Who Wants to Be A Winner?
1. Filling Pews at any Cost
According to the Charlotte N.C. Monitor,
"Churches are trying a variety of tactics, including cash prizes, to fill the pews. Pastor Rod Loy held a "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" game at First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Ark., according to the Christian Science Monitor. Two winners took home $1,000 each when they answered biblical questions. Loy has brought tigers, camels, and elephants to the sanctuary for Christmas pageants to attract new members.
Other churches send visitors gift baskets filled with fresh bread and fruit, or offer them gift certificates to restaurants, according to the newspaper. Other pastors have created games, fancy food courts, or glitzy games to fill pews.
Opinions vary about these tactics. Some ministers say the enticements are worth it if they bring people into contact with the Bible. Others say the tactics cheapen church. "Our influence over men must not be human manipulation, but divine inspiration," Joseph Chambers of Paw Creek Ministries in Charlotte, N.C., told the Monitor.
www.ReligionToday.com, quoted in Pulpit Helps
2. But there is another contest that has eternal consequences: "Who Wants of Be A Winner" in the Kingdom of God? But this competition is not between individuals; it is an internal one. As Christians, we must learn to be more competitive.
3. Just as most of us are comfortable but far from being millionaires, so there is a difference between those who are saved and those who are great in God’s Kingdom.
2 Peter 1:10-11 reads: "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
In Mark 9:34, we read, "They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, ’What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, ’If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.’"
• Note that Jesus encourage them to seek to be great in God’s Kingdom
• But He told them a more accurate way to attain this greatness
• Too many Christians today have too little concern about being great in God’s Kingdom because they do not really believe it matters…
• We all want to be a somebody, and instead of directing that instinct toward eternity, many Christians have a track record of condemning it…
• One of these days, I am going to write a book about this sort of thing…I’ll call it "institutionalized nonsense." Christians have a track record of not letting men be men, not letting women be women, teens teens, kids kids, and here, humans human. We have to get over this strange discomfort with humanity.
4. Everyday you compete with yourself over this issue, whether you are aware of it or not. And this battle is won or lost in the realm of the mind.
Main idea: Do you have a spiritually winning mentality? Are you a winner, or a loser?
TS---> By eavesdropping on Paul’s conversation to the Philippians, we can see his victorious spiritual mentality summarized in four assertions.
I. I Am Not SATISFIED with My Relationship to God (12a)
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect…"
1. I have not obtained ALL THIS
Joseph Benson: “literally, not that I have already received, namely, the blessings which I am in pursuit of, even that complete knowledge of Christ, of the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his sufferings, and conformity to his death just mentioned; either were already perfect”
2. My life has not yet reached its GOAL
• Perfection can mean sinless ness, or it can mean completion; I think here it means completion.
2 Timothy 4:7-8, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
• It is pretty rough to reach your life’s goal if you do not have one or more
• My purpose is the same as every believers: to glorify God in a maximum and balanced way with all of my life
• My life’s goals are pretty broad: to know God, to develop a strong and good Christian family, and to impact and influence the Kingdom of God for good.
• What are your life’s goals? Did the Purpose Driven Life help you?
3. I have a holy DISCONTENT
• Contentment in life is a VIRTUE; contentment with my spiritual condition is a VICE
• Complacency is bad news
• "Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. "Good enough" becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course -- downhill. They draw false strength from looking back."
• Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, p. 15.
• I have personally found that creativity helps fight complacency
II. I Have A Sense of PURPOSE (12b)
"…but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me."
1. For what REASONS did Jesus Christ lay hold of you?
1. God calls all believers to responsibilities we share in common
2. But then he calls us to a specific set of niches
2. We need a GOAL we have not yet attained; a calling that will stretch us, that demands more of us than we can give, that is more important than anything else, that requires us to stretch and trust God; an adventure that is more than amusement, but one with a real purpose.
3. A lot of people think they are unhappy with their lives, their jobs, or their routines; but often the problem is that they are not allowing God to STRETCH them.
4. Being stretched typically means listening to God…and then being WILLING to do what God is leading us to do…
David Guzik illustrates:
"When Spain led the world (in the 15th century), their coins reflected their national arrogance and were inscribed Ne Plus Ultra which meant "Nothing Further" - meaning that Spain was the ultimate in all the world. After the discovery of the New World, they realized that they were not the "end of the world" - they changed the inscription on their coinage to Plus Ultra - meaning "More Beyond." Which motto better expresses your Christian life - "Nothing Further" or "More Beyond"?"
III. I Refuse to Be A HAS Been (13)
"But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind…"
1. Paul often refers to his PAST in various ways
2. He is not talking about taking an occasional STROLL down memory lane; he is talking about not camping out there. We have all known people who live in their past. If you ask them what they are doing for the Lord, they’ll tell you stories of 20 years ago.
3. The main reason people camp out on Memory Lane is that they are taking an ESCAPIST posture; but God doesn’t want any of us to be “has beens.” Our roles may change, but our purpose never does. He leaves us here for His reasons.
IV. I Want to Lunge into the Future With BOLDNESS (14)
"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
1. This striving would not be the discipline of following the LAW, as the false teachers had taught; such discipline had done nothing to bring Paul closer to Christ…
2. We have to face the fact that stretching forward toward God’s calling on your life may take three ENTITIES you are not willing to part with: time, money, and energy.
3. The "upward calling" could refer to the summons to the winner to approach the elevated stand of the judge and receive his prize; could be the same as Jesus’ “well done, good and faithful servant or Peter’s “abundant entrance.”
4. You might not be well known in our community. Maybe people have ignored you throughout your entire life. But if you walk with the King, the trumpets will blast as you enter heaven’s gate and you’ll be a somebody…forever.
1. Go into TRAINING
2. Start SMALL…all or nothing types often receive nothing!
3. Grow gradually by ADDITION, not multiplication
4. Vary your growth METHODS