This week God has impressed upon the need to run our own individual race with determination and focus.

Acts 20:24 ESV

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

The ministry that he received from the Lord, what a great word. My ministry is different from Colleen’s, Victoria’s, Candace,, Judy, Linda or any of yours. The important thing is to know what our ministry is and then to be faithful to it! It does not matter if you are a hand, foot or mouth. What matters is that you are faithful to what you alone are called to do in your own particular time and place.  What has God gifted you with that you are testifying to His Grace and good news with?  I am called to mentor, teach, counsel and encourage. I want to do that with all my strength., wherever and whenever I am able.  I saw a picture that Linda had painted a couple of years ago at Joshua and Larrisa’s  home, I had no idea of the gifting God had given her! She needs to keep painting! Candace has encouraged me for the last 20 years, she needs to keep up the encouragement. Colleen has been faithful in teaching every morning, probably weather she feels like it or not.. Victoria serves her friends and family with incredible consistency.  It may be to teach but it may be to serve, it maybe marketplace ministry in the grocery store and it may  be an  administrator. Whatever God has gifted you with, wherever He has placed you to serve, whomever he has given you to mentor, we are to do it with all our focus and strength.  To testify is to give evidence or truth that something exists. To be the living evidence. Do people see what I am doing or saying as evidence of the truth of God? Are my actions pointing others to His Grace?

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (ESV)

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up 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 loved his appearing.

Here is something I have read by Steven Cole, Pastor of Flagstaff Christian Fellowship

“The Christian life is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. Since finishing a marathon well is not easy, when you see a man who sprints across the finish line, you ought to try to find out his secret. The apostle Paul was such a man. It’s as if he has crossed the finish line with energy to spare. He jogs back to where Timothy seems to be losing steam and exhorts him to keep running well. …..Paul’s words are not those of a discouraged, broken old man. There is no despair, no defeat, no cynicism, and no fear….  His calm assurance is all the more startling when you consider his circumstances. He was in the Mamertine Prison in Rome. Even the worst of our prisons today would be like the Hilton in comparison to the Mamertine. Paul’s cell was a dark, damp dungeon, reached only by a rope or ladder from a hole in the floor above. He had no windows, no lights, no toilet, no furniture, and no running water. Paul had labored for the past thirty years or more to preach the gospel around the Roman Empire, but at this point, it was at best a tiny sect, scattered here and there. …..And yet, the man was clearly at rest, confident in the way he has spent his life, and calmly assured…. “

What gave Paul this assurance? I think it was because he heard God and lived a life of obedience. He was also a mentor and he had reproduced himself. We have this same opportunity with our children, those we mentor and with our friends. Paul saw his life as an offering to God. He viewed his life as a race with a goal in mind and believed he was finishing well. He had kept the faith, no matter what, he had kept the faith. He had been entrusted to share truth and had done just that. These things gave him dignity, confidence and great hope.

I must ask myself,  am I holding steady, responsive to what the Lord has entrusted me with? Disciplined to be faithful? I am reproducing myself?

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Discipline and Aim, keeping our eyes on the goal so that we do not faint and grow weary. Be careful how I spend my time and the words that I speak. Be careful to spend time listening to the Lord for constant direction.

Hebrews 12:1 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Colossians 1:10-14 ESV

So as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

So this week I have been inspired. Francis Chan says something similar in You and Me Forever. “Early it is a walk of faith, later it is a run, later yet it is a sprint.” Regardless of where we are in the journey we must  keep our goal in sight and do all we can to remain on track. My desire is that you are encouraged regardless of your circumstances to keep your focus on the goal, to mentor and encourage those whom God has put in your paths and to stay strong and vital!  This week ask the Lord to clarify your direction, your calling in 2018. We are almost to the end of Jan. A perfect time to recalibrate…

Blessings, Irene