August 17, 2020
1 Timothy 6:11-15
But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.  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.  In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
New International Version (NIV)
Dogs run freely in Hershey Park these days.  As you might expect, sometimes dogs, off-leash encounter each other and decide to fight.  When I see fights, they don’t usually last long, but honestly, they make me anxious.  I just hope everyone is ok.  One dog, in particular, keeps getting into fights.  Truthfully, I have never seen him win.  It reminds me of the old story of the man whose dog always lost fights explaining it to a friend.  “He’s a pretty good fighter, but he struggles to choose the right opponents.” 

That is the struggle isn’t it?  Is there anything for which we would and should fight?  Understand, somebody somewhere wants to fight with us.  It is inevitable in this vale of tears that we will face struggles and challenges.  But how do we decide whether something is worthy of our time, energy and lives?  I have known pugilistic pastors who loved to quarrel.  Chuck Colson told of a church where the members offered each other the right fist of fellowship. 

Paul used sports analogies like running and boxing to speak of the work of the gospel.  In his first letter to Timothy he tells him to fight the good fight of faith.  Fleeing from the pursuit of wealth, Timothy lives his life in God’s sight.  Jesus, our life-giving Savior invites us to confess our faith in him.  In a first-century world where Roman emperors would soon condemn Christians to death, Paul urges Timothy to keep fighting for the gospel. 

It is hard for me to remember a more rancorous time in our world.  People are swinging words like bludgeons to subdue their enemies.  I fear that water has gotten into our boat.  We are quick to blame others who disagree with us.  Social media becomes our preferred venue for expressing our anxiety and anger.  We can vilify others electronically bloodlessly.  No harm, no foul.  Just words.  But whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” had never met the right fist of Facebook.  My friends may fight, but I have decided I am not going to watch. 

Some battles are worth fighting, but not all.  In the qualifications of pastors, right there with faithful to his wife and not given to drunkenness are these words, “Not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome.”  While we fight the good fight of faith, let’s be careful not to hit each other.  Other believers who disagree with us are not the enemy.  Paul wrote in another letter, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood.”  I know for sure I am not supposed to fight my brothers and sisters in Christ with posts, aggressive or passive-aggressive.  How about you?  When believers beat each other up publicly on-line, we all lose, because we have chosen the wrong opponents.

Pray with me:         
Father, quiet our hearts today.  Bind our wounds and the wounds we have caused.  Help us to bless those who harm us and to pray for those who attack us.  Make us like Jesus who did not open his mouth as they drove him to Calvary.  Give us grace to follow you, step by step. In Jesus name.  Amen.  
Join us in memorizing the Word.  Scripture for this week:    
Matthew 6:25-26
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Our 2020 Every Day with Jesus readings will follow the Foundations New Testament reading plan.  Copies of the reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download your copy at REPLICATE.ORG 
We would love for you to join us as we read the New Testament through this year, five chapters a week.  In addition I will continue my long-standing practice of reading one Psalm a day through the year.  Use Robby Gallaty’s H. E. A. R. plan to study each chapter (also found at REPLICATE.ORG). Highlight verses which speak to you, explain what they mean in your own words in a journal, apply them to your own life, then respond by doing what God tells you to do.  

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