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Sign up at harvest.org. Is there someone or is there something that's slowing you down? Well, in the race of life, we want to run as lightly as possible. Pastor Greg Laurie points out how the Christian life has been compared to a long-distance race, and today he helps us finish well.
Don't hang around ungodly people who influence you to do ungodly things. We want to run from what is wrong. We want to run toward what is right, and we want to run with like-minded people. As a rule, people don't walk much anymore.
Some might do a couple of miles on the treadmill at the gym, but they drove three laps around the parking lot to get the closest parking space. In biblical times, everybody walked a lot, and running, well, that was the speeding they did when they were late for work. Today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out how Paul the Apostle offers counsel on how we can run the race of life with endurance, and how we can run to win. The title of the message is The Race We Must Win, and we're in Philippians chapter two, so turn there with me if you would. Philippians chapter two, The Race We Must Win. 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 two, 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. 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, 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. 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, you know 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 lights in this perverse world. 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. 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. Point number two, get rid of extra weight in the things that would hinder you.
Get rid of extra weight in the things that would hinder you. Verse seven, what things are gaining me? I counted loss for Christ. Yes, I count all things lost for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ.
Paul's saying, look, I'm looking back on my life. I was a pretty accomplished guy. I was raised in an incredible family. I studied under Gamaliel. I knew culture. I knew languages. I knew scripture. I was an intellectual. I was an orator.
I was a great debater. That stuff to me now, it's rubbish. That's sort of the British word. I love the word rubbish. Just rubbish. Absolute rubbish. Actually, the word that Paul uses there for rubbish is translated from a word that means excrement. That's what it is to me. All these accomplishments, it's like dog dung in the doggy bag.
Who cares about it? I don't want it anymore. And then he says, but I'm laying aside this weight. Hebrews 12 says, lay aside the weight and the sin that so easily besets you in the race of life. We don't want excess baggage when we're running this race. This is hard for me because I am the original pack rat. I overpack.
I don't even want to admit this, but I will. When we go on a trip, I take more stuff than my wife. I do. It's just stuff. It's just things you don't need. We may need a vacuum cleaner. Let's put it in the suitcase.
We need this and we need that. I have all this stuff. Now, sometimes my wife doesn't have a jacket.
I don't have it. Well, I have four in my trunk. Aren't you glad that I'm a pack rat tonight, right? So when I check in my luggage, I always cringe when they put it on the scale because I know it's going to weigh too much and they're going to look at me, give me that look like it's a loser. And then the little tag that says heavy, extra heavy. So I overpack. I take too much stuff. That's just the way that I am.
Well, in the race of life, we want to run as lightly as possible. So you need to ask yourself periodically as you're running this race, as you're walking with Christ, is there someone or is there something that's slowing you down? See, if I'm on a diet and I'm hanging out with a person that likes to eat pizza and Mexican food 24-7, they're a bad influence on me. It's better if I'm with someone else who's on a diet, maybe even the same diet, and we'll kind of hold each other accountable. But I'll tell you what, if I'm watching someone else eat, it's torment to me, OK?
I want what they have. So maybe there's someone who's a bad influence on you spiritually. You know, you're trying to walk with God, but when you're around them, they're saying, oh, come on, chill out, relax, let's try this, let's do that.
They're not a good influence. Or there's something that's slowing you down. Maybe it's something you're doing that's impeding your spiritual performance. In the book of Genesis, we have the story of Abraham. God told him to leave his homeland and go to a land that the Lord would reveal to him and also to leave his family. And Abraham obeyed, sort of. He brought along his nephew Lot, who was like a spiritual dead weight on him. And it caused a lot of friction and a lot of problems. And finally, after conflict developed, Abraham and Lot parted ways.
And then the Lord spoke to Abraham again. My point is, Lot was a bad influence on Abraham. And is there someone that's a bad influence on you? Or even worse, are you a bad influence on someone else? Don't be that person.
Be a good influence. Because we're running the race, and we want to run the race. Well, we want to run from what is wrong. We want to run toward what is right. And we want to run with like-minded people. In a moment, Pastor Greg gives you a simple question to ask yourself anytime you wonder if something is impeding your progress in the race of life.
That's coming right up. It's great to hear that people are listening to Pastor Greg's messages. Last week, as I was driving, I came across the tail end of one of your radio sermons as you were praying and leading listeners to Christ.
The broadcast host mentioned being able to send you a message. And as I was considering that, an old work truck stopped just in front of me with two Greg Laurie and Harvest.org bumper stickers in its window. Now, I don't go looking for signs from God, but this one was difficult to ignore. Thank you so much for choosing to be faithful and follow Jesus, even through the grief you experienced in the loss of your own son.
People like me need examples like you to focus on Christ. Thank you, Pastor Greg. Has Pastor Greg heard from you? Why not drop him an email and share your story? Send it to Greg at Harvest.org.
Do it today while you're thinking about it. Again, that's Greg at Harvest.org. And now Pastor Greg continues his message from Philippians called The Race We Must Win. What is the theme of the book of Philippians? Happiness.
Yes. That's the title of the series. Happiness. Paul refers to it many times with different words, rejoicing, joy, et cetera. And if you want to be a happy person, there are certain things you should do and there are certain things you shouldn't do. Psalm 1 sums it up perfectly. It says, happy or blessed, happy is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly or stands in the way of sinners or sits in the seat of the scornful. So if you want to be a happy person, don't hang around ungodly people who will influence you to do ungodly things. But happiness is not comprised merely of what we don't do.
It's also comprised of what we do. I don't walk in the counsel of the ungodly. I don't stand in the way of sinners. But instead, I get into the word of God. It says His delight is in the law or the word of the Lord. And in it does He meditate day and night.
So if you want to be happy, stay away from godless people doing godless things, leading you away from God, and hang around godly people and get into God's word. That's what we're doing here tonight. So periodically I have to ask myself the question, this thing that I'm doing, is it a wing or is it a weight? Is it a wing or is it a weight? Is it speeding me up or slowing me down? Is it building me up or is it tearing me down?
And check this out. What may be a weight to one may not necessarily be a weight to another. Lay aside the sin or the weight and the sin that so easily besets you. See, one thing might slow one person down more than it slows another person down. Like we have different metabolisms, right?
And some people can eat whatever they want and never gain weight. I hate those people. No, I don't. I love them because I'm not to hate. I am to love. I love them, but I'm upset they have that metabolism.
I want their metabolism. I mean, I used to eat things when I was younger, had no effect on me. After church, when we were starting our church many years ago, there was a takeout restaurant, I've mentioned this before, called Noggle's. Anybody remember Noggle's?
Wow, a lot of you. It was really good. It was really good takeout Mexican food. So they had a thing called a macho combo burrito. This thing was so stinking big.
It was the size of a sleeping bag, okay. It was just massive burrito. And so after church I would eat it. And even when I'm preaching, I'm getting toward the end of my sermon, I'm thinking macho combo burrito, macho combo burrito. Preachers think these things. Trust me.
Yes, I want the Lord to bless me. Macho combo burrito, too, you know. So I'd be done with church. I'd drive over. I'd order the macho combo burrito, eat it. Fantastic.
No issues, no problems. I couldn't even look at a macho combo burrito today. I'd gain weight looking at it. And for sure I would get acid reflux from eating it late at night.
I've gone from acid rock to acid reflux. It's a very sad thing. But then somebody else could go and eat that and it wouldn't affect them at all. I say that's not fair. Well, I don't know if it's fair or not. But you just need to know what you can do and what you can't do, okay. So just because they can do it doesn't mean you should do it. And so you have to ask yourself, is that thing slowing me down? Number three, in the race of life we must run with the right motive.
Run with the right motive. Paul speaks of only one receiving the prize, running for the gold, if you will. I mean I don't think most Olympians want to win the bronze. I mean the bronze is great. I'd be thrilled if I won the bronze. But the gold's better.
Everybody knows it. Silver's good, too, but the gold's best. Because if you win gold you get the top position and they play the national anthem of your country. So you run for the top award. But our primary motive is not running for an award or a reward. But there are rewards promised to Christians. But our primary motive is found in Philippians 3 10. Paul says that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death.
That's our motive. That I may know him. The Amplified translation, which is an expanded Greek translation, states that verse as follows. Paul speaking, my determined purpose in life is that I may know him. Then he defines what that means. That I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with him perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of his person more strongly and more clearly. That I may know him. Our mission statement at Harvest is knowing God and making him known. Paul saying my determined purpose in life is to know him. Notice he says it's to know him. He doesn't say it's to know about him. Now you need to know about God.
But that should not take the place of knowing God. We know a lot about a lot of people. We have a celebrity obsessed culture today.
You know media breathlessly follows their every step. Here's a celebrity coming out of Starbucks. Here's a celebrity going to lunch. Here's a celebrity going to rehab.
Here they are going to lunch and back to rehab and to dinner and back to rehab and here they are. And aren't they wonderful and look at them. And you know so we watch them and maybe we follow them on Facebook. We say yeah I'm friends with them on Facebook. I know them. You're not their friend. They have 10 million followers or friends. You're not their friend. I know I have a picture they posted.
You're not their friend. You know about them. And I fear that a lot of people know about God instead of knowing God. They can say things about God. Even say things from Scripture.
But is there that deep fellowship and relationship with Him. Jesus said many will say to me on that day Lord Lord did we not prophesy in your name. In your name did we not cast out demons. In your name did we not do wonderful miracles. And then Jesus says I will say to them I never knew you you workers of iniquity.
I never knew you. They knew about Jesus but He didn't know them at all. Number four. Paul had a clear objective and focus in life. Paul had a clear objective and focus on life. Verse 13.
This one thing I do. David of course had it as well. We brought this up when we looked at his life recently. He said one thing have I desired of the Lord that will I seek after to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. Mary of Mary and Martha fame also had this one thing in her life. The Lord came over to their home for a meal and Martha was frantically trying to prepare something in the kitchen and she got upset because Mary wasn't helping her. And so she complained to Jesus and I love what the Lord says. Martha you're so upset about all these details.
He says there's only one thing worth being concerned about right now and Mary has discovered it. Don't take it from her. Martha I appreciate it. I love your meals.
You're a fantastic chef. But you know what. Mary's kind of tuned into what really matters right now. We're talking together. So if you were smart you'd tick off the apron and sit down listen in.
I'm sure you'd learn something. So sometimes you know we're all frantic and all these things. We're doing many things. Let's not forget the one thing. Sometimes the many things can take the place of the one thing. And as I've often said the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
Principle number five. We're almost done here. Don't look back. Don't look back. Have you ever tried to run and look over your shoulder behind you?
More than one race has been lost when the person who was in the lead position could not avoid the temptation to see if that other person was there and boom they hit the finish line or the ribbon just a little bit before. So we can't look back. Paul says in verse 13 forgetting the things that are behind and reaching forward to the things that are before.
What does that mean? To forget does not mean to fail to remember. I mean there are things that I remember that I can't necessarily forget. When Paul uses this word forget it means don't be influenced or affected by it any longer. And to be effectively forgetting something I must first be forgiven. There can be no forgetting without forgiveness. For the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3 15 God requires that which is past because God forgives and forgets we can do the same. Let me say that again because God forgives and forgets we can do the same because the Lord says there's sins and iniquities while I remember no more. Now this does not mean that God is having a lapse in memory. What God is saying is I'll no longer hold your sin against you. In other words your sins no longer affect your standing with me or influence my attitude toward you.
To forget means we break the power of the past by living for the future. Good insight today on a new beginning. Pastor Greg Laurie is helping us break from the past part of the strategy for running the race of life successfully. And there's more to come as Pastor Greg continues this study. Well we hope you're making plans now to see the new film Jesus Revolution next month. Pastor Greg Jesus Revolution is more than just a movie it's an evangelism tool. And even more than that it could be the spark that lights the flame of a spiritual awakening like we saw 50 years ago.
Yeah true. Explain how one movie can do all that. Well let me just say this it's a beautiful film. It's an artistic movie. It's incredibly cast, amazing performances by the actors.
You're going to love the soundtrack because we use a lot of those old songs from the late 60s in the film as well. I think the movie has structural integrity. It's not like your typical and I'll put in quotes Christian film. It's not predictable. It takes a lot of surprising twists and turns. And I believe it will surprise people.
Even non-believers will find themselves liking this film. They'll connect to these characters. When we tell the front-end story of a young Greg and a young Kathy searching for meaning it so parallels the search of today's youth. It feels current like it's happening right now because in many ways there's nothing new under the sun and there's so many parallels between that time late 60s early 70s and the time we're living in right now. You know it's funny even a lot of young people are you know have t-shirts of the bands we used to listen to. See kids running around with you know Led Zeppelin Church, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Stones, etc. And we that's the music we listened to back in the day. Vinyl has even made a comeback of course. Some of the drugs of that day have made a comeback as well unfortunately like the just incredible popularity of marijuana that's so destructive. And more people smoke marijuana today than cigarettes I read recently. And a lot of people are now experimenting with LSD.
I haven't heard about that for a long time. So there's a lot of parallels between then and now. But this isn't just the story of the drug culture. It's a story of how Jesus intervened and changed a generation and how thousands of young people came into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. So our prayer and our hope is that as people watch this they too will want to come to know Jesus Christ. So I think if you were able to take someone with you or even send someone who's not a believer to see this film, the conversation you could have afterwards would be profound because you can talk to them about what they saw in the movie. You know people respond differently to movies than they do to sermons.
And there are a lot of people that would not darken the doorway of a church but would walk into a dark movie theater to see a theatrical release. And they won't be disappointed. This is a great movie. This is an entertaining movie. It's a funny film.
It touches your heart, but it tells a powerful story. And so I'm hoping that people will come to Christ as a result of watching it. And I'm hoping that a whole generation of young people will see what God did around 50 years ago now and say, Lord, do it again. We want our own Jesus revolution.
Yeah, yeah, that's right. And that's certainly our goal. In fact, that's the focus of this entire ministry, to share the hope of the gospel. And we're excited to do this in some new and exciting ways.
You know what? We've been privileged to reach 6 million people over the last 30 years through our large-scale harvest crusades. Well, it's projected that this movie could be seen by 10 million people this year alone.
Imagine that. And we appreciate your partnership that's helping to reach out in this way. And as you send a donation right now, we'd like to send you the book called Jesus Revolution.
In fact, why not read it before you see the film? Call us any time 24-7 at 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300. Or write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or simply go online to harvest.org. Hey, I don't know if you know about this, but we have a weekend service called Harvest at Home, exclusively for people that are tuning in literally from around the world. Listen to this. We even have harvest groups where you can get into a small group with folks from all around this planet of ours and study the Word of God.
So join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for Harvest at Home at Harvest.org. When we become believers, God forgives us of every sin of our past. He forgets about them. Do we? Next time, Pastor Greg has good encouragement to let the past stay in the past. It's an important part of running our race for Christ. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher, Greg Lauren. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions, and find resources to help you grow in your faith at harvest.org.
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