The Race isn't Finished

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Good morning and welcome to another week here that the Bridge. I am so glad that we can be here together. This morning I wanted to start with a story of one of the pillars of our faith. One of the great people who we look to in our history of serving God. He was a great leader, he was a flawed leader, but he was the right leader. Moses.
Deuteronomy 34:1–7 NIV
1 Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, 2 all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, 3 the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.” 5 And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. 6 He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. 7 Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.

The Promise land

It is so amazing to me when we read this story. Moses this man who had served God and had lead Israel for many years. Through trials and hardship in the wilderness his death comes in many ways as a defeat. It feels like he ran to the last stretch and the end of the race was right there and it was just short of his Goal.
Now For those who don’t know there is a reason that Moses was denied entry into the promise land. Moses failed to listen to a command from God and did not trust him to be holy. It was because of this that he wasn’t able to enter the promise land.
Moses fell short. In our eyes it would be easy to see that Moses didn’t succeed in bringing his people to the promise land. He worked hard he strived to honor God and to serve his people but he fell short. He saw the end but he couldn’t quite reach it.
It is a heart breaking story. It is so hard to see Moses sitting there on the Mountain top so close to where he longed to be. The Promise Land.

Fighting the Fight

This story reminded me of one of my favorite movies. Rocky. The original. I remember watching this movie for the first time as a kid. It was an amazing story. You have the ultimate underdog. A nobody given a chance to fight for the championship. He is handed a golden opportunity. For Apollo Creed it was a show. For Rocky it was his one shot. that turned into 8 movie long franchise.
Rocky walked into that ring ready to fight. I remember cheering him on hoping and waiting for the glorious moment that he would knock down Apollo Creed and win the fight, and than it didn’t happen.
Rocky didn’t win the fight. I remember as a Kid i felt robbed. I felt like this is horrible. He is supposed to win. He is supposed to be champion. Why didn’t he get to be Champion?
I thought about this for awhile and i look at these stories and i am drawn to a verse that helps me realize the importance of what is happening here. It reminded me of one of Paul’s Goals in life.
To Run the race. To finish the fight.
Acts 20:24 NIV
24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

The Great Race

For Paul the race was simple.
To Testify to the good news of God’s Grace!
The Race was not defined by success or failures. It isn’t defined by the church’s success or failures. It isn’t defined by even our own success or failures in sharing the good news.
The Race or the fight is won when we simply share the Good news.
No matter where we are. No matter what church we are in. No matter if we reach one or 100 if we are testifying to the grace of God we have won the race.
Paul came to realize this later in ministry.
2 Timothy 4:7 NIV
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

The Great Race

I have fought the fight, I have kept the faith. I will keep the faith and i will fight the fight. It needs to be the mantra of all of us as Christians.
No matter what comes our way no matter what difficulties, failures, heart ache, or challenging times that come our way we are to fight the fight, to run the race which is simply to share the good news of the God.
It is in this moment that we realize we have victory.

Moses Race

I shared earlier that it would be easy to look at Moses and his not being able to make it into the promise land and see it as a life that fell short. However I left of a couple verses that are a testament to the life of Moses.
Deuteronomy 34:10–12 NIV
10 Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. 12 For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Moses was like no other. No one came after that had shown the deeds and the mighty power of God till Jesus. Moses was a servant of God who was faithful to Him and yes he had moments of weakness and failure but his life was anything but a failure. He was able to run the race and it was evident by the final verses referencing his life and the power he had in the work of God.
Moses didn’t stop he kept running the race till his last days and his race continued to affect people beyond his time on this earth and that is something to praise God for.

Paul’s Race

Paul had a similar story. Paul wanted to share the Gospel in Rome and in many places. Yet things happened that he wasn’t able to do that. Paul faced time in prison and was on trial and because of this he wasn’t able to do all that he wanted to do in this world during his time.
Does that make him a failure or someone who fell short?
No, it makes us realize that there are sometimes things beyond what we can control and the challenges we face will come to us and we have to walk that path still trying to run the race and sharing the gospel to the world around us.
Paul longed to go to Rome to minister. He went because he was on trial. He served even while under arrest and he did not let the chains that bound him stop him from sharing the good news of the Gospel. He ran the race and he was faithful to running the race till the very end.

Rocky’s Fight

To close on story of the outside. I shared earlier that i remember watching this story as a kid and being mad because Rocky didn’t win. Rocky was the hero he was supposed to win. I remember watching it again later in life and I can’t say exactly when it happened but i realize now that the real victory for rocky wasn’t found in the championship.
You see it is easy as a child to miss the main point of the story of Rocky. For a child you want him to win. If he doesn’t win the belt than he hasn’t won. I missed the most important line from the movie that sums up the movie.

All I Want to do is go the Distance

Rocky didn’t care about the belt. At the end of the day he wanted to go the distance because he knew that if he simply did that he won. He would show the world that he was able to go the distance. That he didn’t give up. that no matter how many punches came his way he didn’t quit. No matter how hard he was knocked for a loop he didn’t quit. He went the distiance
That is our cry this morning and should be our cry every morning.
God, All i want to do is go the distance. Help me.
No matter where life takes me. No matter what challenges that are thrown in front of my God help me to go the distance. Help me to have the strength to share the message of Hope that Is Jesus. The grace and love that you have for me so that others may come to know you.
If we can do this. If we can trust him, rely on him, and always share the good news no matter what comes our way we have won the race, we have gone the distance and we can praise God for that.
Let’s Pray.
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