“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” 2 Timothy 4:7
Do you ever wonder what kind of legacy you’ll leave behind?
I remember an older gentleman from one of the churches I pastored. He was the epitome of grace toward others; and he was deeply loved by his wife, his daughters, and his sons-in-law. In fact, his sons-in-law kneeled by his bed as he died. Afterward, one of his daughters wrote me a letter. At the end of the note, she concluded with these powerful words: “Our world has lost a righteous man, and in this world, that’s no small thing.”
I love the legacy expressed in those simple words from the pen of an admiring daughter. It reminds me of the heart of Paul as he wrote to his friend Timothy. Paul had expended himself in the service of Christ and had a keen sense that he was nearing the end of his life. We know from his writings to other churches that he was not afraid of death. In fact, he clearly stated that if he were absent from the body, he would be present with the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:3). The resurrection had defeated the sting of death (1 Corinthians 15:55), and Paul couldn’t wait to meet his Savior.
As Paul pondered the end of his life, he made three very simple statements about his legacy. He had “fought the good fight”—standing firm as a spiritual warrior, clothed in the armor of God, faithfully defending the truth of the gospel. He had “finished the race”—ensuring in the process that he was neither disqualified nor disheartened in the marathon of life and ministry. Most importantly, he had “kept the faith”—remaining true, committed, and loyal to the One who rescued him from sin and darkness.
Notice that Paul’s brief statements here say nothing about the education he had received, the places he had traveled, the letters he had written, the people he had preached to, or the churches he had planted. He flat out wanted his legacy to be labeled as “faithful.” I love that! It’s what I want to aspire to as a follower of Jesus.
So, I have to ask myself, “If that’s the kind of legacy I want to leave, how would I pursue it today?” Well, it means that my choices need to be more about “fighting the good fight.” I need to put on the spiritual armor each morning, as Paul told the Ephesians to do, and live to be victorious in all that comes my way. I need to be running the race to win, putting off all that hinders and the sins that entangle (Hebrews 12:1). And, it means that in every situation I want my attitudes, my words, and my actions to be loyal and true to Jesus.
As Paul told the Philippians, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:13-14). There’s no better time than the start of this New Year to set our sights on new goals that will, over time, develop a legacy worth leaving.
Building a legacy worth leaving behind begins today and is made one decision at a time. Live this year to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” In my book, that’s a legacy worth living for!
- Spend a few minutes thinking about the legacy you would like to leave. How does that compare to Paul’s desired legacy expressed in 2 Timothy 4:1-22?
- What type of legacy will the current choices and priorities of your life lead to? Are there some changes that need to take place today to move you back toward a legacy of faithful service to Christ?
- The good news for each of us is that God’s grace is available to forgive, cleanse, and refocus us today! He can use whatever time you have left to bring glory and honor to Him.
The call of God is not a reflection of my nature; my personal desires and temperament are of no consideration. As long as I dwell on my own qualities and traits and think about what I am suited for, I will never hear the call of God. But when God brings me into the right relationship with Himself, I will be in the same condition Isaiah was. Isaiah was so attuned to God, because of the great crisis he had just endured, that the call of God penetrated his soul. The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves. And we cannot hear anything God says. But to be brought to the place where we can hear the call of God is to be profoundly changed.
“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year.”—Exodus 12:2
This Torah portion for this week, Bo, is from Exodus 10:1–13:16 and Jeremiah 46:13–28.
The first verses in Chapter 12 indicate the very first commandment officially given to the nation of Israel. It is the commandment to sanctify the New Moon and proclaim the new month. While the rest of the world follows the Gregorian calendar, which is based on the movements of the sun, Judaism follows the lunar cycle. The start of each month is dependent on the new moon.
Here is how it worked in ancient times: Once the people settled in the land of Israel, a court was set up called the Sanhedrin. Two witnesses who saw the appearance of the new moon would go to the court in Jerusalem and testify to what they saw. If the court was satisfied with their testimony, the new month would be proclaimed. Bonfires would be lit on mountaintops so that the whole country would know that a new month had begun.
Interestingly, if for some reason the court didn’t accept a truthful testimony or did accept a false one, it didn’t change the status of the month. The month was when the court said it was — no matter what. That meant that even if the court was technically wrong, they were still legally correct. Even if every holiday of the month was technically on the ‘wrong’ day, God accepted the worship as if it were on the right one.
The Sages teach that this illustrates a profound idea that God wants us to know: We are not subject to time; time is subject to us. God gave us the power to rule over time!
Many people lead lives that are controlled by the clock. Time is their master. But the Bible tells us that we have only one Master – God Almighty. We are the masters of our time.
No one suggests that we can ignore the constraints of time. Time is a reality that we live with in this physical world. But how do we approach our time? Do we use it as the gift that it is, or do we let it use us and abuse us? Do we let it bring us down, depress us, and compress us? Or do we use it to reach our goals, serve our Creator, and contribute to His world?
God wants us to make time work for us and not the other way around. We can do that by taking advantage of the time that we are given and making every moment count. When we make our schedules, we should determine them by God’s will first and the clock’s tick second. In this way, time will serve us, and we will serve the LORD.
|A line MUST be drawn|
|I often wondered how Sodom and Gomorrah became Sodom and Gomorrah.In America, it has come slowly and yet quickly.
The book “The Great Evangelical Disaster” is perhaps the most influential book in my lifetime other than the Bible for its view of history both past and its looking ahead. The level of passion and concern communicated throughout this life-changing book is striking.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer wrote in 1984: It must be understood that the new humanism and the new theology have no concept of true truth – absolute truth. Relativism has triumphed in the church as well as in the university and in society. The true Christian, however, is called upon not to teach truth, but to practice truth in the midst of such relativism. And if we are ever to practice truth, it certainly must be in a day such as ours.
This means, among other things, that after we have done all we can on a personal level, if the liberals in the church persist in their liberalism, they should come under discipline. As I have shown at length in The Church Before the Watching World, the church must remain the faithful bride of Christ. And, as I explained there in detail, the liberals are not faithful to the God of the Bible, the God who is there. Historic Christianity, biblical Christianity, believes that Christianity is not just doctrinal truth, but flaming truth – true to what is there, true to the great final environment, the infinite-personal God. Liberalism, on the other hand, is unfaithfulness; it is spiritual adultery toward the divine Bridegroom. We are involved, therefore, in a matter of loyalty – loyalty not only to the creeds, but to the Scripture, and beyond that to the divine Bridegroom – the infinite-personal divine Bridegroom who is there in an absolute antithesis to his not being there.
We not only believe in the existence of truth, but we believe we have the truth – a truth that has content and can be verbalized (and then can be lived) – a truth we can share with the twentieth-century[twenty-first century world]. Christ and the Bible have given us this truth. Do you think our contemporaries will take us seriously if we do not practice truth? [Taken from The Great Evangelical Disaster, Francis A. Schaeffer, Crossway Books, 1984]
Dr. Schaeffer made a plea for those practicing liberalism to come under discipline. Sadly and predictably, that didn’t happen. Liberalism has roared on like an out of control forest fire. Again, liberalism: spiritual adultery, unfaithfulness toward the divine Bridegroom.
Schaeffer: If truth is indeed truth, it stands in antithesis to nontruth. This must be practiced in both teaching and practical action. A line must be drawn.
When I first became a Christian (in my early twenties), as I read the Bible, I was struck by this line that God laid out – including the Ten Commandments, but far beyond that.
Being caught up into pornography at the time, Scripture drew a needed line for me – as it does for all true believers. For all have fallen short of the glory of God. All have sinned. That’s what the Bible makes clear throughout its 66 books.
Here are a few “line in the sand” verses that helped and help me today.
“I will place no wicked thing before mine eyes.” Psalm 101:3a
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testingyou may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1,2
…Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? …II Corinthians 6:14
A line must be drawn. We need those lines marking the difference between what is right and what is wrong. And, then, we need those lines to be taught, upheld, protected, preached and drawn again and again.
And if they are not, then comes the falling away. To uphold the lines with clarity, with passion, with vigor, and caring is vital.
The truth is increasingly not taught because there is a decline in love for the Truth Giver. Truth gets tossed aside. Absolute truth has been replaced with moral relativism.
When truth is overwhelmed by counter messages, by untruth, false religions, liberalism, entertainment, sports, lesser things, ultimately, a household, a school, a university, a church, a society will pay a great price.
We are paying a great price.
A few questions and my answers:
Q: First, how can you discipline liberalism (spiritual adultery, disloyalty to God and His word) within the church – in denominations outside your own?
Answer: There lies a significant problem. The prophets of old didn’t have much success either. Hearing they do not hear. Seeing they do not see.
Q: Aren’t you over reacting? Are things really that bad?
Answer: This question concerns me as it indicates the accommodations that people make which contributes to the slippery slope.
One of the main gauges of a society that is sliding rapidly down the slippery slope is the gauge of public opinion. President Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion, pro-homosexual President in our nation’s history. Yet, this nation after living under his bully pulpit radical left measures – pressing abortion on demand, same sex marriage, voted this man back into the highest office in the land. And, in recent weeks his approval rating has reached new heights at 53%.
Q: What is the essence of America’s slippage?
Answer: Perhaps the oft-quoted verse from the Beatitudes says it best.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16
Here are but a few evidences. The lines that once helped point us back to God and His loving standard are being cast aside.
Disloyalty to the living God and His Holy Word, i.e.:
A. Christian marrying a non-Christian. In the Old Testament, God passionately warned the Israelites not to intermarry with godless, pagan nations. His concern was that godlessness would permeate the home and the nation. Case in point: When is the last time you heard a sermon regarding this vitally important Biblical principle?
B. Abandoning any concept of right or wrong in divorce and any pretext of dealing with divorce according to the boundaries established in the Scriptures. God hates divorce.
There are Biblical grounds for divorce. The divorce rate for those within the church is similar to that of the world.
C. Not teaching and disciplining the body of Christ regarding Biblical manhood and womanhood. As a result there has been significant ignorance regarding the beauty and wonder of the role differences that God has for men and women. This has fostered a breeding ground for marital breakdown and role confusion, i.e. the feminist movement, homosexuality, the ordination of women further stirring the pot of confusion and its failure to uphold the clear teaching of God’s Word.
D. Recognizing homosexual marriage as legitimate. Turning Scripture on its head to make it say what liberals want it to say rather than what God in His Word says.
E. Rampant worldliness, a failure to live in obedience to the full inerrant authority of the Bible in the crucial moral and social issues of the day just as much as in the area of doctrine. And the failure of the evangelical world to take a clear and distinctively biblical stand on the crucial issues of the day can only be seen as a failure to live under the full authority of God’s Word in the full spectrum of life.
In conclusion, many of us are heart-sick that this nation (our nation) would re-elect an individual so thoroughly anti-Christian (I say this in the context of much documentation including the recent removal of an invitation to Pastor Louie Giglio to pray the Inaugural benediction because Giglio had preached a sermon back in the 1990s suggesting that there was a sinful element to homosexual behavior.
We have gotten this man as our president not because he is so affable, charismatic and such a strong leader, but because the “chickens have come home to roost.”
It is time to re-double our efforts within our households. See: “New Beginnings.” There are no easy answers.
After Absalom and all the men of Israel crossed the Jordan, David counted the troops who were with him, and put over them commanders of thousands and of hundreds. And he divided the troops into three divisions; one was under the command of Joab, another under Abishai, and another under the command of Ittai. Then David said to the people, “I too will surely go out with you.” But the people said, “You shall not go out; for if we are defeated, or if half of us die, it will make no difference, for you are equal to ten thousand of us. It is therefore more important for you to be ready to help us from the city.” David said to them, “I will do what you think best!” So he stood beside the gate, while all the troops marched out by hundreds and by thousands.
David commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, “Deal gently for my sake with the young man, with Absalom!” All the people heard when he gave the commanders this order about Absalom.
So the troops went out into the field against Israel. The battle was fought in the forest of Ephraim. And the soldiers of Israel were defeated there by those who were loyal to David, and the loss of life on that day was great–twenty thousand men. The battle spread over the whole country; and the dense thickets killed more people than were killed by the sword.
Absalom happened to meet the soldiers of David while riding upon his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak, and Absalom’s head caught fast in the oak, and he was hung between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him went on. A certain man saw it and told Joab, “I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” Joab said to the man who told him, “You saw him! Why did you not strike him to the ground? I would have given you ten pieces of silver and a belt.” But the man said to Joab, “If I were to feel the weight of a thousand pieces of silver in my hand, I would not raise my hand against the ruler’s son, for in our hearing he commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘Take care of the young man Absalom.’ If I had treacherously taken his life, nothing would have been hidden from the ruler of Israel, and you yourself would not have tried to save me.” Joab answered, “I will not waste time with you.”
So he took three spears in his hand and drove them into Absalom’s heart, while he was still alive in the midst of the oak. Then Joab said to a negro slave, “Go, tell the ruler of Israel what you have seen.” And the negro bowed before Joab and ran off.
Now David was sitting between the two gates, and when the negro came, he said, “Let my lord receive the good news; Jehovah has punished for you this day all those who rose up against you.'” David said to the negro, “Is it well with the young Absalom?” The negro answered, “May the enemies of my lord and all who rebel against you to harm you be as that young man!”
Then David was very sad and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. As he wept he said, “My son Absalom, my son, O my son Absalom! Oh that I had died for you, Absalom, my son, my son!” And it was reported to Joab, “The ruler of Israel is weeping and mourning for Absalom.” So for all the people the victory that day was turned to mourning, because they heard that David was mourning for his son. Therefore, the people stole away into the city, as people who are ashamed steal away when they have run away in battle. But David covered his face and cried aloud, “My son Absalom, Absalom, my son, my son!”
There are three conditions in which the water in that engine may be. First, the boiler may be full and the water clean and clear; or, secondly, the boiler may not only be full but the water may be hot, very hot, hot enough to scald you, almost boiling; thirdly, it may be just one degree hotter and at the boiling point, giving forth its vapor in clouds of steam, pressing through the valves and driving the mighty piston which turns the wheels and propels the train of cars across the country.
So there are three kinds of Christians. The first we will call cold water Christians, or, perhaps better, clean water Christians.
Secondly, there are hot water Christians. They are almost at the boiling point.
One degree more, we come to the third class of Christians, the boiling water Christians. The difference is a very slight one; it simply takes one reservation out, drops one “if,” eliminates a single touch, and yet it is all the difference in the world. That one degree changes that engine into a motive power, not now a thing to be looked at, but a thing to go.