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Summary: If we do not have support systems we risk losing strength and stability. Everyone needs support systems. How do you draw strength for the journey? If you don’t have a close spiritual advisor, mentor, friend, you may want to look for one.

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I read a great little story this week. “In 1904 William Borden, heir to the Borden Dairy Estate, graduated from a Chicago high school a millionaire. His parents gave him a trip around the world. Traveling through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe gave Borden a burden for the world’s hurting people. Writing home, he said, "I’m going to give my life to prepare for the mission field." When he made this decision, he wrote in the back of his Bible two words: No Reserves. Turning down high paying job offers after graduation from Yale University, he entered two more words in his Bible: No Retreats. Completing studies at Princeton Seminary, Borden sailed for China to work with Muslims, stopping first at Egypt for some preparation. While there he was stricken with cerebral meningitis and died within a month. A waste, you say! Not in God’s plan. In his Bible underneath the words No Reserves and No Retreats, he had written the words No Regrets.”

- Text: Paul was dying. Reflecting to his young protégé, Timothy, offering advice and wisdom based on his own life experiences. His summary of his life led him to declare in 2 Timothy 4:7

- There are insights we can gather from Paul to ensure a similar confident testimony at the end of our lives. Looking through Paul’s writings in the New Testament I found eight principles that led Paul to live with “no regrets”. Sure there are others

1. Get to know what God wants

Paul’s sense of God’s purposes was absolutely clear. Few quick examples:

- Paul: “Called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God (Ro 1:1)

- Of Believers: “To all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints” (Ro 1:7) “by the will of God” (2 Ti 1:1).

- Speaks of suffering hardship so people could have salvation through Jesus Christ – 2 Ti 2:10

- Read 2 Ti 3:1-5… avoid people who have such interests. God wants holy relationships

- Paul had no doubt about his purpose in God’s plans.

Over the years people asked me “how did you know God called you to be a pastor? High school career experiments – discontent – deep satisfaction in doing church-related stuff.

We need to “get to know” what God wants, meaning over time we learn, develop, grow and achieve.

2. Build a support system

- Colossians 4, section called “Fellow Workers” – Verses 7-17 Paul mentions Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Barnabas, Mark, Jesus called Justus, Epaphras, Luke and Archippus

- 2 Tim 4:9, “Do your best to come to me quickly” or “get here as fast as you can” (MSG) – desperately needed encouragement

- 1 Thess. 3:2 – sent Timothy on a ministry run to strengthen and encourage the believers

- 1 Thess, 5:25, “pray for us” – don’t be afraid to ask for support

(John R. Brokhoff, Preaching the Miracles) When the Statue of Liberty was remodeled, it was discovered that the entire inside support system had to be replaced. The outside copper skin of the statue was okay; workers cleaned that and it was fine. The inner iron supports were corroded and rusting away however. If Without attention Liberty would have fallen in 20 years. Workers replaced the iron supports with stainless steel. Now it can withstand 125 mph winds. Brokhoff said, “A nation without inner supports of moral integrity is doomed to lose her liberty.” If we do not have support systems we risk losing strength and stability. Everyone needs support systems. How do you draw strength for the journey? If you don’t have a close spiritual advisor, mentor, friend, you may want to look one.

3. Be accountable

Being accountable is a Biblical principle.

- Jesus, Matthew 12:36, accountable on judgement day for our careless words.

- Romans 13 – accountability to government and social order

- Romans 14:12 – Paul warns we will individually give account to for our actions

Accountability requires being vulnerable enough to allow someone to explore your habits, priorities and neglect. Chuck Swindoll for example, has seven questions that he and a group of fellow pastors challenge each other with regularly:

1. Have you been with a woman anywhere this past week that might be seen as compromising?

2. Have any of your financial dealings lacked integrity?

3. Have you exposed yourself to any sexually explicit material?

4. Have you spent adequate time in Bible study and prayer?

5. Have you given priority time to your family?

6. Have you fulfilled the mandates of your calling?

7. Have you just lied to me?

- Accountability is the picture Paul paints in Galatians 6:1-2

4. Keep a clear conscience

I read an interesting story of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. “Throughout his administration, Abraham Lincoln was a president under fire, especially during the scarring years of the Civil War. And though he knew he would make errors of office, he resolved never to compromise his integrity. So strong was this resolve that he once said, "I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me." (Today in the World)

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