Monday, December 14, 2020

Even Paul likely will too

Even Paul struggled...likely you will too

I have fought the good fight, 
I have finished the race, 
I have kept the faith.

2 Timothy 4:7

There is much satisfaction in finishing something you have begun! The success of a race is determined not only by how well you begin but also by how well you end. Many athletes can begin a race impressively, but if they stumble or are injured or lack the stamina to finish, their good start is useless. Paul rejoiced that he had not only begun the race; but he had also finished it. His prize was a robust faith in God and a life filled with God's powerful presence.

The Christian life is not easy. Some mistakenly assume that once they become children of God, their struggles are over. Many Christians begin their walk with Christ enthusiastically; but as the pressures mount, they lose heart and abandon their pilgrimage.
Paul described his Christian life as a battle. There were times when he struggled, and only through perseverance could he continue. It may surprise us to know that the great apostle had to struggle at times to be faithful to God. Paul faced persecution, misunderstanding, betrayal, and death threats. His Christian life was anything but easy, yet he persevered.
Your faith in God is not proven by beginning the race but by enduring to the finish. Publicly announcing your commitment to Christ in your church does not compare with a lifetime of devotion to His cause. Use Paul as your model. Live your life in such a way that you can one day conclude, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith!” - Blackaby Experiencing God Day by Day 

There are extremely few people who don't wake up to struggles.  I struggle to get out of bed many mornings.  Much like today, a few more hours of sleep probably wouldn't hurt.  But the day beckons and life doesn't stop because of me. 

People read the Bible as a book of do's and don'ts.  In that one aspect there is only an element of truth.  But it conveys much more than that.  It's a love letter from beginning to end.  It's about every aspect of why Jesus would create mankind and to what lengths His love would go to save them if they would but let Him. 

It's also about the struggles of many men and women who did exist, did do the things you read about.  Paul, I believe, was there throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus.  He was on the other side.  He was brought up as any Pharisee had been.  Trained by the best.  Considered one of the elite of his day in his zeal and knowledge of God. 

Ever think you read something right, only to your embarrassment, someone shows you that you didn't? On the road to Damascus, when the Lord Jesus stopped Saul He had that conversation that we read about.  Then silence.  Saul was silent and Saul wasn't eating.   In that silence Paul was born.  He was shown that everything he thought he knew was wrong and that he missed everything that was important about the one whom he was persecuting.  He was shown how much he would suffer for what he did.  Not that there's any imputed condemnation as he later wrote in Romans. There's suffering due to his actions while being an agent for the enemy.  They would come after him.  Once their champion now their greatest threat.  Paul was going to suffer a lot until we read the verses that opened this devotional. 

We really expect life to be any different?  One of the great lies of Satan is in comparing ourselves to other believers. Another is in the whole health, wealth and prosperity lie.  That if we were truly in Christ we would be immersed in all 3. That we wouldn't be suffering.  So we sit and hear the lies of Satan regarding others and ourselves.  If we were more like them then we wouldn't suffer as much.  We would have more health, wealth and prosperity. 
We live, move and have our being in Christ, those who have been saved by Grace through Jesus Christ that is. Paul didn't fall for the lies of comparison.  He knew full well of the facts that those who choose to live for Jesus will suffer.  It wasn't going to be exclusive to his own plight. 

You shouldn't rage at the world, others or God if health, wealth and prosperity aren't yours.  You shouldn't rage at the world or God about your rights being violated.  We who are in Christ are going to have tribulations in this life.  That is a promise written in the Bible.  It isn't a thing for just some people and not others. 

Our sin nature isn't going to just sit on the sidelines while we grow in Christ.  

We can know that it's going to fight.

So look at your life. Are you at all trying to live for Jesus or just for you? 

Have you lied to yourself so well that you can't tell who you are living for?

As I am writing this, there's a battle going on in my mind, the sin nature trying to distract and stop me. 

There's a war going on right now.  A war to decide what you hear, what you think and what you do.  It's a world war.  Companies and governments, media and even some so-called preachers. All are trying to tell you to believe things contrary to the Word of God.  You are in the fight of your life. 

Consider every thought you have. Take them captive.  You need to reign in your stray thoughts.  As do I.  This world is not your friend.  Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the mainstream news outlets are not your friend.  They are the ones in the battle for your mind.  It is they that have come out and arrogantly stated that it's their job to tell you what to think.  That, my dear reader, is Satan speaking.  He will, after the Rapture, be saying that and so much more. He will demand the worship of people.  

We are in a war.  Those in Christ have the whole armor of God as written about in Ephesians.  As Jesus said, having eyes that see, we see the world as it really is.  Spiritual warfare is everywhere.  He is coming back soon. Very soon. The unraveling of the fight against recognition of Israel is happening.  That is a direct lead in to the book of Revelation. 

Those not in Christ are part of the battle against believers.  They cannot control their sin nature and desperately need Jesus.  Praying for yourself and those around you should be the daily thing for all believers.  

Fight the good fight. Finish the race. Realizing that the time is short.  Evil will not win the war. I read the book, God wins. 

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