Finishing the Spiritual Race…

II Tim 4:6-8 ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I
have kept the faith…”

Finishing the Spiritual Race…

The year is 1968 and the Mexico City Olympics – a few thousand
spectators were in the stadium as the last of the marathon runners were
carried off in exhaustion to the first-aid stations. More than an hour
earlier an Ethiopian runner had been the first to cross the finish line
in this grueling 26-mile event. As the remaining spectators prepared to
leave, they were stopped by the sound of sirens going off and policemen
blowing whistles. There, entering the stadium came a lone figure
wearing the colors of Tanzania – his name was John Akhwari. He was the
last man to finish the marathon.

His leg was bloodied and bandaged, and he grimaced with each
step. He had severely injured his knee in a fall, but painfully, he
hobbled around the 400-meter track. The spectators who were still there
were moved to get to their feet and applauded as if he were the winner.
After he crossed the finish line in excruciating pain, he was asked why
he hadn’t quit when he had no chance of winning a medal. His answer:
“My country did not send me 7,000 miles away to start the race. They
sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.”

How do you feel about your purpose in life?

Is it to perform God’s will and finish the race He designed for you?

Will you be able to say, “I finished the race”?

Run with everything you’ve got, not halfheartedly. Remember, He gave
everything He had in His race to rescue you – and even though He was
beaten and bloody, Jesus didn’t quit.

Run the whole race… – He’ll be waiting to embrace you as you cross
that finish line for Him.

II Tim 4:6-8 ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I
have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on
that day, and not to me only but also to all those who loved His
appearing.”

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Things you’ll need to Know after Birth…

Phil 4:8 “Finally brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are noble, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be anything praiseworthy think on these things.”

Things you’ll need to Know after Birth!

  • Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your might.
  • Jesus must be number one in your life.
  • Character matters.
  • Family is vital.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and remember, most stuff is small.
  • The most boring word in any language is “I”.
  • Nobody is indispensable, especially you.
  • Life is full of surprises. Just say “never” and you’ll see.
  • People are more important than things.
  • Listen 90% of the time & speak the other 10%. Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath.
  • Only Jesus can make you eternally happy. Make Him Lord of your life.
  • There’s so much bad in the best of us.
  • Gossip is sin.
  • Live by what you trust, not by what you fear. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (If He is our Savior)
  • If you wait to have kids until you can afford them, you probably never will.
  • Baby kittens don’t begin to open their eyes for six weeks after birth. Men generally take about 26 years. Maybe longer for some of us. I was ‘born again’ at 28…..!
  • The world would run a lot smoother if more men knew how to dance. That one I have still not mastered!
  • Television ruins more minds than drugs. Do you suppose satan or many of his army reside in Hollywood?
  • Sometimes there is more to gain in being wrong than in being right. If you are willing to admit to it!
  • Life is so much simpler when you tell the truth. Even the little white lie is sin.
  • People who do the world’s real work don’t usually wear neckties.
  • A good joke beats a pill for a lot of ailments.
  • There are no substitutes for fresh air, sunshine and exercise both spiritually and physically.
  • A smile is the cheapest way to improve your looks, even if your teeth are crooked.
  • May you live life so there is standing room only at your funeral. And may those at your funeral be confident of your new home.
  • Mothers always know best, but sometimes fathers know, too.
  • Forgive yourself, your friends and your enemies.
  • If you don’t do anything else in life, love God first.

Deut. 6:5 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”

Understanding God’d Will for your life…

Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”

Understanding God’s Will for your life

Do you know the difference between God’s perfect will and His permissive will. If you are like me the answer is, well kind of. The big question is, which one do you desire to have fulfilled in your life. Inside of us is that daily struggle between the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh thinks it knows what is best for my life and my emotions typically agree with my flesh. That is a huge caution to me when it comes to identifying just what is God’s will for my life. God reminds me that His ways and thoughts are much higher than mine are and can be very different. That tells me that my logic and feelings are very inadequate for making decisions.

What God knows is best and what He desires for each of His children lines up with His perfect will. When I ask for my will to be done based on how I feel or what I perceive is best for me that drives me to pray for that result and that result only. And to feel that God has not answered my prayer if the answer is not yes. God loves us so much He may allow an answer to prayer that is not in His perfect will. That is called God’s permissive will. The big problem is that when we are out of line with God’s will the end result is always without exception bad for us. Even if it lines up with my desires.

The story of Balaam and Balak is a great example. Balak the King had a problem. He saw how God was blessing His people that He had just taken out of Egypt. That meant doom for many groups of people who were populating the promised land. Balak was scared. He was the King of one of those groups. He heard that Balaam was a man of God and God answered his prayers. So he sent a group to Balaam the Prophet to ask him to come with them and to curse the nation of Israel. Balaam went to God and God told him to not go with them and to not curse Israel. Pretty straight forward. But like us Balaam allowed some things to blind him of God’s will.

When Balak heard the news he sent a 2nd group now including many persons of higher positions to influence Balaam. Balaam went back to God with the same request. In Chapter 22 and 23 of Numbers we read the account. Take special note that God told Balaam he could go along with them which reflects His permissive will. He gave Balaam what he desired but it did not line up with His perfect will which was to not go. That one shakes me because it challenges me on how many times I have multiple requests for the same prayer request. Am I also trying to change God’s will from His perfect will to His permissive will? Listen to the danger is doing so.

It notes in Numbers 22 that God was angry. And we have the same God today that answered Balaam. Balak offered Balaam a great sum of money to do so. That’s where the flesh took off running. Balaam saw a great material blessing at his waiting. The Spirit nudged Balaam with the realization that to do so was out of line with God’s will. And so the struggle was on. Just what would he pray for. God’s perfect will and loose the material rewards and maybe even his life or would he ask God for His will to be done? Balaam by not accepting God’s perfect will almost lost his life. If you read about the next events it was only by God’s grace that Balaam lived. That story of his life shakes me. How many times do I not listen to God and only want to accept what I feel is best for me. And those requests may be leading to disaster!

We do have the perfect example of this struggle given to us by Jesus. The human side of Jesus did not want to go through the torture of the cross. Jesus being the only person to ever walk the earth and never sin also was the only person to walk this earth who never requested anything other than…..

Mat 26:42 “Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” ‘

CHRISTians and Spiritual Gifts…

CHRISTians and Spiritual Gifts…

If you are not a ‘born again’ believer who has done some studying of Spiritual Gifts in the scriptures this morning’s encouragement and/or challenge will be foreign to you. Actually, many believers are not aware of what our Savior says about the spiritual gifts we have been entrusted with and directed to use to lift up His name. Please read on and see how the Holy Spirit challenges you.

I Cor 12:1 “…now concerning Spiritual Gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.”

Spiritual Gifts

Everyone loves a free gift. Jesus is the ultimate free gift. With His gift of salvation, He has asked each believer to serve Him and His Church. The Church contains all those in this world who are trusting in Jesus alone for their salvation.  Did you know there are no denominations mentioned in scripture?

On the topics of Spiritual Gifts Jesus gave His Church (the people) Spiritual Gifts to perform service for His glory. We do not have to walk in our own strength and wisdom which is great.  If I were attempting to serve by my strength I can assure you I would fall flat on my face. We receive that supernatural desire and Gift(s) when we are ‘born again’.  After presenting ourselves to service Jesus (Romans 12:1,2) we can then look for how God will show us what our gift(s) are and how they are to be used.

Keep in mind that at salvation you are a baby in Christ or an immature person spiritually.  Use of my Spiritual Gifts will require my commitment to use them. After committing to use them then the Holy Spirit can work to develop them in my life.  Like salvation we are never forced into using them. But it is extremely important to know that Jesus commands and desires that we do so and that it is for His glory and not ours and that no minimum level of education is required to use them.

While these Gifts may run parallel to our earthly developed skills they frequently do not. I fall into that category. My gifts did not match my earthly skills which were not many. After many years serving Jesus, I am very happy they did not. I was then and remain required to place more faith in His power versus my expertise.  I once tried using one of my spiritual gifts in my own power and I fell flat on my face. The important lesson I was being taught is that as Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all through Christ who, strengthens me”.  It is never by my strength, ability or any natural or developed talent. God’s grace is enough for our salvation and for our service for the King. So, remember, when you cannot do it and you know God is asking you to, that is a great place to be in your life because you are totally dependent on Him for any success.

I Cor 12:9 “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness, most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Every born-again believer has at least one Spiritual Gift and its purpose is to be used in the fashion Jesus intended and of course with the right attitude and motive. The only good motive for serving is because Jesus asked you to do so. You are then doing it for His glory and not yours or your family or churches.

Eph 4:7,8 “But to each one of us (believers) grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s’ gift. Therefore, He says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”

Have you used your gift yet???

We may serve because a leader in the Church or family member encourages or challenged us to do so but if it is not for Jesus it will not last. I remember an elderly believer once telling me that if you wait 2 to 3 years you will find out what a servant’s commitment really is. His point being that if it is not for Christ they most likely will no longer be in that ministry after 2 to 3 years.

It is OK to try out different ministries to see where Jesus wants you to serve and leave those He did not intend for you. But when you find the one He intended for you then stay the course, for His glory. Yes, even when those you are serving with fall away. Remember Who you are serving. That will sustain you.

The purpose for these gifts;

Eph 4:16 “…from whom the whole body (Worldwide Church), joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part (person) does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

If you are not sure of your Gift(s) the place to start is on your knees requesting wisdom and then of course, search the scriptures daily.  Below is a listing of the spiritual gifts and some help in understanding your Gift(s) to help you in your quest to obey Jesus.

Start searching the scriptures today asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to you just where and how you are to serve Jesus. The following are some scripture passages defining what the Spiritual Gifts are;

WHERE FOUND: Romans 12:6-8, Eph 4:11, I Peter 4:11, I Cor 12:6-10, I Cor 12:28- 30

 
GIFTS
PASTOR TEACHER
TEACHING
HELPS (SERVING, MINISTERING)
ADMINISTRATION/LEADING
EVANGELISM
EXHORTATION
FAITH
GIVING
MERCY
APOSTLE
PROPHECY
MIRACLES
HEALING
TONGUES
INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
WORD OF KNOWLEDGE
WORD OF WISDOM

 

  • ASK NOT WHAT YOUR CHURCH CAN DO FOR YOU BUT ASK WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR JESUS’ CHURCH

Listening to God…

Listening to God…

Can I sit and be taught by God today?

II Tim 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

But aren’t those the books and teachings of men?

II Peter 1:20, 21 “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

“Let us seek to know Him in the Word. It is in the Word we will find the Holy Spirit. Don’t read too many other things. Some of you will say, “Look who’s talking!” Well, go ahead and say it, I don’t mind; but I am reading fewer and fewer things as I get older, not because I’m losing interest in this great, big, old suffering world, but because I’m gaining interest in that other world above. So I say, don’t try to know everything. You can’t. Find Him in the Word, for the Holy Ghost wrote this book. He inspired it, and He will be revealed in its pages.”

–A.W. Tozer

That being the case…
II Tim 2:15 “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

 

So, who’s feet did you sit at this morning to start your day?
Sitting before the Lord

“Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone; only God is here. In His presence I open, I read His Book; for this end, to find the way to heaven. Is there a doubt concerning the meaning of what I read? Does anything appear dark or intricate? I lift up my heart to the Father of lights: ‘Lord, is it not thy Word, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God”? Thou ‘give’s liberally and upbraids not’. Thou hast said, ‘If any be willing to do thy will, he shall know.’ I am willing to do, let me know thy will. I then search after and consider parallel passages of Scripture, ‘comparing spiritual things with spiritual’. I meditate thereon, with all the attention and earnestness of which my mind is capable. If any doubt still remains, I consult those who are experienced in the things of God, and then the writings whereby, being dead, they yet speak. And what I thus learn, that I teach.”

–John Wesley, Preface to Standard Sermons

It does take commitment.

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and perfect will of God.”

Following Jesus and Finishing the Race…

Following Jesus and Finishing the Race…

To be a real follower of Jesus takes an awesome commitment!!! Have you taken that step? The biggest challenge is getting over the fact that the race is to lift up Jesus name and not for personal gain. Look at what God’s word says about denial.

Luke 9:23 ” And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

After we accept Jesus as our Savior He desires that we would serve Him. As with salvation God does not force service upon us.  But obedience is huge if we are to hear “well done” when we are at home in heaven with Him. We must remember that life on this earth is like a vapor in that it passes quickly and then comes eternity. You may remember your moment of salvation but do you remember presenting yourself to His service?

Romans 12:1-2 ’I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be you transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. ‘

One example we have in scripture is Paul making this type of commitment. Because of it he was able to look confidently on his past service for the King. How is your view of the past? If you don’t like it, you can change how the future is played out!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yes, this life is both and race and a war against the evil all around us. When my earthly life is over and I enter my eternal home with Jesus, I hope to be able to say…

Eph 6:12-13 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.”

 II Tim 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

How about you? Is it time to enter the war

What if this Great CHRISTian…

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

What if this Great CHRISTian??

  • What if Billy Graham had not decided to develop and use the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism that God gave him?
  • What if Joni Erikson Tata had allowed her accident to put her into deep depression instead of allowing God to use it to minister to the handicapped?
  • What if DL Moody had decided to leave school early, join a gang and spent the rest of his life in prison?
  • What if James Dobson had decided to move to Africa and be a wild game hunter for his profession?
  • What if Peter had allowed his denial of Jesus to place him into a level of depression that kept him from serving the first Church as one of its Elders and Teachers?
  • What if Mary out of fear had chosen to not follow God’s will for her life?
  • What if Joseph out of fear had refused to recognize God’s will for his life and turned into a complaining self pitying person?
  • What if you decide to live life with the worldly goals of obtaining wealth and fame instead of what God has for you?
  • What if you decide not attend a local biblically sound church because there are too many hypocrites there?
  • What if they and you had never placed their faith in Jesus as their Savior?
  • What if you never decide to decide??????

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom you will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”