Entering the Race

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TEXT: 1 Corinthians 9:24

INTRODUCTION: Paul uses the analogy of the Christian life comparing to a race.

I.          Decision to run

Joshua 24:15  And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

A.        One must decide to enter the race

B.        Decision must be made today

C.        Tomorrow may be to late

II.       commitment to run

A.        God Demands total commitment

1.      When we make a total commitment to do God's will, we actually begin the journey. That is, we step out by faith. We make the decision and move. We actually set out and go forth

2.      When we make a total commitment to do God's will, we take all with us. That is, we leave nothing behind that will cause us to hesitate or to turn back, not ever. We pack up everything and go forth to do God's will. Nothing—not a single thing—is left behind that would cause us to turn away from God's will and return to where we were

3.      Commitment must made out of deep conviction and sincerity of heart?

B.        We must be totally committed to the Lord.

1.      Within our hearts, there must be a wholehearted commitment to the Lord and to the task He has given us to do.

2.      "Wholehearted" means all of a person's heart, mind, body, soul, strength.

3.      A person who is totally given over to God follows God completely, fully, and wholly

C.        There will be obstacles, temptations and trials along the way

1.      How often we cry to God for deliverance from some terrible trial! And we make promises to God, promises to obey and do exactly what He commands.

2.      But how many of follow through with their promises?

a)      Did the pain of suffering fade from our memories?

b)      Did the convictions wear off?

c)      Were the promises made forgotten?

d)      Is what we felt at that moment gone forever?

D.        Examples of total commitment

1.      Joseph

2.      Daniel

3.      Three Hebrew Children

III.    Determination to run

A.        Quitters don’t win

B.        We must have strong determination to conquer and triumph over the enemy.

1.      A bold, courageous spirit that depends upon the Lord will conquer all enemies and live a victorious life

2.      David exemplified determination in the fight against Goliath

3.      The way (road) is unpaved, covered with gravel and rocks. It takes strong will and determination and personal sacrifice to stick to the road

IV.    Motivation to run

A.        God’s Blessings in this life

B.        Eternal life in heaven

C.        Crown to place a Christ feet

1.      The crowns we receive for our life of service and commitment

2.      This is what we have to give to Him

Samson compromised his vow or commitment to the Lord. This was a grave offense, for vows are a very serious matter to God (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6). Note that the killing of the lion is the first demonstration of Samson's great strength. The Scripture and outline dramatically picture what happened:

1.  Samson went with his parents to visit the woman and compromised by apparently eating grapes. From the description of what happened, Samson had spotted a vineyard and desired some grapes. He knew this was wrong, a violation of his vow (13:4, 14). Obviously, violating his vow and disobeying God did not matter that much to him, but it did to his parents so he sent them on ahead.

While Samson was eating the grapes, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him, perhaps as a warning from God against disobeying him. But the Spirit of the Lord "came upon" (salah) him, giving him the power to kill the lion. The Hebrew word here is descriptive: it means "to rush upon." The picture is that of the Spirit of God rushing upon Samson to empower him to immediately defend himself against the lion. But he did not tell his parents who were totally unaware of the event.

2.  Samson compromised by continuing to pursue the woman in direct disobedience to the Lord. He continued to nurture the relationship and grew in love with her more and more (14:7).

3.  Some time later on a return trip to marry her, he continued to compromise by disobeying the Lord. Walking along the road, he turned aside to look at the dead lion he had killed (14:8). When he found the lion, he saw a beehive in the carcass or skeleton and scooped out the honey. He later gave some of the honey to his parents, but note: he did not tell them that the honey was defiled, taken from a dead carcass (14:9). Contact with the dead was a direct violation of his Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:6-12). Keep in mind that he had sometime before violated his vow by eating grapes in the vineyard where he had killed the lion (14:5). And now he again violates his vow by touching the dead carcass (14:9). Obviously, his vow and commitment to God meant very little to Samson. He was living a life of direct disobedience, a life given over to his fleshly desires and passions. The lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh enticed and seduced him. And he always seemed to give in.

4.  Samson compromised by giving the customary seven-day feast or stag drinking party in preparation for his marriage (14:10; 13:4). In order to fit in, Samson probably violated his vow again by drinking and partaking of the forbidden fruit.

Thought 1. Samson was ever so careless in his commitment to the Lord. It was as if the commitment were meaningless. At every turn of his life, he violated the commitment of his vow. He broke his word, the trust that had been placed in him by the Lord and his parents. God still used him, but nothing compared to what he could have been used. He plainly did not belong completely and fully to the Lord; he did not prove to be trustworthy and dependable.

One thing we must remember: vows are important to God. When we make a commitment to the Lord, He expects us to keep that commitment. Failing to keep our vows or promises makes us a liar before God. But this is not the worst offense: breaking our promises and commitments to God defiles His Holy Name. For when we break our commitment, we are declaring that...

·  God is unimportant

·  God is not to be honored or highly esteemed

·  God's will is not what really matters, but instead our own desires and passions

·  promises and vows made to God are meaningless and insignificant

·  committing our lives to God is really not that important

This is the testimony, the witness that we are declaring to the world when we break vows and commitments. We profane and defile God's Holy Name. This tells us something, a fact that we must understand: there is no conceivable way that God will ever tolerate the breaking of our vows to Him, the violation of the promises and commitments we make to Him.

—Preacher's Outline and Sermon Bible - Commentary

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