One Thing I Know

2 Timothy 4:7-8

I have fought a 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 who have loved His appearing.

There are several helpful truths we learn from Paul in this portion of scripture.

  • Finishers focus on the finish line.  Paul never lost sight of the finish line.  He knew that, beyond this short life there is a great life of joy that stretches forever into eternity, and that those who are faithful here will enter that life and get a crown of righteousness.  We have a tendency to forget that the real finish line is not in this life.  That’s the clear truth from the Bible.  The real finish line is after this life is over.  Unless you want to stagger through the gloom of a senseless existence, hold on the promise of the hereafter.  Without that hope, nothing else makes sense.
  • Finishers stay in proper spiritual shape to stay the course.  Do not waste your time arguing over foolish ideas and silly myths and legends.  Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit.
    • Are you in proper spiritual shape to stay the course?
    • Are you giving God enough time?  We live in a hurry, hurry life and sometimes God even has trouble getting through to us.  We have instant messaging on our computers, cell phones that we take with us everywhere, even to church.  We have microwaves, two jobs and instant entertainment in our homes.  Somewhere in today’s fast-paced society we must learn to slow down and listen to God and wait on Him.
  • Finishers maintain their passion.  Do you have a passion for serving the Lord Jesus Christ?  Paul had a purpose, a plan, and he maintained his passion.  He had no intention of disappointing the One who had done so much for him.  He knew he was running the race, not just to win a prize, but to bring glory to Christ.  Doing God’s will was his passion!  Is it yours?

Do you know what God’s will is for your life?  The old hymn says:

                                    I know not why God’s wondrous grace

                                    to me he hath made known,

                                    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love

                                    redeemed me for His own.

                                    But I know whom I have believed

                                    and am persuaded that He is able,

                                    To keep that which I’ve committed

                                    unto Him against that day.

Are you persuaded?  Are you convinced you are in the race to stay?  Are you convinced you are on the right track?  Are you striving toward that goal?  Is that the ONE THING  that is first and foremost in your mind?  Is that the ONE THING that takes priority over all else.  Hang on to it and do not let it go.  Your eternal life depends on it.

  • That ONE THING could be called passion or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called drive or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called hanging on or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called determination or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called righteous stubbornness or commitment.
  • That ONE THING could be called hardheadedness or commitment.
  • Whatever that ONE THING is, hide it in your heart and do not let go.  It will get you to the finish line and help you reach the goal.

You probably need to know that finishers do not have an easier race than others.  It is easy for all of us to justify our quitting attitudes with statements like, “If only I had it as easy as so and so, I’d be successful too”  But if you read about the lives of successful people, you will find they did not have it any easier than the rest of us.

Take John Wesley, for instance, one of the greatest preachers of the last millennium.  Here is a single page from his journal:

  • Sunday AM – May 5 – Preached in St Ann’s; was asked not to come back anymore.
  • Sunday PM – May 5 – Preached in St John’s; deacons said, “Get out and stay out.”
  • Sunday AM – May 12 – Preached at St Jude’s; can’t go back there again either.
  • Sunday PM – May 12 – Preached at St George’s; kicked out again.
  • Sunday AM – May 19 – Preached at St Somebody Else’s; deacons called a special meeting and said I couldn’t return.
  • Sunday PM – May 19 – Preached on the street; kicked off the street.
  • Sunday AM – May 26 – Preached out in a meadow; chased out of meadow when a bull was turned loose during the service.
  • Sunday AM – June 2 – Preached out at the edge of town; kicked off the highway.
  • Sunday PM – June 2 – Afternoon service, preached in a pasture; 10,000 people came.

You see, finishers are not folks who do not run into difficulty.  Finishers are folks who run over difficulty.

  • What ONE THING do you think it was that kept John Wesley going on in spite of difficulty?  Whatever it was, it worked.
  • What ONE THING motivates you to come to church?
  • What ONE THING would it take to get you more involved in serving Christ?
  • What ONE THING would the Lord have to do in your life to get your attention and cause you to do more for Him?
  • What ONE THING makes you want to keep going when trouble or opposition arises?
  • What ONE THING makes you keep pressing on when others are ready to quit?

Look at the ONE THING in the following:

Mark 10:21 – Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.”

Luke 10:41-42 – And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Philippians 3:13-14 – Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 27:1-5 – The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell.  Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident.  One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek:  That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.  For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.

For Me To Live is Christ

Philippians 1:12-26

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ; and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.  Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.  For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again

THE WITNESS OF THE BELIEVER

  • The Example of Paul, the Apostle
  • Circumstances were bleak; he was a prisoner in Rome.  The circumstances were immediate, not something in the future.  He waited for trial, day after day, not knowing the outcome.  For over two years he waited.  One of the most difficult of all circumstances is knowing the problem is there, but not being able to do anything about it except to wait and wait for the final resolution.   
  • Note the following:
  • in spite of waiting trial,
    • in spite of being under house arrest,
    • in spite of false accusations,   
    • in spite of trumped up charges,
    • in spite of not having his freedom;
    • Paul did not grumble or complain,
    • he did not question God and wonder why,
    • he did not whine and murmur,
    • he did not fall to pieces,
    • he did not curse God and give up his faith.
  • Paul, instead, used this two years, with a dark cloud hanging over his head, to spread the Gospel.
  • One of the saddest verses of Scripture is found in Jeremiah 8:20 – “The harvest is past, the summer has ended and the gathering of fruit is over, yet we are not saved!”  Paul used the time that he had to the best of his ability.  He could not go to distant cities and spread the Gospel message.  He could not travel land and sea as he had done before.  He could not because of his imprisonment but yet he used the time he had to do all that he could.  He realized that he might not have much time left to do the work to which he was called.

Matthew 9:37-38 – “Then He (Jesus) said to His disciples. The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Mark 4:26-28 – “And He said, ‘The Kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.  For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head.  But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.’” 

Luke 10:2  – “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months, and then comes the harvest?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!’”

  • Perhaps, we should follow Paul’s example.  Maybe we could use the short three phrase statement that in times past we have mentioned.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE!
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN! 
  • If you have not yet done what you are to do as a Christian, witness, invite, and tell others of His great love, START WHERE YOU ARE.
  • If you don’t seem to have any strength, no power, no energy, no talents, no nerve, USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  As you begin to exercise the little bit of ability that you do have, God will give more ability as you begin to do for Him.
  • Then, you must DO ALL YOU CAN for the Lord, everywhere, every time, anyway that you can do. 

Acts 28:30-31 – “And Paul lived two years in his own house, (he was under house arrest), and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” 

Mark 16:15 – “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” 

John 20:21 – “Then Jesus said to them again Peace be unto you: as my Father has sent me, even so send I you.” 

1 Peter 3:15 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” 

OUR STATEMENT OF FAITH BEFORE THE WORLD

  • Are we positive, upbeat, joyful, at peace, or are we negative, down, sad, in turmoil?   In our behavior, actions, lifestyle, are we at peace with ourselves or are we always in a dither?  When we are conducting ourselves in any position of authority, small or great, do we come across to others as God’s great gift to humanity in our know-it-all style or is there a prized possession of humility at work?
  • Paul stated “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  We all know of course what the last portion means.  It will definitely be our gain when we go to be with Christ.  No more problems, heart-ache, pain and trials will we have to go through.  But what did he mean “For me to live is Christ?”  What does that question speak to you?  I believe Paul was saying that he had a purpose in life.  He had a reason to live.  Christ was his most prized possession.  Christ was first in his thoughts.  Is that our feeling about life?  Is life more than a meager existence on this earth, then it is over?  Is life drudgery?  Is life something that must be endured or is it to be lived – lived in its fullest sense, in Jesus Christ?   

Romans 14:1 9 – “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”

Romans 15:2 – “Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.” 

  • Let us be ready to always glorify Christ in this life by the way we live.  Let us be ready to hear Him say – “Well done, good and faithful servant; because you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things; enter into the joy of the Lord.”  Matthew 15:23         

The Good Fight

1 Timothy 6:11-14

But as for you, O man of God, flee from all these things; aim at and pursue righteousness (right standing with God and true goodness), godliness (which is the loving fear of God and being Christ like), faith, love, steadfastness (patience), and gentleness of heart.  Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses.  In the presence of God, Who preserves alive all living things, and of Christ Jesus, Who in His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I [solemnly] charge you  to keep all His precepts unsullied and flawless, irreproachable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), (The Amplified Bible)

  • Flee from all these things “O man of God” – talking to the church
  • Pride
  • Conceit
  • Controversy
  • Disputes
  • Strife
  • Envy
  • Jealousy
  • Quarrels
  • Dissension
  • Abuse
  • Insults
  • Slander
  • Suspicions
  • Wrangling
  • Weary discussion
  • Perpetual friction
  • Greed

Galatians 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Galatians 5:16 – I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Romans 8:1 – There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

  • Aim at – pursue – strive toward – grasp with all your might
  • Right standing with God
  • True goodness
  • Godliness (the loving fear of God and being Christ like)
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Steadfastness (patience)
  • Gentleness of heart
  • Fight the good fight of faith (spiritual warfare)
  • Lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned (called)
  • Lay hold of the eternal life to which you have made a good confession (declared openly that Christ is your Lord and Master
  • I urge you – implore you – give it all you have got
  • Keep your commitment to God
  • Without spot
  • Blameless
  • How do we accomplish all this?  Through the power of prayers and fasting

1 Timothy 2:1-2 – Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

Servant Hood/Stewards of the Mysteries

1 Corinthians 4:1-2

Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

  • Servant hood

How many women, when they plan a meal and company is coming, ignore everything about that dinner engagement until the very last minute….They start at the beginning….They start where they are…They tear apart the food pantry or the cupboard where they have stored their food and use what they have….then they do all they can.

How many men plan  project, let us say building on to their house….they plan ahead….they start where they are….they use what they have….and they do all they can.

No one begins in the middle of a meal or in the middle of a project.  You start at the beginning.  God did the very same thing.

Genesis1:1 – In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

We all know the creation story and we know one of the first things God did was to make the heavens and the earth.  What would have happened if He had created man first?  No place to live, eat, sleep.  God is a God of order.

Our spiritual life must be ordered by Him and in Him.  Otherwise, we will have chaos in our life. 

  • Do you want your life to bring glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Today is the very first day of the rest of your life.  You probably cannot do anything about most of the things that already have taken place in your life, but you can do something about Now.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

Mark 9:33-37 – Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, “What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?”  But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest.  And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”  Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.”

This passage deals with the subject “Who is the greatest?”  To be great, we must first be a servant – to all.

  • Stewards of the Mysteries – Administrators of the Gospel Truth of God

Colossians 2:2-3 – I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”  (The Message)

Servant Hood/Stewards of the Mysteries – what does it all mean?  How do we understand this?  First we must know Jesus Christ personally, not just a name in a book, not just a name you hear occasionally as a swear word, not just a good man, not just the leader of one of the world’s religious beliefs.

1 Corinthians 2:14 – But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

To know Him, to have an ongoing minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, seven days a week, 365 days a year….know Him as your Lord and Savior, your strength, your helper, your comforter, your healer, your provider.

To know Him, eat, work, sleep, dream, breath, be totally absorbed with Him in your life so ultimately nothing else matters.  To be so full of Him that we do not care about anything else but serving Him and doing what He wants.  To be that kind of follower of Jesus is to truly be His disciple.

Philippians 3:10 – that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.

To live this verse we have to totally surrender to Him 100%.  We cannot know Him like this verse says “in the power of His resurrection” unless we first have died to sin, have laid it all down.

When you say, “I can’t do this or I can’t do that,” referring to a habit or a character management issue like temper, patience, lack of control, whatever it might be, you make God and His Word a liar. 

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

You may fall flat on your face the first time you try to determine that you are going to be what God really wants you to be rather than being a false advertisement of what God says you can be.  Get your mind off “I can’t” and on “I can.”  Hold up your hands in front of you and do a ten-finger prayer.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  When temptation comes and you feel like you cannot…hold up your hands in front of you and say, “With God’s help, I can.”

As you have that close relationship with Him, be the servant of all you come in contact with.  You cannot be thinking about yourself if you are trying to help someone else.  To have this kind of relationship and be a servant – wow!  Live your life and wake up in the morning so full of His love and knowledge of His Word that you pray, “OK God, here I am.”

  • What is your will for me today? 
  • What do you want me to do? 
  • Where do you want me to go? 
  • What do you want me to speak?
  • Who do you want to put in my path?
  • How can I make a difference?
  • How can I stand between eternal punishment for sin and the sinner and point them to You?

All this cannot be done in a moment’ time.  There are the three rules to get to that point.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

Look again at our text – this time from The Amplified Bible

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 – So then, let us [apostles] be looked upon as ministering servants of Christ and stewards (trustees) of the mysteries (the secret purposes) of God.  Moreover, it is [essentially] required of stewards that a man should be found faithful [proving himself worthy of trust].

  • Faithfulness – this is where we should start. 

It is required in stewards to be faithful, not it is required of stewards to be faithful.  “Of stewards” would indicate something we do.  “In stewards” indicates something internal, inward, an ongoing developing influence of the power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

  • Faithfulness comes by way of a relationship with Christ
  • Faithfulness is not an attribute or character that is learned
  • Faithfulness is not something we put on in the morning like a garment
  • Faithfulness is a life style of one whose heart, mind, soul and body is fixed securely on Jesus Christ.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

A servant does what his master requires.  Is Christ your Master?  If Christ is truly your Master, your Lord, He has the power of life and death over you.  If He is truly your Master, you will do, go, say and be what He wants you to do, go say and be.

1 Corinthians 6:20 – For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

Romans 6:16 – Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

We must do what God requires.  We are no longer a free entity.  We belong to Christ.  We are members of His body.  The parts of His body work like the parts of one’s natural body.  He is the head; we are the parts.  He controls our actions.  That is, if we truly are part of His body.

At the same time that we are servants and slaves of Him that redeemed us, we are “free from sin,” “free from the penalty of sin,” free from the final destiny that sin brings upon mankind.  We are free in Christ to live godly or ungodly – our choice.  But as we yield our bodies, lives, hearts, minds, our entire being to Him, we become His.  We become His servants, His slaves out of love, not compulsion.  Love.

When we become truly His servants, we will obey Him, be faithful to Him and serve Him.

James 4:7 – Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

1 Corinthians 13:11 – When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.  Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God

Hebrews 5:13-14; 6:1 – For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Start where you are – use what you have – do all you can.

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Stand Fast

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work.

Matthew 24:42 – “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”

I Corinthians – 16:13 – “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”

DO NOT GIVE AN INCH.  Nothing the devil throws against you shall in anyway harm you if you are walking in the will of the Lord.

Phil 1:27 – “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

Phil 4:1 – “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”

Phil 3:14-19 – “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.  Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.  Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.  For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”

Gal 5:1 – “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Eph 6:14 – “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.”

Just remember, you cannot fight sitting down.

I Can (With God’s Help)

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

John 15:5 – “I am the Vine; you are the branches.  Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit.  However, apart from Me (cut off from vital union with Me) you can do nothing.”  The Amplified Version

James 4:7 – “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

CAN

  • Growing up, I learned in English classes the difference between the words can and may.  Repeatedly, I heard “You can if you are able.”  The next time you go through a drive through to order something, note how many people on the other end of the microphone ask, “Can I help you?”  That obviously tells you they did not grasp the correct grammar in English class or the teacher did not teach them properly.
  • I can because I am able.
  • Through Christ, I am more than able.  Not in my own strength, not in my own power, but through the power of Christ Jesus, my Lord, who dwells within.
  • “I may” gives the impression that you may not be able.  There is a doubt in your mind that you may not be able because you are too weak, you will change your mind, you question your ability to follow through.

I WILL IS THE NEXT STEP AFTER WE KNOW “WE CAN.”

  • Over and over in the Psalms we see the statement I will.
  • It was I who determined that I would do these things.
  • It was I who put the plan in motion.
  • Remember the statement about Daniel – “He purposed in his heart.”  It was Daniel who made up his mind and determined within himself that he would be who God had called Him to be.

Psalm 145:1 – “I will extol You my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever.”

Psalm 145:5 – “I will mediate on the glorious splendor of You majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”

Psalm 138:1-2 – “I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You.  I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.”

Psalm 144:9 – “I will sing a new song to You, O God; on a harp of ten strings I will sing praises to You.”

  • It is I who must go to God when I need help
  • It is I who must praise God when I want to thank Him
  • No one else can do it for me
  • I must
  • I can
  • I am able

TEN FINGER PRAYER

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I CAN DO

  • Action word – I can do…move, talk, look, walk, think, eat and breathe and much more…all these things you and I can do without thinking.  How much more do we do with our strength that God has given to us naturally?  .

I CAN DO ALL

  • I can do whatever I want to if I put my mind, heart and energy and will power to the task that is before me.  Nothing then, can stop me…There are no exceptions…With God’s help I can accomplish more than I can even imagine…but lest I get puffed up in my own strength, I must remember that it is God who gives me the strength.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS

  • I can praise God if I want to
  • I can get out of bed if I want to
  • I can help others if I want to
  • I can live a Christian life if I want to

OR

  • I can blame my upbringing, sexual abuse, an abusive relationship, poverty or many other things for the reasons that I cannot go forward to live my life in the way God has called me to live it.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH

  • It’s not me and me alone who is able to do all these things, but it is through the help of the Lord.
  • When your wife has cancer
  • When you have financial difficulties
  • When a loved one dies
  • When you have surgery
  • When you have problems in your marriage
  • When you have problems with your kids
  • In all areas of life…it is God who gives us strength

THROUGH CHRIST (THE ANOINTED ONE)

  • It is He, Himself, He cares

1 Peter 5:7 – “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Jeremiah 33:3 – “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

  • WOW!  This God that we serve promises to show us great and mighty things but He wants us to call on Him…He wants us to fellowship with Him.  You stay in touch with Him; He will stay in touch with you.  It is in Him and through Him by His anointing power that we have our being, our life, our very existence, our breath, that our heart regularly beats.

1 John 5:14-15 – “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”

WHO STRENGTHENS ME

  • The same person as the I in the beginning of this verse…I am the receipt of my actions.  I am the one who steps out by the faith God has instilled in my heart and helped me to exercise the faith…I WIN.

Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Toward The Goal

Philippians 3:12-16

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PERFECTION

  • Paul did not count himself as having yet attained; he was not perfect.  We are not perfect and our righteousness is lacking in many different areas of our lives.  We are continually striving toward perfection and toward living a righteous and holy life.  For many perfection is hopeless; righteousness is hopeless.  Holiness is just not going to happen.  That is because those individuals are relying on their own ability and strength to be perfect and righteous before Christ and it is definitely not going to happen.  If we could be perfect and righteous on our own merits, Christ would not have had to go to the cross. 
  • No person ever achieves perfection on this earth.  That fact is so obvious to the thinking of a honest man that it is actually ridiculous to even think about being perfect.  But, at the same time, too many are so closed minded in their thinking that they seldom grasp what perfection really is.
  • Consider the brain and the mind.  It has been estimated that man only uses one-tenth of one percent of his mental capacity.  Imagine how far short this is of perfection.
  • Consider the body.  What would a perfect body be like?  A body that never desired, thought, or did wrong; that never came up short; that never aged, deteriorated, died or decayed?
  • The examples could go on and on.  But, in the beginning, the creation stage of this earth, we find that man and woman were created in the image of God.  He and she had the perfect body and mind because God created perfection.  It was mankind’s desire to be wise as God that brought about the imperfection that we have in our lives and in our world.  Look at the creation story in Genesis.  Every time God created something, it states over and over “And God saw that all was good.”   

Romans 7:18-20 – “For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh.  I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it.  (I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.) For I fail to practice the good deeds I desire to do are what I am (ever) doing. Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is no longer I doing it (it is not myself that acts), but the sin          (principle) which dwells within me (fixed and operating in my soul).  The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God.  The Amplified Version

PAUL’S EXAMPLE FOR US TO FOLLOW

  • Paul followed after perfection.  When Paul was saved on the Damascus Road that was just the beginning.  He had been saved to live for Christ and to serve Christ.   He was saved to follow to pursue, like a runner in a race, that perfection that Christ desires in all of us.  Paul was going to do all he could to help the Lord in the Lord’s great task of perfecting him.  Paul was going to do all he could to lay hold of perfection – the perfection for which the Lord had laid hold of him. 
  • There is no such thing as a genuine believer sitting still after he has been saved.  The believer must not become comfortable, complacent, lethargic, or lazy.  The believer should neither waste time nor opportunity.  He should not begin to think he is safe and secure forever.  The believer can not begin to do what he wants to do and give in to his own desires.  The believer must follow, run, and press after perfection – the perfection for which Christ has saved him.  The believer must be active in living for Christ.
  • START WHERE YOU ARE
  • USE WHAT YOU HAVE!
  • DO ALL YOU CAN!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but (only) one receives the prize?  So run (your race) that you may lay hold (of the prize) and make it yours.  Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things.  They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we (do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness) that cannot wither.  Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim).  I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary.  But (like a boxer) I buffet my body (handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships) and subdue it for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit (not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit).”   The Amplified Version

Galatians 5:7 – “You were running the race nobly.  Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the truth?   The Amplified Version

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 – “However, we possess this precious treasurer (the divine Light of the Gospel) in (frail, human) vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves.  We are hedged in (pressed) on every side (troubled and oppressed in every way), but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair.”  The Amplified Version

Hebrews 12:1-2 – “Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (who have borne testimony to the Truth), let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away (from all that will distract) to Jesus, Who is the Leader and Source of our faith (giving the first incentive for our belief) and is also its Finisher (bringing it to maturity and perfection).  He, for the joy (of obtaining the prize) that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The Amplified Version.

WHAT MUST WE DO?

  • Paul worked at forgetting the past.  If we are going to have a good future, we must now, in the present, forget the past.  We must burn bridges if necessary.  We must sever relationships if necessary.  We must change jobs if necessary.  For us to live like Christ intended for us to live, holy and righteous and striving toward perfection, we have to make a change.  The first change must be to bury the past.  Leave the stinking, rotten actions and memories of the sin of your past and never resurrect it again.  If Christ forgave you of wrong doing and does not hold it against you anymore; then who do you think you are resurrecting something that has been forgiven?  It’s over.  It took you down the wrong path the times you were involved in it, and it will again if you resurrect it.  The one thing we must do is forgive ourselves and go on and live our life in Christ to the fullest. 

1 John 3:2 – “Beloved, we are (even here and) now God’s children; it is not yet disclosed (made clear) what we shall be (hereafter), but we know that when He comes and is manifested, we shall (as God’s children) resemble and be like Him just as He (really) is.”  The Amplified Version

All For Christ

Philippians 3:1-11

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

BE ON GUARD

  • Rejoice in the Lord – Rejoicing in the Lord places one in the very presence of the Lord – the very best place to be if you want to be safe and protected.

Psalm 22:3 – “But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”  (You inhabit the praises of your people.) 

  • The word inhabit means to sit down, to remain, to settle, or marry.  When we praise God he does not merely visit us, He abides with us and we are partners with Him in a growing relationship. 

Psalm 5:11 – “Let all those that put their trust in you rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them.”

Habakkuk 3:17-18 – “Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the field yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—Yet will I rejoice in the Lord.  I will joy in the God of my salvation.”  Habakkuk 3:17-18

The word for joy, gil, contains the suggestion of dancing for joy or leaping for joy.  The verb originally meant to spin around with intense motion.  This lays to rest the motion that biblical joy is only “a quiet, inner sense of well-being.”  God dances for joy over Jerusalem and because of His people.

Isaiah. 65:19 – “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people.”

Zephaniah 3:17 – “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people

  • His redeemed are joyful in their King; they praise Him with dances, with instruments and singing.

Psalm 149:2, 3 – “Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbre and harp.”

  • Pay attention to the Scriptures – If we fail to study and obey the Word of God, we will cave in to the trials of life or to false teaching.

John 14:15 – “If you love me, keep my commandments.” 

John 14:23 – “If a man love me, he will keep my words…” 

John 15:10 – “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.”

Acts 17:11 – “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”

Acts 20:32 – “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

2 Tim 2:15 – “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

  • Watch out for false teaching – Remember most false teaching comes with “a little truth mixed in.”  Otherwise, there would be no danger of our being misled. 

 Matthew 5:19-20 – “Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven…”  

Romans 10:3 – “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.”  Romans 10:3

1 Timothy 1:7 – “Desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” 

2 Timothy 4:3-4 – “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

  • Beware of false attempts to worship God – praying, singing, attending church, giving in the offering, being baptized, joining the church.  These are all things that we do because we worship.  They are the result of our worship.  However, they are not the basis of our worship.  
  • We worship God through the Spirit of God who lives in us. 

John 4:24 – “God is a Spirit; and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 –  “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you…therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 

  • We worship because of Jesus Christ. 

 Ephesians 2:18 – “For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” 

John 10:9 – “I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved.” 

REJECT SELF-RIGHEOUSNESS

  • Privileges of Birth
  • Self-Achievement

Romans 3:20 – “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight – for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Romans 10:3 – “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” 

ALL FOR CHRIST

  • Count all things loss for God – “Count” is in the present tense; it is a continuous action.  When we accept Christ, we are to continuously – all the time seek after God.  Compared to Him – nothing else should matter. 

Luke 9:23 – “If any man desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”   

Hebrews 11:6 – “Without faith it is impossible to please Him…..He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” 

  • Know Jesus Christ – In the New Testament know indicates a relation between the person knowing and the object known.  What is known is of value or importance to the one who knows.  Paul’s knowledge of Christ was not merely an intellectual understanding, but rather a personal understanding resulting from his personal relationship with God. 
  • In His power

 Acts 1:8 – “For you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” 

Romans 1:16 – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” 

  • In his sufferings

 Philippians 1:29 – “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer (to experience ill-treatment, roughness, outrage, to undergo evils from without) for His sake.” 

2 Timothy 3:12 – “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” 

1 Peter 2:21 – “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” 

Forward in Christ

Philippians 3:1-4

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.  Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:

THE CHRISTIAN’S MAIN RESOLUTION:   Forgetting sin and moving forward in the power of His strength and might by the power of His shed blood within us and the Holy Spirit within and upon us.

Simply say NO to sin and YES to God!

  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”    —Ralph Waldo Emerson, Poet
  • What is on the inside of us that will stand the test of time?
  • You cannot expect to reap a harvest if you have kept the seed in the barn.
  • If you lay down with the dogs at night, don’t expect to get up without fleas.
  • If you run with the goats on Saturday night don’t expect to smell like a sheep on Sunday morning.
  • We always have time for the things we put first.  What about the things of God?  They are first priority.

Switzerland originally was a part of the German Confederation/Holy Roman Empire, and along with Luxemburg and Lichtenstein are the only three countries that remain intact as countries from WW I.  (I say this about that little bit of world history….they too shall pass away but there is a kingdom that shall never pass away.)  They had proclaimed neutrality.  They remained nations because they did not have to choose sides.  We must, however, choose sides – to live for God or face eternity in a devil’s hell.

Our religious/spiritual neutrality is threatened whenever someone we know well takes spiritual commitment seriously and refuses any longer to play hide-and-seek with the living God. 

GET THIS IF YOU DO NOT GET ANYTHING ELSE FROM THIS MESSAGE – Lethargic, complacent, lukewarm, pew-warming Christians will be expelled from God’s presence. 

Revelations 3:16 – So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

Footnotes:

  1. Revelation 3:16 NU-Text and M-Text read hot nor cold.

If we as INDIVIDUALS, BELIEVERS, FAMILIES, A CHURCH, A BODY OF BELIEVERS, are going to do something for Christ that will make a difference…the time is NOW.  NOW.  NOW.

  • You think about that and try to fit it into your schedule
  • You think about that and try to squeeze it in to your routine, your day, your calendar
  • It really isn’t too convenient you think to yourself

It was not convenient for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, to leave His Father and home in heaven and come to this earth, live as a man while yet being God in the flesh. 

  • for Him to take the stripes upon His back…
  • for Him to have His beard plucked out…
  • for him to be spat upon, to be jeered at, to be ridiculed, and to be tried as a criminal…
  • for Him to have the crown thrust violently upon His head…
  • for Him to have nails driven into His hands and feet. 
  • for Him to be crucified and have all the world turn against Him.

But, He did.

He did for you and for me.

How dare we even think of looking at our calendar or schedule and debate within ourselves about whether or not we can fit in something God is calling us to do?  How dare we!  We all should be ashamed for we are all guilty of neglecting to do some thing God has called upon us to do.  Maybe it just isn’t convenient.

THE TIME IS NOW TO ACT….THE SONG SAYS…

Souls are crying, men are dying,

Won’t you lead them to the cross?

Go out and win,

Rescue from sin,

Day’s almost done,

Low sinks the sun.

Souls are crying, men are dying

Win the lost at any cost!

Where is the Harvest?

Galatians 6:6-10

Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.

  • We must not grow weary in discharging our responsibility and in obedience to the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Thessalonians 3:13 – But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good

1 Corinthians 4:1 – Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.

  • Blessings if we do not lose heart.

Matthew 24:12-13 – And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 – For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

James 5:7-8 – Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

Rev 2:7 – He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

Rev 2:11 – He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.

Rev 2:17 – To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.

Rev 3:5 – He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Rev 3:12 – He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

Rev 3:21 – To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

  • In due season

We do not know when the Lord will return or when we will go to be with the Lord by our death.  But we do know that He has promised to return.  In the parable He told about the faithful and unfaithful servants – we must be found sowing the seeds of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said our prayer should be for reapers because the harvest is ripe. 

Matthew 9:37-38 – Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

You cannot reap the harvest if the seed corn is still in the barn.  Go and make disciples.