But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
Today's thoughts from today's verses:
Today we wrap up our week (now 5 days of Devotionals instead of 6) and our entire series on “Work.” At the beginning of the week we referenced a portion of a Devotional from earlier in the series that we want to reference again:
Spiritually, we are all called to a career of serving the kingdom. Serving the kingdom is our primary vocation, just as our primary identity is who we are in Christ. It is important to keep in mind that it usually does not necessitate a change in career and calling on the human level to make serving the kingdom your primary vocation. As a matter of fact, God is particularly interested in showing his people how to make an impact for the kingdom right where they are in the middle of all they are already doing. Remember, our spiritual vocation is all about letting the new person we are becoming and the new life that is unfolding have an impact on the people and world around us (right where we are).
In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul speaks of finishing his course and his ministry. He is not just talking about coming to the end of his course and ministry but he is talking about “finishing well.” We need to make this our goal too. When Paul was called to ministry, it was a full change of career for him (although he did some literal “tent making” on the side). We must not think his words in today’s passage are okay for him but not us. For most of us our vocation of ministry is right in the middle our everyday life which includes our vocation of regular work. “Finishing well” the course of your life and the ways God has for you “to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God, must be a driving force in your day to day life. As we all know this is easier said than done. Why is it so hard for us get on track and stay on track with serving God and his kingdom?
Here are some thoughts from an earlier Devotional in our series:
The "now generation" term was coined sometime after World War II in the midst of an unparalleled age of prosperity that began and continues on even now. It is a term that captures a dynamic that no one in our present culture can escape entirely. We need to know what makes us tick. We need to address the things that are true of us that interfere with our living lives that really count. Living for the "immediate" is a real problem that interferes with our ability to be diligent in our work and it carries over and gets in the way of our truly living for Christ and his kingdom. Self-centeredness, materialism, gratification, etc. must be overcome. We must become ones who are diligent in our work for the long haul in an outward, serving way. The more we become this kind of person and the more our goal is Christ and his kingdom, the more our life will count for eternity.
In today’s passage the Apostle Paul says, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself.” He makes it very clear that this is the key for being able to go forward “doing” well and “finishing well” in living for that which counts for eternity. We can clearly see that this did happen for the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, where it says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Here are some additional thoughts from earlier on:
There is so much that militates against our living fully for God and the advancement of his kingdom. We feel the constant pull to live for ourselves and the advancement of earthly life. Knowing that God blesses those who patiently endure is huge. This means that his favor rests on those who endure; it means that he is pleased with those who stick with living fully for him and the advancement of his kingdom. These are the ones who afterward will receive the crown of life God has promised. Salvation is a free gift that is equally distributed to all who have believed. But, rewards for the life we live subsequently to placing our faith in Christ are not equally distributed. It all comes down to running “God’s race” with endurance.
The “crown of life” is merely an acknowledgement that we “endured” and ran well. But remember that the Christian life is a life of dependence on Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We are told in Scripture that in heaven when all is said and done we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus. “Looking to Jesus and keeping our eyes fixed on him” is the key to endurance. Dependence on him is how we run the race well. Knowing that rewards await that we can give back to Jesus for his glory and honor because of all that he will have enabled us to do, keeps us going steady and strong now.
Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:
Lord, I want to finish my course and the ministry you have for me to fulfill. Teach me how to do this diligently, right in the middle of my everyday life and work. May the work of your kingdom in the lives of the people around me be more dear to me than the “comforts and securities” of my own life. May everything you give me to do reflect this. May my life bless those around me in ways that impact them for your kingdom. Lord, fill my life with that which truly counts for the "eternity." May I “finish well” my course and ministry, as I await the day when you will say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Amen!
Posted on Fri, November 4, 2016
by Ken Hart