Psalm 139:16 “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
It’s hard to believe (and not so easy to accept) but every one of us was born with an “expiration date”. Unfortunately, only God knows the number of days “recorded” in his book. Time, then, is our most precious commodity for we don’t know how much we have remaining. Though some have been on their journey longer than others, nobody is promised tomorrow. For that reason, wisdom says we must prioritize every day…every moment. We all can look back with great sorrow at time wasted. But Paul taught us that following Christ involves “forgetting what is behind”. We have no idea when the Master will return. It could be after our time is over…it could be today. How, then, are we to live? Pursuing things for ourselves? Spending our money and time on our family and loved ones? Christ taught us that our lives are to be lived bringing glory to God. Is the way you spend your time bringing him glory? How much of your time do you invest in those outside your circle? God never calls us to do things ‘later’ because later may be too late. What would it be like to stand before the Lord and say “I thought I had more time…”?
Pray: “Dear Heavenly Father, I have already spent far too much of my life on me. Let my remaining days be filled as you see fit. If you came back today or called me home, let me not be found only doing for me and mine. In Jesus’ matchless name, let me serve and not seek to be served – Amen.”
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 “When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools. Keep all the promises you make to him. It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.”
Luke 6:46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?”
At some point in time, whether it be decades ago or days ago, all who claim the name Christ-follower reached a point of surrender, giving their heart and pledging their lives to Jesus. On that day, you gained both a Savior and a Lord. There is little doubt that at that moment, you meant what you said. But how many of us truly live out the promise we made? Our words may proclaim him Lord – but do our lives? Far too often we sit upon the throne of our own lives, making decisions with little consideration for what Christ commands or without even asking for his input. Do you not remember the promise you made? God does. How many times have you tried to “make a deal” with God over something only to receive it and then fail to hold up your end of the bargain? Jesus said some who lived doing amazing things in his name will one day stand before him and hear “I never knew you”. There can only be one Lord of your life. If it isn’t Christ, it’s either you or some worldly idol. Regardless, you can fool others and you can even fool yourself, but when you stand before the Lord it’s too late.
Pray: “Lord Jesus, I don’t want to come to the end of my days only then to realize I have not kept my promise to you. I gave you my life – please keep me from taking it back again. In your powerful name, keep the promise I made to you ever in my thoughts I humbly pray – Amen.”
Galatians 6:9 “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”
The biggest danger facing most believers is not failing to finish strong…it is failing to finish at all. Life is far more a marathon than a sprint. When we start, we usually start enthusiastically. At some point in the journey we encounter obstacles, unexpected turns, and a landscape that suddenly becomes an uphill struggle. If we forget to walk in the Lord’s strength, we find ourselves soon growing weary. When we do good and we don’t see the immediate results we expected, frustration can set in and we start to hear the enemy’s familiar whisper telling us “you’re a failure”, “you can’t do this”, and “why don’t you just give up?”. Satan doesn’t need to defeat us. In the end, he just needs to get us to quit. After all, the Lord never promised the road would be easy – only that it would be worth the journey. As brothers and sisters in Christ, one of the most important things we can do is to encourage one another. Do you really want to ‘finish strong’ yourself and leave your family broke down or struggling behind? Paul said let “us” not get tired and “we” will reap. Let’s ‘break the tape’ together.
Pray: “Lord God, stop me, I pray, from trying to do good in my own strength. Mine is so limited, yours never-ending. In your Son’s holy name, keep me moving forward…don’t ever let me quit. – Amen.”
2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”
As Paul was coming to the end of his time here on earth, he wanted to pass along words of wisdom to his ‘son’ in the ministry, Timothy. Having done so, he takes an opportunity to sum up his life of serving the Lord. Paul had surely been fighting “the good fight” since meeting the Lord on the Damascus road. Through beatings, stonings, prisons, shipwrecks and constant opposition, Paul’s life seemed to be a constant battle. The same spiritual forces that opposed Paul still oppose the church today. If it doesn’t manifest itself in such extreme form, perhaps it is because there are so few today who pose the same threat to the forces of darkness that Paul did. Throughout his life, Paul never forgot he was running a race. He mentioned this not just to Timothy but also in his letters to the churches at Corinth, Galatia, and Philippi. What Paul had faced would surely have caused many others to give up. Many who had worked alongside Paul gave up the race and returned to the world. But Paul had “remained faithful”. Some might think Paul’s execution was not a good finish. How it ends isn’t really what’s important. That you are faithful till the end is everything.
Pray: “Heavenly Father, give me strength today for the battle. Never let me forget that it is waiting for me whether I am ready or not. Help me to remember that my race is not over until we are together. In the name of my blessed Lord and Savior, help me, I pray, to be faithful till the end – Amen.”
Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”
It should be the heart of every believer to one day hear those two words: “well done”. But those words are not earned through lazy living or carelessness with what the Lord has given you. Christ, the ultimate servant, only saw the “joy set before him” on the other side of a Roman cross. When our Lord returned to the Father, he left us a mission. With the gifts and talents we were born with and the addition of the Holy Spirit, we have all we need to be about our Master’s work. Though he has been gone a long time, he promised he would return. And when he returns it will be for those who were faithful – those whose lamps have not run out of oil. In Jesus’ parable, the Master did not give the same to each of the servants. So often we worry about what it is we have been given or what we have been asked to do. We think some are given “better gifts” or “more talents”. But when the Master returned, he didn’t reward the servants based on what they had been given, but rather by what they had done with what they had been given. Will you be found faithful when he comes?
Pray: Lord God, more than anything I one day want to hear my Lord tell me “well done”. Whatever it is you give me to do, large or small, in the spotlight or behind the scenes, let me be faithful to do my best…for you. In Jesus’ mighty name, I live to bring you glory and one day share in your joy forever – Amen.”