Tuesday, January 23, 2018

mark this

The Word for today:
2 Timothy 4
The last chapter of a person’s life can be counted on to provide perspective and reduce the whole to its essence. That’s why you’ll need your marker…
If your Bible has one of those groovy old-fashioned ribbon markers that are sewn right into the binding, and if you’re not marking anything in particular with it, then may I suggest that you park your marker right here in the last chapter of 2 Timothy.
Paul’s death is near and he senses it. Nearing the end of the road, he can now look back and see the whole parade. As he does, he distills it all into one immortal line:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7)
The presence of Christ is almost palpable here as he recalls that when he stood alone, he was not alone:
At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.
But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. And I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. (2 Timothy 4:16-17)
Then, with a sweet flourish, as if he could gather all his years and tears in one cup, he pours them all out just to watch them go up in steam:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. (2 Timothy 4:6)
There is no more beautiful illustration in scripture than Paul’s “drink offering” as it ascends to Jesus. It was the perfect picture of the life he’d poured out in Jesus’ honor. It hearkens back to the offerings of Exodus and Leviticus, where wine was poured over the sacrifice on a brazen altar with fire underneath it. The wine would just evaporate and disappear, and all that was left was the Lamb.
Paul wanted to leave no trace of himself. His heart’s desire was that his life, when boiled down, was about nothing but Jesus. It was a gesture so lovely and so grand that it had to be his finale.
“2 Timothy 4.” Mark it in your mind if you don’t have a ribbon, because you’ll need to find your way back to this spot. You’ll turn here all the time, and when you do you’ll find just what you need.
When you need some perspective on the whole parade of life, you’ll find it here.
When you need someone to stand up for you, you’ll find your Defender here.
When you’re weary and ready to quit, you’ll find a fellow faith fighter here.
And when your life disappears like smoke, you’ll find -- standing there in your place, like he did at the cross — the one for whom your life stood.

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