Day 36

The Final Kick

Long-distance runners have always fascinated me. The stamina, tenacity, strong will, and indomitable spirit push these racers beyond normal human endurance. Near the end of their long race, even running at a sprinter's pace, they will begin the final kick. Somewhere deep within, the exhausted runner will summon an incredible reserve to run at an accelerated pace to the finish line.

Our 40 days of fasting and prayer is nearing the finish line. Many have focused on a special time to be with God. Many others have eliminated certain things that have been either a spiritual or physical drain. There are some things we believe we cannot live without. 40 Days of Fasting and Prayer have provided us an opportunity to evaluate these self-imposed restrictions. If we can discipline ourselves to be controlled by God’s Holy Spirit around food, we have increased stamina to say NO to other matters that could bring us harm. We have learned that self-denial and self-discipline are great probes into our hearts.

God’s Word relates to an event near the finish line of the Apostle Paul. He is in prison and discerns he will soon be executed. For over 30 years Paul has preached the Gospel under the most trying of circumstances. Soon after Paul’s salvation, the prophet Ananias told him, “But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is my chosen instrument to take my name to Gentiles, kings, and Israelites. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:15-16). Paul did suffer but never wavered from his calling to establish churches and expand the Gospel.

Paul has been training a young Christian man to continue the ministry after Paul’s death. We hear the last conversation from Paul to Timothy, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8There is reserved for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Paul’s “final sprint to the finish line” was teaching, instructing, and encouraging other Christians, especially Timothy.

Our last week of the 40 Days of Fasting and Prayer can be emblematic of our continued ministry in the Kingdom of God. We can be victorious over the sin and temptations that are our frequent nemesis, not simply in the 40 days campaign but also the remainder of our lives. 40 days develops our stamina to complete our race to the finish line of life. Let us continue to say, “No!” to any area of our lives where we have felt defeat. 40 days has been the start. Let us finish strong!
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