What does celebrating God’s truth sound like for Christians nearing the finish line?
What words come out between gasps for air for the Christian who is seeking to finish the race well?
“I am being refined as fire. This is a fiery trial.”
“I see how I have grown spiritually in the Lord through this. I am not the same person I was before.”
“I want to be genuine…to lift Christ up, to bring Him glory.”
“When I have accomplished what God has for me, that’s when He will take me.”
– Jeff Griggs
Jeff and Rosanne Griggs have been faithful members and servants to our church family. Jeff previously served as a deacon and he has been battling and suffering through two primary cancers: lung cancer and esophageal cancer. Through their sufferings, they have continued to cling to God and celebrate God’s truth as they continue to make it their goal to please Christ.
Celebrate the Truth of Great Confidence in the Faith
One of the great joys of being a pastor is seeing the joyful assurance that eternal life with Jesus brings to His people, especially at the end of their life’s ‘race’ as they move towards the finish still seeking to live fully the last of their Christian life on this earth.
God tells us that those who serve as deacons must be dignified (1 Timothy 3:8). Their character is worthy of respect. I have had the honor and privilege to co-labor with Jeff Griggs, who has served faithfully as a deacon for our church, in the choir, the community centers, and the international ministry. God says that one of the rewards for deacons that serve well is “great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 3:13).
Recently, I had the joy to observe this great confidence in the faith with Jeff and Rosanne Griggs during prayer and encouragement as Jeff continues to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Not only have the trials brought great confidence to Jeff, but also to his wife, Rosanne.
“We have learned to be content in circumstances and have seen God’s grace through so many details like Jeff not working, insurance, my voluntary partial retirement, Medicare taking care of the hospice needs. The Lord takes care of our needs.”
“You have to choose how you think…remembering truth and getting on your knees. God is faithful”
– Rosanne Griggs –
Celebrate the Truth with Your Family
Another great joy of being a pastor is learning new things about your family. Our brother, Jeff, shared that his favorite passage of Scripture is the story of Cornelius and the truth of Jesus Christ being shared with the Gentiles (non-Jews) in Acts 10. This is the first time I had heard of that passage being someone’s favorite story in the bible, and the truth of this passage is worth celebrating!
Jeff opened his Bible and tears of joy rolled down his face in celebration as he read,
“‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Therefore send to Joppa and invite Simon, who is also called Peter, to come to you; he is staying at the house of Simon the tanner by the sea.’ So I sent for you immediately, and you have been kind enough to come. Now then, we are all here present before God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord” (Acts 10:31-32 NASB).
Jeff: “Isn’t that so amazing! I was a Gentile sinner and God brought the gospel to me!”
Jeff pointed out from these verses the joy and excitement of Cornelius. Cornelius is so glad when he sees Peter. Cornelius is so excited for the truth about Jesus Christ that he gathers his family and household together to listen and celebrate this truth.
As Jeff shared these verses, I had a lot of joy thinking about the similarity between Jeff and Cornelius. Jeff, a solider for his country, also turned soldier for Christ. And now, here Jeff was gathering us in his home to celebrate the good news with his church family, a small group of sinful gentiles (including myself)!
The passage goes on to say:
“Opening his mouth, Peter said:
“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:34-43 NASB).
Like our brother Jeff, let us celebrate the truth of the gospel in the new year:
“God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him”
“preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)”
“They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross.”
“God raised Him up on the third day”
“this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead”
“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
The same truth of the gospel that started us racing for Christ, will be the same truth that will get us across the finish line.
“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NASB)