Run to Win! Train to Win!

Thursday, October 07, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

(Notes from message delivered on October 3, 2010. Click here to hear/download message in iTunes)
1 Corinthians 9:24 (NKJV), 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.
(New Living Translation) 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 
I like to think that Christianity is like a contact sport.
You might say, “Aw come on man! Sports are games that people play. In sports, people compete. In Christ, there is no competition. In the Christian faith, there is no contact, no being pushed, attacked, hit or anything like that! In the Christian faith, everybody loves others and because we are so nice, the devil leaves us alone!”
Well, as they say, “Wake up and smell the coffee!”
One of the definitions of sport is: “An activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively. An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess”.
I am not suggesting that living for Jesus is a game or that we compete against each other. I am suggesting that sports can be a parable of the type of mindset that God wants us to have. Paul understood this, which is why he used sport as a basis for motivating believers.
In His parables, Jesus used a lot of examples from everyday life. He talked about fishing, farming, family, and foundations. And those are just a few of the activities using the letter “F” from the alphabet.  
In our text, The Apostle Paul used the sport of running. Paul was fascinated by the picture of the athlete. An athlete must train with intensity if he is to win his contest. Corinth knew how thrilling athletic competition could be because at Corinth, they they held the Isthmian games, second only to the Olympic games. Also, in 1 Corinthians 9:26, Paul referred to boxing. 
So don’t get “uptight” when I say that Christianity is like a contact sport.
If you have been a Christian for more than a year, you KNOW that challenges come your way. These challenges and circumstances don’t just stop by to say “Hello.” These things come to make contact with you in some negative fashion. In the words of Jesus, these things come to “Steal, kill and destroy.” (John 10:10) Now, THAT’S no simple game! This is serious business.
This is not about only dealing with contact, but first and foremost, it is about recognizing that we are called to do a work for God in the name of Jesus.
Since it is football season, let me offer an example from that arena: 
Question: Which part of the football team is specifically designed to score points? 
Answer: All the planning in relation to scoring, and the primary strategy happens with the Offense part of the team. 
The Offense has the quarterback, who is like the battlefield general. They have the fastest runners and most of the smartest players. 
In defense of the Defense: They are not dumb people, but their only job is to guess what the offense is going to do, find the guy with the ball, and stop him.  Defense has a lesser role than developing a winning plan and a run a scoring drive.
Too many Christians are playing defense! We're in huddles talking about what the devil might be up to next. We're standing at the line looking all around, having no clue what "play" the devil will run next, but bracing for some kind of impact.
Jesus only plays offense! Therefore, we should focus on playing offense, not being defensive!
The only defense we need to be concerned about is being clothed in the armor of God.
Ephesians 6:13-16 (NKJV), 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
Every coach and football fan knows this: “The best defense is a strong offense”
When you are on defense, it is because you don’t have the ball. You are not being proactive, but reactive. You are not taking action, but waiting to be acted upon. You are never leading, only following.
In our text, note that the words of Paul highlight offense, not defense. He said, “Run to Win!” (v. 24 NLT) He also said, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” (v. 25 NIV)
Behind every great offensive team is strict or highly focused training. An athlete like Peyton Manning is obviously very talented, but he’s also one of the smartest, most highly trained person on the field, who never stops working on his offensive plan.
Training is what you do when you are not doing your sport, job, ministry, or whatever you say that you do. When you are not competing, working, or ministering, what does your training look like? 
What activities are you doing to prepare to be proactive in your purpose and go on the offense? What are your patterns of prayer, Bible reading, studying, doing research, understanding the scriptures, releasing your faith and hope for future endeavors? Or, do you just show up? What if Peyton Manning or any great football player just “showed up” without training?
What comprises your training as a Christian? Make your own checklist:
  1. Prayer
  2. Bible Reading
  3. Bible Study
  4. Participation the teaching and preaching sessions, conferences 
  5. Reading good books
  6. Sharing the Gospel with people
  7. Other_______________________
God has sent leaders to equip and coach you. Be sure that you are receiving this equipping from those God appointed to provide it to you.
Eph. 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
“Run to Win!” starts with “Train to Win!”
Jesus is your trainer! The Holy Spirit and ministeres appointed by God are your coaches! And God your Father gave you all the talent you need to do run for Him!