The Deathbed Perspective: Part 1 Fight the Good Fight

Read and reflect on 2 Timothy 4:6–8.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV)

Call me crazy, but I tend to make important life decisions from what I call “the deathbed perspective.” I imagine myself on my deathbed, looking back on my life. At the end of my earthly sojourn, would I regret this decision or rejoice I chose to go that route?

Of course, we know when faced with a decision, we can always ask God for wisdom, and He’ll oblige (James 1:5). Perhaps this is God’s way of giving me that wisdom, because from the deathbed perspective, my priorities are clear, and I know the way I should take. So far, I’ve never regretted a decision made from the deathbed perspective.

In his second letter to the young pastor Timothy, the apostle Paul also had a deathbed perspective—and it truly was his deathbed. He was in his last days on earth—imprisoned in a cold dungeon, chained like a common criminal, alone, as he awaited his martyrdom.

Here he penned the words I told my husband I wanted on my tombstone: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

But those aren’t just words to die by—they’re words to live by.

This week we’re going to look at the first part of that verse: I have fought the good fight.

This tells me the Christian life is a battleground not a playground. The life of faith is a fight because faith doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t grow easily.

As believers we are in a war with God’s infernal enemy, and we do battle daily in three arenas of warfare: the world, the flesh, and the devil (yes, he does exist).

The world is the spirit of the age, the anti-Christ attitude, the realm of the God’s enemy. Paul accurately described the spirit of the age in his letter to Timothy (read 2 Timothy 3:1–5).

The second arena is the flesh—our human, or carnal, nature, prone to sin, which is constantly at war with our spiritual nature (John 3:3; Romans 7 & 8; 1 Corinthians 2:6–14). Just look at the temptations to sin you face daily. This war will rage until our spirits are freed from our earthly bodies. 

The third arena is the devil. When you receive Jesus as your Savior, you immediately switch sides in a war that goes back to Lucifer’s rebellion in heaven (Isaiah 14:12–15; Ezekiel 28:11–19; Luke 10:18). The enemy has been prowling around ever since, seeking the destruction of believers (1 Peter 5:8).

But we are not left without weapons.

First, put on your armor (Ephesians 6:10–18). After all, why would the Word advise us to put on our armor if we weren’t to do battle?

Second, pray. A praying Christian terrifies the enemy.

Third, know God’s Word. It is your sword (Ephesians 6:17). Learn to use it and use it often and well.

Fourth, resist. The Word tells us to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9).

Fifth, remember that “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”(1 John 4:4).

Finally, remember the war is already won. It was won when the Son of God died in your place on a Roman cross then burst out of a sealed tomb three days later. Don’t believe me? Read Revelation.

I know, there are times you feel anything but a victor. You feel beaten, weak, small, forgotten, and alone.

But you’re not. Remember these verses:

When you feel beaten: You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37).

When you feel weak: His grace is all you need (2 Corinthians 12:9). Christ living in you gives you strength (Philippians 4:13).

When you feel small: You are loved by the God who created the universe (Psalm 36:5). You are the apple of His eye (Psalm 17:8). You are engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16). You are precious to Him (Isaiah 43:4).

When you feel forgotten and alone: He will never forget you (Isaiah 49:15). He will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). His Spirit lives in you (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Onward and upward, soldier. Keep fighting the good fight.

Remind me, Father God, I’m in this world not to frolic but to fight the good fight of faith. Help me to use my weapons often and well. Amen.

NOTE: Next week, we’ll look at the second part of that verse: “I have finished the race.”

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Searching for Signal

You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. —Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV

I was watching a baseball game on television one rainy evening when the picture began breaking up.  The screen went black, and white letters appeared across the bottom: “Searching for satellite signal. Please stand by.”

After a half hour of trying to keep up with the score on a fragmented, silent screen, I gave up and went to bed. The next day, however, the reception wasn’t any better, but then again, neither was the weather. 

“I don’t remember the reception ever being this bad,” I complained to my husband.

“Maybe I didn’t angle the dish right,” he said.

At the time we were siding our house, and he’d taken the dish off the side of the house and attached it, facing the southern sky, to a post in the ground.

He pulled out the instruction manual and flipped through until he came to the section on adjusting the dish. Fifteen minutes later, we had a clear picture. Although the dish had been pointed in the right direction, it had to be at a precise angle to receive the signal from the sending satellite.

Sometimes the storms of life interfere with the signals God sends me. Or sometimes, even though I’m facing the right direction, I’m not receiving what He’s telling me because I have the wrong angle. That “angle” could be selfishness, hurt feelings, a touch of envy or jealousy, or a simmering anger. Maybe I’m nursing a grudge and harboring unforgiveness. Perhaps my desires are becoming worldly, or I’m pursuing something I know is not in God’s will for me.

Whatever the interference—whether outside of my control, such as a storm, or within my control, such as my own rebelliousness—it causes me to lose contact with a God who promises never to leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6,8; Hebrews 13:5).

So how do I adjust my angle so that I’m once again getting a clear picture?

First I pray, confessing my willfulness and sin. Or, if a life-storm is the problem, I ask God to guide me through it, protect me, and strengthen me.

Then I read His Word. While I don’t play “Bible roulette,” picking verses at random, God’s Holy Spirit often brings to mind certain portions of Scripture that address my beleaguered spirit. Frequently the day’s scheduled reading is just what I need. His Word truly is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105), “full of living power, sharper than the sharpest knife,” cutting deep into my innermost thoughts and desires, revealing to me what I really am (Hebrews 4:12).

Just reading His Word isn’t enough, however. I must meditate on it, think of how it relates to me, how to apply what I’ve read to my own situation. Then I pray again, asking God to forgive me, help me, and guide me.

Unlike my satellite dish, my angle needs adjusted every day, even moment by moment. But I know, whether storms are raging outside or inside, if I seek God with all my heart, He has promised I will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Only then will I have a clear picture.

Thank You, God, that You are never far away. Why, You’re as close as the mention of Your name! Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 63:1–8.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.