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.

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).

Spiritual Fraud

A guest post written by Judy Tedder

The elder, to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all those who have known the truth … I rejoiced greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, as we received commandment from the Father. And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another. This is love, that we walk according to His commandments, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds” (II John 1:4-11).

These verses made me more aware than ever [of] our responsibility to read and study the Bible daily so that we will know what the scriptures say on all issues. We can then talk intelligently and not mislead anyone.

Many people think that just as long as you go to any church, then you will be saved. According to these verses, if anyone comes to you and does not bring the teachings of Christ, it says, “…he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”

When we do not take a stand, regarding major issues, such as sexual immorality, including the life style of the homosexual, unscriptural divorce, baptism by sprinkling instead of immersion for the remission of sins, communion weekly, instead of at our convenience and many other issues, then we do not care enough about people’s souls to make sure they are saved.

We are making light of Christ’s teachings.

He did not say it would be easy. I have been in church all my life, but I did not read my Bible as often as I should have until the past year, when I started trying to read it daily.

I find His word exciting and so practical. I have found that if you pray for opportunities to share your faith, they will come. I have read a scripture one day and the next day that particular subject comes up.

It makes you feel good to be able to answer questions with scriptures on the spur of the moment. You can learn something new every time you re-read the Bible. The only book we need is the Bible.

 

The Significance of Baptism

Much water

“Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3, NKJV).

Baptism is described variously in Scripture. It is called “the adoption of grace,” “the washing of regeneration,” “the new birth of water and the Spirit.”

In Romans 6, Paul says that “as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” This means that through baptism, the saving benefits of Christ’s death become yours (i.e. forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation).

In baptism you share in the death of Jesus Christ in this saving way, so that His merit becomes yours. Then, as “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:1-11).

Ask God to help you die daily to sin, and to rise spiritually in newness of life through faith and union with the living Christ.

“…The churches of Christ greet you…” (Romans 16:16, NKJV), “…serving together as God directs…” (Philippians 1:27).

Dealing with the “Waste Places” of Our Lives

I don’t know about you, but I am better at taking items apart than I am at putting them back together. I’ve always considered it a gift, though the circumstance is unfortunate when the situation calls for the item to be put back together in one piece as it was originally built.

I’m sure that none of you men have ever dismantled an engine, thinking you could put it back together, and then given up on doing so. I’m sure that none of you mothers have ever run out of baking ingredients after burning a batch of cookies, wishing that you could redo it all. However, how would you comfort someone who has experienced anything similar to what I described? More importantly, how do you restore happiness in peoples’ lives when they are going through deep despair, loneliness, or doubt?

In Isaiah 52:8-10 the writer shows how our spiritual lives can be completely restored, even if little hope seems to remain in getting to our original state. This means that our ‘waste places’ will remain wasted, unless we are restored by God. Isaiah gives three ways in which God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives.

First, God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives by comforting His people (52:9b). Our lives are fraught with battles, with heavy strain pressing down upon us. When we find ourselves empty of all hope, living in dying despair and neglect, God feels pain and sorrow for our predicament. He rebuilds the lives of His children. This shows that God is a personal God who wants to restore the spiritual lives of His people.

Second, God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives through redemption (52:9). God not only comforts those who are in need of sympathy and empathy, but He has the power to displace difficulties and dangers. God redeems those who are His people (i.e. Israel, in this context). Our spiritual restoration comes from the God who proactively removes us from that which wears us down—according to His timetable.

Third, God restores the ‘waste places’ of our lives by baring His holy arm (Isaiah 52:10). When God’s people serve Him, His salvation is extended to His people and everyone else will be able to see His extended power. The passage teaches that God is able and willing to restore our spiritual lives, just as long as we serve Him first.

How would the world change if everyone was restored spiritually by God’s power? How much different would the condition of the church be if she could better share this comfort and redemption with those who need it most? How would your life be affected by a restored spiritual condition?

Isaiah explains that the Lord will go before you (52:12). Isaiah explains that the God of Israel will be your rear guard (52:12). Those who serve God, become a part of His people, and follow His guidances will find spiritual restoration. Purify yourselves, this day, to be spiritually restored, knowing that God has your back.

Has anyone ever asked you, “how do you get saved?” Find out more about this Bible answer, and more, at alivewithchrist.com.