Summary: It’s easy to start a Bible study; to start going back to church, to start a daily prayer time; the thing we must focus on is being faithful.
Intro: In a church in the Deep South where the preaching style was a “talk back” sort of style. The pastor was getting the congregation exited about their prospective future.
The preacher said, “this church is like a crippled man who needs to get up and walk under the power of Jesus.”
The congregation replied, “let it walk preacher, let it walk.”
Then the preacher said, “This church like Elijah on Mount Carmel has got to run.”
The congregation replied, “let it run preacher, let it run.”
Then the preacher said, “This church has got to mount up on wings like eagles and fly.”
The congregation replied with enthusiasm, “let it fly preacher, let it fly.”
Then the preacher added, “Now if this church is going to fly it’s going to take MONEY.”
The congregation replied with lack of enthusiasm, “let it walk preacher, let it walk.”
Isn’t it amazing how one word, jester, or expression can change the whole direction of a mood? Yes, preacher we want it! But not if it’s going to cost us, not if it’s going to take discipline or sacrifice.
Athletes don’t get medals and trophies for training hard; they only get them for winning in competition. And usually this only comes by discipline and training. It’s easy to start something difficult, but not so easy to finish, to see something through to completion. Everyday people are starting new exercise programs, diets, and all sorts of things that are good for them. But very few truly stick with things that take discipline and hard work.
The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to finish well. God is not as concerned with us starting something spiritually enriching as He is with us being faithful in our relationship with Him. It’s easy to start a Bible study; to start going back to church, to start a daily prayer time, the difficult thing is being faithful day-in and day-out. I consider 2 Timothy 4:7 to be Paul’s epitaph; which is all about finishing well.
2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Unlike the popular song Paul did it God’s way. A narrow way, marked by pain, disappointment, heartache and death to self. A life lived abandoned to God, a life we respect, admire, and like to see. But do we want to live our life in such a manner? Are you inspired by the life of Paul? Or are you convicted? I think if most of us were honest we’re more convicted than inspired. But that needs to change, today we must ask the Holy Spirit to search our hearts, and inspire us to live a life worthy of the name Christian.
THINGS THAT WILL KEEP US FOCUSED:
1. AN AWARNESS OF THE ENORMTY OF THE CHALLENGE. Will keep us from loosing heart. When our task gets to small we loose interest, heart, we loose focus. Our lives goes a drift when all we focus on is inward.
2. THE REALIZATION OF THE DEBT. We have received mercy. Jesus has given our lives direction. We don’t have a profession to practice; we have a debt to discharge. It cost Jesus His life. We should be compelled by the love of Christ to serve.
(V.13) IN THUSIASTIC DETERMINATION GROWS OUT OF BEING DELIEVERED BY THE LORD. Psalms 116:10 is quoted and the Psalmist is speaking of being delivered out of his afflictions.
Ps 116:8-10 For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living. I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted."
When you get an extension of life you get a new appreciation of life. Those who where at ground zero on 9-11 and lived to tell about it all seem to feel they have a new lease on life. We take way too much for granted and one thing September the eleventh should teach all of us is that life is very fragile. The only way any of us can even take a breath is as a result of God’s grace and mercy. Those who survived at ground zero have just come to know in a very real way that life is a gift not a right.
(V.14) INTHUSIASTIC DETERMINATION is intensified when we focus on our resurrection. Paul had an amazing ability to look past the physical to the spiritual. You’ve heard the saying of seeing everything through “rose colored glasses”. Well Paul saw everything through heavenly perspective glasses. No matter what he was up against he always weighed out its eternal value. With everything he did everywhere he went, and all he talked to, he always was thinking about eternal life and how it tied into what he was doing.