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12. Sticking With It:


Going On With God

Ephesians 1:3-8, 11 'Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

…In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.'

Very Important Person: you!You're a privileged person!

1. God has a 'plan' and a 'purpose'

Notice the underlined words in the above verses. They tell us that God has a 'plan' and 'purpose'. He's not haphazard or unsure of himself: 'the purpose of his will' is guaranteed to prevail. He's never in a dilemma and he doesn't change his mind. His plan is on course.

And what is that plan? It's to rid the world of evil and, at Christ's return, to complete his large 'family' and enjoy their company for ever.

2. He chose you in line with that plan

Now notice the words in bold type above. It says that, as a Christian, you were 'chosen' and 'predestined' in line with that amazing plan!

In other words, God said to himself, 'Now what steps do I need to take to achieve my purpose?' And one of the steps was to choose you and bring you to himself through Christ so that you could serve his purpose in your own unique way. You were essential to getting the job done. So in the final analysis, he chose you, not vice versa. What a privilege!

3. So stay on track with him

Knowing that you have been called to be God's fellow-worker is a great incentive to hold fast to your faith. Becoming a Christian isn't like joining some club or political party. Nor is it a hobby or interest likeRunners model-making or cross-stitch—something to drop when the novelty wears off. No, it's a high and holy calling to serve the King of kings, and you're in it for life.

God doesn't guarantee you an easy ride as you serve him; you'll have your share of difficulties like everyone else. Determine now that you won't drop out when they come—that you'll prove to be a good finisher as well as a good starter. It's a marathon, not a sprint, that you're in.

Hints from a good finisher

2 Timothy 4:7 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith'

This statement will encourage you to stick with it. It comes from Paul who, at the time of writing, was approaching the end of his life, about to be martyred for his faith. From the time he became a Christian he had served Christ faithfully through thick and thin:

Soldier ready for combat'I have fought the good fight'—implies OPPOSITION

Acts 14:22 'We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God'

You'll face opposition from time to time. Certainly the devil will try to stir up problems for you. That's because, before you came to Jesus, you were no trouble to him, but now that you've nailed your colours to the mast he sees you as the enemy. But with the Lord on your side you've nothing to fear:

1 John 4:4 'The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.'

Other opposition may come from well-meaning friends and relatives who don't like your Christian profession. They may urge you to pack it in and 'have a good time'. Knowing your old weaknesses, they'll try to drag you down again.

Be polite and kind to them, but stand firm in your faith. Pray for them. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom to know how to answer them when they try it on (James 1:5).

Facing opposition is easier when you have the support of others. Draw strength from fellowship, as well as from the preaching, from your prayer-times and your reading of the Word.

'I have finished the race'—implies WEARINESS

Marathon runners get tired. They know before they start the race that it's a long haul, and they train accordingly—but they still get weary.

Older runnerAnd so will you from time to time. Learn to combat weariness so that you can keep going for the Lord. Here are some tips:

Combating weariness is easier when you have the support of others. Let their strength and determination carry you through the spells when you feel tired in the race.

'I have kept the faith'—implies DECEPTION

There are deceptive forces at work to divert you from the mainstream of God's will. Learn to recognise the dangers and so avoid them. For example:

Dealing with deception is easier when you have the support of others. Keep company with sound and faithful Christians who have their feet on the ground and whose faith is practical.

Being like Job

Job (it rhymes with 'robe') is the Old Testament character who has a book named after him. He was a godly, faithful servant of the Lord, blessed with health, riches and a happy family.

Taking the Job attitudeThen he fell on hard times, losing all his possessions, his children and even his health. Chapters 1 and 2 of the book of Job give us the spiritual background to these disasters, but Job himself was never shown that background. All he knew was that God seemed to have deserted him. His friends weren't helpful, either, and his wife wanted him to curse God and die.

When he was at rock-bottom Job made a classic statement to his friends about the Lord:

Job 13:15 'Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.'

Job trusted God even though he couldn't understand why he was letting him experience such terrible sufferings. Even if those sufferings proved fatal, nothing would shake his hope in God.

That's the attitude you should aspire to. God isn't a sugar-daddy in the sky, existing purely to make you feel good. He's the glorious, eternal God who's working out his great purpose, and you're privileged to be part of it. If that involves enduring some tough times, so be it. God knows best and you can trust him implicitly to see you through:

1 Corinthians 10:13 'No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.'

Stick with it! Together we can make it, for his glory.

Belonging to the church

We have seen how, together, we can achieve things we could never achieve alone. That's why being a committed member of a local church is so important.

[At this point, if you are using these materials in your church, you could add a section
about how membership of your church is approached.]

Good things to come

If you've enjoyed this Beginning with God course, watch out for the 12-week follow-on series designed to take you further. It's called Growing in God. It will give you some more insights into the Christian life and keys to developing your faith. The topics it covers are:













by heart

Job 13:15  'Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.'


BwG1: Repentance And Faith

1. Temple maintenance:

    Looking after your body

7. Putting sex in its place:

    The Christian and sexuality

2. To laugh and to cry:

    Emotional freedom

8. Staying victorious:

    Overcoming temptation

3. A renewed mind:

    Taking charge of your thought-life

9. Enemy territory:

    Facing up to 'the world'

4. Extracting the juice:

    Bible meditation

10. Doing a good job:

      The Christian in the workplace

5. The right direction:

    Knowing God's will

11. Handling hassles:

      The 'discipline of the Lord'

6. Crucified with Christ:

    The cross in everyday living

12. Graduation day:

      The return of Jesus

Long-distance walker
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