by Editor ~ December 15th, 2010
This Message is also in audio format.
Our thoughts today are centred around Philippians 3. 8-14. Our text is found in v 14. ‘I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God is calling me up to Heaven because of what Christ did for us.’ Our text is centred around the Olympic Games. They began in Greece in the year 776 BC. At first, the only event was the 200 yards dash, and winners were crowned with a wreath of Olive leaves.
THE RACE FOR LIFE. Certain people are in the race of life to be rich, others for possessions, for power and for position. Our text challenges us to get involved in the Race for Eternal Life.
Preparation is important, involving discipline, practice, sacrifice and effort on our part. Notice that Paul stripped himself of religion v 5, mistaken zeal and self righteousness v6 in preparation. ‘But what things were gain to me those I counted loss for Christ.’ v 7. Duncan Goodhew, winner of the 100 metres breast stroke at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, shaved off every hair on his body in preparation.
Hebrews 12. 1. ‘Let us throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ Quote: ‘Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed to be certain failure.’ (Disraeli)
THIS ONE THING I DO. Philippians 3. 13. Single minded zeal, concentration, determination, staying focused. King David had one ambition in life, to be in the presence of God. Psalm 27. 4.
Quote: ‘He who keeps one end in view, makes all things serve.’ (Browning) Let us sort out our priorities in life and get them in the right order.
v 13. DON’T LOOK BACK. Lot’s wife looked back to the furnace of Sodom city and was turned into a pillar of salt. Lot’s wife became what she ought to have been while living in the city – SALT! Genesis 19. 26.
In Numbers 11 5 a numbers of Jews looked back toward Egypt in growing discontent, and it cost them forty years wandering in the wilderness and dying there. Egypt had become their prison and not their freedom. Wishing for the past can stifle the future, for we dwell on what could have been, and not on what the present and future can become. Reic Delve has well said that the only way to be released from our past is to allow our present and our future to become more significant in our lives than our history. Our God is ahead of us. ‘ Looking unto Jesus, the Author and the Finishers of our Faith.’ Hebrews 12. 2
We cannot change our past, we have to turn away from it, and embrace God’s purposes for our future. It is better on before. The best is yet to be! Learn lessons from the past, and use it as a springboard into the future.
v14 ‘I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK.’ Quote: ‘Only dead fish swim with the stream.’ (Muggeridge) In any race, a good athlete has their eye on the finishing tape. in the RACE FOR LIFE, who or what are we looking at? Single mindedness is the name of the game. Christ is our inspiration, our mentor. The saints that have gone before us have given us a role model to follow. Don’t be distracted or diverted.
Hymnwriter: ‘Fix your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful Face, and the things of the Earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.’
‘I PRESS TOWARD THE MARK.’ ‘Press’ meaning to strive, action, energy, effort. This RACE FOR LIFE is not a stroll in the park. Quote:’Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God.’ (Carey)
Remember that this race is not a burst of energy over a short distance. It is a marathon needing staying power. We are in this race for the long haul. Don’t leave unfinished what Christ has started in you.
Today, many lives have loose ends!
2 Timothy 2. 5. ‘Follow the Lord’s rules, just as an athlete either follows the rules or is disqualified, and wins no prize.’ Eric Liddell was known as ‘The Flying Scotsman.’ As a practising Christian he refused to run in the hundred metres at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, because it was held on a Sunday. Instead, he caused a sensation by winning a Gold Medal in the 400 metre race. God honoured Eric because he played by God’s rules. 1 Corinthians 9. 27. ‘I’m training my body to do what it should, not what it wants to.’
THE PRIZE. v 14. Christ is not offering a ‘First Prize’ for those who finish first. He has reserved a reward for those who finish the race. This is not a competition, Christ is looking for our faithfulness.
The prize God is offering is described in various ways: Luke 19. 19. 2 Timothy 4. 8. 1 Peter 5. 4. 1 Corinthians 2. 9.
Paul the apostle made two comments about this RACE FOR ETERNAL LIFE: ‘This is the only race worth running.’ ‘I’ve run hard, right to the finish.’ 2 Timothy 4. 7.