The Final Countdown

There are many types of countdowns we hear about and see in this life – the space shuttle before take off, the oven timer when those Christmas cookies are just about done, the due date for a baby! A countdown is a period of time that is designated to determine an outcome or event…

What about the count that takes place when the boxer is lying face down on the canvas and the ref is counting? This is the moment of truth! Everyone is watching… Who is going to be the champion? What will be the fate of the one people thought would win? This is a defining moment in his professional and maybe even personal life. Do we not have the same countdown going on right now in our life? There is a clock ticking somewhere counting down our very seconds. The question shouldn’t be, “how many are left?” but rather, “what am I doing with what I have left?” This is your DEFINING MOMENT!

Let me introduce you to Louis, the nine year old son of a harness-maker. Louis loved watching his father work the leather and make harnesses. He told his father that someday he wanted to make harnesses. The father’s response, “why not start now?” and so he did. Louis’ father handed him a piece of leather with a design on it and told him to “hammer and follow this design, but be careful that you don’t hit your hand.” Excited, Louis began to work, but when he hit the hole-puncher, it flew out of his hand and pierced his eye! He immediately lost sight in that eye. Later, the sight in the other eye failed and Louis was left completely blind.

A few years later, Louis and a family friend were sitting outside when the friend handed Louis a pinecone. As he ran his sensitive fingers over the cone, an idea came to him. He became enthusiastic and began to create an alphabet of raised dots on paper so that the blind could feel and interpret what was written. Thus, Louis Braille opened us a whole new world for the blind – all because of an accident!

What are you going to do with your circumstances? Your countdown? You are so much more important to the Lord than some space shuttle taking off! You have a choice to do something with your countdown. This is your capsule in time to prepare. The second half of your life does NOT have to be the same as the first.

To be effective with your countdown, you might want to become a student of it…gives a new meaning to the word student doesn’t it? Even companies respect this type of situation. If they are going to launch a new product, they determine a launch date; they have a countdown called a pre-launch period where they get all their affairs in order – come up with all these marketing approaches – advertising campaigns – book all these trade show dates, etc. They will really study and meditate with this time. They take it as serious as the millions of dollars they have invested into this product. Launch day will be a moment of truth! What will you do with your serious situation?

Number One: First, make the choice. Deuteronomy 30:15-19 says, “15 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17 But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” Pretty straight forward – choose life! In fact, Jesus says in John 10:10 that He came to give us life & that more abundantly! God wants so much for you! He is an abundant, overflowing, more than you can contain God!

This choice is between Christ or Satan. Matthew 6:24 says there are two masters in this world; we cannot serve them both. Joshua 24:15 plainly says to decide this day whom you will serve. 

My prayer is that you choose the Lord. It’s for your own benefit. You were designed for this. You may wonder why you are having such a tough time out there… You weren’t designed to live that life! God loves you. Don’t miss your appointment with Him. He wants to meet you NOW no matter where you are reading this! He has been stood up enough on Sunday mornings, or when you should be in prayer, or maybe when you committed to read your Bible. Stop standing God up. Meet Him, know Him; love Him!

God will let you continue to stand Him up until your death. Talk about a countdown! Saved or unsaved, we will all keep his appointment. 

Number Two: John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” A concordance will show you that abide means to “take up residence.” That means to truly live there. Someone reading this needs to take up residence in Christ! Get to know Him! Get comfortable with Him. Abide in Him. When I say take up residence, I mean don’t just exist there. Get involved. You don’t pull up in your driveway and ask someone for directions to garage. You don’t study the blueprints of your house to find your way to the kitchen – you walk in there and help yourself to the fridge and cabinets. This is what the Lord wants you to do. Abide…live…in Him. Some of us have been “patty-caking” him too long, doing just enough to “get by.” STOP getting by and get in the game!

Rose Bowl 1929 – Georgia Tech vs. University of California. A player recovers a fumble and in his confusion proceeds to run the other way. A teammate is able to stop him before he scores a touchdown for the other team. The half ends and all the players go into the locker room. Everybody is wondering what the coach is going to say. The player is in the corner with head hung low covered by a towel, crying. The team is ready to go back out for the second half and to the team’s amazement, the coach announced that everyone who started the first half would start the second half. Everyone left except the player in the corner. He wasn’t going to leave. The coach called him again and saw the tears streaming down his cheeks. The player said, “Coach, I can’t do it. I’ve ruined you. I’ve disgraced the University of California. I can’t face the crowd in the stadium again.” The coach walked over and put his hand on the player’s shoulder and said, “Get up and get back in. The game is only half over.”

God is expectantly pacing the porch of heaven looking across the land to see who is going to step up- no only for their own life, but the lives of so many others! This is your defining moment! Are you going to surrender and see the God of more than you can contain pour the blessings of life on you? He will do the work, you just do the leaning. God works it out when you give it to Him. Put it on Him. He can handle it. When you come to the altar and lay is down, then you have clarified surrender! Now a true resurrection can take place in you. Do you believe? This is your opportunity… an opportunity to make your second half better than the first! The real coach believes in you! This is your opportunity – will you take it?

Pastor Jarrod

Give It Up

I know this may seem silly, but wherever you are, whatever you are doing, say, “GIVE IT UP.” Now say, “GIVE IT UP FOR JESUS!” You may have never heard or done this before OR you may do this quite often. This has a name – REPUTATION! We have to give this up for Jesus in order that He may shine through us. You can’t keep your reputation and still have the miraculous unfold for the next chapters of your life like rushing floodgates.

Need proof?

How about the man that God chose to be Jesus’ earthly father – Joseph. Here is a man that is opposite Mary (he was her fiancée). He sees an angel, marries a pregnant girl, and leads his family to Bethlehem and Egypt. He does much, but says nothing. A small-town carpenter who never said a Scripture-worthy word. Was Joseph the right choice? Doesn’t God have better options? An eloquent priest from Jerusalem or a scholar from the Pharisees? Why Joseph? A major part of the answer lies in his reputation: he gives it up for Jesus. Matthew 1:19 says, “Then Joseph (Mary’s husband), being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.” With the phrase “a just man,” Matthew recognizes the status of Joseph. He was what was called a tsadiq (tsa-deek), a serious student of the Torah. Nazareth viewed Joseph as we might view an elder, deacon, or Bible class teacher. Tsadiqs studied God’s law. They supported the synagogue, observed holy days, and followed the food restrictions. For a common carpenter to be known as a tsadiq was no small thing. Joseph likely took pride in his standing but Mary’s announcement (I’m pregnant) jeopardized it. Mary’s parents, by this point, have a signed a contract and sealed it with a dowry. Mary belongs to Joseph; Joseph belongs to Mary. Legally and matrimonially bound.

Now what? What’s a tsadiq to do? His fiancée is pregnant, blemished, tainted… he is righteous, godly. On one hand, he has the law. On the other, he has his love. The law says stone her; love says forgive her. Joseph is caught in the middle. But Joseph is a kind man. Verse nineteen says, “Not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away secretly.” A quiet divorce was what he planned. How long would it stay quiet? Likely not long. But for a time, this was the solution. THEN comes the angel. “verse 20 says, “While he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

Joseph gave it up for Jesus. He swapped his tsadiq diploma for a pregnant finacee and an illegitimate son and made the big decision of discipleship. He placed God’s plan ahead of his own.

Would you be willing to do the same?

God grants us an uncommon life to the degree we surrender our common one. Matthew 16:25 says, “If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will loose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.” Would you forfeit your reputation to see Jesus born into your world?

Jesus himself did the same thing… Phillipians 2:7-8 says He, “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbles Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” 

Christ gave up his reputation. No one in Nazareth saluted him as the Son of God. He did not stand out in his elementary-classroom photograph sitting on a throne, or wearing a crown. His friends knew him as a woodworker, not a star hanger. His looks turned no heads; his position earned him no credit. In the great “lowering of Himself” we call Christmas, Jesus gave up heavenly rank and crawled out among the hay and horse stall of this earth because you and I were worth it! Hard to comprehend – yet a principle that must be duplicated for you to step into the river of your destiny!

Pastor Jarrod