Daily D – 2 Timothy 2:3-6
Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. 2 TIMOTHY 2:3-6 (NLT)
When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce.
One of my favorite books of recent years is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. The book in a sentence is focus on less but better. A person cannot do everything. Likewise, everything is not worth doing. To do the things we most want to do, we have to give up some things we would really like to do. John Maxwell likes to say that we have to give up to go up.
A focused life is a rewarding life, a valuable life.
The old apostle wrote to his son in the ministry, a man likely entering midlife, and directed him toward greater focus. Read this chapter, indeed this short book, through the lens of focused clarity. It is as though Paul was saying, “Do less, but better. Eliminate distractions. Amplify the good news of Jesus.”
Hard times will come. They come to everyone. Paul basically told Timothy, “Suck it up, Sister!” That’s the way an old army general used to say it. Eugene Peterson in The Message says, “When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did.”
Hard times simplify things. Soldiers carry the essential few tools they need to succeed and to survive. They focus on the mission, not on everything on Facebook, Twitter, or CNN.
An athlete more concerned about his or her celebration dance and victory speech will most likely experience neither. Farmers who do not plant in season, care for their crops, and harvest at the right time go hungry.
Diligence is indispensable to success in any endeavor.
Paul says distractions are like defenders in a short-yardage situation on a football field where the opposing quarterback is trying to draw them offside. He shouts adjustments and calls out, “Hut hut hut!” The offensive line does not move. If the defense crosses that invisible line, however, a penalty flag will fly and the offense will gain the necessary yardage for a fresh set of downs.
Someone is going to try to pull you offside today. Stay focused. Know what is most important. Concentrate on the essential few. Remember what matters most. Win the play. Win the day.
What is the most important thing you need to do today?
I will focus on the essential few to experience maximum expression.
Our Father, give us each the clarity we need about what is essential and what is distraction. Empower us to focus on the most important thing to the exclusion of everything else. Make us ever more diligent in pursuing what matters most. Give us the determination we need to accomplish your individualized mission for our lives. Amen.
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Jeremiah 18:1-4 This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him.
Philippians 1:4-6 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Jeremiah 17:7, 8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
2 Chronicles 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments. (NIV)