Don’t Just Run to Finish, Run to Win…

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. (1 Cor 9:24)~ The finish line is in our minds when we run a race, but God intends us to run the race to win. Sometimes in life you’re running through rough terrain, and you fall down, but you don’t stay down, you get back up! You keep after it. God expects us to run our race with all we’ve got, every day. To run successfully, you have to give your complete attention, give full effort, be consistent. Sometimes blessings require hard work. They require you to show up; they require you to take action; they require you to persevere; they require you to be faithful, even in the valleys of our journey! We seem to have no trouble acting faithful on the mountain top, but it’s the valleys you’ll be blessed in. The enemy will have you thinking you can’t win…the enemy will have you believing that unless you win, you’re just like the majority.. one of those who doesn’t win. And since he’s got you thinking you can’t win, he’s making you think you’re just average… and also a loser! Then the enemy will have you settling with just being average, never striving to be better, never desiring anything but being comfortable where you are! If you can just get through it.. if you can just make it.. the bare minimums are okay with you! Why would you settle to just be average? Why would you settle for just making it? Why not give it your all? You might say ‘well, average isn’t so bad…I’d take that over being on the bottom.’ Well guess what my friend, that’s exactly what you are doing when you settle for average… you’re accepting being on the top of the bottom! You’re okay with being less than God designed you to be. You focus on being a ‘finisher’ who just wants to get through. God designed you as a winner, an achiever, an overcomer, a conqueror! Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom 8:37)! Devil you picked on the wrong people. Putting our lives together is just the beginning! Were not just going to put our lives back together, we’re going to kick your tail before it’s done. God didn’t just save us from ‘hell’, He gives us an ‘abundant’ life (John 10:10) – He didn’t just make another spiritual being, He created us in HIS image and likeness (Gen 1:26). He gave us His SON as the propitiation for sins rather than make us pay the price. Rather than just do it, God does it with greatness. In His image, we should perform to greatness as well. Don’t just run the race to finish it, run it to win! Run the race like everything depends on it. You may not always finish the race first, but be assured, Victory will always be yours!

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Change first happens in the first person

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye (Matt 7:5)~ Conflicts between us always cause us to look at the behavior of the other person. We focus on the things THEY do and expect THEM to change in order for things to get better. We always want the other person to take the first step, but the first step…for BOTH parties has to begin with “the mirror”. Many conflicts between people in a relationship whether it be friends, co-workers or even more intimate can be resolved much easier when we stop and look at ourselves rather than point blame at the other person. We can’t change the behavior of another person, especially when our own is out of check and likely causing some of the behavior in them. The very thought that the way a person is toward you is always fully their fault is a reason for you to look in the mirror. We can’t be so self-righteous and at the same time so naive as to think and claim that we cannot be part of the problem. There are two sides to every story…to every coin…and to every conflict. There will be those that you just won’t get along with; those that make it their life’s mission to keep negativity going and those that have no desire to be decent with you. Let them go on about their business and enjoy their misery; don’t become their company! But when there are those that you have traditionally had a relationship with, sometimes the change in YOU may be the catalyst for the change in the relationship. Don’t be so blinded by the ‘beam’ of overconfidence in your ‘set-in’ ways that you can’t see the impact you have on what’s happening. Ask yourself in a very serious manner “What can “I” do to make things right here?” When we consider what WE can do to move things in a positive direction rather than force responsibility on the other person, we become better for it and we will see that things actually begin to change FOR US…even if the other person remains stubborn! While the best scenario is that things get better for both of you, this change only happens when each person makes the effort first in themselves! Change First Happens in the First Person…Change first happens with YOU! 

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Ask & You Shall Receive… Or Will You? …

And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him (1 John 5:14-15)~~ There are people who believe the Bible teaches that whatever we ask we can have-.-.- “name it and claim it” – - – with no strings attached. We can name verses verbatim that support and drive our beliefs and we even walk in expectation that whatever it is we ask for, we shall receive. But what happens to our faith, our drive, our motivation when God doesn’t answer? When He says “No”? How many times have you prayed for something specific and it didn’t come as you asked? There is one very key point that we must stay in our minds as we consider our petitions: that if we ask any thing ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He heareth us. We can’t ask outside the will of God and expect our desired answer. But when our request lines up with His will, we have the guarantee that He will not only hear us, but that our answer is on the way. Asking and praying in His Name means to ask and pray IN HIS WILL, with HIS authority so that all HE desires will be done in our lives. Your hope and expectation will never rise above your level of confession. You will reap tomorrow the harvest of the words you sow today. Release your confession from a heart full of faith and belief in the God of the Word and the Word of God, and rest in confidence that He will hear and respond.

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Peace Peace Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee (Isa 26:3)~ in perfect peace, inward peace, outward peace, peace with God, peace of conscience, peace at all times, in all events. Trust in the Lord for that peace, that portion, which will be for ever. Whatever we trust to the world for, it will last only for a moment; but those who trust in God shall not only find in Him, but shall receive from Him, strength that will carry them to that blessedness which is for ever. Let us then acknowledge Him in all our ways, and rely on Him in all trials.

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Come on Home!

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him (Luke 15:17-20)~ No matter how far anyone has wandered away from God, no matter how deep we have gone into sin, whenever we turn around…God is right there to receive us with open arms! God doesn’t care what we’ve done in our past! He only cares about what we’re doing right now and what we will do in our future! Thanks to the finished work of Jesus, no one ever has to be lost because of their past sins. We are only lost because we will not surrender, repent, and accept what Jesus has done for us. If you have strayed away in your life, just turn around and come back. YES, it’s that simple…no working it off, earning forgiveness or proving yourself worthy! Christ has done the work, by Grace He has forgiven us. We in our guilt tend to feel like we’re not worthy of His grace, but my friend, we’re SO worthy that He gave His life to prove it! YOU are restored in relationship and covenant; redeemed of everything that separated you and reconciled to FULL authority and inheritance as a child of the Lord! God is eagerly awaiting you and will see you from Heaven as soon as you start to return to Him and He will draw you back to Him and meet you on the way! Child of God…Come on Home!  

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Give up? I don’t know HOW to do that!

….And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he (Jacob) said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me (Gen 32:26)~~ Ever feel like quitting? “Are you kidding?” you ask, “A better question would be, ‘How many times TODAY have I felt like quitting?’ ” Sure. We’ve all felt like “throwing in the towel” at one time or another. If you haven’t, I suggest that you check your pulse quickly. And here’s a real shocker for you: the notion that “winners never quit” is a joke! Everyone – even (insert successful person here) – has not only felt like it, but has even quit at one time or another. Get over the notion that it’s supposed to be easy! The “road of life” that we each travel isn’t one endless stretch of flat, paved expressway, but rather, is filled with curves, crests, valleys, detours, potholes and bumps. It is this very unpredictability that makes it so interesting and alluring. We just have to have faith in what God’s Word says about what’s around the next curve. Many of us quit when things don’t happen quickly or easily! Just remember: The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all (Ecc 9:11) But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved (Matt 24:13). The greatest inspiration I’ve heard in a while was from a friend dealing with some personal adversity. In my offering encouragement to him I said to him “you will be fine man, just don’t give up” to which his response was “Give up? I don’t know HOW to do that!”- now if THAT’s not faith and perseverance, I don’t know what is! 

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Watch your Heart…watch your mouth…

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45)~ Just like The tree is known by its fruits; what the mouth “commonly” speaks, generally agrees with what is most in the heart. If you ever want to really know a person, listen to them when they “really” speak .. off the cuff as they say. God knows the heart, But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:8). We are so full of unruly evil in our tongues that we have to script ourselves and write down our conversations to make sure we say what sounds good for the situation. But the truth will be revealed when we are just “being ourselves” and the words that come out will be spoken from the heart. That which is in the heart is sometimes so strong, even our own minds can’t control that which heads toward our mouths! Knowing all this, we each have a responsibility: May the word of Christ be so grafted in our hearts, that we may be fruitful in every good work…and word! 

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