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Friday, April 20, 2012
Yesterday I visited with three brothers over lunch. Mel, John and Linford have worked for the same company an accumulative 90+ years. I noticed the bear cubs photo on Mel's screen. He took it at a camp in Tioga County in northern Pennsylvania. Mel explained they were playing on a bird feeder before they tipped it over. It looks a little like a teeter-totter!
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"Finish The Race Well!"
(Lessons from Life's Marathon Part 5)
"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24). "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).
Today we conclude our series drawing spiritual illustrations from the Boston Marathon. Over 22,000 participants started the race this year while some 500,000 spectators lined the course.
In 1997 we watched the Boston Marathon near the finish line where the crowd was so dense that Brooksyne, at 5 feet 3 inches, could only see the backs of the spectators so she wandered off to explore the wares of street vendors. (Women will always find excuses to shop!) I hoisted Ester, who was a very small eight year old at the time, on my shoulders so she could see. At 6 feet 2 inches I managed to look over the thick crowd that lined the course for miles to see the finish.
The finish line is in the shadow of the Boston Public Library and the John Hancock Tower, the tallest skyscraper in New England. Only a few of the runners who start the race have a reasonable expectation of actually being the "winner". The vast majority set a goal just to finish and many have a target time they hope to run it in. The Boston Athletic Association website reported that 21,554 runners finished the marathon this year, including our friend Nikki Higgins.
Each day, unheralded for the most part, thousands of Christian marathon runners also finish the race. Only a few are publicly recognized apart from their own family, church, and close friends. Certainly not to the degree famous entertainers or athletes are recognized or celebrated.
But the most notable recognition that really counts will be on the other side where Christian runners aspire to hear the words of our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:21).
In our daily texts we see several components of finishing well in life's marathon:
1) "I consider my life worth nothing to me." John the Baptist said it so well, "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30).
2) "Completing the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Essentially this is the great commission given to all His disciples. Like the apostle Paul, we also have "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." We are certainly apportioned with a variety of specific giftings. You may be a student, a businessperson, a homemaker, a professional or a "minister". You may be young or old, black, white or otherwise. You may be wealthy or not so wealthy. But if you are a follower of Jesus Christ you are called to "the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." Let us all be faithful in doing so!
3) "I have fought the good fight." In 1 Timothy 6:12 Paul wrote, "Fight the good fight of faith". This is not a physical fight, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil' (Ephesians 6:12). If you are not fighting you have surrendered to the enemy!
4) "I have kept the faith." Each generation is called to keep and contend for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints (Jude 3). The definite article is very significant in each of these texts. The order in the Greek emphasizes this, "The faith I have kept." "The faith" is the apostolic doctrine taught from the very beginning of the church age. This is the standard we must maintain.
We will all finish this race. The question is, "Will we finish well?"
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we want to run the Christian race wholeheartedly testifying to the gospel of Your grace all the days of our life. We choose to fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith. It's not the one who runs the swiftest, nor the one who runs for a day, but the one who endures to the end who shall be saved. We anxiously await the rapturous moment when we cross the finish line from mortality into immortality, from death unto life eternal, when we will hear Your wonderful commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
A wonderful promise follows our second daily text. "In the future 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 4:8).
This week our series has been on lessons from life's marathon.
Monday: "Running In The Path Of His Commands"
Tuesday: "The Start of Life's Marathon"
Wednesday: "The Disciplines of Life's Marathon"
Thursday: "The Heartbreak Hills of Life's Marathon"
Today: "The Finish of Life's Marathon"
This week's series covered several verses in the New Testament concerning running and the race. Here are all the other New Testament verses I've been able to find with this theme:
"It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain" (Galatians 2:2).
"You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?" (Galatians 5:7). This is one I have really been considering. What a sad expression in these words, "You were running well."
"Holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain" (Philippians 2:16).
Last night I attended a banquet at the Shady Maple for the Associates in Biblical Research and heard John Morris of The Institute for Creation Research make an interesting presentation about the Genesis flood. I appreciate these trustworthy defenders of the Faith!
Yesterday we passed many roadside perennial flower stands with self service, honor system payment boxes. Many of them have nothing but a cool whip container with a slot in the top to drop the money in. Brooksyne enjoyed the variety of plants offered at this location. We are also blessed by the old fashioned honesty expected at these self service stands.
Old-fashioned honesty: We had another experience yesterday illustrating this presumption of honesty. Earlier in the day Lee, a friend of ours, had told us about an interesting place off the beaten path, an old order shoe store where the owner is blind. We found the place and purchased a bottle of shoe polish. Brooksyne went to the register and the blind store owner asked, "What is the price of your item?" Brooksyne answered, "$3.45" and handed him a $20.00 bill. He asked her, "Is it a $5.00 bill?" "No, it's $20.00" she replied. He opened the cash drawer and with his fingers carefully felt the coin and note compartments as he counted out the proper change. Now, how's that for trusting the customer! (BTW - There were a number of old order employees present, should there be needed support for this owner.)
Here's another photo of the Tioga County bears we showed in our lead photograph, but this time with MaMa bear looking on. Perhaps she was afraid her cubs would get hurt playing on the teeter-totter!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"What A Day That Will Be!" Video Gaither Vocal Band
"It Will Be Worth It All" Video A group of Canadian young adults at a camp in Nova Scotia. This song has a line I recalled in the message that states "so bravely run the race till we see Christ".
"It'll Be Worth It After All" Video Terry Terrell
"Find Us Faithful" Video Let There be Praise Singers
I chose this song recalling these lines,
We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace.
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives
"My Redeemer Lives" Video Nicole Nordeman This song is played with images of a father son team with an incredible story. Here's a news story on the Hoyt Team. Video
"Runner" Video Twila Paris
"Take Time To Be Holy" Video Choir
"The Hour I First Believed" Video Karen Peck and New River
"He Who Began A Good Work In You" Video Steve Green
"A New Name In Glory" Video Gaither Homecoming singers
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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