Wednesday, August 1, 2007


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, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: 'Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.' But they were scheming to harm me: so I sent messengers to them with this reply: 'I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?'

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

(2 Timothy 4: 7-8, 1 Corinthians 15: 58, Ephesians 6: 10-11, Nehemiah 6: 2-3, Hebrews 12: 1-2, Galatians 6: 9, Hebrews 13:8 -- all NIV)

We live in a world of thirty second commercials, fast foods, instant coffee, action replays, crash diets and instant gratification. Compare all this with the fact that we are called to live the Christian life which Paul likens to running a marathon race. It's not surprising that the qualities of endurance, faithfulness and persistence don't score high ly in the values of our contemporary society. And yet these are the qualities that contribute to Christlikeness. Could it be that the enemy has subtly set about to reverse our values in order that discouragement may weaken our resolve rather than strengthen our character?

One of the ways I am seeking to combat this reversal of values is to include biographical studies from the scriptures and other books in my reading program. In doing so, I find that the heroes of the faith speak to me and stir me to faithfulness and endurance by the witness of their lives.

I'll never forget completing the gripping biography of William Carey who encountered major discouragements at many strategic points along the way. At the end of it all I was moved as I read, 'He claimed no other power than that of being a plodder... Nothing came easy to Carey. He only accomplished anything by toiling at it.' I thought to myself, 'Carey was a plodder, too.' Nothing moved him because he knew that any labour in the Lord was not in vain.

Perhaps the best estimate of Carey's life is his own. He claimed no other power than that of being a plodder. Some people's lives seem easy. We say that they are born poets, painters or musicians, and they cannot help us much, because we were not born so. Nothing came easy to Carey. He only accomplished anything by toiling at it. His is a record of what can be done by hard work, by a life consecrated to God.

Percy H. Jones, in William Carey

General William Booth, of the Salvation Army, was once asked to reveal the secret of his success. The devout leader hesitated a moment, then, as tears came into his eyes and ran down his face, he replied: 'I will tell you the secret. God has had all there was of me to have. There may have been men with greater opportunities; but from the day I got the poor of London on my heart, and a vision of what Jesus Christ could do, I made up my mind that God would have all there was of William Booth. If there is anything of power in the Salvation Army today, it is because God has had all the adoration of my heart, all the power of my will, and all the influence of my life.'

Robert Coleman, Songs of Heaven

I have found there are three stages in every good work of God. First it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.

Hudson Taylor

What lies behind us
And what lies before us
Are tiny matters compared to
What lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Love isn't an act, it's a whole life. It's staying with her now because she needs you. It's knowing you and she will still care about each other when sex and daydreams, fights and futures -- when all that's on the shelf and done with. Love -- well, I'll tell you what love is: It's you at seventy-five and her at seventy-one, each of you listening for the other's step in the next room, each afraid that a sudden silence, a sudden cry, could mean a lifetime's talk is over.

Brian Moore, The Luck of Ginger Coffey

If we are to achieve a worthwhile ambition it will require such a wholehearted abandonment as the orator Demosthenes displayed in pursuit of oratorical power. When Demosthenes first spoke in public he was hissed off the platform. His voice was harsh and weak and his appearance unprepossessing. He determined that his fellow citizens would yet hang on his words, and to this end he gave himself day and night to elocution. He shaved half his head so that he would not be drawn into the involvements of society. To overcome a stammer he recited with pebbles in his mouth. He matched his orations with the thunders of the Aegean Sea that his voice might gain volume. An ugly hitching of the shoulder he corrected by standing beneath a suspended sword. He corrected any facial distortions by practising in front of a mirror.

It is not surprising that when he next appeared in public, he moved the nation. He was speaking with another orator on a matter of vital moment to the nation. When his companion concluded his speech the crowd said, 'What marvellous oratory!' But when Demosthenes reached his peroration they cried with one voice, 'Let us go and fight Philip!'

J. Oswald Sanders, A Spiritual Clinic

What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this, thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?

O make me thine forever;
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never never
Outlive my love to thee.

J.M. Alexander

O thou who camest from above,
The pure, celestial fire to impart,
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn,
With inextinguishable blaze;
And, trembling, to its source return
In humble love and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart's desire
To work and speak and think for thee;
Still let me guard the holy fire,
And still stir up thy gift in me;

Ready for all thy perfect will,
My acts of faith and love repeat,
Till death thine endless mercies seal,
And make the sacrifice complete.

Charles Wesley

A Benediction

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3: 20-21, NIV

Rowland Croucher ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys, (Albatross/Lion) chapter 44.

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