Summary: This message is for anyone who desires to live for God and sees there’s still room for improvement.
WHAT GAME ARE YOU PLAYING?
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Pastor Brian Matherlee
A beginner golfer sliced his tee shot into the woods, then hit a tree trying to get out, hit a third time across the fairway into the woods on the other side. Finally he hit into a sand trap. All the while the club pro had been watching. Since the pro was near the man asked him, “What club should I use now?” “I don’t know,” replied the pro. “What game are you playing?” (American Legion Magazine, March 2009, pg. 72)
What game are you playing? From the looks of it, some of you have found yourself in playing some other game than you started out to play. Or at least what you’re trying doesn’t seem to be working.
Paul writes about his life’s mission:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
This message is for you today if you have started out seeking to follow Christ and you’ve found trouble.
This message is for you if you’re in the fight of your life and you feel like quitting.
This message is for you if you’ve discovered living the holy life God calls you to is proving to be a challenge.
This message is for anyone who desires to live for God and sees there’s still room for improvement.
In short, there isn’t anyone here God can’t speak to today.
Paul is reflecting back over his life for the benefit of Timothy. He wanted Timothy to know that following Christ had been worth it all the way. It’s easier to look back when you’ve made it and encourage others, isn’t it? But it wasn’t easy for Paul to make it. Listen to what Paul says about the struggles of his life:
• Jail, beatings, near death, stoned, shipwrecked 3 times and floated in the ocean overnight, in danger from robbers, his own countrymen & enemies, double crossed by so called friends, hungry, thirsty, gone without sleep, cold, naked & all for following Jesus.
Paul would never be part of a Madison Avenue ad campaign.
So, for Timothy’s sake, Paul writes to let him know all the struggle was worth it…he made it, but how? Paul would say…
1. I went after what mattered (I fought the good fight)
a. There are so many things to go after in this life.
b. There are so many things that can distract us.
i. It’s not that these kind of pearls were rare…no, these were one of a kind. Nothing compared to their value.
ii. Living for Jesus is the kind of life that is worth giving everything else up to obtain. It is a fight worth fighting.
e. The Indiana Jones series always centers upon some great treasure. In the third installment the Holy Grail is found and when removed from it’s protective place an earthquake occurs and one character simply doesn’t want to let it go. Obtaining something that doesn’t last was more important than her life.
f. What fight are you fighting?
g. Spend yourself on the good fight!
2. I played by the rules (I kept the faith)
a. I didn’t cut corners or cheat
b. Paul had a strategy for growing and developing as a follower of Jesus Christ.
c. In Corinthians he talks of the strict training athletes follow to compete.
d. In Philippians 3 he talks about forgetting the past and focusing on what lies ahead.
e. In Hebrews we are instructed to throw off the things that hinder and stay away from the sins that trip us up.
f. We must do what it takes.
i. Eat right-we’re never surprised if we eat junk food and feel bad. Why is it we feed our souls junk and don’t understand why we’re struggling in our relationship with God and other people. It’s just as true in the spiritual realm…. “You are what you eat”. In computer terms, “Garbage in, garbage out.” What do you feed your mind, body and soul?
1. Isaiah 55:1-2, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Oh, that we would long to feast on what is godly.
2. 1 Corinthians 3:2, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.” Paul is speaking here of the need for followers of Jesus Christ to grow up spiritually. If a child doesn’t begin to eat solid food and develop physically we know there’s a problem. You may be one whose spiritual growth is stunted.