Guest speaker Steven King
Good morning. It is an honor and a privilege to be here this morning. I want to begin by saying thank you to Bryan for this opportunity. I would also like to praise God for giving us His inerrant and beautiful Word that is living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword
I know Bryan and Scott as he mentioned from a Friday morning Bible study that we attend together. I so look forward to those Friday mornings! I love washing myself in God’s Word and then to get up and go meet with other men who also love to wash in the Word of God, pray and fellowship together is tremendous! What an encouragement, what a privilege we have in this country to do so.
Bryan felt the Holy Spirit leading him to ask me to come and visit you all this morning. BEWARE when Bryan comes to you and says, “The Holy Spirit put you on my heart today…” he might end up asking you to preach
Since I do not know you all very well, I feel it is necessary to begin this morning with a few foundational statements that will guide our discussion this morning.
This is kind of the who, what, when, where and why.
The who: I am currently serving on active duty in the air force; which is of itself, a testimony to God’s sovereign command of even the smallest details in our lives. I grew up regularly attending church and being raised by Godly parents who modeled the fruits of the Spirit. My wife, Laura, and I just celebrated 9 years of marriage…I pray that God continues to bless us with many more to come. God also saw fit to bless us…or rather, “Test” us with 4 young boys
I may be young, but 1 Tim 4:12 says…
I know we are all coming from different seasons or walks in life. You may be spiritually young still feeding on the milk of the word; or you may be graduated onto solid food and really honing your spiritual gifts. But my encouragement to you this morning, is that while we are at different points on the spectrum of sanctification this subject should speak to all of us equally.
If we had to have a subject heading for today it would be somewhere along the lines of, “Live for the finish line; Don’t Waste your Life!!!” we can glean endlessly from scriptures to know that this challenge or statement is true. But we should never go around cherry picking scriptures to fit our desired behavior, rather systematically approaching scripture alone will guide our behavior and attitudes.
However, today I am bringing you a topical discussion rather than expository, but as we will see, scripture often points out a common theme
that I mentioned to you about looking towards the finish line and not wasting our lives.
Joshua and Caleb didn’t get comfortable, David didn’t get comfortable, the disciples never got comfortable. Paul never got comfortable…
YOU never get to a point in our spiritual life where we are comfortable. We should never get to where we are on autopilot.
But that’s what we are seeing today in America’s church, right? We see this complacency, this comfortableness and we’re OK with that. But if we look at the Universal Church, you don’t have to look very far before you see precious brothers and sisters persecuted, even dying for their faith. Here in America, we’ve become very lazy.
But that’s not YOU
Do you know who you are???
The where: you know, Philippians was the only book written by Paul, that was not a letter of admonishment or reprimand. Most of the churches I have attended as an adult, should probably receive letters of reprimand from Paul. But I have heard of you in this church, what Paul writes as he opens his letter to the Philippians…
I have heard about you. This is how I see all of you. My words this morning are words of Love and while I hope to challenge you in some small way, be encouraged that I see this church just as Paul saw the church in Phillipi.
So let’s revisit our overall goal in this discussion: Living for the finish line: Don’t waste your life.
I see in myself this tendency to get comfortable. To play it safe. Lately, circumstances in my life have led me to evaluate what I am really doing with my time. It’s funny, a friend shared a sermon from Frances Chan (Do you know who he is?) with me a few weeks ago and I had, no kidding, said the same exact thing just days before. So im wondering if Francis Chan stole this idea from me; need to talk to him about that; but the idea is this.
(Maybe it’s the Holy Spirit validating the fact that I think its important we spend some time talking about it this morning)
I’ve had several friends, close friends, die recently before the age of 60. When somebody dies in their mid 50’s we are usually caught off guard, we usually describe it as a tragedy. But we have to realize, you aren’t promised tomorrow, in fact, I may die on my way home today, this may be the last impactful thing I do on this earth. I don’t know what it is but If I can plan on somewhere around 60yrs old, and I know that it could be more, could be much less, so please don’t take offense, but if I plan on 60; well, then I’m more than halfway there. And I need to start evaluating the time that I am spending in light of the fact that I’m not going to have another 60yrs on this earth, I may not have a lot of time left at all before Jesus calls me home or He returns. I need to change my mindset to a wartime mindset, or my perspective, and realize I’m in a race, and the finish line is going to be here before I know it. We need to evaluate how I am running, or if I am even running at all. Matthew 6:19-21
I don’t want to get to the end and have anyone say, “yeah Dad played it safe” I want to get to the end and have everyone say, “yeah he gave it ALL up for the cause of Christ, Dad got crazy, went off the deep end for Jesus but God always took care of us…in fact, I see his example and I want be just like him…Dad was a disciple of Jesus who finished strong.” And I don’t want this to merely be a passing on of the legacy that I believe in but I know for a fact that when we are standing there in God’s presence and he says, “well done!” I’ll be able to say to everyone “see, I told you it’d be worth it!”
As Christians we need to place less emphasis on success and we need to place all our emphasis on significance.
The significance is what we are doing for eternity.
So now that I’ve painted for you the perspective that I am coming from Let’s start to ask ourselves, what are we doing for the kingdom? How are we laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven? How can we ensure that our Obedience to Christ is not self-seeking, but instead glorifying to Him? What does obedience to Christ even look like, how can I learn to number my days and invest in what’s really important???
The following illustration is taken from The Navigators ministry organization. During college I was fortunate to have several mentors who were navigators and here’s how they described the foundations for what we are talking about.
2 Tim 3:16
Now I personally haven’t seen any other illustrations that are more accurate in describing the fundamental disciplines of Disciples of Christ.
And we can easily see that if your wheel is not carefully balanced, your obedience to Christ will be inefficient.
This illustration isn’t saying that you won’t be used by God, and its not saying you will be disqualified from the race, but what we’re talking about is obedience and we’re not going to know which way to go and what to invest in if our wheel is off balanced or missing a connection
Our Obedience to Christ is how we get to the finish line. So going back to our original thought; of being in a race to the finish line, lets look at a few poignant passages. First let’s look at Hebrews.
There is so much packed into these verses here…
This description the writer of Hebrews uses is fascinating to me. He is describing the early Olympic athletes and how they were so dedicated to the race that they disciplined their bodies with diet and training, and during the race they ran without clothes on because they didn’t want anything to slow them down or keep them from winning the race. How I wish we took this perspective with us in our daily race towards the finish line.
Lay aside – Apotithemi ἀποτίθημι
Active, decisive, to enter a disciplined training plan in order to compete in the games…
Weight, encumberance – ong’kos oàgkov
Something that is not always intrinsically bad…but something that is not directly contributing or sustaining my efforts towards the finish line.
AND sin (pretty obvious)
As I get older, it seems like my wheel is working harder and harder because I have more baggage. I mean, I’m married, I have kids, I have a career…and what this is not saying is that I need to leave my family or leave the work and career that God has laid out before me. In fact, the Bible very specifically reminds us of our responsibilities towards our families and others, but what it is saying is that I need to be very careful how I spend my time in ALL those areas and what weight I actively decide to carry with me. Not only that, but I need to be disciplined; remember our 4 main disciplines that keep our focus on Christ, the disciplines that keep up connected to our Hub, which is Christ? And the writer in Hebrews is saying to lay aside EVERY weight and EVERY sin…to remember that I am in a race towards the finish line. Here’s another passage that confirms that I am not just making this up..
Phil 3 12-16
Do you remember the Philippians…?
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”
I have heard it said that our most prized possession is our time. If we are being good stewards, like the faithful servant when the master was away, we will make the most of our time.
Because here’s what can happen. We are all going to die one day from something. Most likely. And while the most important decision to be made is to trust fully in Jesus Christ and the power of His saving grace, our race doesn’t stop there. Because you will get to the end and when you’re finally standing in the presence of the creator of the universe he is going to look at you and say, “well done!”
So how do we get there. some might say that they aren’t gifted in witnessing, some say they don’t know how to pray, others struggle with regularly feeding on the Word…how do we raise the intensity level on our OBEDIENCE to Christ?
I hope everyone is still with me…you need a strong wheel, balanced otherwise its going to break apart going down the road…or its going to be flat or lopsided…
I will give you ONE application. It’s your job to become creative and find other applications…
Obviously the OBEDIENT CHRISTIAN will invest some time in outreach and missions and other programs that provide the opportunities to Love others, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, providing for widows and orphans.
But isn’t it all too often that we see others come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and we immediately ask them to start doing these things? Our church today is filled with lopsided wheels that can’t turn up the intensity or they’ll fall apart.
Discipleship means adherence to Christ, and, because Christ is the object of that adherence, it must take the form of discipleship…Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. – Dietric Bonhoffer
Disciple of Jesus: is one who learns from the teachings of Jesus, and models their life after Him
Navigator definintion: One who continues in the Word, loves others, bears fruit, and puts Christ first. Not only that, but a disciple will also make other disciples…
Remember Matthew 28
So it’s more than just working the harvest…
To “disciple” others is to teach, train, bring others up to be disciples of Christ. Conversely, being discipled, is learning from one who is more spiritually mature or in tuned to regularly putting Christ as the center. So I told you I grew up in the church. I remember as a young man looking at many older disciples of Jesus and thinking, “wow, when you start getting towards the end you start to get really lazy. In fact, you start to become more annoyed at the younger generations and say stuff like, “those noisy punk kids and their loud music…don’t they know how annoying that is…
Your first line of disciples are your children. Deut 11:18-20
But we shouldn’t stop there…can you imagine if the early disciples would have stopped with just their families? Remember, it’s the Great COMMISSION…not the great suggestion…
I want to encourage you to find someone to disciple you. And I want you to also find someone to disciple. You might even find opportunities to disciple as a team, husband & wife; brothers discipling brothers…in either case, moving people across the spectrum of becoming more and more like Christ is going to require an intentional investment of your time.
But what’s interesting is that we all have the same amount of time. We all have the same 24 hrs in a day….discipling others may require a good deal of your time, but remember…make the most of your time. Make your time count for eternity. Some of us might be very close to the end…and we’re very comfortable. Keep running the race with intensity. Remember…Live for the finish line: Don’t waste your life!
- Hebrews 10:24 - 25