Finish the Race
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
I’ve been around long enough to know some men and women whose lives were totally sold out to God a few years ago but who have since walked off the track in the middle of the race. They’ve given up. They’ve lost their longing for God and all He is. They’re AWOL from the Christian life . . .
The fear of following in their footsteps haunts me. It should you, too. The possibility is real for all of us unless we allow our hearts to be completely gripped by God . . . today- now. The faithfulness of my walk with God in the next year and the next decades depends on my willingness to stay current with God. In a word-to stay in relationship with Him.
I never want to lose the grip God’s greatness has on my life and the supreme privilege it is to be in relationship with Him and to serve Him faithfully till the day I am welcomed into His presence. That passion compels me. It keeps me very honest and very humble before God.
The last thing I want to do is crawl across the finish line a defeated, derailed Christian or worse-give up the race before my life is over. I want to break that tape with arms high and my face to the sun and say with the apostle Paul, “I have finished the course; I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 3:7).
So what can we do now to ensure that finish line victory? We can get back to basics: Honestly answer these seven questions:
Do I hunger after God?
Does God’s Word govern my life?
Do I grieve over sin?
How quickly do I repent when I see my wrong?
Am I sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting me?
Do I obey?
Is my faith growing?
Return to these questions regularly and ask God to help you every morning to run the race.
by James MacDonald
2 Timothy 4:7
Preach the Word
…6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing.…
I’d Rather Be Hunting
He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds…to shepherd Jacob His people. Psalm 78:70-71
When Jason Cruise was pastoring a church, he sometimes felt guilty because he wanted to be hunting. One day it dawned on him God was calling him to minister to sportsmen. In the NIV Outdoorsman Bible, he wrote of the moment, “God’s heart connected with mine and pushed me toward the idea that I could use my passion for hunting to bring him glory…. When I was a young boy stomping through the woods, I had no clue that God was preparing me to hunt with a purpose…or that I’d get the honor of speaking to hunters across the nation…and yet do it all in the name of Jesus.”
The Lord gives us passions, purposes, and life experiences—like hunting or shepherding—to prepare us for the personal and unique ministry He has for us. No experiences of life are wasted. He prepares us to stand up for Him, and every part of your background can fashion you for what He wants you to do today.
Monumental changes often occur in simple, quiet moments, and it’s in those few seconds that a person makes a clean break with an old way of living and never looks back. Jason Cruise
When you have no vision from God, no enthusiasm left in your life, and no one watching and encouraging you, it requires the grace of Almighty God to take the next step in your devotion to Him, in the reading and studying of His Word, in your family life, or in your duty to Him. It takes much more of the grace of God, and a much greater awareness of drawing upon Him, to take that next step, than it does to preach the gospel.
Every Christian must experience the essence of the incarnation by bringing the next step down into flesh-and-blood reality and by working it out with his hands. We lose interest and give up when we have no vision, no encouragement, and no improvement, but only experience our everyday life with its trivial tasks. The thing that really testifies for God and for the people of God in the long run is steady perseverance, even when the work cannot be seen by others. And the only way to live an undefeated life is to live looking to God. Ask God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to discourage you. Never allow yourself to think that some tasks are beneath your dignity or too insignificant for you to do, and remind yourself of the example of Christ in John 13:1-17.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
Sincerity means that the appearance and the reality are exactly the same. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
Today we live in a society that is convinced there are no absolute moral truths. It not only considers the Bible outdated and irrelevant to contemporary problems but also sees each person as free to decide what is right. As a result, our culture is ungodly, immoral, violent, and self-centered. How are we as Christians supposed to live in such an environment?
We need look no further than the example of a teenage boy named Daniel, who had the courage to stand for his convictions in the midst of the depraved atmosphere of Babylon. Despite his immersion in Babylonian culture, he committed to following the Lord faithfully, even if doing so would cost him his life. The issue of diet may seem trivial to us, but Jewish people of his day believed eating meat that had been offered to idols was an abomination to God.
In the modern Western world, we may find it hard to relate to Daniel’s example. Few of us are willing to take such a bold stand even though we have no fear of losing our life. It’s the threat of rejection, ridicule, or being seen as narrow-minded or judgmental that keeps us silent. Or worse, it may be that we don’t have any strong convictions because we haven’t let God’s Word develop them within us. Ignorance of Scripture may let us live comfortably in a sinful culture, but it will never please the Lord.
God is looking for people like Daniel—followers of Christ who will stand by their convictions, regardless of threats or the temptation to compromise for the sake of profit or acceptance. Are you such a person?
“But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” (Jude 1:10)
Both Jude and Peter use essentially the same terms when they speak of people who are like “brute beasts” (2 Peter 2:12). Both use the qualifying adjective “natural” to draw a precise distinction between those who are only alive physically and those who have been given eternal life by the Spirit of God.
Prior to being twice-born, all men are “by nature the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3) and have not yet been given “the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). Such “natural” people are “sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 1:19) and therefore cannot receive “the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
These strong pictures are not incidental for understanding the challenge to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3). Jude and Peter are describing the intransigence of those who resist the truth—especially of the “tares” who have been planted by the Enemy among the “wheat” in the Lord’s field (Matthew 13:24-30).
The Greek term translated “brute” by both Jude and Peter is a combination of the negative particle a and the basic word for intelligent communication, logos. We must therefore expect the resistance to take form “without reason.” The unsaved cannot understand God’s message without the transformation of the new birth. Their efforts to undermine “the faith” will always be based on human (natural) reasoning.
Contending for the faith will always be a “labour, striving according to his working” (Colossians 1:29). May God grant us a “good fight,” having “kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). HMM III
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
Among the enemies to devotion none is so harmful as distractions. Whatever excites the curiosity, scatters the thoughts, disquiets the heart, absorbs the interests or shifts our life focus from the kingdom of God within us to the world around us—that is a distraction; and the world is full of them. Our science-based civilization has given us many benefits but it has multiplied our distractions and so taken away far more than it has given….
The remedy for distractions is the same now as it was in earlier and simpler times, viz., prayer, meditation and the cultivation of the inner life. The psalmist said “Be still, and know” (Psalm 46:10), and Christ told us to enter into our closet, shut the door and pray unto the Father. It still works….
Distractions must be conquered or they will conquer us. So let us cultivate simplicity; let us want fewer things; let us walk in the Spirit; let us fill our minds with the Word of God and our hearts with praise. In that way we can live in peace even in such a distraught world as this. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). SOS130-132
Lord, help me to cultivate simplicity, to be satisfied with fewer things and to find the inner peace that You can give in a life of prayer and meditation. Amen.
He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is He.—Deuteronomy 32:4.
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.—Psalm 100:3.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.—Psalm 23:1, 4.
Duties are ours, events are the Lord’s; when our faith goeth to meddle with events, and to hold a court (if I may so speak) upon God’s Providence, and beginneth to say, “How wilt Thou do this or that?” we lose ground; we have nothing to do there; it is our part to let the Almighty exercise His own office, and steer His own helm; there is nothing left us, but to see how we may be approved of Him, and how we may roll the weight of our weak souls, in well-doing, upon Him who is God omnipotent, and when what we thus essay miscarrieth, it shall neither be our sin nor cross.
Shall there be a mutiny among the flocks and herds, because their lord or their shepherd chooses their pastures, and suffers them not to wander into deserts and unknown ways?
The Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. Acts 23:11
Are you a witness for the Lord, and are you just now in danger? Then remember that you are immortal till your work is done. If the Lord has more witness for you to bear, you will live to bear it. Who is he that can break the vessel which the Lord intends again to use?
If there is no more work for you to do for your Master, it cannot distress you that He is about to take you home, and put you where you will be beyond the reach of adversaries. Your witness-bearing for Jesus is your chief concern, and you cannot be stopped in it till it is finished: therefore be at peace. Cruel slander, wicked misrepresentation, desertion of friends, betrayal by the most trusted one, and whatever else may come, cannot hinder the Lord’s purpose concerning you. The Lord stands by you in the night of your sorrow, and He says, “Thou must yet bear witness for me.” Be calm, be filled with joy in the Lord.
If you do not need this promise just now, you may very soon. Treasure it up. Remember also to pray for missionaries, and all persecuted ones, that the Lord would preserve them even to the completion of their life work.