Sermons

Summary: People who win a lot, teams that win a lot and people who succeed in life all have a lot in common. There are certain things they do and certain things they don’t do that somehow they all figure out. This is called the Winner’s code.

Introduction

A. People who win a lot, teams that win a lot and people who succeed in life all have a lot in common. There are certain things they do and certain things they don’t do that somehow they all figure out. This is called the Winner’s code. What does it take to be a champion?

B. A few years back, Marion Jones, an Olympic athlete made the news. She was caught taking steroids in her quest for the gold in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. She won 3 gold and 2 bronze medals, but had to give them up. She even had go to jail. This was a total embarrassment to the United States. She was the first woman to ever win five medals at one Olympics. She wanted to win but along the way decided to cheat to get there. Everyone wants to be a winner but we need to follow the rules along the way.

C. I am sure we all remember the Lance Armstrong scandal. He won the Tour de France seven times in a row, but was stripped of those victories a few years ago after he was caught cheating.

D. In sporting events only one athlete or one team can win. All the other competitors will return home having failed to achieve their goals. And although they may be some of the best athletes in the world many would consider them losers because there can be only one winner. However in the Christian life this is not the case. In the Christian life we can all be winners. We can all bring home the gold. What does it take to be a champion? What does it take to be a winner? Today I would like to look at a few characteristics that are common among all winners. Let’s start by reading a passage in the book of Hebrews 12:1-3.

Have to “give up to go up”

A. In order to rise to the top there are some things that you have to let go of because they are holding you back. There are some things that you have to give up if you are going to make progress. This involves making sacrifices.

B. World-class athletes understand that they have to give up to go up. While others are munching on chips and sodas they are snacking on health food bars and vegetables. While others are lying on the couch watching sports on TV they are in the gym working out. Most of the Olympic athletes that compete in the Olympics are not like the professional athletes who earn enormous salaries. They are regular people who make a living by holding down regular jobs. And that means that they have to give up most of their “free time” to train for their sport.

C. To be a world-class Christian you will also have to give up to go up. There are things that you will have to say no to while everyone around you indulges in them. There are sacrifices that you will have to make and things that you will have to go without.

D. However, all this talk about giving up things and sacrifice doesn’t sound very appealing. You might be thinking that you’re not too interested in that. Why is it that some people are willing to make the necessary sacrifices to take their athletic performance to the next level and some aren’t? The same could be asked of believers in Jesus Christ.

Why are some willing to make the necessary sacrifices to grow in Christlikeness while many won’t?

A. In today’s passage we will see what it takes to develop the willingness to give up to go up, be motivated by previous champions. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses.”

B. The image here is of an athlete who is participating in the ancient Greek games. As he prepares for the race that is about to be run he looks up into the stands and sees the crowd of cheering fans and is inspired by them to do his best. Many times athletes have credited a cheering crowd of fans with giving them the extra motivation they needed to fight back and win the game or contest. That is why so much importance is placed on having home field or home court advantage in team sports. The crowd can literally change the game.

C. Tell story of when people cheered me on at my first Triathlon!

D. As Christians, we have a cheering section encouraging us on when we are tired and calling out to us to do better when we are not feeling our best. The author of Hebrews says, “We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” What in the world does he mean, “Great cloud of witnesses?” The author of Hebrews is telling us that we are a part of something much bigger, richer and deeper than we know.

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