This is the fourth segment in the series It’s Time To Act Up! This series is designed to call Christian’s up [To Act UP] to their rightful place in God’s purposes in the earth.
Our race is our assignment on the planet!
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
This is the same Jesus who when told His mother, sisters and brothers were wanting to see Him said, “Who is My mother, My sisters and My brothers?”
Jesus did not wait for the question to sink in nor did He wait to see what someone would answer. He immediately said, “I will tell you who My mother, sisters and brothers are. They are the ones who do the will of My Father.”
This is the same God who said, “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated.”
Jesus is saying that no relationship can come in between ours and His. When we place someone, anyone, in between ourselves and God we have replaced the Creator we worship and worship who He created.
Jesus is saying that we cannot love our life more than we love Him. He bought us! We are no longer our own!
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
Jesus did not say we must carry His cross. Nor does He expect us to carry His cross. His cross was His unique purpose for why He was on the planet. It was His mission and the fulfillment of the essence of His message.
Our cross is our unique purpose for being on the planet. It is unique to us. No one else can carry it just like we cannot carry someone else’s cross. Now, there are times when God will send someone to help us carry our cross just like He provided two men to carry Jesus’. That was a very short, very important, but very short moment in time.
“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
Jesus said in another place, “A man’s life does not consist in the things he possesses.” God is not opposed to us having things. He is opposed to things possessing us. We must be free from believing we are owners of what we have. We and all we have are owned by God. If we choose not to relinquish control of our possessions we have replaced the Creator we worship with the worship of material things.
Our purpose is in Him, not our possessions.
Our identity is in Him, not in our stuff.
Jesus said, “Go and MAKE disciples …. teaching them to obey all that I commanded you.”
Disciple comes from the same root word as discipline. Even Jesus cannot discipline someone who is not a disciple!
Jesus did not say go and collect converts
He did not say, “Start a church to have a congregation!” Or, “Start a ministry to have a platform so you can perform!
Conversion is the doorway into discipleship!
Salvation is free! Discipleship costs us everything!
The purpose of conversion is discipleship!
The purpose of discipleship is to reproduce and re-present the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ – on earth!
Every person who disciples people should be discipling converts to Jesus, not accumulating a crowd!
A convert’s main focus is getting to heaven.
“Get saved so you can go to heaven when you die” is the typical sales pitch used to convert sinners. “You don’t want to miss heaven” is another ploy used by those who don’t realize that those converts will miss a whole lot of heaven before they die.
A disciple’s main focus is getting heaven to earth!
A convert’s main focus is what can I get from you that will help me.
They are babes and babies are totally dependent on others for their survival
A disciple’s main focus is what can I give to you that will help you!
Our success is not measured in how many people we can attract, or how many people grow up!
Even Jesus could not get 100% participation! Even Jesus had close followers desert Him!
Our success is measured in – Did we follow Jesus where He led us? Have we been obedient?
“Walk in a manner worthy of our calling” [Ephesians 4:1].
Our assignment carries specific and serious responsibilities!
Our assignment requires us to carry ourselves and those we are assigned to into a conflict with the conventional and contemporary culture of our day. Be they secular and or religious!
Jesus sent His disciples as sheep among wolves into the secular Roman world of fear and intimidation, and into the religious world of heathenism [you can do anything because anything goes, and Judaism [you can’t do much or you will get into trouble]!
Transformation [conversion to mature disciple] is not just for an individual to experience.
Personal transformation is to have an eternal affect on individuals, regions and the planet.
Finishing our race means so much more than getting to the end of our life or our life’s work!
Completing our race means leaving something lasting [a significant legacy] that will have a righteous effect on the earth long after we depart, so that generations that follow can build on what we deposited, and expand what we started!
Discipleship is about pioneering, building and settling, not about squatting!
Is a person who goes before others to see what is out there that is worth fighting for and mapping out a strategy to possess it. Pioneers expand our territory!
Is a person that sees what should be built to stabilize the area and to create an economy that will offer those who settle there an opportunity to be successful. Builders build on the territory pioneers find and expand!
Is a person who establishes healthy root systems to create a culture where the citizens can be creative and successfully pass on to future generations what they and others have worked to possess. Settlers grow what has been possessed and build on the territory won in battle!
Is a person who just takes up space on what others have fought to obtain without improving it. Squatters are consumers, not producers!
Completing our race means we must complete our assignment! Our race IS Our Assignment!
“10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. 11 I returned and saw under the sun that – The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.”
In these two verses Solomon is revealing that there are certain strategies for success that may take creativity, thoughtfulness, a greater commitment to continue on, endurance and also a spirit of excellence.
Solomon is saying stop with the excuses such as, “I am not the fastest”, “I am not the strongest”, “I am not the wisest”, “I am not the most talented”.
Stop focusing on what you are not, and on what you don’t have, and on what you can’t do!
Solomon is saying everyone has time and opportunity so take full advantage of what you do have!
An excellent spirit enabled Joshua and Caleb to enter, experience, embrace, enjoy, expand and export the Promised Land, when their contemporaries compromised and were cut off.
Joshua and Caleb said, “God can, God will, so we can and we will.”
Solomon says we should find something to do and do it with all our might because we only have a certain amount of time to accomplish it, and once we die our opportunity dies with us.
V10 – Might ~~ human strength – give it all you have to give
Root word ~~ to be firm
To be consistent and committed
Solomon is not insinuating we should do what we do alone [without God or without other people].
He is saying we should be totally committed to our purpose, and purposefully committed to God and all those who are affected by our purpose.
Spirit Led Decrees
- I will give my all ALL the time!
- I will not cheat myself, My God, nor the people God has put in my life!
- I will not cheat the world around me of their opportunity to encounter the God who encountered Me, and gave my life purpose!
In verse 11 Solomon says,
“The race is not to the swift.”
“Nor the battle to the strong.”
“Nor bread to the wise.”
“Nor riches to the men of understanding.”
“Nor favor to men of skill.”
“But time and chance happen to them all.”
‘All’ being the swift and the not so swift, the strong and the not so strong, the wise and the not so wise, the understanding and those who do not understand, and the skillful and those who are not so skillful.
Solomon finishes verse 11 with words that can be misunderstood by those who do not take the time to dig down into the meat to find the structure [support].
V11 – Time ~~ to continue into the future; to move on, continue on and to advance. The Steve Miller Band sang a song called FLY LIKE AN EAGLE and it contained a lyric that said, “Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin. into the future.” Time moves on! Have we? Or are we stuck somewhere in our past?
24H x 60M = 1,440 minutes in a day OR 1,440 x 360 seconds = 518,400 seconds in a day
7D x 24H = 168 hours OR 7D x 1,440M = 10,800 minutes in a week OR 10,800 x 518,400 = 5.6 billion seconds in a week
52W x 168H = 8,736 hours OR 52W x 10,800M = 561,600 minutes in a year or 561,000 minutes x 5.6 billion seconds = A LOT
V11 – Chance ~~ to encounter, meet, and to reach the mark, or touch the boundary [goal].
Our English word ‘chance’ means something entirely different.
Among other things it denotes luck instead of focused hard work.
V11 – Happen ~~ to encounter, to meet, to meet without a prearrangement
Solomon is not saying don’t work hard, or try to improve because unless you are one of the lucky ones it will all be in vain!
Solomon is saying that everyone has an opportunity to move into their future, to reach the goal and finish their race – successfully!
The Bible, especially the apostle Paul, has much to say about our race.
Our race is not a sprint!
Our race is more than a marathon!
Our race is more of a cross country race that has elements associated with a decathlon and a steeplechase where we must traverse various types of terrains and obstacles that create various challenges.
The challenge produces character!
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
Paul says every believer is running their race but not every believer will receive the prize. We must remember that God does not give prizes to every participant like we do in our modern worldly method of doing everything possible to make everyone feel good about themselves.
In other words, God has not created a culture where no one can be disappointed or get their feelings hurt.
Paul describes for us what he did to ensure success when he got to the end of his race. He paid a huge price by developing disciplines that carried him forward along the path God laid out for him.
Then Paul makes a statement that potentially can offend our modern mindset. He said, “Lest . . . I myself should become disqualified.”
There is NO way God would disqualify anyone!
That is a very true statement!
God does not disqualify people!
People disqualify themselves!
Warning! Warning! Warning! Those are the words of the most effective disciple of Jesus the Christ. That is the theology of the most thought of, compelling, culture revolutionizing, committed Christian other than Jesus the first Christian.
2 Timothy 4:7
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Here this same revolutionary visionary said three very important things.
There is a fight and it is a “good fight”.
There is a race and it is “the race”.
There is a faith and it is “the faith”.
Paul said that he entered the good [worthwhile] fight and he fought it!
Paul said that he entered the race [his potential, God’s purpose, and God’s promise] and he finished it!
Paul said that he entered the faith [the faith Jesus the Christ authored and handed off to His disciples] and he kept it!
And all of this from a man who laid his life down for the world and the church, for local churches and for those who were a part of his apostolic team.
By the way, Paul suffered from the hands of Judaizers, unsaved Jews, hostile Gentiles and even those on his team. Paul saw members of his team desert him and there were times he “despaired of life.”
The behavior of others should not deter, our cause us to detour from our race.
“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. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.”
Paul says that there are witnesses! Who are these witnesses? You can find them in Chapter 11. In chapter 11 we find witnesses that experienced great trials, breakthroughs, victories, answered prayers, deliverances, etc.
And then there were “the others”. At the end of chapter 11 we read about those who kept the faith to their death without experiencing breakthroughs, victories, answered prayers, deliverances, etc.
They all ran their race to win and they all won. Their outcomes may have differed but the one constant was they continued steadfast until the very end!
Paul says we must –
- “Lay aside [get rid of] every weight” that weighs [slows] us down
- Weights can be good things but don’t qualify as God things
- They can be human relationships with friends, family, mates and even potential mates
- They can be job opportunities like promotions or relocations
- They can be ministry opportunities with ministries that come close to having your same core values but differ nonetheless in areas of personal experiences and revelation in God’s Word.
- Weights can be relationships with people who are not contributing to our success
- We must tread lightly here
- We can grow when we are mistreated
- People who mistreat us are not our enemy, for our warfare is not against flesh and blood
- We are to bless those who curse us and do good to them who use us
- This does NOT mean we have to remain in relationship with them
- If the person is a family member such as a spouse we cannot cut them out of our life but we must realize they are not our Lord
- If relating to them is dangerous then we can create boundaries, safe distances that will ensure we can be our true selves in God
- We are ultimately responsible to obey God when man is wanting us to do things that are a violation of God’s will for our lives
- Jesus is the only Person who publicly hung naked for us and He is the only one who called us in our respective holy calling as a Christian
- We see this a lot when it comes to husbands and wives trying to show honor to their unbelieving, unspiritual or uninterested spouse
- “Lay aside [get rid of] THE sin that so easily ensnares [entangles, trips us up, side tracks, derails, ship wrecks] us.”
- We all have a “The sin” that so easily ensnares us
So that we can –
- “Run with endurance” [steadfastness, consistency – in the NT endurance is the characteristic of a person who will not swerve from their deliberate purpose and loyalty to the faith by even the greatest trials and sufferings]
- “The race” is our particular purpose for being on the planet
Paul then describes how to manage our life so that we will be successful. He says,
- “Looking to Jesus” [Maintaining eye contact with Jesus which is a description of deep intimacy]
In human relationships the greatest intimacy, whether it is conversational or sexual intercourse, is experienced when we look into each other’s eyes.
Sex was first connected to intercourse in 1798 according Dictionary.com.
It is very difficult to have intimacy on any level with abusive people [people who abuse our kindness, our acceptance and our hospitality].
Jesus said, “If someone slaps you on the cheek offer them the other cheek.” But when He got slapped during His mock trial He did not offer the other cheek. He said, “If I have done nothing wrong why did you slap Me?”
Maybe what we thought Jesus meant is NOT what Jesus meant. Just saying!
Because Jesus IS [always present tense] –
- “The author of our faith”
- “Our” is in italics because it is not in the Greek
We have no other faith other than the faith Jesus authored.
- “The finisher of our faith”
Jesus is not only the author, the One who scripted what faith is, but Jesus is the One who gives fulfillment to all that faith is and what faith does.
Our only role-model for life and ministry whose example is ~
Steadfastness, consistency, unswerving from His deliberate purpose in life and loyalty to the faith, and the Father who sent Him to model for all mankind in the face of the greatest trials and sufferings.
- He endured the Cross
- He endured the shame
- He was humiliated by being publicly identified as a criminal [sinner]
He WAS NAKED
- He was stripped of all human dignity and modesty
- He endured the hostility from sinners [all those who do not appreciate and do not accept what He did for them]
What is your race?
What is your assignment?
Where is your assignment?
Are the people you are relating to relating to your assignment?
Are they helping you grow in God?
What are you doing in preparation to run your race and stay in the race to the end?
Who or what have you allowed in your life that is impeding you running your race?
What weights are you carrying that are not assisting you in your race?
Are you willing to lay aside every weight that is keeping you from being you in God?
If not, why not?
Who is your daddy?
What does fatherhood look like to you?
Who called you?
Who affirms you?
Who holds you accountable?
Can you be held accountable?
Keep THE Faith! Keep THE Passion!
Our hunger and thirst FOR God escorts us into deep satisfaction IN God!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury, DMin
Web: bethelbythesea.org / drkevinmdrury.wordpress.com
Facebook: Kevin Drury Ministries / kevin.drury.35