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Summary: A sermon of encouragement to those who may be going through unforeseen trials and other life challenges.

INTRODUCTION

Say: Today is a different kind of day in our church - we have always been in transition, well, ever since I arrived as the new pastor and that was expected. But as I come to you today, I believe that the transition that started seven and a half months ago has taken a different turn, and in the next couple of weeks, we will begin to see and understand more of what that means for us as a church and the people of God – B&S, I don’t know what all lies ahead of us because God has not told me everything, but I can say this much, he has revealed to me in no uncertain terms that I must press forward towards the mark of the high calling in which is Christ Jesus.

Saints of God, hear me, our church will not just survive, but will thrive and go on to become the great and vibrant Church that God has called it to be. Friends, we are in good hands – and I am sure of this because we are not in the hands of a Bahamian preacher, but rather it is in the hands of a Jewish carpenter and preacher from Galilee –

We are in the hands of the man who has defied nature and calmed a storm one day – he is familiar with storms….

We are in the hands of a man who called dead people from the grave,

So be encouraged, we are in good hands because we are in the hands of a man who one day walked on water –

Turned water into wine - Fed five thousand with two small fishes and five rolls, and had left- plenty left over for the next day…. Central, we are in good hands because we are still in the hands of a man who though he was crucified, dead and buried and just when Satan thought he had him defeated, the Bible says that He arose from the dead triumphantly and declared that all power is given unto me in heaven and on earth… and so I say to you today, take heart, don’t be discouraged, because, like he said to Joshua in Joshua ch. 1:9 – “Be strong and courageous. Don’t tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go – B&S, God and God alone is able to see us through. Listen here Central, we are going through because God is with us and He is on our side…

Speaking to the apostle Peter one day, Jesus reminded him that the church is his and the gates of hell will not prevail against it – You remember what he said in Matt. 16: 18, “upon this rock…… God has not changed his mind about his church…. Central, God is calling us to a higher place of service – praise, worship – love – forgiveness – reconciliation – evangelism… calling us to another level in him but we have to stay focused. And that is what I want to talk to us about today. “Stay focused.” I mean do not allowed yourself to get distracted by the noise in the market…

But in order to sat focused, we have to do a few things – and I believe this text prescribes exactly what we need to do to “stay focused.” You see, staying focused means staying in the race – it means keeping your eyes on the prize – it means not letting discouragement cause you to give up and quit. So what must we do. Read v-1 a.

1. Staying focused means that we must “Take a good look around us”. A call for us to look at those who have gone before us. “Therefore.”

B&S, I believe that there are some of you in here today who are on the brink of giving up, some of you may be frustrated, tired, fed up with church, sick of church people, sick of religion and religious hypocrisy, your emotions are running wild, but I want you to hear the Lord this morning as he speaks to us, God is saying to all of us in here today, look around you, even the great heroes of the faith did not always have it good, did not always achieve everything they set out to achieve, great men and women of the Bible had to struggle to finish their races as they sought to please God - they had to struggle to be counted as worthy in the sight of God – and this text is saying to all of us,

look at them -

learn from them -

live what they have lived –

B&S, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses…. Why and who are they…Look at ch. 11 – it reminds us of being at the grand Bahama sports center – we are the athletics and the witnesses are like the fans sitting in the bleachers looking at us and cheering for us…as we run around the track.

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