RSS

Tag Archives: Finishing Well

The Finish Line

It’s about 6:20 p.m. now on Wednesday night, and I am sitting here in our Living Room next to the Christmas Tree to write the final blog of the year 2015. As most of you know, I have been blogging every weekday (except Labor Day) this year through the New Testament. And it’s kind of funny – coming home tonight, I parked the car in the garage and starting to come inside, I realized, “I’ve got to blog!” It’s not the first time I have forgotten this year. But it was kind of funny, as it is the last blog of the year. Maybe it was my friend Kevin who made me forget – he sent me a congratulatory text this morning about having successfully blogged through the Year (and he read them all – a true friend!), so subconsciously perhaps I thought I was done. Not yet. I am close to the finish line though.

Finishing. I haven’t always done it so well. And I suppose I’m not alone.

Starting is dreaming. Finishing is…work.

But don’t be too quick to give me kudos, for with the blog there was significant social pressure. Not having written a blog sometime this year would have been like showing up on Saturday night or Sunday morning without a sermon. I may have come close to this pastoral nightmare sometime in my life’s work, but the sheer terror of letting so many people down has kept me from it. People-pleasing runs strong in my blood.

And so I finish today. And so do you, if you joined us on our journey through the New Testament. Congrats, and hats off to you! I know it has been a blessing (at least the Bible part, if not the blog!). For you regular readers wondering where the blog will go from here, I have an answer: I will be publishing a blog every Tuesday. There, I said it. Now the five of you waiting with baited breath each Tuesday should hopefully be enough to keep my keyboard to the blogstone (like “nose to the grindstone”, but clever, you know, for bloggers). Of course, I won’t be writing exclusively about Scripture, like I did (sort of) this year. I will also write about current events or books I’m reading and such – whatever strikes my fancy, I guess, but all, I trust, to the Glory of God.

If you enjoyed our Inspired reading program through the New Testament this year, and you’re interested in a reading program for the year 2016, you might consider The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan or the M’Cheyne Reading Plan.  However you plan to read the Bible in 2016, consider this thought from the Puritan Thomas Brooks in his book, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices:

“Remember, it is not hasty reading—but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that make them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the bee’s touching of the flower, which gathers honey—but her abiding for a time upon the flower, which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most—but he who meditates most, who will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian.”

Therefore, if you choose to read the whole Bible this year, then may I urge you to be sure to slow down and meditate on some smaller portion of what you read each day. Draw out “the sweet” and be one, not who reads most, but who meditates most.

Now this blog was about the finish line, and it just so happens that the passage we are reading is also the last chapter in the Bible, and is all about the ultimate finish line, Heaven, and so let me close with the secret to getting there, from Revelation 22:17…

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (ESV)

That’s it – the message of the Scriptures is that God is Holy, and He demands our holiness too, yet not one of us has been holy. However, we can stand before God with the perfect holiness of Jesus Himself. All we need to do is drink the water of life, and that water is only available by the grace of God. You can’t pay for it, and in fact, if you try to pay for it, a sip of its cool refreshment will be denied you.

So, come, ye who are thirsty, come; and drink deeply.

Happy New Year, everyone!

 

 
17 Comments

Posted by on December 31, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

3 Keys to Paul’s Fruitfulness

Let’s put the words found in Acts 20:24 in contention for some of the most beautiful in all of Scripture. They also give us a clue as to why God used Paul so wonderfully.

The scene itself provides a perfect backdrop – Paul is saying goodbye to the elders from Ephesus, Ephesus being the city where he spent more time (2 – 3 years) than any other during his journeys. There is much history in this farewell, and it’s an emotional moment for them all realizing that they will only reunite again in glory.

On the occasion of the meeting, Paul has been on a sea journey, and stops at the port of Miletus, where he has requested the elders of Ephesus to travel for the meeting. In a moment they will walk him back to his ship, and he will put to sea, never to see them again, but before that…this:

“…And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me…” Acts 20:22-23 (ESV)

What a life this man has led, and how many eternities have been redirected by the Spirit’s work through him! But he has endured much pain, and apparently, according to his words above, there is more heartache and difficulty to come. But no matter…verse 24:

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 (ESV)

Apart from the Lord Jesus, was there ever a life that accomplished more for the Kingdom of God than the life of this man Paul the Apostle? We’ll never know, I suppose, but it’s awfully hard to imagine. He was not only the greatest theologian in the history of the world, but he was also the greatest missionary, bringing the gospel to the great Roman Empire. And in the words found in verse 24, we get a clue as to why this man made such a difference.

First, he died to himself: “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself.” Jesus had said that a grain of wheat needed to fall to the earth and die to bear much fruit. (John 12:24) Paul was that grain of wheat, and in his mind, he had died. The bountiful fruit all around him was proof.

Second, he made up his mind to finish. Finishing what we start is sometimes half the battle, and yet this was a theme in his life, as for instance, when he wrote to the Colossians with a special message for a man in the congregation: “And say to Archippus, ‘See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.’” Colossians 4:17 (ESV) It’s a word that Paul could have written to any of us – finish the task that God has given you to do. And Paul was no hypocrite – Jesus had given him a job to do also, and he was going to finish it.

Third, he had a glorious message. Christianity is not a self-improvement program; it is an announcement. God is gracious, and He has provided forgiveness for our sins through Christ. This was Paul’s message to which he testified solemnly all of his days after the Damascus road. And ultimately, it is this message – empowered by the Holy Spirit, and faithfully proclaimed by His messenger – that changed the world.

 

For Tuesday, March 10th: Acts 21

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: