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Finishing Well

May 30th, 2011

“That I may finish my race with joy.” Acts 20:24 NKJV

“Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

My thoughts today are about “finishing well.”

In life, beginnings are important, just as thoroughness and the diligence to follow through provides solid foundations for all future achievement. But most essential is the task of finishing well. A lot of people start things they have neither the persistence to continue nor dedication to complete. As a boy, I recall my Dad saying, “Allen, anything worth doing is worth doing well; don’t start something you don’t intend to finish.” Life one day comes to an end for one and all. At that point, what matters is your accomplishments, not your attempts or intentions.

Dad’s words were usually a reminder when I grew weary in a job not being done as well as I could. My Dad believed only a person’s best effort is worthy in God’s eyes, and His appraisal is what ultimately matters. You have fewer regrets when you have done your best. “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these – ‘It might have been.’” John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892).

I am no longer a young man, yet there is still more for me as God gives grace and opportunity, but not as much as lays behind me. When I was a younger pastor, my thoughts were of what I hoped to do and though there is yet opportunity for accomplishment, my reflection is more on what I hope was done and whether or not it was done well. In a few months, I will relinquish to another the ministry position and responsibilities that I have carried for nearly 48 years. I have some mixed emotions about that. It is not a regret of doing so; that was my choice and God’s direction. My heart is at rest that this is “the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons.”

My concern is not whether I have done enough; the adequacy of my efforts I leave for others to evaluate. My hope is this: that what I have done by the grace of God has been done as well as I was capable of doing; that judgment I leave to God alone. The Apostle Paul had a practical approach to this. “Have I been faithful? It matters very little what anyone else thinks . . it is the Lord Himself who will examine and decide . . when the Lord comes . . then God will give to everyone whatever praise is due.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-6 NLT. Did you notice? God examines with purpose and expectation to praise you!

A runner intent on finishing well does not slow his step nor slack his effort with the finish line in sight; runners are coached to “run through the tape.” You and I are running a far more consequential race and you must cross the finish line. See Hebrews 11:1-4 NIV. Paul’s later years were spent in prison, so he used his confinement to write much of the New Testament. “My life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about God’s wonderful kindness and love.” Acts 20:24. Boundaries do not determine your potential. Finishing well means to live in such a way that the touch of your life extends well beyond the reach of your lifetime. The good news is this: as long as there is life, it is never too late to do better and finish well.

Paul finished well, as must you. “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness . . I eagerly expect and hope I will . . have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8/Philippians 1:20-21 NIV. My hope and heart’s intent is that I finish well with God’s approval. The applause of just one, the Just One, is enough for me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21 NKJV.

My prayer for you today is that you live a life pleasing to God and satisfying to your soul.

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Beginnings Are God’s Specialty

January 1st, 2010

A note about next week:

I will be away from the office next week and unable to resume the usual devotional until Monday, January 11. May I suggest you browse the EveryDay Life archive at www.allenrandolph.com. Again, I thank you for the privilege of another year of sharing with you some practical thoughts of God’s powerful Word for everyday life.

As I write on this New Year’s morning, Gayle and I pray for a truly Blessed New Year, prosperous for you and your family, and that your life be fruitful for the Kingdom of God. Let’s begin well and finish strong in the new year and new decade of 2010. Allen Randolph

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“This month shall be your beginning of months.” Exodus 12:2 NKJV

“I wish there were some wonderful place called the Land of Beginning Again.”

My thoughts today are that “beginnings are God’s specialty.”

“Happy New Year” is just not a worthy objective for welcoming a new year. That greeting, however traditional and well intended, suggests that your enjoyment of the year just begun is tied to what happens in the year, and that is something that none of us can actually control. In fact, you know that along with the favorable things that will come your way and the kindnesses that will be shown you by others, you will also face challenges you do not anticipate and difficulties you do not foresee.

Instead, I have chosen to desire for myself and others “a Blessed New Year,” an upcoming season of God’s presence and favor upon all that is done in His Name, whatever any momentary circumstance may be. See 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 NIV. I love the resounding assurance of the psalmist, “You visit the earth . . greatly enrich it . . provide their grain . .  water it . . settle its furrows . . You bless its growth. You crown the year with Your goodness and Your paths drip with abundance.” Psalm 65:9-11 NKJV. Now that is a blessed new year every year! That is the expectation with which I want to live my life every day; and that is also my heart and prayer for you.

Many years ago I learned a portion of a poem that suits this change of calendar, “I wish there were some wonderful place, Called the Land of Beginning Again. Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches, And all of our selfish grief, Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door, And never put on again.” (Louise Fletcher) That is the longing in every heart at each change of the calendar. Wherever in the world that crowds gathered last night with good cheer and optimism, they held one hope: that their life would be better this year – that they would do better; they would be better.

You can experience exactly that – forgiveness for every sin, healing from every hurt, release from every regret, hope in every situation, peace in every turmoil, assurance when uncertain, restoration of relationships, wisdom in every decision, alone but not lonely, and new beginnings every day! That place is at the foot of a cross where the Savior died for your sins long ago, and yet lives today to “crown the year with (His) goodness.” Read also Isaiah 53:4-6 NKJV.

New beginnings are God’s specialty. Who hasn’t needed them? He introduces us to Himself with the simple, yet profound words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. In preparation for delivering Israel from Egypt’s slavery, God reset their calendar to announce their new beginning, “This month shall be the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Exodus 12:2 NKJV. Almighty God forever changed Israel’s history, as He can change yours.

Let me be clear, a new beginning does not happen because of the change of a calendar or anything that happens outside of you; a new beginning can only happen for you when grace and spiritual change happens inside of you. Only God can do that! “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for their old life is gone. A new life has begun.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT. God also specializes in finishing well what He begins. See Philippians 1:6 NLT/Hebrews 12:2 NLT/Revelation 22:13 NLT.

My prayer for you today is for a blessed year, crowned with God’s grace and goodness.

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