Winning Your Race
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9:24, 2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1-2, Psalm145:4
Sunday 4th August 2013
This message was conceptualised from a board meeting with our father, Pastor Tayo about a year ago. He often shared some truths with the board, most of the times unexpected but really profound. On this occasion, he said 'the best way to run a relay race is to start running before a previous runner catches up with you, giving the team an advantage of winning the race'. This truth was even highlighted further by Bishop Wayne Malcolm during the just concluded 'Maximise Life 2013 - Go Forward' sessions.
Life is a race, and you are heading somewhere whether you are aware of this or not. You have been called on purpose for a purpose, to fulfil an assignment. Each of us is a runner heading in a particular direction. However, the bible emphasizes that not everyone wins the race. My prayer today is that you will win your race in Jesus name.
You are a key player in the race of life, not a national statistics number or spectator. Your life is an answer to a question and a solution to a problem. In other words, you are living for a reason. The recent passing of our father should corroborate this truth even further.
Pastor Tayo ran his race and finished well; within a space of 48 years, he accomplished so much. When he reached the finishing line, he stepped out of time into eternity. Just before stepping out of time, he handed the 'baton' to us to continue from where he stopped. He put us at a good advantage and as a result, we do not have to begin where he began, but rather from where he ended. This is often the prayer of every parent - 'Lord, let my children be greater than I am, excelling beyond my strength and go forward'.
We are in a race (1 Corinthians 9:24). Each of us is running. My question this morning is this: Which direction are your heading towards?
In a race, firstly you are required to run, you cannot settle to watch from the side line or fold your arms and sit down. We all have to run, regardless of whichever department you belong to. Irrespective of the circumstance, you are not permitted to be stagnant.
Paraphrasing Apostle Paul from our foundation scripture 'everybody runs, but not everybody wins'. This means that it is possible to run and not win. So, if I can master the art of running effectively, then it means I can win my race. Pastor Enoch Adeboye shared a profound truth with us some few weeks back, when a group of us visited him. He said 'If we are to mourn in this season, it should be for those of us who are still here on earth, as Pastor Tayo is in a far, far better place' .
Our prayers should be 'Lord, help me to run my race successfully' because it is possible to run and not win. We are expected to win our race with the baton now handed to us. Our only option is to win. So in order to win, you are expected to reach forward, advance and accelerate. As this applies to us corporately as a church, so it applies to you as an individual.
The 'race' metaphor is used about 14 times in scriptures by Apostle Paul. As a church, we cannot afford to stand still. This scripture records that Joshua and the children of Israel had a period of stagnancy in which they did nothing but mourned the passing of Moses. Consequently, God had to step in and speak to Joshua, announcing that one era had ended and it was time to launch the next (Joshua 1:1-2). In other words, it would be a tragedy not to run the next stretch of the race, as the race did not finish with Moses. Again, let me restate this fact that we should have imbibed by now; this is not the time to sit down and mourn, it's time to 'Go Forward!'.
Your assignment or calling in life is the race you are running; each one of us has an assignment, and this does not end with the home-going of our dear Pastor Tayo. The assigment that God has given you is generational. In fact your assignment does not end with you; you have to pass it on. There is an aspect of the work of this house that God has assigned to you. If you have not, find your place and run that specific race assigned to you.We all have a responsibility to find and discover the responsibility given to us by God. Remember, that we are not here on earth by accident, but by divine purpose. Just like God spoke to Joshua and the Israelites to cross the Jordan, there is a Jordan for us to cross as well.
Secondly, we should not just focus on running the race but on winning the race. The bible reiterates that we should run in order to win. Now, here is a profound statement: Do not trouble yourself to run, if you are not ready to win. God never calls anyone to run the race that He has not empowered them to win. In order words, within God's call is the empowerment to fulfil that call successfully.
A weight of responsibility fell on my shoulders at that point when Pastor was called to glory, so much that I spent the first three days wondering how I could step into such a role. What gives one the audacity or authority to collect the baton from such a champion? A giant described as a genius par excellence.
Soon, God began to speak to me and reassured me with these words: He (God) will not enlist you in a race that He has not empowered you to run. To every call of God, there is an empowerment that goes with it for its fulfilment.
So, I have come to realise that it is not about the magnitude of the work, but the Owner of the work, as long as your focus is in the right place. Within each of us is the grace and the ability to run and win our individual races., I received a text recently that enriched my soul; 'God does not call you because you qualify; He qualifies you because He called you.'
Here is Joshua and Caleb's response when they were about to move to inherit the Promised Land. Remember that the other spies had dismissed the idea of entering the land because of the giants that they saw when they made their initial visit. "Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.” (Numbers 14:9). Since the Lord is with us, we have no reason to be afraid of the task ahead of us (Numbers 13:30).
So I challenge us all to rise up and take our place. Focus on the God of the work, not on the work. Develop a Caleb and Joshua spirit, believing that the task ahead of us is possible.
Let me begin to share with you seven keys to win your race.
(a) Believe that you can win:
Proverbs 23:7 states that 'As a man thinks in his heart, so is he'. You can never run beyond the level of your belief. Your belief is the highest level that you will ever attain in life. It is one thing for God to say that you can do a thing, it is entirely a different ball game for you to believe and speak about that which God has said about you. In the agenda of God, you can do all things. Whatever God has given to you to do, in reality you can do it through Christ Jesus; now you must believe that it is attainable and implementable. If you do not believe that you are a winner, then you will never see it happen. The first truth you must recognise is that God will not give to you what He has not equipped you to handle.
God called Caleb, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Sampson, Esther, Jeremiah and Peter. Each of them had their flaws and feebleness.
Moses was a stutterer, who at first shunned the prospect of leading God's people out of Egypt; Caleb was given a name that meant 'dog' in Hebrew, he was not reckoned with; Joshua was a servant to Moses; I have a feeling that in the camp of Israel, there were more qualified people than Joshua; Gideon hid away in the winepress, saying to God 'I am the least in my father's house'; Sampson could be described as unchaste; Esther was an orphaned slave girl in a foreign land, Jeremiah described himself as a child and Peter denied Jesus three times, yet God expressed himself in extraordinary ways through these bible characters for extraordinary accomplishments.
If God qualifies you, don't disqualify yourself. Philippians 3:14 says, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Let's not throw away our confidence, we can do all that God has empowered us to do (Hebrews 10:35).
God hardly uses the experts or those who have already been made up. He uses those described as 'the weak' according to worldly standards so that the excellency may be of God and not of men. He is only looking for those who are available to Him.
God is about to surprise us again. He's about to conform the wise as He uses the weak and foolish things of this world to glorify Himself. He's about to change the 'nothings' into something. (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So we trust God to take us forward, because we know that the future is bright. This is the beginning of a new era - not the end, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us; it is certain that will 'Go forward'. All we need to win our race is already within us and we will win in Jesus name (Amen).
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