Summary: Each person must run the race themselves, no one can carry us to the finish line.

Preparation for Perfection"

Oct. 14, 2001

1 Cor. 9:24-27

One of our Elders at the retreat shared with me what an Elder had shared with him, he said "do not give the donkey all the hay at one feeding."

Being called a donkey by Stan and afterwards having spent much time analyzing what a donkey does, I can understand that illustration and I want you to know I really tried to apply it by writing a sermon with just 3 points, but I just couldn’t do it. The good news is that I quit with 4 points and they deal with our preparation for perfection.

As you know Stan referred to me as a donkey in one of his sermons and because my talents do not include being a visionary, I have tried to rely upon him to cast the vision.

You remember don’t you, about me carrying him up the stairs to paradise on my back. We got there and St Peter said " Stan get off your donkey and come on in".

I said "OK" that is it, I will be the best Donkey in the world and carry people to heaven one by one.

But one of my gifts is that I am an implementer, an evaluator. In other words if you are creative like my wife Cathi and you bring to me an idea or a vision, I will tell you in a little while, after a time of analysis whether or not your idea has merit or if it will fail miserably.

Well, I have to tell you, as we say in the South, this Donkey vision of Stan’s "won’t hunt." In other words it just won’t work (Nobody can carry you across the finish line). None of us can ride on the Donkey’s back, or hang on somebody’s shirttail and get the prize of heaven. Each one of us must fight the good fight and run the good race ourselves.

Now I know Stan’s talent list doesn’t include visionary either.

I can safely tell you today, that a visionary Stan is NOT! Do not go to Stan for a vision.

So I no longer see myself as the donkey carrying men, women and children up those steps to heaven where you can be presented pure, holy and mature in Christ.

The Lord doesn’t want you to ride into heaven on the back of a donkey, especially this old donkey.

He wants you to train for the race and finish the race so you get the prize and not the donkey.

As your family minister I have a mission statement that is simply "raising up an army for God"

My life verse has become Col 1:28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

I can oversee and provide Sunday school classes and Sunday night classes. I can develop Home Bible Fellowships, preach on Wednesday night and teach on Sunday morning and Sunday night. We can provide other events for spiritual growth like the class on Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation. I can schedule picnics and potlucks, camp outs and family game nights, dinners for 8, Stump the ministers, and many other programs, activities and classes, but if you will not come to the trough and eat. It is all in vein. If you will not suit up and be determined to enter and run the race all my efforts for you are futile.

This is exactly what the apostle Paul is telling the church in Corinth.

He is saying you must:

1. Run the Race to win

2. Discipline yourself

3. Stay on the Track

And the fourth one I really liked, b/c I love Buffets, don’t you?

4. Buffet your body daily

Paul knew, just like I know that, he had to run the race and you have to run the race. Only an undisciplined lazy man would climb on the back of a donkey for a free ride. If you are one of those who are trying to ride across the finish line on the back of somebody else, you need to know the donkey will win the prize and you will be disqualified from the race.

Listen to Paul’s words:

1 Cor 9:24 Do 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.

1 Cor 9:25 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.

1 Cor 9:26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.

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