download (1)I would like to close out the year with a two-part message, which will be rooted in these words from the apostle Paul to Timothy:

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, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

I believe you and I can use three phrases Paul employed to summarize all that God had done in his life after his Damascus Road experience to evaluate how well 2014 went for us. Today we’ll look at the first two of these phrases; on New Year’s Eve, we’ll concentrate on the final one.

I have fought the good fight . . .

If Paul had said “I have fought A good fight” he could have been speaking about any challenge or trial he had encountered. However, the Spirit of God moved him to speak of “THE good fight,” and the only “good fight” for you and me is the one God has called us into. God turned Paul’s life upside-down when He changed Saul into Paul; instead of the violent persecutor of the church, Paul was now the preacher and pastor of the church. Paul did indeed fight the good fight God had called him to fight.

I have finished the race . . .

Paul was fond of comparing his life to a race. Make no mistake: he was not speaking of a short sprint, but rather a marathon. Paul lived a life that was reflective of the truth that He who had begun a good work in him would absolutely complete it. Yet at the same time, Paul knew that he must to continue, by God’s grace, to prayerfully put one foot in front of the other foot every step of the way to the finish line.

So . . . as we draw near to the end of 2014, take some time to consider both of these phrases: “I have fought the good fight . . . I have finished the race.” Can the same be said of you? Was 2014 marked by fighting the good fight? Are you progressing steadily, in the strength of the Almighty, through the race He has set before you?

Please remember, just as Paul did, that we are not talking about fighting the good fight and finishing the 2014 race perfectly. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul freely confessed that he was “the worst” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Everything we do we do imperfectly. But here is the question we should honestly ask and answer: Did I make God’s plan in my life my primary passion and pursuit throughout 2014?

Give that some thought . . . and we’ll dig a little deeper on New Year’s Eve.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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