Cross The Finish Line

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We are going to look at a lot of verses. Originally I planned to look at even more. But I have this really neat tool in my Bible software that gives me a word count and estimated time of presentation. And there’s no way we would have made it. lol.
So you should be thankful for technology today too. :)
In 1972 NASA launched Pioneer 10. It’s mission was to take pictures of Jupiter and it’s moons, while sending back data on the atmosphere, magnetic field, and radiation. At the time this was a very ambitious plan.
However, Pioneer 10 far exceeded expectations. Jupiter’s gravity sped the little satellite up and propelled it toward the edge of the solar system. At 1B mi from the sun it passed Saturn, at 2B it passed Uranus, Neptune at almost 3B, Pluto at almost 4B. In 1997 after 25 years it was nearly 6B from the sun.
The amazing thing is that all the data recorded from this journey was sent back to earth by an 8 watt transmitter. About as much power as a night light. Contact was lost with Pioneer 10 on Jan. 3, 2003 when the transmitter ran out of power.
8-watts seems like too little to accomplish much. Yet it sent out 31 years worth of data.
We look at ourselves. Our abilities, talents, and gifts, and we think that not much can be done with what we offer.
“I’ve only got an 8 watt potential.”
God says, “you give me that 8 watts and stand back. I’m going to do incredible things.”
God can use us no matter how little or how much ability we have.
However, He cannot use us if we give up. If we quit our usefulness ends.
I want to talk to you this morning about crossing the finish line.
All of us are going to cross the finish line. That we have no control of. What we can control is how we cross it.
A good runner is going to sprint across the finish line. I compare this to a believer who is called home while still faithfully serving Christ.
When I am called home to be with Jesus, whether by rapture or by death, I want to be sprinting. I want my arms to still be pumping, my legs to be kicking.
If that is our desire this morning, we need to follow the example of Paul.
Paul gives us three requirements if we are to cross the finish line well.
I want to finish well because…
A “well done” awaits those who sprint across the finish line.
Is that what you want to hear? I do. And so, three requirements.
Requirement #1…

1. Fight v. 7a

Fighting a good fight acknowledges the possibility of fighting poorly.
I would suggest that we fight poorly when we do not live in constant awareness of the battle.
It is impossible to fight a fight you don’t know you are in.
We need to know there is a battle.
Once we are aware of the fight, we must fight well.
To do that, to fight the good fight, three tactics are required.
Tactic #1. To fight the good fight we must…

a. Know our enemy

Who are we fighting?
This is an essential question we must answer.
In many sporting events the teams or competitors learn all they can of the opponent before the event.
Success or failure can often ride on our knowledge of our enemy.
We must know our enemy.
To do that I want to go to three passages.
First, (S).
Ephesians 6:12 NKJV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The battle we are fighting is not against physical foes.
We are not battling politicians, laws, or societal rules. We are fighting the forces of darkness!
Do not make the mistake of fighting the wrong battle.
Please understand, I am not saying we need to avoid politicians or politics. I am saying that we must bear in mind one crucial fact.
The hope and change our world needs cannot be legislated.
True hope and lasting transformation is only found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We are fighting a spiritual battle against the spiritual forces of darkness.
Make no mistake, the enemy of our souls is out to destroy you and me.
That is clearly displayed in our second passage. (S).
1 Peter 5:8 NKJV
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Notice how personal this is. “Your adversary”.
He knows you and me. Knows our weaknesses and strengths. Knows how to trip us up. If we are not careful and vigilant, we will be devoured.
Part of knowing our enemy is knowing that his goal, his desire, is our destruction.
The counterfeits he offers promise to fulfil our desires, promise to complete us, but they destroy.
Our enemy is a roaring lion. But he doesn’t look like one.
Turn with me to our third passage. (p. 1319).
(p. 1319)
2 Corinthians 11:12–15 NKJV
But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
Satan, our enemy, appears like an angel of light. Those on his side often appear as if they were the apostles of Christ Himself!
Last week we discussed the need for discernment. This is why. False teachers are known by the content of their message.
We cannot fight the good fight if we do not know our enemy.
Our enemy is Satan. He will appear to be a powerful proclaimer of Christ, but he is a destroyer.
Know the enemy.
Tactic #2. To fight the good fight we must…

b. Know our weapons

Turn back one page in 2 Corinthians. (p. 1318).
(p. 1318)
2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV
For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,
Three truths about our weapons.
1 - They are spiritual.
We do not fight with physical weapons. Why not? Because we are not fighting a physical foe.
2 - They are powerful.
Very important qualifier here. They are mighty “in God”. Any use of our weapons apart from God’s will results in weakness.
3 - They are useful.
They pull down strongholds! What strongholds? The next verse declares that our spiritual weapons destroy the arguments of those apart from God!
Turn with me to (p. 1347).
(p. 1347)
Ephesians 6:12–20 NKJV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
These are our weapons.
Truth. Righteousness. The Gospel. Faith. Salvation. Scripture. Prayer.
Truth holds everything together like a belt. We are to speak the truth in love, and it is the truth that sets us free.
Righteousness defends our hearts. We have been given the righteousness of Christ! When Satan tries to attack our hearts with fear, remember who you belong to!
The Gospel is the firm foundation upon which we stand. It is the power of God for salvation. It is simple. It is received with childlike faith.
Faith is a shield that defends us when Satan attacks with doubt and fear. Our trust in what God has said defends us!
Salvation guards our minds. Satan attacks with temptation, with everything he has. He throws his best at our minds. But the reality that we are saved by grace through faith defends us!
Scripture. Scripture is our offensive and defensive weapon. It answers Satan’s attacks. It defends us, strengthens us, and empowers us.
Prayer aligns our wills with God’s. It unburdens our hearts of personal cares and burdens our hearts with the concerns of others.
All of these weapons have been given to us to do battle against the forces of darkness. However, we must step up and get into the fight!
Failure to know our weapons results in defeat.
Know the enemy. Know the weapons.
Tactic #3. To fight the good fight we must…

c. Know our battlefield

We’ve touched on it already but we need to deal with it a little bit more.
The primary battlefield for the child of God is located in our minds.
I want to demonstrate this by taking us to three passages.
First, (p. 1328).
(p. 1328)
2 Corinthians 3:14 NKJV
But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.
Their minds are blinded. The question is, who blinded them?
Look at the next chapter. (p. 1328).
(p. 1328)
2 Corinthians 4:4 NKJV
whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
The god of this age, Satan, blinds minds. This is his battlefield!
This is where he engaged Eve in the garden. He got her to question, to doubt, and ultimately to reject God’s Word!
Satan wants to get us to doubt just as he did Eve!
What do we do?
Let’s return to (p. 1333).
(p. 1333)
2 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV
casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
The key there is to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. If we don’t know how Christ would want us to think, we can’t keep our thoughts there!
Philippians tells to think about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy ()!
If it doesn’t meet that standard, don’t think about it. Just stop it.
Satan attacks our minds. Fill them with Scripture.
Know the enemy. Know the weapons. Know the battlefield.
That is what is required for us to fight the good fight. For us to cross that finish line still sprinting for Jesus we must fight.
Requirement #2…

2. Finish v. 7b

Have you ever had a project you didn’t finish? I wish I could say no. But I am actually pretty bad at getting projects done.
We have several things sitting in our garage and house that I want to get to, I plan to get to, but I just don’t.
They sit there and remind me of my failure to finish.
If you were to type “finish the race” into google or youtube, you would find videos and pictures of men and women, not only finishing the race themselves, but helping others to finish.
Because finishing the race is kind of the whole point.
But sometimes, we just feel like quitting.
In fact, we know others who have and they seem happier!
Yet Paul’s statement here is a challenge to us. Paul says he has finished his race. The implication for Timothy is that he has not.
Timothy, you still have a race to run. Get to it!
I believe that Paul would say the same thing to us if he were here today.
Beloved, we have a race to run. Let’s sprint across the finish line.
To finish the race we must take three actions. Action #1…

a. Keep running

I admit, this seems obvious. However, if you have ever ran a significant distance, you know that there comes a point when continuing seems impossible.
If we are going to keep running when it seems impossible, there are some things we need to remember.
First and foremost… Remember the goal. tells us to run for the prize.
Remember the goal - run to obtain.
We are not running aimlessly. This is not a panicked flight for our lives. We are running with purpose. We want to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
We are not running aimlessly. This is not a panicked flight for our lives. We are running with purpose. We want to get the prize.
Turn to (p. 1350).
(p. 1350).
Philippians 3:12–14 NKJV
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The prize we are running for is eternal life with Christ! It is being called home and being told “well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord.” That is what we are running for.
The prize is not success in this life, though we may have it. The prize is not happiness, fulfillment, or contentment in this life, though we may be blessed with those things.
The prize is the very presence of our Savior! Don’t lose sight of the prize. Remember the goal.
Secondly, Remember the witnesses. (S).
Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Again we are reminded that the presence of Christ is our goal.
We have faithful men and women who have gone before us. They have served, ministered, and died for Christ! We want to join their ranks. Therefore, we run with endurance. We learn from their examples. And we keep our eyes on Jesus.
Remember the goal. Remember the witnesses.
Finally, Remember the source. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet him. How was he able to finish the race?
Because he didn’t run in his own strength. (S).
2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
We run in the power of Christ! His grace is sufficient!
When the race seems impossible, look to the source of strength.
Remember that He gives all the strength necessary to sprint across the finish line.
Keep running. Action #2…
Action #2…

b. Keep training

In we are told to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ. Growth is continual.
A professional runner, or any athlete for that matter, knows that you don’t only run on the day of the competition.
Peak performance is reached by practice and training.
The spiritual race is no different. Only running the race one or two days a week will not enable you to run well.
Daily training is necessary for peak performance.
We want to give our best to Christ! So we train daily.
says… (S).
Hebrews 5:14 NKJV
But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
Discernment and growth come “by reason of use”.
Training is required for us to grow and be effective in our service for Christ.
Keep running. Keep training. Action #3…

c. Keep fueling

I try to work out on a regular basis. I haven’t been too successful lately, but I try.
As I have learned more about regular exercise I have discovered the necessity of giving my body the correct fuel so that it can function more effectively.
There has been a large push in our culture towards exercise. Along with that has come a virtual explosion in the number of exercise supplements available (S). There are whole stores dedicated to it!
My point is this. Physically we know that our bodies need proper fuel. The same thing is true spiritually.
1 Peter 2:2 NKJV
as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,
It is the Word of God that brings growth!
tells us that the Word washes, cleanses, and sanctifies.
If we are going to run well, we must give our bodies proper fuel!
I’m gonna be real blunt here. Some of us are trying to run while starving our bodies. And beloved, I’m talking about myself.
I’ll be honest with you. Holidays are hard. I sleep in, my schedule is different. And it seems that my time in the Word is what gets neglected.
Don’t run with a starving body. Give your spiritual body the fuel it needs.
Feed on the Word of God.
Keep running, keep training, and keep fueling.
We want to sprint across the finish line. To do that we must fight the good fight and we must finish the course.
Requirement #3…

3. Fulfill v. 7c

“I have kept the faith.”
In v. 5 of this same chapter, Paul told Timothy to fulfill his ministry. Paul did.
We cannot keep the faith, we cannot fulfill our ministry if we give up.
If we are going to keep the faith as Paul did, we first must have the faith. We must have the faith to keep it.
So I have to ask, do you have it? Are you a believer? Have you trusted in Christ alone for salvation?
If not, why not? What is keeping you back? GOSPEL
If you have trusted Christ, keep the faith. Press on. Keep on fighting, keep on running, keep on serving. The time of our departure is near! Keep the faith. Fulfill your calling.
To fulfill our calling we must make three commitments. Commitment #1…

a. Endure

After challenging Timothy to engage in discipleship, Paul writes these words in (S).
2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV
You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
If we are going to be faithful in our service for Jesus, we are going to face trials, difficulties, and hardship.
When those times come. We endure.
Why? The next verse says that we want to please the one who called us to be soldiers.
Are we pleasing our commander?
Earlier we looked at Ephesians where it talks about the armor of God. The armor of God is given us so that we can stand!
We take up the armor and we endure.
We cannot keep the faith, we cannot fulfil our ministry if we flee when trouble comes.
A soldier of Christ, a runner, keeps going when times are tough.
Later, in , Paul will tell Timothy to endure afflictions.
When we endure, we are able to fulfill our calling and purpose.
Strength to endure is only found in Christ. His grace is sufficient to get us through.
Endure. Commitment #2…
Commitment #2…

b. Engage

Imagine with me that you have a classic muscle car (S). It’s in pristine condition. Everything has been reworked, replaced, and repaired. The gas tank is full and when you start it up the engine roars like a caged beast.
You love to sit in your car and feel it rumble beneath you. But you never put it in drive. How far will that car get you?
We can be as prepared as possible. We can have all our theological ducks in a row. But if we do not engage, if we do not get out there are start doing something, we will never get anywhere.
Those disengaged from the culture are of no practical value.
I’m not telling us to look like the world. I am telling us to meet them where they are.
We’ve have already looked at passages that tell us to press toward the mark, to stand firm, to do ministry.
One of our first passages was I want to look now at 5:9 (S).
1 Peter 5:9 NKJV
Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
We are called to engage our enemy. To stand against him.
How are we doing at that?
The enemy is waging a war in the battlefield of our mind. Are we winning?
Are we even fighting?
We can’t sprint across the finish line if we are not running! We can’t please our commander if we aren’t even fighting!
To win the battle we must engage the enemy.
Run the race. Fight the battle.
Endure! Engage! Commitment #3…
commit? Press toward the mark. Serve - engaging car drive. Resist steadfast in the faith.
Commitment #3…

c. Enlarge

There are some interesting passages of Scripture that address our responsibility to care for all men.
We are to live peaceably with all men (); be gentle to all men (); pray for and give thanks for all men (); desire all to be saved (; ; ); and show humility to all ().
Anyone else look at that list and think, “I have some work to do”?
I believe that God is calling us to enlarge our focus.
We could add to the above all the “one another” verses that specifically apply to the body of Christ.
We are to be Christ-centered and others oriented.
In our service, in our love, in our lives; we are not the focus.
Two quick verses. ; (S).
Matthew 6:33 NKJV
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
Philippians 2:3 NKJV
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
When the kingdom of God is our first priority and others our focus, only then will our lives be what they ought.
A Christ-centered ministry has an enlarged focus.
May Christ help us endure, engage, and enlarge.


Let’s wrap this up.
2 Timothy 4:7
2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
If Christ were to return today, would this be our testimony?
What changes do we need to make?
Fight the good fight.
Know your enemy, your weapons, and your battlefield.
Finish the course.
Keep running, training, and fueling.
Fulfill the ministry.
Endure, engage, and enlarge.
We have been called to faithfulness. Be faithful.
As we are empowered by our infinitely powerful God, may we sprint across the finish line.
Fight. Finish. Fulfill.
As we are empowered by our infinitely powerful God, may we sprint across the finish line.
“Rejoice In The Lord”
2 Timothy 4:1–8 NKJV
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
2Timothy 4:1-8
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