Finishing Well

finishing race“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb. 12:1-3)

In our instantaneous society of fast food, microwave meals, instant internet, and Amazon Prime, it is easy to miss the importance of endurance. Yet endurance is a virtue that is attributed to God Himself. We see that in the verses above, as well as others like, Acts 13:17-18 where He endured the rebelliousness of the children of Israel. He is said to give us endurance in Romans 15:5. He commended the church of Ephesus for their endurance in Revelation 2:2-3.

Endurance is defined as, “the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc. The ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue,stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina; lasting quality; duration.” According to the passage in Hebrews, endurance is required to finish our race. In order to learn endurance, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, the perfect model of perseverance.

Not only are we to look to Jesus, who is both the Author, or Pioneer of our faith, but we are to consider those who have gone before us – the great cloud of witnesses. They are called witnesses because they have seen the truth of God’s promises to complete the good work He began in them. Jesus is the Author and Finisher, or Perfecter of our faith. In other words, our faith begins and ends in and with Him. He alone is able to help us endure to the end, and He will, if we are willing.

Jesus endured by focusing on the “joy set before Him.” What was that joy? I believe it was the joy of knowing He would have a bride without spot, wrinkle or blemish, one who loved Him enough to endure whatever came against her. One who wouldn’t give up or quit when the going got tough because His love for her would sustain her. The joy of His future wedding day, I believe, is what enabled Him to endure the pain and shame of the cross. And when He returned to His Father, He sat down at His right hand – the place of authority, favor, and power. He finished His race – the work His Father gave Him to do from before creation – and He finished it well. We are called to do the same.

We are to consider Him, what He went through and endured, so we do not grow weary and lose heart. The more we behold Him, the more we become like Him. Meditating on these truths will enable us, by His grace, to finish our race and to finish it well. We cannot lose if we do not quit. He will be faithful to complete what He began in us if we will trust Him.

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Happy New Year!

Well, it’s been a while since my last post, September 7th to be exact. As I wrote then, I had major surgery on the 22nd and have had a much longer recovery time than expected. I have spent the last couple of months processing all the Lord has shown me during this difficult time, and hope to have some helpful insights to share with you this year. All that we experience in this life is not meant just for us, but for the benefit of His body as we grow together into maturity and unity.

In addition to recovering from surgery, I also lost my dad two weeks before Christmas. His death was sudden and unexpected, making our holiday season even more painful. Yet, as I last wrote, God remains faithful, and cannot ever be unfaithful for it would deny His nature. This is good news! Praying each of you have a blessed and healthy New Year, spirit, soul, and body.

The Faithfulness of God

Have you ever taken the time to study and meditate upon the attributes of God? As rainbowbelievers, we often speak of, sing of, and mention His attributes in our prayers, but how often do we stop to think about what they mean?  One of the primary ways we “see” God is by pondering His nature.

One of my favorite characteristics of God is His faithfulness. To be faithful is to be steadfast and unchanging. James describes God in this way: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) A faithful person never breaks a promise but honors his word no matter what. David said, “The Lord is faithful to all His promises…” (Ps. 145:13)

The faithful do not quit, but finish what they start, “…being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6) Faithful ones remain faithful even when others are not.  “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13) God not only acts in faithfulness, but His name is Faithful: “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” (Rev. 19:11).

These are just a few examples of the faithfulness of our God. He is constantly working in each of us to conform us to this same image. May we be found faithful even as He is!

P.S. I will be having major surgery next week, so I’ll be taking a break from posting for a few weeks. May God bless you!

The Vanishing Virtue of Faithfulness

According to the dictionary, faithfulness means: strict or thorough in the Faithfulnessperformance of duty; true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc.; steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant; reliable, trusted or believed; adhering or true to fact, a standard or original; accurate. It implies qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion; long-continued and steadfast fidelity to whatever one is bound to by a pledge, duty, or obligation; unswerving allegiance to a person, organization, cause, or idea. Unfortunately, this compelling virtue is becoming more and more scarce in our society and even in the Church.

It is not so surprising to see faithfulness vanish from our self-centered, self-serving society, but to see it diminishing in the Church is really inexcusable. Faithfulness is one of the foremost characteristics of our God. It is a fruit of the Spirit. Even creation is faithful (see Psalm 85:11). In Scripture, faithfulness is often mentioned in conjunction with God’s love (see Ps. 117:2, 138:2; Prov. 3:3, 14:22, 16:6, 20:28 for just a few). In marriage, and any relationship, the two go hand in hand. If you love someone, you will be faithful to them.

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for their lack of faithfulness: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Matt. 23:23)

He also said that if we want to be entrusted with more from God, we must be found faithful with the little we have: One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? (Luke 16:10-12)

Unfortunately, dishonesty and unfaithfulness seem to abound in every sphere and level of our society, from government, leaders in the Church, athletes, celebrities, the medical industry, business and marriage partners, parents, etc. The repercussions have taken a devastating toll on our society: a fatherless generation who distrusts and thus, disrespects authority, adulterous marriage relationships, even in the Church, people who go from church to church looking for leaders they can trust, a nation of cynics and skeptics who don’t trust or believe anybody anymore, even when they are actually telling the truth.

God’s people should be a reflection of His faithfulness to the world; however, we cannot do so apart from His empowering grace. We become faithful by meditating upon His faithfulness to us. Meditation upon His nature is the key to our becoming transformed into His image. If you want to be more loving, meditate upon His love. If you want more peace, meditate upon His peace. If you need more joy in your life, meditate upon His joy.

If you struggle with faithfulness, I encourage you to try this simple technique. Find the Scriptures that refer to His faithfulness and read, study, and meditate on them. List the ways and times He has proved His faithfulness to you and ponder them. Ask for His grace to enable you to be faithful to Him and to others, just as He has been to you. He loves to answer these kinds of prayers. Let us represent Him accurately; let us be faithful even as He is.

What is one way God has proved His faithfulness to you? Please comment below.