Sunday, September 20, 2015

Run to Win


Victory is most often the result of attitude and action.

If we are going to win in life we must be:
1.   Diligent
2.   Disciplined
3.   Determined
·        We cannot allow our unbridled appetites to deprive us of victory
·        We cannot be lazy, refuse to eat, exercise or show up for practice and games
·        We cannot quit:
o   When others do
o   Where others do
o   Why others do
Success in life, whether in sports, or marriage, family or finances demands that we:
1.   Want to win
2.   Train to win
3.   Play to win

Historical Perspective:
·        In about the year AD5, 2010 years ago, a young man was born in the city of Tarsus in South Central Turkey. His name was Saul.
·        When Saul of Tarsus was a young man he got accepted by a prestigious school and was sent to Jerusalem to study under Gamaliel who was a famous Jewish teacher of that day.
·        Saul excelled in this school and began living a very strict religious life according to the rules of a Jewish group known as the Pharisees.
·        The Pharisees were religious leaders who opposed Jesus of Nazareth and did whatever they could to discredit Him.
·        After the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, the Pharisees began to hunt down, persecute and imprison those who claimed to be followers of Jesus. 
·        When Saul was about 27 years old he had gained great respect among the Pharisees. Saul was known for his zealous persecution of those who believed that Jesus was the Son of God.
·        But Saul wanted to do more to fight against the Christians; so Saul went to the High Priest and ask special permission to travel to Damascus in Syria where he had heard there were Jews who followed the Christian faith. Saul wanted to find them, arrest them and bring them back to Jerusalem to stand trial.
·        Saul was deputized and authorized to complete his mission to search out and destroy the Church and arrest those who believed.
·        Along the road to Damascus, a few miles before Saul reached the outskirts of the city, a great light shined from heaven, a light so bright that it blinded Saul and those in his company. Then a voice spoke to Saul … it was the voice of Jesus who appeared to him and changed his life that day.
·        Saul became a believer in Jesus as Messiah and he became a great Christian witness who led others to Christ and planted Churches throughout the world.
·        Saul changed his name to Paul and is known today to be the Apostle of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.
·        For near35 years the Apostle Paul evangelized most of his home nation, what we know today as the country of Turkey, and he also brought the Gospel to the continent of Europe.
·        In the year AD52 – Paul visited Greece for the first time and worked hard to establish a Christian Church in the city of Corinth where he remained and taught them for 18 months before returning to Turkey.
·        Greece was well known in that day for its nationally acclaimed sports competitions commonly called the Olympics.

In the first century there were 4 international athletic competitions held in Greece, at least one each year. The games were the Pythian/Delphic, Isthmian games at Corinth, also known as the Corinthian games, the Nemean games and the Olympics, held at Olympia, which were the most famous and well attended by participants from not only Greece but also from countries around the world. A different game and location each year so that every 4th year each game had its opportunity to be the honored national games.

Olympiad is a period of 4 years and reminded Olympians that every four years the Olympic Games were held in the Olympic stadium in Olympia – The stadium had a concourse that was 604 feet long and just as wide. Herein running, boxing, throwing of the discus, javelin, wrestling, leaping for height and distance, both horse and chariot races and other competitive sports and athletic contests designed around proving speed, endurance, agility and strength were enjoyed by all.

Though many competed in each event, as it was said, “Everyone ran … But one received the prize.” (The victor and he alone triumphant. The prize which was conferred was a wreath of olive at the Olympic Games; a wreath of apple at Delphi; of pine at the Isthmian; and of parsley at the Nemean games. — Addison.) Whatever the prize was, it was conferred on the successful champion on the last day of the games, and with great solemnity, pomp, congratulation, and rejoicing.
·        As I said earlier, The Apostle Paul started the Church in Corinth in about the year AD52 and he pastored there 18 months before leaving and returning to Turkey.
·        About 5 years later, AD57, the Apostle Paul was teaching in a Bible School. The Bible School was 2 years old and was a part of the ministry of the Church in Ephesus - located on the western shore of Turkey, just eastwards across the Aegean Sea from Greece.
·        The congregation and Church leaders from the Church in Corinth had written letters to the Apostle Paul asking questions about how to handle certain situations they were facing in the Corinthian Church. Even though the Apostle Paul had been away from the Church in Corinth for about 4 years, they still considered him to be their Apostle and the one to whom they should submit.
·        Paul read their letters and listened to those Church representatives who had traveled from Corinth to Ephesus to seek his counsel. After much prayer and consideration Paul sat and wrote his response under the leadership, inspiration and anointing of the Holy Spirit.
·        We have a copy of this letter Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth and we know it speaks not only to the Christians of that day, but also to those of us who need daily guidance in our lives today.  
·        Lets read the wisdom and Word of God penned by this Holy Apostle and find help for our situations of life just as did they:

(Note: I will be reading from “The Message” this morning in efforts to allow the Holy Spirit to speak plainly to a large group of visiting athletes from a local High School, accompanied by their coaches and athletic staff.)

1 Corinthians 9  (The Message)
24  You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win.
25  All good athletes train hard. They do it for a medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
26  I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me!
27  I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

Paul knew these people understood what it took to win the Olympics …

1 Corinthians 9  (NLT)
26  So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.
27  I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Don’t train to be a loser … Train to be a winner!
·        God loves you and has a plan for your life … He wants you to win!

At the end of the Apostle Paul’s life he wrote:
·        2 Timothy 4:7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

What a good testimony! That’s the testimony I want to have at the end of my race. I want to be able to say that I fought well and I won because I trained well and did what I should. How can become a winner?
1.   Give your life to Jesus.
2.   Set your eyes on things that matter most in this life and forever.
3.   Discipline yourself.
4.   Take every step with purpose.

Success will be the result of your attitude and your actions.