Fight, Finish Strong and Keep your Faith [pt3] By Pastor Shari Stephens 0

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  II Timothy 4:7

Such a powerful statement we have been studying.  Now we are going to look at another important component of what Paul said, “He kept the faith.”

The thought that Paul was sharing was that it was actually possible for him to have given up the faith, to have let it go, to let it slip through his fingers and go back to living a life without a living, active faith. Many of us take this for granted and assume that since we first believed, we will some how, just always “believe.”  We fail to realize that the cares of this life, the struggles, difficulties and the disappointments are all coming after our faith.  Everything in life is conspiring to steal our faith away.  It is the thing that is most valuable to us.  By our faith we actually please God.

I have often though about the scripture where Jesus says,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21-23

Did these people start out in faith?  Did they initially love the Lord and trust in Him?  Did the cares of this life begin to dull out their faith and trust in the Lord?  Did they cease to have a living relationship with him instead replacing it with religion and routine?  Whether that is the case or not, it deserves our thoughts on the matter.

We must strive to keep the faith, hold fast to it. Instead of our faith being worn down, it should be being build up to something unmovable and unshakeable.  Something that drives us in our love and trust of God.  Something that ever keeps us pleasing God.

We know a bit of the struggles that Paul faced, and yet he says he “kept the faith”. We often struggle with simple things like, not getting the big bonus you expected or the promotion on the job.  Maybe we don’t understand why things are how they are in your life.  Let’s consider Paul’s life, II Corinthians 11:23-29 as a powerful reminder,

“I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?”

And yet, “I have kept the faith”.  How many times do we shudder and stumble at much easier things than these?  Many of us, on the first suggestion of a literal beating, would have assumed God abandoned us and went on to live faithless, bitter lives.  Yet Paul “kept the faith!”

Be encouraged today, be committed, be steadfast and unmovable.  Aim, in all things, to keep the faith. Live a life worthy of your calling.  Live as warriors and champions of the faith instead of helpless victims, or struggling children without a father who loves you.  Live victorious, fight, finish strong and keep the faith!

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