IS THAT ALL WE GET? (1 Cor. 9:24-27)

“IS THAT ALL WE GET?” (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
Series: Crowns in Scripture Today: Incorruptible Crown
February 12, 2017 10:30 AM. Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor

INTRODUCTION. “Today’s Special”: Valentine’s Riddles:
Q: Why did the boy have his girlfriend put in jail?
A: She stole his heart.
Q: How did the telephone propose to his girlfriend?
A: He gave her a ring.
Q: What did the octopus say to his girlfriend when he proposed?
A: Can I have your hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand, hand in marriage?

Crowns – last week we looked at “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey used to say. We looked at the indescribable scene of heaven. We looked at what, for us today, must seem like a dream: seeing our Savior & Creator face to face. And we looked at our area Eagle Scouts who, after working very hard and are awarded their medal and badge, they proudly display them. In glory, we will receive crowns which are then laid at Jesus’ feet – because they are for His glory that they were first received!
Today we will look at the first of 5 crowns, the “Incorruptible Crown”. Are you striving for this crown today? PRAYER

#1 THE PURSUIT (v. 24)
* The apostle Paul was using the Savior’s method of teaching. He was instructing the church on the subject of having goals which are eternal. He used an illustration with which his readers would be familiar. Just as Jesus would say, while observing a farmer up on the hillside, “a sower went out to sow,” Paul said, “in a race, all the runners run, but only one gets the prize”.
* What games? The Isthmian Games, held every two years in a grove of spruce trees near Corinth. Like our Olympics, each of Paul’s readers would be familiar with this sports event.
The pursuit was the sport! Run! Run! Run! “Run, Forest, Run!”
Illustration: do we think of life as a journey, or simply as a bunch of days put together? A cancer victim may often see the journey through the eyes of the chemo treatment he receives today, rather than the declaration from the doctor, “you are cancer free.”
Paul here is saying, “life is a race. Think of it as a race. A long journey. And for the Christian, the journey for God’s glory on display is a long one made up of each day that God gives us the breath to live.”
The Bible, the NT in particular, tells us 3 things about this pursuit:
(1) The world runs a different race than the Christian (Matt. 6:31-33) “31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
(2) We are not to run the race by ourselves, but to seek godly counsel throughout the race (Gal. 2:1-2) “Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.  I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.”
(3) We are to run our race with perseverance and without sin-baggage (Heb. 12:1) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us”. THAT’S the pursuit!

#2 THE PRIZE (v. 25)
Note that Paul says there is a prize to be won, but first he mentions that in order to get the prize, there is “strict training”.
Illustration: in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale was known to be the home of both the girls and the boys State of Florida team swim champions. By the way, one of the girls team members was a girl named Diana Nyad who made history recently by becoming the first person to swim non-stop from Cuba to Florida, without a shark cage for protection. How did she do it? For over 50 years, she trained, trained, trained. And at age 64, she did the swim.
Paul says, “train, train, train!”. Paul said in Phil. 3:13,14, “one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
What prize? Illustration: for the modern day Olympian, he gets a medal AND many endorsements – some worth millions!
For Paul’s readers, they knew what the prize was for the winner of the Isthmian Games. There were one of two: either a wreath or a garland of spruce.” You did not hear one winner say, “is that all we get?”
And for the Christian, his prize for living a complete disciplined live is the “Incorruptible Crown” – one that, unlike the garland, will never wilt.

#3 THE PORTENT [“warning”] (vs. 26-27) Paul says run with purpose! “Disqualified” = “castaway” as good for nothing. That’s the warning for those who give up the lifelong training!

CONCLUSION Jesus, too, had a crown which He wore. A crown of thorns, a mockery of His Kingship, He wore for us at Calvary. His purpose.

close in prayer

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