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Summary: This is the second sermon in a series that brings NASCAR along side spiritual truths in order to help us understand God and his PATTERN FOR LIFE.

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Bible Text: 2 Timothy 2:15, 20-21

Series: NASCAR Comes To Church

Title: Start Well / Finish First

Topic: Christian Living

Theme: Purpose & Power for Christian Living

Purpose: to be the Holy Spirit’s second witness challenging God’s people in my care to determine to live out God’s purpose in his power.

Response: Individuals prompted by the Holy Spirit will

Pattern: Inductive Parable with deductive explanation & application

Visual Illustration: Race flags; NASCAR memorabilia; R C car

Introduction:

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 PATTERN FOR LIFE.

I think that if Jesus came to speak to us he might say, "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."

Conclusion:

WHAT DOES THIS PARABLE MEAN?

Just like every driver in a race wants to START WELL and FINISH FIRST, there is a UNIVERSAL PURPOSE for everyone on this planet. We exist to link life on EARTH with ETERNITY by living out the 2 Great Commandments. That means we all must "love God with all we have and are" and we all must "love our neighbor as ourselves."

And just as every driver in a race has his/her own strategy for winning the race, there is a UNIQUE PURPOSE for each individual on this planet. You and I exist to link ETERNITY with life on EARTH by living out God’s distinct gifts in us.

Key Question:

HOW can we START WELL and FINISH FIRST in the race of life? What are the Necessary Actions for Superb Christ-like Attitudes & Relationships?

Text: The Bible says:

Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message.

In a large house some dishes are made of gold or silver, while others are made of wood or clay. Some of these are special, and others are not. That’s also how it is with people. The ones who stop doing evil and make themselves pure will become special. Their lives will be holy and pleasing to their Master, and they will be able to do all kinds of good deeds.

Citation: The Contemporary English [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1995 by the American Bible Society.]

1. PURSUE the Universal Purpose. God created us to take the Checkered Flag and to join him in the Winners’ Circle. However, we all should be disqualified for trying to drive around the track of life in whatever way seemed best to us. The good news is that Jesus took the Black Flag for us when he died on the Cross. His blood stops the race (Red Flag) long enough for us to turn around and to start going God’s way. Then as we race under the Green Flag of loving God and others we can find our Unique Purpose. Fulfilling your Unique Purpose is a gift from God that he unwraps as you run the race. It is a process of discovery not a possession to hang on to. The joy is in the journey -- so relax.

2. PLAN to realize the Universal Purpose with each lap of your life. Make decisions and set goals. Look at your schedule for this week. Is it designed to help you love God and others? Or are you living by default -- being a slave to the urgent?

3. PRAY to fill up on God’s power. He will only fill us with his power when we determine to fulfill his purpose. But when we design our lives to love God and others and seek his help, the same power that created the universe from nothing, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead will flow through us.

THINK ABOUT IT:

• Are you living by design or by default?

• Have you started over trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice for you?

• Are you determined to live our God’s purpose with God’s power?

[A TIME OF SILENT PRAYER & MEDITATION]

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