July 18 “Paul’s secret to finishing well”

finish-line[1]

Will you finish well or will pride and self-sufficiency show up when least expected? Find out what makes the difference.

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 32 & 33
Psalm 85.8-13
Proverbs 21.12
Acts 20.17-38

2 Chronicles 32 & 33:

He started out well, but …

Wow! What a great start Hezekiah had. When he realized the Assyrian King Sennacherib was plotting to overtake Judah he sprung into action, working with his leaders and encouraging the people by reminding them of God’s faithfulness. Chapter 32.7-8:

7 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.

And when the danger grew worse:

20 Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. 21 Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.

22 Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side.

What a great story of God’s faithfulness in response to Hezekiah’s prayers and his godly actions. But while Hezekiah had a great start, he didn’t finish as well.

25 But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.

After years of seeing God’s faithfulness, Hezekiah began to think it was about him, his wisdom, his great abilities, and his heart was lifted up in pride. Let’s pray that we don’t just serve Him now, but that we remain faithful to the end.

But even after all that, when Hezekiah repented, God was merciful:

26 Then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

Psalm 85.8-13:

Our salvation and His glory

Verses 8-9:

8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak,
For He will speak peace
To His people and to His saints;
But let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.

This passage refers to the future millennial reign of Christ, but also applies to us as individuals. When we fear God and seek His righteousness, He speaks peace into our lives.

Proverbs 21.12:

The reward of the wicked

dead end

“The righteous God wisely considers the house of the wicked, overthrowing the wicked for their wickedness.”

Matthew Henry says this verse illustrates the importance of not envying the wicked, but instead, considering their end.

Acts 20.17-38:

Finishing well

Verse 24, “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

After all he has been through and now knowing that he is going to be martyred for the cause of Christ, Paul expressed his desire to finish well! What a contrast to so many of the Old Testament kings.

 

finishing well, prize

What was his secret? 2 Timothy 4 may give us some clues:

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 

 

But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

In verses 2 and 5 he passes the torch to his young protégé Timothy. Paul could be at peace as he finished because he had discipled others, especially Timothy.

One of our former pastors used to say, you’re not fulfilling your ministry if your not training your replacement. We’re all called to “train our replacements,” those who will take the gospel to the next generation of believers (Matt. 28.19-20; 2 Tim. 2.2).

As parents and grandparents we need to ask ourselves if we’re faithfully discipling our children and grandchildren: reading the Bible with them, teaching them to memorize Scripture and memorizing it with them, faithfully being a part of a New Testament church where we grow and serve others.

It doesn’t mean using the Bible like a club or treating Christianity as something you do, but as something your are. It means living it out in front of them not just when it’s convenient, but when it hard: when someone you love hurts or offends you, when you don’t feel like forgiving, when you need to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

It also means living out Titus 2.2-5: the older women teaching the younger women and mature men of God teaching and mentoring those who are young in the faith. It means being purposeful and putting out the effort even with our jammed schedules and crazy lives.

Finishing well means faithfully discipling others.

Finishing well also means having the right view of yourself and your life. Paul saw his life, and even his death, as an offering to God (v.6; Rom. 12.1).

If you have a puffed up view of yourself and your own importance, you won’t finish well.

Finishing well means having an eternal perspective. Paul didn’t see his death as the end but as a “departure.” Life can be challenging at times. There are tests and trials in every life.

Finishing well means having an eternal perspective.

Paul was imprisoned, had been deserted and betrayed by others, and was faced with execution. But had peace because he could say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

He finished well.

You might want to pray:

Lord, help me to finish well. Search my heart and show me where I am prideful and self-absorbed. Help me to recognize any tendency to rely on myself instead of trusting in You. Help me to have the strength and energy to disciple those You have placed in my life. And help me to have an eternal perspective. In Jesus name I pray … amen.

But even as we pray and seek to be faithful, we should remember that it’s not in our own strength that we can be faithful, but by relying on God, humbly calling on Him, and remembering how much we need His help. And if we’re His child, we can stand on His promise in Philippians 1.6:

6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,
Donna

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One thought on “July 18 “Paul’s secret to finishing well”

  1. Pingback: July 21 "Two kinds of fear" & LINKUP | Soul Survival