Sunday, June 19, 2016

Times up.

Now we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Corinthians 5:1.
New Testament Greek language contains interesting ‘pictures’ which give great insights into their meaning and application. In this devotional will be found just such ‘pictures.’  To gaze upon them give us some wonderful glimpses into the hope we have because of Christ.

The apostle Paul is in a Roman prison under sentence of death. His ‘crime’ was that he called Jesus, ‘Lord.’ This was a direct threat to Caesar’s claim to be lord and worthy of worship. Christians would only call Jesus ‘Lord.’ This was considered subversive. As such it was considered a threat to Caesar and the Roman Empire.

In writing to Timothy Paul saw his execution as an act of devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. In 2 Timothy 4:6 he likens what he will undergo as a ‘drink offering.’ In the Jewish sacrificial system this was the finale to the sacrifice of a lamb at the time of First Fruits and the Feast of Weeks. It was for the Lord’s honour alone. As the apostle contemplated leaving this life he used a word applied to a ship being loosed from its moorings. It’s also used for soldiers breaking up an encampment. Within the framework of Paul’s ministry both have meaning. However the ‘picture’ which best suits the situation would be the military one. This is in the light of his confidence that he had completed the good fight. Christians must always bear in mind that we live in a conflict zone. The World is under the dominion of the Devil and his wickedness. Those involved in the Christian ministry are in a front line role. This requires us to be constantly on guard against the enemy’s strategies aimed at destroying us.

The Scriptures reveal various conflicts we will face in the service of the Lord. Sure none of us will face them all or to the same degree. Unfortunately we will have times of ‘hand to hand’ conflict with at least some. Our Commander in Chief has made sure these things are recorded so we will not be taken by surprise or imagine things out of the ordinary have befallen us. The Lord Jesus has listed them to serve as a warning as well as to encourage us that He is with us in the ‘fight of Faith.’
Switching metaphors Paul goes on to liken the ministry to a marathon. He is about to ‘breast the tape’ and appear before the Judge. Being told in advance about certain aspects of the course he had to run, Paul was under no illusions to what was ahead. (Acts 9:15, 16.  26:12–19) Not many of us ‘run’ under such clear guidelines. We are more like ‘running’ under the principles of Proverbs 3:5–6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.’

After all of Paul’s experiences, mistakes, opposition and disappointments, he could lift his hand in a winners salute. His cry is ‘I’ve kept the faith!’ He wasn’t boasting of his own prowess. He was acknowledging the grace and goodness of God that had brought him this victory. What he looked forward to was the garland bestowed by the Judge of the world for running the race. This garland of victory is ‘Righteousness.’ Never will it fade, rust or disappear. This is what awaits us as we breast the tape and leave this arena. We will see our Lord face to face. All the conflict, all the sacrifice, all the tears, all the frustrations will evaporate when we kneel before the Lord. What a privilege we will then comprehend about being His servants.

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