It Is More Important How You Finish Than How You Start
1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (25) Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. (26) Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; (27) but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”
Many people start a walk with God then fall away and let the things of the world take them away. They miss God’s best for their lives.
People sometimes argue about whether we can lose our salvation are not. My plan is found in Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” I don’t want to know how much sin I can do and still go to heaven, but rather how I can be more like Jesus and more pleasing to the Father heaven. Matthew 24:12-14 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. (13) But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (14) This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” The end will come so let’s be about running the race (living our lives) as winners for Jesus. Romans 8:37 say that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who loves us. We can overcome any temptation and trial. When we fall and fail and go the sin route, we should be quick to repent and ask forgiveness.- then get back on the trail Jesus has for us to live. It is the winner’s path. Be determined to finish strong and win in life with God.
I have been reading about the kings of Judah in the Bible. This was the southern kingdom of Israel. Many started out serving God and the blessings flowed to them and to the nation. Then they got their eyes and heart on other things; they worshiped other gods and trusted in something other than the one true God and had a downfall and a terrible ending. These were mighty men of God that did not finish strong with God.
Even before the kings in the beginning with the first man and woman-Adam and Eve, we see a good start and bad finish. They began life walking in the cool of the day with God. They sinned and began to hide from God. He forgave them in His mercy. He covered their sin by shedding an animal’s blood, and covered their bodies with the skin from that animal. They were forgiven, but also suffered the penalty of being removed from the Garden of Eden, never to return. This was not the ending God had desired for them.
Let’s look at some of the kings of Judah we study about in the Bible. Go to II Chronicles and we see a pattern of kings following God’s commands and those who rebelled against God. We see finish strong and some finish badly. Remember the Old Testament stories were given as examples and guidelines for us to learn from today.
The first king was King Saul/ the Spirit of the Lord was upon him/He did not fully obey the Lord/ He died in battle; David replaced him as King/ a terrible ending.
King David/ A man after God’s own heart/served God with gladness, yet got into adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband/ sincere repentance-see Psalm 51/ God forgave David and continued to use him mightily and bless him; he finished strong.
King Solomon/ asked God for wisdom to rule the people. He was very rich. He oversaw the building of the Temple of God. The glory of God filled the temple when it was dedicated. He enjoyed 40 years of rest from war/ took 700 wives and 300 concubines-women who served false gods; Solomon let them bring their idols into his house. Solomon did evil-built places to worship false gods “his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God”. After this he had wars again and God told him that his kingdom would be torn away from his son/ Sad ending
King Rehoboam/ did evil, forsook the law of the Lord, did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord; worshiped pagan gods; perverted people were in the land/ lost his rule over all the tribes of Israel, except Judah; had wars all his days/ he finished badly
King Abijam/ kept covenant with God/ God fought with them in battle; Abijam grew mightily in the land/ he finished strong
King Asa/ did good and right in the eyes of the Lord. Defeated a one million man army with God’s help/ then hired a heathen army to help in the next battle instead of trusting the Lord. He was then told this in II Chron 16: 9 “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth , to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”/ Asa became diseased with a severe malady in his feet; he sought the physicians and not the Lord and died/ he finished bad
King Jehoshaphat/ his heart took delight in the ways of the Lord; stayed loyal; He said in II Chron 20:20 “…Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.”/ he sent praise leaders out before the armies to worship God/ God set ambushes against his enemies and the three nations who came against Judah destroyed one another/ Jehoshaphat’s men carried away all the valuables and it was known as The Valley of Berachah (Blessings); the nations around Judah feared them and their was rest in during the rest of Jehoshaphat’s reign/ a very good ending
There were 20 kings of Judah; we will skip some of them. Those who followed God with their hearts and actions were blessed; those who did evil were cursed. This is what we are to learn in our own lives. Do not put yourself in a position to miss God’s protection and blessings. Stay near to God and His ways of doing things and you will be in the position of blessings.
Let’s look at two more kings.
King Hezekiah/ did what was right in the sight of the Lord; restored temple worship; the people under his rule obeyed God; kept the Passover Feast as instructed; restored worship in the temple; broke down false religious places of worship; Hezekiah “did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God and in every work in the service of the house of God… to seek his God, he did it with all his heart/ So he prospered. A very good strong finish.
King Manasseh/ did evil/ lost his throne- was carried away captive to a foreign land by the king of Assyria/ humbled himself greatly in captivity and prayed to God/ God heard him and restored him back to his kingdom to rule. He restored the temple and Judah worshiped and honored God once again/ Manasseh started out evil, but had a very good ending. God is rich in mercy.
The last of the 20 kings of Judah did evil and the priests defiled the house of the Lord. Judah was taken into captivity by the king of Persia. Later they were released to rebuild the temple and worship and work in their own land again.
Note: It was never God’s idea to have kings in Israel and Judah. They wanted to be like the other nations and have a king. God had judges and prophets before the kings were installed. Look at the results. We need to stay on God’s plans to enjoy life and have a good ending. God tells us in Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach in the way you shall go; I will guide you with my eye.” Romans 8:14 “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” John 16: 13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth…”
Judas walked with Jesus for three and a half years. In the end Judas sold Jesus out to his enemies for thirty pieces of silver. He hanged himself; a terrible ending.
Peter denied knowing Jesus, but repented and Jesus restored him. He became a mighty man of God and served Jesus all the rest of his days. He became a pillar in the church and helped spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. He finished his race strong.
Jesus started strong and finished string. He was always about the Father’s business, whether it was in a good or bad situation for Himself personally. He always pleased the Father to the end when He died for us and said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) He gave up His life to give us eternal life.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Let’s learn from these examples. Determine in your heart to endure to the end with Jesus. He is the Best Friend you will ever have! Lord, help us to finish strong in our walk with you. In Jesus Name-Amen
You Have To Start To Finish: Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Pray: Dear God, I confess to You that I am a sinner, and I ask You to forgive me. Thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus to die for me on the cross. I repent; I turn from sin to You. I receive Jesus, now as my Lord and Savior. Holy Spirit, help me to live a life pleasing to my Father in heaven. Help me to start strong and finish strong. In Jesus Name-Amen. Now read Romans 3:10, 3:23, 5:8-9, 6:23, 10:9-10, 13; John 3:16; Acts 1:8, Acts 2:38.
Cowboy Partners: We thank God for our Cowboy Partners. The blessings we receive for serving Jesus flow to our Cowboy Partners. We have had some Cowboy Partners for years that have started strong and continue to be strong. You are good witness and a blessing to us at Christian Cowboys and Friends. You can be Cowboy Partner with finances, prayers, other helps when possible. Be blessed as you finish strong with Jesus.
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Your Cowboy Partner and Friend
Ronnie Christian, Phil 4:19
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