Finishing with joy

Finishing with joy

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus– the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. – Acts 20:24

2 Timothy 4:1-7

 1 I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom:

 2 Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

 3 For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear.

 4 They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

 5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.

 6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.

 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

At the 1992 summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, an amazing thing happened. Derek Redmond was rounding the track on his 400-meter race when he crumpled down with a torn hamstring. Paramedics rushed to help him, but he refused their help, choosing to hop and crawl to the finish.

Suddenly, his father charged out of the stands and brushed off security to join his son. Derek puts his arms around his father’s shoulders and sobs. Together, arm in arm, father and son, with 65,000 people cheering, clapping and crying, finish the race, just as they vowed they would.

Perhaps we were not aware that when we accepted the Lord Jesus as our Savior, we joined an exclusive, yet open to all, Olympics team and entered a spiritual race. It is one of the Father’s gifts to each of His children. He has a unique plan for every one of us that we are able to complete as we serve Him.

Each child of the King is assigned a life course in eternity past before they were ever born. It consists of His dreams and plans for our lives. He created us uniquely capable of fulfilling our tasks and assignments. Each has the responsibility to choose to run the race assigned to them. Often, this requires continual recommitment to the task laid out before us.

Every race has three goals. The first is to compete to win, doing the best we can, the second is to finish, and the third is to compete with joy.

Perhaps there many times when we seem totally defeated and contemplate giving up and dropping out. But then some extraordinary, supernatural, spiritual adrenaline kicks in. The perseverance and determination of our character and integrity carries us through to the end. And so it was with Paul.

Philippians 3:12-14

 12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.

 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

REFLECT & PRAY

I recognize that the game of life is just not fair. The Father never said it would be.

Father encourage me to run the race which You have graciously assigned to me, completing my tasks with integrity and endurance.

INSIGHT

It all boils down to what really matters. Paul did not see his own life as a precious possession to be held on to at all costs. He did not seek safety and security. He did not build a moat around his life to keep danger away. He was willing to risk all for the Lord Jesus Christ his Messiah, his Lord, his best friend.

What mattered most to him was to perform faithfully the service the Father had assigned to him. He was to share the “good news” that the Lord Jesus has come into the world to save sinners, among whom he was the foremost of all.

Paul summarized his task in three words: Preach the Word. The Greek reads keruxon ton logon (2 Timothy 4:2). This was his credo, his motto, his life purpose. Paul was deeply in love with the Word of God. For Paul preaching the word was priority one. He put it before you all else in this world. It was his most precious possession. Sharing the truth, life, and transformation that it provides with others was the work assigned him by the Father.

In the Father’s spiritual Olympics, his “event,” was to tell others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God (Acts 20:24). This is what he lived for.

He determined to run well and end well. Telling others about “the good news” from the Father brought him the greatest and lasting joy. It was the same for all apostles. It should be the same for each of the Father’s children.

3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

To “walk in truth” means to hear, receive, and believe the Word of God and to gladly follow its instruction. We are enabled by drawing on the power of the Holy him Spirit. Walking in truth is where the rubber hits the road. Truth is not something which is merely intellectually understood and assimilated. It permeates the entire spirit and soul of the King’s children. It guides and motivates their behavior. And the result is that His children think, and act like Him.

Nothing gives more satisfaction and joy to the teacher of Truth.

Hebrews 12:1-5

 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

 5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the LORD’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you.

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