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Summary: In life… the greater challenge proves to be not so much how to succeed… but how to last. The course we choose is critical… but so is the strength to stay that course.

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(Note: Some of the structure and portions of this message drew upon ‘A Life Worth Living’

material by Nicky Gumbel and Alpha.)

Bob W. Ireland crossed the finish line on Thursday, November 6, 1986, as the New

York City marathon’s 19,413th and final finisher - the first person to run a marathon with his

arms instead of his legs. Think of it! Bob is a forty-year-old Californian whose legs were blown

off in Vietnam seventeen years ago. He recorded the slowest time in the marathon’s history: 4

days, 2 hours, 48 minutes, 17 seconds. When asked why he ran the race, he gave these three

reasons: to show he was a born-again Christian, to test his conditioning, and to promote

physical fitness for others. He said, "Success is not based on where you start, it’s where you

finish, and I finished."+

In life… the greater challenge proves to be not so much how to succeed… but how to last.

The course we choose in critical… but so is the strength to stay that course.

It’s true of one’s walk as a radical follower of Jesus. We may come to recognize who Christ is

and what he is calling us to be… decide to follow… but so much can then draw us away…

distract us .. dissuade us…

Jesus knew this and spoke to this.

This morning we hear wisdom from the great apostle Paul on how to live with extraordinary

strength.

Philippians 4:1-9 (NIV)

Therefore, my brothers, you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, that is how you

should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!

2

I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord. 3 Yes,

and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause

of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the

book of life.

4

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to

all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and

petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which

transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think

about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—

put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

[ NAMES : Euodia – You Oh Dia & Syntyche - Soon Too Kay (Strong’s Dictionary)

= Udie and Sue

v.1 ‘you whom I love and long for, my joy and crown ‘…they were his beloved crown

How appropriate that we should come to these words of wisdom on this particular day.

• Words of a father to their spiritual children.

• Words of one giving a commencement speech at a graduation of students who need words

of wisdom to guide them through life.

Four things to guard and govern well.

1. Conflict – Watch your relationships with others

Clash between two women… well regarded leaders… probably of house churches… probably

of personalities because Paul doesn’t take sides… and asks others to help.

Respect… and perspective

• ‘who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel’

• ‘fellow workers’

• ‘whose names are in the book of life.’

> It is one of the ways that people fall away from following Christ.

Ex – people who say they use to follow… but then someone hurt their feelings… broke their

trust… conflict can leave walls of defense and something painful that wants to be avoided.

When conflict arises our ordinary sense of strength is to become more defensive and

defiant… but Paul says… it’s a pseudo strength.

Hurt can make us feel weakened… so anger comes and offers a sense of strength… but

it’s only pseudo strength.. a feeling … a false strength if we chose to let us consume us.

Illus – Spiderman 3… at first he is afraid of what is taking him over… and then he begins

to like the new sense of strength… power… until he realizes it will destroy his destiny.

When you experience conflict, draw upon community to resolve it.

Go to those who share your values and vision… not merely those who support your case or

anger… but who can help bring reconciliation and peace.

2. Anxiety – Watch your relationship with the Lord

The Greek word translated “anxious” (Philippians 4:6) means “to be pulled in different

directions.”

If anybody had an excuse for worrying, it was the Apostle Paul. His beloved Christian

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