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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Stephen and Ester in "Rocky" pose
The "Rocky" pose on the steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

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"Fight the good fight of the faith" (1 Timothy 6:12).  "We are brutally treated" (1 Corinthians 4:11).

For many years "Rocky" has been among my favorite movies. I like his honest, non-pretentious, and unrefined persona.   When we visited Philadelphia several years ago, Ester and I ran up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and posed as Rocky.

The latest and supposedly final movie in the Rocky series is called "Balboa." Spurred on by a computer-simulated fight that pits Rocky in his prime against the current heavy weight champ, he comes out of retirement to actually train and fight the current champ! And of course the movie essentially ends with the fight itself.

There's a line that has a great application for our spiritual fight, which the Apostle Paul calls "the good fight."  Rocky tells his son, "It's not how hard you hit, but it's how hard you are hit and keep on going that really matters." That's a good principle for boxing and for life in general!

In the first daily text Paul uses the fight as an illustration in encouraging Timothy. He calls it "the good fight."  In choosing to live for Jesus Christ we move from our presumed neutrality in the cosmic battle between God and Satan, good and evil. I use the term "presumed neutrality" since in actuality there is no neutrality in this battle. Jesus said, "He who is not with me is against me" (Luke 11:23).

In the second, less familiar text, Paul is recounting his own experience as a battle-hardened spiritual veteran.  In the NIV he states, "We are brutally treated."  In the KJV the single word "buffeted" is used to describe an aspect of this battle we all face to one degree or another. Other versions use the phrase "roughly treated," "roughly knocked about," and "often beaten."  The Greek word has the sense of "beating with the fist in an insulting manner (like a slave or condemned man)."

Some of you reading this are presently being buffeted. It's as if you are just being pummeled.  For most of us it's not in a literal sense nor is it due to our stand for Christ. But for some it is! One of the most gratifying aspects in this ministry is encouraging the truly persecuted who receive this material and respond.

It may be a physical affliction, a nasty job situation or a burdensome family matter. I recall a few times in my 25 years of full-time pastoral service enduring some pretty painful sheep bites (or perhaps in some instances they were actually bites from wolves in sheep's clothing.)

Rocky's advice is good. I would say it's even Scripturally based!  You may very well be hit hard but keep going my friend, keep pressing on, and keep fighting the good fight. In 2 Timothy 4 Paul summarizes his journey with Christ in his final recorded words, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

He then states a glorious promise that awaits the faithful. Receive this assurance today as you diligently press on for the Lord in the midst of buffeting.  "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."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, I thank You for the reassuring promise that if we dwell in the shelter of the Most High we will also rest in the shadow of the Almighty who is our Refuge, our Fortress and our Strength.  Our ongoing conflict is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  As we clothe ourselves in Your protective spiritual armor we combat the oppressive evil forces that fight against us and we stand victorious as You defeat the enemy of our soul. Merciful Father, make us glad for as many days as we have seen affliction. May the beauty of Your holiness be evident in our conduct as we endure testings and overcome hardships.  Amen.

(Prayer inspired by Psalm 90 and Ephesians 6)

Context of today's second daily text.

As we prepared today's message two songs came to mind that reinforce today's message.
  • The first is a song titled Press On by Selah, one of Brooksyne's favorite groups. This is our prayer for each reader!
  • The second is an old song we recall from the eighties made popular by the Imperials titled, Praise the Lord

Bob and Linda
Bob and Linda have been our friends for some twenty years. We came to know them when they were  members in the church my brother pastored many years ago. They have a winsome personality and vibrant walk with the Lord that touches many lives. They're now retired but still very active in nursing home ministry in the Charlotte NC area. We considered Bob as we prepared today's message. Ever since we have known him he's endured a physical affliction (Tinnitus) which causes a persistent ringing in his ears often leading to severe headaches.  He has sought healing from the Lord and through medical care but the condition has remained a burden for him to bear. He does so with faith and resolve.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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