Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How To Avoid A Shipwreck

The Christian walk is not something that can be taken out every now and then and dusted off. It is a daily work out as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to put God's will, his Word, into effect in our living. It is a full time occupation which effects every ounce of everything we do, think and claim to be. We have to be active participants, willingly setting aside everything our flesh desires and giving permission to our spirit to take the lead. It is not always easy because the desires of our flesh can be pretty strong.

Apostle Paul wrote some encouragement to his young friend Timothy. He had left Timothy responsible for the ministry in Asia Minor while he visited the churches in Macedonia. What was happening in Asia Minor was a major thing, the most fruitful ministry Paul had been involved in. This was quite the task for Timothy but I guess Paul saw a mighty work in this young man. What he wrote to him was more than encouragement, he also gave him instructions. Paul explained it this way:

"Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith." (1 Timothy 1:18-19)

That's the thing we want to avoid, a shipwrecked faith, but that is exactly what will happen if we do not realize our walk with Jesus is a daily active motivation of our living. Consider the three things Paul touched on with his instructions.

First he refers to "fight the good fight". That was a theme for Paul and in his last letter he every wrote he proclaimed that he had finished his race and fought the good fight. Paul knew our lives are a lives of mission. We weren't left here to do whatever we want to do. We aren't here for our pleasure. We aren't here to get rich and fill our lives with plenty of toys. We were saved and then sent out to make disciples, to reveal God's glory to the nations. We are active co-workers with Christ Jesus in bringing his light to those who are lost in darkness. We may all have different functions in the body put when it comes to missions we all have the same purpose, to share the Good News with the world. This is fighting the "good fight", being excellent witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ.

Second he refers to "holding on to faith". This has to be a daily pursuit where we encourage ourselves, in the Lord, in the Word, in the Spirit, in each other. This walk is not easy when you realize the character of Christ is in direct contrast to this world. It will cause some friction and difficulty. There is also the desires of our own flesh that must constantly be kept in check, kept under our feet and never allowed to have any control. On top of that we have any schemes of the enemy to derail as many of the saints as possible. It is warfare down here and too many people aren't aware of it. It is only by renewing ourselves every day through worship, Bible study, prayer and fellowship with fellow sojourners that we are able to remain strong, holding on to the faith that has been held out to us. We cannot go forward without faith because the Word tells us that anything that does not come from faith is sin. There is a shipwreck right there.

The third thing apostle Paul refers to is "a good conscience". I wish I could say that we are all perfect but we still have a weakness until the day of the Lord's return and that is our flesh. We have been given authority over this flesh but once in a while we let our guard down and we fail. It doesn't have to be in a major way, but anything that offends God is a sin. However, we are housed in this cocoon of God's grace so anything we do and deal with God, confessing and seeking his forgiveness, is dealt with and we are released from. It does not separate us from God unless it is something we hold on to, try to hide from him, refuse to confess. Sin that we do not deal with will separate us from God. We must maintain a clear conscience, always dealing with our sins with him, no matter the shame we feel in it. His grace is incredible and I am so thankful in my daily walk that I know if I fail and turn to him the matter is quickly dealt with. His grace is no excuse to sin but if it happens his grace is more than sufficient. 

These are the areas we need to concentrate on in our daily walk, pushing ahead with the mission, holding on to our faith, and maintaining a good conscience. These three need daily attention. Once a week will not do, so you can forget about once a month or once a year. We are not part-time warriors. We are not part-time walkers. We are not part-time friends with Jesus Christ. It is all or nothing. It is daily or we end up shipwrecked on the rocks. Don't reject these things and end up destroyed by the enemy of your soul.
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