I have finished the race

2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)

16 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

 

As a long-distance runner I have always loved Paul’s analogy of the Christian life.

A journey that is not a quick dash but rather a long-haul, pavement pounding, heart-wrenching, soul-enriching marathon.

One that takes plenty of preparation, planning, and bucket-loads of perseverance.

To be able to come to the end of my own days and say, like Paul, that despite everything life threw at me I still managed to keep the faith would be quite an achievement.

Yet it’s one I’m aiming for, training for, and hoping for.

Knowing that by Gods grace I will finish the race, and finish strong.

Kim+

prayer : help me to persevere, keeping the faith no matter what

action : encourage a fellow brother and | or sister in Christ to persevere

equipped for every good work

2 Timothy 3:17 (ESV)

16 … that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

 

It’s Scripture, God’s very breath, that helps us stay on the straight-and-narrow.

Guiding us like ‘a lamp to [our] feet
and a light to [our] path’ (Psalms 119:105).

Sometimes the instructions and commands are explicit, specific.

Other times it’s necessary to understand God’s will, His very nature, in order to find our way.

Like a cryptic crossword His purpose may not always be clear at first. It takes time and effort and persistence to come to a greater (if not complete) understanding of His intent.

But it’s well worth the effort. And His gentle prods and corrections are invaluable.

How else are we to do good work if we lack His guidance? And not just some but every good work.

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for teaching, reproofing, correcting and training me

action : help me to do good works

breathed out by God

2 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…

 

What a wonderful image of the Word of God: His very breathe.

It brings to mind the beginning of time – when ‘the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters’ – just as God spoke and formed the universe (Genesis 1:2).

And as such we should never take His Word for granted. Never suppose to be above it. Never presume to fully understand it.

What we should do is seek to read it daily. Day & night.

Ponder it. Unravel it. Obey it.

Because it is the ultimate way we can know God’s mind.

His will. His grace. His love.

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your Word

action : delight in and meditate on God’s ‘law’ day & night (Psalm 1:2)

abstain from the passions of the flesh

1 Peter 2:11-12 (ESV)

11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Abstaining from sinful desires is easier said than done.

Whatever our resolve, all know that we give into temptation. Why else would we need a saviour?

However, He too was tempted like us (Luke 4:1-13): to give into the hunger that gnawed deep inside (v.3); to reject God the Father and take what was rightfully His (v.7); to put God’s word to the ultimate test (v.9-11).

But He didn’t. He refused to be goaded by Satan. To be lulled by his empty promises and scheming deceptions.

Instead, Jesus Christ returned again and again to God’s word to sustain Him (v.4, 8 & 12). Putting His trust in God the Father alone. And not in the Prince of Lies.

Sadly, we are not nearly as strong. Yet it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do the right thing.

So that our deeds may also ‘glorify God’. And in so doing, help others to repent & believe so that they in turn will ‘glorify God’.

Kim+

prayer : make me strong enough to withstand temptation yet humble enough to admit my sins and accept your forgiveness

action : during this time of Lent please help me to make a conscious effort to walk closer with you God and abstain from the passions of the flesh

now you have received mercy

1 Peter 2:9-10 (ESV)

9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

How great it is to receive mercy.

The overwhelming relief. The love and gratitude we then feel in return.

How can we possibly repay our maker? What can we do in return for our redeemer?

Whatever it might be it can never be enough. The debt is too great.

Yet we’re told all our debts to God are forgiven. We are absolved of the need to repay Him.

Leaving us free to serve Him as we ought. With a clear conscience.

As one who is ‘chosen’. One of His ‘people’. Part of His ‘royal priesthood’.

Made ‘holy’ in His sight. And thus set apart for His good purposes.

In part, to show grace and mercy to others.

And what better way than by sharing our faith through ‘proclaiming’ His ‘excellencies’.

Kim+

prayer : may I fully appreciate the gift of ‘light’ and my rescue from ‘darkness’

action : help me to ‘proclaim’ boldly and faithfully

a fool despises his father’s instruction

Proverbs 15:5 (ESV)

5 A fool despises his father’s instruction,
but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.

We’re so quick to give instruction but often slow to heed the counsel of others.

Kim+

the tongue of the wise commends knowledge

Proverbs 15:2 (ESV)

2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
but the mouths of fools pour out folly.

There’s a common theme throughout the Book of Proverbs between ‘wisdom‘ & ‘foolishness’.

And often it’s associated with what we say.

James 3 has a long discourse on the tongue and the trouble it can get us into.

Yet it can also be used to ‘bless’ (v.9).

And, although the context of that verse is using it to ‘bless our Lord and Father’ (v.9), a great way to bless others is to share our knowledge of Him with them: the gospel.

It’s a simple thing but one we are easily tempted to avoid for fear of embarrassment and rejection.

But that would be unwise.

Kim+

prayer : help me to be wise not ‘foolish’

action : look for opportunities to commend knowledge by ‘boldly’ proclaiming’ the gospel (Ephesians 6:19)

a soft answer turns away wrath

Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)

1 A soft answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.

There’s a beautiful contrast here between the soft answer on the one hand and the “harsh word” on the other.

At a very human level we’re often quick to jump to conclusions. Assuming another’s guilt and letting fly with “harsh words” and threats of retribution.

What we need to do is stop. Think. And before we speak take the time to consider all the angles. Weigh up all the arguments. Even put ourselves in their shoes.

Especially since people are generally prone to defensiveness when confronted and accused.

And remember that we too are just as imperfect (John 7:53-8:11).

After all. We are all condemned and thus we all deserve God’s “wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

Yet, thankfully, Jesus “delivers [believers] from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Kim+

prayer : thank God that I’m not “destined for wrath” but have “obtained salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

action : practice answering softly