Summary: Life is a race that all must run.
We are in a race, aren’t we? Did you know that life is a race that all must run, and when I hear the athletes talk about their "race to the finish line", they always say that it’s all about finishing. Your Christian walk is all about finishing, too. Now, everyone will eventually finish this race of life...but not all will acheive the prize. I want to talk to you Christians today about your race and how to "stay the course." There should be 4 goals for all Christians
1. TO KNOW HIM INTIMATELY. Listen, you don’t marry someone that you don’t know very well....if you do, it probably won’t last long, will it? You need to know everything there is to know about this person. When I say intimacy, I am talking about those things that you need to share with the one you love...no secrets....real feelings...no fake put-ons. You can maybe do that with people for a while, but Jesus won’t be fooled. When you meet someone, you must spend time getting to know them, and then continue to spend time with them. What happens whenever husbands neglect their wives or vise-versa? They loose that intimacy that makes their relationship special. If you neglect spending time with God, you will lose your intimacy, too. Listen, I know about Tony Romo...but he doesn’t know about me. With Jesus, it’s not enough to know about Him. We need to know Him intimately.....
2. TO EXPERIENCE HIS RESURRECTION POWER. We know how powerful that is, don’t we? When Jesus was resurrected, the power was so great that the Bible tells us that many righteous people also came back to life! MAT 27:52,53 Notice Paul doesn’t say the power that was "in" the resurrection. He says the power "of" the resurrection. That power was not a one-time event, but an on-going power that is availible to Christians today on a day-to-day basis.EPH 1:18-20 Now, that’s power!
3. DIE TO SELF. This is a hard one, isn’t it? Jesus Himself said to deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow me. None of us wants to suffer. It is unpleasant. We want what we want, and we want it now. Remember Jesus’s prayer in the garden? He said not my will, but thine be done. Do you pray that when you pray? Or are you too busy praying for things YOU want? Paul didn’t particularly WANT to suffer....but he DID want to be obedient...no matter what the cost might be, Paul was willing to pay it. Are you? So much so that you are willing to..
4. PERSEVERE TO THE END. Why was Paul so willing to be obedient? To give all? VS 11 tells us it is so that he can achieve that resurrection....like Jesus...and live eternally. That’s what I live for...and what I will die for eventually. Here are 7 keys to fininshing this race.....
1. KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. In VS 12 Paul says that he has not "attained" it yet...but he knows that if he is faithful to the end, he will be a partaker in that glorious eternal life. And you can, too! Praise God! Paul is not saying that he can’t grab hold of it, or the way eludes him. He is saying that "hey, I am not where I want to be in Christ yet". He’s trying...and I know you are, too. But if Paul recognized that he still needed to mature in Christ, how much more do we need to mature?
2. KNOW WHERE IT BEGINS. Paul says in VS 12 that we must make EVERY effort because Christ had already gotten hold of Paul, hadn’t He? That "road to Damascus" experience showed Paul a thing or two....Have you had your "road to Damascus" experience? Have you been taken hold of by Jesus?
3. SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE. HEB 12:1 Listen, you’d look pretty silly running a race while carrying a suitcase in your hand. We must simplify our lives enough to concentrate on Jesus and this race! Too often, we are so focused on the cares of this life that the race becomes secondary or even third-ary..(is that a word?) It must be PRIMARY! And I’m not talking about the primary they’re having for the Pesidentcy! It’s scarey to even think about THAT race...:)
4. FORGET THE PAST. This is very good advice. Think you have a bad past? Some of us do! Listen, Paul used to hunt Christians down and have them killed! How offensive can you be against Jesus? You know that wherever Paul went, people remembered his past. The man that God sent to pray for Paul’s healing didn’t even want to go...he knew of Paul! Some of us may have a past that we would consider harmful to the Kingdom, but God can and will use your past to His glory. What if Paul would have told Jesus.."Oh, I can’t evangelize for you...everybody knows me"? Forget the past, you can’t change it!