Philippians 3:12-14 (Message)
I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
The end of a season is more difficult than the beginning. In the beginning, you are excited by the new possibility filled with wonderful ideas and goals. In the midst of it, you get caught up in the doing and activity of the process. But it is most definitely in finishing a season moving on to the next that absolute grace is required. How will you leave it? Will you close the chapter or abandon the book? Pressure to finish well rises up within me but my flesh has thrown in the towel declaring it is done. I do not have it all together. I do not have it made. I am simply reaching out for Christ as He wondrously reaches out to me. He is pulling me closer. The Lord is moving me on. What about the people in this time? What about the work that seems unending? God has a plan. It includes every detail of my life in this season and the one that is coming. I am no expert in this whole God-Like lifestyle but I know this…I have my eye on the goal and it is God calling me onward. I am off and running unwilling to turn back.
When God moves us from one season of life to another there are many details that hold us making it difficult to transition and not feel pressure from both sides. I am ready for change. But I also desire to finish well. When the Lord gives me a glimpse of the new thing that is coming, I want it. I try to run for it but am learning that sometimes that little light at the end of the tunnel is meant to give me enough hope and resolve to finish where I am before stepping into what is coming. Our life is defined by seasons. Some chapters like spring are new and exciting. Others are like winter as old things die to make room for the new. Whatever the case – God is with us. He is in control. His Fierce and Demanding Love consumes us as we yield our life to Him. He is a jealous God bent on giving us His Absolute Best. Timing is everything to Him but tends to be our downfall. Who wants to wait for what is coming? No we want it right now. Today, I hear the words “keep pressing”! God wants me to finish well so that I can move productively into what is coming. How about you?
Habakkuk 2:2-4 (Message)
And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time. “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.
The Lord’s Purpose has always been and will always be to give me new life. Not just in the life that I will find after death, but now in my everyday life even when I hang on to the way I think things should be or the way that we have done them before. He gives us dreams and visions. Lord, give us the foresight to write them all down. Taking note that God is speaking and each word is the promise that it will not ever return to Him void of its purpose. The Lord is always pointing to what is coming to build our faith into confident hope that keeps us going, moving and pressing for what is yet to come. This pressure keeps us from staying in the same season all of our life.
About two years ago, I stopped walking in our neighborhood and headed to the gym. But recently, when winter turned to spring I decided to walk again. Exercise is what I am after, but what I have found is that there is peaceful conversations had with God as I walk in the new season that has come. When I walked before, I would watch the joggers and runners pass me by and think to myself – I want to run. I used to joke that if you see me running that you should run to because something is chasing me. The other night it was beginning to get dark so I decided to jog to make the trip faster. As I was running, I passed the point that I would usually run out of energy but found that I just kept going and going. I was totally and completely shocked. We never really know the strength of our endurance until it is tested. The Lord is always working and shaping the life of His Children to receive more and more of His Glory even when we do not think that He is doing anything at all. His Faithfulness will not allow Him to stop or let up even when we want to quit or give in. He is always doing something good in those who believe. It is a faith work.
James 1:2-4 (Message)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
When we are pressed, the contents of our heart pour out. Pressure for a believer will always produce more faith especially when we discover that there is not enough to make it through. My flesh is the first to give up. It is the first to want to blame the Lord the bad things in addition to the good. But what I am discovering in this whole process called life that pressure produces what I need to have the Glory of God and all of His Goodness pass before me. It is that very thing that pushes me from my comfort zone into the realm of hope that produces in me the strength and endurance called faith that I need to have the Promises of God. God is always good. Do you believe that today? It is essential that you grab hold of this truth and never let it go. He is always taking every single detail of our life to make good on His Promises. Tests and challenges break down our defenses and consume our flesh so that the Lord can move closer, pulling us deeper into that thing He is doing which is more than we could even think to ask for. Without pressure, hardship and struggle, we would never leave our comfort zone to enter that wonderful new life that God has planned for us. We would settle. We would compromise without even knowing it. God is way too good to let that happen!
James 1:12-15 (Message)
Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.
Those people who are loyally in love with the Lord are rewarded with life and more life – abundant life just as He promised. We just have to hang on, keep pressing, and finish each season to move to the next. The temptation to quit is our flesh crying out for release. It wants to stop us because close proximity to God is the death of our inner man to give way to the new man the Lord is shaping us into. In our strong belief and deep conviction that God is always good, we are able to see things through to the end which is far better than the beginning.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 (Message)
Endings are better than beginnings. Sticking to it is better than standing out.
God is looking for finishers. Those who do not succumb to the pressures of life, the pain of transition or the hardship of exhaustion but choose to finish what they start time and time again. God leaves no thing undone and neither should we. Moving from one season to the next should not leave barren fields and broken fence. Each new thing should be preceded by a successful finish. God would rather we stick to it than run from it. We live in an incomplete world that thrives on compromise. We are not the same as the people of this world – in fact, we are no longer of this world which places a much higher standard on our life not an excuse to bale when times get tough or more than we can handle. God wants us to finish. God loves those who race for the finish line. (Proverbs 15:9) Remember what mama always said, “Quitters never win!” There is truth to this statement. Our life is a perpetual process of sowing and reaping, if we do not invest enough in this season – there will be famine in the next.
Philippians 3:15-16 (Message)
So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.
Lord, I ask you to make me a finisher today. Give me the same spirit that was in Jesus Christ when He became the Champion of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Keep my eyes on Jesus today and not the passing faces as I press on to finish well. Make me mindful of each seed planted that I will press it deep into the ground to produce that harvest that is coming. Keep me focused on the goal. I want everything that you have promised me and even those things I have not even thought to ask for. Change me into a runner who does not stop until the finish line. Help me to run this race of faith well and settle for nothing less than victory each time I run. I am committed Lord. I want what you want and will stop at nothing less. Thank you for a glimpse of the future, now give the wisdom and understanding to transition well. Strengthen those reading this today with Your Victorious Spirit. Lift those who have fallen. Give rest to those who are tired and weary. Give release to those bent over in burdens and pressure. Lord, I ask you to do all of this in the Name of Jesus. Everything we need, want and desire is found in that Name. Lord, keep us focused. Keep us on track. Keep us moving in the right direction that we may never ever give up!
Hebrews 12:2-3 (Message)
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. Thatwill shoot adrenaline into your souls!
Psalm 138:8 (Message)
Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.