Is your life all that you thought it would be? Are you living the abundant life God promises you in Scripture? Do you know what it means to live life at its very best? Learn how to experience life the way God intended it for you. For more messages from Charles Stanley, including this week’s broadcast, go to

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in touch with Dr Charles Stanley

reaching the world with the Gospel of

Jesus Christ through sound Biblical

teaching next on InTouch living life to

the fullest

if you had to describe your life like

you’re experiencing and how would you

describe it

would you say it is a mere existence

it is an unending Rat Race that’s what

my life is a continuous battle

a school room a time of training

a time of real discouragement

somehow you are going through some

period of suffering in your life and it

seems to be endless

or would you say that your life is one

absolutely fascinating exciting Journey

that it is a challenging time in your


all of us go through different seasons

in our life and so sometimes if the

season lasts too long we just have the

idea that that’s what life’s all about

just one big heavy burden but that’s not

really true because all of us go through

those Seasons sometimes there are more

clouds than there is sunshine and we’re

often prone to think well is this what

life is all about no that’s not what

life is all about life really is all

about something very very exciting

and that’s what I want to talk about in

this message today no matter where you

are and what you’re feeling and how down

you may be or how up you are the issue

is what is life really and truly all


and so the title of this message is

living life to the fullest and I want

you to turn if you will to Hebrews

chapter 12 and the three two verses here

that I want us to look at primarily

because I believe in these two verses

God gives us not necessarily some

formula but he gives us a perspective he

gives us an Insight an understanding of

what life is all about and why we can

live it to the very fullest no matter

what’s going on and let me say right up

in the beginning living life to the

fullest does not require that I have all

the wealth that I want it doesn’t

require that I have all education that I

think I may need it doesn’t require that

I have all of the uh all of the

acceptance or all of the recognition

that I need life lived to the fullest

doesn’t require that but he tells us in

this passage exactly what is required so

beginning with verse 1 of chapter 12 he

says therefore since we have so great a

cloud of witnesses

surrounding us let us also lay aside

every encumbrance and the sin which so

easily entangles us and let us run with

endurance the race that is set before us

fixing our eyes on Jesus the author and

protector of faith who for the joy set

before him endured the cross despising

the shame and has sat down at the right

hand of the Throne of God

and so when we think about living life

to the fullest

first of all according to this passage

it involves the encouragement of others

all of us who believe us I certainly

hope you do at least have at least one

or more people who are your encourages

in life that is people who will

encourage you and say you are just doing

fantastic or you know I see some real

Improvement in your life or you know I

notice God’s really beginning to use you

and I notice how you teach your class or

I noticed the last time you sang or all

these things and I noticed that you’re

more free in your witness and all kinds

of encouragement these the kind of

people who are there to pray for us when

we stumble and fall on the track and

these the people who are there to cheer

us on when we’re doing well everybody in

the Christian Life needs and encourage

you and so if you’re one of those

persons who says well you know I don’t

know that I have any encourages well

find yourself something you saw how the

world do you find and encourage you make

a friend when you make a friend who’s a

true Godly friend you’re going to find

somebody who will encourage you in your

walk in your Christian race and so he

says this great cloud of witnesses now

when he’s referring to these Witnesses

let me say this you may have uh someone

in the Christian Life as you’re moving

along and you’re growing who’s not

necessarily all that excited about your

spiritual growth they may be going

through some difficult and hardship in

their life and things don’t seem to be

going so well for them and so when they

see you progressing and moving along

they may sort of glue it up that a

little bit be a little bit jealous but

don’t worry about those folks you’ve got

people who will encourage you lift you

up pray for you when you falter and

cheer you on when you’re when you are

excited about what’s happening in your

life now

when he talks about this cloud of

witnesses what he’s referring to

primarily are those Old Testament Saints

who’ve gone on before and he says we

have this great cloud of witnesses not

that they’re up there pulling for us but

that they have been a tremendous awesome

example to us and what he’s referring to

is the light that they live the

difficulty they’ve gone through the

hardships and the troubles and the

trials look at them look how they

responded and look what God did in their


and so what he’s referring to is the

pattern the example the model that these

Old Testament Saints have been well

there’s the second thing involved I

think in living life to the fullest and

I think it’s found in this passage

notice what he says now

therefore since we have so greater cloud

of witnesses surrounding us

let us also lay aside every encumbrance

now when he mentions the word here of

encumbrances of course those people knew

how incumbent they could be for example

those men wore robes well imagine uh

getting on the starting line of a race

with a robe hanging all around your feet

and so he says You must lay aside every

incumbrance and so they dress down for

the racist that word is a means

something of bulk it can be the word

that is used to uh to relate to a tumor

something that doesn’t belong there

something that hinders anything that

would hinder eraser now

the runner is going to dress down

because he doesn’t want anything to

deter him with speed and reaching the

goal in the Christian Life we also have

those encumbrances those things that

impede those things that hinder us on

our walk because as we are moving in the

will of God anything that hinders our

keeping the pace with God and His will

and his timing which is so very

important anything that distracts my

attention gets me off course gets me off

on some detour is an encumbrance and so

those things he says we have to deal

with now that can be some Habit in your

life or it can be some Hobby in your

life it can be some sport or it can be

watching television if you have an over

emphasis of that in your life an over

emphasis on anything over emphasis for

example on money or

whatever it may be and you see it’s not

easy for us to to indicate in somebody

else’s life what their incumbrance is

because we may not even know what it is

we don’t know what they’re thinking it

just may be the way they think about

things in life the way they think about

God is so negative and and so limited

that it is a tremendous encumbrance

until they’re moving ahead in their

Christian Life it may be doubt it may be

fear anything that hinders impedes slows

us down gets us off track gets us out of

the will of God he says these things are

encumbrances in our life and they need

to be removed

now what may be an encomment to someone

else may not be an encumbrance to you

and what may be an encumbrance to you

may not affect anybody else at all for

example let’s say that you have a scuba

dive and so he wants to go down about 50

feet or 100 feet or whatever it may be

more than likely he may put lead weights

on the belt around him and those lead

weights will enable him to sink more

swiftly and he uses those weights for

his benefit but a runner I have the

starting line waiting for the gun to go

off having about 25 or 30 pounds of lead

weight around him there would be a

terrible impediment to his racing so you

and I can’t look at someone else’s life

and say that’s an encumbrance in your

life well this is an encumbrance in your

life some things may be very evident but

that’s not our job to be looking for

other people’s encumbrance is our job is

to be looking at our own examining our

own life and saying what is it in my

thinking what is it in my habit what is

it in my lifestyle that hinders my

keeping my focus upon the Lord walking

in him doing his will following him

allowing him to work his will and his

way in our life and so all of us have to

examine those things

sometimes they’re subtle they’re not

always easy to identify it may be that

we have sort of thought that way so long

we think well that’s the way you think

but that is not the way you think or we

may have habits in our life that have

been there for years and years and years

we think well you know that’s just the

way I am well just the way I am may be a

real encumbrance to my spiritual walk

and as we said before oftentimes doubt

uh just a little doubt that lingers in

our life about God’s purpose and does

does he really care or does he really

have a plan for my life or or oftentimes

making decisions our whole our whole way

of looking at life we make decisions and

ask God to bless us or do we seek the

mind of God before we make that decision

and so there are many many areas in

which we can be encumbered and that is

we can be hindered in our walk in our

race with the Lord Jesus Christ and so

he says we are to lay these things aside

now how do we lay them aside well the

first thing I have to do is be honest

enough to examine myself to see what is

there that is hindering me and secondly

I must make a decision to deal with it

and I would have to ask the Lord I’ll

say to him father I thank you for

showing me this and I want to deal with

it I want to confess that this does not

need to be in my life it may not even be

a sin we’re not talking about deliberate

known willful sins but those things that

crop up into our lives those sort of we

sort of drift taught as we said thinking

or actions or whatever


we have to identify them and say Lord I

do believe this is something that is him

doing my walk and so I just want to lay

this aside it may not be as easy to lay

aside as we think it would be so it’s

something we have to depend upon the

holy spirit to enable us to turn away

from that let loose of it walk away from

it whatever it might be I’m holding on

to something that’s keeping me from

walking in the will of God he’s just

laid aside put it aside deal with it

turn away from it and make it right

between you and God

now you would think that this next

phrase he’d have put them all together

look at this he says let us also lay

aside every encumbrance

and the sin which so easily entangles us

now to entangle means to trip them up to

that is to get tripped up by something

well it would not encumbrances and sins

be the same not necessarily an

encumbrance is something that’s more

subtle you have to sort of look for that

because as we say you may have lived

with it a long time maybe the way you’ve

been thinking all of your life

and so when he says end the sin which so

easily uh entangles us what is he

referring to well I think he’s referring

here to

first of all if you’ll notice he doesn’t

say s-i-n-s sins but the sin which so

easily entangles us more than likely I

wouldn’t say this is true of everybody

but probably for most of us it’s true

that if Satan has one tool that is the

most effective of all it is the one that

he usually at least can get a little uh

leeway in our life if we’re not careful

he says dealing with this sin laying

aside this sin which so easily sets us

that is there may be some particular

weakness in your life it may be doubt it

may be this issue of finances it may be

greed it may be lost whatever it might

be but it is an area in life in which we

have to keep struggling with and

fighting against it’s the one that

somehow Satan no matter what we do he

seems to be able to get a little toe

hole a little Edge every once in a while

he says we have to deal not only with

these encumbrances these things that are

sort of subtle that may not be quite so

evident but he says sin those things

that we know to be deliberate willful

choices of Disobedience to God

and he says it’s the sin if you’ll

notice that so as he says easily besets

us it’s the one thing we seemingly can

falter and fall to the most frequently

or the most easily

he says it entangles us trips us up

ensnares us now when you think about

that you have to ask yourself the

question Lord is there some area of my

life or is there something that Satan

can tempt me with that somehow in spite

of my best commitment and my continuous

Devotion to you somehow I am more easily

entangle or tripped up here than any

other way he says whatever that is we

need to treat it the same way we treat

these encumbrances we need to be able to

identify it and to deal with it and so

often as you look back in the Old

Testament again for example the New

Testament you’ll find uh in in some of

these lives of the saints of God that

They too had these areas in which Satan

could also entangle and entrap them if

we’re going to live our life to the

fullest we must deal with those things

we have to struggle with because it is

those kind of things that will cause us

to stumble and to fall and to fall off

the track

it is those kind of things that cause us

to begin to look out yonder instead of

keeping our eye on the go and we want to

get detailed and sometimes it’s things

in a person’s life

uh their desire to have things because

things gives them a sense of worth and

value things gives them a sense of

acceptance if they get enough things

they can make a big enough impression

then they’ll be more accepted and

feeling more accepted they’ll feel more

loved and

feeling more love they’ll feel better

about themselves when all of that is

trapped listen Satan has more traps than

we could ever begin to imagine what is

his goal his goal is to get our eyes off

the goal his goal is to get us detoured

out of the will of God doing something

that we want to satisfy some desire need

in our life and therefore we get out of

the will of God then we’re not going to

live life at the fullest it doesn’t make

a difference what appears to satisfy

only one thing makes it possible for me

to live life to the fullest and that is

being in the center of God’s will moving

in that direction does that mean we’ll

be perfect no doesn’t mean we won’t

stumble no doesn’t mean what falter no

doesn’t mean won’t get tripped up no but

it means at least I’m on the track

moving in that direction and when I

Stumble and fall I recognize what caused

it I thank God for his forgiveness and

get up and keep moving in the same


that may require strong self-discipline

on our part just like the runner yes the

practice and practice and practice and

practice and watch what they eat and the

self-discipline in order to win the race

is extremely important the same thing is

during the Christian Life and even

though we say when you receive the Lord

Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and

he’s living his life in and through you

that doesn’t mean that we do not have to

bring every area of our life under

discipline under the will and purpose

and plan of God and sometimes that’s not

easy to do that’s why he says lay these

things aside we have we have to rely

upon him and trust in him and that’s why

you have to stay in the word of God what

does God say about this how did this

work in someone else’s life in the New

Testament how’s it working in other

people’s lives how does God give them

Victory uh in their life and so the

things we have to bring under discipline

in our life in order to live life to the

fullest then he says one other thing and

I want to get close with this one

you’ll notice he says in the next verse

he says in this Christian Life if we’re

to live life to the fullest we’re to fix

our eyes on Jesus the author and

Perfecter of faith who for the joy set

before him

and during the cross despising the shame

and has set down at the right hand of

the Throne of God now what does he say

if we’re going to live life to the

fullest we to fix our eyes on Jesus now

let me say this and listen carefully

if you will focus your eyes upon the

Lord Jesus Christ

I’m not going to say that always

instantly it’s all over and everything

is wonderful

and you may go through a season that God

allows you

to be able to sense what it means to be

down and discouraged and depressed and

and beaten down in order to make us

sensitive to people who live that way

but if you’ll get your focus on him it

won’t take long until something happens

in your thinking

when you focus your attention upon him

what happens is you begin to think the

way he thinks you begin to see him as he

is you are reminded of this loving

unconditional loving savior this Lord

this Christ this Jesus who not only is

in heaven but this Jesus is our running

companion and you see you and I never

run alone we may feel lonely but we

never run alone because the Lord Jesus

Christ says I’m abiding in you and

you’re abiding in me he’s always a step

ahead of me to show me the way always a

step behind me to pick me up when I

falter always by my side whispering in

my ear keep going keep moving you’re

doing good you’ll make it always there

to pick us up when we skin our knees or

skin our face skin our elbows skin our

hearts skin our minds skin our spirit

he’s always there running with us he is

a traveling companion he’s our running

companion and he will never allow you

and me to take a single step from the

moment you receive Jesus Christ as your

savior when you on the starting line the

moment you were saved I was 12 years of

age not one single step have I ever

taken that he was not living on the

inside of me standing by my side moving

ahead moving behind there to protect and

to provide and to keep

when we don’t listen to his encouraging

word we fall to right in this presence

and what happens he is always there to

lift us up he’s not going to shove you

off the trail to say you blew it again

because he knew before he ever saved you

you and I would falter we’d fall off the

cliff he’d have to reach down and pull

us out

he’d have to reset our feet reset our

Focus get our minds straightened out get

us moving in the right direction that’s

this loving assistant who walks by a

side who runs by our side he is our

companion in the race of the Christian

Life he’s always there and the reason he

says In this passage fixing your eyes

upon him

that is so that you have undivided

attention he’s the Perfecter of faith

and he says here who for the joy set

before him which was doing the father’s

will he endured the cross no matter what

he had to face he was committed to doing

the father’s will despising the shame he

said he went through victoriously and he

sat down at the right hand of the father

and what’s he been doing ever since he’s

been interceding for you and me and

running the race with us and he is our

greatest encourager

if you and I are going to live this life

to the fullest

I mean if we’re going to live to the

fullest and enjoy it no matter what

we’re going through and whatevers we’re

facing in life you see it has nothing to

do with my external circumstances if you

and I are living in the center of God’s

will that is if we are committed to

doing the will of God we are committed

for him to working and molding in our

life then whatever storm he sends us

through will be to his glory ultimately

whatever difficulty in hardship and

adversity and suffering he takes us

through what’s he doing He is building

something within our life what is he

doing he’s building endurance now listen

to this why does he build endurance In

This Storm I’ll tell you why because he

knows he’s going to allow another storm

and endurance here equips me for the

endurance later and that endurance is

not only Built and working in our life

to equip us for the next storm the next

trial and the next heartache but it is

also preparing us for more effective

Ministry more effective minister in

other people’s lives more expanded

Ministry in someone else’s life and it

makes no difference who you are God has

gifted you and God has talented you and

he has equipped you and he’s in the

process of equipping you to be a

blessing to other people and as you and

I walk through the storms

and we Face the hardships and we and we

and we get up after we have fallen but

we keep moving toward the goal and we do

not allow anything nor anyone to divert

our attention long from the goal that

God has set for us what’s going to

happen we’re going to experience a

fulfillment and a contentment and a joy

that is absolutely Indescribable and

Beyond human understanding of the world

they cannot figure it out because you

see our life does not get its

fulfillment in things our life does not

get its fulfillment in anything but in

doing and becoming the will of the


and so he says fix your eyes on Jesus

you’ll stumble in falter and fall and

you’ll feel So Unworthy and so guilty

fix your eyes on him and when you fix

your eyes on him you understand this

loving Jesus who is your running

companion just picked you up he’s the

one who’s whispering in your ear you’ll

make it just keep going it does making

them as how tough it looks right now you

keep your focus on me I am your savior

your lord your life

and all that you need in these moments

in your life I will be that to you with

no exception

think about this running a race and

running in the energy of almighty God he


I will get the psalmist that I will go

in the strength of the Lord my God 68

Psalms says God commands our strength he

says you’ll man up with wings like

eagles you’ll run and not be weary

you’ll walk and not grow faint or lose


what is this Christian Life all about

that Christian life is all about living

and doing the will of my father the

Christian life is all about being

conformed to the likeness of his son

everything else about the Christian Life

is secondary to that

the area you serve how God works in your

life and how he uses you in someone

else’s life all that’s secondary if I’m

going to live life to the fullest I must

get on the track that he has set for me

and set is my goal not achievement and

accomplishment in size of the world but

to do the will of my father

and to be conformed to the likeness of

his son you said well that’s no fun

friend anybody who would say that hasn’t

tasted of Jesus Christ and being in the

will of God because listen we who are

believers and we who are in the will of

God we know what Fun’s all about listen

we know what Joy is all about we know

what fulfillment and contentment and

satisfaction is all about because you

can do everything else in life and

without Jesus the biggest void in your

life will still be there very empty now

how does it all begin his head starts

it starts with your recognition that

apart from God your life has no sense of

real genuine purpose or meaning

it means you’re not going anywhere

once you receive Jesus Christ as your

savior here’s what he does he not only

forgives you of all of your sin but he

sets you in the right direction you say

but you know suppose I’m 40 years old he

takes you right where you are suppose

I’m seven years of age he takes you

right where you are you just don’t have

as long to run that’s all you don’t have

as long to run you won’t have as many

battles to face it may be a little

tougher on you than someone who’s been a

Christian a long time

it doesn’t make any difference now the

will of course the ideal will of God is

that you be saved early in life but

suppose you weren’t does that mean that

God doesn’t care no

it means he’ll take you anywhere you are

my friend and if he will surrender your

life to him and tell him God I’ve blown

it I’ve had it my way I am coming to the

Cross I’m trusting Jesus Christ to

forgive me for my sins by his death at

Calvary I’m just turning my life over to

you he puts you on the track the spirit

of God comes into your life to enable

you to guide you to show you the Lord

Jesus Christ becomes your running

companion it starts with trusting him as

your savior

but what about all of us who have been

Christians a long time

did God a few moments ago say to you

that’s your encumbrance

did he identify one or more things in

your life to point out to you to say

you’ll run better without that

you’ll run smoother without this

you have a clearer sense of direction

without that

you need to lay that aside

or did he say to you that sin

continually entangles you that’s the

reason you keep falling down you keep

tripping up on the same thing

and he wants you to deal with it

is he saying to you don’t get

disheartened don’t don’t despair don’t

get depressed what you’re going through

is just building up strength and

building endurance in your life because

I want to use you I want to do something

in your life and in order for you to be

coming to do what I want you to do I

must build endurance in your life you

must learn to run swim against the tide

and run against the winds

and what I’m going to do is going to

absolutely surprise you but it’ll be a

joyful surprise is that what he’s saying

to you

and what’d you have to say today Father

my gaze has been over here and up yawned

and down here in backyard and over here

and all

hasn’t really been fixed on Jesus but


I set my sights on the Son of God to say

Lord not my will but your will not my

way but your way not tomorrow but the

beginning today right now and my friend

wants you willing to do that you will

start enjoying the Christian Life and no

matter how tough it gets deep Stand

Inside of You The Whisper of the voice

of almighty God you’re doing good keep

moving keep trusting I’m with you and

I’m going to be here as your running

companion until you have taken your last


which is from this life

to the presence of almighty God