Week 48 Sunday

Finishing Well

Today’s scripture selection: Acts 19-20

Key Verses: Acts 20:22-24

He had endured much.  And he knew there was still much more to come.  Upon leaving them, the apostle Paul told his dear friends in Ephesus that he knew what was in store for him.

“And now, compelled by the Holy Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.  I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.”

He understood that a life of obedient, faithful service came with a high price-tag.

Still, he knew something else.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

It was all about finishing well.

It takes me back to my memories of running on a long track in high school.  I was no athlete, and every lap was more difficult than the one before.  But, like a lot of kids in high school, I had a coach who had only one thing on his mind – we would allevery one of usespecially the ones who were out of shape – we would all finish the race, as best we could.

Let’s just say it didn’t instill in me a love for running.

But if we can embrace a little of Paul’s spirit; that coach’s determination; in our spiritual life – I know it will be worth it.

We all have a “race” to run, one way or another.  And I believe we are all given certain abilities; certain spiritual gifts that we can and should put to use in God’s kingdom.

Hardship comes with the package.  Often, the more determined we are about finishing our own particular race; the more difficult it will become.  There are forces in the universe that don’t want to see us make it.

But if we can remember, as Paul did, that ultimately fulfilling our God given mission is what counts – I believe God will give us the strength and will to do just that.

So run well.  Run with determination.  Run with courage and hope.  Run – and finish – well.

You’ll be glad you did.  And the very kingdom of God will rejoice.

Prayer: Lord, when I tire of the race, strengthen me, that I might finish well.  AMEN.

 

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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