Run the Race - Super Bowl

February 12, 2017    I Corinthians 9:19 – 27   Run the Race        

 

   I thought I would spend a few minutes on the super bowl.   Nobody will mind, will you?  Well the super bowl game was just played last week.  There are many teams that played and worked for the chance to play in the football game of football games.  To play in the super bowl means that you have made it to the top at least most people believe that.   How do you win a super bowl?   What does it take to win a super bowl?    What does it take to be a winning person?   What does it take to be a winning Christian?    Vince Lombardi, former coach of the Green Bay Packers, and the winning coach stated in a speech called "What it takes to be number 1":"Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing.   You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing. 

     Perhaps some that did not make it to the super bowl should have.   Some may have had a bad day when they played and did not make it or some teams may have had several on their injured list.   Many aspire to play in the super bowl but only 2 teams make it each year and only one of those ends up winning. 

   In the game of life if you would call it that we all get to play.  Some play for them self and some play with the devil.  And there are those who go with the Lord.   As we walk in faith and submission our lives end up at the marriage feast of the Lamb.   That is the real winning event for all of life.  That is far beyond any super bowl.   Are you ready for Jesus to come?   Is our spirit fixed on heaven?  

    This year’s super bowl game was pretty exciting.   Many thought the game was over in the beginning of the 3rd quarter and turned to other things.  They gave up on it conceding that Atlanta Falcons was surely going to be the winner.   I suppose there are Christians who have given up and maybe at times we are tempted to quit.   I would encourage you to read the last book of the bible.   Revelation tells us that we win.  I like that.  I like that a lot.  We may get knocked down and wounded but the Lord is faithful to pick us up.   When we walk in the spirit of God we do not lose.   No spirit filled Christian is a loser.   We are on the winning team.  At times, it may not seem that way but God has exciting plays even in the 4th quarter.   And if it runs into overtime that works also.  Joshua ask for the sun stop setting because they had more work to do.   God can make a way when there seems to be no way. 

   There is a lot of money involved with the super bowl.   It is estimated that 4.7 billion was gambled on the super bowl in 2017 most of it illegally.  A super bowl 30 second ad cost 5 million or almost 167K a second.    That is pretty amazing.  A number of NFL quarterback’s make over 20 million a year.    I am reminded that God calls us to true riches and that moth and rush does not corrupt the riches of heaven.  True riches last and true riches really count.   It is not tear down my barns and I will build bigger barns but where is my soul going.   It is not bragging about tomorrow for we do not know what tomorrow may bring.   We trust the Lord day by day. 

   These men train and train and train to win that game.  They go out and fight over a little piece of pig skin.  They have a tremendous amount of zeal.     What does it take to be a winner in sports today?   What does it take to be a super bowl champion?   It takes a lot of training and discipline to get to the super bowl.   I am amazed at the precision of the quarter backs and the receivers.  It amazes me how professional they are.  Yes, once in a while there is a really bad pass.   It takes training and discipline to be a first-class spirit filled Christian.  It takes discipline to be holy as it takes discipline to get to be a team that gets to play in the super bowl.  The football players are strong and trained. 

     It takes a lot of things to make a super bowl team.  For one thing, they need to work together as a team.  There has to be discipline.  The team that wins has made some sacrifices.   It cost something to win.  There is talent, ability and focus.       There are 2 opposing teams in the super bowl.  They basically have the same goals and that is to score more points than the other team.  They have the same goals but are opposed to each other.  God and Satan are opposed to each other also.

      I am also reminded how divided our nation is right now.  There is a lot of criticism, negativity mud throwing that just causes more division, and more anger.     Christians can do that also.  Satan seeks to get Christians in churches to become divided on some issue and take sides.  In the church of Corinth some were saying I am of Pail and some would say I am of Apollos.   Sadly, sometimes we have been guilty of looking more at what divides us as Christians than all the things that we agree upon.   Team work is very important for Christians.  The church needs to work as a team.  Jesus prayed for unity when he prayed in the garden of gethsemane  

    In the super bowl the coach draws up some plans.   He studies the other team and figures out what kind of plays would produce the desired results.   The team gathers around the coach and supports the plan and maybe refines the plays.   The whole team has the same goal and that is to win so they train and work and discipline their lives.   They study the other team.  They get to know their opponent.  Why would anyone want to win if it cost so much sacrifice?   Well I think it is for the honor of it.  For some it is bragging rights.  There can be the feeling that they have done something that others have not done and of course the money.    

    The Christian has a coach.   The Holy Spirit is our coach and our guide.  The Holy spirit has a perfect plan for our life.   He knows exactly what will work for your life.  He knows what will produce results and lasting fruit.  This coach never makes a mistake.   The Holy Spirit knows you inside and out.  Our coach knows our enemy also.  Our coach knows all the plays and the plains of the opposing team.  It is good to stay close to Him.  I think the Lord at times would teach us from the things of life around us.  There are so many spiritual applications that we can make from life.  We need to think about the things that happen in life in light of the scriptures.  

     In this passage, we see that Paul disciplined himself.   He trained his body.  Paul worked hard at connecting with others.  In verse 19 Paul says I make myself a slave to win them.   Verse 20 to the Jews I became like a Jew to win them.   He was a Jew, wasn’t he?   To those under the law I became like one under the law to win them.   Verse 21 to those not having the law I became like one not having the law to win them.   Verse 22 to the weak I became weak to win them.   I became all things to all men to win them.   And he said I do it for the gospel.   I do it because I love God and I love others.   And he said I am blessed for doing it.   What is on the Father’s heart today?   He wants to win them.  He is not willing that any should perish but all come to repentance.   Are we trying to win them?   Is the church in America trying to win them? 

    Let’s pull together to win them, Jews, Muslins, those that are addicted to vices and to those who are perhaps outside of our comfort zone.  Why would we do that?   Because Jesus loves them.  It is important that we love and minister to those that God brings into our life.   It seems like some Christians can embrace those outside of the church more than their brothers and sisters in Jesus.  That can be an issue.  Jesus said by this all men shall know you are my disciples if you have love one for another.  A divided church is not a good testimony of Jesus church.  In John 15 Jesus told his disciples this is my command that you love one another as I have loved you.  Jesus told his disciples I command you to love one another. 

     This passage can be used in many wrong ways.   Paul is not saying I water down the gospel to make it appealing to all men.  We get into those kinds of things today I think.   Some churches put on the show and there are worship style wars.    Some offer star bucks coffee.  I noticed one church that was using a helicopter to drop Easter eggs. In order to qualify for that you had to attend church for a while.   It may help get some to attend church who have not attended for a while.    Paul makes it very plain that his goal was to always please God and not men.  He did not break any law of Jesus to please any person.  He opens this passage saying he is free from all men.   And he ends saying I am the servant of all. 

    Paul certainly did not support the Jews who went to the churches that he established and who told the Christians hey this Jesus stuff is OK but to be really saved you have to be circumcised.  Becoming all things to all men does not mean that we preach a health and wealth gospel that seems to be so popular with many today.   Jesus did not live that life style nor did Paul.    We hold to the gospel truth.   We continue to preach Jesus and the scripture.   Church is about Jesus it is not about you.   This passage is not met to make us ingrown.   It is about Paul changing himself to identify with the lost or you could say it is about us trying to identify with lost people.   I believe it is about us seeking to change because we love people and we love God and we want the lost to love God also.       

.   Paul humbled himself and made himself a servant to reach the lost.   Paul did not seek to satisfy his whims and desires instead he put others before himself.  Paul did that so others could find Jesus.   The gospel of Jesus and salvation is so precious.   It is the greatest thing going.     I think we need to ask the question what can I do to reach the lost?     Are we reaching out to others?   And then we need to ask ourselves are we willing to make the changes necessary to reach them?   It is more than just being a friend to others.  It is sharing Jesus with them and truth with them.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. 

    Paul writes run in such a way to get a prize.  He said we run to get a crown that lasts forever.  He did not run aimlessly.   Paul did not beat the air.  He was going after the real stuff.  He wanted his life to count.  Paul beat his body and made his body his slave.   He controlled himself.  He said no to the flesh.  Paul trained and disciplined himself.  I am certainly not saying he never relaxed.  How much do we surrender to the desires of the flesh?  Joel writes rend your heart and not your garments.   Paul believed that the gospel was worth his effort.   He counted all of his previous accomplishments as nothing compared to Jesus.  Paul was sold out to Jesus.  It was his whole life.  The greatest prize was Jesus.  Paul saw the gospel was worth suffering for.  These are strange words for us today.   A disciple is a follower of Jesus.  Jesus said if any man will come after me let him deny himself and follow Jesus.  That means saying yes to Jesus and saying no to the flesh. 

   We need to remember God in all of this.   A verse in Proverbs I think in the Living Bible says man proposes but God disposes.  God is sovereign and He is in control.  We can’t win fighting against God.  Some things we cannot control.  We can do our part.   We must do our part.  We can’t sit back and do nothing and think we will get great results.   We need to labor in step with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  God is the one who moves mountains.