Finishing Well

The message was brought by Rev. Eddie Foster on April 30, 2023.

Second Timothy 4:6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 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.

In a race the runners stay together in the beginning, but as the race progresses they separate and some run ahead. They get a second wind to finish well.  Our race isn’t over. The Lord hasn’t come back. We’re still living. We can’t afford to stop by the wayside. Let’s let our last days be our best days. Most of us are in the last days as most of our life has been spent. I want my last days to be my best.  Paul may have known when he was going to die. He faced death calmly knowing a reward was coming. Is your life preparing you for death? Do you share Paul’s great expectation to meet Christ?  Let’s look at this:  beginning well but ending badly; beginning badly but ending well and beginning well and ending well.

Solomon began well but finished badly.  In his early years he was humble with a desire to please the Lord.  When asked by God what he desired, he asked for wisdom to rule the people. Because he didn’t ask for wealth or fame, God gave them to him as well.  He was known as the wisest man who ever lived. He was more wealthy than anyone.  He started good…HOWEVER… a dramatic change took place.  Looking at First Kings 11:4-9 we see the sad story of how Solomon backed from God so late in his life.  Our desire should be to get closer, yet we see Solomon leading the people from God. Judgment came and the kingdom was taken from him. Began well; ended badly.

Manasseh began badly but finished well.  He began his rule at the age of 12 and reigned over 50 years. In Second Chronicles 33 we see him building altars to other gods. He caused Judah to do worse than even the heathen were doing. They refused to listen to the Lord.  HOWEVER…it doesn’t end here. The King of Assyria captured Manasseh, taking him to Babylon. He turned his heart to God.  We cannot undo things but thank God there is forgiveness.  Manasseh destroyed the idols and made sacrifices to God.  Learn this lesson. He turned to God but the people, even his family, didn’t embrace the new way.  His son continued to do evil.  Began badly; ended well. 

The Apostle Paul began well and ended well.  Before he met the Lord he persecuted Christians. HOWEVER…from the day he met Jesus on the Damascus Road till his death he lived without regret. Can you say you have no regrets?  I can’t.  In the scripture above we see Paul said he fought a good fight. A wrestler must keep up the fight from beginning to end to win. Paul did. Are you giving your energy to battle the devil?  Paul then compared himself to a runner, then a soldier.  We don’t need deserters in the heat of the battle. Stay in for the long haul.

Just because you’re doing well now doesn’t mean you’ll finish well.  Paul battled the flesh every day.  Do you?  YES!  Every day.  We’re still in a battle and will be until we die. Satan’s arsenal is greater now than ever.  Stay in the race; don’t give up.

Your life will affect others. People look at your life.  Many have gone on before us, but they paved the way for us.  They had an impact on our lives. Let’s build a bridge behind us for others.  

You can’t determine how you’ll face death. The unknown can be scary, but it’s not a monster to the believer.  Because of Calvary, death lost its sting.  Till then death had the upper hand.  Victory was won at Calvary.  It is possible to live life in order to not be ashamed. We all have regrets. Much of it is looking at what we should have done but didn’t. 

We will earn future rewards by how we lived our Christian life. We don’t live for them, but God will give them to us. Our trip to heaven is free, paid for at Calvary by Jesus Christ.  We now serve him out of a heart of gratitude. We appreciate what he did for us.  HOWEVER…he’ll give additional rewards for serving well.  There are several crowns we could receive. When we do, we’ll lay them at the feet of Jesus to thank him for saving us.  We are to work till Jesus comes or we die.  Be busy.  We don’t know how much time we have.  But are we willing to give those years to God?  Are we willing to be consistent in our living?  We can finish well.  Let’s be determined to do just that!

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