Sunday, August 2, 2009

Don’t Be A Loser In A Winning Game


What does it take to be a winner?
What does it take to keep going when others can’t or won’t?

When the going gets tough what most often makes the difference between winning or losing is attitude.

Attitude determines altitude. How high you fly or how low you go is all determined by attitude.

Attitude is everything and the great thing is that attitude is adjustable … attitude is something that can be changed.

Attitude is often determined by our outlook on life … not in-look, but outlook … how we set ourselves up to proceed with life.

This morning we are going to take a look at four scriptures in the Bible. These four scriptures are the only four times that the word “race” is mentioned in the NKJV of the New Testament.

While we study these verses and attempt to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is telling us, let’s keep in mind that winning in any race, even the race of life, is often the result of having a winning attitude.

Let’s turn to Acts 20 …

This is set around the year AD60 or AD62, give or take a year or two. The Apostle Paul is speaking to a group of Elders from the Church in Ephesus. Paul knows by the Spirit that he is going to be put into chains soon and that his life is about to take a turn for the worse.

He has just revealed to these men that he is about to enter into great tribulations for the Gospel’s sake. Notice Paul’s attitude:

Acts 20:24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Now that’s the attitude of a winner! What an outlook on life. Paul has set himself to embrace whatever may come his way as an opportunity to testify to the Gospel of the grace of God.

Notice how he calls the race, “my race”?

Of all the races in life, there is a race that is a personal race. A race to which each one of us is called. A race from the womb to the grave … our personal race of life which no one else is called to run, and indeed no one else is qualified to run.

Job said, naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. In the end it’s you and you alone! This is your race …

Paul set himself to finish his race with joy!

How have you set your attitude for your personal race of life?

Race number two:

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

Here the Apostle Paul is speaking of a competition, how we prepare and how we run to win the prize.

There are some races in life which are competitive races. How well you do can determine things like your future income, ministry opportunities, seasonal productivity.

For these races one must be prepared physically, spiritually, and mentally. What was Paul’s attitude for this competitive race in which only one can prevail?

For our answer let’s look at this scripture in its original context.

1 Corinthians 9
19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;
20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;
21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;
22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.

Once again, this reveals the attitude of a winner!

* A winning attitude is never small minded
* A winning attitude is never selfish
* A winning attitude cares about others
* A winning attitude disciplines the body
* A winning attitude sees the real prize

Our third race today is found in:

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

There is a personal race which only you can run. There is a competitive race which demands discipline and sacrifice. Only one can win, either you win souls or the devil wins that soul.

But there is also an eternal race … “the race” … which began in the Garden of Eden and will end at the close of this age when Jesus and His followers will be declared winner for eternity.

This is the race we were born into and in which every man, woman, boy, and girl participates.

What is our attitude for this race for eternity … faith!

Keep the faith, trust that Jesus wins the race for eternity!

The last race we will discuss today is found in:

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

This scripture paints a picture of your current moment in life.

We understand that life is a process and we know that success in life is more than a one step process … life is more than a one lap race, more than a one event competition. Obstacles are subject to change.

What pressures are you currently facing? What obstacles are you up against today? What is taxing, testing, or trying your will to keep going? What sin are you currently wrestling with?

Life is a daily race and life demands that our daily attitude be one of vigilance and endurance for the race that is set before us.

In heaven, on earth, and written on the pages of the Bible are testimonies of others just like you who faced their daily stresses and rose above them because they trusted God and had the attitude of a winner.

The winning attitude you need today may just be the attitude of one who refuses to quit, refuses to give up, refuses to lie down and let life run you over.

Look, every one has a bad day or a bad week every once in a while, even Jesus had a bad day, but He didn’t quit. You don’t need to be afraid, you don’t need to get depressed, you don’t need to quit. What do you need to do?

You need to do the same thing Jesus did … look at Him and use Him as your example … the next verse in Hebrews 12 says:

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Just because it’s bad does not mean it is finished or will finish bad.

Jesus set His mind to finish His race with joy. Set your mind and change your attitude … when it’s all said and done … we win!

Don’t allow your attitude to make you a loser in a winning game.