Summary: Running the race of faith requires building a strong foundation on the Word of God and practice.

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January 18, 2009

Morning worship

Text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Subject: Your Christian Walk

Title: Setting the Pace to Finish Strong

Thirty – nine years ago this May I graduated from high school in Troy, MO. I was an average student. I did well I the classes I wanted to do well in and didn’t do as well in classes that bored me. One of the classes that I did excel in was French. I took French I my sophomore year, followed by French II in my junior year. I was so good in French that the other students hated me. Our French teacher always graded tests on a curve and because I really liked the class and for some reason it seemed to come naturally to me, I seldom got less than a 98% on a test. That set the curve pretty high so most of the other students ended up with B’s and C’s. Now, the reason that I did well in French class was that I made up my mind to do so and then I went to work. I worked very hard at the foundations of the French language structure. I dissected sentences, I conjugated verbs, I learned to spell correctly, I did everything that I need to do in order to build the right foundation. That was French I. French II brought much of the same along with countless hours listening to tapes and imitating the French vowel and consonant sounds. At the end of two years I thought that I was done with French. The school only offered two years. But the teacher recognized that there were two of us who were head and shoulders above the other students and she offered French III for the very first time. It was then that we began reading French novels and poetry and going deeper into the structure of the language. Now what I learned back then has never benefited me in any way. I’ve never been in a job where I needed to know French. I have never run into anyone who spoke French and needed an interpreter. But, after thirty – nine years some of what I have learned has stuck with me.

Let me share a stanza from a poem that I learned back then.

Le ciel est noir, la terre est blanche;

Cloches, carillonnez gaiement !

Jésus est né, - la Vierge penche

Sur lui son visage charmant.

Pretty cool stuff huh? Now if I could just remember what it meant! I can translate it a little bit but not too much.

The reason that I am telling you this is to show you that with the proper foundation and motivation there is nothing that will ever be too difficult for you. And whatever foundation you build upon will carry you through in your Christian walk until the end. If you build your foundation on self you will struggle through your faith walk, but if you build it upon faith in the word of God you will make it through till the end.

I can only speculate what might have been had I responded to God’s grace as a younger man. But it is never too late to build a foundation and finish what you have begun.

Today I want to look at seven things that will enable you to finish the race.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Lord open my eyes to see and my ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.

1. Runners win by moving forward. 24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Last week I shared with you about the seed principle – how what is sown in you through faith in Jesus Christ needs to cultivated and nurtured with the right things. The world is full of runners and each of those runners is running toward a final destiny – believers running toward heaven and unbelievers for hell. Columnist Herb Caen wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running." Spurgeon wrote likewise: "If you are not seeking the Lord, the Devil is seeking you. If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels."

In the Christian life, it’s not enough simply to wake up. We are called to run, to become more like Christ, to press ahead in godliness. You cannot win a race by going backwards. Everyone, even the most mature Christian, falls occasionally. But when you fall you need to fall forward into the arms of a loving God and not fall backward into your old life. Hebrews 12:1-2, 1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…

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