In a previous post, I described a coach from our High School's Cross Country team. This guy had a stringent rule for anyone who tried out for the team. He told us straight out that any who was willing to tryout must run the complete route he had mapped out (which was a very long trek). He then added, if we chose to start, we could not quit! He didn't care if it took us all day or night, we had to finish! He meant it too!
Now you have to remember it was easy for him to enforce. I am talking about 1975, and we didn't have cell phones to call our mommy's to come pick us up. Nor did we have pockets in our gym clothes (meaning that we could carry change to use in phone booths!) The bottom-line is that before we began running, we knew we had better be serious about it!
I bring this up because to anyone who chose to follow Jesus, He gave the same instructions:
“If anyone comes to me without ‘hating’ his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)
That's it! They could not quit, throw in the chips, surrender, or go home. And if we choose to begin our walk of faith, we need to count the cost and finish the journey! We must learn to endure. That, my friends, is the reality of our faith. Remember what Paul wrote to the church in Galatia?
"Don't lose heart and grow weary doing right, because in due time and at the appointed season, you will reap your reward, [now get this:] if we do not lose our courage and faint!"
See? Jesus expanded that when He said:
"If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t he first sit down and work out the cost of it, to see if he can afford to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him, saying, ‘This is the man who started to build a tower but couldn’t finish it!" (Luke 14:28–30).
Look, Jesus knew many of those who chose to follow Him would not have what it took to see them through. He knew they would fail and walk away. I mean, everyone loved to see the miracles, the healings, and all the free food. Obviously! I mean, Jesus was cool! He was the latest fad. But Jesus, being God, also knew their hearts! He understood that they loved the benefits of following Him, instead of who He was. They loved His gifts but didn't want anything to do with the life He was calling them to. The Lord explained what it takes to be one of His followers; He was aware of their weakness of quitting and not finishing a race when it got tough. (Notice that I said, "when" it got tough, not "if" it got tough). Frankly, I feel that is the most tragic condition for a believer — you start following Jesus, and well, you just give up.
As I explained, this is why He had to explain what it took to be one of His followers:
“If people come to me and are not ready to abandon their fathers, mothers, wives, children, brothers, and sisters, as well as their own lives, they cannot be my disciples" (Lewis 14:26)
Sure, I repeated myself. But you need to let that sink in. Jesus knew we wouldn't have what it took to finish the race. So, He provided the means to "stay the course":
"I will ask the Father to give you someone else to stand by you, to be with you always" (John 14:16)
Yeah, we have an enemy who will bring circumstances into our lives so we will lose our courage. That is one of the realities we must face. Just remember that saying I told you; T.I.S.: Thoughts, Ideas, and Suggestions. Those are the weapons our enemy uses against us, and if we start listening to his lies, he will mess with our minds and ruin our drive and ambitious goal of honoring the Lord! He is not trying to destroy us, perse, he doesn't care about us. It is our faith and devotion to Jesus that he is trying to eliminate from our lives.
When those attacks come, don't lose your drive and sit on the sidewalk and sulk. No! That is the point at which you must stand and withstand! That is when you must go back to your original intent to win! If you can make that declaration one more time, your Father will help you stand! Suddenly the Holy Spirit will give you the courage and the strength and the fearless spunk to keep going — and to win the, "Victor's Crown of Glory"!
Don't give the enemy the satisfaction of stopping you or even slowing you down — even if he knocks you down with a stumbling block of temptations. Get back on your feet and run even harder to satisfy your Father's will for your life. As one brother has said, "Every man who achieved anything in life never achieved it by quitting! You never achieve anything by quitting! "
The Spirit of God is with you, and He will give you the Grace you need to win!
Oh boy! Father, when I feel like giving up, direct your Spirit to help me in refocusing the vision you have given me. Let me once again see as young Christian declared, "the perpetual sight and vision of the Holy One; for 'there [I] shall see him as he is.'”
Show me the 'big picture.' When I am discouraged, help me get back on my feet again and return to my pursuit of Your Holiness and Righteousness. I want to run this race worthy of the calling You have given me. I desire to fulfill everything You have called me to do.
Above all else, I want YOU glorified in my life! I want people to see YOU in my life and know, with doubt, that YOU are alive and rule in my life! [Go ahead and say it:] Amen! So be it!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you to the list: Mail List. However, you can also find these messages at: Thought For The Day)I do thank you for your gifts It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.