With the beginning of a new year come all the projects, resolutions, goals which we are determined to accomplish.  It’s a time for reflection on past successes and failures with resolve to do more and to do better in the days ahead.  We receive an abundance of encouragement and support from others to meet these new challenges.  In so many ways, it is a good time for us.

Last year, the South Fayette church focused on trusting in God, relying on Him and His strength to get us through the hard times of our lives.  When you can’t, He can!  Our emphasis was knowing that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us because we know that when we are weak, we are strong because the grace of God is sufficient for us in all things.  My prayer is that we all finished the year stronger than we began it.  Therefore, we begin this year strong.

Starting strong is good.  Finishing strong is epic!

How tragic the lives of so many; not because they failed or endured difficult trials, but because they let the failures, setbacks, and obstacles cause them to quit trying and moving ahead.  So many of the ancient Israelites did just that.  They had come so far, endured so much, yet they gave up before they reached the rest that had been promised by God to them.  The writer of Hebrews calls for endurance from those who were beginning to grow weary and wanted to give up and go back.  He reminds us that “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).  “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11).

All of those listed in the 11th chapter of Hebrews faced arduous challenges in their lives, but they were faithful, and they continued onward and upward.  Our charge: “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, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:1-2).  That’s what Paul did, and that is what each one of us can do—what we must do!

The jokes abound this time of year about how quickly those “new year resolutions” are abandoned.  However, there is nothing funny about beginning the journey with Christ and then giving up or turning back to the sinful ways of the world. We should never begin a race with no intention of finishing it.  By the grace and mercy of God, we will finish the race of life stronger, more faithful, more diligent, and more useful to Him.

Paul knew the Lord would award him the victory crown because he had finished his race, he had kept the faith.  And thank God, that crown will be awarded “to all those who have loved His appearing” (Phil. 4:6-8).  “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).  Finish Strong!