June 18, 2018

Finish my course with joy

Thoughts from Timothy…

Acts 20:22,24 “And now, Behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:…But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

As you can probably tell, Paul is now heading to Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary trip.  He has become convinced that it is the will of God for him to go to Jerusalem by Passover.  Many brethren attempted to dissuade Paul from making this journey to Jerusalem, but could not.  Acts 21:14 records, “And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, The will of the Lord be done.”

Today I would like to focus upon the reason Paul seems so set upon going to Jerusalem.  It can be seen in the phrase, “…that I might finish my course with joy…”.   You see, Paul had the absolute conviction that he was to go to Jerusalem and make another attempt to reach his own people.  Notice that he uses the phrase “finish my course”.

Paul’s use of the word ‘course’ is not uncommon.  The Holy Spirit had Paul use this word regarding John the Baptist’s ministry in Acts 13:25.  Paul will also use it again in 2Timothy 4:7, where the Apostle says that he has finished his course.   What Paul seems to envision is a specific path that the Lord had for him.

Now, since this is a devotional, let me ask you a question:  Are you still in the path that the Lord has laid out for your life?   Paul had a lot of input from a lot of people that sought to dissuade him from following the “course” that he believed the Lord would have him follow.   You and I will also.  We will have good meaning folk that give us advice contrary to where God is leading us…and we must stay focused upon ‘our course’.

It always strikes me that the Apostle Paul was conducting a ministry that was unlike any other.  We have no record of others that were reaching beyond their own borders to reach the world.  Because of his outreach, he was often misunderstood.  His vision to reach the gentiles was questioned by the good brethren of Jerusalem: yet Paul stayed true to his “course”.  His life almost ended at Lystra, yet Paul stayed true to his “course”.  He was run out of town, jailed, beaten, and ship-wrecked; yet Paul stayed true.  Oh, my, what little price I am willing to pay to stay true to that “course” that God has called me too.

However, Paul’s choice was not drudgery. Paul knew that the only thing that would bring true satisfaction in life is if he finished his course.  Notice that here he says, “that I might finish my course with joy”.    Paul knew that he would stand before the Lord and give an account.  He knew that whatever price he paid to stay true to the ministry which the Lord Jesus had given him would pale in comparison with the Joy he would have in the Lord’s presence.   Paul also wrote Romans 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Lord, help me to finish ‘my course’ with joy.

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