Finishing Well

Finishing Well

Paul set the example for us as the end of his life was eminent. One book I read said that he was in a little hut waiting for his execution. He could hear the boots of his executioners coming down the path. What was it like for him?

2 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Today is a tribute to my friend Elliott Lovelace. He received his crown of righteousness a few days ago. Elliott was a part of my life all my life. He knew my parents before they were married. He was with them on their dates as they went door to door telling folks about the Lord.

He was a husband, father, grandfather, an evangelist, pastor, teacher, and a friend. His life exemplified the Lord, and his race was a testimony of God’s abounding grace. He had a great voice, and he and my mom frequently sang duets together.

What about you? Are you fighting the good fight of faith? I’m reading a book by Elizabeth Elliot. It is written at the beginning of her and Jim’s relationship. The Lord had them both wait. How did they wait? They continually offered up their unfulfilled longings as a well pleasing sacrifice to the Lord.

In this life we will have trials that severely test our faith. Yet, it is IN the testing that we draw nearer to the Lord. He alone becomes our focus and our hope. As we run our race, if we keep the Lord in laser-focus, we will confidently embrace every aspect of our suffering. We will finish well so that He is honored and glorified.

Wait, Wait! Part Two

Here is my favorite scene of waiting. 2 Samuel 5:18-24. The Philistines had deployed themselves in battle array. David inquired of the Lord and He gave him specific instructions. There was a great victory breakthrough (Baal Perazim).

Same situation. The Philistines again deployed themselves. David did not copy what he had done before. Again he inquired of the Lord. This time the Lord told him to wait until he heard the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees.

Can’t you imagine that scene? David and his army are waiting with hearing ears. They are ready, but they are not to move until…then to advance quickly.

It is a great lesson to us in waiting. Here is another scene I love and refer to often in my mind. The Lord told Samuel that the next day he would encounter a young man who would become the king.

1 Samuel 9:14 is the divine interception. It says, “So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way to the high place.”

Verse 23 says, “And Samuel said to the cook, Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, Set it apart.” As you read on you will see how the cook brought out the the ‘set apart’ portion.

As we wait, the Lord is setting up His provision for us. It is all behind the scenes. It requires our full trust. Wholly, absolutely, intentionally, trusting even when we cannot see any evidence of God’s provision.

Genesis 18:14 says, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Genesis 21:2 says, “For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the SET TIME of which God had spoken to him.”

We are purified-strengthened in our faith through our trial of waiting. God is acting on our behalf. He brings up any dross of impatience that would thwart His purpose.

Wait, Wait!

Why is it that our flesh reacts when we have to wait? We do not like our goals being blocked. I’m scheduled to write for the Life Project devotional, so I’ve been thinking about my verse.

Luke 21:19 says, “By your patience, possess your souls.” It is a simple instruction, but a hard one to live. Patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Therefore, it is borne when we are yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control. Impatience is fruit of the flesh.

Psalm 27:14 is a great heart-governor verse. It says, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Waiting is a trial that reveals the hidden dross of impatience. Proverbs 19:2 Amplified says, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and to be overly hasty is to sin and miss the mark.”

Have you ever bought something on impulse and regretted it later? Regrets come from haste. We can speak hasty words that wound. We can act out of impulse and error.

Moses forfeited the opportunity to enter into the promised land because of his impatience with the people. Numbers 20:8-12 says that he was to speak to the rock, but in his haste he struck it.

Wholly
Absolutely
Intentionally
Trusting

Impatience impairs good judgment. Think of how many times someone has passed you on the freeway because they were impatient? Impatience is a mental dialogue against what we perceive is blocking our goal. Therefore it is fought though our thoughts, bringing them back into focus on the Lord.

Impatience is noisy and persistent. Psalm 131:2 says, “Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

The fruit of waiting is that God will act on our behalf (Isaiah 64:4). Isaiah 30:18 says, “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you…” We miss His grace for our situation when we react in our flesh.

What To Do When All Is Shaking Pt 2

I am so grateful we have a solid foundation that cannot be shaken. Here is one of my favorite verses about the Lord’s faithfulness.

2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” Here is another securing verse. Titus 1:2 says, “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”

From the above two verses we stand when all is shaking around us. Our hope is in Him, not our circumstances. He never changes, but our life-situations are constantly changing.

Mark 11:22 says, “…Have faith in God.” Being overwhelmed is an aspect of being shaken. Psalm 61:1-4 is solid ground. Here is a verse in a new song. I often sing it because it reminds me to look up, away from my circumstances, to Him alone.

Nothing can overtake me when I hide in You.  Nothing can overwhelm me when I look to You.  I set my eyes on You and I gaze into Your face.  I bask in the love of Your eyes full of grace.

Luke 1:37 says, “For with God nothing with be impossible.” I often review Romans 4:19. Abraham did not consider, or think about the fact staring him in the face: his body was dead, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. Verse 21 is the reason. It says, “And being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

I love to picture myself inside the Lord as my Rock: impenetrable, unshakable, immovable, steadfast, secure, and All Powerful. Nothing can touch us that He does not allow. Our confidence is in Him who has begun His good work in us. He will complete it.

What To Do When All Is Shaking

I realized this morning that some of you don’t have Facebook. I post a devotional every morning on my page. Here are the last two.

I was thinking about what I know about the Lord. It is my grounding thought when everything is shaking. Hebrews 12:27 says, “Now this, Yet once more, indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.”

I was reading through Leviticus when I got the phone call (2006) that the PET scan showed my mom was full of cancer and would not live. I knew that Leviticus would not hold me together, so I fled to the Psalms. Why? I knew they would be my spiritual glue.

God’s word is eternal. Nothing can change or alter it. It clearly defines God’s unchangeableness that will remain though everything else is shaking. Here are a few:

1 John 4:16 says that God is love. That is Who He is at all times. Therefore, everything that is taking place in our lives is crafted through His love.

Psalm 46:1 says that He is ever present. Jeremiah 23:24 says that He fills heaven and earth. Therefore every breath we take, we are breathing in His presence. He is with us moment by moment.

In Job 23:8-9 Job is expressing how if he goes forward or backward he cannot perceive or see the Lord. Verse 10 is stability truth. It says, “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”

Romans 8:28 helps us stand because we know that what the Lord is doing is for our ultimate good. Our shaking-trials are for our supreme benefit. He knows what we need and He divinely orchestrates our circumstances in order to develop the character qualities we previously lacked (Romans 5:3-4).

Paperback Now On Amazon

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This book is written from inside my crucible-trial. It is full of the rich insights the Lord gave me in order to navigate. It has 11 full color illustrations that I called my ‘warfare art’ which was my only Bible for months.

It is 14 short chapters and an epilogue. In the epilogue I chronicle some of the Lord’s miraculous interventions throughout my life, as well as in this recent trial. Available now in e-book and paperback. May the Lord be glorified.

 

The Power Of The Cross

Colossians 2:15 says, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” I love 1 Corinthians 2:8. It says, “Which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

It is in the power of His cross that we live daily in triumph over all sin-thoughts. In Romans 6 we have the foundational truths of Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. Verses 1-2 say, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

The enemy of our soul was defeated through the cross. His only power is through deception. If he can get us to believe a lie, he can control our lives. Our thought-control is our responsibility. Romans 6:11 says, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” A dead person has no response.

When a thought to sin comes, when we remember we are dead to sin, we will not respond. It will have no power over us. Yesterday I was reading in Judges. Chapter 16 is a great key for us how the enemy works. The Lord of the Philistines said to Delilah: entice him, find out where his great strength lies, how we can overpower him so we can bind him to afflict him.

As I read the whole chapter I was thinking about how Sampson did not resist once. He was a Nazarite and had specific commands to follow. He was to never cut his hair. Note that in verses 16-17 Delilah pressed him until his soul was vexed. Then he finally told her the secret to his strength.

The secret to our strength is applying the power of the cross to every thought that would lead us into sin. All sin is first a thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says that we are to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. That is our cross-triumph over the enemy’s suggestion and temptation to sin.

James 1:14 says that the enticement comes, but if there are hidden lustful desires in our heart, we will be drawn away through our own lusts. No one ‘makes’ us sin. Anytime we entertain a sinful thought, we will become ensnared. Here is a new song.

The Cross

I will sing of Your mighty love. I will sing of Your grace. You are faithful and You are awesome in power. In mercy You redeemed me. In Your love You remained. The cross was Your death so I could live.

You took my place. You bore my sin. You came in humility and You died the same. O the wonder and the power as You laid Your life down for me. The cross was Your cruel punishment. Though You had no sin. It was my sin that nailed You. My sins were judged on the cross. You died for me to destroy the works of the enemy.

O I praise Your name and I rejoice in You. I bow in worship. I kiss Your feet of love. My heart melts within me enfolded in Your grace. Yes I will praise Your name. I will praise Your name forever.