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Never…give…up!

Do you want to quit? Throw in the towel?  Give up?  Do you feel like a failure?  Have you made so many past mistakes you don’t believe in any future successes?

One of the greatest American presidents, Abraham Lincoln, had every reason to stay in the shadows and give up.  Born into poverty, he faced defeat throughout his life.  He lost eight elections, failed in business…twice, and suffered a nervous breakdown.  But Lincoln never…gave…up.  Here’s a sketch of Lincoln’s journey to the White House:

1816 – His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
1818 – His mother died.
1831 – Failed in business.
1832 –  Ran for state legislature - lost.
1832 – Also lost his job - wanted to go to law school but couldn't get in.
1833 – Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
1834 – Ran for state legislature again - won.
1835 – Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
1836 – Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
1838 – Sought to become speaker of the state legislature - defeated.
1840 – Sought to become elector - defeated.
1843 – Ran for Congress - lost.
1846 – Ran for Congress again - this time he won - went to Washington and did a good job.
1848 – Ran for re-election to Congress - lost.
1849 – Sought the job of land officer in his home state - rejected.
1854 – Ran for Senate of the United States - lost.
1856 – Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party's national convention - get less than 100 votes.
1858 – Ran for U.S. Senate again - again he lost.
1860 – Elected president of the United States.

Like you, I’ve faced many setbacks, discouragements, and failures.  The question is not, WILL you face defeat and disappointment?  That’s part of the human experience.  The question is, WHAT will you do when you find yourself in the valley of defeat?  

Someone once said, “The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.” By God’s grace, the strength of His Spirit, and the support of a loving community, you can stand back up and start again. 

In a paramount passage on not giving up, the Apostle Paul writes, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. . . .  So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16).

Through Jesus Christ, you can turn defeat into deliverance, setbacks into success, and failure into future growth.  Just ask good old Abe Lincoln.

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

The Race Worth Running

This past weekend, at 51 years old, and 3 years after a heart attack, I ran my first full marathon. I felt pretty good up to about mile 21. An article in RunnersWorld.com describes “hitting the wall” this way: “Your legs feel like concrete, your breathing grows labored, your strides turn into a shuffle. Negative thoughts flood your mind, and the urge to quit becomes overwhelming.”

I was there; my body and my mind were at odds. Every part of my body was yelling STOP, but my mind was telling me to simply run one minute at a time. I was wearing a watch and I would tell myself, I can run one more minute. The minutes turned into another mile. This system of one minute at a time carried me to the finish line. I was elated!

The life of a Christian can be compared to a marathon. Hebrews 10:36 tells us “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”

Some people profess to believe in Christ, but they have no idea what a daily walk with Christ looks like. To get to the end, you need to have a training plan, self-discipline, motivation, a support system, and the strength to cast aside anything that entangles you (Hebrews 12:1).

Perhaps you’re in the race but grumbling about the course. If you’re running a marathon, you can’t make up your own course. If you stray from the designated course, you will be disqualified. The race is “set before us”; we did not select the course, for it is God who established it. The race we run is for Christ. We need to stay the course in spite of trials and persecutions (Hebrews 12:4-11).

And you can’t run the race if you’ve never entered it. If you’ve never put your faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, you aren’t even in the race. If you don’t enter the race and run with endurance, you won’t get the prize. As a believer in Jesus, we are running the race and pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. The Lord enables us to run victoriously.

Near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul wrote, “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running. I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting—God’s applause! Depend on it, he’s an honest judge. He’ll do right not only by me, but by everyone eager for his coming (2 Timothy 4:7-8).

Just as a runner must rest after a race, so will the Christian enter into the joy of the Lord when the Christian race of life is finished. Let’s all run the race diligently until the Lord calls us home—serving Him in all that we do so that we may hear those beautiful words, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter into the joy of the lord" (Matthew 25:23).

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