Giving It All You’ve Got

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Eric Liddell went to the 1924 Olympics in Paris, and won the gold medal for the 400 meter race, setting a new world’s record. There was an Oscar winning movie about him called “Chariots of Fire.” When they asked him how he did it, he said, “I ran the first 200 as fast as I could, and then with God’s help, I ran the second 200 even faster.”

In other words, he exerted himself to the point of exhaustion, and when he could do no more, the Holy Spirit, who is Jesus, kicked in and finished the race.That must be what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said, “When I am weak, them am I strong.”

Maybe that’s the point of the story in the Old Testament about the widow who used the last of her resources serving God. He provided her with an abundance of oil. It was enough to fill every vessel she had. In fact, it was more than enough. She had to send to the neighbors for more vessels to hold it all.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the footprints poster, and its message. There are two sets of footprints on the beach, and then there’s only one set. So the guy asked Jesus, “Why did you leave me?” And Jesus said, “That’s when I carried you.”

Most of us try to hop onto the Lord’s back right away, and expect him to carry us the whole way. But, there’s where we’ve been going wrong. It’s after you have exerted yourself to the extent that you’ve given it all you’ve got that Jesus supplies what you need to finish the job. For example, when you use up all the patience you have, he will give you more. When you use  up all the love you have, he will give you more. When you use up all the faith you have, he will give you more. When you run out of hope, he will give you more.

The Apostle Paul compared living the Christian life to running in a race. It is strenuous, and it takes a lot a stamina to get through it. Salvation means more than just going to heaven when you die. It’s an ongoing process. Jesus is saving you from sin, the world, the flesh and the devil on a daily basis. This is what Paul says about it:

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (Philippians 3:13 NIV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1 NIV)

And at the end of his life, the Apostle Paul wrote these words:  For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7)

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The Advantage of Being a Christian

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Hananiah, Mis...
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I can understand how anyone would be reluctant to turn their life over to God. I have had those same feelings. It’s just fear. The fear that you’re going to miss out on something, and not be able to live life to the fullest. Years ago,  I pushed past that fear, and made Jesus the Lord of my life. That was the best decision I ever made in my life. Listen to my story and you’ll know why.

My story is really the story of two people, my wife and I. We’re Larry and Marie. I met Marie in 1966. We were singing in the youth choir at Westhaven Baptist Church in Memphis.We fell in love, got married, raised three lovely daughters, and now were are grandparents to eleven exceptional grandchildren. There can be no doubt that God put us together.

We have walked together with the Lord for the past forty-two years. Like everyone else, we’ve faced some challenges. We call them our “fiery furnace experiences.” That’s a reference to one our favorite stories in the Bible. The one in which Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego were thrown into King Nebuchadnezzar’s flaming fiery furnace.

A fiery furnace is an intense situation from which there’s no escape, You have to go through it, and you just hope that you’ll survive it. The most exciting part of that Old Testament story is there was a Fourth Man in there with them. Because of him, they didn’t just survive that fiery furnace, they were dancing around in it.

Who was that Fourth Man? It was Jesus. It was the same Jesus who is available to you when you are “going through the fire.” Life is full of fiery furnaces—health problems, marital problems, family problems, financial problems. There are going to be times when you need God. Because nobody else can help you. That’s the advantage of being a Christian. The Lord is already there with you and he will help you.

Marie and I have just faced the greatest challenge of our lives. We were in the fiery furnace. But the Fourth Man was right there with us, taking care of us— just like the Bible says he would.

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee . . . Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.  Isaiah 43:1-2 KJV

NLT © When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
MSG © When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end-

Marie had quadruple by-pass surgery at Baptist Memorial Hospital, in Memphis Tennessee on October 14, 2009. We had a great peace about it, and expected only the best. We were trusting the Lord to take care of her, and claiming the promises of God’s protection contained in Psalm 91.

The surgery was a success and Marie was a model patient.  She went home and was recovering quickly. Then we discovered that she had a staph infection that had been contracted during the surgery.  The Doctors were able to wipe it out with massive doses of antibiotics.

On November 5, Marie had a second surgery to remove the bone and tissue damaged by the infection. On November 11, she had a third surgery to close the wound in her chest which was four inches wide and eight inches long. Now, she is back at home and recovering well.

She could have died from that infection. But God preserved her life, and we thank him for that every day. And we thank Jesus for being there with us the whole time. He comforted us, and we experienced his peace, his faith, and his love.

Because of Jesus, the story of Larry and Marie is not over yet. We know that God loves us. We experienced his love firsthand every day of the crisis.

And now, we simply must tell everyone how great Jesus is and what he has done for us. We trusted him to take care of us, and he did. What a mighty God we serve!

The Lord has done great things for us; whereof we are glad!  Psalm 126:3

Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant!  Psalm 35:27

O, give thanks unto the Lord for he is good; because his mercy endureth forever!  Psalm 118:1

The chief advantage of being a Christian is having Jesus as your personal friend. He’s a friend who loves you and cares about you. He’s the best friend you will ever have, and he will never leave you nor forsake you.

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