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Word of GodHow are we Finishing the Course?
By Robert Schaetzle

Acts 20:24 says, "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." (NASB)

So it is here with us: "How are we finishing the course?" Is our own faith walk reflecting assurance and joy for the love of our Lord? How are we traveling to the course of our future? Are we seeking to finish the course with Christ as our passion, as was Paulís goal?

He goes on to say, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God."

Thatís what we all should feel in our hearts. Like Paul, we each have our own stumps to remove along the way, but we dare not shrink back. Instead, we must stay the course!

Continuing on, he warns, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come upon you, not sparing the flock."

Savage wolves can make their appearance in many forms and disguises. I might ask, "Today, in our time, who or what are some of these savage wolves weíre to be on guard against?"

Consider too, our own "flock"--that is, those we love the most, and those others we come into contact with, whether they be co-workers or our next-door neighbors.

Through the history of faithful followers, few saints could be matched to that of the Apostle Paul, but most certainly, we can grow to follow his example.

Paul declared, "For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God." His love for our Lordís desire was such as he proclaimed in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for all who believeÖ"

For sure we must recognize three important facts in these few words.

Paul was not ashamed to proclaim the true message of hope, joy and purpose that are all a part of the gospel.

It was not by human strength or reasoning, but rather, by the power of God. Iíd like to share a choice passage from Proverbs 26:12: "Do you see a man wise in his own eye? There is more hope for a fool than for him." (RSV) The point taken here is that for Paul, and as it should be for all who proclaim Christ, itís Godís resource and reasoning--not our own.

The best part of all is that itís available for all who believe!

As I learn to keep my own heart on the things above, rather than the things on earth, the growing and learning pattern is focused more on the eternal, and less on the temporal. As a result, the course Iím on is easier to tread, allowing Him to remove the stumps for me along the way.

"For the Son of Man also came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.í Mark 10:45

The context here is when Jesus was teaching His apostles about who is to be great in the Kingdom of God, and brought out that prominence meant servitude.

Often the course we begin is not to be the course our Lord will keep us on. When we submit to the prompting of His Spirit, Heíll direct us on a super highway, or a course of service that will bring Him the honor, as well as much blessing to our own lives.

I speak from experience when I say that, subsequent to my retirement, Iíve been led down a course of service I never would have dreamed of years ago. The secret is submission, or as I prefer to put it "surrender." Surrender to the prompting of His Holy Spirit, and then follow with obedience. There might be different routes that our Lord will put us on, in order to test our faith walk--but we still must stay the course, as Paul admonishes us.

As Iím writing this message, I glanced at a picture I have attached to my printer. Itís a photo of a young couple who are now serving in the mission field.

For years this young man was a faithful part of our 6:00 am Wednesday prayer group. After college he was unemployed for some time before he took a position that was not related to what he had studied at college. Yet, we kept praying for this young man, and eventually the Lord brought a helpmate into his life who shared the same love for the Lord. This young man and woman were eventually married and are now serving where they feel God has sent them. They are staying the course.

When viewing those biblical people of strong faith, we need to remember that they started out as plain ordinary people, like you and me. But what set them apart from others of their generation, and of their peers, was their pronounced desire to follow the prompting of Godís Holy Spirit to lead them through their own "Burden of the Hour," as it were.

What we seek should not be for our own desire, but rather, how we can be helpful in building ourselves up upon the solid foundation of our Lord Jesus. Look at 2 Corinthians 4:5: "For what we preach is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesusí sake." (RSV)

As we work at it, what weíre fed on is what will proceed from our heart. As the Lord defines it: "Where your treasure is there will your heart be also."

Stay the course, finish the race, look to Him who abides within your heart and witness those showers of blessing.

Robert Schaetzle has been writing for over 40 years. He began by writing personal notes in his five childrenís birthday cards. He enjoys scripting personal thoughts for birthday, anniversary and condolence messages. Robert is also an inspirational poet, devotional writer and retired US Postal worker. You can write to Robert through the Letters page of this magazine.