Summary: A short end-of-the-year message encouraging us to go into the coming year running strongly.

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Finish Stong and Run the Race

Looking ahead to the next year.

1 Cor. 9:24-27.

I. Intro.

As we come to the close of another year, one’s mind turns to a few things:

 Memories of the past year or years.

 What’s in store for next year.

 Football playoffs.

 And resolutions!!

Now, don’t raise your hands, but how many of you have broken a New Year’s resolutions? There is a quote that says that many good plans die in the land of good intentions.

We’re going to talk a bit tonight about finishing strongly this year, and next. You see, it’s not too late to finish this year well.

Let’s look at our passage of Scripture for tonight – 1 Cor. 9:24-27.

Do you not know that in a race al the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, 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.

II. Run the Race.

A. First, notice that all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. The issue here is not that we win in everything, but that we run to win – run with purpose, not aimlessly, as mentioned in v. 26.

B. Everyone who competes goes into strict training. We are going to talk mainly about spiritual disciplines here in a bit, but let me give you an illustration about physical readiness with a look at an episode from that highly theological television series, Sanford and Son. (story)

C. We need to beat our body to make it our slaves. I realize some translations say “buffet.” This is not “buffet,” although I am not opposed to that every now and again, as some of my co-workers can tell you. The idea here is that we want to avoid the hypocrisy that the world uses as an excuse to not follow Christ.

III. Specifics.

Let’s look at some specific ways we can go into the New Year running as to get the prize.

A. First, RE-EVALUATE everything you do for spiritual disciplines.

1. Ask yourself, “WHY do I do this?” Do you do it because you were told to do it, or because you have an honest desire to deepen your relationship with God?

2. Ask your self, “Why do I do it THIS way?” The way you pray, read through the Bible, do Bible study, etc.?

B. Secondly, REARRANGE your patterns and habits in these areas.

1. If you have prayed the same way for a number of years (maybe using a certain formula), try something new.

2. If you have been reading through the Bible in a certain fashion, look for other reading programs.

3. If you have not memorized Scripture in a systematic fashion, start!

C. Thirdly, RENEW your commitment to doing those things that truly expose you to more of His wisdom and love more and more.

D. There is a sense of excitement with starting something new. It can open your heart and mind to new and wonderful things in Scripture you never saw before – and THAT will give you new glimpses of the Savior – how exciting!!

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