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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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ARE YOU IN THE FIGHT?

Have you heard about the boxer who fought like a baseball pitcher-at the end of the fight he had a no-hitter! Most of us attach negative feelings and reactions to the idea of fighting. We learn from childhood up that fighting is bad and that we ought not to fight. But there is at least one fight which not only is not bad, but which God Himself calls us to get in! I'm talking, of course, about the "good fight of faith." When Paul wrote to his young preacher-friend Timothy, he directed him in I Timothy 6:12 - "Fight  the good fight  of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." These words sound strange to many in our age of user-friendly religion. The popular notion is that faith is more about fan than fighting; more about excitement than effort; more about wearing a crown than carrying a cross. But those who seek to truly follow Christ can expect a fight. The devil has declared war on God and His people. He uses "devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11) and "wiles" (or schemes; Ephesians 6:11) in his efforts to hurt and hinder Christians. Therefore, we are warned, 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). Both Paul and Peter teach Christians to fight against the devil because he is fighting against us!

Faith has always had foes. From the Garden of Eden to Golgatha, those committed to God and doing His will have always found themselves in a fight. The foes range from sin and Satan to doubt and discouragement to trials and temptations to pain and persecution. Moses facing Pharaoh, Joshua walking around Jericho's heavily fortified walls, David glaring at a giant named Goliath, Daniel in a lion's den, Christ on a cross at Calvary, the apostles and the early church facing prejudice and persecution- all these were fighting the good fight of faith! Brother John Gipson, in a bulletin article entitled, "Have You Made Any Enemies? " tells that back in 1884, General Bragg stirred the entire political convention when he closed his nominating speech for Grover Cleveland with the words, "We love him for the enemies he has made." The cross where Jesus died proved that He had enemies and that He was in a fight. That's precisely why we love and serve Him today! Faith still involves a fight and intense effort, but those who fight to the finish lay hold on eternal life! How about it? Are you in the fight?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ