Winning Your Race - Part 3
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Sunday 18th August 2013
Over the past few weeks, we have been examining the truth that we are each in a race for which we have been designed to win. As winning our race is what God desires for us, we need the strategies that will enable us to achieve that aim. We each have an assignment and far from being spectators or bystanders in life, we are key players in the race towards the fulfilment of destiny. We are therefore both important and necessary. God has designed each of us with a view to us winning our race. With that in mind, I would like you to think of whatever has been challenging or confronting you of late and declare by faith, “I am a winner!”
Our foundation scripture reminds us that although everyone runs, not everyone wins and that for that reason we must run in a way that will ensure that we win. Over the past few weeks, we have considered the first four of seven strategies to ensure that we win the race of life as follows: (i) Believe that you can win; (ii) Arise! A command to arise from the position of resignation to the position that will ensure that we are poised to win; (iii) Be strong and courageous – activating what is within us to enable us to win; and (iv) Give God your best – recognising that the quality of what we put in to our assignment determines the quality of our output. Today, we will look at the remaining three strategies that will ensure that we win the race of life.
(e) Be Purpose Driven:
In 1 Corinthians 9:26 (NLT), Paul provides insight into the fifth strategy saying, ‘So I run with purpose in every step.’ Being purpose driven is the key to winning in life. We are not just called to run; we are called to run with purpose; not just some of the time but all of the time, in every step. We are only able to win in the race of life if we run with purpose. On 30th June 2013 with the passing of Pastor Tayo Adeyemi, we were provided with an example of a life lived on purpose. The baton has now been passed on to us to press on and achieve destiny.
We are not just called to run any race; we are called to run our specific race. The running of our race therefore is synonymous with purpose. Within the life of this assembly, we must each identify our purpose and run accordingly. Singing is not my area of strength and therefore I would not attempt to take the microphone and render a special number as I am not equipped for that purpose. Similarly, the one call to play instruments beautifully would not be asked to preach as that is not what he has been gifted and equipped to do. It is important not to run someone else’s race, regardless of the apparent success that they are experiencing. Instead, you must know what you have been called to do and run so as to win. Paul said, ‘I run with purpose in every step’ because he understood purpose to be the key to success. God did not bring you here by accident; your steps were ordered. Everyone has a calling and everyone is necessary. Paul was consistently purpose-driven and therefore he made significant impact. Those whom are not driven by their purpose never successfully make impact.
In Acts 20: 22-24 Paul said, ‘And now I am bound by the spirit to go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what awaits me, except that the Holy Spirit tells me in city after city that jail and suffering lie ahead. But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned to me.’ He had concluded that the only thing that mattered was the purpose for which he had been called, namely the work assigned to him; this was the driving force in his life. The question therefore arises: ‘What is driving you?’ We must be driven by our assignment and the race to which we have been called to run. In John 17: 4, Jesus said ‘I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.’ When we carry out our purpose, God is glorified. In John 4:34 Jesus said, ‘My nourishment comes from the doing the will of God who sent me, and from finishing his work.’ Finishing the work that God had assigned to him was Jesus’ driving force and priority.
In order to finish the race and win, we must be purpose driven. It has been said that the greatest tragedy is not death but to have lived a life without purpose; to have been alive and not to have understood why. It is essential therefore to identify and carry out your purpose. As can be seen in Jesus’ statement in John 4:34, it is in fulfilling your purpose that satisfaction is found. All things begin and end with purpose; the fulfilment of our purpose therefore must be our primary goal. The very composition of our lives is designed to achieve our purpose. You have been designed with your purpose in mind and structured to finish your race. Your purpose pre-dates you and your very birth is evidence that you are necessary. Everything about you has been tailored to fulfil your purpose and there is nothing in your past that is capable of hindering the fulfilment of God’s purpose in your life. It is therefore important not to seek to be someone else but to be ‘the best you’ that you can possibly be and carry out your purpose.
Purpose driven people have certain characteristics: they are passionate about their assignment; they are proactive, always thinking ahead; they are time-conscious and they are always focussed.
(f) Be Focussed:
This brings me to the sixth strategy for winning your race: in order to win, we must stay focussed. In 1 Corinthians 9: 26, Paul drew a distinction between the way that he ran with purpose with mere ‘shadowboxing’ or merely beating the air, explaining how he disciplined his body in order to avoid being disqualified. He was focussed. Despite the distractions of life, we must remain focussed in order to win. The issues of life will arise to distract us, however it is for us to choose not to be distracted. There are many things that do not warrant your attention. Do not waste time by attending to the things that do not matter. Whatever does not add value to your vision is not worth your attention.
In a few days’ time we will encounter the reality of the home-going of Pastor Tayo Adeyemi. We owe it to ourselves, despite our emotions to keep focussed on the truth that God is taking us somewhere. We do not mourn therefore as those with no hope; instead, we will be gathering to celebrate the life of an achiever. I urge you to take this as an opportunity not to focus on his departure from this life and your sadness, but to use his life, his achievements and his person as a springboard for your own future. His passing must not be a stumbling block but a launch-pad which assists you in re-defining your life. Pastor Tayo was a perfect example of one whom refused to be distracted. His life should preach to us and we should take every opportunity to reflect on his example. I say this as the truth is that as we look at his coffin on Friday, we must not lose sight of the fact that one day, it will be us and each of us would wish to exit this earth with a legacy of achievement behind us. In Judges 14: 14(a) we learn ‘out of the one who eats comes something to eat’. Out of this negative experience can come victory; it is open to all of us to draw something from his life and example. I urge you therefore to allow his life to challenge you and the way in which you think and draw strength from his life that enables you to be propelled forward. God told Joshua to prepare to cross over the Jordan River which represented that which separated the children of Israel from the Promised Land. The home-going of Pastor Tayo marks a defining moment; we must be able to cross over this in order to access the future.
(g) Never Quit:
The final strategy for winning that I intend to examine is a determination never to give up. We never can win the race of life by quitting; there is no prize for giving up. Winners never quit and quitters never win.
We have been passed the baton for the next part of the race. We have what the next generation needs. Just imagine what would have happened if Pastor Tayo had abandoned the race: I would have, in all likelihood, never have met you. I would have been deprived of knowing you and you are a key part of the fulfilment of my destiny in the same way that I am a part of yours.
You are a carrier of hope and of purpose and you are called to finish your race because you are a finisher. Nothing should make you quit. Nothing was big enough to stop Jesus and nothing should be big enough to stop you. In Exodus 40:33 we learn that Moses hung the curtains forming the courtyard around the Tabernacle and the altar, the final parts of the construction of the tabernacle after which the cloud covered the tabernacle and the glory of God filled it. The glory did not descend until Moses completed the work. God is calling us to finish the work that He has assigned to us.
There is the assurance of hope in our future. I pray that each of us has the wisdom to finish the work assigned to us; to finish well and fulfil destiny.
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