finish line

Fighting the Good Fight

A guest post by Randy Teller

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:7-8).

finish line

Living the Christian life is the best fight we will be in.

Paul uses metaphors throughout his letters to Timothy, talking about athletes, training, winning, and awards. I’m sure this was a common subject in New Testament times because of Olympic games, just as it is common today.

Our life is a battle against sin and Satan. Everyday we must arm ourselves with the tools of battle (Ephesians 6:13-18). Just as an athlete must train regularly to compete for their gold medal, we, too, must train regularly to compete for our gold medal, Heaven.

As it is with all types of training, you must constantly push yourself to do better than the day before. When we become complacent with our spiritual lives we are no longer growing closer to God.

Do you pray?

Can you pray a little more?

Do you give?

Can you give a little more?

Do you serve others?

Can you serve a little more?

Physical training is important for physical well being and spiritual training is important for spiritual well being (I Timothy 4:8).

As we train and develop our bodies for this contest, it is also normal to train longer and harder than the actual race or contest. A wrestling match is only 6 minutes long. A wrestler will train for hours every day to prepare for those few minutes.

He does it for one reason: to go the distance.

It does no good to be ahead, only to stop short of the finish line. There is little respect for the athlete who is ahead the entire race only to quit just before the end of the race.

We are in that type of event. It is of no value to lead a spiritual life only to fall away just before reaching the finish line…Heaven.

The Christian’s race is different because it doesn’t matter when you start; just make sure you finish the race. There are many runners in a long distance race and while winning it is a special privilege, finishing the race is the mark of true character (Philippians 3:13-14).

Yes, physical and spiritual training are both vitally important. However, as with all contests, there are rules and regulations that must be followed. This ensures that all contestants will be judged fairly.

Personally, I cannot tell the difference between a double toe loop and a double axel. To the judge it is as obvious as night and day.

As Christians, we, too, have a judge, but we have two advantages.

First, our judge is honest and righteous at all times.

Second, if we don’t get it right the first time, we can ask for and receive a second chance; God does give us rules to live by each day (II Timothy 2:5).

The apostle Paul was a spiritual champion. It is not to say he had a perfect, easy life (II Corinthians 11:23-27). He did, however, have a most precious goal in sight: the crown of righteousness, the gift of eternal life in Heaven.

In his last days he was at peace because of three things: he had fought the fight, finished the race, and had kept the faith.

May God bless you with the desire and ability to say the same.

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one of a kind

The Humanity of Christ (Part Two)

“Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three,

One lived and died for self; one died for you and me.

The Greek died on the throne; the Jew died on a cross

One’s life a triumph seemed; the other but a loss.

One led vast armies forth; the other walked alone;

One shed a whole wold’s blood; the other gave His own.

One won the world in life and lost it all in death.

The other lost His life to win the whole world’s faith.

Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three,

One died in Babylon; and one on Calvary.

One gained all for self; and one Himself He gave.

One conquered every throne; the other every grave.

The one made himself God; the God made Himself less;

The one lived but to blast, the other but to bless.

When died the Greek, forever fell his throne of swords;

But Jesus died to live forever Lord of lords.

Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three.

The Greek made all men slaves; the Jew made all men free.

One built a throne on blood; the other on love,

The one was born of earth; the other from above.

One won all this earth, to lose all earth and heaven.

The other gave up all, that all to Him be given.

The Greek forever died; the Jew forever lives.

He loses all who gets, and wins all things who gives.”

(Charles Ross Weede, “The Perfect Example”)

one of a kind

The Humanity of Christ (Part One)

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, and that a despised one.

He worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30, and for three years, He was an itinerant preacher.

He never held an office.

He never owned a house.

He never wrote a book.

He never went to college.

He never put His foot inside a big city.

He never traveled 200 miles from the place where He was born.

He had no credentials but Himself.

While He was a young man, the tide of public opinion turned against Him.

His friends ran away. One of them betrayed Him.

He was turned over to His enemies.

He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth, and that was His seamless robe.

When He was dead, He was laid in a private grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone, and today He is the masterpiece of the human race and the leader of all progress.

I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as that One Solitary Life.”

(Writer Unknown)

Believe in God

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I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Psalms 20:2-3).

Faithful Christians believe in God as creator, redeemer, and sanctifier.

As a Christian, you cannot love God too much. He is in all the universe and He knows everything about every one who has ever lived and who will ever live. Despite the fact that He knows all, the amazing truth is that HE loves everyone.

God created man and He sustains man throughout life on this earth. Without His loving care, no one in the world could live for even an instant.

And above all else that He has given man, He has given Himself in the Lord Jesus Christ to save all men. This is the best gift of all.

Thank God for all He has done for you and pray that your heart will be so grateful to Him that you will love and serve Him every day of your life.

Thank God that He is God and that He has created you; that He loves and cares for you, providing all your needs. Ask Him for help to be stronger in your faith and that He will help make you a better servant in everything you do.

“…The churches of Christ greet you…” (Romans 16:16).

Me? A Wrestler?

A guest post by Vicki and Bill Tyner

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The idea of such combat is objectionable to most of us, but wait a minute. What does the Scripture say? Read the above Scripture again. There is bound to be a lesson in there for us.

First, the danger against which a Christian wrestles is not of “this world.” The Christian knows that this world “lies in wickedness” (I John 5:18). Such information should arm us against its encroachments on our lives in Christ.

Yet our conflict arises from forces in league with the world. It may be even within ourselves or our closest associates and like the demons of Gadara, they are many.

Then we must remember they are “mighty.” A little casual Bible reading will illustrate how they have brought down the mighty, strong men have been overthrown. Adam and Eve in the absence of other evil forces were overthrown.

Our enemy is invisible. If he was flesh and blood we could escape him, but like pestilence he is the unseen enemy whose strength comes from his craftiness, pictured in the Bible as the “wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11), or the “beguiling” of the serpent.

We are warned of Satan’s “devices” for as the Bible says, he was a murderer from the beginning.

Like Pharaoh pursuing the children of Israel, he will follow us and that is why we need the protection afforded by the armor of God, in Paul’s further illustration in Ephesians 6. The figures of speech may seem a little confusing, but the message is clear:

We are to be wrestlers!

A Spiritual Mother

A guest post by Louise Robertson

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

When I was growing up my mother would say to her children, “When you are little you step on my toes; but when you are grown you step on my heart.”

I’m a grandmother and a great-grandmother. After the children are grown, instead of stepping on your toes and your heart, they sometimes almost cut your heart out.

After the children are grown, you have to watch what you say to them. Most grown children do not control their tongue. You may want to live their life for them, but you can’t.

A mother gives birth to a happy, healthy, bouncing baby boy or girl. For the first few days she will hug, pat and caress her little baby. She will rock back and forth, and say, “I love you forever,” and “I like you always,” and “as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

When they are growing up you get angry because of things they might be doing, and you might say, “You’re driving me crazy.”

When the child gets to be a teenager, they think they are eighteen going on twenty-one. They like loud music and strange clothes. Sometimes, it would be great if you could put them in a barrel, cover up the hole, and let them out whenever they are twenty-one.

Indeed everyone who quotes proverbs will use this proverb against you: “Like mother, like daughter!”

“You are your mother’s daughter, loathing husband and children; and you are the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children; your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite” (Ezekiel 16:44-45).

Most children today think you can buy love, but you can’t buy love, because love is not sold anywhere.

 

The Love of Many

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).

Among the prophecies of the Lord was one that must have been painful for Him to speak. It is contained in the above verse.

The apostle Paul, in his instruction, said we should put on the whole armor of God that “you may be able to withstand in the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13).

There can be no doubt that the Lord’s words are true. You can see how the love of many has turned cold.

Christians, once steadfast, once regular in attendance, once supportive of every good work, abandoning their faith and breaking the hearts of loved ones in Christ, their lives blighting their relationship with others, and their consuming self-interest has destroyed their usefulness to the Lord.

Their love has waxed cold.

Those who have held steadfast sometimes asked themselves, “Why?” Self-incrimination often follows. They ask themselves, “Where have I failed?” or “How have I failed?” “What could I have done that would have made a difference?”

A person seeking entrance into the military electronic school was told by his superior officer in the service, “You will never make the grade.”

The reason Christians are compared to soldiers (Ephesians 6) is because of the rigors of training. Some just do not have the qualities required to be able to “stand.”

Do you?

Or, do you feel like the little boy trying to sharpen a cheap pocket knife? It just does not have metal hard enough to take an edge.

Has the world taken the “temper” (degree of hardness or strength) out of you…that which would enable you to, as the Scriptures say, “Stand?”

Making the simple switch, from sitting to standing, begins with love.