30 Days of Thanks & Praise! - Day #6 – The Joy of Finishing Strong (II Timothy 4:6-8)
II Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Here we have the dying words of an old soldier. Without reservation Paul says, “I am now ready to be offered”. This wording takes us back to the Old Testament practice of pouring out wine upon certain sacrificial offerings. Paul viewed his martyrdom and the shedding of his blood as an offering poured out to God. Paul had lived for Christ and now he was willing to die for Him. Our challenge is not merely to fight, but to fight a good fight. The word good speaks of that which is "worthy, honorable, noble, and commendable." He fought for things of eternal value. He fought for sound doctrine. He fought to see souls saved, Christians discipled, and churches planted.
The Apostle Paul did not have a great start in Scripture. He came upon the biblical scene as a zealot whose ministerial ambition was to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. However, upon his conversion, he became the chief advocate of the very church he once sought to destroy. In the closing chapter of his life, he wrote in II Timothy 4:6-7, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Paul had a lousy start, but a great finish. In those closing remarks, Paul mentioned a man by the name of Demas. Demas was a co-laborer in the work of the Lord. Demas started out strong in the Lord but failed to stay on course. Paul wrote of this man in II Timothy 4:10, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.” Demas had a great start, but a lousy finish. Somewhere in the journey, Demas became mesmerized and distracted by the world around him. He took his eyes off the eternal, and placed them on the temporal. As a result, he will forever be remembered as a man who finished poorly. Consistency is the key to crossing the finish line in good standing with God.
I’ve been around long enough to know some men and women whose lives were totally sold out to God a few years ago but who have since walked off the track in the middle of the race. They’ve given up. They’ve lost their longing for God and all that He is. The possibility is real for all of us unless we allow our hearts to be completely gripped by God. The faithfulness of my walk with God in the next year and the next decades depends on my willingness to stay in relationship with Him. Every one of us needs a reason to live, a compelling cause and purpose that keeps us going when we would rather quit. The truth is that we all face obstacles that hinder us and make life difficult. Some people allow those obstacles to stop them. Others overcome. The difference is not in the obstacles, but in the determination and drive of the person who faces the obstacles. The passion and purpose of every believer should be to glorify God and bring others to Him. If that is our purpose, then nothing will stop us from continuing on the right course.
Many people start well, but they are always looking back. It you keep looking back, you will eventually fall back. Paul finished his course because his heart was set on finishing. When Paul faced the threat of imprisonment or even death for preaching, he said, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). His purpose for life was so compelling that it drove him to overcome and finish the course which God had laid out for Him. May that be true of each of us.
What kind of epitaph will men place on your headstone? Regardless of what you and I may say about our lives, or what others may write about us when we are no more, God has the final word! At the end of your life, will you be able to look back and say, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”? You can! Perhaps you wandered in here and you are lost today. Let me just remind you that you can only get to Heaven if you know Jesus Christ. If you have never been saved, please come to the Lord today and call upon Him by faith. He will save your soul if you will come to Him.
PRAYER: Lord, I don’t know if I have minutes, days, or years ahead of me, but I realize I need to be ready to cross the line. Whenever my time comes, I want to be found faithful. I want to run this race with endurance for Your glory. Help me to keep close to Your Son and help me keep the faith. I confess how desperately I need Your strength in the fight. Urge me on to cross the finish line and break the tape, accelerating with joy! In Jesus’ worthy name I pray, amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.