Faith Bible Church of Lake Charles
Go for the Gold!
- Bible Trivia
- Go For the GoldMy favorite quotations come from Yogi Berra. He was so known for his quirky sayings that they became known as Yogi-isms. As funny as they are, many of them are unusually philosophical. Here are a few:"Nobody goes to that restaurant any more -- it's too crowded.""If people don't want to come out to the ball park, nobody's going to stop them."Someone asked Yogi what time it was; he said, "You mean now?"Yogi was asked his philosophy of life: "When you get to a fork in the road, take it.""I don't want to make the wrong mistake.""You can see a lot by watching.""If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else."There's actually a lot of truth in some of those statements. Spiritually speaking, if we don't know where we're going, we truly will end up somewhere else! It's important to have a goal, and to keep our eyes set on that goal.If we just spend our lives drifting spiritually, "hoping" that we'll end up where we want to be, we're just deceiving ourselves.Finishing the race of the Christian life well requires a sanctified dissatisfaction with our current level of maturity, devotion to Jesus, a future-oriented direction and the last two requirements we will talk about in today's message.Listen to the determination in the Apostle Paul’s voice...14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.So far we’ve covered the first few requirements for finishing the race of this Christian life well. They areA sanctified DissatisfactionA singular Devotion to Christ JesusA future-oriented DirectionToday we will cover the final two mentioned by Paul in this section of the book of Philippians.Here’s number one:Intense Determination14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“I press!” This same verb is translated “I follow after” in Philippians 3:12, and it carries the idea of intense endeavor.The Greeks used it to describe a hunter eagerly pursuing his prey. A person doesn’t become a winning athlete by listening to lectures, watching movies, reading books, or cheering at the games. They becomes a winning athlete by getting into the game and determining to win! The same zeal that motivated Paul when he persecuted the church (Phil. 3:6), he displayed in serving Christ. Come to think of it, what if Christians put as much determination into their spiritual life as they do their golfing, fishing, or bowling?There are two extremes to avoid here: (1) “I must do it all” and (2) “God must do it all!” These are two extremes that are heading for failure.“Let go and let God!” is a clever slogan, but it doesn’t fully describe the process of Christian living. What quarterback would say to his team, “OK, men, just let go and let the coach do it all!” On the other hand, no quarterback would say, “Listen to me and forget what the coach says!” Both extremes are wrong.The Christian runner with the spiritual mind realizes that God must work in him if he is going to win the race (Phil. 2:12–13). “Without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). God works in us that He might work through us.As we apply ourselves to the things of the spiritual life, God is able to mature us and strengthen us for the race. “Exercise thyself rather unto godliness!” (1 Tim. 4:7–8)Some Christians are so busy “dying to self” that they never come back to life again to run the race! And others are so sure they can make it on their own that they never stop to read the Word, pray, or ask for the power of the Lord.Toward what goal is the runner pressing with such spiritual determination? “The prize of the high [upward] calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). When he reaches the goal he will receive the reward!Again, Paul is not suggesting that we get to heaven by our own efforts. He is simply saying that just as the athlete is rewarded for his performance, so the faithful believer will be crowned when Jesus Christ returns. (See 1 Cor. 9:24–27But don’t worry about missing out. While only one athlete might receive a prize, all Christians may receive the reward. In addition, the laurel wreath of the Olympic Games will fade, but the crown Christ gives will never fade.)The important thing is that we reach the goal He has established for us. No matter how successful we may be in the eyes of men, we cannot be rewarded unless we “take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [us]” (Phil. 3:12, niv).Then number two...Discipline15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.It's not enough to run hard and win the race; the runner must also obey the rules. In the Greek games, the judges were very strict about this. Any infringement of the rules disqualified the athlete. He didn’t lose his citizenship (even though he disgraced it), but he did lose his privilege to participate and win a prize. In Philippians 3:15–16, Paul emphasizes the importance of the Christian remembering the “spiritual rules” laid down in the Word.One of the greatest athletes ever to come out of the United States was Jim Thorpe. At the 1912 Olympics at Stockholm, he won the pentathlon and the decathlon, and was undoubtedly the hero of the games. But the next year officials found that Thorpe had played semiprofessional baseball and therefore had forfeited his amateur standing.This meant that he had to return his gold medals and his trophy, and that his Olympic achievements were erased from the records. It was a high price to pay for breaking the rules. (BTW, Thorpe’s medals were reinstated in 1985 by the Olympic Committee.)This is what Paul has in mind in 1 Corinthians 9:24–27. “Any man who enters an athletic contest practices rigid self-control in training” (Phil. 3:14, wms). If the athlete breaks training, he is disqualified; if he breaks the rules of the game, he is disqualified. “No contestant in the games is crowned, unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5, wms).The issue is not what he thinks or what the spectators think but what the judges say. One day each Christian will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10–12). The Greek word for “judgment seat” is bema, the very same word used to describe the place where the Olympic judges gave out the prizes! If we have disciplined ourselves to obey the rules, we shall receive a prize.Bible history is filled with people who began the race with great success but failed at the end because they disregarded God’s rules. They didn’t lose their salvation, but they did lose their rewards (1 Cor. 3:15).It happened to Lot (Gen. 19), Samson (Judg. 16), Saul (1 Sam. 28; 31), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). And it can happen to us! It is an exciting experience to run the race daily, “looking unto Jesus” (Heb. 12:1–2).It will be even more exciting when we experience that “upward calling” and Jesus returns to take us to heaven! Then we will stand before the bema to receive our rewards! It was this future prospect that motivated Paul, and it can also motivate us.So let’s determine to keep pressing on, and be disciplined to do it according to God’s will.
- Bible Trivia
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