Bible Text: 1 Timothy 6:3-19
Series: NASCAR Comes To Church
Title: Take the Checkered Flag
Topic: Christian Living / Stewardship
Theme: Purposeful Growth in Christian Living / Stewardship of What We Have
Purpose: to be the Holy Spirit’s second witness calling God’s people in my care to commit themselves to live generously in order to experience true living.
Response: Individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will come forward and take a checkered flag to indicate their commitment to live generously.
Pattern: Parable leading to Textual Exposition
Visual Illustration: Race flags; NASCAR memorabilia; R C car
It’s hard to remember that Jesus did not come to make us safe, but rather to make us disciples, citizen’s of God’s new age, a kingdom of surprise.
CITATION: STANLEY HAUERWAS quoted at PreachingToday.com
Jesus told stories called "parables" to bring everyday experiences along side eternal spiritual truths. His goal was to help people like you and me understand God and his kingdom. We’ve been calling the eternal truths his PATTERN FOR LIFE.
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE the NASCAR driver who works out everyday -- training hands, feet, eyes and mind to function at his peak on race day. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE the NASCAR driver who studies every rule and decision made by the Racing officials in order to avoid any possibility of being disqualified on race day. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE the NASCAR drivers who focus all their energy on finishing the race. Once the green flag has been waved they forget the qualifying runs. They know the prize goes to the winner and each one is determined to take the checkered flag. As the laps mount, up they try harder and harder to finish the race well because they know Victory Lane is reserved for one who finishes the race first -- no matter how many laps were led by someone else. (Philippians 3:13-14)
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE the NASCAR drivers who keep a sharp eye out for other drivers who might cut them off and send their cars into the wall. (Galatians 5:7)
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE the NASCAR drivers who work with their pit crews and other teammates to lighten and tune their cars so that they can have nothing holding them back on race day. (Hebrews 12:1-3)
These parables show us that we need to choose the Necessary Actions for Superb Christ-like Attitudes & Relationships because living according to God’s pattern for life doesn’t happen by accident. It is something we do intentionally.
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE NASCAR. Every driver lines up at the Starting Line with one purpose in mind. Every one of them is determined to complete the set number of laps and to cross the Finish Line. Every driver in a race has his/her own strategy for winning the race based on the car they are driving and the skills he/she possesses. The drivers know they must START WELL and FINISH FIRST in order to win. When the Green Flag is flying they concentrate all their thoughts and decisions on running a good race. They will follow the rules or they will face the Black Flag of disqualification. They are focused on doing their very best in hopes of crossing the Finish Line and receiving the Checkered Flag first. And every driver knows the power to win the race is not in his/her own skills, mind or strength. The power is under the hood as the engine converts fuel into acceleration and momentum.
This parable shows us that we need to pursue a love relationship with God and others. We need to plan and purposefully decide how to realize those relationships in our lives. The more we strive for these things the more we will see our need to pray in order to fill up on God’s power.
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE the NASCAR driver who refuses to drive the wrong way in a race and who also refuses to drive the wrong vehicle on the track. To do anything else would cost the driver a disqualification. It could even cost him and others their lives.
This parable shows us that we need to live according to God’s pattern for life. We dare not fall into the trap of thinking any and every lifestyle is acceptable. We must pursue progress in developing the attitudes and actions of Jesus with persevering purpose.
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE THE NASCAR DRIVER who knows he/she cannot win without a team. It takes a top-notch pit crew to change tires, adjust the car, and fill the fuel tank so fast that the driver doesn’t lose his/her position in the race. It takes a team of drivers, sponsors, owners and designers to win championships. So every driver develops a good team and treats each member well because he or she knows that the team is vital.
Living God’s way is a team effort. We cannot finish the race without each other. We need each other to share God’s love with those in need. We need each other to share God’s love with those who need a friend -- without trying to get something back from them. We need each other to share God’s love with those in the church.
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE THE NASCAR team owner who knows a very talented rookie driver is no match for a seasoned veteran on the track. Experienced drivers have learned many skills the rookies haven’t had a chance to learn. Some of the skills are conscious and some seem more like reflexes. But all the veterans’ skills have been learned by persevering through the hard knocks of race after race.
The skills we need for Superb Christ-like Attitudes and Relationships are developed over time as we learn from life’s hard knocks.
GOD’S PATTERN FOR LIFE IS LIKE THE NASCAR driver who is nearing the end of the race and knows he is in the lead. Every other driver is in the rearview mirror. Although the driver senses their presence and knows they are trying to pass him, he knows that there’s enough power under the hood to finish the race. And then it happens! His car rounds the final turn and he sees the white flag coming out to tell the drivers the last lap has begun. Despite the pressure from other drivers attempting to overtake him, the winning NASCAR driver races through that last lap with a smile of confident determination. The race is won! He will take the checkered flag and cruise into Victory Lane. That’s the feeling NASCAR drivers strive for. It’s the feeling that makes every sacrifice worth it.
Every follower of Jesus can have the same attitude in life. The apostle Paul put it this way in 2 Timothy 4:7-8. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day--and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."
Who are the "other drivers" we want to keep in our rearview mirrors?
1) Satan and all the fallen angels
2) Temptations we all face
3) The World’s Pattern for Living -- "peer pressure" or "everyone else does it"
4) People who are following Satan and the world’s pattern for living
Who helps us win our life race?
1) God’s Holy Spirit who lives in all committed followers of Jesus
2) Other drivers on God’s Racing Team
Application: What are the Necessary Actions for Superb Christ-like Attitudes & Relationships?
Living with the right MOTIVATION is the only way to take the lead in the race of life and to face your final lap with confident determination (1 Timothy 6:3-19).
1. The world’s pattern for life says, "True living comes from HAVING…."
1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching,  he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions  and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
1 Timothy 6:9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
2. God’s pattern for life says, "True living comes from GIVING…."
1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
1 Timothy 6:11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
1 Timothy 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
You can experience "the life that is truly living" by pursuing a love relationship with God and by giving in order to help others.
Responding to God:
God’s pattern for living is like NASCAR. It’s fairly simple to understand and it takes effort to live it out. But it all boils down to one question.
Will you take the checkered flag? Will you enter the final lap of your life race knowing that you’re ahead? Will you face the Finish Line with a smile of confident determination?
If so come forward and take a checkered flag to indicate your commitment to live according to God’s pattern for life. Stand here and we will pray together.