• Li Juaneza

Finish well

But he who endures to the end will be saved . . .


I started stretching with some trepidation as I prepared for the last run of the semester - the 2.25-kilometer loop of the university academic oval. The expectation was to finish in less than 60 minutes.


My classmates and I geared up the whole semester for this so it should be easy, right? Not really. I was never good at long distance runs, and the only reason why I was in this running class was because it was the last P.E. course left with a few open slots during enrollment.


I ran, slow jogged, walked, gasped for air, nearly passed out (How embarrassing!), and prayed to God to not let me die . After a grueling, perspiration–filled 56 minutes, I finally made it to the finish line. I was the last one but I made it!


Endurance

All athletes go through long periods of training in preparation for competitions. The amount of training time, caliber of training, quality of athletic gear, type of nutrition, mental and emotional readiness all factor into the athlete’s performance and possibly, victory.


Followers of Christ are no different from athletes. We are in the race of life and the key to winning is endurance. What is even better is if you finish well.


I did some endurance training in my twice-a-week running class but did not follow through outside of it. If I had been more consistent, I now know I could have finished better than 56 minutes.


While here on earth, Jesus made sure that we were prepared for what was about to happen after He leaves us up to the time of His return. “But he who endures to the end will be saved” – an ominous statement coming from Jesus who always told the truth and never sugar-coated anything. He said those words in Matthew 24:13 after enumerating the many troubles that His followers will be facing when He leaves them.


The entire chapter discusses details of how it would be like in the last days before His return. It paints a terrible time filled with much dread and trials. It was His intention to warn us so that we would be aware of the times and seasons and be prepared. He wanted us to be ready and equipped to live through that time and withstand it so that we would be saved.


Strength Training 101

Here are some strategies we can apply to help us now and in the coming days.


Rest


Jesus calls us to come to Him so that He can give us rest. Jesus knew that we were going to be burdened, and His way for us to find rest in our souls is to take His yoke and learn from Him.


Isn’t it strange that the way to rest is to take on Jesus’ yoke?


In Bible times, oxen were used to plow fields. The yoke was put on two oxen with the stronger oxen leading the weaker one. Jesus invites us to come alongside Him so He can take the burden and lead us. We are to cast all our cares on Him and be rest assured that everything will work out because He cares for us.


Being able to wholly depend on God requires great trust from our end.


When we let go and hand over control of our lives to Him, then we’ll be able to truly rest.

Abide


You won’t find unkempt, tangled vine branches in commercial vineyards anywhere in the world. Vintners prune their vine branches regularly in order to produce good quality grapes. This is exactly how Jesus described in what way we’ll thrive in our relationship with Him and consequently, our life.

He explains that He is the vine and we are the branches plainly stating that our life is totally dependent on Him. Jesus desires for us to produce good fruit, so He pruned us with the word that He already spoke to us.


Jesus further says in John 15:4-6, “Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can’t bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man doesn’t remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”


Pray


As we abide in Jesus, we’ll most likely have His thoughts and heart and we’ll be praying for things that matter to God. Jesus says in John 15:7, “If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.” We simply open our hearts to Him and allow Him to speak to us.


When we ask from the heart of Jesus, our prayers will always be granted.

It is also through prayer that we can lift petitions for other people, nations, and situations. Paul instructed the Philippians (4:6),


“In nothing be anxious, but in everything, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”


Praying is showing full dependence on God and trusting Him with the results of our petitions.


Read


There are many voices in the world today with the explosion of the internet and social media. Sometimes, it is difficult to distinguish what is good or bad for us.


The one source that is trustworthy and never makes mistakes is the word of God. The Bible not only came from God, but it is God Himself.


When we meditate on the Bible, we meditate on God. He will show us:


wisdom in times of confusion

strength in times of weakness

encouragement in times of defeat

inspiration in times of demotivation

courage in times of fear

love in times of rejection

comfort in times of grief

relief in times of distress


Give thanks


Try this. When you feel a complaint rising within you, start giving thanks to God for everything in your life. Don’t stop until the urge to voice a complaint disappears. You’ll notice that your mood will change and will realize that there is more to give thanks in this life than complain about things.


I’ve done this many times in my life and have been saved from embarrassing moments. There were times though that I’ve opted to complain and ended up raising my temper and saying something that I could not take back anymore. I felt angrier and more exhausted than before I opened my mouth to complain.


Giving thanks is very important to God that there are at least 16 verses in the Bible that admonishes us to do it. Paul mentions it specifically in Ephesians 5:20, “giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father;


Love


From the Old Testament to the New Testament, we are commanded to love one another. Our God is love, so as His followers and children we are to embody that love.


Jesus made it simple for us by saying that the whole law and the prophets depend on two commands only:


“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”


Most importantly, when we are filled with God’s love, all fear is removed.


Rejoice


Paul instructed the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say, ’Rejoice!’” while the Apostle James said to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.”


These are just among many verses in the Bible that command us to rejoice or be joyful. The latter part of Nehemiah 8:10 explains why - “. . . the joy of Yahweh is your strength.”


God's joy is our strength and absolutely nothing in this world can take it away.

We’ll be facing many trials in this world and James 1:3-4 reveals why “. . . the testing of your faith produces endurance. Let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”


Our Lord Jesus Christ further encouraged us by saying, “I have told you these things [troubles to come], that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble; but cheer up! I have overcome the world.”


He’s already got everything covered which is all the more reason to “Rejoice!”


Toward the goal

We were promised an abundant life with Christ but we were also warned about difficulties to come. There are still many things for us to go through and accomplish in our lifetime, and Philippians 3:13-14 aptly describes the attitude to take to reach our ultimate life objective:


Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do: forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.


Let's continue on, steady but surely.


#finishwell #endurance #finishstrong #strengthtraining #rest #abide #pray #readtheWord #givethanks #loveoneanother #rejoice #runtowardthegoal


*All scriptures are from the World English Bible unless otherwise mentioned.



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