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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Ozark sunset near Branson MO (Photo by cousin Georgia)
Ozark Mountain sunset near Branson Missouri
(Photo by cousin Georgia)

"It Ain't Over 'Til…"

Message Summary: Today each of us who have placed our faith in Christ are running the race. Some of us are just beginning, others have been on the journey for a while and still others know that the time of departure is near. But "it's not over 'til it's over". Let us all with renewed determination commit to faithfully serving our Lord and finishing well!

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"As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD" (Joshua 24:15). "I have finished the race" (2 Timothy 4:7). 

There will come a day I know without a doubt
Around the throne the saints will bow and lay down every crown
How glorious that moment to see Him face to face
To hear Him say “Well done, my child”, You’ve finished your race
But for now the sun’s still rising, there’s work to still be done
While we’re waiting for the promise of what is yet to come.

Red Sox game at Fenway ParkIn two weeks we'll be visiting various friends in New England and while there we plan to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. The last time we went to a game at Fenway was in 2000 when I took my then 79-year-old mom, who was visiting us from Missouri. It was special since the Sox played the Kansas City Royals and we are from the KC area.

My Mom just might have been the only KC fan in the entire packed stadium. And was she ever vocal! The Sox had a comfortable lead at 8-2 going into the sixth when the Royals scored 9 runs and went on to win the game 13-11. (Interestingly the Sox tied it in the bottom of the sixth and the inning lasted 62 minutes!) Sox fans are serious and loud. Late in the game, in a crucial play with the Sox at bat and threatening to score, my Mom shouts very loudly to her KC team, "Double play, Double play", and they did just that! That sure led to some nasty looks from avid Red Sox fans sitting nearby!

Yogi BerraOne of the great verities of life is, "It ain't over 'til it's over", one of Yogi Berra's many colorful quotes often known as Yogi-isms.* I suppose it's most famously used in place of, "It's not over till the fat lady sings", a colloquialism that means one should not presume to know the outcome of an event which is still in progress. As sport's fans know that especially applies to sporting events like baseball.

But "It ain't over till it's over" is a concept we also need to remember spiritually. I heard an ad for an internet job site which pointed out the long-term instability of any specific job in today's job market. The ad went on to say, "You better think seriously about who you are and what you stand for."

That's great advice for the Christian! On the one hand life is short, like a mist; on the other hand our life is long with many twists and turns, like running a Marathon. Have you determined who you are and what you stand for? In his final charge to the people he had faithfully led as Moses' successor, Joshua reaffirmed his personal covenant with God. "As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." Today, and by God's grace till my final breath, I say, Amen! What about you?

The Apostle Paul's final written words are recorded in 2 Timothy 4. In this passage Paul knew the time of his departure was imminent and lists three retrospective assurances he had as he looked back on his life:

1) "I have fought the good fight."
2) "I have finished the race."
3) "I have kept the faith."

Finish well Today each of us who have placed our faith in Christ are running the race. Some of us are just beginning, others have been on the journey for a while and still others know that their time of departure is near. But "it's not over 'til it's over". Let us all with renewed determination commit to faithfully serving our Lord and finishing well!

We will finish this race. The question is, "Will we finish well?"

Finish well, every day that we are given
Finish well, for the glory of His name
Finish strong, until the Savior finally calls us home
Give it everything we have, finish well.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we desire to please you and You have told us how to do that; to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with You. When we commit ourselves to following these commands we will finish well, for the glory of Your name. We will finish strong until the Saviour calls us home. When we surrender all, we will fight the good fight, we will finish the race, and we will keep the faith not turning to the right nor to the left, but walking the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal righteousness. And we desire to take as many with us as we can possibly influence for Your kingdom. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

- Micah 6:8

Ron HooverRon Hoover is a friend and business leader we work with in the course of our chaplaincy ministry. In his mid-seventies he still has a mentoring ministry to other businessmen through Convene. I discussed the concept of finishing well with him and he shared with me that his ongoing prayer is, "Lord, keep me in the game" till the Lord calls him home!

Last week in our message titled, "A Strong Delusion" we referred to a book by Francis A. Schaeffer titled, "How Should We Then Live". Ron shared about a book he is studying "How Then Should We Work" by Hugh Whelchel dealing with the theology of work, which he is using in Convene sessions.

* Here are some more Yogi-isms. "When you come to a fork in the road ... take it." "I didn't really say everything I said" (A favorite of many politicians!). "You can observe a lot by watching." Referring to a popular restaurant in Saint Louis, his home town, he said, "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." Or my favorite, "You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I'm not hungry enough to eat six." However the one which can be understood spiritually warns, "If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else."

Here's a listing of what someone has deemed "The 50 greatest Yogi Berra quotes"

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Finish Well"  Video  The Carr Family  This is the song quoted in the message.

"I Wouldn't Change A Thing" A video tribute to Bill Bright with a song that really touches my heart.  Bill Bright, through Campus Crusade For Christ, had a formative impact on my life. These lyrics especially pertain to today's message:

Now the shadow is long.
And the race is near the end.
Yet the years I share with you have just begun.
I desire to finish well.
For I've always longed to hear from you.
The words from your own lips.
"My friend, well done."

"Nothing Less (Great is Thy Faithfulness)"   Video  Charles Billingsley

Finisher's Project

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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