Running to Break the Tape
I greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I greet you on behalf of my pastor, Timothy Brock, our staff, leaders and all who love Jesus at White River Christian Church. I also bring you my love, and thank you so much for allowing me the privilege to share God's word with you, as God gives me grace. May God bless you and may all hearts be inclined and receptive to God’s word and direction.
As I was preparing for this sermon, I did what I normally do. I asked the Lord to show me, "What do you want me to say to your people." "What do they need." I was very gratified to learn from some of you that what God had me speak, when I was here last, was exactly what this church needed. I prayed the same types of prayers, while preparing this time. Here is what I believe the Lord wants me to tell you.
"Tell them, remind them that I love them." "Tell them no matter what they go through, I intend for them to win I intend for them to succeed, and bear good fruit." "I want to use what they go through to make them and not to harm or destroy them. "Reminded them how to run the race, to break the tape."
The Christian Life Is a Struggle
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Although it is described as a race in Hebrews 12:1 it is not a typical dog eat dog winner take all competition. In fact, in the race that we're running, helping others make it it's part of the rules. Helping others actually helps you in this race, it doesn't hurt you This misunderstanding comes from the word, translated "race." It actually means struggle. The metaphor of the race, however, does depict that this struggle has a beginning and an end. The idea of surpassing other Christians, however, is not implied in the word. Rather, this is an individual race in which God has set a goal for each one of us.
It is His desire that we each reach our goal. If we are going to reach for a goal victoriously it helps to know what victory looks like. When we were fighting in World War II, we knew that victory meant defeating the Germans and Japanese to stop their imperial advancement and attempts to rule the world. When you play a sport such as basketball, we know that whichever team put the ball in the basket more times wins. In golf, the objective is to get the ball into a whole. In his few strokes as possible. So, what is the goal of the Christian life? What does breaking the tape look like in this race? That's what we're going to talk about today.
What is the goal of the Christian life? What does victory looked like?
This is where a lot of good and well-intentioned people get confused. Some good and well-meaning people might say, "the goal of Christianity is to win others, to for saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. They base that assumption on the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Other folks will say, "the goal is that we should love God with all our heart and soul mind and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves." They base that on the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Along the same lines, others will say, "the Golden rule; do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). Now, don't get me wrong. These are absolutely vital to the Christian life. You can't live the Christian life without these, but they are not the end goal. Saying these things are the goal of the Christian life is like the runner of a race saying, "my goal is not to step on my shoelaces as I am running and trip myself." Or, my goal is to stay in my lane, and not run into the other runner's lanes. Not tripping on your shoelaces, and not crossing your lane in competition is a very good thing. In fact, if you do some of the things, you can be disqualified, but it is not the goal of running the race. The goal of running the race is the better your running time, or finish ahead of your opponent. When it comes to the Christian life, the great commandment, the great commission and the Golden rule are absolutely vital parts of running the race of life well. They are incredible tools and guidelines to help us reach our goal. Quite simply, the goal of the Christian life is this:
To be Transformed from the inside out until I…
Love, like Jesus
In order to get there, I must learn to
· Think more like Jesus would think
· Talk like Jesus would talk
· Act and respond as He would act and respond when facing my situations.
1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Training to Break the Tape
If the goal of Christianity is to be transformed from the inside out until, I think like Jesus, talk like Jesus, and respond to life situations, like Jesus, and lovely Jesus. How do I get there? The answer is simple: training, training, and more training.
If they are willing to train so hard for very temporary acclaim and rewards, how much more should we be willing to work and train ourselves for the eternal rewards?
1 Timothy 4:1-11 (NRSV)
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will renounce the faith by paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
2 through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared with a hot iron.
3 They forbid marriage and demand abstinence from foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving;
5 for it is sanctified by God's word and by prayer.
6 If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed.
7 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives' tales. Train yourself in godliness,
8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
9 The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance.
10 For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11 These are the things you must insist on and teach.
If you have ever seen the beginning of the marathon, it's a gorgeous sight. Please picture it in your mind. You might see hundreds of runners. All trying to establish their stride. If you've ever seen their feet. It's absolutely marvelous to watch the flurry of movement and the sound of pounding sneakers. For a while, all of the runners are running almost like a stampeding herd. At the beginning they are altogether, but eventually, little groups of runners start to emerge at each stage of the race. Depending on the length of the race, somewhere after the middle, runners begin to spread out until each individual athlete is alone with his thoughts. At that point, he is not just competing with the other runners, but he's competing not to defeat himself mentally.
The Winning Game Plan
· Remember that God’s word clearly tells us that we are in a struggle in our Christian life. Scripture likens it to a race. We are told that we should run this race in a purposeful way, as if to win (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). Succeeding in the Christian life is about finishing well, not starting well. In a race, many runners start well. The ones you remember are the ones who finished well
· Remember that to win you have to have a clear view of what victory looks like. The goal of the Christian life goes far beyond ministries or outreaches, or developing better behavior. The Goal, the victory in the Christian life is this: To be Transformed from the inside out until I… Love, like Jesus In order to get there, I must learn to Think more like Jesus would think Talk like Jesus would talk Act and respond as He would act and respond when facing my situations.
· To get us to that goal we are going to have to go into training to discipline ourselves into Godliness 1 Timothy 4:7-8 Have nothing to do with profane myths and old wives' tales. Train yourself in godliness, 8 for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
o Talk about Olympic training… Nothing worth having, that was really important ever came easily in this sinful world. When an athlete begins training for the Olympics, they may start as early as six years of age. It's not uncommon for them to put in, between six to eight hours a day. They'll sometimes start early in the morning and continue after school. These young children give up friends, parties, sleepovers and almost any other childhood pursuit. You can name to run for gold. Their families too make huge financial, emotional and time sacrifices. Why do they do that? They do it for the one slim chance that their little one will someday be up on the winner’s platform, hearing the national anthem. Altogether, the ceremonies and national acclaim last for about five minutes before they go on to the next event. The parents and the athletes will often tell you that they think the price is well worth it.
o If they worldly people are willing to train so hard for very temporary acclaim and rewards like a medal, how much more should we be willing to work and train ourselves for the eternal rewards?
o If I could give advice to every Christian, one thing I would say is this: If you want to successfully train yourself for the Christian life, develop a state of mind where you understand that everything... absolutely everything you go through, is something that God desires and intends to use in order produce the character of Christ within you! Much of the training athletes will go through deals with making them mentally prepared for competition. In most competitions, the athlete’s state of mind has more to do with performance than almost anything else. The Christian life is no different. I see Christians often defeated by their state of mind, far more often than their circumstances.
- Are you struggling with fears? God intends to use your fears to give you an opportunity to diligently seek him so that he can deliver you (Psa. 34:5).
- Are you struggling with doubt? Jesus the author of faith, is trying to use it to draw you to himself, and author new faith inside you (Hebrews 12:2).
- Are you struggling with weakness? God is trying to show you that in your weaknesses, His strength is made more perfectly visible (2 Corinthians12: 7-10).
- Are you struggling with temptation? God's desire behind the testing, is to reveal what is in our heart and to produce a robust faith (Deuteronomy 8:2-3 James 1:3, 12). God allowed His people to hunger so they could experience His provision and develop a deeper level of trust in Him. As the people walked with God they came to understand that their lives depended upon His Word. They learned that God's Word was the most important thing they had. After depending on God for forty years while living in the desert, the people listened when God spoke, and they believed. When they finally entered the Promised Land and waged war against their enemies, the Israelites knew that God's word meant life and death. They were prepared to listen to Him, and as a result He led them to an astounding victory
- He intends to use everything... absolutely everything to transform us from the inside out into someone that loves like Jesus, thinks like Jesus, talks like Jesus and responds in every situation we face is Jesus would. To get us there, he will use our successes and our failures. He will use our faith and our doubts. He will use our talents and strengths, and our weaknesses too. He will use absolutely everything we face, to help us reach that goal!!
o The second piece of advice that I would give to every Christian could, is this: Training is sometimes painful but Please Don’t waste the pain!!! Every single person born on the planet will suffer good times and bad times. Every single person born on earth has times when they are more fulfilled, and when they suffer lack. Every single person has times when they enjoy bliss and times when they suffer pain and agony. Every single life is touched by both joys and sorrows. This is true no matter if you're white, black, yellow, brown or red; rich or poor. Every single person suffers both joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain. Mathhew 5:45 tells us ...He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. So then the only variable is, at the end of your various pain, what will you have to show for it? The greater tragedy is not the and we go through, but the opportunities we miss to allow that and to create character. Would it not be awful to go through all the pain not have the growth to show for it. That's what causes our greatest regret. Don't miss the opportunity to allow God to use your pain to create character.
· The Practical Side of training. Read the word, talk the word, do the word
o When you read the word, separate out what are the promises? what are the teachings? What the commands?
o There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament for Christians to obey. My advice is that you pray, ask God to lead you, and than pick one that you are go to work on implementing in better in your life. As you become more deliberate about walking out Scripture in your life, you'll likely run into difficulties (you will either run into mental challenges, emotional challenges or physical challenges that you will need to overcome in order to successfully obey a particular scripture. That's okay, that's the whole point! Don't run from the difficulties. Don't you say to yourself "Well, it's all covered under the blood of Jesus, so it doesn't matter."
o Let me give you an example. Philippians 2:14 (NKJV) Do all things without complaining and disputing." Chances are, the moment you decide to become more deliberate about doing everything without complaining and murmuring. You'll become more aware of how often you're tempted to complain. The challenge for you here is not to be discouraged. Don't just gloss over the feelings, talk to God about them and work through them. Work with God and cooperate with him, to redirect your thinking until your feelings and attitudes change. Try it. Make a decision that for one whole week, you are going to make a deliberate choice to go through what ever you encounter without complaining. Then were through, what ever challenges come. Check up on one another. Ask each other how you doing. Pray for your teammates, your brothers and sisters in his church to succeed, along with you. You might even decide as a church to take one or two commands a month that you are going to focus on, and encourage each other in.
Don't forget that in this race we are not alone. Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us Remember that the people of faith who’ve run the race before us give examples
Brother Isaiah… Sisters Abigail, Ruth, Naomi Corie Tem Boon. Brothers Martin Luther, Detrik Bon Hoffer, Moses, and David. All of these people of faith are cheering us on. Let's strive to train and run a good race. That way will be able to echo the words of Paul
2 Timothy 4:7-8 (Darby) 7 I have combated the good combat, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will render to me in that day; but not only to me, but also to all who love his appearing.