The spiritual condition of America, politics, culture, and current events, analyzed through the lens of scripture. Welcome to the Alex McFarland Show. What is the secret of success, and is it even appropriate for a Christian to think about, to talk about success?
Hi, Alex McFarland here. I'm so glad you're listening to the program today, because I want to talk about some of God's principles for victory. And I want to say that yes, we Christians are to think about goals.
We're to think about disciplining our lives to become everything the Lord wants us to be. And part of the good news is, as a Christian, you know, it doesn't really matter what your age is. You can get on God's train at any juncture of life. I mean, let's say you're into sports. Well, there's going to come a day when you can't really be as athletic as you might have wanted to be.
Let's say that you've had some aspirations, and there are some limitations just based on our physical frailties. But as a Christian, in the spiritual sense, no matter where you are along life's journey, you can plug in and begin to experience the victory that God has for you. Now, I'm going to talk a little bit about Matthew 4.11, because there was a time after much temptation. Christ had been in the wilderness fasting, praying for forty days, and Satan tempted him. And I'm going to talk about how we get victory over temptation, discouragement, setbacks. Matthew 4.11, the Word of God says this about Jesus, who successfully deflected all of Satan's darts.
It says, The devil left him, and angels came and attended to him. Isn't that wonderful? Now, you might ask, as I get this question just about every day of the week, people say, What is God's will for me? And by that, people often mean, Do I pursue this vocation? Do I live here?
Should I move there? You know, whom should I marry? Things like that. What is God's will for me? I want to tell you what God's will for you is. And you're listening to this. I've not met you. Maybe we're hundreds of miles apart. And yet I know, based on the Word of God, I know what is God's will for your life. You might say, Alex, you don't even know me.
It's okay. Number one, obviously, God's will is that you be born again. And so if you've never trusted Christ, then obviously that is message number one. Open your heart and be saved.
That is the most urgent need you have. More urgent than money, more needful than anything is to make sure that you have a relationship with the true and living God. And then you grow as a believer. But 1 Thessalonians 4 verse 3 says, This is the will of God, your sanctification. Now I want to circle back to that in just a moment.
But sanctification, what that means and what is God's will for you. I had the privilege of having a conversation earlier today as I record this. I had a conversation, made a new friend today, Pat Williams. And Pat Williams has just an iconic career in pro sports. In fact, he started playing baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies and played pro baseball. And then if that weren't enough, I mean, any, you know, millions of people, mostly guys would be envious about that, playing pro baseball. And Pat Williams told me stories about meeting Pete Rose, spending long periods of time with Pete Rose. Did you know that after Pete Rose played with the Cincinnati Reds, he had a successful career with the Philadelphia Phillies? And then spending lots of time with George Steinbrenner, Tommy Lasorda, Billy Martin, Yankee Hall of Famer Bobby Richardson, Yogi Berra.
I mean, the iconic, iconic people of baseball. That in itself would have been an enviable career. And then he went into pro basketball. And he was part owner and manager of the Chicago Bulls and designed their logo, famous iconic Bulls logo.
Spent time with people like Michael Jordan, then became the co-founder and owner of the Orlando Magic and so many other things. But you know what Pat Williams was telling me as he shared his life and he's written books on leadership and achievement. And he said, even in spite of all the accomplishments in the world of pro sports, no scandal, great career, decorated career. He said he had an emptiness inside of him. And it wasn't until he was in South Carolina and through a series of events, he heard about Jesus Christ and how Jesus died on the cross and would offer forgiveness and new life. And he said, really, he had an emptiness that was nothing could fill it, no achievement, no money, all of the goal setting and reaching goals. But he said when he asked Jesus Christ into his life and he became a follower of Jesus, that he realized that was life's purpose. And what a great story. And I was talking to Pat Williams, and you know, he has watched people come and go from the heights of sports and fame and championships, World Series, playoffs, things like that. He said the secret is identity, focus, commitment.
Now you think about this. You might not be trying to put points on a scoreboard in pro ball, but any of us, look, it doesn't matter if you're trying to overcome a bad habit. Maybe there's some things about personal development.
And no matter what your age, I encourage you to always be in the pursuit of personal development. Maybe you've never read the Bible all the way through. Maybe you've never really even read a book all the way through. Maybe you've got emotional habits like unforgiveness and anger. And maybe you've got just discouragement and regret.
Understand in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can have a fresh start. Maybe you're a young person. Maybe you're in middle age. Maybe you're 20-something. Maybe you're elderly.
Maybe you've been on this earth a lot of decades. It doesn't matter. You can start with Jesus today. And like Pat Williams said, he said, first of all, there's identity, and then there's focus, and then there's commitment. Now identity, and really this is the starting point of being hopeful, positive, understanding that you're victorious. If you're a born-again believer, your identity, the real you, is that you're an overcomer. You're not defeated. You're not under the judgment of God. You're not a loser. You haven't wasted too much time. Your identity as a born-again, Spirit-filled child of God, sealed by the Spirit, you are a victor.
You really are. The Bible says that we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. And when the Apostle Paul wrote that, Christians were being killed in the gladiator games of Rome.
Paul himself went through multiple imprisonments, false accusations. And yet he said, we're more than conquerors. So understand your identity, then have focus. And Pat Williams was explaining to me, in a 51-year career of pro sports, that many people flame out because they really don't have focus. And here's the wording he used.
Listen, I was really trying to follow what he said. He said, you set some realistic goals, and then you don't get off on any rabbit trails. Now, what is your goal? Maybe you're trying to raise your kids in the ways of the Lord. Maybe you're trying to strengthen your marriage. Maybe you're trying to see your church grow. Maybe you're trying to accomplish something in your work. Maybe you're trying to write a book.
I don't know. Maybe you're trying to have a prayer life, but you've got to be focused. And he said, write it down, just like God told Habakkuk. Write the vision. And then finally, we're going to talk about this when we come back, is commitment or discipline. You cannot quit. And so God has made you to be an overcomer. But you need to understand your identity, and then focus on it, and then be committed to it. And we're going to tell you how the Lord can help you do that when we come back.
Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. What are you doing next summer?
Hey, how about this? I want to invite you to join me in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, August 6th through 11th, 2023, for the Faith and Family Retreat. It's going to be awesome. We'll talk about foundational things. What does it mean to be a disciple?
How can you defend your faith? Family time, concerts, renewal of wedding vows. It's going to be great. Then fun, a trip to Dollywood.
Who wouldn't like that? And then faith in action. There'll be a mission outreach, talking to people about Christ. So again, August 6th through 11th, 2023, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Go to faithandfamilyretreat.com. I hope to see you there. He's been called trusted, truthful, and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program.
Alex McFarland here. Before the break, I was sharing a conversation I had with Coach Pat Williams. He said, identity, focus, and discipline. Maybe this sounds daunting, but in your own life, I want to tell you that the degree of favor and success and really joy that you have to stay positive and to stay, you know, upbeat is going to depend on the amount of nutrition you give to your soul. And by that, I'm talking about the Word of God. Now, by filling your heart and your mind with the Word of God, you're going to be able to remember your identity, that you're not defeated. You're a child of the King. You're a son or daughter of the King.
Your name is written in high places. Jesus Christ will never leave you or forsake you. He is the friend who sticks closer than a brother, and he will not allow you to be tempted beyond that which you're able, but will with every temptation make a way of escape. And the Bible says also this, that he remembers our frame. See, God is very compassionate.
He says he knows that we are but dust. Now, the reason I'm saying these things, all of these things are scriptures. And Hebrews 12.2 says that we are to look unto Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith.
Basically the Hebrews 12.2 means that Jesus is the source for victory in all things. So identity. Remember who you are.
Then your focus. Now before the break, I mentioned Habakkuk. In Habakkuk chapter 2, God told the prophet Habakkuk, write the vision that he may run who reads it. I really think there's something important about writing goals down. I give God the glory. Angie and I, as a couple, have kept a lot of journals and notebooks. And I personally, as a Christian, as an owner of a peanut butter company, as a leader of a ministry, I write a lot of stuff down. Now, do I always make every single goal?
No, I don't make every goal. But God has enabled us to achieve a lot of them, and we've got goals for the next twenty, twenty-five years, even though the Lord might come back or I might not be here. But there is something about writing things down prayerfully, getting a word from God. And I want to say this, and folks, I believe it.
Two thousand churches, five dozen major citywide events, thousands of Christians that I've talked to, and it's been my joy to meet so many people. But I am convinced God has a plan for each and every Christian's life. God has things for you. God has good for you. This is Jeremiah 29, 11-13. Originally written in ancient Israel, God said, look, I know the thoughts I have towards you, thoughts of good, not of evil.
So God has things for you to do. And I want to say this, folks, about your focus. You'll never really be fulfilled until you know the assignment Christ has for you. And again, number one, get saved. Then 1 Thessalonians 4-3, be daily, increasingly, repeatedly sanctified. You're leaning into Jesus. You're prioritizing your walk with the Lord. You're in the Word of God. And it says, for this is the will of God, your sanctification. But even beyond that, to be born again than to be growing. You're not only a Christian, you're a disciple. You're a follower of Jesus. But then God has things for you. And let me say this.
Now hang with me here. God puts in you supernatural gifts and abilities. Now what are your spiritual gifts? And yes, every believer has spiritual gifts.
Sometimes people say to me, they'll say, you know, Alex, you're a gifted speaker. And if that be the case, I give God the glory. But you have a gift. Every born again believer has one or more spiritual gifts. Now no believer has all the gifts. And if you read in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul wrote about spiritual gifts.
He said, I don't want you to be ignorant on this. And there are different gifts, but the same Holy Spirit that imparts those gifts. And there's administration, and there's teaching, and there's discernment, and there's a words of wisdom, a word of knowledge, and there is faith, and there's prayer, and there's so many things. Read about spiritual gifts. Now you do, if you're a born again Christian, you have some type of gift, which is a supernatural ability God has put in you or ignited within you. And it's for the work of the gospel, serving in a local church.
It is in some way for the Great Commission. I never dreamed I would be a speaker. And those of you that have listened, you know my story. I'm the guy in 12th grade. I went to summer school rather than get up and give a speech. And to pass 12th grade English, I went to summer school, because I wouldn't get up in front of a group of 21 or two students and give a little book report. And if I had known that for the next 30 plus years of my life, five nights a week for a quarter century, I would be up in front of audiences of total strangers speaking, preaching, doing open Q&A, doing radio.
I never would have dreamed. But when I got saved, God put a call on my life. And you have a call on your life. So your identity is in Jesus. Your purpose and your focus know what your gifts are and what assignment God is calling you to do. And then there are multiple assignments throughout life. I look back and had a little Sunday school class I taught of one student, a young man named Dale. And for a couple of years, I taught a Sunday school class with one guy in it. And then I became a youth pastor and had half a dozen kids. But see, if you're faithful with A, God will take you to B, and you try to be obedient with B, and God will lead you to C. And friend, you'll look up one day and you're going to say, man, I've been on an adventure. What an exciting, fulfilling, purposeful life to do things for Jesus that He has set in front of me.
But then Pat Williams is right on the money. Not only your identity, not only your purpose, but then there's got to be commitment, discipline. Hey, don't quit. Don't throw in the towel. One thing about serving the Lord, you throw in the towel, He'll toss it right back at you. Galatians 6 verse 9 says, Let us not be weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap if we faint not. Maybe you've prayed for your spouse to find Christ.
And you say it's never happened. Well, don't give up, because it will happen eventually. I believe that. Maybe you're trying to overcome a bad habit. Maybe you're trying to get in shape. Maybe you're trying to listen to this. Now listen carefully. Maybe you're trying to give yourself permission to feel at peace.
Please do that. Look, you are complete in Christ and have need of nothing. The handwriting against you has been blotted out because you're saved.
So all of these things that you've aspired to and you say, Well, I've not really experienced it yet. Look, Jesus has every good thing for you. The Bible says He will not withhold any good thing from His children.
And that's why 1 Peter 2 says He is precious to us. And indeed He is. Stay tuned.
We've got another segment. We're going to tell you how to put all these things into practice. And in Christ, yes, you will be.
In fact, you already are victorious. Fox News and CNN call Alex McFarland a religion and culture expert. Stay tuned for more of his teaching and commentary after this. Over the last several decades, it's been my joy to travel the world talking with children, teens, adults, people of all ages about the questions they have related to God, the Bible, Christianity and how to know Jesus personally.
Hi, Alex McFarland. I want to make you aware of my book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity. You know, we interviewed hundreds of children and parents and families to find out the questions that children and people of all ages are longing to find answers for. In the book, we've got practical, biblical, real life answers that they have about how to be a Christian in this modern world. My book, The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask.
You can find it wherever you buy books or at resources.afa.net. He's been called trusted, truthful and timely. Welcome back to The Alex McFarland Show. Welcome back to the program, Alex McFarland. You're so honored you're listening. We're going to continue talking about victory over temptation, discouragement, defeat, victory through the power of God's Word. But before we continue, I want to remind you about some exciting things. These are very, very exciting days at Truth for a New Generation, Alex McFarland Ministries. Now, please listen carefully, and I want you to visit the website alexmcfarland.com. Check out the next, our big regional conferences Truth for a New Generation, Paris, Tennessee. This is pretty much equally distant between Memphis and Nashville. Beautiful part of the country. Super-duper beautiful in springtime. But we're going to be there April 21 through 23.
Myself, Abe Hamilton. The theme, it's going to be this. Truth matters.
And indeed it does. Confronting the issues that will shape our future. How do you respond to things like transgenderism, socialism, accusations of racism? What is the biblical worldview?
I mean, does the biblical worldview say anything about racism, moral issues, LGBTQ, trans? What about the future of our country standing up for America? Should we even care about America? Our home is in heaven. Do we just let the country implode?
No. This could be the exciting turnaround that energizes your Christian walk and witness for the next few years even. Truth for a New Generation. And we've got a special teen track. We've got speakers in the public, like middle school, high school. We've got a pastors meeting.
It's going to be tremendous. Truth for New Generation, Paris, Tennessee, April 21 through 23. Go to my website alexmcfarland.com. Sign up, please. Then our summer camps.
Oh my goodness. We've got seven summer camps all around the country—Indiana, New Jersey, Iowa, I'll be at, Colorado. And a couple of them are close to sold out.
And you can go to the website, which is equipretreat.org. We'll have 1250 teens in summer camps all summer long. And then one last thing that I want to ask a favor. But listen, July 7 through 9, I'll be at the Cove, the Billy Graham Training Center at the Cove. I'll be finishing up my series on 1st and 2nd Peter. This is going to be amazing. The Cove is so beautiful. Please pray about coming to the Cove. Then August 6 through 11, Pigeon Forge, Dollywood. We're doing an amazing Faith in Family retreat.
Great music from Big Daddy Weave, and so many speakers. And the Faith in Family retreat I would encourage you to come to. But let me say this, folks. Two radio shows a week, a television program on NRB, then a webcast called Truth and Liberty Live. We are speaking—now think about this. Between all that we're doing—and I give God the glory, and all we care about is to see people come to Christ—a potential audience of three billion people a month.
It's amazing. Now the actual audience? It's in the millions. Millions of millions. Potential audience.
Almost one third of the planet hears our broadcasting in a month. We give God the glory. But folks, we need your help. And so if you would give a tax-deductible contribution, you can give securely online at alexmcfarland.com, alexmcfarland.com, or you can mail in a tax-deductible check to PO Box 485, Pleasant Garden, North Carolina, 27313.
Pleasant Garden, North Carolina. Let me just say this. Every gift of $85 will underwrite a day of camp for a young person. So summer camp, all the things we do, and 1250 youth will be at our camps this summer, and 25 percent will make a salvation decision. The rest will pray.
It's going to be great. So I give God the glory for all that's going on in our various ministries. But let's talk about you and me as disciples, because we're talking about victory over temptation through the power of God's Word. And friends, I want to say this, that having that victory that Hebrews 12, 1, and 2 talks about, laying aside the weight and the sin that so easily besets us or entangles us, and knowing your identity, knowing who you are, and then knowing your purpose and having a focus, then commitment and discipline. You don't get weary, you don't fall and faint, and you certainly don't give up on what Christ has for you.
How do you do that? Well, I am convinced. The secret sauce, if you will, the X factor, that thing that is the difference between failure and success is the degree to which you fill your soul and your awareness, your mind, your thought life with the Word of God. It's been said that spiritual battle takes place between your ears. What does that mean? It means your brain.
Just two and a half, three pound object that is in your mind, your brain that is in your head, because there is so much about your thought life that is the key to standing or falling. Victory versus defeat, hope versus discouragement, to believe what is true. And see, here's one of the secrets, and psychologists write about this.
I remember 25 years ago when I was finishing a master's program in developmental psychology, even back then, they were talking about the fact that emotion flows out of thoughts. And many of you listening, I'm not saying you don't know the Lord, but you're believing things that are false, and you're discouraged. Your emotions are not where you want them to be because you've told yourself lies. Now the way you overcome lies is you fill yourself with the Word of God, because the Bible tells us so many things. We're to worship the Lord God and serve Him only. The Bible says in the book of James, if we resist the devil, he will flee from us. That's James 4 verse 7.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. You must believe what God says, because God is truth, and in Him is no lie and no darkness. God says He loves you. God says He will never abandon you. God says that you are very precious to Him. God says that you are a victor. God says that He has a purpose for your life. Good, not evil, to bring you to this plan He has.
Now let me read a scripture, and we're almost out of time, but I want to challenge you beginning today, and this will yield dividends, and then you'll look up and you've established good, positive, upbuilding, godly habits. Believe what is true. Don't believe Satan. Satan's a liar, the Bible says. The Bible says this in Ephesians 2, 2 through 3. You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.
There's the mind again. And were by nature children of wrath, just as others. Look, we no longer walk according to the course of this world. We're on a new path, the pathway of life with Christ, the Lord of life.
We were deceived by the prince of the power of the air, Satan, but now we're listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit of God. And we once were children, sons of disobedience, but now we know the one who has washed us clean, and we are followers of Jesus. And we followed the lust of the flesh.
No, we follow now the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. And Ephesians 2, 3 says there are the desires of the flesh and of the mind. Now the flesh and the depraved mind, what does it do?
Ephesians 2, 3 says it puts us under wrath. But the good news is, listen, you've come to Christ. You're saved. You're no longer a child of the flesh, but you've been born of the Spirit. You no longer have a darkened mind.
But Jesus said, He said to His disciples, and it's a promise for us, He said, I've shown you all things. And we're not under wrath, but under blessing. You are under the blessing and the love and the care and the favor of God. Rejoice in that.
Rejoice in that and live in that, because that is your true reality. Do you have a desire to deepen your faith, better understand Christian apologetics, or to get a biblical perspective on current events? Well, I've tried to make it simple for you to do just that. On my website, AlexMcFarland.com, there's a new section called Ask Alex Online. It's simple, it's clean, and you can read my answers to common questions about God, faith, and the Bible. So visit the website, AlexMcFarland.com, and look for the section that says Ask Alex Online.
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