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The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2021 2:00 am

The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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November 26, 2021 2:00 am

The apostle Paul often likened the Christian faith to a footrace, encouraging believers to run so as to win a prize. In the message "The Crown: How to Excel in Your Faith," Skip shares how you can thrive as you follow Christ.

This teaching is from the series Now Streaming.




This week's DevoMail:

Focus on the Family
Jim Daly
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
The Truth Pulpit
Don Green

Christianity is far more than a decision to follow Christ. It must become a determination to walk with Jesus, not just as Savior, but as Lord.

Agonizuma. Otherwise, if you don't plant that in your mind, like, I'm going to follow no matter what, or no matter how easy or how hard it is, you're going to become a pew potato. The Apostle Paul suffered greatly for the Gospel, but something urged him to keep living for Jesus.

Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip shares about that important motivation that can help you press on in your race of faith. But before we begin, we want to let you know about an amazing opportunity you have to visit the sites where the prophets and kings in the Bible heard from God. I want to invite you to join me on a tour of Israel in 2022. I've been there a number of times and visiting the places where the events of the Bible unfolded, it just doesn't get old. Register by November 30th using promo code ConnectIsrael to receive $150 off the tour price.

Get all the tour information at slash cabq. Thank you, Skip. Now, here's a resource that helps you dive even deeper into God's truths. Listen to what Sean McDowell said about the book Tactics. This is the book I've been waiting for.

I enthusiastically recommend Tactics. Here's Skip Heitzig to comment on how Jesus spoke out for truth. We might think that Jesus never raised his voice, that he would never call anybody out. However, there was a side of Jesus that was contentious. The Jesus that took tables in the temple and overturned them and took out a whip and drove people out of the temple.

Yeah, that Jesus. Get equipped to defend the gospel and guard against false teachings with Fight for the House, a six-message series through the book of Jude with Skip Heitzig. This teaching series on CD is our thanks when you give to keep this Bible teaching ministry on the air. And when you give $35 or more today, we'll also send you a book by Gregory Kochel called Tactics, your game plan for communicating the truth about Christianity with confidence and grace.

To give, visit or call 800-922-1888. Now, we're in 1 Corinthians Chapter 9 as Skip Heitzig gets into today's message. Remember, it was Paul who said, I press toward the goal. I'm looking at that scope boss. I'm looking at that square pillar.

And it's not like I want, oh, well, I'm going to make it through and just kind of get to heaven. I press. I press. I use my energy.

Here's a fun fact. 80% of all those people who join a gym will quit within five months. Usually we join gyms like what, January? That's right. That's the New Year's resolution.

That's sort of typical. I'm going to get in shape. I'm going to lose weight. I'm going to work out. And you join a gym.

80% of people who join a gym will quit in five months. You want to know why? Because it's hard. That's why, right? That's just what it comes down to.

It's just tough to do that day in and day out. Did you know that according to Jesus Christ, a large percentage of those people who claim to follow Jesus Christ will also quit the gym? Jesus said in the parable of the sower, Matthew 13, the seed fell on stony places, represents those who hear the word and immediately receive it with joy. But he has no root in himself but endures only for a little while.

For when tribulation or persecution arise because of the word, immediately he stumbles. What happened? It's hard.

That's what happened. It is difficult. It is inconvenient. Which leads me to say this, Christianity is far more than a decision to follow Christ. It must become a determination to walk with Jesus, not just as Savior but as Lord. Otherwise, if you don't plant that in your mind, like I'm going to follow no matter what or no matter how easy or how hard it is, you're going to become a pew potato. That's the church equivalent of a couch potato. You're going to become a viewer, not a doer. You're just going to watch people run the race going, oh, I'm glad they're doing it. Christianity is not a spectator sport.

You've got to get on the track, get in the arena. The Bible never says lounge in the Spirit. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say veggie in the Spirit. Kick back in the Spirit, it says walk in the Spirit. Run the race that is set before you looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. I wonder what would happen if we put as much dedication into our spiritual life as we do into our golf game. If we put as much energy into our walk with the Lord as we do fishing, or you could name any hobby, any activity that we do. I mean, let me ask you this. What would ever motivate a guy like Paul the Apostle who was an academic and could have had a pretty slouch life, what would ever motivate him to travel long distances in discomfort, go to cities, preach, get beat up, get thrown in jail, then get up and do it all over again? Why? For that matter, what would ever motivate somebody like David to do whatever motivates somebody like David Livingstone to go to medical school, become a doctor, then hightail it to Africa in the jungles under extreme conditions and life-threatening conditions to serve the Lord?

Or people like E. Stanley Jones to do it in India. It's this idea, no pain, no gain. Eyes on the prize, no pain, no gain. One of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies, which is now an old movie in 1981, Chariots of Fire.

Remember Chariots of Fire? So it's about Eric Little who ran, but there's, he had a buddy named Harold Abrams, and there's a scene in the movie where Harold Abrams just suffered his first defeat. He got beat in a race, and he was so mad at himself and mad at his competitor for losing. So he goes over to the bleachers, and he sits in the bleachers, and he's just by himself, right?

He's just pouting. His head's down, he's kicking the seats, and his girlfriend comes over to him to encourage him, and he turns to her and says in his Scottish brogue, if I can't win, I won't run. And she turns to him and smiles and says, sweetheart, if you don't run, you can't win. And that was enough encouragement for him to sort of get it in his head that he had to keep putting out the energy and the agony to win.

And he went on to win gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. Great story. So no pain, no gain. Eyes on the prize, no pain, no gain. Let me give you a third motto that is a decision. Say no to say yes. Every athlete knows that he has or she has to make some decisions about their career and about their workout.

And let me take you to verse 25 to show you this. Everyone who competes for the prize is, what's the next word? Temperate in all things. Now, that's simply a word that means self-control. He who competes, he who agonizes as an athlete, exercises self-control in all things. So athletic training involves far more than just a passionate energy to win, eyes on the prize. It also includes rigid denial, the ability to say no.

I mean, athletes are incredibly disciplined, right? They've learned to say no to staying up late. They've learned to say no to sleeping in too long.

They've learned to say no to eating certain kind of foods. They've learned to say no to hot fudge sundaes. Now, there's nothing wrong with a hot fudge sundae. But if you want to win the race, there's something wrong with a hot fudge sundae.

I suppose an Olympic athlete on the day of the race could wake up and have a half a gallon of ice cream. But it's dumb if you want to win the race, right? So you learn to say no. There's nothing wrong with good food. There's nothing wrong with good fun unless it keeps you from winning. So here's the principle. I've said it so many times, but it's a good principle. A good thing becomes a bad thing if it keeps you from the best thing.

That's what an athlete learns. Can be a good, there's nothing, and this is what a lot of us do. Well, there's nothing wrong with doing that.

That's not the issue. It's not, is it wrong in and of itself? Is it wrong for me now if I want to win? So a good thing becomes a bad thing if it keeps you from the best thing. Half our troubles, I think, come from saying yes too quickly and no not soon enough.

So we say no so that we can say yes. Now, I'm going to take you down to verse 27 because this is sort of part of that mentality. Paul writes, But I discipline my body, now watch this, and I bring it into subjection. Literally, I make my body my slave. I tell my body what to do. My body doesn't tell me what to do. My body doesn't tell me what to do. I tell my body what to do. You know, most people are slaves to their body.

Let's just be frank. Most people are slaves to their body. Their bodies tell their minds what to do. Their body decides when to eat. Their body decides what to eat. Their body decides how much to eat. Their body decides when to go to sleep. Their body decides when to wake up and when to sit down because it's been up since you got it up.

Now it wants to sit down. Your body decides all that. Not an athlete. An athlete's mind tells his or her body what to do. The body is not the master.

The body is the slave. If an athlete says, Well, I've got to listen to my body. No, my body is going to listen to me. So my body wants to rest, but I'm going to make it run. My body wants to eat ice cream, but I'm going to have a balanced meal.

My body wants this, but I'm going to make it do that. Now, here's the question I'm leading to. Are there things in your life? Is there anything in your life that you need to say no to so that you can say yes to something else, someone else? What things are okay, but if you said no to them, you, in a spiritual sense, could win. Are there certain activities? Are there certain requests that you get? Are there certain hobbies? Nothing wrong with any of those things, but maybe, possibly, it could be that in making some of the decisions you've made and saying yes to so many things, you spread yourself out so thin, your family's suffering.

Your walk with God is suffering. Could it be saying no to spending money on certain items? Could it be saying no to wasting time on social media? I know some people, that's all they do. They're glued to that stupid little screen forever, all day long. Your phone will even tell you how long you're on it, and you probably get embarrassed every time it does. Really?

Four hours? Could be saying no to certain forms of entertainment. Look, this is just setting boundaries. That's all, setting spiritual boundaries. The Bible has a word for this. It's called self-control. Good old word.

Let's bring that one back. It's part of the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering.

Self-control. It's saying no so that I can say yes. Wilbur Chapman, a spiritual leader from yesteryear, wrote this, The rule that governs my life is this. Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it. It doesn't say it's wrong, period.

It's wrong for me. I'm saying no so that I might learn to say yes. So we have three, three mottos, three principles. Eyes on the prize. No pain, no gain. Say no to say yes.

Let me give you a fourth and final one. Play the long game. The long game. So the event that Paul is speaking about when he talks about running the race probably wasn't the 50-yard dash, probably wasn't the 100-yard dash, probably more like he's thinking the marathon, the 26-point whatever mile run.

The long haul. Since you're running your race throughout your whole life. Now I'm going to take you down to verse 27 because he talks about running but then he quickly switches metaphors midstream. Watch this.

Verse 26. Therefore I run, so he's still on the track, running the race. I run thus, not with uncertainty.

Stop there. Let me tell you what he's talking about. To run aimlessly or without certainty is to run not aligned to the scopas. Remember I told you about that square pillar that was at the end of the stadium? So don't worry, I'm not going to like run up here or anything and fall down. But if I'm in a stadium and way at the other end of that 182-meter track is that pillar, the athlete will always keep his eyes on that square pillar so that he doesn't run aimlessly or in the wrong direction.

He's looking at that while he runs. Paul says that's how I live my life. I live it single-mindedly on a goal and I press toward the mark.

I press toward, I'm at it. I run with certainty, not aimlessly. But after the period now he changes settings from the runner to the boxer.

Watch what he does. Thus I fight not as one who beats the air, which means shadow boxing, but I discipline my body, bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others I myself should be disqualified. Okay, the second analogy after running is boxing. And did you know that boxing was one of the major competitions in the Greek games, both in the Olympics and in the Corinthian Ithmian games. It was a violent sport in ancient times. Boxers wore gloves, leather gloves, that covered the forearm.

So pretty long honking gloves, covered the forearm. When it came to the hand, the gloves stopped and the boxer would wrap the knuckles in leather strips, but the fingers would be totally exposed, clenched into a fist. And usually a boxing match resulted in great injury or death. Most boxers in the Olympics left the arena with either broken teeth, swollen ears, deviated septums, or sustained injuries to the skull. You're thinking, what person in their right mind would enter a competition like that? Well, I never said that boxers are in their right mind.

I'm not saying they're not either, but I never said they were. But only a boxer who's stepping into the ring and believes he's going to win the match, right? That's what he comes with. By the way, in ancient times, there were no rounds. Today we have 12 rounds of the three minutes. In the Olympics, you won when the guy's knocked out or gives up. They just kept fighting, and the only time they would take a break is by mutual consent. Otherwise they would just fight till it's over.

It ain't over till it's over. Now, do you know that Paul pictured himself, not just as a runner, but as a fighter? 2 Timothy 4, I have fought the good fight. He wrote to Timothy and said in 1 Timothy 6, fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life.

And let's be real. Paul bore the marks of a fighter on his body, marks of persecution on his body. He was stoned at Lystra. He was beaten at Philippi.

He was jailed in Jerusalem and in Rome. He bore the marks as if he was a boxer on his body. Now, I want to show you two things, because there's two things he wants.

Number one, Paul wants to strike a decisive blow on the enemy. Verse 26, he says, thus I fight not as one who beats the air. Now, that's shadow boxing. That's this, dancing around. I'm not even good at this.

You can tell I'm not good at this. But he's boxing the air, right? He's kind of going through his moves, but there's nobody there. That's what he means by beat the air. I'm not a guy who wants to sit around and dance and shadow box. I want to make sure that I strike a blow to my opponent.

I want to hit hard. Now, he could be referring to himself. Some scholars believe he's saying this about himself, that I rustle myself down and I discipline myself so hard that I win my goal. Or he could be referring to the common enemy of our souls, the devil.

He could simply be saying, you know what? I want to give the devil a black eye. I want to strike a decisive blow. I want to tick the devil off. You know, I get so happy when I know the devil is not happy. When we do Freedom Celebration and I know that people have come to Christ and there's people worshiping Jesus with all their heart and the freedom of the Spirit, I know that makes the devil so mad and it makes me so happy to go to bed at night going, he lost another one or another few hundred or another few thousand.

And just knowing that he's mad makes me happy. Paul said, I want to strike a decisive blow, not as one who beats the air. The second thing he wants here is to be able to stay in the fight, stay on the racetrack or stay in the ring.

When he said, I discipline my body, make it my slave, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. Now in the ancient Olympics, if you lose the race, I mentioned this before, you get publicly scorned, publicly humiliated. But if you withdraw from the race, let's say you run a few feet and you say, I'm pulling out. Or you get disqualified from the race, you get whipped.

So Paul is saying, I'm playing the long game. I'm thinking long term. I don't want to do anything that will take me off the racetrack.

I don't want to do anything that keeps me out of the boxing ring. I want to make sure I am going to be effective for the glory of God and make sure that I can serve Jesus Christ my whole life. I want to finish well.

I want to finish strong. Back in 1968, the Summer Olympics were held in Mexico City. It was 7 o'clock p.m. one evening for the event, the marathon event, 26 point whatever miles.

All the contestants had crossed the finish line. They had come into the arena. Suddenly, the crowd noticed, because they heard a siren, they noticed a vehicle coming through, a siren, as the last runner came staggering into the arena.

He was wearing the colors of Tanzania, his country. His name was John Stephen Akwari, and he was the last contestant in the 26 mile marathon. As he came into the arena, the crowd stood at their feet and began to applaud the loser, the man in last place, and here's why. They noticed he had been badly injured. They noticed he was bloodied and bandaged. He had fallen in the race early on, but he kept running. And though he came in last place as he just sort of stumbled and staggered over the finish line, they cheered him like he was the winner. Well, after it was all done, somebody on the field said, why didn't you just drop out? You were injured so long ago, but you got back up and continued to run.

Why? And he said simply this, my country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish the race.

That's a winner. I finished the race. What are you willing to do? What are you willing to give up to finish the race with joy like Paul said? Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last. That concludes Skip Heitzig's message from his series Now Streaming. Now, here's Skip to tell you about how you can keep encouraging messages like this coming your way as you help connect others to the Lord. True fulfillment and happiness in life comes from one thing only, and that is pursuing God Himself. I'd like to ask you to join us in getting that life-changing message to a world that desperately needs to hear it.

When you give a gift, you keep these Bible teachings coming to you and to many others. Here's how you can get involved in the work Connect with Skip is doing across the globe. Just search for his channel and watch thousands of powerful Bible teachings and live services.

Find more information on the broadcast page at Join us next Monday as Skip Heitzig shares about the hope Jesus brought into the world and the hope He offers you. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and 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 / 2023-07-17 03:54:35 / 2023-07-17 04:03:35 / 9

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