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1 Cor 15:9-10
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
There are lots of voices clamoring to be heard today–some good, some not so good, and some down right damaging. God is speaking. Satan is speaking. A whole host of isms cry to be heard as well. Who to listen to and how to listen is an art in itself. But to listen to the voices within, that’s an absolute necessity. The voices of the soul scream at us from time to time. Do we listen? I can think of at least four voices within.
1. First Voice: “I am not what I used to be.”
This is the voice of MEMORY. Even bad memories can be helpful–in the sense that they keep us humble and dependent upon God. They help us see how far we have come by God’s grace. They help us to give praise and glory to God.
Paul remembered that he was a persecutor of believers and it served him well to remember.
Illus. “Jack Eckerd’s Change” (see Illustrations Unlimited, Hewett, pp.46,47)
2. Second Voice: “I am not what I ought to be.”
This is the voice of CONSCIENCE. Who of us would dare say that we are all that we could be? No matter how far along in the Christian way, there is room for improvement. For example, couldn’t we:
• pray more?
• care more?
• witness more?
• be more thankful?
• be more loving?
• be more holy?
Beware of the sin of complacency!
The great apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God had called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Illus.: “Stuck in the Mud”
A rural church had one member who insisted he was the best Christian in town but who rarely attended services or gave anything of his time, abilities, or money to the Lord’s work. The pastor would challenge him from time to time, but he always had the same answer: “Preacher, I may not seem to make much progress, but my faith is firmly established.” Then one day when he was hauling a heavy load of logs, his truck got stuck in the mud at the side of the road and couldn’t budge. Just then the pastor happened by and couldn’t resist the opportunity to remark, “Well brother, I see you’re not making much progress, but you are surely firmly established.”
3. Third Voice: “I am not what I hope to be.”
This is the voice of ASPIRATION. The two great aspirations of the Christian are:
■ To be more Christlike
■ To enter heaven’s gates and take as many with us as we can.
What spiritual goals have you set for yourself?
When Abraham Lincoln was a boy he husked corn three days to pay for a second-hand copy of “The Life of Washington.” After he had read the book he said, “I don’t intend to shuck corn and split rails all my life.” When asked what he aspired to, he said, “Someday I’ll be president of the U.S.” They laughed at young Abe, but we don’t
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