Psalm 90 tells us that life is short...at it's longest.
We may live 70 or 80 years or if God wills to give strength beyond that,
but verse 12 tells us:
"Teach us Lord whatever the number of our days,
to apply our hearts to know Your wisdom and to do Your Will."
In God's Plan, quality of life (Christ-likeness) is more important than quantity of life, but both are to be placed in His Hands. However, I imagine that you (like I) wonder 'What does God have for me the rest of my life?" Maybe the following will help:
A few Sundays ago, La Moyne and I drove 25 miles out into the country east of Norman, Oklahoma where we live. I was to supply for the pastor who was gone for the weekend.
Etowah Baptist Church family is small in number, but their vision is large!
Their church bulletin said:
"As a church, we seek to: Honor God with our lives (worship)
Encourage each other through meaningful relationships (fellowship)
Learn God's Word and teach it to others (discipleship)
Personally introduce others to Jesus (evangelism)
Serve one another in the love of Christ (ministry)
This they ARE doing....way out in the country, like so many thousands of small churches.
One of the leaders of the church is a Pharmacist who helps with a free pharmacy ministry each Tuesday evening.
They also have a 'Food Ministry' where one member gathers 'day old Bakery items' from stores and makes those available to anyone in need.
I praise God for churches like this, but I'm sure that sometimes they get discouraged. They had a free Pancake Day for the community the day before we were there, yet no one came except for the church members. However, they didn't seem as discouraged as they were determined...to plan for ANOTHER one!
I decided that they might need words of encouragement that day, so I preached on 'Finishing Strong' from II Timothy which Paul wrote while in prison!
(Of course at 77 yrs. of age, I needed that message also!)
I used an old song that I heard as a youth, perhaps 60 yrs. ago:
"You've gotta accentuate the positive...
Eliminate the negative...
Latch onto the affirmative!
Don't mess with Mr. In-between!"
I mentioned one of the popular books at that time, 'The Power of Positive Thinking' by Norman Vincent Peale, but I emphasized that you've got to know Jesus, Who gives the Power for positive thinking and positive acts! (John 16:7-16)
I) YOU'VE GOT TO HAVE FAITH IN CHRIST:
The song goes: "Prayer is the key to Heaven, but Faith unlocks the door."
Paul emphasizes here that Timothy's family was 'key' in his life to help his faith stay strong.
We all know that family support always helps and the lack of it, hurts.
In II Timothy 1, he thanks Timothy's Grandmother (Lois) and Mother (Eunice) for helping his faith to grow. He told Timothy 'let this faith stir up the gift of God which is in you'.
Then he said, "Timothy, God has not given you the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
A part of this was his deep conviction, "I know in whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day." (Vs. 12)
Paul's day of death was imminent and this conviction would carry him all the way.
It will carry you (and me) also!
II) WE MUST BE FAITHFUL TO CHRIST: (II Timothy 2)
Paul lists different callings, but seems to indicate that we as Christians need what each one of these offers:
a) Vs. 1: "We are SONS OF GOD."
I love John 1:11-13: "He came unto His own and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them who believe on His name. These are born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
b) Vs. 2: We are GOD'S TEACHERS and are to share what we have learned.
c) Vs. 3-4: We are GOD'S SOLDIERS of the Cross and God gives us grace to endure and persevere, to serve faithfully. We do it all to please our Commander, God.
d) Vs. 5: We are GOD'S ATHLETES, competing according to the rules (Word of God)
and listening to (and following) our Coach's instructions.
We need to train well and be disciplined!
e) Vs. 6: We are GOD'S FARMERS, plowing, planting, tending, and harvesting...all in faith!!
f) Vs. 20: We are GOD'S VESSELS that He cleans out through conviction for sin, our confession, and repentance. Then He fills our lives to overflowing with His Gospel of Love.
Jeremiah 18:1-6 gives us a beautiful lesson on 'the vessel' and our Potter (God).
g) Vs. 24: We are GOD'S SERVANTS and we always remember our Master!
We learn from the example of Jesus and live in the Power of the Holy Spirit.
We realize and live under the conviction that as servants, we are not above our Master!
III) WE HAVE A WONDERFUL FUTURE WITH CHRIST
a) II Timothy 3:14-17: "Continue in the Word of God, for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, that we may be complete unto all good works."
b) II Tim: 4:1-8:
We have a CHARGE from God to 'charge satan's strongholds'. (Vs. 1)
We are to be CONSISTENT in our Christian 'walk and talk'. (Vs. 2)
We are to have a strong COMMITMENT to fulfill our ministry. (Vs. 5)
Then you will be able to say with Paul:
"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....
Therefore, laid up for me is a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the Righteous Judge,
shall give to me at that day....and not only to me, but all those who love His appearing."
I'd like to share this from Joni Eareckson Tada:
"Friends, life is short. Time is a treasure. Our days are priceless...
Please, let's not waste our precious days", said Tada, who has spent more than 30 years in a wheelchair since a diving accident left her a quadriplegic at age 17.
Admittedly 'down' at times, she shared a favorite verse that always helps "rev up" her energy level.
Psalm 90:12 (NIV) says:
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
"I've got this habit of numbering my days," Tada said.
"Each day when I wake up, I thank God for a brand new 24 hours that He's given me.
I pray for Him to teach me that each moment, each hour has value."
SO FINISH STRONG!!
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