It is interesting - To be an Olympic athlete you need three things going for you. You need: speed, skill and most important of all, you have to have endurance. If you don’t make it to the end of the race, you’re not going to win a medal.
The Bible tells us that God always finishes what He starts. In the book of Philippians it says:
“I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (HCSB)
What does that mean?
It means if you have really given your life to Jesus Christ – if you’ve opened yourself up to God and said, "Christ, be number one in my life - be Lord of my life" – you are going to make all the way to heaven. There’s no doubt about it. Case closed! Done deal! Finished product! You are going to make it across the finish line. Because the race does not depend upon your performance – it depends upon God’s Sustaining Grace.
One question that is important, however, is: “How well do you finish the race?” You know as well as I do that some people finish a race in very poor shape – while others finish the race well.
In 1992, following five operations, British runner Derek Redman was hoping to win gold at the Barcelona Olympics. Everything seemed to be going well for the 400 meter race. He had recorded the fastest time in the quarter-final heat. He was pumped up – ready to go. As the gun sounded he got off to a clean start. But at 150 meters – his right hamstring muscle tore and he fell to the ground. When he saw the stretcher-bearers rushing towards him he jumped up and began hobbling toward the finish line. Despite his pain he continued to move forward. Soon another person joined him on the track. It was his father. Arm in arm – hand in hand – they moved toward the finish-line together. Just before the finish line – Derek’s dad let go of his son – so that Derek could finish the race on his own. The crowd of 65,000 stood to their feet cheering and clapping as Derek finished the race. Heartbreaking – yes! Encouraging – yes! Emotional - yes! We need to finish the race – and finish it well.
God who began a good work in you – wants you to finish the race. He wants you to endure. He wants you to be successful. He wants you to finish and finish well. God does not leave you to run the race alone but He gives you His Sustaining Grace.
What is God’s Sustaining Grace?
God’s Sustaining Grace is the power to keep you going even when you feel like giving up. Do you ever feel like throwing in the towel? Do you feel like quitting? Do you ever say, “I’ve had enough.” God’s Sustaining Grace is the power that helps you endure even when you don’t think you can.
Here is a secret that I have learned: Life is a marathon – it is not a sprint. There are valleys and there are mountains. There are bad times and there are good times and there are times when we could all use God’s Sustaining Grace to keep on – keeping on.
God’s Sustaining Grace is the power that God gives to keep you going. You may not realize this - but the moment you become a believer – the battle begins.
The Devil would enjoy nothing more than to see you stumble – to see you fail - to see you fall. When you become a believer you are no longer Satan’s property – you are no long on his side – but he wants to get you back. He does not want you to succeed. He is looking for every opportunity to pounce on you.
God sustains you when you are tempted.
God sustains you when you are tired.
God sustains you when you are troubled.
“Mankind is born for trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” Job 5:7 (HCSB)
In other words – troubles are common. You should expect troubles in your life. You should not be surprised when they come your way. You are going to have difficulties – you are going to have obstacles. You will have situations that are out of your control.
You will have situations that you just cannot handle. It is at times like these that we need God’s Sustaining Grace.
I have found that there are three kinds of trouble in this world. There is the kind that blows you away like a tornado. There is the kind that weighs you down like a sack of potatoes. Then there is the kind of trouble that pulls the rug out from under you.
But no matter what type of trouble you run into – God will give you His Sustaining Grace.
Most of us can handle problems if we have hope – if we can see an end in sight – if we can see a light at the end of the tunnel. If we can see that there is power to get through the problem – we can handle it. Hope is powerful. The Bible tells us:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)
Folks this is a statement of hope. This is a promise that all believers can rely upon. No matter what comes my way - "I can do all things through Christ" because He "strengthens me". God gives His children sustaining grace to make it through all situations - through all circumstances - through all things. In the Old Testament it says:
“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)
How do I plug into God’s Sustaining Grace? You do three things:
1. ASK for God’s Sustaining Grace
How do you ask? You ask through prayer. Pray to God. Pray earnestly. Pray fervently. Pray passionately. Pray with integrity. Pray with emotion. Ask God for His Sustaining Grace. He loves to hear the prayers of His children. The Bible tells us:
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 (NKJV)
God gives His children the best - ask for it.
2. STUDY God’s word
God’s word is to help guide us and direct us through good times and through bad. In Psalm one hundred nineteen we find:
“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Psalms 119:105 (NKJV)
When we need guidance it is always good to turn to God’s Word. Let the Bible comfort you. Let the Bible strengthen you. Let the Bible fill you. Let the Bible soothe you. Think on God’s word. Place scriptures in your mind – think about them – meditate on them. They can be a great help when you are dealing with the stressors of life.
3. RELY on God’s promises
Did you know that there are over 7000 promises in the Bible waiting to be claimed? Here is one of them:
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 (NKJV)
God wants His children to be successful. He wants us to over-come this world. He wants us to rely on His strength and His promises. God gives us all kinds of promises in His word – but it does no good unless we rely upon them.
We must trust in the Lord – we must put our faith into action – we must rely upon the fact that His promises are true. Put your hope in the Lord. Keep your eyes focused on the hope of heaven.
Let me ask you a question: “Where do you need God’s Sustaining Grace today? Where are you discouraged and you feel like giving up? Are you being tempted? Are you tired? Are you troubled? Are you at the end on your rope?” Then let me tell you that God offers His Sustaining Grace to you.
A long time ago a man by the name of Paul felt that he was at the end of his rope. He had something going on in his life that he did not like and he begged the Lord three times to take it away from him. Do you know what the Lord said when He answered Paul? The Lord said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)
Do you know what happened? Paul found that the Lord spoke the truth – God’s Sustaining Grace was all he needed. God’s grace - got him through.
How about you? Do you need God’s Sustaining Grace?
(Drawn from a sermon by Rick Warren)