Strong Finish

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

Henry David Thoreau

Ever taken a 30-day challenge? Did it feel like it was three months long? I am involved in two challenges for the month of July that involve different aspects of writing. My first challenge is to finish a revision of my current novel in progress, and the second is to finish setting up my website. I want to end the month strong. I want the satisfaction that comes with completing something, knowing I have done my best.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men

Colossians 3:23

The Christian life is made up of seasons with unique challenges and blessings. We move from season to season like a runner completing segments of a race. It is a marathon that requires endurance and perseverance. But, we don’t run this race alone. We have a great cloud of witnesses, past and present, who run alongside us toward the prize.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

As we run the race, we need to remember whose name is on our jersey. As Christians we carry Christ’s name, and we shouldn’t do anything that brings Him shame or disgrace. No one is perfect, and we all fall short. God knows our hearts and our weaknesses as human beings, and He is full of grace and mercy when we come to Him.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13-14

Like, Paul, I don’t count myself as having apprehended, but I keep trying to move forward by the grace of God. One day we will all cross the finish line, and everyone who finishes gets a crown because Jesus has already won it for us.

So, to finish strong we just need to focus on the next leg of the race and on the author and finisher of our faith. Let’s help each other run the race so that we can hear God say:

Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Matthew 25:23

Free Indeed

“For truth is truth to the end of reckoning.” 

Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

John 8:32, 36

We often joke at the yarn shop that the biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I will remember that.” So, we don’t write it down and by the next day we are struggling to remember exactly what we said we would not forget. While that may be the biggest lie we tell ourselves, it is probably not the biggest lie we believe

In the Bible study Get Out of Your Head, Jennie Allen says that the lies we tell ourselves fit in one of three categories:

  1. I am helpless.
  2. I am unlovable.
  3. I am worthless.

The enemy will use these lies to try and make us utterly useless to the cause of Christ. We get so caught up in listening to the lies that we become frozen, unable to move forward. In order to break free from this bondage, we must recognize Athe origin of these lies.

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. John 8:44

The enemy is a liar. He has been at work on the earth a long time, and he knows just how to punch our buttons. It is usually so subtle that we often don’t realize what is happening. If we want to be free we need to recognize his tactics; however, there is something even more important: knowing the truth.

When federal agents are train in how to identify counterfeit bills, they don’t study fakes. They study the real thing. The biggest key to being spiritually free is not to study the enemy or his lies; it is to study truth so that we can identify the lies when we hear them.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

When you start hearing that little voice in your head, counter it with the truth:

  • When it says, you are helpless, say:
    • For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7
  • When it says you are unlovable, say:
    • “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I John 4:10
  • When it says you are worthless, say:
    • But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Ephesians 2:4-8

Jesus Christ is the Truth, so when we know the Truth, He will set us free. However, we have to choose to accept the truth and make it a part of our everyday lives or we are still living in bondage to those lies. The best defense is to have an arsenal of weapons, so get in the Word and write verses on sticky notes or index cards and keep them at the ready. When the enemy attacks, follow Jesus’ example when he was tempted and point him back to the Word of God because what God says is all that matters

What lie is the enemy telling you? More importantly, what does God say?

I Do It Myself

If you have ever spent any time around a toddler, you will hear these words: “I do it myself.” Usually, it is something that the child cannot do themselves despite all of the determination in the world. Sometimes it is even a little comical watching them. I have to wonder if God sometimes laughs to himself when watching us say “I do it myself.”

We all prefer to feel self-sufficient. We don’t want to need anyone. We often love giving to people because it makes us feel good, makes us feel needed. However, we just as often don’t like being on the receiving end because it makes us feel vulnerable. We prefer thinking that we are bullet-proof. It feels safer.

The truth is that we need help. We need God. He isn’t some capricious entity who likes to play with us like a cat toying with a mouse before it moves in for the kill. He is a loving father who only wants to help us, a help we need despite our determination to do it alone.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Grace is an unearned gift. We can’t do anything to deserve it or earn it. We can only receive it. Once we have grace, then we can share it with others, but we have to remember that it is God’s grace and not our own. We can’t do it alone.

Maybe it is time to hand God the thing we are trying to do alone, and let Him help. Like a loving father, He is waiting for us to ask and relinquish our grip so that He can do a work beyond what we ever imagined accomplishing alone.