Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Continuing to the End

I wonder how many times in my life I have started something that I have never finished.  Immediately as I type those words the image of my flower garden that desperately needs attention jumps into my mind.  We have good intentions, even good energy to do the things in the beginning, but often, somewhere along the way, our intentions, our energy, our desire wanes.

Last night we listening to a preacher, and a good friend of ours, John Canning, preach on "continuing to the end."  When it comes to the things of the Lord, and the things the Lord has called us to do, it is imperative we not only begin well, but that we also finish well.  In fact, "continuing to the end" or ending well, is perhaps better than beginning well.

I remember when I was a fairly new Christian and was full of more enthusiasm than I was of understanding of the Scriptures, I volunteered to teach Sunday School to a group of young children, perhaps four or five years old.  I underestimated both my ability to teach them and their ability to wear out my strength and endurance.  After a few months, I was weary and frustrated.  My enthusiasm and energy had waned and I simply gave up.  Not only did I not finish well, I did not finish at all. 

Being faithful in whatever it is the Lord has given us to do is the most important thing we can be.  I am fortunate to live with such a wonderful example of faithfulness.  My husband is so faithful to the ministries the Lord has called him to do.  No matter if they are increasing or diminishing, he is there. He doesn't stop, he just does what the Lord has given him to do.

What is it the Lord has given you to do?  It may not be teaching a class or leading a ministry.  Maybe it is just being kind to a neighbor.  We have a neighbor named Ralph who, in the days when we all still took the local newspaper, made it his role to put everyone's newspaper on their doorstep.  He did it while he was walking his dog.  Such a little thing for him, but such a big thing for that elderly neighbor who didn't have to walk down the sidewalk in the rain for her paper. (We liked it, too!)  It was a kind thing to do and he was faithful to it everyday until we all stopped taking the paper.

The Apostle Paul sent these words to Timothy:

"But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 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." 2 Timothy 4: 5-8

The phrase in those verses, "make full proof of thy ministry" is interesting.  "Proof" there means "carry out fully, entirely accomplish."  Whatever the Lord has given us to do, be it preach, witness, write a blog, visit the widows and fatherless, cook meals for the needy, give a smile and kind word for the sad, whatever. . . do it completely, faithfully and entirely.  You  may feel like it is such a tiny thing to do, but if the Lord has given it to you it must be very important to someone.

Our Lord described this in a parable:

"His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord," (Matthew 25:21).

May each of us be able to say, like the Apostle Paul, "I have finished my course" and may we one day hear our Lord proclaim to us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful. . ."

Victory belongs to the true and faithful.

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