Good morning Church, it’s great to be with you this morning. It is my privilege to be able to share the Word with you this morning.
Before I get into it, I just want to pass on our love. Kate and myself, we want to say hi, we love you guys and we miss you. Greetings from Ollie and Archer. Ollie just had his 21st birthday?
It’s been a while since we have seen anybody, but we are thinking of everyone and we are really praying for everyone. We miss you guys and we can’t wait to get back to some sense of normality.
It’s an honour to preach this morning and as I’ve looked back over my life and reflected on certain years and events, I remember certain things. In 1997 I remember graduating my VCE and the best thing was I graduated with a higher score than my sister. 2001 I registered my first business name. 2005 my Mum passed away and I also remember sitting on a couch at 2am one morning and summoning up the courage to ask Kate to be my girlfriend and then in 2009 she became my wife. 2010 I started my High School speaking business and getting my first paid speaking gig.
2014 Ollie was born and in 2016 Archer was born and in 2019 launching our gym.
As you look back over your life and the things that you have experienced, the things that you have achieved, I am sure there are lots of things that you remember over various seasons, however I have a question for you this morning and that is when you look back on 2020 what do you want to be able to remember it for? Challenging, right?
I am sure for a lot of us, we sit here and right now in August 2020 and there is a whole lot of stuff that we think we are going to remember 2020 for. But the premise of my question is about this, do you want to remember 2020 for the year where some dude in a market in China ate a bat and it ruined your year. Remembering 2020 for the things that you can’t control, the things that happened to you, the events outside of your control or circumstances beyond you, or, do you want to remember 2020 for the things that you achieved? The things that you took hold of, the growth of your relationships. Seeing miracles happen, walking by Faith, seeing God provide. Experiencing His presence in new ways, hearing God speak to you. A year of survival, of new levels of growth. When you look back on 2020 what do you want to remember it for?
I feel really strongly about this message today. I feel it’s a prophetic message for you as an individual and I feel it is a prophetic message for the Church.
I feel like God wants you to know that He hasn’t changed. His plans haven’t changed, but the season we are in has changed. Different seasons different actions and activities are required and the word that I am hearing this morning, the title of this message is “You are going to have to fight for it!”
I don’t know about you, but I remember growing up there was a phrase that me and my mates would throw around and that was ‘I’ll fight you for it’. Whether it was the last biscuit, the next turn on the Nintendo 64, the last piece of pizza, the last can of coke we would say ‘I’ll fight you for it’ whatever it might be.
I feel really strongly that God is challenging us to step up the fight. When there is something on the line, when there is something that you want, when there is something that you want to achieve, when there is something that you want to have, sometimes it requires a fight.
At the moment there are lots of people fighting about lots of things, people are fighting about wearing masks, people are fighting about not wearing masks. People are fighting about whether or not the Government is doing a good job, people are fighting over conspiracy theories, people are fighting over toilet paper. What are we fighting for?
The fight that God is calling us to this morning is one that Paul speaks about throughout his writings. I love Paul’s writings. He talks so much about the fight. There are so many metaphors about elite athletes and some of these challenges and for us it is to step into more of what God has for us this year. In 2020 despite the current circumstances it is going to require a fight. The reality with nature is that seasons shift, and different seasons require different activities. Different seasons require different actions. There are some seasons in life where things seem to be in an ease or in a flow with little resistance. But sometimes we find ourselves in seasons where we have to fight for what is rightfully ours. I guess the question is ‘what do you want’? What is it that you want to remember 2020 for? What is it that you want to achieve?
Right now it is August 2020 and there is not a whole lot of the year left, but I feel so strongly that God is putting to us the question ‘what is it that you want to remember 2020 for?’
If you want to hear God’s voice this morning maybe you are going to have to fight for it. If you need God’s provision this morning fight for it. If you need peace in your mind, maybe you are going to have to fight for it. If you need relationships to be mended, maybe you are going to have to fight for them. If you have loved ones who don’t yet know Jesus, maybe you are just going to have to fight for them.
So this morning as we put out this challenge, I want us to look at two main areas:
What does it mean to fight and what are we fighting for?
Depending on your personality style, maybe you heard this thought this morning that we are just going to have to fight, maybe this pricked up your ears. Some people just love a good fight. Some people now matter what it is will look for a fight. Some people shy away from it.
Paul’s athletic metaphors that I referenced earlier often uses these metaphors of strict discipline. He talks about running the race to win the prize. He talks about submission. He talks about waging warfare. He talks about wrestling. He talks about fighting the good fight. I love anything that requires humans to push themselves to their limits. It intrigues me some of the things that people have done and what the human body is capable of.
A few years ago, I heard of a race called the World Marathon Challenge. For about 5 seconds I thought I would love to give that a go, and then I thought otherwise. The World Marathon Challenge requires competitors to run seven marathons in seven consecutive days on seven different continents. 42.195 kilometres in Antarctica, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe, South America and North America within 168 hours.
Not only does it require stamina and physical fitness, it requires mental toughness and logistics to even just to be able to navigate. They fly chartered planes, they run a marathon, jump on a plane and fly to the next continent. Competitors suffer from physical fatigue, jetlag, sleep deprivation as well as the impact of wide temperature fluctuations of up to 50 degrees Celsius. The oldest man to complete the World Marathon Challenge was 76 years of age. Puts me to shame.
I have always been inspired by these professional athletes who commit themselves to strict discipline, early mornings, strict eating regimes, lengthy training sessions, delayed gratification in order to push their bodies to perform at their optimum and at their peak.
Two times in his letter to Timothy, Paul uses the following phrase:
1 Timothy 1:18 he says: Wage the good warfare
In 1 Timothy 6:12 he says: Fight the good fight
You have probable heard that phrase thrown around ‘fight the good fight’.
This is where I want to focus for us this morning on this idea of what are we going to have fight, we are going to have to fight for the plans, promises and purposes of God.
I feel that Paul was wanting to ensure that Timothy was aware that he was in a battle. So, what does it mean for us as followers of Jesus and people of faith to fight the good fight?
I like to dig into the meaning of the words and so this word ‘fight’ that Paul uses there ‘fight the good fight’ in the original Greek language it is the same word that is used as the root word in the English word ‘agonise’. It actually means to purposely struggle, to contend for a prize like an athletic contest, to be deliberate, consistent in your efforts and your action. A fight is not passive.
If you are in the Octagon in a UFC fight and you just stand there passively, you are in trouble.
If you are in a race and you stand passively, you are going to get left behind.
Some people who love a fight will be listening to this and be like ‘come on, let me at them’. But the next part of it ‘fight the good fight’ is just as important as the call for us to step up and to fight. The good fight, the word there ‘good’ actually means attractively good, or good that inspires and motivates others to embrace what is also good.
The key thing here is fighting for what we want, for what we believe is ours, fighting for the plans and the purposes for what God has for us, fighting for His provision, fighting for His presence, fighting for Him to speak to us or hear His voice, fighting for the souls of our city. The key here is for us to fight. Paul is telling Timothy ‘you need to fight in a way that is attractive and inspires others to also want to jump on with thing that is good.
How many times have we seen Christians who love a good fight or an argument, they love to stand up for truth at all costs? They are always waging war on the enemy or just anyone who doesn’t agree with what they believe. More often than not it turns people away. I feel like just as important as the call for us to be deliberate about our actions, to be disciplined about our actions, to be more intentional about how we fight the fight. Fighting in a way that inspires others and doesn’t turn them away is just as important.
The call here that Paul is putting out is, and I believe God is calling us this morning in a number of areas, is to increase our disciplines and fight in a way that is attractively good and inspires and motivates others to also embrace what is good.
Let me come back to the question ‘what is it that you want for this year?’. What do you want to look back on this year and remember? What is it that you need right now? What is it that you believe that you have been called to? Everyone of you have a plan and God has a plan and a purpose for your life. Whatever circumstances we are facing right now, that hasn’t changed. God hasn’t changed. His purpose for you hasn’t changed. The season has shifted and so right now you are just going to have to start fighting a little bit harder, being a little bit more disciplined, taking some more intentional actions.
Let’s look at some of these ideas of how we fight and also what are we fighting for?
Recently I have heard a lot of people saying I can’t wait to go back to normal. I think God is saying I don’t want you to go back to what you knew was normal. I want you to move forward, I want you to step up, I want you to come out of this stronger, fitter, faster, ready to take on the world. I want 2020 to be a year where you overcome those challenges and it grows you. It allows you to build your faith. It allows you to step into a new realm of provision, a new realm of presence, a new realm of purpose and calling. I want you to fight for it.
I think part of the challenge for us as a Church is that we may have been through a season that has been a season of ease and sometimes we are not conditioned for fighting and we find ourselves in a season where we need to fight and the challenge we face is that before lockdown things were pretty comfortable. You could rock up to Church, you could engage in worship, you could hear a great sermon. There was really little challenge and little resistance, now just to attend Church we have to have the willpower to get up out of bed. We are battling the kids running around. Making sure we can hear it. We have the ability to attend or not attend and no-one is really going to know.
And so before we get into what I want to look at the four areas that I think we should be fighting for, I want to remind you that God knew that 2020 was going to be this way. When God gave you a dream for your future, He knew that 2020 was going to cause some potential challenges and some potential hardships. When God called us as a Church to expand our facility, to embark on this building project, He knew exactly what we going to happen in 2020. It wasn’t a surprise to Him, none of this is a surprise. When God spoke to you about the plan, the calling, the purpose that He has for your life, when maybe God spoke to you about starting a business – the exact scenario that Kate and I are in right now, two business. When God called you to start a business, now it’s time to take up the fight He was fully aware of exactly what we would face ahead. His plans for you haven’t changed, His plans for us as a Church haven’t changed, but the season has shifted and now it’s time to take up the fight.
The four areas that I want to look at this morning are:
This sermon this morning is brought to us by the letter ‘F’.
The first area that I want us to fight for is:
1. To fight the good fight of Faith!
Fight the good fight in our faith in terms of our relationship with God, the basic disciplines of our faith from a perspective of ‘what are you believing for?’ How is your faith level at the moment? Whether it is faith for miracles, faith to see God provide. Faith to see God give you opportunities to step out in faith. Right now, God wants to increase our faith, but we are going to have to fight for it.
Hebrews 11:1 says Faith is the substance of things that we hope for, the evidence of things that we don’t see.
As we face some challenges and some distance, often our faith can be pushed down. Often our hope for the future can often go into survival mode and we are trying to get by on a daily basis. My challenge is that now it is time to ‘fight the good fight for our faith’. It takes consistent and deliberate effort and action to grow in faith. God continues to remind me about this current situation that everything that He has called me to He knew that 2020 would be this way. He hasn’t changed, He hasn’t gone to sleep, He is not in lockdown, the Holy Spirit isn’t wearing a mask, we can’t hear Him. Nothing has changed in the Heavenlies.
Right now we face some challenges, right now we are walking through a season which is different, and a different season requires some different actions.
Faith grows by what we feed on. Facebook isn’t going to grow your faith. The news reports are not going to grow your faith. Basic faith habits that we need to engage in more deliberately, more consistently with greater effort, greater energy to fight for our faith.
A consistent prayer life, contending for your faith in prayer. Praying, calling out to God asking Him for what you need, calling out, contending for the things. Using our words to confess the promises of God over our lives.
A consistent devotional life, Bible reading, studying, learning, feeding your faith. Deliberate periods of fasting. The Bible says ‘when you pray’ and then it says ‘when you fast’. For all of us we should, whether it is once a year or just on a regular basis, take a day out where we remove something from our life to open up some space for God to come in.
Weekly online attendance, attending Church online, a Zoom Connect Groups prayer meetings, everything that we are doing to keep everyone connected. Consistent, deliberate actions that are going to help you ‘fight the good fight of faith’.
Depths of faith, just because we can’t meet together doesn’t mean that we don’t go about our day looking for opportunities to step out in faith. Asking God for promptings, divine appointments, conversations with people whether it is in real life, whether it is on Facebook, the reality is that the world is looking for hope, right now the world is looking for hope.
This good fight that Paul talks about is for us to fight for our faith in a way that inspires others, that motivates others, that brings hope into other people’s worlds. Praise, I love the song that we sing This is how I fight my battles. We fight through praise.
I don’t know about you, but I noticed that I had been praising and singing worship a lot less in lockdown. Sitting at the computer watching Church online, it can sometimes be a little bit awkward singing into a computer.
Take time out, make sure that we are being consistent, taking action, praising to build our faith, fighting our battles in praise and faith-based confessions. To fight the good fight for our faith means to fight in a way that is attractively good, in a way that inspires others to want to embrace what is good.
The challenge isn’t just to grow more deliberate and consistent with our effort and our actions, but it is also to do it in a way that inspires others. If you want to grow in your faith, you are going to have to fight for it.
2. Fight the good fight for your Focus!
Super important for the season that we are in right now is ‘What are you focusing on?’ Focus and Faith go hand in hand. What you focus on is what you move towards. If you are driving in a car and you look to the side of the road and something catches your attention, your focus goes there, the car will naturally go there as well. What you focus on is what you move towards. If you are focusing on the hardships, the challenges, the problems, the things that you can’t control, the things that you don’t like, the things that aren’t working, that’s what you are going to move towards.
If you are focusing on God, if you are focusing on His plan, His word, if you are focusing on the faith steps that you are going to take, the goal that you have ahead of you, the prize, Paul says ‘now I strive towards the prize’ that’s what you are going to move towards. The challenge can be when we start to focus on the problems, the challenges, we can focus on our feelings, we can focus on Facebook rather than the Good Book.
Paul writes in Phillipians 4:8 ‘Finally Brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.
Use that as your filter. Is it true, is it noble, is it just, is it pure, is it lovely, is of a good report, is there any virtue, is it praiseworthy? Use that as your filter to determine what it is that you need to focus on, and in the season that we are in right now, your focus must be deliberate. Making a deliberate decision to those things that are good. Be deliberate about looking for God’s goodness. Be deliberate about dwelling on God’s faithfulness. Be deliberate about focusing on God’s promises, His plans, His purpose for you.
Even if it is getting some structure about how we do those things in a deliberate way. Write in a journal, start to journal at the beginning of the day, the end of the day, shift your focus. Look at what you can be grateful for, be deliberate seeing where God is, where He is moving and how we can get involved. You have got to fight the good fight for your focus.
We are being bombarded by so many different messages, most of them are negative. The reality is everyday we have got politicians jumping on TV giving us updates of the scenario, the season that we are in. If you are not deliberate about your focus, your focus will go to those things, and those things will become your world. If you want peace in your mind, if you want a faith-filled focus and the ability to hear God’s voice for this season, you are going to have to fight for it.
3. Fight the good fight for your finances!
In challenging times like we are in, some of us are finding it impacting on our finances. For others maybe you are still at work and you actually are less able to go out and so you find that you have got more money than you had previously. Personally, as business owners, we have had our income significantly reduced. We have two business and both of them are effectively shut down. With my High School speaking business, the schools are shut down and now Victoria is basically in lockdown, we can’t fly anywhere. I am doing some Zoom presentations, but I’ve got that business closed down. We have got the gym which is effectively in lockdown, we are doing online classes, but our business income is down about 60%. That’s a fair chunk of money.
Right now, if we are going to move forward, I can sit back and we can be passive and that’s not going to take us where we want to go, or we can ‘fight the good fight’ for our finances. There are certain things that we can control. The knee jerk reaction can be hold onto everything that we have, hold on to the $5 note so tight that the Queen sheds a tear.
My challenge is for people of faith that no matter what circumstance that we are in right now with our finances, God is our provider. He is still on the throne. This wasn’t a surprise to Him and we have to ensure that we are fighting the good fight for our finances, we are being good stewards over what we have, we are spending less than what we earn. We are being deliberate about our giving, our tithes, that’s just a no-brainer, that’s what we give to God. He gives us the ability to keep 90%, but then over and above the opportunity to be generous, looking for ways that we can be generous. The Miracle Offering that is coming up. I felt compelled that fighting the good fight is in our finances and one of those opportunities we have coming up is sowing into the plan and the purpose that God has called us to with the Miracle Offering.
I shared with the Bible College students the four buckets – looking at managing our finances in a practical way with four buckets, or four business accounts.
One account is about sowing, putting your money for your tithe and your money for any generous offering over and above giving.
One account is spending – all your bills, all your expenses, making sure that you have got enough for your spending.
One account is for saving, always putting a percentage into a savings account. An account for growing, an investment type of account. Always being deliberate, being consistent, taking action in a way that is fighting the good fight for finances.
For us an example of God’s provision was in 2019 for the Miracle Offering both Kate and I felt to double what was our previous Miracle Offering. Then in 2020 our business got hit, our income got hit, and the question in our mind was how are we going to make good of our pledge? We got our tax done and we got a back payment of family tax benefit which was almost the exact amount that we had remaining on our pledge and we were able to, over and above, make good on our pledge for 2019.
God is our provider. We should never feel compelled, we should never feel like we have to give. We give because we do something that God is calling us to do.
As Christians, I feel like God is calling us to fight the good fight for our finances.
Be good stewards over what He has given us. Be deliberate, take consistent action in a way that we are spending less than we earn and we being good stewards by making sure that we have actions and activities that are deliberate to help us to use what He has given us in a good way.
2 Corinthians 9:10 (NKJV)
Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness.
God is faithful. He will supply our everyday needs. The challenge for us is we need to do what we are able to do to develop disciplines and deliberate habits and being good stewards of what He gives us. If you need God’s provision and you need God to move you forward in your personal finances, or your business, you are going to have to fight for it.
4. Fight the good fight for our Family and Friends!
If you have your own family, Mums, Dads, kids, and also if you are single, fight the good fight for your family and friends.
Husbands, Dads, if I can speak to you guys, the way that we fight our fight as Dads and Husbands, isn’t just about bringing in our harvest in our own life, for us to see what God has called us to, but it will be replicated in our family, by our spouses and by our children. Our prayer life, our devotional life, our attitude towards generosity, our focus and our faith. All of us, whether you are a Mum or a Dad or whether you are single, good family takes deliberate and consistent efforts and actions. It is a fight, it’s a race that we have to run. We have to be deliberate and determined about fighting the good fight for our family.
Deliberate and consistent effort to have quality family time. Deliberate and consistent effort to have a vision and something that we are moving towards as a family.
With each lockdown I have been made more aware of how easily the business of life can take over and family can end up getting the leftovers. I am challenged about this as someone who is pretty busy, someone who has multiple things going on at the same time, it is time to re-establish some deliberate habits in our lives which allow us to sow into and grow our family relationships. The way that we build our faith as a family, the way that we build our relationships as a family, the way that we establish little family rituals, things that we do as a family, things that are our family culture. Things that we are wanting to achieve as a family, much like the athletic metaphor, if you ask an athlete what they are aiming for they will be able to tell you about their goals and their dreams. They will have a training regime. They will have an eating regime. It is pretty set out.
As a family I think it is super important to do things like sit down and eat meals together at the dinner table. Have little rituals, have little things that you do as a family that build quality time, that build good relationships, things that help you move forward towards what God has called you for.
I believe that not just as individuals that God has a plan for you, but as a family. I believe that God has a plan for families. God is calling your family to reflect His goodness to inspire other families, the world is crying out for models of family. The world is crying out for hope in this current season.
God has called us to more, God has called you to more, He has called you to greater things. He has a plan and a purpose for your life. COVID hasn’t put God’s plans on hold for you, for your family, for your finances, for your focus, for your friends.
What I want us to realise this morning is that for us to keep moving forwards, to see those things become a reality, it is time for us to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight deliberate, consistent effort and actions. We have to get back to realising that for us to move forward in this season we have to do certain things that maybe we haven’t needed to do in the last seasons.
Fight for your faith. Fight for your focus. Fight for your finances and fight for your family and friends.
The amazing thing for all of us this morning is that we don’t have to take this fight on our own. We are not in this on our own. The reality is that the battle has already been won, the war has been won. Right now we are fighting a fight, but the war has been won. Jesus paid the price. He won the war. He is waiting for us to invite Him into our world so He can fight for us and with us.
Maybe this morning you feel like you are fighting all on your own. You feel like this is a battle that you have got no help in.
This morning as we finish up, as we come to a close, if your feel like you are on your own, you have drifted away from God, maybe in COVID season you feel like you are in isolation and you haven’t reached out to God, God wants to fight with you and to fight for you.
In the end we win. 2020 hasn’t caught God by surprise.
The challenge for you is to look at those areas, your faith, your focus, your finances and your family and friends and see where God is challenging you to step up your fight. Those disciplines and intentional activities, are you fighting in a way that inspires others? Are you fighting in a way that motivates those who maybe don’t believe what you believe?
The final question is how do you want to look back on 2020? What do you want to remember 2020 for?
Suggestions for discussion
- What has God been asking you to fight for in 2020?
- Do you find it difficult to trust Him in this season? Why?
- How can you fight in a way that motivates others?