The Finish Line

The key to true redemption is deep self awareness.

Linn Winters
Jul 29, 2018    44m
In this sermon Pastor Linn Winters introduces us to an unforgettable woman named Rahab. She started her life as a prostitute. She made choices to follow Jesus and changed her finish line. By living a live of complete obedience, she found redemption from her previous sins. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Linn Winters: 00:35 Hey cornerstone. How are you guys doing?

Linn Winters: 00:39 Okay, so real quick, you saw the video on relation that we're doing together. It's a marriage series, so here's what you need to know as background to that. At the beginning of this year, your lead team was together saying, Hey, what is it that we believe God wants to do with us? And what would be the thing that we would, the territory we think God would take, and literally [unintelligible] team we said, you know what? We want to lower the divorce rate in Chandler, Arizona. Yeah, in Santan; we'd like to do it in Scottsdale.

Linn Winters: 01:13 If you watched, we had a family series earlier. We're doing a marriage series now, and here's the idea behind it. What if the marriages at Cornerstone were literally the best marriages in our community? What if your neighbors, what if your coworkers were looking at you and saying, I just don't get it? There's something going on. You guys love each other differently. You guys respond and respect each other differently. There's just something going on, and I need to figure out what you guys have that we don't have. How Fun would it be if you and I began to do marriage on that level that people around us were astounded? That's what we're aiming for. That's what we want to do.

Linn Winters: 01:56 You also know some people out there who need to be in this series. So here's our challenge. Would you come? Would you lean in? Would we just make this one of the landmarks of who we are as followers of Christ, that our marriages are different than the marriages of people who don't know? And would you invite somebody who's struggling right now in their marriage to say man this may be your best hope? Literally the last time we had a marriage conversation, we had family after family after family who said to us, we had filled out the divorce papers and my husband saw a billboard. My wife got a mailer and said, would we try this before the divorce? And we just have story after story of people who said, and our marriage turned around. How Fun would it be for you and me to be part of that story for dozens and dozens of couples in our community. So come to the series and bring someone to sit next to you. Okay? That's coming up.

Linn Winters: 02:53 All right. We're in a series right now called Unforgettables, which honestly the title you get is a little tongue in cheek because the people that we/re studying and taking a look at are actually some of the more obscure people in scripture. But, what we believe is simply this, that if you hear their story, if you understand what God did with them, the story is unforgettable. It's a life changing story for you and me. And so we've been going to these lesser known characters and seeing what God would teach us out of that. Plus, it just helps us know our Bible that much better. So it's a good time.

Linn Winters: 03:39 Just a few weeks ago I got in the mail this. It's a report on my retirement account. Uh, the bad news is that last quarter it went flat, which I'm a little surprised to be honest because the economy' is doing so well. So I suddenly find myself saying, "Do the people on the other end of this, know what they're doing?"

Linn Winters: 04:01 So I'm putting them on notice. I'm watching for the next report and if the next report isn't getting better, I'm going to start thinking about adjustments. I'm going to think about maybe you know, taking my money and going elsewhere, right? Because here's the deal. Look, I've got a finish line. I'm planning to wait until I'm about 110 before I retire, but when I retire, inflation will have struck and I'm going to need some money. So I've got in my mind what I need to have about that time in order to be okay. And if and if this isn't heading the right direction, I'm going to make some finish line adjustments in my life. It's called playing the long game. You realize there's other issues that you and I play the long game in. What about our marriages?

Linn Winters: 05:02 If you keep doing your marriage the way you're doing your marriage, if you keep treating your spouse the way you're currently treating your spouse, if your relationship maintains the same level of angst and tension that it has right now, what does the finish line look like for your marriage? Are you going to be going, man I mean this has just been the best ride of my life. I can't believe I chose you and to the exclusion I mean, it was just such an amazing choice. I'm so glad. For some of us that are single and dating, if you keep dating the type of people you're dating, if you keep behaving on your dates, the way that you're behaving on your dates, what's the finish line look like? Parents, if you keep parenting the way that you're parenting, if the relationship with your kids stays where the relationship with your kids is right now and you don't make any adjustments, how's the finish line looking? Because guys, guys, guys, part of this life and maybe the most important things in this life all involve the long game. And maybe the most important finish line, the most important one that you and I can assess and say hey how's this going is your walk with God, your Christian Life? So let me ask you a question. If you keep following Jesus with your current level of passion, if you obey him the way that you're currently obeying Him, what does the end game look like? What is, what is the finish line look like for you? And if the honest answer is there may need to be some adjustment. Last quarter was flat and I may need to rethink how some of this is going.

Linn Winters: 07:07 Then let me just give you a word of encouragement because the story that we're going to talk about today is the story of a gal named Rahab, who finds herself in a moment realizing, hey, where my life is heading and how this is going to turn out is not how I want this to turn out. And she puts a stake in the ground and literally changes direction, changes what the finish line of her life looks like. And here's why this is going to be so encouraging. If you didn't know Rahab ray starts the story as a prostitute. It's a choice that she's made in her life. As best we can tell, this is not something that was forced on her. She just said, hey, this is a way to make a profit.

Linn Winters: 07:49 She's made decisions in her life that led her to a point she'll probably never get married. She'll never be accepted in society, but it's what she's done. And she looks and she says, you know, the end game doesn't look very good. And guys, here's why that's important: because no matter where you and I are starting together today, chances are your starting point isn't as far back as hers. Does it make sense? Wherever you are today, whatever decisions you've made, however much you've lingered and haven't followed God the way you should, whatever starting point you have today, chances are your starting point is not as far back as Rahab's. You want to hear something really cool? When she's done readjusting the finish line in her life, she ends up in God's hall of fame. As a matter of fact, we're not going to do it today, but I just challenge you when you go home to take a minute and read Hebrews Chapter 11. Hebrews Chapter 11 is literally a list of God's greats, and it has people in it like Abraham. It has Moses. It has David who slew Goliath. I mean it's just a list of who's who in scripture and right in the middle of the list, guess whose name appears? Rahab.

Linn Winters: 08:56 She goes from being a prostitute to being in God's hall of fame because she looked and said, I've got to change my finish line. And every one of us in this room should take stock and say, you know what? It's not too late. I have the opportunity. If I would simply be as sincere. If I would simply commit as much as this woman did, I could change. I could change the finish line of my life.

Linn Winters: 09:20 So here we go. Grab your bibles. Her story is in Joshua Chapter two. If you're not real familiar today, if you just go to the front of your Bible, it's an old testament story and this book of Joshua is just a little ways in. So it's Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and then Joshua. Joshua Chapter two, and I just wanted to take a few moments and say, what is it she did? What were the actions? What were the things that she put in place that changed her life, changed her finish line so dramatically? Because I'm convinced that some of us in this room are sitting in the third quarter and it's time to adjust. It's time to change the outcome.

Linn Winters: 10:04 So let me give you a little bit of background. So the children of Israel have been led out of Egypt. Charleston Heston came and did the 10 plagues. Okay? Moses came, they did the 10 plagues. They came out of Egypt. But if you remember the story at all, they get to the Jordan River. They get to the edge of the promised land. They send in some spies, and the spies come back and say, man, this place, this Canaan, it's everything God promised. Remember, land of milk and honey and it's just, it's amazing, but the people that are there are physically way bigger than us. It looks like we're a pop warner football team going up against an NFL football team. I mean, they're like giants compared to us physically. There's no way we can do it. And in that moment, God says to the children Israel: I've done all these things for you. I've showed you my power and now you're afraid? And if you're not willing to follow me, here's plan b. You're going to wander for 40 years in the wilderness until every one of you that said no to me dies. Then I'm going to bring your children back to this very spot on the Jordan River and I'm going to ask them the same question I asked you. Are you willing to trust me as I take you into the promise land?

Linn Winters: 11:23 And so now this is that moment Moses has died. All of those who stood there and voted no have died. It's 40 years later and Joshua is there with the children of those who said no, getting ready to go into the promise land. Again they send spies. This time they send just a pair. They go into the most fortified city in all of Canaan. It's a city called Jericho, and Jericho has massive walls. It's another story. God knocks the walls down, massive walls and they send spies into check it out. When the spies are there, some men inside the city figure out that these are Hebrews come to spy the town. And so now there's a manhunt going through the city.

Linn Winters: 12:09 The spies had ended up in the house of a woman named Rahab, who happens to be a prostitute. And before you go wait, wait, wait, wait, wait I thought these were Christian men. How come they're in a prostitute's house? So here's the deal. You got to understand that during this current time there are no Ramada Inns. There is no Hyatt Regency, and if you're a stranger and you came to a city, there would be people who'd say, I have a room for rent. It just so happens that in some of these accommodations there was a room price and then there was a special price and that's Rahab's house. Okay? And again, it's an economic thing. It's something that would have been common in the day.

Linn Winters: 12:52 So the spies are staying there. Rahab gets wind that they're being looked for and has to make a decision. And she decides in that moment I'm choosing the side of God and not the side of my friends. I mean, think about how radical that decision is. I'm choosing these new and I'm leaving behind the old. So let's just take a look at how this story unfolds, and how a prostitute changes the finish line of real life and ends up in God's hall of fame.

Linn Winters: 13:21 So here we go. It's Joshua 2:8. Before the spies lay down for the night, she went up to the roof and she said to them, I know that the Lord has given you this land and a great...what's the next word? It is so thrilling to know you're tracking with me, so I'm going to give you another chance. Okay? I know the Lord has given you this land and a great fear of you has fallen on us so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og. Now, here's what you need to know. Sihon and Og are two kingdoms that were on the other side of Jordan. When the Israelites came through, they decided they were trespassing and they attacked them. The Israelites vanquished them with ease, and yet these were incredibly powerful kingdoms. Jericho has heard.

Linn Winters: 14:35 They just wiped them out with the help of God. The two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone's courage failed because of you. For the Lord, your God is God in Heaven, above and on the earth. Now, think about this. How incredible is it that these people who have no regard, they've got their own list of gods, they're Polytheists, they've got all sorts of idols they bow down to, but now they're hearing the story of God in the lives of Israel and they suddenly have fear. They go, man, whatever God they serve, whatever, there {unintelligible] is just so different than whatever gods we serve. It's just remarkable.

Linn Winters: 15:27 Think about it a minute. Isn't that a little bit of what we're talking about even with the marriage series? How cool would it be for others to see the hand of God on our lives and say, wow, wow, you've got something in your life that I just don't have in my life.

Linn Winters: 15:46 But here's what you've got to get from the moment. Seeing God, getting God causes her to respond, causes all the rest of them to respond with fear. Now, here's what you need to hear. Fear is actually a good thing. Godly fear, a healthy reverence and respect for who God is, is actually an asset in your life.

Linn Winters: 16:12 Here's the mistake we make, even as Christians, I think we have this view of God that he's this benevolent grandfather who comes over, showers us with gifts, let's us misbehave and then leaves. Now look, if you're in this room and you're a grandfather, spoiling your grandchildren is your mission. You are to make it as hard as possible on your children to parent their children. That's just, that's what you do. That's okay. But here's what you need to know. The Bible never refers to God as your grandfather. He refers to God as your Heavenly Father. And any of us that's in the midst of parenting, here's what you know: there's the other side of parenting which simply says, no, no, no, not in this house. You're not going to talk to your mom that way. Whoa, Whoa, whoa, Whoa, whoa. Do that again, and! And, and guys, we don't do that out of anger or viciousness or vindictive, right? We do this to bless our children, to teach them life skills that they're going to need later on. But the truth is, guys, the most powerful thing you can have as a parent is for your kid to actually have a little bit of fear when you say no, because if you don't have that, you're in trouble.

Linn Winters: 17:32 One of the most powerful things, one of the best things you can have in your life, is a reverent fear for God and for his discipline. Matter of fact, grab your bibles super quick and go with me to the book of Hebrews. It's going to be almost in the back of your Bible. Go to the back, work to the left. Hebrews 12:5. Watch this. Here we go, and have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement (this is a good thing guys; this is something super positive and helpful in your life), this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father, addresses his sons? God's going to treat you like one of his children. This is a good thing, which means he's going to encourage and he's going to discipline. It says, my son do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines. The Lord spanks the ones he loves. God doesn't spank the neighbor kids. He spanks His children and He chastens everyone he accepts as a son.

Linn Winters: 18:46 Now, here's the deal. I guarantee you we've got Christians in the room and you're going it doesn't work. Because here's the deal. I've been dating and I've been doing stuff in my dating life that I know darn well God doesn't want me to do, and guess what? He hasn't done anything. No, no, no, no, you don't understand. I've been looking at stuff on the Internet. I guarantee you God wouldn't approve that God hasn't done a thing. So God really is more like my grandfather kind of observing from the sidelines then like my dad, who's going to actually put me over his knee. Are you sure? Or is it possible that what you're feeling is the calm before the storm? Is it possible that in God's grace and kindness, he is saying look, look, look, I'm going to give you a minute or two. I'm going to give you a couple of tries at this to figure it out because it's better if you could come to me in obedience. It's better if you would listen to my words and choose to obey them without me having to inflict a spanking. I'd rather you come that way, than on the other side of my hand. But if you keep doing this, if you continue the way you are, we're going to have a come here and bend over moment.

Linn Winters: 20:22 I've got a friend, we'll just call him Eddie. That is not his name. If you come to me afterwards and pay me enough, I'll tell you his real name now. I'm teasing. Eddie got the job he had dreamed about his entire life. And uh, so I'm out with Eddie and I'm saying, "Hey, how's it going?"

Linn Winters: 20:43 He goes, "Actually, it's going pretty good. Kind of an interesting culture at the work though, because you know, every so often they come to me and say, hey, you know what, you need to change your behavior on this. Uh, that's not how we want you to do it. We want you to do it this way."

Linn Winters: 21:02 And, uh, I said, "So how's that working for you?"

Linn Winters: 21:04 And he goes, "Well, while they're there talking to me, I smile and nod. And when they leave the room, I just do it my way anyways."

Linn Winters: 21:19 And I said, "Eddie, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. They tell you that you need to change. They tell you that they need you to behave differently. You smile and nod and then when they leave the room, you do it your way anyways."

Linn Winters: 21:30 "Yeah, it's really cool because they apparently don't care because nothing happens."

Linn Winters: 21:38 I say, "Eddie, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Is it possible that they're looking at you and saying, hey, he's new to this job, he doesn't know our culture? He hasn't learned our systems. We're going to give him some grace, but then eventually they're going to say, hey, enough's enough." Do you know what his answer was?

Linn Winters: 21:38 "No, no."

Linn Winters: 22:00 It's interesting to me how many Christians listen to a sermon, read their bibles, and God says, here's what I need you to change. Here's what I need you to do differently. And we walk away and go, eh I'm going to do it my way anyways. Is it possible that God in His grace has given you some time to bring about your own compliance?

Linn Winters: 22:31 Next thing I know I'm meeting with my friend. He goes, "Man, that stinking job."

Linn Winters: 22:31 I said, "What happened?"

Linn Winters: 22:36 He says, "Well, my supervisor walked in and my supervisor said this to me, 'Eddie, I've come to you on multiple occasions. I've told you what needed to change. I told you that what you were doing was not in compliance with what we need. And you've sat there every time, smiled at me and said, "okay", and then you've done your own thing over and over and over again. You win, you win. I'm completely worn out. I have no more energy to come you and unfortunately you winning means you no longer have a job. You can pack your boxes and leave'."

Linn Winters: 23:16 Do you and I really believe that smiling and nodding our heads at what God asks us to do is a good plan, and that God is never going to bring discipline?

Linn Winters: 23:27 You know what's interesting about my friend Eddie? When Eddie tells the story, guess who the villain in the story is? His supervisor.

Linn Winters: 23:38 I go, "Eddie, wait a minute. You did the wrong and did the wrong thing and did the wrong thing. He finally spanked you for doing the wrong thing. And he's the bad guy?"

Linn Winters: 23:50 It's good to have a healthy fear. It's good to say, hey, you know what? I don't want to push the limits of God. I don't want to test God. Right? A healthy fear. Let's go back to the passage. The second thing you're going to discover that Rahab does that? She just changes the direction of her life, heads towards a completely different destination with her life. Not only does she have a fear of God, she chooses to obey God in everything that He asked down to the letter.

Linn Winters: 24:23 So come with me to a Chapter 2 again, Verse 17, and watch what happens. Now the men said to her, this oath you've made us swear will be binding on us. Here's what Rahab has done. She said to the men, look, because I've helped you, I need you to promise that you'll spare me and you'll spare my relatives. And the men said, okay, because you've helped us, we're going to spare you, but in order for this to happen, you have to do exactly what we're telling you right now. Now the men said to her, this oath that you made us swear will be binding on us unless when we enter the land, you have tied a scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down. So in the story, she's going to let those spies down through her window. They say to her, look, you've got to get a scarlet cord. Or maybe it was a bed-sheet we don't know exactly, but you've got to hang this out the window so that every one of our troops coming in can immediately see this scarlet thing hanging out of your window and know you’re the one that helped us. Okay? You've got to do that. And unless you have brought your father and your mother, your brothers and all your family into the house, if any of them go outside your house, into the street, their blood will be on their own heads. We will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. So if you obey then we promise they'll be safe. But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you have made us swear. And Rahab says "agreed." I'll do everything you've said exactly how you said it. Let it be as you say. Now here's the deal. Just guessing because the Bible doesn't fill in all the blanks, but just guessing. When Rahab goes to hang that scarlet cord outside the window [unintelligible].

Linn Winters: 26:31 Yeah. Here's what I'm thinking. I'm thinking she's finding the biggest stinking cord she can find and she's hanging that thing out of the window. She is complying to the enth degree, to what they've asked to do. When she goes in she rounds up her family, and her family says, well, why are we staying in your house? Your house is smaller than our house. Our house is much more comfortable. Do you think she's going, oh, good point. Let's move houses." No, she's saying to her family, it's got to be my house. That's what they said. And when her nephew says, oh, it's so cool watching all those guys out there fighting. I'm just going to go outside and take a selfie. Don't you know Rahab went don't you dare? Don't you dare, we've got to do exactly what we were told. It's one of the things that helps Rahab get to the God's hall of fame. She lives in obedience to exactly what God has set, which is what makes it really interesting for me that so many of us that claim to be followers of Christ are what I call selective believers. See, we come in and we go, oh, I don't like that verse. You realize scriptures are dated and old, so God meant that for those old people way back when? He doesn't mean that for the 21st century. Are you kidding me? So here's the deal. I'm just going to filter God and I'm going to decide which things God said that I agree with and if I agree with God, I'll do it. But if I don't like it, if I think God was a little silly or a little over the top with that, I'm going to selectively choose which parts of God to obey.

Linn Winters: 28:17 How do you think things turn out for Rahab if she selectively obeys the directions given by the men? Exactly how it turns out for you and me when we selectively obey. See, here's the deal. I don't even have to ask you. If you're here today and you're a selective believer, I guarantee you that you are not experiencing the full joy of Jesus Christ. I guarantee it. You're going boy this Christian thing you know, it's kind of 50/50. There's parts of it I like. There's parts of it that I just, but you look at other Christians and you're going, man, how come they're so in love with Jesus? How come their life is so vibrant? Why is their marriage ahead of mine? Why are their kids [unintelligible]? Why is that turning out so good for them? They must just be natural Christians. You guys, there's no such thing as a natural Christian. You know why their life is different than yours? Because they're obeying everything they've been commanded, and life just turns out different when you obey than when you selectively obey.

Linn Winters: 29:18 Because here's the deal, you ready for this? Life is kind of complicated. You don't know the answers. So how much smarter are you to rely on the one who created you and created your life to help you figure it out even when it's a little bit hard to understand? Let me see if this helps. Every year my father does something really, really morbid and sick at Christmas time. He gives us money. Now, that's not the morbid and sick part. That's the good part. The morbid and sick part is that he takes the money and he puts it in a puzzle box. He gets absolute joy watching us try to solve the impossible puzzle on the puzzle box and he sits there and squeals like a little girl while we're trying to get to the money.

Linn Winters: 30:10 On this particular year, he gives us a box that has two knobs on the top. When you shake the box, you can hear a ball bearing going around inside the box. So, you're thinking to yourself, okay, I got to get that ball bearing in the right spot. I got to turn the knob to the right place to put the ball bearing where it'll loosen the box. And so we're doing all sorts of configurations trying. Nothing's working. Nothing's working. Eventually we figured out the knobs do nothing. So now we're looking for hidden panels on the side of the box. There's got to be a slot you push or something like that, that releases the lid. No hidden panels. You ready for this? You know how you solve the box? You sit it on the table and spin it. When you spin it, the ball bearings go to the edges, the lid lifts right off. Who would have known that? My Dad is sick.

Linn Winters: 31:12 You want to know the easiest way to have solved that box? Ask the guy who designed it. Hey, how do you open the lid? He knew the answer from the beginning. He's not stumped. He's not confused. It's not a challenge for him. The easiest way to solve life is ask the guy who made it. Ask the guy who designed it and what, you and I are going "I don't like spinning the box. I think that's a dumb answer. I think I'll take a hammer to it."

Linn Winters: 31:48 You're really, really, really smart to obey, to obey, to obey everything God said. It changes your finish line. It puts people in the hall of fame. All of that's good enough. All of that. All of that's encouraging enough, but you realize she doesn't go from prostitute to the hall of fame overnight. It takes years and years and lots and lots and lots of time. What keeps her going? What keeps her motivated? Here's my guess. Gratitude.

Linn Winters: 32:34 See, I think. I think she walks out of that house after the Israelites and the walls of Jericho have fallen. Everybody in the town has been slaughtered. I think her clothes smell like smoke. I think she sees all her friends who did not take notice and did not make the decision that she made, and she says, man, God has spared me. And I think she is so grateful. Then she says, man, I, I'll just follow that God the rest of my life.

Linn Winters: 33:13 Here's why I think that's a big deal. I think it's hard for us to be grateful sometimes for what God has done for us. I think we've lost the smell of smoke on our clothes. Now there's some of us in this room and you'd go Linn, man I haven't because here's the deal: I'm Rahab. I came from a life that was dark. I've made horrible decisions. I was abusing drugs. I was selling drugs. Who knows what you were doing? And being grateful is almost intuitive because you're going, man, I just, I came from so far. You know who being grateful is hard for? It's hard for nice people, good people, because here's the deal. You and I don't think we needed much saving. See those Rahab people, they needed a lot of Jesus. I just needed a little bit of Jesus so I'm only grateful for a little bit. Here's what we're missing. Okay? God doesn't grade on percentages. It's either pass or fail, and the truth is every one of us in this room before Jesus had a failing grade. And does it matter if you fail by getting 40 percent or if you fail by getting 15 percent? You fail. And every one of us in this room before Jesus had a failing grade.

Linn Winters: 34:34 See if this helps. I want you to imagine for a second that you and I go camping together, and by the time we get to the campsite, we're running short of water. This may or may not have had to do with the fact that I drank it all. We're running short of water. So I say to you, hey don't worry about it. We're going to be okay. I saw a pond not too far back. I'll go fetch some water. So sure enough, I go back to the pond and I start filling up water bottles for us. I, uh, I bring you back your container of water and, uh, you noticed that there are things swimming in the water - parasites. And you say there is no chance I'm drinking that water. And I go, you're thinking about the water wrong. I get it. I get that there are some bugs and creatures and parasite swimming around here. But here's what you need to think. There's actually more good water than there is bad things in it. And here's my guess. My guess is that you're going no, there's just no chance. There's just no chance. So then I say, okay, all right. All right. Apparently you're high maintenance and uh, so I put a filter on it and now I take the pond water and I start running it through a filter. If you weren't so picky, this wouldn't take so long. Just saying.

Linn Winters: 36:46 And so now I bring you the new jug and I go see no big chunks. No big parasites. Well there's one, but very few right in there. You can drink this water. And my bet is, here's what you say to me. You are crazy because you may have taken the biggest of the chunks out, but I guarantee you there are some small parasites in there you didn't get to. And those could be the most deadly parasites in all the water. I would rather go thirsty than drink that water because it has got stuff in it. Welcome to God. You realize your argument to God when you go, hey, I understand that center needed a lot of saving. I see how bad their life is, but you know, God, I'm pretty stinking good. I didn't need a whole lot of saving. I, I, I only have little sins in my life. Guys, here's what you got to get. Fixing that guy, fixing that gal, fixing this one, "the good one" costs the same price. You'd had exactly the same expense. There is no such thing as good one and bad one and little one and big one. They all were crazy expensive. And when you realize what God had to pay to make you okay, it will fill you with gratitude.

Linn Winters: 38:35 Imagine this. Imagine that your brother to you and says, hey, let's go on vacation. Now you know your brother is a shady dude. And he says, look, we're going to go down to Cozumel all expenses paid. All expenses paid. Just come with me. And you're thinking to yourself, I don't know where he's getting the money to do this. I probably don't want to ask where he's getting the money to do this. But it's Cozumel. So you go down, have a great week. Now you're coming back up, you get to the border and you're stopped by border patrol. Sure enough, your brother has a suitcase full of drugs. He has put drugs in your suitcase. You explained to them hey, no, no, no, no. It was him. It wasn't me. The only thing I did that was inappropriate is I kind of knew my brother was shady and I probably guessed that he wasn't getting the money from a really good source, but I didn't do anything else. He's the really guilty one. And they throw you in jail. They tell you it's going to be 22 years or you can pay a $500,000 fine. So you do what any sensible person would do. You call your parents. Hey mom. Hey dad. That stinking brother you gave me, and now we're in jail for 22 years unless we can come up with a half a million apiece. And I want you to imagine that your parents sell their home, cash it out. They take everything that they have acquired in their entire lifetimes and have a garage sale and sell the things that are nearest and dearest to them for ten cents on the dollar. And now they come to the border literally having liquidated everything they ever owned. They are at zero and they pay your fine, and now you're free.

Linn Winters: 40:34 Are you telling me that you would walk across that border and you'd go hey, you know what I'm really not very grateful because the truth is I didn't do very much? Now my brother, who really did the worst, he should be super grateful, but I'm not as bad as him. You would never say that. You know why? Because they had to pay the same price to buy you. And I'm just telling you that you and I were facing more than 22 years, and the place we were going to be was a lot darker than a Mexican prison. And God paid way more than half a million to get you and me out. And when that sweeps over you, when you begin to understand that fearing God obeying what He says, deciding you want that finish line to be amazing, gets really, really simple for someone who's grateful for what's been done for them.

Linn Winters: 41:47 Grab your bibles, go with me the book of Matthew. Matthew Chapter One. And again, if you're unfamiliar, go to the back and then work to the left. You think it's pretty cool that a prostitute ends up in God's hall of fame because she decides to obey, decides to fear God, decides to change her finish line? Let me tell you something that's even cooler than that. She ends up in the lineage of Jesus Christ. When Matthew begins to tell all the ancestors of the Messiah, there is a gentile prostitute in the lineage. Her name is Rahab, because she changed the finish line.

Linn Winters: 42:38 Here it is. It's Matthew 1:5, Solomon the father of Boaz. Boaz ends up marrying anyone remember? Ruth, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth Obad, the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of King David. Rahab was King David's great, great grandmother, and since Jesus was of the Line of David, she's literally in the lineage of the Messiah. Talk about changing a finish line. And guys, every one of us in this room has the same opportunity. If we would fear God and obey His words.

Linn Winters: 43:34 Let's pray. Hey, dear Lord Jesus. Thank you. Thank you that people who are further away than us, we're able to get further in their lives. We're able to change how their lives turned out and finished because at some point they put a stake in the ground and they just said, hey, I'm going to change the outcome. I'm going to change where my life ends. I'm going to follow God without apology. I'm gonna obey everything He says, and especially the parts I don't like. I'm going to fear God. I'm not going to tempt fate and keep pushing in and doing things that I know I shouldn't be doing and waiting for the discipline. I'm going to be a God pleaser. I choose today to change my finish line, to change my marriage, to change my parenting, to change my Christian walk so that the finish line will be different when I'm done. God, give us the courage in Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286