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Put on Your Running Shoes - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2021 2:00 am

Put on Your Running Shoes - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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September 6, 2021 2:00 am

One of Paul's favorite metaphors for Christian living was the race. As Skip begins the message "Put On Your Running Shoes," he shares how you can be a champion in the race towards Christlikeness.

This teaching is from the series Technicolor Joy: A Study through Philippians .

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Think today of your life as a race course. You are running a race toward Christ-likeness. Think of today as an aid station.

Aid stations and races are those places where athletes get water, or power bars, or medical attention. So see today as the aid station on your long marathon of the Christian life. Because even if you've fallen, even if you struggled, we want to see you not eliminated, but invigorated to keep going.

Olympic athletes spend years training in their sport. It's grueling and tiring, but the reward is worth it in the end. As Christians, we can look forward to an even greater reward. Today on Connect with Skip Heidsegg, Skip shares how you can be a winning champion in the race of faith. Before we begin, we want to let you know about an opportunity you have to visit the sites where the prophets and kings in the Bible heard from God. Skip and his wife Lenya are taking a group to Israel in 2022, and you're invited on the journey. Visit places like Nazareth, the Jordan River, the Dead Sea, and Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Garden Tomb. And that's just a quick look at the trip.

Find out more about the trip at inspirationcruises.com slash c-a-b-q. Okay, let's dive into today's teaching. We'll be in Philippians chapter three as Skip Heidsegg begins the study. I think it's safe to say that the most famous Christian song ever written and recorded multiple times is the song Amazing Grace.

It was written by a former slave trader by the name of John Newton, who legitimately and honestly was celebrating God's grace in his life. But about 16 years ago, CBS hijacked the term Amazing Grace for a show that they called The Amazing Race. Now, The Amazing Race, which has been airing since that time, is all about sending teams around the world, teams, 10 or 11 teams of two people.

They travel the world in a month, they collect clues, they compete in different exercises, and they have to meet at checkpoints along the way. And the way it works is the last team to arrive at a checkpoint is eliminated from the race altogether. So there's not much amazing grace in The Amazing Race. But I suppose that if there were a section of scripture that could be called The Amazing Race in the New Testament, it is Philippians chapter three beginning in verse 12. Because the metaphor is rich from the athletic world that Paul is writing with.

So in this section, Paul would say, put your running shoes on and get on the track. Let's look at verse 12. He says, not that I have already attained or I'm already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do for getting those things which are behind and reaching forward, picture a runner now in the race, reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule.

Let us be of the same mind. From my reading of the New Testament, I have always believed that Paul the Apostle was sort of a sports fan. He obviously knew the Olympics that was going on during his time, or he was familiar with what are called the Ithmian Games, the games similar to the Olympics that took place around Corinth.

And I don't know if he was watching Monday night chariot races or things like that, but if you were alive today, I think he would probably have watched the World Series the other night, and he would have rooted for the Dodgers, by the way. But nonetheless, in his day and age, he was a sports fan because he writes with the analogies of the athletic world on many occasions to describe the Christian life. For example, he employs the analogy of boxing in 1 Corinthians 9. He says, I fight, that is, I box, not as one who beats the air. In other words, I'm not shadow boxing.

I'm not just going after the air. I'm really in the ring, and I'm fighting the good fight. At the end of his life, that's what he said. 2 Timothy 4, I have fought the good fight.

Also, he speaks of wrestling. Ephesians 6, we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. But by far, his favorite analogy in Scripture of the Christian life is the race, the foot race. In the fifth chapter of Galatians, he writes to them and says, you were running a good race.

Who cut in on you, or who hindered you? In 1 Corinthians, chapter 9, do 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. Now, in that show, The Amazing Race, there is a prize. It's a million bucks. If you happen to be the team that gets through all the checkpoints and you get to the very end, you will get a million-dollar check. On one occasion, they even gave a two million-dollar check. But to Paul the Apostle, there's a much greater prize than that.

Listen to what he writes in 1 Corinthians 9, a chapter I already mentioned. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away. We do it for an eternal victory. Today, we do it for an eternal prize. Did you know that you will be rewarded one day based on how you ran the race of the Christian life? Paul says that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians, chapter 5, to be judged.

We will receive whatever we deserve for the good or the evil we have done in this earthly body. So think today of your life as a race course. You are running a race toward Christ-likeness. Think of today as an aid station. Aid stations and races are those places where athletes get water or power bars or medical attention. So see today as the aid station on your long marathon of the Christian life. Because even if you've fallen, even if you've struggled, we want to see you not eliminated, but invigorated to keep going.

Back in 1992, there was a gal named Beth Ann DeSantis. She wanted to qualify for the Olympics that year. The qualifying time for a marathon, a marathon, as some of you know, is around 27 miles. The female qualifying time for the Olympic was 2 hours and 45 minutes.

You have to get that time or below. So she ran her qualifying race and she was doing well. She started out strong, but she started having trouble around mile 23.

Now I got to laugh at that because I would have trouble before mile three. She's at mile 23 and she's experiencing a little bit of trouble as she rounds the corner into the last straightaway. She's got two minutes left to qualify. She's 200 yards from the finish line. Beth Ann collapses on the ground, falls to the ground. She's dazed, dizzy. She was down there for about 20 seconds. She gets back up. She continues to run. Five yards short of the finish line with 10 seconds left to go, she falls again. This time on her hands and knees, she crawls across the finish line. And her time, 2 hours, 44 minutes, 57 seconds.

She qualified by three seconds on her hands and knees. So maybe you feel strong in this race. Others of you feel like, I'm not so strong. I've fallen a few times. I've stumbled. Well, you may have fallen, but you can get up. And you need to get up and keep going. And all of us are rooting for you because none of us are perfect as we will see. What I want to show you in looking at the text we looked at and are going to drill down in are five essentials, five things you and I need to do to run this race well, to run toward the prize, to finish a winning race. First of all, a winner needs dissatisfaction.

Dissatisfaction. Look at verse 12. Paul says, not that I have already attained or am already perfected. Look down at verse 13.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. Boy, am I glad Paul wrote that. It's so relieving to hear.

It's a breath of fresh air. Here's the confession of a man who has walked with Christ for 30 years saying, haven't arrived, haven't attained. I'm not perfect. I think you would agree, Paul the apostle by any standard was one of the greatest men of history. He was brilliant. He was spiritual.

He was highly motivated. He planted churches around the world. In Acts chapter 19, while he was in Ephesus, listen to what it says, and unusual miracles were wrought by the hands of Paul.

That's quite a race he's run. Unusual miracles were wrought by the hands of Paul. One of the unusual miracles wrought by Paul in the book of Acts is when he went down to Troas, and he was preaching a message, and he kind of preached a little too long like some preachers do.

Don't look at me that way. And he was going long into the night, and there was a young man by the name of Tychicus who was in a window and just was getting tired. He fell asleep, fell out the window, hit the street, died. Paul interrupts his sermon. Hold on. He said, just hold on.

Goes downstairs, downstairs, raises him from the dead, brings him back inside to a very thankful crowd, and keeps preaching through the night. Aren't you glad I don't do that? Now, Paul says I haven't already attained. In previous statements he has made up to this point could make his audience think he had attained, because he talks about profit and loss, the things that I thought were so important to me I've counted as loss. But what I've gained is so much better.

I've gained so much. And he says, his previous statement, and be found in him not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but the righteousness that comes by faith from God. That I might know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, if by any means I may attain the resurrection of the dead.

They could read that and go, oh my goodness, who is this guy? He has made it. He has arrived. He has attained. And so he immediately says, not that I have already attained or I'm already perfected. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. Now, this tells me a couple of things.

Number one, it tells me that none of us reach perfection this side of heaven. You'll never arrive. Though, I have met people who think they have arrived. And they're always a pain to be around.

Right? Because they think they have attained this special class of Christian maturity. And they're trying to convince everybody that they have, but everybody really knows them, knows they haven't. Somebody once said, a perfectionist is one who takes great pains and gives them to everybody else. And there are people who believe in perfectionism. There are Christians who believe in what is called total sanctification or complete sanctification or the second blessing. They come to a place where they are morally perfect. Charles Spurgeon said he met a couple of young men who walked up to him one day, claimed that they were morally perfect, that they had attained the second blessing, that they were sinlessly perfect. Spurgeon happened to have a pitcher of water in his hand, the story goes, and he just couldn't resist the temptation. And he poured the pitcher of water on the two sinlessly perfect ones. And he noticed their reaction was the same as anybody else's reaction. And when they reacted hostilely and violently, he said, I thought so.

M.R. DeHaan wrote, self-satisfaction is the death of progress. The most boring people I ever meet are the ones who take up my time telling me what they have done, when they ought to be doing. So none of us reaches perfection this side of heaven. The other thing this shows me, though, is that it is imperfection that drives us onward and upward. If you think about it, probably every invention that has ever been invented in history is the result of men and women not being satisfied with the way things are.

They don't like this condition. Why does it have to be this way? Maybe we should figure out a way to make it different. I'm sure the wheel was invented by some dude who just got tired of carrying stuff on his back. But there's got to be a way to make it different.

I'm sure the wheel was invented by some dude who just got tired of carrying stuff on his back. But there's got to be a better way. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great American essayist, author, said, unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. Now, this is essential in a race. If a runner running down the track is absolutely satisfied with their performance up to this point, there's going to be a tendency to slow down, especially if they find other runners that they're passing. Oh, I'm better than that. Oh, I'm better than that one. Yeah, but you may not be better than the one coming behind you at a fast pace. So it is in the Christian race. If you are looking around at other Christians, you're going to slow down, and here's why. We have a tendency when we compare ourselves with other people to find people who aren't doing as well as we are. That's the ones we find to compare ourselves to. Oh, I'm a better Christian than that.

They are. Oh, I do this much better. So we need a healthy sense that says, I haven't arrived.

I haven't attained. Imagine if Paul were to compare his own running with everybody else. Who could match him? He had a vision of Christ on the Damascus road. He saw miracles of healing. He was caught up into the third heaven.

He had seen and experienced so much. So for this guy to say, I haven't attained, shows us that a divine dissatisfaction is essential for spiritual progress. So that's first. A winner needs dissatisfaction.

Second essential is a winner needs concentration. In verse 13, he says something I find fascinating. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I do.

Stop right there. The words I do are in italics, meaning they're not in the original. So it actually reads this. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing. One thing. Forgetting those things that are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead. That phrase, one thing, is a very important biblical phrase.

Example. A rich young ruler came to Jesus one day and said, you know, I have kept all the commandments from my youth. Jesus said, well, there's one thing you lack.

Go sell what you have, give it to the poor, and then follow me. Martha, who had invited Jesus over to their house, Mary and Martha. Martha was cooking. She was busy. Mary sitting on the floor just listening to Jesus, giving a Bible study.

She's just stoked to be in his presence. Martha gets tipped that Mary isn't sharing the work and complains to Jesus, and he responds saying, Martha, you are distracted by many things, but one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen the better part. A blind man was healed in the temple. The religious elite came to him and said, the one who healed you is a sinner. And the blind man said, whether he's a sinner or not, I don't know, but one thing I know, I was blind, and now I see.

David in Psalm 27 four said, one thing I have desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after. Here's the point. Winners become winners because they concentrate on one thing.

One thing. They narrow their focus on one thing. I've discovered something in watching athletes over the years. Those who are professional athletes, very proficient, they typically are proficient at only one thing. Rarely do you find athletes that can do as well in multiple sports. Example, when you hear the name Charles Barkley, what sport do you think of? Basketball.

Great basketball. He's good at that one thing. Have you ever seen his golf swing? So don't do it now, please, but go home and Google Charles Barkley golf swing and watch it.

You'll get the point. Oh my goodness. Yeah, this is why he's not in the golf circuit. But he is great at what he did. That one thing he excels at. Michael Jordan, same thing.

Excellent. But he decided after he retired basketball that he was going to try his hand at baseball. Can I just put it this way?

A less than impressive record. Few athletes are good at multiple sports, and it's best they have discovered that they concentrate on one thing. Nehemiah in the Old Testament understood this principle. When he came to Jerusalem, he came to do one thing. To build a wall. There was a lot of other things that required his attention, but he didn't care. He focused on one thing. He was tempted to meet with different people who wanted to voice their concerns, meet with enemies who wanted to have private meetings with them, and here is his response. I am doing a great work. I cannot stop to come down and meet with you.

To which they probably thought, how rude. I need to meet with Nehemiah. I need to talk to Nehemiah. Nehemiah said, no, I'm about one thing, and that is building this wall. One of the greatest problems we all have in life is that we tend to spread ourselves so thin and we fail to be effective at one thing. E. Stanley Jones, the great missionary and theologian, said your capacity to say no will determine your capacity to say yes to greater things. I discovered that no is a holy word. Skip, can you do this? No. Why not?

Because I'm doing that one thing. So picture this. College class in a business college. The professor wants to teach time management to his students. So he goes up to the lectern on a class day and he says, class, we're going to have a quiz. He reaches down, gets a gallon largemouth mason jar, sets it on the lectern. Then he takes about a dozen fist-sized rocks and places them inside the gallon mason jar, filling it all the way up to the top.

The students watch him. The professor then said, students, is this jar full? And they said, yes. He said, really? He reached down, took a little bucket of pebbles and began to pour the gravel, the gravel pebbles over the rocks. The rocks, the pebbles found the spaces between the large rocks and he did that, filled it all the way up to the top. And then he asked them again, is the jar full?

Well, they were catching on by now. They said, no. He said, good. He reached down again.

This time he took sand and poured the sand over the pebbles and over the large rocks all the way up to the brim and it held quite a bit. And he asked again, he goes, class, is the jar full? And they all in unison said, no. And he said, good. This time he reached down, took some water and a pitcher and poured the water till it went all the way up to the top. Now he said, do you understand what my point is in this little analogy? And one very energetic student said, yes, that no matter how full your schedule is, you can always fit more in. He said, no, that is not the point of this exercise.

The point is this, if you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them in at all. He was teaching them time management and the priority of putting first things first. That's Skip Heitzing with a message from the series Technicolor Joy. Now here's a resource that introduces you to the key players in Israel and the Middle East and shares why their decisions are significant for you. The beating heart of Bible prophecy is the land of Israel and the Middle East. Joel Rosenberg has his finger on the pulse of the world shaking changes happening right now. And he unveils them in his new nonfiction book, Enemies and Allies. This is the first book of its kind that takes you inside the oval loft, inside the palaces of the kings and crown princes, the presidents and the prime ministers in Israel and in the Arab world as we ask them, what is the meaning of peace? What do you think about religious freedom, about making peace with Israel, about the threat from Iran, about U.S.-Arab relations, U.S.-Israel relations? Enemies and Allies from multiple New York Times bestselling author Joel Rosenberg takes you on an unforgettable journey inside the turbulent Middle East. You'll go behind closed doors to hear from the very kings and presidents and prime ministers who are leading the charge.

Enemies and Allies includes exclusive never-before-published quotes, insights, and analysis from the author's conversations with some of the world's most controversial leaders. Your hardcover copy of Enemies and Allies is our thanks for your generous gift of $35 or more today. To give, call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskipp.com. Thank you for joining us today. Our goal is to connect listeners like you to God's truth, strengthening your walk with Him and bringing more people into His family. That's why these teachings are available to you on the air and online.

If they've inspired you to keep living for Jesus, please consider giving a gift today to encourage other listeners in the same way. Just call 800-922-1888. That's 800-922-1888. Or, visit connectwithskipp.com slash donate. That's connectwithskipp.com slash donate.

Thank you. Tomorrow, Skip Heitzig shares what it truly means to give your all as you pursue Christ. Can you imagine a runner trying to go forward in one direction while looking that way the whole time? What's going to happen?

Fall flat? You can't run the Christian race always thinking about your past. And so, he says forgetting those things. Now, in the Bible, forget doesn't mean to lose your memory.

It doesn't mean a failure to recall. It actually means don't let it influence you. It says forget about it. Forget about it.

It means don't let that past influence your present. Make a connection. Make a connection at the foot of the crossing. Cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection. Connection. Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-03 13:37:27 / 2023-09-03 13:46:56 / 9

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