Summary: Christian victories don’t come by chance; they come by grace through faith. And each one of us must choose through faith again and again. Reworks a Purpose Driven Life sermon outline on keeping spiritual momentum.
The Choices of a Champion
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Christian victories don’t come by chance; they come by grace through faith. And each one of us must choose through faith again and again.
All kinds of voices tell us to give up, back off, or take it easy. They can be voices of others who question if God exists because of evil in the world or lack of change among those who claim to follow Christ. They can be voices within our own spirit that lead to discouragement and doubt.
The Olympics draw to a close today. The United States has won more medals than ever before. Our countries’ athletes have tied the number of gold medals won in Athens 4 years ago. Michael Phelps achieved goals no one thought could be achieved. It was by dedication to practice and pressing on during performance that placed him and every other winning athlete in position to receive the prize. Athletic performance demonstrates vividly the importance of dedicated choices towards excellence in the face of trial, discouragement, pain, distraction, and so on. It’s a good picture of our lives.
Day by day all kinds of voices tell us to give up, back off, or take it easy. They can be voices of others who question if God exists because of evil in the world or lack of change among those who claim to follow Christ. They can be voices within our own spirit that lead to discouragement and doubt. Wondering if it’s worth it? Wondering when things will turn around.
Do you know the Bible tells us about a group of people that were facing just this kind of challenge? The voices around them were telling them following Jesus was useless. Their new found faith was being called into question and when anything bad or tough happened they were being encouraged to dump it all and come back to the religion they had let go.
The writer of Hebrews tells them, “Don’t ever forget those early days when you first learned about Christ.” Here these words from Hebrews 12:1-2 in the New Living Translation:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God’s throne in heaven.”
Are you familiar with the ups and downs of following Christ? This passage gives us five choices to make that will help us take on more of Christ. This is the life we want, isn’t it? Maybe recently you’ve been hearing voices tell you to throw in the towel. I want you to hear the voice of the Lord today telling you why you’ll be glad you didn’t give up and trusted Him!
The first thing God wants us to picture is a giant stadium filled with God’s people who have gone before us. This past Friday I witnessed one of the most inspiring services…it was the funeral of Rev. Hoover Smith. Today, Hoover is in this huge crowd of witnesses. He was my friend. He dedicated our daughter Ashley. I know He’s pulling for me. Therefore…
1. I choose to find strength from those who have gone before.
“Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith…let us run…the race God has set before us.”
• This is the clearest picture in Scripture that tells us of the cheering section of former saints. Whether it is because they have given us a Godly example or because they can literally see our activity we know that this can spur us on.
• Is there any question that there is a home field advantage in sport? Countries that host the Olympics win more medals than they usually do. Teams in professional sport expect to win most of their home games and hope to split on the road.
• Kids look up in the stands or out in the audience for that familiar face that will spur them on.
• There is strength in having witnesses pulling for us.
• In Hebrews 11 there is a roll call of inspiration. Look at these or consider: what person of faith and godliness can strengthen my walk? Find someone to look up to and emulate. Find someone who’ll cheer you on. But also find someone to encourage, to cheer on in their walk of faith.