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I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

A British preacher in the past, Edwin Paxton Hood, wrote about 2 Timothy 4:7-8, saying in his quaint style, “I have finished my course, says the gamester; I have played my last deal; I have staked my last chance….I have finished my course, says the scholar; I have read my last volume… I have noted the last fact….I have finished my course, says the statesman…. I have framed my last bill, my last speech….I have finished my course, says the warrior; I have led on the last battle…struck the last blow.”[1]

How different, noted Hood, is the Christian. Our adventure is to accomplish God’s will for our lives. Our work is assigned from above, and our course is set by the Lord. By God’s grace, we can accomplish the ministry He has given us to do, then continue to serve Him in heaven, where there is laid up for us the crown of righteousness, which the Lord will give on that day—to all who have loved His appearing.

Ah! believe me, whatever we may say about the reckless, heedless multitude of mankind, those whom God blesses, and those whom God uses, cannot fall until the day’s work is done. Edwin Paxton Hood


Finishing the Course – Charles R. Swindoll

Just Ask!

You do not have because you do not ask God. James 4:2

The gleeful shouts arising from our basement came from my wife, Shirley. For hours she’d wrestled with a newsletter project, and she was ready to be done with it. In her anxiety and uncertainty about how to move forward, she prayed for God’s help. She also reached out to Facebook friends and soon the project was completed—a team effort.

While a newsletter project is a little thing in life, small (and not so small) things can bring about worry or anxiousness. Perhaps you’re a parent walking through the stages of childrearing for the first time; a student facing newfound academic challenges; a person grieving the loss of a loved one; or someone experiencing a home, work, or ministry challenge. Sometimes we’re needlessly on edge because we don’t ask God for help (James 4:2).

Paul pointed the followers of Jesus in Philippi and us to our first line of defense in times of need: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). When life gets complicated, we need reminders like the one from the hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”:

Oh what peace we often forfeit,

oh what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry,

everything to God in prayer.

And perhaps in our asking God for help, He’ll lead us to ask people who can assist us.

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What situations challenge you that you can bring to God in prayer? Why do you hesitate to ask Him or others for help?

Dear God, forgive me for not bringing my burdens to You in prayer. Help me to reach out to others and ask for help too.

How to Hold On

Commit to trust God and discover His peace, which enables you to endure whatever life brings

Psalm 37:5-7

Job knew trouble and temptation, but he boldly claimed, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15). He had lost his children, his fortune, and his health, but he didn’t abandon his faith. He was determined to hold on because he trusted God.

Unlike Job, we have Scripture, in which God reveals His nature and promises. His Word tells us that our Father is always good, always just, always faithful, and always trustworthy. When we focus on honoring and following Him, we find a consistent peace that carries us through everything.

Life is challenging, so we can easily get distracted and allow circumstances to dictate our emotions. But if we operate that way, then when life is good, we’re happy; when times are tough, we’re frustrated; and when hardship pours in, we’re miserable. On the other hand, unwavering commitment to the Lord is a cornerstone of faith. When we are situated on that foundation, we can focus solely upon God.

In order to hold on to the Lord through any trial or temptation, commit to trust and follow Him all of your days. Lay claim to His promises: The unchanging Lord and Savior is committed to caring for you in all circumstances and will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5Hebrews 13:81 Peter 5:7).

Justification

“And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)

This is the first mention of the great doctrine of justification in the Bible—that is, being seen as “righteous” by God. The same Hebrew word is translated “just” in Genesis 6:9: “Noah was a just man.” The reason Noah was seen as righteous and therefore as just, or justified before God, was that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). This is the first mention of “grace” in the Bible. The first mention of “faith” or “belief” is also associated with justification: “[Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Thus, in the Old Testament and certainly in the New, justification is by grace through faith. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and also “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24; 5:1).

Justification—that is, being seen and proclaimed as perfectly righteous, even in spite of past sins—must of course be authorized by God the Creator. “It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). That God can indeed be both “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26) is based entirely on the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ, who conquered death. “Being now justified by his blood,” the Lord Jesus Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 5:9; 4:25).

Now, although we are freely justified by grace through faith, such justification inevitably generates good works also, for “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). HMM

Faith in Which Jesus?

Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.Psalm 119:137-138

To manipulate the Scriptures so as to make them excuse us, compliment us and console us is to do despite to the written Word and to reject the Living Word. To believe savingly in Jesus Christ is to believe all He has said about Himself and all that the prophets and apostles have said about Him. Let us beware that the Jesus we “accept” is not one we have created out of the dust of our imagination and formed after our own likeness.

True faith commits us to obedience. “[W]e have received grace and apostleship,” says Paul, “for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (Romans 1:5). That dreamy, sentimental faith which ignores the judgments of God against us and listens to the affirmations of the soul is as deadly as cyanide.

That faith which passively accepts all the pleasant texts of the Scriptures while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke. OGM062

[F]aith is simply that which takes hold of the promise and the fullness of Christ. SI123

It Lacks That

My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit.1 Corinthians 2:4

Much of modern-day Christianity is lacking power and conviction because it lacks a close encounter with this aspect of the Spirit’s resources. If we are to experience the fullness of the Spirit in our lives, then we must open ourselves to everything He wants to give us. We must not pick and choose and say, “I’ll take this but not that,” for in order to be God’s true representatives in this world, we must know Him in all His fullness.

I watched a man on television one day examine a beautiful painting. He studied it for a few moments and said, “Its perspective is good, the coloring is fine, the tones are excellent, the idea behind it is to be commended, but it lacks … that.”

The same can be said of a lot of Christian activity in this generation. Our preaching is correct, our worship services are well-structured, our music is fine, our organization is superb, but it lacks one thing—the throbbing power of the Holy Spirit. Without the power of the Spirit in our midst, we are preaching unquickened truth—truth that doesn’t fall upon the soul with convicting, sobering, awakening, converting power. Our Christianity is not bad—it is just dull. The Holy Spirit, when accepted and obeyed, turns insipidity into inspiration, dullness into dancing, and mediocrity into magnificence. If we are not careful, we may find ourselves in court one of these days accused of contravening the Trade Descriptions Act!

Prayer

Ouch, Lord, this hurts! But I know from experience that You hurt me in order to heal me. Begin with me today, and set me on fire that others may catch it, too! Amen.

Further Study

Ac 19:21-41; Eph 3:19; 5:18

How did the Holy Spirit give Paul holy boldness?

What was Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesian church?

Redeeming the Time

Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—

making the most of the time, because the days are evil.—Ephesians 5:15–16

These days we are bombarded with opportunities that entice us to invest our time and energy. Each day the voices of urgency cry out for every available moment. So many causes promise that time spent on them will reap great rewards; how can we recognize God’s voice among so many competing voices?

A fool makes unwise choices with his time. With every new opportunity that comes along, the fool chases off in a different direction, not questioning whether that is the best choice. The loudest voice gains his attention. At some point the fool discovers to his dismay that he has squandered the investment of his time.

The days in which you live are evil. Marriages are under tremendous pressure, families are disintegrating. Multitudes are dying each year without hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Investing your life wisely is critical to you and to those around you. Foolishly spending your time in sinful or wasteful pursuits can cost you and others dearly.

Often, it is not evil pursuits that rob your time. Rather, the temptation is to sacrifice what is best for what is good. The enemy knows that blatantly tempting you with evil will be obvious, so he will lure you with distractions, leaving you no time to carry out God’s will. He will tempt you to so fill your schedule with good things that you have no time for God’s best. You may inadvertently substitute religious activity for God’s will, pursuing your own goals for God’s kingdom instead of waiting for His assignment. Time is a precious commodity. Be sure to invest it wisely.