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Summary: Final sermon for 2007, laying foundation for first series in 2008.

Time to End…Time to Begin

2 Timothy 4:7

Intro: When we moved here a little over a year ago and I got my office set up Mrs. Dorothy Smith peeked in one day and said, “I don’t think I’ve seen a pastor’s study with quite that much character before.”

My response to her was, “You call it character, my wife calls it junk…she’s just glad to have it out of her house!”

Brigitte laughs about some of the stuff I have in there, which includes some souvenirs from Africa, Colorado Avalanche hockey toys, Ronald Reagan keepsakes, my LSU collection, Elwood Blues, the Three Stooges, the gopher from Caddy Shack and this…a WWF belt.

This one kind of throws some people, so I need to explain it.

I served in a previous place that was pretty rough…in fact, it was hard.

It was one of those places where every time I brought up something new I heard “We’ve never done it that way before”, “That isn’t who we are”, “That can’t be Baptist” or “We can’t do that”…without any consideration.

There was a history of conflicts, splits and running off staff…and even though the “problems” would leave, the same thing continued to happen again and again.

Well, after about 2 years of service there I was shopping for Caleb’s birthday and while wondering through the toy department I saw this.

And 2 Timothy 4:7 popped into my head.

And it says…Read verse.

I thought to myself, “Self”…since that is what I call myself; “Self, you’ve been in a pretty good fight, maybe you need a reminder of that.”

So I bought this as a reminder to me that I ran the race, I fought the good fight and I kept the faith.

Transition: This morning we come together at the end of 2007…time to end, and face the start of 2008…a time to begin again.

With that flip of yet another calendar fresh on our minds I want us to take a look at 2 Timothy 4:7 together this morning.

Paul gives us 3 keys to end 2007 on an up note and to start off 2008 on the right foot.

First of all, Paul says we should…

1. Fight the Good Fight

Last night I saw history made.

I was less than a year old in 1972 when the Miami Dolphins did what was considered impossible by finishing an undefeated regular season by winning the Super Bowl.

That record has stood since then…many have tried, but none have gone past 12 or 13 games before getting beat.

Last night the New England Patriots came from behind to beat the NY Football Giants and become the first team to finish a regular season with a record of 16-0…undefeated.

I’ve seen the Bears come close, the Colts come close…so many come close; but none actually do it.

How did they do it?

They didn’t leave anything on the field.

They set a goal of not only finishing strong but finishing on the right side of history and they did not leave anything for anyone to question them.

They fought the good fight.

For us as believers, we are called to fight the good fight, meaning we should not leave anything behind or anything in question in terms of our commitment to God and His call on our lives.

And when it comes to walking with Christ, we can expect a fight…we can expect things to be anything but a walk in the park.

Let’s look at an example in Scripture: Acts 14:1-22.

Paul and Barnabas were at a crucial point.

They had set out months ago on this, the first-of-its-kind missionary trek, to take the gospel to villages and cultures that had never heard of Jesus Christ.

They journeyed to Cyprus out in the middle of the Mediterranean (that was Barnabas’ familiar territory), then north to Asia Minor--Paul’s stomping grounds--where they went from city to city spreading the word.

Now, everything inside them said it was time to stop and return home.

"Let’s do this," one said to the other. "Let’s retrace our steps and revisit the disciples we’ve made on our journey. Let’s offer them some encouragement and assist them in their organization."

Can’t you just hear one saying to the other, "And we need to prepare them for the hardships ahead. We have to tell them the unvarnished fact, that only through much tribulation do we enter the Kingdom."

Between here and Heaven expect a lot of obstacles.

There are no rose-colored glasses allowed in this Kingdom.

When you chose to follow Jesus Christ, you set yourself against the culture around you, the standards of the world, and the way of life of almost everyone you know.

You had been floating downstream; now you are swimming upstream. Expect it to be hard.

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