Summary: This is the seventh and final message in my NASCAR-themed "Finish Line" series, focusing upon living a faithful life and finishing a life of faith. (06-05-05)
Reaching the Checkered Flag
Bible Truths and LIFE Applications
So many people honestly think that coming to know Jesus … being saved … is the end result of their spiritual journey. They could not be further from the truth!
Knowing Jesus is only the beginning … it is the beginning of a lifelong race of faith. There are many spiritual “miles” that we must travel before this race of life and faith is over. We must work and prepare to run this race of faith with God for our entire lifetimes!
How can you stay focused on the “finish line?”
1. Know that there are others who have successfully completed this race of life and faith. (v. 1a)
• There are the great heroes of the faith in the Bible.
• There are the heroes of the faith in your own life.
2. Get ready to run an effective, lifelong faith-race. (v. 1b)
• Get rid of anything that will distract you from running the race effectively.
• Avoid getting tangled in a web of sin.
• Don’t burn out … run with perseverance.
3. Keep your focus on Jesus, not upon yourself. (vv. 2-3)
• Remember Peter’s experience!
4. Stay strong … do not give up … finish the race! (v. 3b)
• If you follow Jesus, the world will be against you.
• Always remember, this is just a temporary stop on the way to real life!
One Last Application
Never fool yourself into thinking that you have “arrived,” or you are more spiritually “together” than others around you. No mater how spiritually mature you think you may be, you always have some growing to do.’
Remember … the race isn’t over until you are standing before Jesus!
Reaching the Checkered Flag
Before we get into today’s study, let’s review a little from last week …
A Little Review From “Surviving a Crash”
1. Keep your faith in God.
3. Maintain your complete trust in God.
4. Beware of bad advice.
5. Wait upon the Lord. He remains in control.
Two gas company service men, a senior training Supervisor and a young trainee were out checking meters and parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked there way to the other end. At the last house a woman looking out her kitchen window watched the two men as they checked her gas meter. As they finished the meter check the older supervisor challenged his younger co-worker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck.
As they came running up to the truck, they realized that the lady from the last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong. Gasping for breath she said, "When I see two gas men running full speed away from my house, I figured I had better run too."
Contributed by: Stan Martin to sermoncentral.com
That lady was running, wasn’t she? Now, she wasn’t exactly sure why she was running, but she seemed to think that her life depended on it.
Wouldn’t it be truly awesome if every person who claims the name of Christ, every individual who desires to be called a Christian, would run the race of faith as if their lives depended on it … because they do!
But, sadly, many Christian folk aren’t really even in this race of faith. Oh, they may have been saved … they have come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord … but that’s it. They’re not growing, they’re not serving, and they’re not sharing their faith. It’s like they jumped across the starting line … and then they laid down to rest. They have taken themselves out of the race before it even really started.
Today, friends, I want us to finish this series by learning how we can finish the race. I want us to talk about Reaching the Checkered Flag. You know, in a NSACAR race, it doesn’t matter how well dressed the driver is or how pretty the car is. It doesn’t matter how much money their sponsors gave them. And it really doesn’t matter how fast they run … unless they actually cross that finish line. Really, it is all for naught unless they cross that line and see that checkered flag waved over the track.
Friends, those of us who follow Jesus have to realize that we are still on the track. We have not finished the race. We cannot just sit back and relax and wait for Jesus to come back. We have a job to do. We have more laps to run. We have many miles to cover.
I’m sure that there are some of you here today who are on God’s team, but you’re not really in the race of faith. You’re a whole lot more interested in what you can get out of your faith and your church than you are in what you need to put into them. If that’s the case in your life, then this is going to be a very important message for you today.