Hey everybody, you're listening to A New Beginning, which is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. If this program has impacted you, I'd love to hear from you. So just send an email to me at gregatharvest.org. Again, it's gregatharvest.org.
You can learn more about becoming a Harvest Partner by going to harvest.org. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us the finale in his Philippians series with a message he calls The Race We Must Win. You know, it's a funny thing that we have sort of a trend, I think, in children's sports, especially today. We give kids trophies for showing up. It's a participation trophy.
Okay, newsflash. In the race of life, God wants us to win. He doesn't want us to just show up. It's not just about running. It's about winning. In Pastor Greg Laurie's current series, he's been focusing on Paul's words in Philippians.
While he was under house arrest, he wrote some of the most inspiring counsel on where to find happiness and joy. And as Pastor Greg presents the final message in his happiness series, we see Paul talks about the Christian life as a race, and much like a coach, inspiring his runners. Today on A New Beginning, we'll be inspired to run with purpose and intent so that we finish well. You know, ever since I was a little kid, I've always wanted to be an athlete. But the problem was I was never really good at any sport in particular. When I tell you I was the last one picked for the team, I'm not kidding, actually. But I did go out for football when I was in high school. I was a pretty fast runner. And so I went through all the training, and I even shaved my head, which was hard, because I had really cool surfer blonde hair. I had like a nice little wave that I would do this all the time, you know. And to sacrifice that hair to be on the team, I thought, well, it's worth it.
I'm going to be on the team. And I shaved my head. And like literally the day after, I'm called into the principal's office, and they said, you can't be on the football team. I said, why not?
They said, your grades are too low. My response was, OK, could you have told me that before I shaved my head? But, you know, one thing I was pretty good at was running. I could outrun most people. Not long distance running, though. Sprinting was what I was better at. Whenever there would be a race, I would be ahead of everyone. But, of course, I would quickly lose steam, and then people would catch up with me, and sometimes they would lap me, and periodically turtles would pass me.
But I was good with that initial burst of steam. But, you know, the Christian life is really a long distance run. And it's something we engage in each and every day. You know, a lot of people want to get out and run, but a lot of people don't follow through. Even after they buy running shoes, which are very expensive now, by the way, in case you haven't noticed. I read that 87% of those who buy running shoes never use them.
87%. Hey, check out these running shoes. Have you gone for a run? No, but I walked from my car to Starbucks, and I'm looking good, right? So, you know, that's how it is in real life. Now, I am not naturally the kind of guy that wants to go have a workout. That's the thing I want to get out of doing. It's so bad, I don't even like to jog my memory. But the last week, I was at the gym, and I was stretching, and I was bending, and I was lifting, and I was just getting out of the car.
That's what's so sad about that. But, no, seriously, though, I go to the gym seven days a week. I do, yeah.
It's on the way to Krispy Kreme Donuts. I go by the gym, I should say. Well, anyway. But, you know, if you want to be a real athlete, you have to be committed.
You have to work at it. I read that the average Olympic athlete works out four hours a day, 310 days a year, for six years to compete for the gold. And then once, if you are selected to be on the Olympic team, which is a great honor, of course, you have to discipline yourself, and a very important thing, you must play by the rules. You know, it's a funny thing, we have sort of a trend, I think, in children's sports, especially today, where they say, you know, we don't really keep tabs on who's winning, because everyone's a winner. By the way, I don't think that's a good thing to do for kids, because that's not the way it is in the real world, okay? We give kids, you know, trophies for showing up. It's a participation trophy.
Okay, newsflash. In the race of life, God wants us to win. He doesn't want us to just show up. It's not just about running, it's about winning. And, you know, when they say everyone's a winner, that's actually not true. Everyone is not a winner. There are losers in the race of life, because they bail, or they break the rules, or they don't finish what they've started. God wants us to win in this race. 1 Corinthians 9, 24, it says, remember in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize, so run in such a way that you will win. Every athlete practices self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we're doing it for an eternal prize. So I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should, otherwise after I have preached to others, I myself would be disqualified.
And we could illustrate this with a lot of examples of athletes who maybe won an Olympic event, but it was found out later that they'd been using steroids, or in some other way they broke the rules, and so they even had their gold medal taken from them on some occasions. Well anyway, we want to run this race of life, and we want to run it well. So there are things that sort of slow us down in the race of life, things that impede our progress.
What are they? Let's go back now to Philippians 2, and look at verse 14 and 15, and I would point this out. Complaining and bickering can hinder us in running the race.
Let me say that again. Complaining and bickering can hinder us in running the race of life and also impede our happiness and joy. Look at verse 14 and 15. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Another translation of 14 and 15 goes as follows. Do everything readily and cheerfully. No bickering.
No second guessing allowed. Go into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and the living God. I love that translation. Now when Paul uses the word complaining, a better way to translate it would be murmuring. It's not speaking of loud, boisterous screaming, but rather low-toned, discontented muttering.
Does that make sense? So it's not a person who says, I don't like what's going on. It's more the person who's like this, I don't like what's going on.
Do you like what's going on? I don't agree with that. Do you agree with that?
Don't you know they're always complaining? Sort of like Popeye. Remember Popeye?
You ever watch a Popeye cartoon? He's always muttering. What is he saying?
No one knows, but he's muttering, right? That's the idea here. And that's how some people are. They're always muttering or complaining or jumping to conclusions. I'm amazed how people will jump to conclusions.
You know, the only exercise some Christians get is running down others and jumping to conclusions. I think they heard something, which maybe they didn't hear at all, or they misinterpreted it. Then they'll build a whole case on that thing that really wasn't even true. And then they'll get angry about it and this confestering will go on for a long period of time.
Don't let that be you. I heard a story of a man who decided to join a monastery and become a monk. And he had to take a vow of silence. And at the end of the year, he would be allowed to appear before the head priest. And he could only say two words. So after one year of being in this monastery, the monk said, bed's hard.
Another year passes. He meets the head priest and he says, food's cold. After the third year, he comes before the head priest and he says, I quit.
The head priest says, well, it's no wonder. Since you've arrived, you've done nothing but complain. But people are like this. Even the people who like to complain are never happy to keep it to themselves. They kind of want to spread it around. What do you think?
Do you agree that we should do that? I don't think this is right. And that's just the sort of person they are. But yes, verse 14 says, do all things without disputing. This speaks of arguing. An argumentative person is always looking for fault and wrong with others. They're always looking for a verbal fight. Do you know any argumentative people?
I do. They're just looking for a thing to get upset about. They just go from conflict to conflict. The Bible is saying, don't be that person. And this is the very opposite, in fact, of what a Christian ought to be. Because 1 Corinthians 13 says, love believes the best of every person. But some people believe the very worst about every person.
They think their motives are always wrong and they're second guessing and challenging it. And then we are to also be blameless. Look at verse 15. Be blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. By the way, the word blameless means to be unblameable.
Unblameable. In other words, people can't blame us because we don't do things wrong. It speaks of moral integrity manifesting itself externally. Of course, Jesus modeled this for us.
He's able to turn to his accusers in John 8, 46. One day and say to them, can you prove me guilty of any sin? If I'm telling the truth, believe me. Why don't you believe me? In other words, he's saying, hey, what have I done wrong?
What sin have I committed? Well, there was none at all. You say, well, that was Jesus. Well, what about Daniel the prophet? He was a guy just like us.
And he was such a godly man that when his enemies wanted to trip him up because they were jealous of his power and influence with the king, we read in Daniel 6, 4, his enemies couldn't find anything to criticize or condemn because he was faithful, always responsible, and completely trustworthy. We are to be blameless. And the second word that is used here is be harmless. And a better way to translate this would be inexperienced in evil.
I like that. This is not a stupid person. This is not a naïve person. This is a person who is simply not chosen to be experienced in evil. This is the person who maybe when the dirty joke is told, they don't get it. What? Well, sorry, your mind isn't perverse like everybody else, right? So this is the idea.
Inexperienced in evil. In a moment, Pastor Greg will move from the obstacles to avoid to the principles we should embrace if we want to run our race to win. Stay with us. Hey, everybody.
Greg Laurie here, encouraging you to join us this weekend for what we call Harvest at Home. It's worship. It's a message from the Word of God.
You can watch it with your family, in your front room, or you can watch it on the go, on your tablet, on your phone, or your computer. Take it with you. Take the Word of God with you.
And join us for Harvest at Home at harvest.org. As we run our race for Christ, there are things that can slow us down. And today Pastor Greg is warning us of those impediments and obstacles to avoid. Let's listen. We are to be without fault, number three, it says in verse 15.
This means no blemish or indication of disease. And you say, oh, Greg, this is nice. You stand up there behind your pulpit and you tell us these things, you know, but I can't live at this level. And besides, God loves me and accepts me, so I don't have to live at that level.
Hold on, that can be an excuse. Yes, God accepts you as you are, but did you know He doesn't want to leave you that way? See, a lot of times in the name of God accepts me as I am, we continue in a path of maybe sinfulness, or we never grow spiritually and we just rationalize it by saying, well, God accepts me and loves me as I am, but God wants you to grow up spiritually. God wants you to become more like Jesus. And remember, we already read in Philippians 2, it is God that works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure. God will not ask you to do anything He will not give you the power to do.
The calling of God is the enabling of God. And if we live this way, verse 15 says, we'll shine as light in this perverse world. If you really want to see a light shine brightly, turn it on in a dark place. Let me put it another way. You ever see someone check their texts on their cell phone in a movie theater?
I don't care how far away they are, it's noticeable and quite honestly, it's distracting. So in the same way, when we're a light in a dark place, we really stand out from the crowd and people notice us for sure. But it's very important, verse 16 says, holding forth the word of life so I may rejoice in the day of Christ. In other words, you don't want to just be a good example and not tell people why you're living the way that you're living. So someone might say to you, you know I notice you're a happy person, you're a kind person, you're always serving others. What is it about you? Why do you live that way? Well, I believe in having a strong family and living by a set of morals. Really, where do you get your morals, I believe?
Tell them where you get them. I get them from the Bible, and by the way, I wasn't always this way. In fact, I was the opposite of this before, but Christ has come into my life and thank you for that compliment, but anything you see in me is a result of my relationship with Jesus Christ. See, we want them to know why we are the way that we are. And that's what is being said here by Paul and Philippians, holding forth the word of life.
Okay, so having said that, now let's shift gears and talk about this race we are to run. Very familiar words in verse 12 of Philippians 3. Paul says, not that I've already attained or I'm already perfected, but I press on that I may lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of me. Brothers, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind and reaching forward to the things that are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, let us, as many of us are mature, have this mind, and if any of you think otherwise, God will reveal this to you. So I started with the idea of the race of life. We're all in this race. We need to run this race to win. We've got to play by the rules, but what principles do we learn here about running the race of life?
If you're taking notes, here's principle number one. You must be dissatisfied with where you presently are spiritually. You must be dissatisfied with where you presently are spiritually. Paul says in verse 12, it's not that I have attained or I'm already perfected. Another translation of verses 12 to 14 would go as follows. I'm not saying I have it all together or that I have it made, but I'm on my way reaching out for Christ who has wonderfully reached out for me.
Friends, don't get me wrong. By no means do I count myself an expert in all this, but I have my eye on the goal where God is beckoning us onward to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
You see, Paul was satisfied with Christ, but he wasn't satisfied with himself. So he's saying, I have a long ways to go. Do you realize that about yourself? Do you think you have a long ways to go?
Or are you thinking, not me, man. I've arrived. Well, I'm sure you've made a lot of progress since you first believed, but oh my, it seems to me the more you know the Lord, the more you realize that you have a lot of changing to do. And if anyone could have thought that he had arrived, it would be the apostle Paul. I mean, this is a man who has led countless people to Christ. He's established churches. He's written epistles, and yet he is saying, I have so much to learn and so far to go. Can you imagine a group of Christians sitting around with the apostle Paul?
Someone might say, well, you know what? God inspired me to share something with someone today. Another might say, the Lord led me to give the gospel to someone today, and Paul could say, well, God gave me inspired letters called epistles that make up half the Bible that will last forever. Oh, wow, okay.
You win. I don't think Paul would have ever said that, but I'm just saying for a point, think of the comparison. Someone could say, well, I heard God speak to me once. Another might say, well, I sensed his presence as we were worshiping the other day, and Paul said, well, actually, I died, I went to heaven, and then I came back from the dead to write more epistles. Oh, by the way, did I mention I raised someone from the dead?
I mean, who could top this guy? This guy was at the top of his game, but yet he says, I have so far to go. And it's just a reminder that no matter how long you've known the Lord, there's always room for growth.
And I think one of the problems is we become satisfied with where we are. And one of the reasons that you might be self-satisfied is you're comparing your running with that of other Christians. See, the other day I did a race with my grandchildren. They all wanted to race me. We want to race Papa. And I thought, wow, I could lose today because a couple of them are getting older, but we'll give it a go. So we picked a spot.
My wife went a ways away, three feet. No, it's further, but so we're all getting ready to run, and we take off, and I beat them. And, you know, now, that's so what? I beat a bunch of grandkids.
You know, that's kind of sad. I should have let them win, but it was game on, okay? But that's the point. I beat children in a race, okay? So I can say, I'm pretty fast. Yeah, I beat old Christopher.
He's four years old. So what? Now, if I would have raced against an athletic runner, I would have done horribly. So my point is simply this. If I'm comparing myself to people much weaker than me, I'll always seem like I'm doing better. But if I compare myself with other people who are really running well, I'll see, oh man, I have a long ways to go.
And that's what'll happen. Well, I'm not as bad as that guy. Try comparing yourself with someone that's doing well. See, that sense of self-satisfaction is not a good thing. Paul did not compare himself with others. He compared himself with himself and with Jesus Christ. The plan here is progress, not perfection.
We will never be perfect. Pastor Greg Laurie with important insight on having the right mindset as we run our race for Christ. And there's more to come in this final message from his series called Happiness here on A New Beginning.
And then we want to share a listener comment we received. It says, Pastor Greg, I wanted to thank you for today's sermon. It really spoke to me. I read a comment by a person I consider a friend mocking the faith in those who follow Jesus. I was hurt and wanted to reply, but instead prayed for them and gave it to God. Then I heard your message, and you said, all that live a godly life will be harassed and persecuted for the faith.
That means you were on the right track with God. I wept listening to your words because it was the reassurance I needed to stay strong in my faith. Thank you for continuing to preach the word. Well, we're so blessed that God is using these daily studies to impact people's lives, to give them encouragement and an anchor. And if you've partnered with us to help make these programs possible, thank you for being used by God.
And Pastor Greg, we appreciate that listener partnership. And we have some unique ways to say thank you, don't we? That's right, and you know who you are out there that support us, and thank you so much, and God bless you.
I wish I could walk up to you and shake your hand and have a few moments with you. And I do run into people all the time, Dave, wherever I go that listen to our radio broadcast. It's a part of their daily routine, and we're thankful for that. But thank all of you for that.
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Sign up free of charge at harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg brings us more great encouragement from his message called The Race We Must Win from a series called Happiness. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app, and help others find hope.
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