Summary: A sermon that uses a NASCAR theme so we can all run the race.
There are many forms of racing in our world today.
Right now the Winter Olympics are happening and there are many different racing venues there.
You have races for people who walk, run, swim, bike skate, snow board, snow ski, water ski. There are races for people who like snowmobiles, water craft, cars and trucks.
They had races in the Bible days. The two common forms would have been the chariot races and the foot race.
In 1 Corinthians the Apostle Paul uses race language as he writes to the Corinthian people.
These people were very familiar with racing because they held the Isthmian games just outside their city. These games were similar to our modern day summer Olympics.
They had events like the discus throw, wrestling, gymnastics, and of course the foot race.
All of these athletes would come from every part of the Mediterranean to compete for the prize and the fame of winning at these games.
They had some good prizes too. The winner was crowned with a wreath, they would receive free tuition at a place of higher education, they would be exempt from paying taxes and they would be exempt from serving in the military. Then to top it off, a statue in their likeness would be erected and placed along the road.
Those are some pretty cool prizes.
Paul says something in the Scripture that we are going to ready in a few moments that brings up an interesting question. He says that they all compete to get the prize but only one gets the prize.
The question that it brings up is; If only one person gets the prize then why compete?
Why does anyone compete in anything? So they can try to win.
People compete for one or two reasons; they like the sport and they want the victory!
And here is the thing about winning, if you are going to win the prize you are going to have to work hard, practice, and train so that when it come time to compete you can compete at the highest level you can.
The Greek word for victory is nike. No wonder Phil Knight choose this word as the name of his shoe company.
No matter what form of racing you enjoy, the final objective for everyone who is in the competition is to gain the victory, to win the prize.
As you all know, I am a big NASCAR fan. I love going to stock car races, I love watching them all make those left hand turns at 190 mph.
There are some people who protest that stock car drivers are not athletes. I happen to disagree with them. I liken them to the chariot racers in the movie, Ben Hur.
Whatever kind of racing you like, we all share this one thing in common; we like to see our favorite racer win the race.
We all like to see our team or our driver, or our athlete standing in the winners circle or on the winner’s podium, but do we really understand the price that these athletes paid to win?
Most athletes go through years of training and discipline so they can learn their sport and be the best they can be at it.
The same is true for us as children of God.
As Christians we need to have the right training and we need to discipline ourselves so that we can win the final prize because without proper training and without discipline the prize will always be out of reach.
Father, open my eyes to see Your Word.
Open my ears to hear.
Open my mind to understand.
And open my heart so I may receive Your Word today.
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others; I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV
I am going to share with you five brief points today so that you can run the most important race you will ever run in your life and come out a victor.
The race that we are running is the race of life and the prize is eternal life with God in heaven. Paul explained this race in Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”