I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness... 2 Timothy 4:7 For those of you who are weary, tired, about to give up, you can't take it anymore. Well, I have good news for you. Paul the writer of a good part of the old testament felt the same way. Paul knew that his time was short, he was finished. His head wasn't quite on the chopping block but he knew he was headed that way. But Paul isn't talking about retirement here, he is talking about finishing the race of life strong. You can't live your life based on the past failures, or even accomplishments. Paul suffered through prison, severe beatings, shipwrecked, naked, hunger, thirst, cold and weariness unto death. But Paul didn't define his life on what happened to him, but by how he "kept the faith", he never stopped living for the Lord. When you live your life looking in the rear view mirror you will never see what God has in front of you. You will never know when to turn down a road because you would of already passed it. When you drive you keep your eyes on the road, you can't keep focus on everything happening around you, just like we live our daily lives, but we aren't defined by them. When you serve God faithfully, you are not defined by your past, but by how you keep running and pursuing Jesus. Your best is always ahead and not behind you, it's not what you did (or didn't do) in the past. When you read a good book, you don't go back and read previous pages, you keep reading to see what happens next, to see how it ends. Our "crown of righteousness" is the reward at the finish. It's a victory crown for those who finished. Life is a race that can't be run by looking backwards, only forwards. Keep running and looking forward to the finish line. Your crown is not too far ahead.
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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life ? Matthew 6:25-27
Jesus asked all these questions to the crowd He was teaching. It's interesting that 2000 years later the same thing is relevant. Did you know that during this pandemic anxiety medications have increased over 30%? And alcohol sales are up more than 25%. That screams fear and worry to me because so many people are self-medicating. We all have something we worry about. In fact Jesus said in John 13 that if you are breathing you will have troubles (worries) in this world. But, then He says, don't worry, I have overcome the world. Even Jesus had worry, like when He was in the garden before He was arrested. Jesus isn't saying these things aren't important, He is saying, if nature knows I will take care of them, But you are made in my image, don't you think I will provide your needs (not wants) also?
When you worry it's like standing in place and spinning around and around. The more you worry the more you spin. Sooner or later you collapse in dizziness, and you haven't gone anywhere, or accomplished anything but get dizzy. But when we focus on The Provider and not the provision, we will always lack for nothing. I like when Jesus says "and yet" because He means and yet, your bank account is empty, and yet, the rent is due, and yet, you are unemployed, and yet, everyone told me I was a failure, and yet, there is a pandemic happening!
When hurricane delta blew in last weekend with all the wind and rain I noticed something. The birds were still singing in the morning and flying around. The squirrels were still gathering for the winter. The storm had no affect on them. Whatever you spend your money, time and effort on determines your priorities. Just like your peace is determined on what you focus on. Jesus is saying take a lesson from the birds and the grass in the field. It may blow in the wind, but it will never be uprooted. So, the question is, where are you rooted? and how long are your roots? When you seek Him (The Kingdom of God) first, all these things (worries) will come to pass. When you start with God you end with God. When you start with worry, concern, fear, anxiety, you just spin and spin and end up with being dizzy and no peace. Don't worry, be Happy, He's Got This!!!
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:14-15
Question: If you asked the devil what he thinks of you, what do you think he would say? Is he proud of you, does he think you are ok some of the time? Or does he hate and despise you?
Another question: Would you call yourself a Christian which is defined as a follower of Christ? Most people in the US would. In fact, a poll was recently taken and 76% said that they are.
Jesus is saying here that when you are my follower you illuminate the world around you so that everyone knows you are my follower. It is so recognizable that it can't be hidden, and shouldn't be hidden. In fact it should be flaunted and put on a stand so that it lights up everywhere and everything in this dark and wicked world. In fact this is what causes others (including the devil) to know who you belong to.
The smallest amount of light can be seen in complete darkness. Darkness will never overcome light, light will ALWAYS overcome darkness. Jesus is calling you light in this dark world. Not that you become it after a certain time of following Him. He is saying you have a responsibility as someone who calls themselves a "Christian" to be the light.
One more question for you. If you asked God what does He think of you, what would He say? Would He call you a true follower of Him? Would He say you are just OK? BTW, OK kind of means you are lukewarm and not on fire for Him. There are a lot of people who think OK will get them into heaven. There are a lot of people who think they are a "good person" and will make it to heaven. Christ likeness not goodness causes you to hear well done my good and faithful servant.
A disciple of Christ means you abandon everything and make Him the air you breathe, the ground you walk on, and the food and water you crave. He then supplies all your needs and wants, because they become what He desires for you, to be perfected and purposeful.
And it's not about going to church, it's about going to meet Him. It's not about singing a hymn, but about worshiping Him. Be an influential light today in this dark and wicked world. Because that is who Jesus said you are, If you call yourself a Christian!
Pastor Michael Garcia
Overseer and Pastor at First Assembly HOEN