I QUIT!

I-QuitIt can be difficult to quit something – anything.

This year I decided to quit some things.

It’s a little scary because I have a poor history of quitting. I have tried quitting and then failed at quitting. I have failed at quitting so many times I quit quitting.

But this year is going to be different.

It’s time to start quitting again.

I remember trying to quit smoking & it took several failed attempts but I did quit successfully over 18 years ago. One of the best things I ever did …

There are other things that I wish to quit this year. Over the next few blog posts I hope to expand on some of these these I plan to quit.

This year I am going to be a quitter & I’d like to invite you to join me.

It’s time to quit …

What are some of the things you would like to quit?

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The Dash of Life

dash

The dash of life.

We are born. We live. We die.

We each have an individual journey to travel. The journey we are on is personal and along the way we support and encourage others.

It is the journey between birth and death; the experience of life on earth.

The poem written by Linda Ellis called The Dash carries a very sobering message. (you can click on the link to read)

We can dash through life without passion or purpose. Or we can journey through life by faith with passion and purpose.

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We can meander through life without rhyme or reason; result unknown. Or we can journey by faith with God’s direction; eternal destination secure.

The Bible calls this journey a race of faith.

1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)

This passage gives some principles to consider on this journey:

1) Look to those who have journeyed well.

The author is specifically referring back to what he just wrote in chapter 11. Chapter 11 is full of faith filled life stories of those who have successfully finished their journeys of faith.

We can look to Abraham, Moses, Rahab and many others who journeyed ‘by faith’.

God gave us these life records as ‘witnesses’ to help us along the way.

The stories of these people, and so many more, are recorded for our benefit. God Himself has preserved the accounts so that we could benefit from their testimony and learn from their experiences. We have a tremendous resource in the written word of scripture.

2) Lay ‘aside every weight.’

Athletic runners, who are serious about their sport, consider everything about their attire including their clothing and shoes. It is important that they carry as little weight as possible to maximize their performance.

It would be ridiculous for a runner to strap on a 20 LB weight and expect to run at their best. But so many of us carry extra baggage without expecting that weight to hinder us. We try to run this race of faith while we carry heavy weights of financial debt, bitterness or fear. We try to walk the journey of faith while we carry in our back pockets the failures of our past and the unfair expectation of others. We insist on holding worry as a badge of honour and pride as a coat of arms without expecting it to affect us. We carry burdens that we ought not carry and they hinder us in our journey.

Folks, It is important to chuck the weight of these kinds of things so that we can journey with passion and purpose.

Jesus said, ‘Come to me you who are weary and heavily burdened. I will give you rest.’ (Matthew 11:28-30)

What is He saying?

‘Let’s do a trade. You give me your heavy burden and I will give you a light one, easy to bear.’

Now, doesn’t that sound good?

3) Avoid the snare of sin.

A snare is an interesting trap of a hunter. For it to be effective the prey should not realize the danger until it is too late.

Sin is exactly like this. Sin seems ok, harmless and even attractive.

The truth is sin ensnares, entangles, destroys and kills.

One of the problems with sin is that it is so enticing.

Eve discovered this in the garden of Eden. The Bible says that Adam and Eve were in the garden enjoying the blessings of God. God told them not to eat of the fruit of one tree. When the serpent tempted Eve to take of the fruit and eat of it the scripture says that it was seemed good to eat & pleasant to the eye. She ate of it and then enticed her husband to eat of it as well. Everything seemed ok until the trap was sprung. The sin seemed pleasant to eye until it ensnared them and they lost everything. (Genesis 3)

Sin is like that. Sin ensnares. Sin entangles. Sin destroys. Sin kills.

Gossip seems harmless. Talking about people, spreading rumour and slander seems like fun until it is done about you. Remember that those who will gossip with you will gossip about you. Gossip ensnares and destroys lives.

Drinking to excess seems ok. Everyone is doing it and it can be a lot of fun, right? It seems this way but truthfully, it ensnares and destroys. These verses in Proverbs 23 speak about its enticing nature. It says that although it goes down smoothly it bites like a poisonous viper. It can lead to poverty, mockery and violence.

Pornography is attractive and harmless right? NO. It may seem enticing but it can lead to impotency, destroy marriages & families. It debases the dignity of women, empowers human traffickers and objectifies people. It’s a perversion of what God meant to be a blessing in the confines of marriage.

We have all been ensnared by sin; everyone.

The good news is that Christ can set us free and empower us to lay it aside.

4) Don’t quit.

The Hebrews author writes, ‘let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.’

This is an important point. Never give up! We ought never to quit. We ought not to give up.

There is an old saying that goes like this: ‘Quitters never win and Winners never quit.’

It doesn’t matter if you have failed. We all have. Get up and don’t quit.

One person said, “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from winning a touchdown.”

You may get tripped up … get up and keep moving toward the finish line.

Life may throw you a curve ball … God isn’t surprised. Trust Him, don’t quit and keep moving toward the goal.

Our greatest example is Jesus. He had a specific race to run and he ran it perfectly. He had a certain journey to finish and he successfully did.

We can encourage ourselves with the testimony of the ancients but especially with the story of Christ’s work.

He is the author and the finisher of our journey of faith.

He endured the cross on our behalf. He despised the shame in order to save us. He ran His race and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

He is our great example. And He, I will follow!

So, we have a journey still before us.

Our birthdate is known but our death date isn’t.

the dash of our life

The dash in between is the journey we are experiencing.

What are we going to do with this dash of life?

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Living Hope

1 Peter 1:3-4 speaks of the living hope that we have been spiritually born into through the resurrection of Christ.This living hope brings life to our souls and hope for our futures that nothing else can bring. No system of philosophy or thought can bring living hope. The resurrection of Jesus Christ does what nothing else can do; it brings living hope into an otherwise hopeless existence.

The modern idea of hope is “to wish for, to expect, but without certainty of the fulfillment; to desire very much, but with no real assurance of getting your desire.” This is what many people have; a wishing type of hope.

“Well, I hope everything is going to turn out alright.”

“I hope that what the Bible says is true.”

The Biblical use of the word hope has a much different meaning. In Scripture, according to the Hebrew and Greek words translated by the word “hope” and according to the biblical usage, hope is an indication of certainty. “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.”

The hope we have isn’t built on wish or a maybe. The hope we possess in Christ in a surety and a certainty. If your hope isn’t sure than your hope isn’t in the biblical Christ. If your hope isn’t a certainty than your hope isn’t anchored in the Living Rock, Christ Jesus. Biblical living hope we have is sure and certain.

The reason our hope is alive is because Jesus is. If he wasn’t alive then our hope would be dead; BUT because He lives our hope lives.

In Matthew 28 we read the account of two ladies who were both named Mary. They went to the tomb on Sunday morning after Jesus’s crucifixion. Their hope was shattered. Their hope had died when Jesus died.

When they arrived at the tomb they were greeted by an angel. The angel’s appearance was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. This is the same angel that rolled away the tomb’s stone. He greeted the ladies by saying, “Don’t be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.” This news changed their shattered hope into a living hope. This news changes everything. hope pic

You see, the hope we find in the Living Christ is different than hope found elsewhere. Hope found in Jesus death and resurrection is a hope that isn’t just wishful thinking. Hope found in Jesus death and resurrection is a hope that isn’t an uncertain hope. It is hope that is built on certainty.

First, the Living Hope that we have because of Jesus’s resurrection includes the certainty that death is not the end.

Some have said that when we die our existence ends. Some have said that death is the end.
Death is not the end, my friends. When our bodies die we do not cease to exist. 2 Corinthians 5:8 says that, for the Christian, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.

‘Heaven is for real’ is a movie about a little boy named Colton. I have read the book but haven’t seen the movie yet. Colton had died on the surgical table and was dead a for a number of minutes. When he was revived he began to tell his experiences in heaven. He met relatives that he had no knowledge of beforehand. He talked with historical figures of whom he didn’t know about beforehand. He spent time with Jesus in heaven and understood theological truths in an experiential way no boy could know. You see, Colton had gone to heaven and he made no mistake when he said, “Heaven is for real.”

Secondly, the Living Hope that we have because of Jesus’s resurrection includes the certainty that that evil does not win.

Sometimes we believe that it is the one who cheats that wins. It is the one who cheats on his taxes that seems to prosper. It is the one who claws his way over his friends and coworkers that seems to get ahead. It seems that the bad guys often wins and that the good guy loses.

It may seem that evil wins but in the end evil loses. It may seem that following Jesus and living for Him puts you at a disadvantage. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it puts you on the winning side!

Following Jesus’ death, I would imagine the the disciples felt that evil had won again. ‘Corrupt leadership has won again. They stopped this great teacher and prophet. Evil has again won over good.’ They likely questioned why they ever believed in Him. It was a very low point and their hope had died.

That is … until Sunday!

Jesus now boldly declares, “I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18 NIV)

We can take our hope from this. Jesus won. Evil, sin and the kingdom of darkness lost.

Let’s stop living with an uncertain hope. Let’s live with certainty, knowing that our hope is alive in Christ. It goes beyond this life and past the curtain of death. It is stronger than any evil that tries to rise against it. Our hope, when anchored in the Living Christ, is a Living Hope.

Paul had it right when he penned these words …

‘Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.’ (1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV)

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