1 Keep The Faith And Finish Right
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:1 & 2
I just finished reading the book of Joshua and I noticed that Caleb had to wait 45 years to claim the land he explored as one of the twelve spies. He was 85 and still trusted God to give him his mountain. I also saw that Joshua was 110 years old when he said, "... as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) These men finished right. Our verse above tells us how we can finish right. "...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us," Sometimes our way seems hard, but we have an example, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." The Lord Jesus finished right. Let's look at more examples in God's Word of men and women who kept the faith and finished right.
2 Jesus Finished The Work He Came To Do
"These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." John 17:1-4
Today we are beginning a new devotional theme titled, "I Want To Finish Right". As we look to the scriptures for men and women who finished right, our first and foremost example is the Lord Jesus. He spoke these words to the disciples just before He went to the garden of Gethsemane. He came to give His life for me and for you as we see in John 10:14-18. "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father." Jesus finished the work He came to do. He came "to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) Will you accept His gift of salvation? First you must understand that you are a lost sinner. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:23) "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Won't you believe today? Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation... For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9, 10, & 13) Jesus finished right, to give us eternal life.
3 Paul Finished His Course And Kept The Faith
"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." II Timothy 4:6-8
As we look at men and women of the Bible who finished right, a most obvious example in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul. The first mention of Paul, or then known as Saul, is in Acts 7 as he stood by when Stephen was stoned. He persecuted the church until he met Christ on the road to Damascus. He preached that Christ is the Son of God and became a great missionary starting many churches. His letters are an important part of the New Testament of the Holy Bible and still bring hope to those who read them with spiritual understanding. He suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. "Are they Hebrews? so am I. Are they Israelites? so am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? so am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not." (II Corinthians 11:22-31) Through it all Paul kept the faith and finished right. "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:" (II Timothy 4:6)
4 Finish What You Start Building
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.." Luke 14:28-30
I know of a few places where homes, or building developments were started and fancy entrance ways or partial foundations are all that stand on the otherwise empty lots. In our troubled economy, as in Jesus' day, it is important to count the cost before you begin so you can be sure you have enough funds to finish the task. You may purchase your lot, choose the blueprints you want for your floorplan, and even lay the foundation, but if you don't finish building, what do you have? When we begin to walk with the Lord we may have wonderful plans and good intentions, extending our goals beyond our reach. The Lord wants us to count the cost and follow through by faith on our daily Christian walk. Begin with Christ as your foundation. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." (I Corinthians 3:11-15) Let your works be pure as gold, silver and precious stones. And last of all, as our focus this week states, finish right. As in the parable above, the world will mock Christians who begin to build on the right foundation but don't finish right. Count the cost for your Christian journey and keep on keeping on.
5 Enoch And Noah Walked With God
"And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Genesis 5:21-24
Enoch walked with God. We have these verses about Enoch in the fifth chapter of Genesis, but we can find more about him in the New Testament. We read in Hebrews 11:5, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Enoch pleased God and preached of God's judgment, as we find in Jude 14 & 15, "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Enoch must have seen the great wickedness of mankind on the earth as he preached of God's judgment and he may have wondered if any repented or believed. We come to the next chapter in Genesis and find Enoch's great grandson also walked with God. "And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God." (Genesis 6:6-9) Enoch walked with God and he finished right. He just kept walking on up to heaven one day. Noah also walked with God and we can also read more about him in the New Testament. "By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." (Hebrews 11:7) "And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;" (II Peter 2:5) As I read about Noah a few weeks back, I thought of how sad it must have been that only his wife, sons, and daughters in law were saved on the ark. His father Lamech lived 595 years after Noah was born and had more sons and daughters. (Genesis 5:30) Yet, not one of Noah's brothers or sisters believed. Methuselah lived 969 years and had sons and daughters, but not one of Noah's aunts or uncles got on board the ark, nor his cousins. Enoch and Noah walked with God during wicked times, and they did not let the unbelief of the world keep them from following the Lord. If we want to finish right, we must keep the faith and walk with God like Enoch and Noah and not let the world hinder us.
6 Caleb Was 85 When He Claimed His Mountain
"And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan. And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." Numbers 13:27-30
Caleb and Joshua were the only spies of the twelve Moses sent into the land of Canaan that brought back a good report. Caleb said, "Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." You may remember that the Children of Israel did not go forward and God let them wander in the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day the spies were in the land. Let's look in the book of Joshua, as the Children of Israel have begun to win battles and claim the land of Canaan. "Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the LORD said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadeshbarnea. Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadeshbarnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the LORD my God. And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God. And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said. And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance." (Joshua 14:6-13) Hebron was the mountain that Caleb had seen forty five years earlier, and now he finally got to claim God's promised land. We may not receive all of God's blessings on our lives as soon as we are saved. We may have to wait to receive some of God's promises. But don't get discouraged. Caleb had followed God, but he was 85 years old when he finally claimed his mountain. Caleb waited a long time, but he didn't quit just because he was 85. He was still ready to fight the battle and claim God's promises!
7 "As For Me And My House We Will Serve The Lord"
"Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua 24:14-15
It is very interesting to study the life of Joshua. We first read of Joshua in Exodus 17 as a leader in the army of the Children of Israel. In Exodus 24:13 he is described as Moses' minister and in Exodus 33:11 the servant of Moses who departed not from the tabernacle. He and Caleb were the only two of the twelve spies who wanted to go in and possess the Promised Land. As Joshua began to lead the Children of Israel after the death of Moses, God told him, "There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:5-7) Through the book of Joshua we see God's hand leading and guiding Joshua as he leads the Children into the Promised Land. Our scripture above is from the last chapter of Joshua. He gives his last charge to the Children of Israel.. He reminds the people how God led them and brought them out of Egypt. He remembered how God had kept His promises. And part of his final words, he said, "choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." Joshua was 110 years old and he knew that God had been with him all the way. He started right as he followed God under the leadership of Moses, and he ended right. He didn't quit. He decided to keep serving the Lord until the day he died.
8 Simeon Waited To See The Lord
"And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him." Luke 2:25-33
As we continue with our look at people who finished right, we come to the story of Simeon. Simeon was an old man, filled with the Holy Ghost, who wanted to see the Lord before he died. He went to the temple and when Mary and Joseph came in with the baby Jesus he knew that this was the Christ Child. Notice where the Spirit sent Simeon to find the Lord... into the temple. We can be saved anywhere, but a good place to look for Christ is at the house of God. After he blessed God he said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation," Only when we see the salvation of the Lord will be have peace, peace to live by and peace to die by. Notice also that God sent Jesus to bring salvation to all people, Jews and Gentiles. Have you received God's gift of salvation? Put all your trust in the Lord Jesus, who died and rose again that we might live. Confess your sins and believe that He is God's Son who gives forgiveness and access to God's heaven. Then, finish right. Simeon kept looking until he saw the Christ Child. As children of God, we can keep looking up and one day the Lord will return just as He promised, to call us home.
9 Anna Finished Right And Gave Thanks Unto The Lord
"And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Luke 2:36-38
Simeon was not the only person in the temple that day looking for the Christ Child. The next verses tell us of Anna,who stayed in the temple and served God night and day. If I understand the verses correctly, she was married for seven years and was now 84 years old and gave her time to the Lord in prayers and fastings. She could have turned away from God when her husband died and she was left alone, but she continued to serve God. Through her faithfulness, she knew this was the Christ Child and gave thanks unto God. She also told everyone that looked for the coming Messiah that this was He. Things may happen early in our lives that are quite unexpected. We need to keep on trusting the Lord and serving Him in prayer just as Anna did. We can finish right -- just like Anna.
10 Dorcas Finished Right
"Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord." Acts 9:36-42
In our scriptures today we find another woman who finished right. Dorcas "was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did." She made it a practice to do good and help others with her acts of charity. She got sick and died and the disciples called Peter to come to them. Notice that the widows were gathered around Dorcas and showed Peter the coats and garments which she had made. With the description previously given I believe the widows were wearing these coats and clothes that Dorcas had made for them. She had used her talents to sew for the poor widows and they praised her for her kindness. You may not be great in your finances or fame, but you can be faithful in your talents and testimony and finish right.
11 Othniel, The First Judge
"And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgat the LORD their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia: and the children of Israel served Chushanrishathaim eight years. And when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim. And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died.." Judges 3:7-11
I am reading through the Bible and I was really focused on the lives of Moses and Joshua. We talked about how Joshua finished right and his last words to the people and his charge to them, "...choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) The people replied that they would serve the Lord. The book of Judges shows how the people forsook God and served idols and God would let them fall into the hands of their enemies, and when they repented the judges would rule the people and God would send deliverance. Moses and Joshua were such strong leaders and God used them mightily, and I wondered what kind of leader would follow in their steps. As I began the book of Judges I saw that the first judge was Othniel, the son of Caleb's younger brother. Othniel had good examples to follow in Joshua, and also in his uncle Caleb. Caleb finished right, when at 85 years old he still wanted to claim the mountain God had promised him 45 years earlier. We first see Othniel in Joshua 15 after Caleb drove the sons of Anak (giants) from his land. "And he went up thence to the inhabitants of Debir: and the name of Debir before was Kirjathsepher. And Caleb said, He that smiteth Kirjathsepher, and taketh it, to him will I give Achsah my daughter to wife. And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife. And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs." (Joshua 15:15-19) Othniel fought to claim the Promised Land, just as his uncle Caleb had done. The vicious cycle in Judges begins in chapter 3 when the Children of Israel served other gods, and when they cried unto the Lord God He gave them deliverance through Othniel. "And the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died." I want to encourage you today to keep fighting for what's right, and claim God's promises. You may have a son or daughter, neice or nephew, or even a young neighbor watching you, who will follow in your footsteps.
12 Moses Finished Strong
"And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel." Deuteronomy 34:7-12
We saw how Joshua, Caleb, and Othniel finished right, but now I want to back up and look at Moses, their leader. We can read of the faith of Moses in Hebrews 11:24-27, "By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible." Moses followed God and is described as the meekest man on earth, (Numbers 12:3), yet he finished strong. He walked with God and talked with Him face to face and he encouraged Joshua all along the way. "And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:7-8) Moses had surely learned that God would go with them and never fail or forsake His people.
13 David Was A Man After God's Heart
"And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably? And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice. And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD'S anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." I Samuel 16:4-7
God sent Samuel to anoint a king to take Saul's place, and thus we have the beginning of the story of King David. We continue... "Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The LORD hath not chosen these. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah." (I Samuel 16:10-13) The Lord looked in the heart of David as we also see in Acts 13:22-23. "And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man's seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:" When we think of David we may think of the shepherd who wrote the 23rd Psalm, or we may remember the victory over Goliath, or his humility to God as he asked, "Who am I?" You may also remember David's great sin and wonder why I added him to our list of men and women who finished right. Well, as I continue my reading through the Bible I came to this verse today, "Nevertheless for David's sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: Because David did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite." (I Kings 15:4-5) God's Word still has good to say about David, even after his sin. This gives me hope. For there are many times that I feel like I fail the Lord. I have been reminded that I often hurt those I love with my words and actions and I don't even realize it. I often feel like I fall so short in following my Lord. I am compelled to pray that God will help me love more and judge less. There are times that I get so low I wonder how God can use me. But the story of David can encourage us to draw closer to God. We all sin. We need to confess our sin and turn toward God, instead of running from God. I am reminded of the illustration in Jeremiah 18:1-4. "The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter's house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it." We are all marred at times, but praise the Lord He doesn't throw the clay away. I know I often fail, but deep in my heart I want the Lord to use me and I want to finish right.
14 Elijah Went Up In A Whirlwind
"And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over." II Kings 2:8-14
I just read of the life of Elijah and when you talk about people who finished right, you have to include Elijah who went out of here by a whirlwind in a chariot of fire. Elijah was very zealous for God and slew the 450 prophets of Baal in I Kings 18. He ran down the mountain top faster than a chariot. When threatened by Jezebel, in sheer exhaustion he sat under a juniper tree and requested to die. But the tender hand of God nurtured and nourished Elijah. There was a great wind, an earthquake, and a fire but God was not in these. Then God spoke to Elijah in a "still small voice". (I Kings 19) Sometimes we look for God to move in great things when we should be listening for His still small voice. Elijah followed the Word of God and when it was his time to go, God delivered him in the whirlwind and chariot of fire, great indeed. As I was thinking about Elijah's last journey I tried to find a significance in the places he visited. "And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace." (II Kings 2:1-3) This is repeated at Jericho and 50 of the sons of the prophets follow them to Jordan. The scriptures do not tell us why Elijah went to Bethel and Jericho, but it does tell us that at each place they talked with the sons of the prophets. Elijah thought he was the only prophet of God left (I Kings 19:10) and I think the Lord was showing him that the work of the Lord would continue. Maybe he encouraged the sons of the prophets as Moses encouraged Joshua before his death. Maybe he blessed them as Jacob blessed his sons before his death. Maybe God was just giving him peace that there were true prophets to stand in the gap he would be leaving. I want to finish right. I don't expect to leave in a whirlwind by chariots and horses of fire, but I do expect to always hear God's still small voice.
15 Daniel Prayed
"And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God" Daniel 6:20-23
Many children are taught the story of how Daniel was thrown into a den of lions because he prayed to God three times each day. I have often seen children's puzzles showing Daniel sitting with the lions in the den and the king pearing over the edge. In the first chapter of the book of Daniel we see that Daniel is counted among the Hebrew children that are taken into captivity to Babylon. With all of these in mind, and the fact that this account is given early in the book of Daniel, I had thought that Daniel was still a young man when he was thrown into the den of lions. Last summer when we studied through the Bible I noticed that several kings had reigned during the period of Daniel's captivity. Daniel was taken by King Nebuchadnezzar and interpreted his dreams. He also interpreted the handwriting on the wall for King Belshazzar. As we come to chapter 6 the kings mentioned are King Darius and King Cyrus. I tried to find the age of Daniel at this point and after searching several internet sites, it seems that Daniel could have been 80 or 90 years old when he was cast into the den of lions. I was surprised! The pictures on the puzzles I had seen were never of an old prophet, but of stout men still in their prime. I do not know how old Daniel was when he died, but this account shows us that even in his old age he stayed true to God. No doubt Daniel knew the prayer of Solomon when he dedicated the temple and he "purposed in his heart" in the beginning of his captivity and continued through his old age in prayer toward the holy temple. "If they sin against thee, (for there is no man that sinneth not,) and thou be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captives unto the land of the enemy, far or near; Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness; And so return unto thee with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name: Then hear thou their prayer and their supplication in heaven thy dwelling place, and maintain their cause, And forgive thy people that have sinned against thee, and all their transgressions wherein they have transgressed against thee, and give them compassion before them who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them:" (I Kings 8:46-50) As you get older, you may feel that you can't serve the Lord as you once did, but you can always pray.
16 Job Prayed For His Friends
"Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: ... I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath....go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as the LORD commanded them: the LORD also accepted Job. And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came there unto him all his brethren, and all his sisters, and all they that had been of his acquaintance before, and did eat bread with him in his house:... and comforted him over all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him: every man also gave him a piece of money, and every one an earring of gold. So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters." Portions of Job 42:1-13
Job lost his sons and daughters, his servants, and all his flocks and herds in one day. Then he became sick with great boils over his body, and his wife told him to curse God and die. "But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." (Job 2:10) The remainder of the book of Job is the discussion between Job and his friends who come to "comfort" him. I used a large portion of the last chapter to show, first of all that when God revealed Himself Job humbled himself before the Lord. When we see God, we will humble our hearts before Him. The next part I like in this chapter is found in verse 10. "And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends:.." When trials come and we feel so low, it will help us to pray for others. The last point I notice in this chapter is also found in verse 10, "also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before." God blessed Job in the end. Job lived 144 years after his trials and saw his children to the fourth generation. (Job 42:16) Job went through the trials, but he finished right!
17 Luke, The Beloved Physician
"Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." Luke 1:1-4
Here is the beginning of the gospel of Luke. He goes on to give details about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ that we can't find in the other gospels. Luke chapter 2 contains our most beloved and memorable Christian verses with the foundation for our Christmas plays, no room in the inn, the angels' proclamation to the shepherds, and greatest of all the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes laid in a manger. Luke travelled a great deal with Paul and also wrote the book of Acts. He was a great friend to Paul as we see in Colossians 4:14, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." We find Luke mentioned again in Paul's farewell letter to Timothy. "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. Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (II Timothy 4:6-11) Luke stayed with Paul. What a blessing he must have been to Paul through the years, as a doctor, and Christian companion. In these verses we also see the contrast in the story of Demas. To the Colossian believers Paul says, "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you." But at the end of Paul's life, in the letter to young Timothy he told how Demas had forsaken him, for the love of the world and only Luke stayed with him. I want to be like Luke, and stay faithful to the work of the Lord, and to His church, and support the men of God preaching the gospel message. I don't want to be like Demas, and quit serving the Lord, bringing disappointment and hardship to those still going strong for the Lord. Let's finish right. Don't forsake the Lord or His church.
18 John Mark Finished Strong
" And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."Acts 15:36-41
We saw earlier that Luke was with Paul at the end of Paul's life. John Mark had been with Paul at the start of the first missionary journey. But when the group got to Pamphylia, John Mark left them. We don't know if he got homesick, or if the journey was too much for him, but he left. When it came time to take a second missionary journey, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them again, but Paul disagreed. The argument was so strong between Paul and Barnabas that they went their separate ways. Imagine how it felt to be young John Mark, and to have your mistake discussed and argued by these two great men of God. Imagine the public discussion from people on both sides of this argument, and having your decision to go home become the topic of many Christians. Young John Mark made a mistake, but haven't we all let the Lord down at times in our lives?
Now go forward fifteen or twenty years. In Paul's last letter, he praises Luke for still being with him. Then he remembers a young man who made a mistake. A young man who left the first missionary journey, but had apparently rededicated his life to serving Christ. He is mentioned in Colossians 4:10, Philemon vs.24, and 1st Peter 5:13, and apparently he was working to spread the gospel. Paul recognizes that John Mark would be a help to the last days of his ministry, and asks Timothy to send him. "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry." (2nd Timothy 4:11) John Mark may have made a mistake, but he got back in the Lord's work, and finished strong.
19 Peter Finished Strong
"Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. Luke 22:54-62
The great failure of Peter is well-documented. We remember that Jesus predicted that Peter would betray Him, although Peter denied that it would ever happen. Peter's failure is there for all of us to see, a reminder that we all fail the Lord from time to time. The Bible records the honest truth: Noah got drunk; Abraham lied about his wife; Moses murdered an Egyptian; David committed adultery and arranged a murder. None of us are above sin. But instead of focusing on Peter at this low moment in his life as he stands outside weeping in failure, let's realize that Peter recovered from this incident. Acts 2:38-41 shows Peter preaching fearlessly on the day of Pentecost, and five thousand are saved. (So next time someone criticizes Peter's denial, ask them if they've ever led five thousand to the Lord...) Psalm 145:14 says, "The LORD upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down." Psalm 37:23-24 says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand." Yes, Peter failed, and so do we. But he got up, and got back to serving the Lord. In fact, I believe Peter never forgot his denial and the look Jesus gave him. I think it made him more determined than ever to serve the Lord and be faithful. If we fall, we must get up, and get back to serving the Lord.
20 The Widow Who Gave All She Had
"And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all: For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had." (Luke 21:1-4)
We have been looking at the lives and stories of men and women in the Bible who finished right. Sometimes we view these men and women as Biblical giants in the sight of God. We see how God spoke to them, and how the Lord gave them power and victory and how the Spirit moved them. We need to realize that we too, can be used by God in mighty ways when we listen to God speak to us, and work in the power of the Lord and claim victory through the Holy Ghost living within us. We may not think we have the assets or abilities to be used by God as these faithful men and women possessed. I use this example today, to show that God does not look at what we possess, for He gives us all things. He does not judge us by our looks or fame as the world does, for He made us who we are. As this poor widow walked before Jesus she may have felt ashamed that her clothes were worn. She was probably humbled by the fact that she only had two mites to give, among those who proudly gave of their abundance. But the Lord had great things to say of this poor widow. She gave "all the living that she had." She gave it all to God. How will you finish? Many of those who counted on their jobs and retirement funds are finding themselves among the poor in our land. We can't put our faith in stocks and bonds. This widow gave God all she had, proving that all her faith was in the Lord. We can lay up treasures on earth and hope they will carry us through, or we can lay up treasure in heaven and trust in the Lord to carry us through. How will you finish?
21 Finally... Pray
"Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:" II Thessalonians 3:1
We have looked at many of the faithful men and women in the Bible who finished right. As we finish this theme, let's look at some of the ways we can finish right. As Paul ends this letter to the church of the Thessalonians he reminds them to pray for him and those preaching the gospel "that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:" We need to remember to pray for our pastor as he brings the message that God has led him to preach. We can also pray for other preachers that we know are preaching God's truth. Let's not forget our Sunday School teachers and those going on church visitation, and the missionaries. There are so many that are sharing God's Word that we can pray for. I Timothy 2:1-4 sums it up pretty well. "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." One of the ways we can finish right is to keep on praying, as we also read in I Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, and taught His disciples to pray. If prayer was so important to Him, then we need to make it an important part of our lives, too!
22 Finally... Love One Another
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:" I Peter 3:8
Our next "Finally" comes from the Apostle Peter. He is writing "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia," (I Peter 1:1) The church was under great persecution and suffering. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" (I Peter 1:7) As they were "tried with fire" from without the church, Peter wanted them to have love and compassion to one another as we also see in I Peter 2:1-3. "Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." The Lord is gracious and kind to us, giving us mercy and grace beyond measure coupled with unspeakable love. Peter knew firsthand of the love of Christ as we see when He appeared to him after the resurrection. "This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep." (John 21:14-17) Peter finished right, preaching in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." (Acts 2:41-42) The chapter continues telling how the church began in fellowship with the believers' having "all things common" and "continuing daily with one accord." Peter wanted to remind the believers to be in one mind, or one accord, and to love one another with compassion. One way we can finish right is to have love and compassion for others. There is much strife on the outside of the church; let's not let strife from within cripple our churches. Love one another.
23 Finally... Rejoice
"Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe." Philippians 3:1
In eight verses in these four chapters of Philippians Paul uses the word, "rejoice". The last is Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." Are we rejoicing? You may answer, "But you don't know what I'm going through." Can I remind you of what Paul went through? "Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not? If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is blessed for evermore, knoweth that I lie not." (II Corinthians 11:23-31) Paul suffered through all these afflictions, and wrote the letter to the Philippians while he was in prison, yet he wanted them to be able to rejoice in the Lord. God is good. He supplies all our needs. He has promised to never leave us or forsake us. The Lord died to give us eternal life and is preparing a place for us in heaven. We have a lot to rejoice about. If we want to finish right, let's just keep on rejoicing.
24 Finally... Be Strong In The Lord
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might." Ephesians 6:10
Paul doesn't stop with this verse, but goes on to tell the believers at Ephesus how to be strong in the Lord. "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;" (Ephesians 6:11-18) We would not go out to battle without our armor, and with the same thought, we won't win battles without the whole armor of God. I want to fight to the finish, and finish on the winning side. I began this series after reading of Moses and Joshua and how they finished right. Moses said, "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee." (Deuteronomy 31:6) Joshua said, "Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them." (Joshua 1:6) Even King David passed along this advice. "And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD." (I Chronicles 28:10) These great men all believed God and finished right. God can give us courage and strength so that we may finish right, too! "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)
25 Finally... Let Your Thoughts Be Pure
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8
How's your thought life? In these verses Paul exhorts us to think on good things. Many times we feel that we are good Christians when we follow the Ten Commandments and other rules of the church. We may forget that God also knows our thoughts. At first glance, we may read these verses and think that we are doing well because we don't think in terms of cussing or profanity, and we don't make plans to murder or steal from someone. But our thought life covers so much more. We are to think on things that are true and honest. Have you ever looked at someone you don't really care for, or someone who did you wrong and you start thinking bad thoughts about him? Maybe a coworker got a raise or position you thought you deserved and you started thinking, "I wonder what he did for the boss to get that promotion?" Or you hear of a friend's divorce and you start thinking, "I knew it wouldn't last because she..." Whether someone else has good news, or maybe bad news, we think up things in our mind that are not true and honest. Next we are told to think on things that are pure and lovely. Do the movies and things we watch, and the music we listen to help us to think pure and lovely thoughts? Finally, we are told to think on things of good report. There is so much bad in the world today and we can't totally shield ourselves from reality, but we can try to avoid bad gossip about others. Something else that comes to mind about our thought life is, do we sit around and worry about things that might happen? This verse gives us a lot to think about. It will help us to finish right if we "think on these things."
26 Finally... Be Of Good Comfort... And Live In Peace
"Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." II Corinthians 13:11-14
Finally, we have come to our last "finally". As Paul closes this letter he wants to leave the Corinthian believers with words of comfort. We live in a troubled world. Can Christians really have peace among the fightings of the world? Remember what Jesus said in John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Jesus knows that we will have troubles and trials in the world, but He can give us peace. We can also have the peace of God when we are afraid, as we see in Matthew 14:27, "But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid." Jesus came to die for us, and when we put our trust in Him we can have a deep settled peace that the world does not understand. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) As Paul came to the conclusion of the letter, he encouraged them with the sweet promise of the presence of God. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." If we have a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and accept God's gift of love through His Son, then we will have the sweet communion of the Holy Ghost and have God's peace in our hearts and lives. "Amen."
27 Don't Quit Short Of The Finish
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." Genesis 2:1
For the past four weeks we have been using the theme, "I Want To Finish Right." We have looked at several men and women in the Bible who finished right, and even mentioned one or two who did not finish right. We looked at the final thoughts in some of the letters to the early churches. In our verse above we see that God finished His creation of the heavens and the earth. To close this theme, I want to share a few more verses of some who finished their work.
Exodus 39:32 "Thus was all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the congregation finished: and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they."
Joshua 4:10 "For the priests which bare the ark stood in the midst of Jordan, until every thing was finished that the LORD commanded Joshua to speak unto the people, according to all that Moses commanded Joshua: and the people hasted and passed over."
1 Kings 6:14 "So Solomon built the house, and finished it."
2 Chronicles 4:11 "And Huram made the pots, and the shovels, and the basons. And Huram finished the work that he was to make for king Solomon for the house of God;"
2 Chronicles 7:11 "Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD, and the king's house: and all that came into Solomon's heart to make in the house of the LORD, and in his own house, he prosperously effected."
Ezra 6:14 "And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia."
Nehemiah 6:15 "So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days."
John 19:30 "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost."