A Gospel Pep Talk
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Date: 20 February, 2020
Text: I Corinthians 9:24-27
Title: The Gospel Briefing
Counseling at the Wilds Christian Camp in North Carolina. One of my favourite summers growing up. I loved camp.
- Away from the world.
- Under good preaching.
- Enjoying good competition.
The Wilds is one of the largest Christian Camps in the US. We'd have 1,000 campers each week.
At the Wilds we had three teams competing all week long. My team was the Green Mountain Cross Cutters. (Logging theme that summer.)
To encourage team spirit, we had team cheers and each cabin had a cabin cheer. Sometimes after losing a round in a game, you'd have to dig deep for some motivation and someone would give a pep talk. (short motivational speech)
1.) Don't give up. So, we are losing miserably, keep giving it your best.
2.) You are doing well (could be better) but at least you are trying.
3.) So, you got your face pounded into the dirt. Go out there and do the same to them.
exp. When it comes to sport or competition a "pep talk" is just a bit of fun. But, at times in life the pep talk has much more serious consequences.
In time of war you could call a serious pep talk a "briefing." The final motivational speech given to men about to go on an operation to accomplish a military objective.
ill. "Operation Opera" - 7 June, 1981 - Israeli Airstrike on Iraq's Nuclear Reactor.
- Sadame Husein had made a deal with France to build a nuclear reactor.
(He would have made nuclear weapons.) Fortified militarily, Iraq didn't need nuclear power.
- 8 F-16s - with two 1 ton delay-actions bombs were prepared to destroy it.
- General Everie gave the pilates the briefing just before their mission into Iran.
- "If you succeed, you will save Israel.... if you don't...."
The Pilots had a couple hours to think after that final briefing - "I first felt the gravity of this mission. How heavy it was for us." "I said, one thing we know, they can't stop us getting there. They may stop us getting back."
note: The planes went in and with very little collateral damage destroyed the reactor.
our text: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul give us Gospel Briefing or pep talk. (A short motivational speech.)
Hear the Gospel Briefing and go accomplish God's mission. Will you let Paul's Gospel pep talk refocus you on God's mission?
I. Be in it to win it.
saying: "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game."
note: How you should play the game is to play to win!
exp. If you are going to compete, then go out seeking victory....
ill. We started a Christian School at our church when I was in High School.
- We had a two room school house - high school and primary.
- I graduated in a class of three. (It was great - I'm thankful God gave us a school.)
- We needed some sports and so we started a volleyball team. The Christian schools near us had girls volleyball teams. We didn't have enough players for a girls volleyball team and so the guys got to play. (By the way, we loved volleyball and our team never lost and it was good practice for the girl's teams near us.)
exp. Everybody on our school was on the team - whether they wanted to be or not. Some weren't really built for volleyball - but they didn't have a choice about being on the team.
A. You don't have a choice about being on the team - if you are saved.
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,
ill. Some of my family in Des Moines, IA enter the annual turkey trot. Thanksgiving Day race.
- Their name is entered in the race.
- They received their number for the race.
- There will be a record of their performance in the race. (A track record.)
note: When you got saved, you got entered into the Gospel race.
- The blood of Jesus paid your entrance fee.
- Your name was entered into the spiritual competition record.
- You've had a track record ever since.
app. It's a simple fact Paul points out, but effective - DON'T YOU KNOW THAT EVERYONE IN A RACE IS COMPETING. You are in the race this morning - if you are saved. What's your track record? How well are you doing in the different Gospel events?
B. You are commanded to give the Gospel Race your best.
...but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
exp. If we are saved, we are all in the race. But, we aren't competing against one another.
ill. Team GB is getting prepared for the summer olympics with 230 athletes competing in 17 different disciplines. Team GB can win in each event as a team never competed against itself.
exp. You and I are entered in different Gospel events on a race course chosen by God.
ill. Paul had a race course that I'm thankful I don't have to run. BUT HE COULD SAY....
2Ti 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
exp. Paul won his event. He's challenging us to be in it to win it! Are you running to obtain the prize? BE IN IT TO WIN IT!
II. Don't just learn it, perfect it.
ill. I'm thankful for parents and inlaws who invested money in music lessons. Katie and I have some musical ability because of that investment. But, I have to confess that my parents investment in my ability to play the piano was somewhat wasted.
- I took piano for 10 years - I can read music in treble and bass cleff. I can plink it out. I would not say I play the piano - although I used to be able to play some pieces on the piano.
- In P5 my parents put me on the trombone - not sure why as my arms weren't long enough.
exp. However, on the trombone - I was more disciplined and I'm thankful that I didn't just learn it, but by God's grace it is being "perfected" in my life - allowing me to now also play the flugabone.
exp. God doesn't just want us to learn about the Gospel race, he wants us to perfect it.
A. Strive in your Gospel racing.
25 And every man that striveth...
def. to strive is to struggle, to grapple with, to fight....
ill. Little kids can be funny at times. They will be fussing and saying, "I can't do that." And when you investigate - you find out they are not trying.
- They can't get their blanket upstairs. - Somehow they are no longer able to bend at the hips, their fingers won't firmly close on the blanket and their feet can't move to get them upstairs.
exp. When it comes to the Gospel race a simple question would be are you trying? Are you striving, struggling and grappling for the sake of the Gospel?
ill Paul was striving for Jesus.
Php 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
ill. On Thursday on my run I came closer than ever to quitting my run. I felt sick. I had just gotten over a cold and had only had one run after having a week off. But, as I started to walk back, I decided to press on despite the adversity.
exp. How easily and how often do you quit the Gospel race?
quote: Bob Jones Sr. "The test of your character is what it takes to stop you."
app. If you would perfect your gospel running, you must strive past adversity.
B. Perfect your Gospel racing.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery....
exp. This person isn't just striving to win it. They are striving to perfect it.
ill. Valentine's Concert of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. They had a Piano Concerto as part of their concert. The pianist was Florian Mitrea.
- You knew he was good as soon as he sat down and began adjusting everything.
- Nervous energy, but you have to have that to play as he did.
- Incredible touch - speed - memory, etc.
- He has mastered the piano!
exp. I can't imagine the hours of study and practice which has allowed him to so develop his gifts.
app question: How good at Gospel running do you want to be? How good is good enough for you in this race? What discipline and effort has gone into your spiritual training?
transition: Be in it to win it. Don't just learn it, perfect it.
III. Give it all or give it nothing.
exp. Do you know that God would rather have you give all or nothing rather than pretend to be trying when you are not?
ill. The Laodecian Church - Rev. 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
exp. Our text is for those who will give it all.
A. Live a temperate life for the Gospel race.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate...
def. Temperate: to exercise self restraint.
exp. To decide to be a high level athlete is to decide to let it impact every area of your life.
ill. Andy Murray and Team GB Tennis players - have nutritional strategies. Proteins, Carbs, Fruit juices.... An article online on Men's Health asked, "What's the worst nutritional mistake a player could make before the final? answer - Forgetting why the nutritional strategies are there and not following them. Diets are closely monitored to educate the player, rather than checking if they are ’sticking to the program'. Each player has a very individual diet and needs to understand their unique reaction to certain foods. Ultimately it’s their career so they need to take ownership."
exp. The team can give guidlines, but the fitness choices come down to the exercising of self restraint on the part of each athlete. *Their temperance choices will effect their performance.
Heb 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
app. What temperance choices are you making as a Gospel athlete? Are you laying aside weights and sin to be a good runner for God's glory?
B. Live temperately in ALL THINGS for the Gospel race.
...is temperate in all things.
exp. An athlete has to be temperate in more than just food - rest, exercise, friends, training, planning....it affects every area of their life.
question: How could serious Gospel training impact my life.
1.) I may need to rise early for prayer and Bible reading.
2.) I may need to set aside entertainment for Bible study.
3.) I may need to give less time to hobbies and more time to God - church/evangelism, ministry.
4.) There may be several things that need to go out of my life that are hindering my training.
app. How temperately (exercising self restraint) are you living this morning? Are you giving it your all?
transition: God would rather we give it all or give it nothing. Don't just learn it, perfect it. Be in it to win it!
IV. Consider the prize of the Gospel race!
Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
exp. All that incredible self restraint is done by a man who is seeking to win (at the time of Paul) a laurel wreath to be put on his head to the applause of man.
note: We would applaud them and say all of their temperate living was not in vain as they achieved such a great reward. BUT IT DOES NOT BEGIN TO COMPARE WITH THE REWARD OF THOSE WHO RUN THE GOSPEL RACE AND WIN.
ill. Missionary James Stewart - at age 14 "Early in the mornings the occupants of the apartment building where he lived chould hear the thump, thump of the ball being kicked against the building outside. James was learning to kick with his left foot with the same dexterity with which he used his right. Hs dream was to be the greatest center-forward in all Europe. He not only practiced, he disciplined his body. He was nearing his goal of being chosen as center-forward for theScottish senior international team. he dreamed of reaching this accomplishment by the time he would be sixteen. But, his thoughts were far from the goal to which his Lord had called him and for which his mother and father had decdicated him at birth."
He heard a preacher, "What should it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" It haunted him.
exp. James Stewart would become well known - not as a footballer, but as runner in God's race.
A. Consider the prize and run with a plan.
26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly;...
ill. Our text is one which I have probably meditated on more than any other text in the Bible. I would quote these verses while running around the athletic fields at Bob Jones University.
exp. When you run - you don't run all UNCERTAINLY - you pace yourself and follow your plan.
question: What does 1 Corinthians 9 reveal of Paul's Gospel running plan?
1. Plan on taking the high road.
exp. God may not call you to a run as disciplined as that of Paul. Paul took a very high road as a Gospel runner.
exp. By way of explanation - the whole book of 1 Corinthians is Paul's defence of himself to the church of Corinth who had started some rumours saying Paul wasn't genuinely an apostle. And so as you read the book, you'll find Paul often defending himself.
note: The first half of chapter 9 Paul is letting the church at Corinth know that He had a right to their maintanence of himself, but he would not take that right.
a. That high road impacted his earthly pleasure.
4 Have we not power to eat and to drink?
exp. Paul could have expected the church to provide for his physical needs. But, Paul didn't. If he were to eat and drink, it would not be at their expense but at his own.
app. His Gospel running choice took a high road - lest some would wrongly view his right maintenance.
b. That high road impacted his earthly relationships.
5 Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
exp. Paul hadn't married. But, he had a right to marry and to demand that his wife also be maintained by the church.
note: It seems Paul was single by choice during this time of persecution.
1 Corinthians 7:26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.
question: What kind of life would the wife of the Apostle Paul have had?
transition: Some have so entered into the Gospel race that for the sake of Christ they have remained single - Amy Carmichael
Mat 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
c. That high road impacted his earthly treasures.
6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working?
11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?
12 If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
15 But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.
exp. Paul's Gospel running plan was to take the high road - even at great personal sacrifice.
app. What about you? Would you let your Gospel run impact your earthly pleasure, relationships or treasures?
2. Plan on taking no glory.
exp. As Paul ran - he wasn't seeking His own glory.
a. Don't glory in your accomplishments.
16 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of:
exp. Paul is arguably one of the best most inspired Gospel preachers of all time. But, he didn't glory in what he had done.
Gal 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
ill. We tend to think that if we do something for God it is exceptional and not expected.
Luke 17:7 But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
8 And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
9 Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
10 So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
app. If you are running right - you won't glory in your accomplishments.
b. Don't glory in your burden.
...for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
exp. Paul didn't flatter himself for being so passionate about God's work. He could do nothing else but preach.
Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.
app. Do you have a great burden for the Lord's work? Why wouldn't you? You have been given something so valuable THAT YOU ARE INDEBTED TO SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD.
c. Don't glory in your surrender.
17 For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
exp. Like our giving - God wants only that which man freely gives from his heart.
exp. Paul would willingly give and God would reward his service. BUT PAUL HAD NOTHING TO GLORY OF - NOT HIS ACCOMPLISHMENTS, NOT HIS BURDEN, NOT HIS SURRENDER.
app. Paul's run was not for his glory. Are you running planning to take no glory?
3. Plan on crossing cultural barriers.
a. Reach out to all classes.
19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
exp. Paul was a free born Roman citizen. But, Paul had a ministry that would impact free men and slaves.
1 Timothy 6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.
2 And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort.
ill. Onesimus -
Philemun v. 10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:
Col 4:9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.
app. Paul's Gospel run was to people regardless of class.
b. Reach out to all nationalities.
20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.
exp. Paul didn't mean he became lawless. But, when Gentiles were converted, they were not compelled to live as Jews lived.
ill. In our study of Romans we've seen Paul twice declares his passion to see the Jews saved. But his primary calling was as the apostle to the Gentiles.
exp. Paul overcame (so called race barriers) to the Gospel very quickly. He took the Gospel to all men. Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
c. Reach out in all conditions.
22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
exp. Paul didn't become weak spiritually and enter into wicked habits. He got down on a level where people lived and gave them the Gospel.
ill. I remember several years ago - being in Kirkcaldy and sitting down by a homeless man and woman and sharing the Gospel. I regret that I don't more often humble myself to reach out to people about Jesus.
ill. William Borden - Millionaire would be pictured by many as the man with his arm around an alcoholic leading that man to Christ.
exp. Paul Gospel run reached out in all conditions and cases.
d. Reach out to share Christ.
23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
app. Paul crossed cultural barriers for the Gospel. Will you - SO THAT THEY CAN PARTAKE OF THE GOSPEL WITH YOU AND YOU WITH THEM?
B. Consider the prize and engage the enemy.
...so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
exp. Paul wasn't a shadow boxer punching the air. If his arm threw a punch spiritually, he was engaging the enemy.
ill. The younger boys in our family still enjoy having shoot outs around the house. We enjoy the old black and white westerns - Roy Rogers - they get their cap guns and out (Duchess goes crazy) and they pretend like they are fighting.
exp. It's fun for kids - it would be silly for a real soldier to speak about his adventures on the battlefield when he's never engaged a real enemy.
app. What is your Gospel run like? Is it all training or are you engaging the enemy and competing for Christ. What have your really done for Jesus in your Gospel race?
C. Consider the prize and discipline your flesh.
27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection:
exp. Paul may have been running the Gospel race at a high level for many years, but he didn't let his flesh out from under his control. He ruled over his body and made it submit to him.
ill. Fauja Singh - oldest marathon runner - in 2011 - he finished a marathon at the age of 100. It took him 8 hours and 11 minutes to go the 26 miles.
"At 89 years, he took seriously to running and ended up in international marathon events. When he first turned up for training at Redbridge, Essex, he was dressed in a three-piece suit. The coach had to rework everything, including his attire. Singh ran his first race, the London Marathon, in 2000. According to his coach, he used to run up to 20 kilometres easily and wanted to run a marathon, thinking it to be just 26 kilometres and not 26 miles (42 kilometres). It was after he realised this that he began training seriously.
exp. Singh kept under his body and disciplined it - even though in his youth he had been an avid amateur runner.
app. How is your conditioning? Is your flesh constantly kept under and brought into subjection?
transition - consider the prize! - run with a plan, engage the enemy, discipline your flesh.
Give it all or give it nothing. Don't just learn it, perfect it. Be in it to win it!
V. Be an "is now" not a "has been" in the Gospel race.
...lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
def. castaway - a vessel broken and put on the shelf.
exp. As good a runner as Paul was, he maintained his discipline LEST WHAT HE PREACHED SHOULD CEASE TO BE LIVED IN HIS LIFE.
note: Paul knew the race wasn't over until God took Him to glory.
ill. Bibleville is a residential part for Christian Seniors. We have Christian concerts on Sat., 35 men from here that are retired pastors have Christian services and activities at 35 mobile parks, several retired missionaries that continue here, have a printing ministry of John and Romans in English and Spanish and many go to Flea Markets and etc and hand out tracts and these booklets, have special speakers every other week 6 nights(a week). Two weeks ago we had Pastor Ollila (76 years old) from Northland and last week we had Pastor Mike Winfield of Prophecy Today. He was a great speaker on Christ's Return and challenged us all to get out and witness. We also have a Chaplain that lives here and has services every Sunday 2x and Thur night and many other activities like Bible Study and Prayer times.
exp. I told her that is not original to me - that it was good to hear that "these servants of the Lord had not retired, but had been retreaded." THEY HAVE NOT CROSSED THE LINE YET AND WOULD FINISH WELL.
ill. I saw a sports video this week of a muddy football pitch - footballer kicked a ball passed the goal keeper and turned to celebrate - the ball got mired in the mud and stopped about two feet from the goal line.
app. Don't celebrate until you cross the line. Don't look back at what you "have been" be an "is now" in the Gospel race.
conclusion: Do you need a little Gospel briefing or pep talk? Paul has one for us.
1.) Be in it to win it!
2.) Don't just learn it, perfect it.
3.) Give it all, or give it nothing.
4.) Consider the prize (incorruptible)
- run with a plan - high road, no self glory, crossing all cultural barriers
- engage the enemy
- discipline your flesh
5.) Be an "is now" not a "has been."
May we say with Paul - I THEREFOR SO RUN!!!!!