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Summary: A motivational sermon to preach at the graduation of Seniors.

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Advice to Graduates and Other Folk

Philippians 3:13-14 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

l. THE MAN – PAUL

-He was a legend in his field but I had never thought of him as a role model or as a leadership executive.

-Yet, as I read through the highlights of his life, I understood that he lived at the heart of a startup venture that faced overwhelming odds from the outset. He took a very ambitious goal and walked out of the private sector and invested in the international arena. The folly of this was that he had not capital and no employees.

-When one observed the whole situation, there were earmarks of failure all over the whole venture. He faced tremendous opposition to his plans, both from within and without his organization.

-There were dangerous barriers in many of his target markets and foremost among this, his opposition was intent on killing him. . . . . . literally. Yet somehow, his plan succeeded.

-This leader was not one that I heard speak at some workshop nor watched a video. I read his story in an unexpected place–the pages of the Bible.

-Right at two-thousand years ago, this man from Tarsus, helped launch an enterprise that changed the history of the world. In a time before faxes, cell phones, e-mail, the Internet, and even mass printing technology. But in the course of around seventeen years, he dazzled a disinterested market that shaped the lives of thousands who lived during his time and millions who have since been born.

-Because of his commitment to a mission in life, he took every opportunity to share his vision, invest in up and coming young leaders, and endured when most others would have tossed the towel in frustration.

-From his life, I hope to share with you a few principles that will help in the days and years to come. Success is not an accident. It is something that is carefully sought after and embraced and more often than not is like the starting of a small fire in the winter wilderness. It will have to be carefully sheltered and coaxed along until finally the fire gains a foothold in the cold, wet wood and begins to roar with purpose.

ll. PRINCIPLES FOR LIFE

A. The First Principle – Grow In The Desert – Galatians 1:17

Galatians 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.

-After Paul was delivered from his blindness on the way toward Damascus, the Lord determined to send him to the regions of Arabia. This marks only one destination, the desert.

-The desert often becomes the spiritual boot camp for a man’s soul. It is in the desert that a work in the Spirit will occur, if we allow it to. Desert seasons often are slow and unproductive. It could be that the desert season is weeks, months, or even years.

The immensity of the desert overwhelms both the power and the weakness of men. Ivan Illich

-In the desert, we realize that everything does not revolve around us. In fact, we are finally forced to admit that the responsibility of changing the world does not belong to us. Paul would not avoid his desert, he would face it head on and emerge a better man.

-Deserts are:

• Dry

• Dusty

• Brittle

• Barren

• Dangerous

-But the Arabian desert became the place where Paul would find preparation, consecration, and healing. For three long years, Paul was hidden away in this desert. But you must learn to grow in your desert. I have lived long enough to learn this one thing: Exceptional work is preceded by extended waiting.

-A desert can strip away our pride and self-centeredness. It can help us to develop thick skin and a tender heart. You must learn to grow in the desert places of life.

-The Bible is full of men who experienced a desert:

• It was in the desert of dejection of Elijah that God spoke best to him.

• It was in the wearying desert of lonely faith that God came again to Abraham.

• It was in the desert of failure that Peter found God.

• It was in the desert of the dangerous that Jacob had his wrestling match with God.

• It was in the desert of loneliness that Moses would get the Law from God.

• It was in the desert of barrenness that Hannah prevailed.

• It was in the desert of fear mixed with weak faith that Esther approached Ahaserus.

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