Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The foundation for winning is faith

A Mislabeled Investment

In the process of developing the material on this blog and formulating my 7 investments, I have claimed that the seventh and final investment is winning. Upon further reflection and discussions with others, I may have mislabeled this investment.

Examples From Paul

I do believe that possessing a winning attitude is beneficial to our Christian walk. On numerous occasions, the Apostle Paul used the analogy of running a race to win the prize in living out our life here on earth. Here are two examples from Paul's letters:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain (Galatians 2:2).
Winning Means Different Things To Different People

While a winning attitude is important to our walk with Christ here on this earth, the reality is that winning becomes defined as different things to different people. Some people define what the "win" is for their lives, without really considering what God's winning definition is for them. They haven't stepped out in a faith relationship with the Lord and really sought out what His plan is for their lives. They haven't defined what winning truly means for them through God's eyes. They have taken on a worldview of success and accomplishment.

In fact, God's definition for winning in your life may look like a complete and miserable failure according to the world. Consider the lives of these men from the pages of Scripture:
  • Moses - since he was part of the household of Pharaoh for the first 40 years of his life, Moses had it made, but then he became burdened for the condition of his own people. He ended up in the desert for 40 years as a shepherd, and then the final 40 years of his life, he led a rag tag group of complaining Israelites around the desert until God allowed them to enter the Promise Land. Moses didn't even get to step foot into this land!
  • Jeremiah - was God's prophet to the nation of Judah in her final days before the exile. He suffered rejection from his own people as well as extreme emotional and physical pain in his ministry to them.
  • Jesus - after a successful three year ministry in Galilee, Judea, and Samaria, Jesus was crucified in the prime of his life around age 33.
  • Paul - after 3 difficult missionary journeys, the establishing of many churches in important Roman cities, and the writing of much of our New Testament, Paul was most likely beheaded by the Emperor Nero after a lengthy prison sentence in Rome.
Faith Is The Foundation

In the world's system of success and significance, these men would not be considered to be that successful, but in God's eyes, they all fulfilled exactly what they were called to do. They ran their races well because they were walking by faith, trusting God for a heavenly reward. They allowed God to define their mission of successful living.

In any kind of race, there is a starting point and an end point. There is an ultimate purpose to the race, and that is to win and receive a prize. But, there are distractions on the course. There are things that slow us down in running the most effective race possible. When these things happen to us in our journey through this life, we need to refocus our attention on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He will strengthen our faith to continue running the race for Him.

Consider the following verses from the author of the book of Hebrews:
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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).
The Seventh Investment Leads Us Back To The First

The only way that we can run God's race for our lives is to have our focus completely on Him. The way we accomplish this is through a deep, abiding, personal relationship with God Almighty. This cycles us completely back to our first investment, our worship of God. It's only through spending time in the Word and prayer, as well as spending time in corporate worship with our church family that we allow ourselves to be re-oriented to His mission for us. He brings clarity to why we are running our race in the first place.

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  1. One of the GREATEST HEART ACHES of a pastor is when he preaches his heart out to a group of people who refuse to change their lives. Oh, they bring bibles but do not read them. They sing great hyms that move them to tears. They tithe but do not tell their own families what God has done for them,

    They purchase everything the TV ads protray, the magazines, the malls and buy more and more of the same thing. Men' toys are full and there seems to have a glut, or craving (adiction) for more of the same. There are moral, sexual, philisophical sins. And they are rightly condemned. But, the materialistic idoloty continues un - confesed and with no conscience

    I've known pastors who were meticulous in their moral life, but owned more suits and ties and shoes than they'll ever need. Yet on Sunday they preachs stewardship.

    American Christains are appauled at war and thre greed on Wall Street,and the sexual failure of heads of government -- yet, they continto worship the god of greed and material things.

    Jesus said (and I'll paraphrase) '... you hear my words.....and you do well......BUT YOU DO NOT DO THEM.....'

    Our Amcerican Christianity is full of hypocricy.
    I've seen many pastoral marriages crippled or greatly off balance because of greed. There is NO POWER in their marriages or minnistry -- it's like a one legged "A"'s a one legged "F" for failure.

    This is what I'd tell young ministers. Minister husband and wife MUST be agreed on the gods they worship and servce.

  2. Great word, John. Thanks for leaving some very convicting comments!