Tag Archives: Run Your Race

Excerpt from “Going Through to Get Through”

Read an excerpt from Rev. Kelly R. Jackson’s latest book “Going Through to Get Through: Activating your faith during life’s most trying times”.

BookCoverPreview (2)Taken from the chapter:
“The challenge of God’s timing: Working your way through the wilderness”.

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What are you waiting for?

When we’re trying to answer the question of why God brought us to a particular place, we must first examine ourselves. It’s so easy to begin questioning God and asking Him why we’re in a certain place or what we’re supposed to do now, but the first questions belong to us.

God may have in fact pointed us in a certain direction, but did we take the route that He told us to take? Did we go through the people that He told us to go through, or did our pride or our feelings about that individual cause us to use someone that God hadn’t authorized?

Did we commit to the vision that He gave us, or did we alter it? Most importantly, when we received that vision from a holy God, did we alter our living to coincide with living out the promise given to us by a holy God?

When you examine those questions for your own life before questioning, or even blaming God for why you have to wait in the wilderness, you may in fact find that it was never God’s plan for you to wait. Know that God’s blessings on your life aren’t yours no matter how you’re living.

When you ask God for a blessed destiny and He agrees to give it to you, you can’t continue on living however you want. God expects us to live up to the call and the blessings.

Also, you may find that it was God’s plan for you to go through some trials so that you might know that He delivered you, and so that you can appreciate your blessings when you reach them. All that you’re doing may have been designed for you to exercise your faith and for you to grow in that faith.

Consider again the Children of Israel. God could’ve made a way for Moses and the Israelites to escape captivity without ever having to confront Pharaoh. But by having to deal with Pharaoh head on, all were able to see that God’s power can deliver us without us ever having to cower in the face of those that wish to oppress us.

When they crossed the Red Sea, it wasn’t God’s desire for them to spend 40 years in the wilderness wandering. The journey from the wilderness to the Promised Land would’ve normally taken only a few weeks. It was their disobedience and lack of faith that kept them from reaching their destination sooner.

God’s promises to us are real, but we sometimes need to evaluate our commitment to God. There are times when we’re more committed to the promise than we are to the God of the promise. We want to go from point A to B, but God may want to add a few more letters to the equation.

God sometimes wants to refocus us on why it is we started out. So often we’re in this wilderness state looking to God and asking “What’s the holdup?” In the meantime, God is looking down at us and asking the same question.

There are times when God will slow progress because we’re moving in the wrong direction, or we’re moving in the right direction, but we’re skipping steps. There are also times when God will stop progress because we’ve stopped progressing. As we’re waiting patiently in the wilderness, we must also remember to wait FAITHfully!

We must remember to never give up on God just because traffic has momentarily stopped. There’s a plan, a path, and a purpose. But if you’re not moving, don’t always assume that God has stop working on your behalf. Sometimes, we’ve stopped working on His behalf. Sometimes, all you’re waiting on is you.

Isolation for elevation

Whether you’re in favor of the wilderness or not, you must understand that it’s all a part of God’s plan. It may not feel like it, it may not look like it, and it may be counter to what you thought God promised you, but know that it was always a part of God’s plan for us to be isolated before we’re elevated. This time of consecration is necessary if we’re to be what God would have us to be at the next level.

As God looks to shape and mold us into what He wants us to be, we must also understand that there is some reshaping that must go on as well.

So those of us that are passionate, but only passionate about sinful things, God wants to redirect our passion, not take it away from us. For those of us that are intellectuals, but only for worldly causes, God needs our intelligence, but He needs it focused on Him.

Those of us that are talented and gifted, but have used those talents and gifts for the world, God doesn’t want us to lay our talents down, He just wants us to use them for His glory.

When we come to God from the world or from a place where we weren’t in His service, we must understand that we have some things on us that must be removed. We have some habits, some ways, some addictions, and some behaviors that are not of God. Before we can truly be used for God’s purposes, these things have to be stripped away.

The easiest way to stay in a rut is to stay in the place that got you stuck. So when God calls us up and out for greater service, He’s going to call us out of the rut of former friendships, former family relationships, former jobs, former romantic relationships, and even former church relationships.

When He isolates us in the wilderness, He’s taking the time to strip us of all of our old allegiances in order to form some new alliances. When God is taking you to something new, you can’t be beholden to what’s old. Sometimes God has to break us apart in order to remake us into what He wants us to be.

When those Children of Israel had been in captivity all of those years, as much as they loved God, they had still taken on some characteristics of their oppressor Egypt. It’s been said that it took one night to get them out of Egypt, but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of them.

When we’ve been living in the world, following the edicts of the prince of darkness, we have some stuff on us. God can’t just elevate you to a Promised Land or a holy position just as you are. He’s got to have some alone time with you so that He can shape you into a vessel that He can fill, so that you may pour out into others.

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Walking the path to your purpose

10846337_10203187423746321_5228810459576158689_nSomething you often hear from Christians is: What is my purpose? We often struggle with our purpose because we have an idea of what we want to do with our lives. From the time we’re children under the age of 10, many of us have dreams of what we wanna be when we grow up. On into high school and college, we’ll take classes and pick majors that line up with what we feel we wanna do. We do things that line up with our will. But all of that should change once we turn our lives over to Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing your dreams, and scripture tells us that God will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalms 37:4), as long as it’s within His will (1 John 5:14). But as far as our purpose in concerned, as Christians, it should always be according to what God would have us to do.

The trouble we have is walking the path to our purpose. We all seem to want the purpose, but not the process that comes with living it. Even when following our dreams, there can be steps that we have to take that aren’t necessarily glamorous, but necessary in order to achieve what it is that we desire. The same is true with our purpose. There are times when God sends us through some things on our way to that purpose. It’s so easy to look up during these times and feel lost and confused, as if we’re not on track with what we’re supposed to do. This is where our faith is supposed to kick in.

When the children of Israel were led out of Egypt by Moses, there was a destiny awaiting them in Canaan. But in order to get to that destiny, they had to cross a river and spend some time in the wilderness. They had to overcome an obstacle and then go through years of preparation (which included some people and some habits dying off) in order to reach their promise. What this means is that in order to reach what God has promised for us, we sometimes have to be in uncomfortable situations. Situations where it seems as if there’s no progress or growth, but if we continue to walk the path ordered by God, we will eventually receive His promise.

Part of getting to our purpose is doing what God has ordered us to do right now. Even if it’s not what we want to do, it may be essential to what God wants us to do. At issue is the fact that we’re more focused on the finish than we are on the race. There are times when we’re doing things that seem to be (according to our understanding) a waste of time. However, it may in fact be those things that will lead us to our purpose. We get frustrated because we don’t know all of the steps to our purpose. Only God knows that. So when we feel we’re lost, we could very well be on track. It may not be comfortable, but necessary. The only way to find comfort during this time is to surrender our will to God’s will and trust Him along the journey.

If I may share my testimony, I started writing in my teenage years in high school. I started out writing poems and short stories. I was also a musician, playing in the school orchestra and dabbling in other instruments like guitar and piano. My plan was to put my gift of poetry and music together and become a professional musician. After graduation, I enrolled myself in a college for creative students and began taking music theory. As far as I was concerned, I was on my way!

A few years after that, however, I found myself in broadcast school, learning radio and television production. My mother, recognizing my love for music, thought I might make a great deejay and brought me some information on the school. However, I fell in love with and excelled at television production, so after graduation, I went that route instead. I still had dreams of fame, but now as a television producer/director.

After working in that industry for 7 years, I felt writing calling me again, so I began writing my first book. In the midst of doing that, I started making music on my computer. Though signs were there, and even the call on my life from God had come (with me running from it), I had no plans to become a minister. That was my ordained purpose from God, given to me from the time I was in my mother’s womb, but I couldn’t see it because, as far as my eyes were concerned, the path I was on said anything but minister.

PhotoGrid_1432925643414Fast forward to today, and it’s all clear to me now. I’m now the author of 6 books, the last three spiritual in nature, and references to God and His Word are all throughout the first three. I now host a weekly radio broadcast where I can use the training I received in broadcast school. The theme music for my broadcast was something I created on my computer 13 years before I ever had a radio broadcast. It was something I created for my personal enjoyment, never knowing how it would ever figure in ministry down the road. I’m now using my editing skills from my video background to create YouTube videos (we’ve only scratched the surface with this).

When God finally called me into the ministry, He begin to open up my understanding as to why I had gone down all of these different roads in life. I thought I was gonna be famous, but He wanted me to preach His Word. The ministry that He has called me to is unique. It’s not just a ministry for the pulpit or to be used only inside the church walls. For this specific time, in a very specific way, God prepared me for a very unique ministry. I didn’t understand the plan or the purpose, but I walked every road He told me to walk. For that reason, I’m able to do ministry exactly as He’s called me to.

Scripture tells us that the steps of a good man are ordered by The Lord (Psalms 37:23). If there’s anything I want anyone reading this to remember, it is the fact that there will be times when you’re walking certain roads in life and it will seem as if you have no clue of why you’re doing what you’re doing. It will seem as if what you’re doing is fruitless. I’m here to tell you that if you’ve given your life to Christ, you are what the scripture calls a “good man” (or woman). This means that God has ordered your steps. This means that just because you don’t know where you are, it doesn’t mean that God doesn’t know where you are. He won’t order your steps without mapping out your path. You must surrender your will (what you had planned for your life) to His will (what God has ordered for your life).

If we are servants of God, then we must come to understand that a servant has no will. A servant’s desire is to do the will of his master. In this case, we are all bound by Romans 8:28, which states that we are called to God’s purpose, not our own. Once you accept that, then you’ll truly know the difference between being lost and being uncomfortable. And when you’re living according to God’s purpose, there can be no greater definition to your life.

Are you running your race: God provides all of us with the opportunity for success

Old-NewAt one point or another in life, we find ourselves in a mad scramble to be what man has deemed a success. We watch television or look on social media, see what someone else has, and then begin envisioning what it would be like for us to have the same things. But as Christians, have we really considered what God has to say on the matter?

Whenever I teach on prosperity, I remind people that God has a different idea of success. We see material, God sees spiritual. We see a piece of the pie, God sees peace of mind. I recently stated on my radio show that success is a relative term. For someone that’s been poor all of their life, it may be money. For someone that’s been sick, it may be health. For someone with an addiction, it may be being clean and sober. All these things matter, and yet, they can seem elusive as well.

When looking at Ecclesiastes 9:10-12, I find that success isn’t always within the grasp of our own abilities. Sure, God has blessed us with said abilities, but we’ve all seen or known of someone that doesn’t seem to have lived up to their capabilities. We’ve all known people that seem to be well short of what they’re able to be. And the truth is, some of us may not be all that our abilities suggest we should be. But know that God wouldn’t give you the ability, without giving you the opportunity to utilize it. As we go through these verses, we will see that God will open the doors of chance, no matter where we are in life.

Let’s analyze the text:

10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest

In its simplest terms, this verse is telling us to work to our strength and ability while we yet have time. The popular phrase is stated “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”. We often assume that we have time to do things, but how is it that we reach this conclusion? How do we know how much time we really have? (We’ll discuss this thinking when we get to Verse 12)

God wants us to know that we can’t do any work in the grave or beyond it. We must use all of the strength (might) that we have now to do whatever work needs to be done. Our earthly abilities have no value after we leave earth. We must take advantage of the life, health, and strength that God is giving us right now.

We often take the strength of our youth and use it to “live”. But as we wind down and aren’t capable of doing the things that we used to do, we then want to serve God from our seats. Well, God needs a youthful and energetic Christian, as well as a seasoned saint that can serve mentally when they can no longer do so physically.

11 I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all

One of my pet peeves with Scripture is misquoting and misapplication. This particular Scripture is one of the most misquoted Scriptures in the Bible, particular because of one portion. If you think about it, we’ve often heard this Scripture quoted in sermons, by people, and most definitely is song as “the race is not given to the swift nor strong”. Now, it seems like a small thing, but we must consider what Scripture is and its purpose before we go rearranging and even leaving out words. Scripture is God speaking to man and telling us through His Word how He expects us to live. Adding or taking away anything can confuse the message.

If I tell you that the “race is not given to the swift nor strong”, you become focused only on the race that you’re running. However, if I tell you, as Scripture states, that “the race is not given to the swift, nor the battle to the strong”, you’re aware that there will be a race and a battle. When this Scripture gets twisted, we’re prepared to run, but not to battle. This is why the devil loves a misquoted Scripture because it keeps us unprepared. You can’t properly apply what you don’t fully understand.

Once we do understand the Scripture in full, we can then apply what it’s saying to us. This 11th Verse keeps us focused on what it is that God has for us. Too often, we’re looking around at others that seem to be moving at a faster pace than we are, or they seem to be in a position of power that we desire for ourselves. However, we must continue to run the race that is before us. We must prepare for the battles that we have to face.

Additionally, people that seem to be faster than we are or stronger than we are, aren’t necessarily doing better than we are. God wants us to understand in this verse that what is for you will be there as long as you’re moving at your designed pace. We are required to do what God has designed us to do, and as long as we stay in that mode, the end of this verse tells us that time and opportunity will present itself. By running your own race and staying in your own lane, you will be prepared when presented with both.

12 For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them

Here, we find a conclusion to the thoughts stated in Verses 10 and 11. We have to remain focused on our task because we have no idea when our last day is upon us. I’ve often taught in Bible class that God gives us as much time as we need, no more, no less. This is why it bothers me when I hear Christians state that God took someone from physical life to death too soon. It’s an emotional statement that suggests that God makes mistakes, that He somehow doesn’t know what He’s doing, or that something is happening that is beyond His control. Death may sneak up on us, but it never will on God.

Also in this verse, death is discussed in unflattering terms. Fishes caught in an “evil” net. Birds caught in a “snare”. The sons of man “snared in an evil time”. This verse reminds us that death is at times unexpected and even unsettling. We’ve all been caught off guard by the way a person dies. This is what causes us to say things like “too soon” or “this isn’t of God”. But what this verse was designed to do is remind us that death can be sudden, and therefore we must really consider Verses 10 and 11.

It concludes that thought that we must live while we can. We must work on whatever gifts God has given us while we can, and do it to His glory. We must work to the level of our own strengths, and not to what we perceive others to be doing, because God will present us with opportunities for success in due time. It doesn’t matter how strong, gifted, intelligent, or financially blessed we are. If we fail to take advantage of the time and opportunity that God gives us to succeed, it won’t matter and we’ll fail to see success that matches what we were blessed with.

Also, we must forgive while we can because Verse 12 tells us that death can come upon us suddenly and we may not have as much time for reconciliation as we think. We must be willing to live in the moment as God has prospered us. Be active in our God-given abilities, not merely spectators of others. Not only is God able, but He’s made us able as well.