So many things we do in life aren’t necessarily hard, they just require we hang in there until we finish.
My first job out of college, the man who hired me told me that even though my degree was psychology and not business, it showed that I was willing to work and complete something.
In Seminary, it was a matter of finishing.
No one single course was hard, the process of completing everything was hard.
When I ran the corporate cup race back in 1992, I ran the first mile in 6 minutes, but if I didn’t finish the race, it would have been no good.
Many of you have similar experiences.
You accomplished something that took perseverance to complete.
God wants you and I to live an abundant life… John 10:10 and Jer 19:11
He says this over and over…
The Bible says that what God begins, he will finish.
It means that if you have give your life to Christ and are living for him, you will make it.
It doesn’t depend on our performance; it depends on God’s sustaining grace to keep us in the race so we can we finish.
The only question is how you finish the race.
Poorly or well.
God wants us to finish well.
God doesn’t just want you to live in heaven, he wants to give you his Favor so you can live the Abundant life.
My goal as your pastor is to see YOU run and finish your race WELL… to live with the favor of God in your life.
How do we do this?
How can we live this abundant life with the Favor of God in our lives?
We can live that way because of the Grace of God… the Sustaining Grace of God.
God doesn’t just save you, he wants to sustain you throughout this life.
God’s sustaining Grace is the power that keeps us going when you feel like giving up?
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Sustaining Grace gets you through that.
It helps you make the right choices when you really want to make the wrong choice.
If you are like me, you need this too.
No matter what you face in the coming year, God’s sustaining grace will get you through.
God’s sustaining Grace will get you through.
There are three things in life that can cause you to stumble and to not enjoy the Abundant Life God wants for you.
1. Grace keeps me standing when I am tempted.
Temptation is the first thing that will cause us to stumble.
You may not realize this but the moment you become a believer a battle starts in your life.
You no longer belong to Satan, you belong to the Lord and Satan doesn't like that so there's a battle for your life every single day of your life.
Everyday you will be faced with moral choices to do the right thing or the wrong thing… to do the compassionate thing or the hateful thing… the selfish thing or the unselfish thing.
We are all tempted… that never stops.
Even Jesus was tempted.
Good news - if Jesus was tempted and he did not sin, the temptation is not the sin.
It’s when we give into that temptation that is a sin.
So you can stop going, I can’t believe that thought that I had… you cannot control what pops into your mind.
But you can control whether or not you dwell on it.
You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.
Satan gives you all kinds of ideas.
You don't have to feel intimidated or embarrassed or ashamed of that.
He just puts those ideas in your mind.
It's when you dwell on them when they become sin.
ILL - Lust vs. Attraction.
Attraction = wow that person is pretty or nice and someone I would like to spend some time getting to know.
Lust = when you take that attraction and begin to fantasize about ...
One night Larry King interviewed Billy Graham.
They were talking about the Clinton scandals.
Finally he says to Billy Graham, "You're 80 years old and you've been in the public limelight your entire light and you've never had a scandal.
You have a history of integrity.
How have you managed to never have a scandal in your life?" Billy Graham quoted the next verse
That’s God’s sustaining GRACE.
It’s a fantastic promise.
It says that God will never allow more temptation than you can handle with his help.
God’s Sustaining Grace will always give you a way not to fall to temptation… you just have to look for it.
Sometimes you get tired...
2. Grace helps me keep standing when I am tired.
Life can be exhausting.
It requires a lot of strength, a lot of energy to live life especially when you're trying to do the right thing rather than the easiest thing.
There are a lot of people in life that don't try to do the right thing; they just want to do whatever's the easiest thing.
You can coast through life if you always do the easiest thing.
But when you're coasting, you're always going downhill.
You're always headed down when you coast.
On the other hand, when you try to do the right thing, it takes a lot of energy and strength.
Some of you are the only Believer where you work.
Do you ever get tired of doing the right things?
Of course you do.
It’s hard to swim upstream of culture.
But like I said earlier,
But where do you get the power to do the right thing and you don't feel like doing it and you're dead tired.
Sometimes I don't want to be nice, I want to be cranky.
Sometimes I don't want to be nice to a clerk I want to be grouchy.
Sometimes I want to be rude back to people who are rude to me.
Where do you get the energy to do the right thing?
The key to the ability to not getting tired and giving up and doing the right thing when you know it's the right thing to do is having the Holy Spirit in your heart.
It's the Holy Spirit who energizes you, not you in your own power.
The reason why some of you are tired all the time is because you are trying to live the Christian life and that doesn't work.
You're trying to be like Jesus.
You're trying to do good.
You're trying to keep the Ten Commandments.
You're trying to be a person of integrity.
You're trying, trying...
And you get tired.
People say "It's so hard to be a Christian today!"
It's not hard.
The only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus Christ.
He's the only one who ever lived the Christian life perfectly.
What you need to do, rather than try to be like Jesus, let Jesus be Jesus in you.
Let Jesus be Jesus through you.
Stop trying and trying and just start trusting and trusting.
The key to the Christian life is not trying, it's trusting.
It's not psych yourself up, work real hard, try to do your best and perform so God will smile at you.
Relax, trust and let Christ live through you.
And He will give you the power you need.