Finish Strong: 1

‘I have finished the race.’ 2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV

Over half of those who begin in ministry decide to leave well before they planned. Do you wonder why?

There are lots of reasons—here’s one of them: They discover that great revelation is accompanied by a ‘thorn’. The apostle Paul, who wrote half the New Testament, says: ‘To keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV)

There are 168 hours in your week. The hours you spend helping in ministry—whether it’s through teaching Sunday school, helping with youth group or volunteering at a homeless shelter—showcase you in the areas of your gifting and strength. So your challenge will always be to remember that it is God’s Word and God’s power, not yours, that changes lives and gets the job done.

Notice what Paul said: ‘To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh.’ Paul’s thorn came in the form of ‘weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties.’ What’s your thorn? You can only stand strong with people if you discipline yourself to spend time with God in prayer and Bible study. That’s how to stay effective and finish strong in ministry!

SoulFood: Jonah 1–4, Mark 9:38–50, Ps 75, Pro 11:23

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

Jonah 1–2:7 ()

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1:1 Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the LORD.

But the LORD hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” 10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them.

11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. 12 He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” 13 Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they called out to the LORD, “O LORD, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O LORD, have done as it pleased you.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.

17 And the LORD appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

2:1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the belly of the fish, saying,

  “I called out to the LORD, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
  out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
  For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
  all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
  Then I said, ‘I am driven away
    from your sight;
  yet I shall again look
    upon your holy temple.’
  The waters closed in over me to take my life;
    the deep surrounded me;
  weeds were wrapped about my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
  I went down to the land
    whose bars closed upon me forever;
  yet you brought up my life from the pit,
    O LORD my God.
  When my life was fainting away,
    I remembered the LORD,
  and my prayer came to you,
    into your holy temple.

Mark 9:38–50 ()

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38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us. 41 For truly, I say to you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will by no means lose his reward.

42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. 43 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good, but if the salt has lost its saltiness, how will you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

Psalm 75 ()

()

To the choirmaster: according to Do Not Destroy. A Psalm of Asaph. A Song.

75:1   We give thanks to you, O God;
    we give thanks, for your name is near.
  We recount your wondrous deeds.
  “At the set time that I appoint
    I will judge with equity.
  When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants,
    it is I who keep steady its pillars. Selah
  I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’
    and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn;
  do not lift up your horn on high,
    or speak with haughty neck.’”
  For not from the east or from the west
    and not from the wilderness comes lifting up,
  but it is God who executes judgment,
    putting down one and lifting up another.
  For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup
    with foaming wine, well mixed,
  and he pours out from it,
    and all the wicked of the earth
    shall drain it down to the dregs.
  But I will declare it forever;
    I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.
10   All the horns of the wicked I will cut off,
    but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up.

Proverbs 11:23 ()

()

23   The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
    the expectation of the wicked in wrath.

Mon 18 May, 2020


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