Near the end of Paul's life he stated he had finished the course.  That is, he had accomplished all that God meant for him to get done.  He did not get distracted, at least not for long.  He completed the ministry he had been born to do.

  I wonder how many of us can say the same thing.  My daughter works as cashier at a retail store.  She was talking to someone about a certain church.  The next customer in line stated that he was a member of that church but wasn't faithful to attend.  I imagine that wasn't the case when he first joined.  Probably, he was there often and was a regular in the services.  Somewhere along the way he got off course.

  The same thing happened to King Asa in the Old Testament.  Faced with a battle against the Ethiopians who boasted an army many times larger than that of Judah, Asa called out to God who gave him a great victory over the superior force.  He received a commendation from the Lord and was greatly blessed by Him.  But in his later life, he was again faced with a military invasion.  This time he turned to the pagan king of Syria to help.  God sent a prophet to rebuke him and Asa had the prophet jailed.

  How could one who started so well finish so poorly?  It happens in the ministry all the time.  Sometimes the pastor gets "weary in well doing."  The work of God is hard work and one can get tired of it all if he is not careful.  Sometimes a poor finish is due to sin coming in to the pastor's heart and turning him away.

  Another reason some get side tracked is not seeing the results they were expecting.  You know how it is--you begin a new program that you thought would have great results and instead it is a lot of hard work with only a little success.  At times like that it is very tempting to throw in the towel and quit.

  But at the end of it all, who would you rather be like--Paul or Asa?  To be like Paul you've got to keep going even when it's not easy.  To be like Paul you have to endure hardships and trials--things that will discourage other pastors.  To be like Paul you have to set your sights on the one goal that really matters--the high calling of God which is in Christ Jesus.

  Pastor, keep on the course.  Remember that in due season you will reap if you faint not.