Vision From God and Finishing Well

-Paul- His vision helped him overcome his past. He was responsible for people's deaths and persecution. Phil. 3: it Freed him from guilt and shame. He pressed into the vision the Lord gave him. You can't change your past, but you can pursue your vision. Principle: keep your eyes on the vision. - Joseph - His vision allowed him to endure and overcome adversity. He exp 20 yrs of adversity. God uses the events of today to prepare us for tomorrow. We interpret events through our eyes according to what we see right now and we like it or not...

- Abraham - His vision allowed him to overcome comfort and material blessing. He was a prosperous man. Gen 13. He left his source of prosperity to to follow your dream. His vision inspired faith to leave his place that provided security and comfort.

- Esther - Her vision allowed her to overcome fear. She was in Iran, a Jewess, and her vision allowed her to overcome fear and rescue her people, at risk of her life. Esther 4:16. Women are leaders used by God.

- Gideon - His vision helped him overcome his insecurity. People was hiding. The angel said to him, "...mighty warrior..." Gideon says you got the wrong Gideon! My family is the least in the nation, and I'm the least in the family.

- Joshua - His vision allowed him to overcome his own insecurities and unbelief...self-doubt. And the hindrances and unbelief of others. He had to wait 40 years to see his vision to come to pass. For 40 years he was surrounded by death - he had to wait for people to die off first! Think of AIDs in Africa. He was probably happy when they were gone! He held onto to the promise and he inherited the promise. When joshua acted he didn't ask for the people's opinions, he had seen that for 40 years.

- Moses - His vision helped him overcome failure. He killed an Egyptian. He had to flee for 40 years. The problem he saw was accurate, but his response was wrong. Not 40 years at the spa! Living with guilt and failure for 40 years. When god spoke he was riddled with shame. I can't speak. Don't let past failures keep you from future successes.

- David - His vision helped him overcome lack of formal training. He had not formal training, he's a shepherd boy. He's not a trained warrior. He had a vision, a cause from God. See 1 Samuel 17. The soldiers saw Goliath as a threat to them, but David saw him as a threat to God's purposes. He was trained by fighting a bear and a lion. Goliath was 9 feet tall, his armor weighted 125 pounds. David saw Goliath and started running toward Goliath! He had no training - he had a vision from God.

- New Testament church - Their vision gave them courage to overcome the old ways, to step out in something new, to break out of established patterns of doing "church", to enter the new covenant.

Five Relationships to Help You Finish Well

I've been thinking a lot lately about relationships that help us finish well. There are five that I can think of right away that have been extremely meaningful to me.

1. Spiritual mentors - who develop us. We need people who are further along than us in the race of life, people who keep us on track, ask us pointed questions, and raise concerns with us. Our responsibility to our spiritual mentors is to come to mentoring times well prepared, to have a list of 3-4 questions that are well thought through, and to be transparent without expecting our mentors to be responsible for us. When you anticipate being with them, draw them out in the area of their strengths. Ask them what their expectations or desires are for your mentoring relationship with them. Tap into the books they are reading. If we are to finish well, one major reason is we paid attention to our mentors.
2. Not-yet followers of Jesus - who focus us outside ourselves. The quickest way to get out of touch with real life is to have no discipling relationships with pre-believers. We never grow beyond sharing the good news of Jesus with people. We are never too busy and never too important and never "not-called not-gifted" to be discipling not-yet followers of Jesus to faith. Those who engage the lost, grow. Those who don't, stagnate in their relationship with Jesus. If we are to finish well, a crucial reason we do is that we are engaged in the lives of people outside the "bubble" of Christian culture.
3. Friends - who stick by us. Good friends are there in the hard times and the good times. They "cheer and teer" at the right moments of life. We don't need friends who always agree with us, or who go silent when we are in pain, and who don't ask us the hard questions, but we do need friends who know how to take the "mickey" out of us, who can just hang and enjoy good music or a great pub or movie. Life-time friendships are rare and are to be treasured and invested in wisely.
4. Leaders - who guide us. A wise man once asked me, "Who can say no to you and make it stick?" That's a leader. It sticks because you want it to, not because they are controlling. Leaders are leaders in our lives because they impact our futures, they go before us to model the way, they walk beside us to coach us, and they come behind us to cheer us on. Your leaders may not be your best buddies, but they can be your best friend - in the sense that they they see what you cannot see and they ask what others will not ask. They believe in you, but loyalty does not trump honesty in their relationship with you.
5. Heroes - who inspire us. Choose your heroes well, because they impact you more than you think. You may or may not know them. They may or may not be alive. But you know them in the sense that you have gotten into their story and it has impacted your values and what you aspire for. You want to be like them... you hang on when it is tough because they did. You make good choices when you face impossible circumstances - because they did. They showed courage, faith, and integrity... and that has pointed the way forward to you and stoked your heart to believe you can do it, too.
Joe Paterno made one bad choice and it marred his reputation and caused him to finish life in a crisis of doubt and disrepute. It's not worth it.. nothing is. Those who hang in there, who keep their eye on the goal, who persevere and don't give up, they get the reward, they win the prize at the end of life.
I want to be one of those people. So do you. We can do it with God's help. Hang on to Him - He will see you to the finish line with fire in your heart and victory in your end-of-life resume'.

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Fifteen Signs of People Who Don't Finish Well

There are approximately 100 biographies in the Bible, and of those, only 30-35% of the people finished well. Why does it happen? To answer that question, we need to understand what it means to not finish well.  The 15 characteristics below explain why people don't finish well. If any one or a combination of the following traits describes your life - you are a candidate for not finishing well. I encourage you to press in to God that you might finish stronger and more passionate for Jesus than when you began your journey with him. Remember Caleb at the end of his life? He finished well!

 "Remember what God said to Moses the man of God concerning you and me back at Kadesh Barnea? I was forty years old when Moses the servant of God sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land. And I brought back an honest and encouraging report. My companions who went with me discouraged the people, but I stuck to my guns, totally with   God, my God. That was the day that Moses solemnly promised, 'The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance, you and your children's, forever. Yes, you have lived totally for   God  .' Now look at me:  God   has kept me alive, as he promised. It is now forty-five years since God spoke this word to Moses, years in which Israel wandered in the wilderness. Here I am today, eighty-five years old! I'm as strong as I was the day Moses sent me out. I'm as strong as ever in battle, whether coming or going. So give me this hill country that   God   promised me. You yourself heard the report, that the Anakim were there with their great fortress cities. If   God   goes with me, I will drive them out, just as  God said." Joshua 14 - The Message

 

Fifteen Characteristics of People Who Don't Finish Well

  1. You have lost your spiritual passion for the things of God
  2. You are backslidden and away from God
  3. You are resentful toward those who hurt or betrayed you
  4. You are not learning and growing spiritually
  5. You are not discipling others and are not being discipled
  6. You no longer share your faith with pre-Chrisitans
  7. You are cynical and critical about church and spiritual leaders
  8. You have plateaued spiritually – no longer growing
  9. You are isolated and unaccountable in your walk with God
  10. You have hidden sins and habits that grip your life
  11. It has been years since you led someone to faith in Christ
  12. You are not praying for the nations and the lost fervently
  13. You are considering an affair with another person and/or would accept divorce as an easy "out"
  14. Loss of stomach to fight spiritual battles
  15. No faith for the impossible!

It's How You Finish That Counts

It's not how you start the race, nor what happens in the middle of the race, but it's how you finish the race of life that really counts. The Bible speaks of life as a race. There is no question about whether you will grow weary or falter along the way, it happens to us all, the question is how you will respond when you that happens.

How do you want to be remembered after you die? Will others speak of you after you have gone with respect and admiration? Or will they remember that you failed morally, or abandoned your calling, or that you turned back on the Lord? Will they remember a person who never stopped growing spiritually, or someone who lost their spiritual passion and direction in life? Will they remember a man or a woman who burned with love for the Lord and the lost, or a person who burned out and faded from the scene?

Jesus has died for us to give us grace to be saved, and grace to live victoriously. He offers saving grace and living grace - it is our task to take hold of that grace. Paul the apostle wrote about "taking hold of that which has taken hold of us".

1 Corinthians 9:24-25:

24 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.  25 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.

Hebrews 12:1:

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every weight that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run  with perseverance  the race marked out for us.

Can you imagine running a marathon with a heavy pack on your back? And bags of groceries in your hands? No way. Lay aside the 'weights' that hinder you running with freedom the race God has set before you.

There are weights that hinder us from running well:

1. Not sticking to the basics of loving Jesus, loving the lost, and loving others in our spiritual family.

2. Losing focus on glorifying God.

3. Not building deep discipling relationships.

4. Stop learning.

5. Lack of humility over mistakes and sins.

6. Resentment and offense toward people who hurt and disappoint us.

7. Compromise of our personal integrity.

8. Spiritual plateau: not stirring our spiritual passion.

 

We all need five kinds of relationships to help us finish well:

1. Models - to inspire us

2. Mentors - to develop us

3. Prayer partners - to strengthen us

4. Life long friends - to stick with us

5. Spiritual leaders - to guide us

 

Has Satan defeated you? Have you compromised or sinned? As you burned out? Had it with the church?

God's grace is there to restore you and bring you back to the race. but your part is to humble yourself to God surrender your self to the Lord.