Greatness

Paving the Way With Strength

“If you are not dead, you are not done.” – Pastor Michael M. Cook

God has something for you. Regardless of failures and setbacks, greatness awaits the man who pursues it.

Wrapping up the Manology sermon series in Judges 16, Pastor Michael M. Cook shared what men can do to live in the strength God has given them.

Samson made one mistake after another, creating immense stress in his life. He ignored all warning signs and never took corrective action to be the man God had set him apart to be.

How does this happen? How does a man find himself on a path of brokenness and struggle? The answer is one bad choice at a time. Failure isn’t usually a one and done mistake. It is gradual and ongoing in smaller increments.

Failure inevitably creeps into every life. What happens with that is what makes the difference. It takes great courage to ask God for strength, for one more chance to set things on the right path. We see Samson ask God for one more chance when he brings down the temple, destroying countless Philistines.

Failure is not final. John 10:10 reminds us that Satan would have us think so, but sometimes God’s greatest work comes through our greatest failures.

Do something different. Take corrective action today. Don’t just hope for things to be different.

“We cannot become what we need by remaining what we are. If you don’t change the direction you are going, you’ll likely end up where you are headed.” – Michael M. Cook

Great men pursue greatness every day. Live a life filled with integrity. Be faithful to the Lord. Sadly, Samson waited his entire life to seek God as he should. What are you doing today to pursue the greatness God has laid out for your life?

Listen to the podcast here and learn more about what it means to be a man of God.

 

 

Stephen

By Trey Sullins

A few weeks ago I watched to see who would receive the title of the greatest in college football. The Heisman would go to the one competing at the highest level. I was fascinated by the videos of each player. Film reels did not just start in college, and were not just shots of the games played. Each player’s tape reflected years of playing, and hours and hours of practice time. Laboring in all types of weather, enduring the pain, and staying focused on the prize. The prize of greatness was at stake.

Most of us know we will never earn the right to strike the Heisman pose, but something in all of us craves some kind of greatness. For believers, that craving often comes when we meet or read about a person in their Christian walk that God is allowing to be part of His great plan. They are people used by God to give the gospel to many, or those trusted to go overseas in His name. We read the stories in the Bible of the true legends of faith, knowing what was done in the name of God by men like Abraham, Moses and Paul was nothing less than greatness. It also seems like that one thing that can rarely be attained…. The greatness for God.

In my study to see what the Bible would say about greatness I found myself with Stephen. Acts 6 starts the account we have of this man of greatness. In its briefness, we can see true keys to greatness.

First, those who are great for God make it clear from where their greatness comes. It is clear that Stephen is full of the Holy Spirit. Greatness cannot be achieved alone. No matter if it is greatness for God or greatness in football. When we choose to surrender our lives to God we are filled with the Holy Spirit; filled with His greatness. Never again will we be called to do anything on our own power.

Second, we see that those who are great spend a massive amount of time preparing. Stephen was a Jew, and God used him to speak to the Jews. He was ready for the role God had for him because he had prepared. Stephen spends all of chapter 7 in Acts reciting the ways God worked in the Old Testament. As he gave example after example, it clear Stephen knew the Scripture. He had learned the truth about God from the writings and teachings.

There is no short cut to greatness. God is able to use those who choose to take the time to prepare their hearts for Him. He uses those who take the time to know Him, and there is no way to know Him without knowing His Word.

Third, Stephen teaches us is that greatness doesn’t guarantee a happy ending. A believer who is great for God is not guaranteed an ideal outcome, just like winning the Heisman trophy doesn’t guarantee playing time at the next level or the ideal injury free career. Oh, we can know it will be exactly what God wants for us, but His will does not always line up with what the world would tell us is best.

The believer who finds His greatness in God has to hold on to the truth that God’s plan is perfect even if it doesn’t line up with ours. In Stephen’s case, it cost him his life.

Such a simple formula to write about, yet it often seems impossible. Like the three sitting on the front row, waiting for the chance to hold the Heisman trophy, those who run the race for the true prize are part of a slim crowd. These are the few that understand the prize at stake and what it takes to achieve the title when it is all said and done. “Well done, good and faithful Servant”. (Matthew 25:23)

Listen to The Great Ones sermon series here.

 

 

A Humble Witness

By Ty Haguewood

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”  John 1:29-34

Greatness is not measured on some type of outward success but rather an inward faithfulness to God. It is vital for us to understand that the “Great Ones” are only great because of their faithfulness to God.

The world desires for us to believe that greatness is a characteristic of someone who has had outward success such as a certain income or social status like fame. The men that we will be discussing in the next several weeks are men who gave their life to following the Lord.

John the Baptist has such an incredible testimony. I am extremely challenged by the life of John for several reasons. I just want to give you two life changing truths that John the Baptist taught me.

John’s entire life was leading to the moment he would meet his Savior, Jesus.

I remember months ago reading the story of John the Baptist when the Lord revealed something HUGE to me. I have always been a person that thought purpose was an outward calling. After God saved me, I became obsessed with figuring out what my “purpose” in life would be. I stumbled across the testimony of John and was broken by the beautiful testament of John’s faith. I mean this dude’s purpose was to prepare the way for Jesus and before he could even see the ministry of Jesus completely fulfilled he is beheaded. Meditating on the simple, “Behold, the Lamb of God…” left be baffled to say the least. John’s entire life was fulfilled when he met Jesus, his hope had arrived.

Shouldn’t that be our response to the Lord? BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD! John saw the Lamb approaching and he was compelled to start shouting and crying out those bold words. Can I show you something special? The Lamb that approached John is the Lamb that ransomed you and I. John showed me that our purpose is Jesus.

John’s faithfulness was not dependent on whether he would receive a great reward. His faithfulness was dependent on the Savior that would soon be coming.

John was called to baptize with water and preach of the coming Messiah without having known when or who this Messiah would be. This is crazy to me!! The calling God placed on his life was good enough for him because of the God who called him rather than the outcome that would come of his life. Our obedience and faithfulness to God should never be dependent on an outcome. Faithfulness to God looks like following Him regardless of where that ends up and how crazy you may look in doing so.

John’s life does not end in the greatest of ways. After being imprisoned, John the Baptist is beheaded. The Lord used the life of John the Baptist to shape and mold who I am today. My earnest desire is to get to the end of my life having had faith like that of John. Let me leave you with some words from our Lord and Savior, Jesus about John.

When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, ‘Behold I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Luke 7:24-28

Listen to The Humble One via podcast here.