Sermons

Summary: Attributes of people who finish what they start.

The 2000 movie, "The Patriot" starred Mel Gibson as Benjamin Martin, a Revolutionary War hero. Martin’s 18-year-old son, Gabriel, enlists in the conflict and he spends the first half of the movie diligently repairing an American flag he found in the dirt.

Tragically, Gabriel becomes a casualty of the war, and, suffering deep loss, his father Benjamin Martin appears ready to quit the cause. While Martin is grieving at the side of his dead son, Colonel Harry Burwell, a Continental officer, tries to persuade Martin not to quit. He recognizes Martin has a great influence on the soldiers and his departure would demoralize the troops.

As the scene opens, the colonel says, "Stay the course, Martin. Stay the course."

This was the same thing Martin’s wife, who died years earlier, had said to him when life got difficult. And always, her admonition to "stay the course" would give him the necessary courage to continue, whatever the obstacle.

But in this instance, totally grief-stricken, Martin responds to the admonition "stay the course" with, "I’ve run the course." Resigned to the outcome, the colonel informs the troops and they ride on, leaving Martin behind.

As Martin loads his son’s personal effects on his horse, though, he finds the American flag Gabriel had successfully restored.

As the dejected soldiers ride away, certain they have seen the last of Benjamin Martin, Martin appears in the distance, carrying the flag. With determination in his posture, he rides upright in his saddle, face like a flint, the Stars and Stripes whipping in the wind. Martin has been a symbol of perseverance for the men, and there is a triumphant shout of both relief and excitement from the once-weary troops as they see "the patriot" crest the hill.

(Story from PreachingToday.com, "The Patriot": Perseverance in Heartbreak)

My goal today is to help us all find something in the Word of God just like Martin found something in his son’s personal effects to cause us to "stay the course".

The Apostle Paul was certainly a follower of Christ who "stayed the course". Listen carefully to his enlightening words from his First Letter to the Church at Corinth, chapter nine, verses 24 through 27 (NIV):

"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. 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize."

From these insightful words of Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, we learn...

ATTRIBUTES OF PEOPLE WHO FINISH WHAT THEY START.

1. FINISHERS LEARN FROM OTHER FINISHERS. (1 Corin. 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.")

Paul instructs us to run like the ones who won the race, not like the ones who lost. "Run in such a way as to get the prize."

The "prize" for Christ followers will be the rewards given by Christ when we see Him one day in heaven. We do not run the race in order to get to heaven. Christ has already finished and won that race. All who have placed their faith in Him have already obtained eternal life.

We run the race to bring glory to Christ. Those who honor Christ in this life will be rewarded to various degrees.

But the important question is, How do winners do it? How do they finish the race? After all, everyone eventually encounters the temptation to give up; to quit; to throw in the towel. What makes some folks quitters and other folks finishers?

The answers can be learned by observing finishers.

That’s why I have always enjoyed reading and sometimes collecting biographies. From characters on the pages of the Word of God, to historical figures, to sports figures, to literary figures, in every field of endeavor there are folks who finished and we can learn from them.

I’ll tell you a couple of things I’ve learned from reading about the lives of finishers.

a. FINISHERS LIVES AREN’T ANY EASIER THAN OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES.

It’s easy for all of us to justify our quitting attitudes with statements like "if I only had as easy as so and so I’d be successful too."

If you will read about the lives of successful people you will find they didn’t have it any easier than the rest of us.

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