Have you ever played “Would you rather”? My husband and I are youth directors at our church and if you’re around youth long enough, you will be drawn into a game. The rules are simple, someone listed two things and you choose which one you would rather do. Let’s play a quick game.
Would you rather be able to fly or read people’s minds?
* be blind or be deaf?
* eat skittles or m&ms?
* have a paper cut on your tongue or a booger you can’t reach all day?
* live or die?
If each of us were truly honest today, we would all say that we want to live? That’s a no-brainer! “I want to choose life!”
We are all very partial to the oxygen that we breathe and really prefer that our hearts continue to pump blood. So, why would I ask such a dumb question?
I was reading a book a while back and I came across a passage of Scripture in the book of Deuteronomy where God gives the choice to choose life.
Moses & the Israelites
In the events leading up to these verses, the Israelites were in slavery under Pharoah, led out by Moses, and were now grumbling and complaining. Once the Israelites have crossed the Red Sea, they are now on their way to the Promised Land. Because of their disobedience, an entire generation must wander in the desert and die before they would be allowed to cross into the Promised land. For the next 40 years, the Israelites wander around in the desert and wilderness. In order to claim the promised land, the people had to cross the Jordan River.
we are going to start with Moses giving a pep talk to the Israelite people. He has led them to the entrance of the Promised Land. It is now time to cross over the Jordan River and claim the land that God had given them. Moses begins his pep talk by telling the Israelites to obey the Lord God and follow His commands.
Moses explains to them the curses for disobedience and the blessings for obedience. He renews the covenant made that God had made saying that He would be their God and they would be His people.
He also reminds them of the miraculous things that God had already done for them. Sounds pretty good so far, right? Obey God, receive blessings. Disobey God, receive the curses. Then, Moses tells them a strange thing. He says that the Lord is giving to them an offer of life or death. Strange? Let’s pick up there and look at this offer to choose life or death.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that You shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go and possess. I call heaven and earth, as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”
Choose Eternal Life – Salvation
He tells them to choose life, that you may live.
Choose life. That you may live. What exactly does that mean?
Well, yeah, who wouldn’t want to do that? But, I think there is a little more to it than just breathing.
What does that look like? Choose life???
So, to find my answer, look to the Creator of Life. It says in Genesis 2:7 that “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
If God is the Creator of Life, and He is the one telling me to choose life, that I may live, then I think He should be the one that I should ask.
In Job 33:4, it says, “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
1 John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
If we are to “choose life” we need to understand what it means. We all know that in life we have many choices to make. We have to choose what to wear, what to eat for breakfast, what to do this weekend, how we will act in a given situation. Life is full of choices.
Just as the game “would you rather” that we played earlier made you make some kind of choice. This is also what God calls us to do.
Because he loves man so much, He allows them to make a choice about where they will spend eternity. He allows us to choose to spend eternity with Him in Heaven or He allows us to choose to spend eternity in a place called Hell.
Simple as that. We have a choice. It is this choice that He is referring to in Deuteronomy. He has set before us life and death. In His love, He wants each of us to choose life, that we may live in eternity with Him. This is His desire.
It says in 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
But, again, it is a choice. Do we wish to choose life and live? Or, do we choose to reject God and live a life completely separated from Him for eternity?
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
James 1:2–4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Trials of life come in various forms, shapes and sizes and it is extremely difficult to be joyful when faced with various trials, but the outcome makes it inevitably important and hence, we should count it all joy because by the help the Spirit provides, we shall be victorious.
Steadfastness is inevitable to a viable Christian life. Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth to be steadfast (or immovable). This suggests the idea of consistency in faith and in our resolve.
A rock-solid faith is one that demonstrates steadfastness in upholding the truth in word and in deed. However, steadfastness does not come by accident!
Most times, it is produced through the ability to endure trials. James persuades us to allow steadfastness to have its full effect as this brings completeness. Paul admonished the Christians at Philippi to ‘rejoice in the Lord always’.
This is critically important that it necessitates emphasis. He goes ahead to repeat it: ‘I will say it again, rejoice!’ The word ‘always’ implies that our rejoicing should be all the time. This includes times of trial because we know that the Lord will never forsake us and He will see us through just as He saw Job through.
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.’
Every Christian will face hard times and trials, this is inevitable. However, how we face those trails and what we learn from them help us grow and builds our faith. Life is like a bed of roses, in the beauty of it all there are thorns. Don’t allow those thorns to scar you for life. Heal them through Jesus and come back stronger.
Getting to know God’s characteristics will enable you to get to know Him better. Romans 1:20 teaches us that, God’s character, or who He is, is seen and understood by the things that He has made.
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
I would like to remind you, to look for God’s character in His creation. If you have ever seen the movie, March of the Penguins, you saw the sacrificial love the penguins have for their young. I thought, “Wow! What an example of God’s love.”
Let’s begin with the most important of God’s characteristics to us. It is His love. God’s love permeates who He is. God is sovereign, but His rule is acted out through His love. God is all-powerful, but every act of His power is done because of His love. God’s act of creation was an act of love which resulted in life for all things.
God is love.
“Agape” is the Greek word that best describes God;s love. Agape means, unselfish love that is driven by what is best for the person loved, not by the person loving. Agape love is a verb. ( a word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence) In other words, it is an unselfish, unconditional, and sacrificial love. I think we think God loves us out of duty not out of desire. However, “agape” love suggests that the lover finds joy in acting on that love for something or someone.
The Hebrew word that best describes God’s love is defined by the word “hesed”. This word is translated love, unfailing love, loving kindness, mercy, and loyalty. It is used about 250 times in the Old Testament. It means loyal, steadfast or faithful love. It also stresses the idea of belonging together for those involved in the love relationship. Both words make me think of the joy and the total commitment a bride and groom have for each other on their wedding day. God has been waiting eagerly to love you!
- Read about God’s love from Jeremiah 31:3, Hosea 2:19-20, Zephaniah 3:17, Ephesians 1:4, 2:4-5, 3:17-19, 5:2, 5:23-32, and Revelations 19:7-9. Write down any insights and applications that the Spirit is giving you from these verses.
- What does God’s love mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your answer. (Example: When I feel unloved, I think about the fact that God loved me so much that He died for me. (Ephesians 5:2))
- Love should permeate everything we do. God tells us and shows us how to love through His Word, with His Spirit. We will never completely agape love anyone because it is a supernatural phenomenon coming from the God of love! God does want to empower us to come as close to His love as humanly possible. Take some time with God right now and ask Him to empower you to love someone you don’t particularly love, with His type of love. Prayerfully thank Him for His love of you!
We see God’s power in creation. Wouldn’t it have been quite thrilling to have seen God create the visible universe from things we cannot see (Hebrews 11:3)? When I think God spoke the universe and our world into being without lifting a finger, I am dumbfounded with such power. Let’s take a look at God being all-powerful.
God is omnipotent which means all powerful, almighty.
Many leaders throughout history have done awful and quite horrifying things because they have the power to do them. Think of Hilter. Just turn on the TV and you will hear how someone has misused his or her power. No one or nothing can stop God from doing what He wants to do with His power. Aren’t you so glad His power is permeated by His love? If you doubt that His love leads His power, just think about His willingness to put His son under the control of sinful men and die from a man-made torture, death by crucifixion, out of His love for you.
- Read about God’s power from Psalm 62:11-12a, Daniel 4:34-35, and John 11:33– 45. Write down any insights and applications the Spirit is giving you from these verses.
- What does God’s power mean to you? Use a Bible verse in your
answer. (Example: When I am powerless to change my situation, I need
to trust in God, who can turn death into life. (John 11:43–44))
- No one in history has been all powerful like God except for Jesus Christ. Some people would like to be all powerful, but thank God they are not. Power does seem to corrupt sooner or later. As Christians, God certainly won’t make us all powerful, but He does want us to have access to the power we need to live the right way, which is His way. We get His power by being connected to Him through His Spirit (Acts 1:8). Personalize 2 Timothy 1:7 by writing the verse out and putting your name where the word “us” is.
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.
Have you ever found yourself trying to be diligent, focused, and resolved in your spiritual walk, but somewhere along the way discipline starts to wane, life (and the world) gets crazy, and you find yourself either giving in to things you didn’t use to or getting drawn in to petty, insignificant matters?
Or maybe you’ve observed people you respect and admire who appear to engage in things, conversations, entertainment, positions, or relationships that make you question your own stance on what’s right versus wrong, leaving you feeling confused and weary of trying to keep up with it all.
Paul spends some of his final words in 1 Timothy 6 giving instructions to Timothy. It feels like he must have known Timothy might start to feel overwhelmed at all he needed to be vigilant about, especially when he observed people getting caught up in the trivial, distorting the truth, or engaging in pointless arguments that distracted them from what really mattered.
1 Timothy 6:12 New International Version (NIV)
12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
So Paul made it plain and simple for all of us:
Flee from evil.
Fight the good fight of faith.
Take hold of what’s eternal.
It’s a direct charge to be on full alert; to be intentional and mindful in the way we live. It’s just not worth it to get caught up in the things the world thinks is all-important if those things draw us away from living a life worthy of God’s call.
There’s a better way to live.
It’s found in learning to run away from and not take any part in what doesn’t edify, build up, and strengthen our faith, and instead pursue what’s truly good: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.
We are called to be genuine, steadfast children of God who are set apart and called to a higher standard and a more excellent way. As we apply the truth of the Word of God in every area of life, we’ll find ourselves fueled by the Spirit of God with renewed and resolved determination to do everything He has called us to do.
I love how 2 Corinthians 10 reminds us that although we live in this world, we don’t have to sink down to the same standards the world engages in, and what’s more, we have the Word of God that gives us everything we need to fight this fight of faith and live a life of obedience and maturity.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6 New International Version (NIV)
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
The fight of faith is a good fight, but it is still a fight.
It will take tenacity, guts, resolve, and determination. It’s a fight to not let the enemy take ground in our lives or in our families. It’s a fight to do what’s right in God’s eyes even when others say it’s old fashioned. It’s fight to hold fast to the truth of the Word of God in love and kindness, without watering it down or creating our own interpretation as a means to excuse sin.
But friend, we are in good company. We are not alone in this fight of faith. Not only are there many believers cheering us on here and now, but as Hebrews 12:1-3 says, we are also surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on to run our race with perseverance and courage.
As we live our lives with our sights set on Jesus, we can be confident we’re on the right track. Philippians 4:12-14 says:
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
We don’t have to make it complicated. We just need to keep the main thing the main thing and hold tight to what really matters – the eternal things, not the temporary things. But we have to be vigilant about it. Hebrews 2:1, AMP, says, “… we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past and slip away.”
We need to be sure we are anchoring our hearts and our hope in Jesus Christ and His Word with everything we’ve got. If we don’t, we won’t even realize when we have drifted from His ways.
Stay steadfast and keep a firm grip on righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Let’s not get sidetracked, slip into bad habits, or emulate the world’s habits or trends so much that we drift away the way God has called us to live.
Flee from evil. Pursue righteousness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of what’s eternal.
A few years ago, I sat in a Sunday School classroom, with my husband and our pastor and prayed for God to help me to respond kindly. The pastor was a Christian man, and I had known him a long time. Over the course of several weeks, he had questioned my capabilities, misrepresented my motives, and asked me to stop or change the ministry that I loved.
I’d taken over VBS 5 years before and was led to write our own curriculum, instead of using the box sets. It was how I felt God wanted me to do it. It was my passion, my ministry.
Except now, this new pastor was a tearing me apart. For some crazy reason, he just didn’t like anything we where doing, and I might lose my ministry because of it. It was my ministry, but it was also my heart, my calling. I’d spent all year long working, writing and creating what God led me to do and loved every moment.
I didn’t know what to do, so I went home and prayed. I placed my open Bible in front of me and asked God to help me. I needed His direction. I didn’t know where to turn, so I turned to my Master first.
It was the 22nd day of the month, so I read through Proverbs 22 and prayed over each verse. When I got to verse 11, I heard the clear voice of the Holy Spirit give me my marching orders:
Proverbs 22:11 New International Version (NIV)
11 One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace
will have the king for a friend.
Really, Lord? I understood exactly what God was asking me to do, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to be gracious and loving to a man who had just told me I was not qualified to write VBS. I spent a few minutes crying out for God’s strength, praying for God’s blessing over him, and asking God to help me to serve with joy in the midst of a very uncomfortable situation.
1 Timothy 6:1-2 New International Version (NIV)
6 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on.
In I Timothy 6, Paul is encouraging Timothy to counsel the church body to choose wisely. We can never control the response of those whose authority we are placed under, but we can choose to respectfully honor them in the name of Christ by showing up to serve faithfully.
Rather than shrink back and grow disillusioned, we are called to step forward and get diligent. We win the war by washing the feet of the very one who is opposing us.
Whenever I am tempted to start complaining about how someone is treating me, I remember that Jesus picked up a towel and basin and kneeled before Judas to serve. He set the example for all of us to follow. We are called to represent Christ by redoubling our efforts to serve even when we aren’t rewarded.
I don’t know where you are standing today, friend. Perhaps you have a difficult boss or a negative neighbor. Maybe you are accused of something you did not do, or you are giving your all in a place where no one recognizes your hard work. I want you to know that God sees you striving to obey His voice, and He is pleased by your sacrifice.
And by the way, I kept that ministry, and God quickly opened doors to do more. Eventually, the pastor told me recognized my faithful efforts, and I found favor in his eyes.
Tonight we have exercise class at church. I really love the fellowship and fun with my church family, but my body absolutely dreads it.
I realize how important exercise is for my heart and my muscles. I know how necessary exercise is for effective body function. I know how crucial it is, and still…
I don’t like pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I don’t like stretching beyond my limits. I don’t like being uncomfortable.
My battle for physical fitness wages on.
But I wonder how often you and I consider our spiritual fitness?
But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. – 1 Timothy 4:7-8
Paul urges Timothy to exercise himself towards godliness because godliness is valuable for all areas of life, whether physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Godliness strengthens us, not only for this life, but for eternity.
While there are many similarities between physical and spiritual fitness, physical fitness only leads to a physical outward transformation. But spiritual fitness leads to a divine inward transformation which also shines through in our outward speech, attitude, and behavior.
Every person has the exact same number of muscles. However, some have exercised to develop, stretch, and enhance those muscles. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has given every believer a measure of faith. Like our muscles, we are able to exercise, develop, and stretch our God-given gift of faith. Even the smallest amount of faith is much in the hands of God!
Imagine God’s gym. God’s desire is to train us, strengthen us, and grow us to become more like Jesus. God uses everything in life, every circumstance and every relationship, as the gym equipment to make us fit.
Our fitness trainer is the Holy Spirit. He knows us inside out – our strengths, our weaknesses, and our potential. He knows exactly how much weight we are able to lift and carry. He knows exactly how much potential we have to endure. He knows exactly how much strength we need right now in order to face the trials ahead of us. He motivates us when we are lazy. He encourages us when we are weary.
Our fitness plan includes resistance training. God places us in uncomfortable circumstances that shift us out of our comfort zone in order to purge us of pride, arrogance, and self-reliance.
He also offers strength training, strategically weighing us with burdens that force us to stretch our faith and seek Him in confidence.
God puts us through endurance training – encouraging us to run our individual race at our own pace. We need endurance to keep standing and pressing forward in faith when times are hard.
With diligence, effort, and consistency, in His time, we are being transformed. With physical exercise, our desire is to look like a better us. With spiritual exercise, our desire is to become more like Him. As we press forward, we gradually shed more and more of ourselves, while we gain more and more of Him.
Godliness does not come easily. It isn’t always comfortable. The path doesn’t always lead to instant gratification. It stretches us in areas we never expected. However, the reward for sacrificing everything for Jesus brings eternal joy and far outweighs the fleeting happiness of anything else this world offers.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:29-31
A believer’s greatest privilege is to present our bodies and our lives to God to be used by Him. The key to victory is to simply surrender all that we are and all that we are not to God.
I despise exercise, but I love the Lord. So each day, I choose to surrender all my ‘can’ts’ and ‘won’ts’ to Him. In exchange, He lovingly equips me with new mercy, unlimited power, and increasing strength to remain in His will.
Our battle for spiritual fitness wages on.
In what circumstance is God exercising your faith? How can we pray for you as you passionately pursue godliness?
We live in a time where the news and those on social media like to tell us we only care about our own. Forcing a narrative that we only care about those who look like us, speak like us and live where we live. However, we are seeing truth emerging through inspiring stories of people around the world and here at home.
I see people I know and love picking up there lives and family’s lives to move somewhere new and unknown to spread the truth of the Gospel.
I often see reports of fighting and discontentment in the news. And then something happens; a hurricane, flood, earthquake or etc. And you see people helping strangers. Not because they want to be seen as a hero,but because it is the right thing to do.
This past week I’ve seen what a group of people can do when they unite around helping each other. When they focus together to solve problems, save lives and restore what was lost.
Yes, we live in a fallen, evil, painful world. There is no doubt about that, but even in the darkest…God is always there, working through His people.
And I just wonder, what if we all stepped up and united around verses like 1 Timothy 2:4… “who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth…”
What if we united around reaching those in the swirling flood waters of unbelief? What if we purposefully made a point to reach out with our love, our time, and God’s Truth to those who don’t look, sound or live like us?
Imagine what God could do through a group of women with that focus, with that passion and that desire to reach others with God’s Truth…so that none will perish in the flood waters of unbelief.
“All men” in 1 Timothy 2:4 doesn’t mean only those who look like us, sound like us or have our same citizenship. “All men” means men, women, children from all races, all languages and all nations.
For we know in Revelations 7:9
“…I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb…”
God desires for ALL men and women to be saved through Jesus Christ…not just those who look like us, sound like us and live where we live.
And so I’m reminded of all the stories of these brave men and women in Houston who risked their lives to help save the lives of others…regardless of their differences, as they entered the danger to bring light and hope to those who were perishing.
We are all called to do the same.
Because I don’t want us just to read 1 Timothy 2:4…I want us to LIVE this verse out.
Taking 1 Timothy 2:4 to heart and equipping and training these amazing people to go out and be a catalyst of change using God’s Word to reach those who are drowning in their flood waters of unbelief. Sharing the life-saving truth found in 1 Timothy 2:5...that there is only one way to God…through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Pray with us because it takes you and it takes me each working together as the Body of Christ, praying, serving, and giving what we can to accomplish what only He can.
Together let’s work on putting 1 Timothy 2:4 into action and enter the flood waters…arm-in-arm, prayer by prayer, reaching, searching and helping…just like Jesus did for us.
“who gave himself as a ransom for all men…” 1 Timothy 2:6
Because God desires ALL people, men, women, children from every region of the world to be saved and to know Him. Yet, we live in a world that shouts that there are many ways to God. As children of the King, we know this isn’t true. There is only one way to God: through Jesus Christ. Jesus gave His life for this mission. He is the Rescuer for which our hearts long. His mission needs to become our mission…His desires our own, because no one is outside of God’s mercy.
One woman, one community…one nation at a time.
Friends, the flood waters are rising and it’s time to jump in and help out!
What are some ways you can put 1 Timothy 2:4 into action in your life? What part of this amazing gospel story has God equipped you to play?
Have you ever felt worn out while trying to live the Christian life? I have. There are times when doing what is right, going against the flow of culture, and living by faith is downright exhausting. But this is not how it’s supposed to be, and I can see that my problem is not my own weakness, but my attempt to live this life apart from the wisdom and strength God provides.
1 Timothy 1:18-19
18 Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.
Paul encourages Timothy, and the rest of us, to fight the good fight and to not shipwreck our faith, as some had done.
It looks like Timothy is a young pastor, possibly just recently ordained. Paul is telling Timothy to remember the truths that were spoken to him during his ordination. While we don’t have a transcript of what was said, we know that it was in accordance with the gospel and that those words gave the strength young Timothy needed during stormy times.
Paul uses two different kinds of metaphors. One is of a military nature and one is nautical. His point is that we need to be good warriors as well as good sailors.
As a warrior we have two jobs. One is to fight against those things that are contrary to God’s Word and His honor. The world calls us to come and rest in her comforts and to amass her fortunes. She tells us to accept her philosophies in order to find joy, and to link arms with those who oppose God. But comfort is not found in stuff, and our value and dignity cannot be found in the world, but only in our relationship with Jesus. We are to fight against lies and injustice, perversion and evil.
But we also have to fight against all those same things that lurk in our own hearts. We are tempted to disbelieve God and we must fight that impulse. We are tempted to dishonor God by being lazy, unkind, thoughtless, or greedy and we must fight.
The second job we have as warriors is to fight for the gospel; to fight for righteousness and goodness and truth. It is not enough to speak out against what is wrong, but to speak clearly for what is right, and to then follow such words with holy actions.
But we must always fight with love and grace because this is how the Captain of Armies interacts with us and we are to be like our Captain.
The second charge Paul gives us is to make sure we don’t shipwreck our faith. We believe that once you are saved you cannot lose your salvation. The sacrifice of Christ cannot be undone, the pardon cannot be taken back, and our adoption as children of God cannot be made void. Our salvation is secure, but we are capable of weakening and even wrecking our faith to the point of bringing shame on the name of God and earthly consequences to ourselves.
In order to be a good sailor we need knowledge and wisdom. We need to know how to spot false teachings that cause harm to people’s souls. We need to be able to distinguish between truth and error. We need to learn how to sail through different kinds of water, whether still, choppy, or turbulent. All of this knowledge and wisdom can only come through the study of God’s Word and communion with God through prayer.
Through all of this we need to remember that we cannot be strong warriors or smart sailors on our own. If you rely on your own strength you will become overwhelmed, fearful, worn out, and ready to give up very quickly. We must rely on the power and strength that God offers us on a daily basis.
Confess your weaknesses, ask for help, trust that God will answer, and watch him work in your life.
Many times I have had a sit down talk with Jackson; made him look into my eyes and said, “God still loves you, buddy. He will never, ever stop loving you.”
This boy of mine has a hard time remembering this. His sin is ever before him – that thorn in his side that has the potential to be his greatest gift when it’s channeled God’s way. But man, that fine line. Sometimes it only takes a split second for his passions to get derailed and take him down a road that he wishes he didn’t travel.
Me too, boy. Me too.
But oh, how he loves Jesus. He’s the same one I found crying in the middle of the night – not sick or scared – but weeping because he couldn’t get over the cross and what Jesus had done for him. Jesus gave for him, the one who loves so much and lives so passionately, but feels like he gets it wrong so often.
You need to know that I get it, Jack. It’s not just you…
He needs to hear that God isn’t looking for perfection. He’s looking for a heart fully surrendered. Jesus came not just for the murderers and thieves. He came for the proud, the gossip, the money lover, and for every last hidden thought and motive that makes us cringe at the thought of exposure. He came for the ones who thought they only needed Him from afar; for the ones who thought that with enough striving they could get by on their own.
You can stop striving, son.
Instead… abide.Remember that it’s not about the perfect cover up. It’s about exposing our need to His perfect solution. We can search and try and look in a million other places, but nothing else will ever satisfy like Jesus. He loves like no other, He forgives like no other, He provides peace and hope and joy and freedom like no other. No more exhaustion on your own strength, boy. Lean in close and rest in the embrace of the One who has already done it all.
Listen, you’re not too far gone.
Don’t you dare listen to those lies. Jesus’s mercy transforms what the world calls too broken. His grace overflows, smoothing the rough edges and channeling our thorns into great purpose and humble service for Him… if we’ll only let Him. His power equips the weak and strengthens the weary for the task. God uses the most unlikely because our stories reveal His glory.
So son, turn your pride into praise.
It’ll never be about performance. Instead, let your life be marked by worship for the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Worthy is that Lamb – Friend to sinners; the One who rescued you and refines you; the One who never, ever changes. Embrace His amazing grace, and then make Him the hero of your story.
“I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 1:12-14
Girl, now it’s your turn.
You’re not too far gone. Oh, no. In fact, you’re just getting started…