The Good Fight

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The Good Fight.

Online Sermon – Ps. Jim White

Sunday 26th Aril, 2020

Good morning Seacoast.

If you caught my brief message during the week, you’ll know that I have been contemplating the meaning of Anzac Day – as I know you probably have been too.

I’ve also been thinking about other men and women who have laid down their lives for a cause – and continue to do so even now, in many places in the world.   

We weren’t able to go to a dawn service or celebrate with a parade this year.  But many have stood in their driveways or found other ways to make a very personal response to Anzac Day.

Just like anything as meaningful and significant as remembering all who have fought for our freedom, it’s truly what we carry in our hearts that matters the most.  

And I think that most of us carry a deep appreciation and gratitude for those you who given their lives for our sake and for our countries sake.  If they didn’t die in battle, they were certainly willing to do so.  

Australian men and women joined allied forces from around the world – and were willing to give their lives for what they cherished the most – their families – their country – their freedom – their way of life – and I’m sure for many – it was was the upholding of their Christian faith and values.

And it reminds us of the scripture I quoted: 

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

It’s an appropriate time to remember not only our war veterans, but also those throughout history – and even those currently – in this very moment – who are laying down their lives for others in this pandemic.  The fight might be against a very different kind of enemy – but it’s a fight nevertheless.  

And we know people personally who are on the front line.

The reality is – battles rage around us in every generation – in every season.

I don’t know if we are always consciously aware    but we are continually in a fight – especially as a people who stand up for our faith in Jesus Christ.   Spiritual warfare is very real.

We don’t always pick the battles – sometimes the battles pick us.  And although there are common battles that we all face in life – there are also some personal battles that we face on a very private level.  

And the toll can be great.

I’ve been drawn to Paul’s fatherly and apostolic wisdom and advice to his young protege in the faith – Timothy.  

Paul was a seasoned fighter. He had fought some incredible battles – and often found himself writing letters of encouragement to other Christians, and to churches, whilst being in chains himself in prison. 

Paul knew that Timothy was trying to establish a church in the midst of a corrupt society – where things like false teachings, love of money, greed, strife – in fact – ever evil thing was present.

And he says to Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NKJV)

11 But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

And I find it really interesting that one moment, Paul is saying – stand for righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness…. But nearly in the same breath he says – you need to fight!

But not only fight – make it a good fight!

There are a number of things I want to say here.  Firstly – the fight we are called to will never come from a place of anger, selfishness or frustration – and certainly not from a place of hopelessness.  Actually hopelessness is something that we have to fight against.  It’s tied up with unbelief.

Our fight is for what we believe.  It’s what we stand for.  It’s for who we are!  It’s for what we know to be the truth.   Our fight is for our faith!

And this is where Timothy finds himself as a new pastor of a new church – with the influence of the world crowding in on him.

Paul says – come on Timothy – you can do this – this is a good fight because we know we have the victory!   The war is already won – we just have to face and overcome a few battles along the way.

The word fight that is used here is also used by Paul in other places when he is talking about running a race.  It’s used to describe that place where a runner comes to –  and their body is screaming in pain and exhaustion –  and pleads – it’s time to stop.

But the race isn’t yet over.

So it’s that moment when something has to kick in – that something extra –  that place of perseverance.  It’s a place of determination and commitment that refuses to give up.

I think I could safely say that every one of us has been in that place at some stage in our journey of life.  The battle just seems overwhelming.   The pain is just too great.  The will to keep going has somehow drifted away from us.

But that’s often the very moment where our breakthrough is either forfeited or sealed.   Iff we can just keep fighting – keep running toward the goal – we will break through.

Don’t give up!   Don’t stop!  Push through the barrier that stands before you.

It can be a battle from within.  It can be your mind that begins to take on negativity.  It can be your heart that takes a hit.

Perhaps it’s a battle that rises up from without.  And for you to keep running the race, you have to stand against ungodly opposition.

The key in it all is to draw deep from the presence of God within you – and meet the battle from a position of love, of righteousness, of grace, of mercy…

Whether it’s your love for God – or your love for humanity – or your love for the truth – for righteousness – for the person standing before you.

You know Paul stood up for what he believed – and it was confronting to many.  But he always came from a place of humility – knowing that in himself he was unworthy and weak – of himself, he was no better than anyone else.

But that’s one of the most powerful positions to be in.  Because that opens the door for God to move.

That’s when He will come and say, as He did with the people of God in 2Chronicle 20    as they faced an impossible battle from their enemy :

2 Chronicles 20:17 New King James Version (NKJV)

17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

They still had to go out.  They still had to position themselves.  They still had to believe. His word.  But God intervened and bought them the victory.

I think this applies to every battle we face.  Whether it’s a personal and private one – or whether it’s against opposition from without.

Ultimately – it’s the good fight of faith. It’s about raising that shield of faith in the midst of the battle – and showing the enemy Who it is that stands with you.

I also want to come back to what else Paul tells Timothy about this fight.

He says in:

1 Timothy 6:12 New King James Version (NKJV)

12 …lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Lay hold on eternal life!

And I want to say here – laying hold of eternal life is not just about looking forward to what happens when we leave this earth.

Just as John said in his message to us last week – eternal life starts now…. In fact it started the moment you invited Jesus Christ into your heart.

This is our victory now!  This is the reason you can run with endurance and not give up when obstacles come – or you experience pain – or your mind is screaming at you to lay down and give up.

You have a spiritual presence – spiritual resources – actually you have the One who called you in the first place residing within you.    You can draw on heaven’s strength, heaven’s provision, heaven’s riches right now.

Colossians 3:1 New King James Version (NKJV)

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.”

In The Passion Translation it says:

Colossians 3:1 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Christ’s resurrection is your resurrection too. This is why we are to yearn for all that is above, for that’s where Christ sits enthroned at the place of all power, honor, and authority!”

How amazing is that?  Whatever you need right now – you can draw on heaven – you can call down those things that you need to keep going – to keep fighting – to keep running the race.

I hope this is doing you good – because there are answers here for you this morning.  Fight the good fight of faith! Fight for it!  Position yourself!  Keep placing one foot in front of the other until your breakthrough comes!

It’s a good fight because you win!  In fact – the war has already been won when Jesus Christ took your place on the Cross of Calvary.

Be thankful that you haven’t had to be tortured – to have a sword put through your side – to have your hands and feet nailed to a cross.  Jesus did that for you – on your behalf!

And His resurrection is your resurrection too!  Our resources for this life are in fact endless.  And they are heavenly!

Just a few verses later – as Paul speaks to Timothy – he brings him back to the recognition of the most important thing of  all.

He’s talking about the King of kings and the Lord of lords:

1Timothy 6:16,  (NKJV),  “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.”

Other versions say – to Him be the glory!

The men and women who have fought for us – many giving their lives for us – they did it for something greater than themselves.

When people lay down their lives – it’s because something greater than their own life is at stake.  There’s a cause that is exalted above themselves.

Isn’t that how it should be in the good fight of faith?  What we are fighting for and upholding is ultimately the glory of God.  That His presence and power would rule and reign above every nation of the world.

But we can even bring it back a bit from there…. We are fighting for the faith of our children and our grandchildren and all the generations that are to come – that God would be glorified in their lives as as well.

I absolutely love that song that our worship team has been singing – called “The Blessing.”

I can hear Brooke’s voice as she sings:  “May His favour be upon you, and a thousand generations, and your family and your children, and their children and their children…. May His presence go before you and behind you and beside you…. All around you and within you, He is with you, He is with you… 

In the morning, in the evening, in your coming and your going, in your weeping and rejoicing..  He is for you, He is for you… 

What a powerful prolomation and anthem!

God will prove Himself faithful – as He has done so many times before.  But there will be battles to face – there is a fight to be fought.   There will be times of weeping as well as times of rejoicing.  

In the end – it always comes back to a fight a faith.   Refusing to allow unbelief and hopelessness to invade and overtake the truth – the truth that He is a good good Father – that His name will be glorified in our lives if we don’t give up.

And not only that – He will be glorified in our children and their children and their children…. Throughout the generations.

I pray that this message will strengthen the hands of those who are feeling weak right now – those who are facing battles….  

The slogan that is being presented on the media and by our government is that we are all in this together.

But we know – as lovers of Christ – as the body of Christ – that has always been our declaration.

Hebrews 10:23-25 New King James Version (NKJV)

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

I want to exhort you to continue to stay connected – stir up one another – encourage one another…. But not in our own strength – let it be in the glory of God…. In His faithfulness and goodness.

Heavenly Father, we pray that you would fill our hearts afresh with the gift of faith – help us to fight the good fight of faith for your glory and for the generations coming after us.  We ask, not only for faith to maintain our walk with You – but faith to build and increase the awareness of Your presence in our lives and the lives of those around us.

We seek after those things which are above – where Christ is.  Let us walk in the reality of eternal life now.

Let us be able to declare as Paul did:

2 Timothy 4:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

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

We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

God bless you.

If these online services have been a blessing to you – please pass them on – share them – let them go forth to touch other people’s lives as well.  

Take care.

Bye for now.


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