by Pastor Tim Burt
I have run five marathons (26.3 mile races) in two different locations. I have run the Twin City Marathon in Minneapolis/St.Paul and I have run Grandma's Marathon up in Duluth. The courses for both are quite different. They are both beautiful in their own way and great to run.
But there is something about the Twin Cities Marathon I love more. I love the crowds. There are crowds of people lined the entire 26 miles that cheer you on like you were family. They clap and shout encouragement to you and are the most incredible support you could ever imagine - especially when you have to run the distance of 26 miles. Their voices of encouragement help shut out some of the demons that try to speak into your ear and tell you "you can't make it - quit now" throughout the race. When I run up at Grandma's Marathon, there are long stretches with few or no people and those stretches without the cheering and encouragement are the hardest to run.
There are times in life when we feel God speaking to us. We sense God’s leading and direction to do something in life. He may want us to take on an assignment or task. He speaks to us through His Word or through someone preaching the Word. He may speak to us through a friend or in our quiet time of prayer. But for those that listen, He speaks. Sometimes assignments come. Sometimes they are personal assignments like, "clean up this area of your life," or "get involved at church and do this," or "lose 20 pounds." Whatever it is, He gives us assignments of all different scopes and for all different reasons - some personal and some serving or helping other people.
When He speaks them to us they can sound so exciting. The thinking and meditating and planning to execute what He says can be exhilarating, but to continue all the way to the finish can feel impossible. It can be challenging but exciting at the same time. Discouragement or fatigue and weariness working to get us to quit can too easily come–especially if you don't have someone on the sidelines cheering you on. When I ran my marathons amongst all those wonderful people cheering and encouraging – I still had to contend with Satan’s voice of discouragement. The exhortation of others is what helped me overcome weariness and finish. When we are doing what God asks us to do, we may not always be surrounded by those cheerleaders but we will face the enemy – always! And it won't be to encourage you. And, he’ll often use people to discourage you. Satan's ultimate goal is to get anyone to quit through discouragement and disobey what God asks them to do.
When Moses was given the assignment to lead God's people from Egypt, the entire mission was a challenge.
When Moses and the people of Israel started out together, there was great cooperation. Things when smoothly like they usually do in the beginning. Exodus 13:18 "So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt." You can see that the people started out fine and left orderly. They were great until the first sign of trouble. Then those voices – not of cheer leading but of discouragement started to speak.
Exo 14:11-12 They said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn't we say to you in Egypt, 'Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians'? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"
Anytime you pursue what God leads you to do, you will come up against the adversity of the devil to get you to quit. At some point, you’ll hear yourself whining, "This is hard and nothing seems to be going right. I must have missed God."
At times like this when deep down you believe you were following God yet your faced with adversity, know that you will again hear His voice and He will say something like today's Fresh Manna verse, Exodus 14:13-14. And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today...The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. "
At times like this, let Galatians 6:9 cheer and encourage you from the sidelines. It says, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." What's the modern day translation of this? "If you don't quit, you'll win!" Beyond that - measure your own attitude toward others. Are you the voice of exhortation and support or are you being used as the voice of discouragement? I know I’d never complete much of anything if it wasn't for the encouragement of God and others! We all need it! And we all need to hear, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today...The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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