Wednesday, January 17, 2007

“The Prize” Series Pt. 2


I want to start today by telling you a true story about a 15 year old boy named John Goddard. One day he heard his parents and some other adult talking. The other adult was telling John's parents about how miserable his life was and how much he had failed.

He said he wished he was John's age again and could live his life over and do some things differently.

When John heard the sadness in that man’s voice and it had a huge affect on him! He decided he was going to do something. He didn’t want to grow up to live that kind of life. He took out a pad of paper and began to write the things he wanted to do in his lifeall the goals he wanted to accomplish.

When he was finished he had 127 things on his list. He called it, "My Life List".

Today John is in his mid 70's, and out of his original 127 goals, he’s accomplished 111 of them over the last 55-60 yearsplus he’s accomplished 400 other ones he set along the way.

In case you’re thinking, “Big deal! A lot of people write down their goals and accomplish them.” You gotta realize something – these aren’t some small, “everyday” goals. Check out some of the goals:

He's climbed
Mount Kilimanjaro and he's climbed Mount Ararat. In fact, he's climbed every major peak in the world!

He took Marco Polo's route through all of
Asia and China.

He ran a mile in five minutes, he broad jumped 15 feet, and high jumped five feet.

He was the first person to explore the entire 420 mile length of the
Nile River (that was his number one goal!). When he was 15 years old, no person had ever done it, but that fifteen year old boy didn't know that, it didn't matter to him. He put it on his list and when he did it, USA Today named him the modern day Indiana Jones. He's been down not just the Nile River. He's been down the Amazon, down the Congo, and others.

- He's been to 122 countries and lived with 260 different tribes.

- He's explored the Reefs of
Florida, the Great Barrier Reefs and others...

- He's flown 40 different types of aircraft. Still holds civilian air speed records.

- He's read the Bible cover to cover.

- He's taught himself French, Spanish, and Arabic.

And those are just some of the over 500 dreams that John Goddard has accomplished!

What kind of goals have you set for your life? What kind have you set for this year?

Are they big or small goals? Are they hard or easy ones?

A person like John Goddard should inspire us to aim high!

I told you last Sunday that people have three problems as they start 2007:

1. They have no goals.

We just wander through life and end up where the storms of life throw them.

2. They have no plans to achieve their goals.

If you don’t have any plans on how you’ll achieve your goals than your goals are really just wishes.

The difference between a wish and a goal is this:

  • A wish is something you want to happen, but won't or can't do anything about it.
  • A goal is something you want to happen and you're willing and can do something about it!

3. They have the wrong goals!

They focus on the wrong goals – wrong priorities – and never achieve what God created them to be.

Over the last 2 Sundays, we’ve been doing this series I'm calling “The Prize”. During this series, instead of just looking at how to achieve OUR goals, I’m trying to help us look at some goals that GOD has for us in 2007.

Last Sunday we started by looking at some of the first goals that God wants us to reach. We can saw them in the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3.

I told you that Paul's the perfect person to learn about achieving God's goals for our life. He wrote a huge portion of the New Testament and he helped establish a lot of the first churches throughout the Roman Empire.

Paul did such a good job at achieving God's goals for his life that towards the end of his life he was able to say this in Philippians 4:7...

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

That’s why Paul's a cool person to teach us about achieving God's goals for 2007!

Today, we’re going to look at what he says in 1 Cor. 9:24-27. Paul is about to reveal how he viewed life. This view of life shows how he was able to live a life focused on God’s goals. Let’s look at I Corinthians 9:24-27…

24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Paul starts out with a clue about how he thinks of life. He says it’s like a race.

What makes up a race? There’s a beginning. There’s an ending. There are winners and losers. Paul is saying that life is the same as a race in a lot of ways! There will be winners and there will be losers!

But the danger is that winners in life might be different than the ones we think of!

In Matt 19:23-30 Jesus shocks the disciples by telling them this…

23 “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"

Back then, people thought that rich people were going to heaven for sure. They thought wealth was God’s sign of who he favored! When Jesus said, “It’s hard for a rich man to go to heaven” the disciples couldn’t believe it! They thought, “If they’re not going then who is!?!”

26 Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." 27 Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" 28 Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother F84 or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Jesus is saying some people who we think are the winners in life will actually be the losers and some who we think are the losers will actually be the winners!

There will be people that get to the end of life and realize that they were running towards the wrong goal their whole lives!

In Mark 8:36-37 Jesus says it like this

36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

Jesus is saying “You can win in the eyes of this world and still ultimately lose the most important thing – your soul.”

So we need to figure out…

How do you win the race of life? What’s the right goal to run towards?

The goal (purpose of life) is to know God and love God. That’s what we saw last week was Paul’s goal. He said, “I want to know Christ.” The side-effect from that knowing and loving God will be that you’ll be that you will love others, because God does.

To go through life without knowing God (without a loving relationship with Him) is to miss the whole point of living!

When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was he said, “The Greatest Commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul and mind and the second commandment is like it - love your neighbor as yourself!”

Loving God and others are the most important things in life!

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says…

1If I speak in the tonguesF32 of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,F33 but have not love, I gain nothing…

Then later in chapter 13 Paul says…
8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Think about this for a second…

In heaven you won’t need preaching, you won’t need prophecies, you won’t need charity. Why? People will all understand it all. They’ll “know as they are known”. They’ll have everything they need. No one will be without!

But guess what you’ll still need in heaven? Love!

Relationships - Loving God and others now is our practice for heaven.

The sad thing is, that in our fallen state, we usually love ourselves more than we love God or others.

Self-love is one of the core, underlying things beneath every sinful and hurtful thing we do to God and others!

Bernard of Clairvaux and ancient famous Christian leader said…

"Four stages of growth in Christian maturity: Love of self for self's sake. Love of God for self's sake. Love of God for God's sake. Love of self for God's sake." -

Paul tells us to that there will be winners and losesr in the race of life, then he straight out says… “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” The word in the Greek that we translate as “run” is “a metaphor taken from runners in a race, which means to exert your self, strive hard / to spend your strength in performing or attaining something

Paul is saying put all your effort in life to making sure you win in life. Make it your goal to win in life!

Then Paul uses the analogy of people in the Olympic games again. He says in verse 25 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

The “Strict training” he’s talking about here is all about “having self-control”. It’s a picture of athletes, who in preparing themselves for the games abstained from unhealthy food, wine, and sexual indulgence.

People think of self-denial as saying No” to something, but it’s actually saying “Yes” to something more important!

We all want to be successful. We all want to be winners, but do you know why most people aren’t?

They don’t want to say no to the hard things you have to in order to succeed. They don’t want to say yes to the hard things it takes to win!

Why do successful people say no to the hard things and yes to the harder things?

You see, in their minds, successful people are saying YES to the greater things when they’re saying “no!” to the hard things! That’s what inspires them to do it!

I don't know if you've heard me talk about "The-Name-Tag-Guy” before, but he's a guy that wears a name tag every day (even has a tatooed of one on his chest) to make himself more accessible.

He posted something on his blog that has to do with what I’m talking about here. It's a post called "Do Whatever It Takes".

In researching for his fourth book, Make a Name for Yourself, he's been asking a lot of people to answer one key question: "How did you make a name for yourself?"

He says that the common thread among all the professionals he interviewed was that they said they "did what nobody else was willing to do.

They did WHATEVER it takes!

He says it’s kind of like Dave Chapelle, who wanted to be a comedian. He used to sneak into 21+ comedy clubs when he was in high school. He'd watch and study the crowds. He'd watch and study the comics. Eventually he became good enough to start performing at open mics every Thursday.

Also like Jimmy Fallon, who wanted to be on SNL. He used to record the episodes every Saturday night. He'd memorize and practice the monologues for his mother. Eventually he became so skilled at doing impressions that he became a regular cast member on the show.

Or like Tony Robbins, who wanted to be a professional speaker. He started giving speeches three times a day to every Rotary Club, every Kiwanis Club and every Chamber of Commerce in town. In two year's time he had 10 year's experience.
If comedians, motivational speakers and others are willing to do this to succeed, shouldn't we be willing to do this to succeed for God?

Do you see, that it’s all about what we consider the greatest prize?

We can choose the immediate, temporary prizes of this life as the greatest things or we can choose the gradual, eternal prizes of heaven.

Paul says it like this…
They (runners in a race) prepare themselves through training and self-denial so that they can win a crown made of Ivy! They do it to get a medal nowadays. They do all just for the recognition of people to say they are the best. It’s all temporary!

Paul says WE should do it because we’ll get a crown that will last forever. We’ll get God’s recognition. We’ll be praised by God.

What’s “The crown of life”? It’s the ultimate prize in life! It’s what the Lord has promised to everyone who loves him.

Because Paul wants to win in the race of life, because he wants that crown, he tells us what he does

26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Paul is saying he doesn’t just go through life without a purpose or goal. He’s not just like a boxer fighting against no one. His enemy is his own flesh (that part that wants to self-destruct). He says he beats that and makes it his slave (instead of being it’s slave), so he won’t end up disqualified after doing everything to help others know Jesus.

The way Paul’s talking in these verses would make sense to any athlete. They’d totally relate to what Paul is saying!

Let me ask you…
-How bad
do you want to win the race of life?
What are you willing to say no to?
What are you willing to say yes to?

Don’t get me wrong.

I don’t want you to think that winning the race of life is all about self-control and will-power. It’s not. You actually can’t win it that way!

There’s only one way to win the race of life. It’s by seeking God and running it with God. Only He can carry us through!

I want to close with this story
It’s story about an incredible Dad and his handicapped son. It’s an amazing story of a Father’s love for his son.

It’s from a story from Sports Illustrated, By Rick Reilly. Listen to Rick Reilly tell the story of a man named Dick Hoyt. Rick says this…

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

"He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life;'' Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. ``Put him in an Institution.''

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate. ``No way,'' Dick says he was told. ``There's nothing going on in his brain.''

"Tell him a joke,'' Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Llot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? ``Go Bruins!'' And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, ``Dad, I want to do that.''

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described ``porker'' who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried. ``Then it was me who was handicapped,'' Dick says. ``I was sore for two weeks.''

That day changed Rick's life. ``Dad,'' he typed, ``when we were running, It felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!''

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

``No way,'' Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a Single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, ``Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?''

How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried.

Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? ``No way,'' he says. Dick does it purely for ``the awesome feeling'' he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don't keep track of these things, happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

``No question about it,'' Rick types. ``My dad is the Father of the Century.''

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged. ``If you hadn't been in such great shape,'' One doctor told him, ``you probably would've died 15 years ago.'' So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy. ``The thing I'd most like,'' Rick types, ``is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.''

I want you guys to see these two for yourselves in this video. But, I need to warn you. This video is really emotional. I can’t watch it without balling!

That’s us! We’re helpless to save ourselves! We’re helpless to win the race of life without God! He wants to help us and carry us through, but we have to submit our lives to him and let him!

God’s the ultimate prize of life! Anything we ever give up for him will be worth it when we have him.

I want to encourage you like Paul did the Corinthians…

Run in such a way as to get the Prize!

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