6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Living up to our potential in Christ.



INTRODUCTION: I get discouraged sometimes when I’m out and about and I see so many people just doing nothing. Just sitting on the steps, sometimes drinking. Sometimes it might just be someone chilling out after a hard day. But when you see many of the same people doing this at any given time of the day, you tend to wonder, ‘is this what your day consists of? And then the question comes, ‘why’. Are you thinking that this is the best it’s ever going to be? Is this all you have to live for? Some people are like this because of laziness. They could do something, but they won’t. But there are others who are this way because of discouragement. But what about spiritually? Are we just going through the motions? Are we just methodically going through our everyday routine without taking advantage of opportunities? Are we just surviving or are we thriving?

1) FTT: FAILURE TO THRIVE. Article (part one) highlights. What keeps us in that FTT mode?

a) Chaos. Chaos distracts us from the structured elements that will cause us to thrive. When we’re going in a hundred different directions, how can we be making any headway? Instead of trying to keep up, we need to calm down. Then we will be able to start making differences in important areas.

b) Confusion. This can go hand in hand with chaos. When we’re confused about who we are, what we’re doing and where we’re going, how can we thrive? We might always have some questions regarding specifics, but if we’re going to be thriving Christians then we need to step out of the confusion that keeps us ineffective and unproductive.

c) Conflict. Satan is in constant conflict with us. He tempts us to draw us away from being about the things that will cause us to thrive. Satan will be about setting up roadblocks and obstacles that will be meant to keep us from thriving. When we allow sin to enter in we are failing to thrive.

d) Constriction. When we feel constricted, it’s hard to see any way out. When we can’t see the ray of light, it can be difficult to believe it’s still there. So when we feel constricted we settle for just existing, just surviving. When we don’t see or take the way out from beyond the walls that are closing in on us we fail to thrive.

2) STRIVE TO THRIVE. Article (part two) highlights. Dictionary, strive: ‘to exert strenuous efforts’. Striving isn’t made up of half-hearted devotion. When I strive I’m giving it 100%. What can help us to thrive spiritually?

a) Persecution. What? Persecution can help me to thrive? John MacArthur- ‘Persecution is wonderful. It brings maturity, blessing, glory and joy. There is nothing negative about persecution. It is a positive thing. Persecution forces us to lean on Jesus. It we didn’t receive persecution then we would not bother to depend on the Lord for strength. We should pray that God would bring us persecution and trails so that in our weakness His strength may be made perfect. Because persecution makes us lean on the Lord, it is good for us.’ Romans 8:35-37. ‘More than conquerors’. We don’t just endure; we grow. By striving to gain the most from our trials and hardships we are more than survivors-we are thrivers.

b) Purpose. William Durant-‘To give life meaning, one must have a purpose larger than one’s self’. I talked to a guy this week that is in his 50’s. He’s lived a hard life littered with abuse and drug and alcohol addiction. But he’s hoping to be able to go back to school and finish his degree. He said, ‘If God will open the doors, I’ll go through them and do things right this time; and I’ll give him the glory. I know God has a purpose for my life.” If we’re going to be thrivers, we need to have a sense of godly purpose.

c) Plan. Quote-“Failing to plan is but planning to fail.” In Atlanta an 84-year-old widow became quite bored with watching TV and reading the paper. She decided that she wanted to minister to others. She took out a small add in the paper which read, “Pianist will play hymns over the phone to shut-ins”. Within 3 days of issuing the add, she had received 300 phone calls. She played favorite hymns and listened to those who were alone. She eventually ministered to over 12,000 people. When asked why she did it she replied, “Church taught me to love hymns and to love people.” Even though she was 84, she realized she still had a purpose. But having a purpose isn’t beneficial unless there’s a plan to carry it out. So she enacted a plan to carry out her God-given purpose. And many benefited through it.

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