have a battle plan to confront? I’m certainly no David or Solomon with regard to courage or wisdom. I’m no Paul or Peter when it comes to my evangelical zeal. But I am Bill Berry; and I have the same Holy Spirit in my heart Who raised Jesus from the dead and Who came into my heart to enlighten, enable, and empower me the same way He did those so-called “giants of the faith,” who some how fell in their faith and became victims rather than victorious. I have been called by Paul’s exhortation to Timothy (and, by extension, to me) to stick it out and finish the marathon we call the Christian life, … to fight the good fight all the way to the end for Christ. And I learned a long time ago from a mentor that anything we’re called to do by God, He will enable us to do it. The question – for me – is, will I stay in surrender mode and let Him?
So, I have a battle plan; and my plan is to march onward using the same plan which God gave to Joshua when this warrior for God’s way was down after Moses’ death [see Joshua 1: 1 – 9 - linked here]. And I charge you to go back and meditate on the charge and challenge – i.e., the battle plan – which God gave to Joshua to stay strong and carry out God’s plan with success; and you’ll see that God promised Joshua that he could cross the Jordan and take the promised land IF he would just believe God and stay in His book of the Law (which we now have in expanded form in our Bible).
God’s plan for Bill Berry to “fight the good fight” is to do what I’m doing right now; and stay in God’s word, daily, believing that my Lord will give me all that I need, through His Spirit, to fight the good fight and to win in my own personal race to the end of this life, … giving me a running head start into the next.
What about you? What’s your plan? And will you finish the race the way God is calling you to finish? >>> Oh, and I’ll say to you here what Paul said to his followers (see 1st Cor. 11: 1, which I’ll paraphrase here, … “Come on, follow me; because I’m following Christ!”
My Prayer for Today: Lord, I follow You to the tape. I will finish with You. Amen