by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
Text: I Corinthians 9:24-27
I. You pour your energies into a project until there is no more to give; yet, more is needed to finish. It is impossible! So you give up.
A. It is called burn out.
1. I see it happen often on long hikes. The young run ahead with seemingly boundless energy, only to find there is still two more miles to go and they’re tired!
B. Happens most often with inexperienced people.
1. They don’t know how to pace themselves
2. They are focused on being ahead instead of on reaching the goal.
II. The parable of the sower - Matthew 13:3-8
A. Notice the rocky ground - Matthew 13:20-21
1. The seed springs up with joy but withers in the sun
2. There are no roots in God’s word to help them endure troubles
B. It is a frequent problem with new Christians
1. In excitement they volunteer for everything: teaching friends, studying, working hard
2. But suddenly they lose interest
3. As strong as their desire to serve God once was, they are no longer interested
4. There are no roots. Everything was focused on the “showier” parts of being a Christian. What is inside did not grow.
III. The runner - I Corinthians 9:24-27
A. Run to obtain
1. Set your focus on reaching the goal
a. Many runners run fast at first to lead the pack and set the pace for the race
b. But often they can’t keep the pace. They burn out.
c. We have to hold the beginning to the end - Hebrews 3:14
2. That means running with patience - Hebrews 12:1
a. In other words, pace yourself
b. Add work gradually. Get comfortable with it before adding more
c. People sometimes remark on all the things that I do. But that is because I’m building on the experience and practice I have since I started preaching at age 16. I could not do what I do today 20 or 40 years ago.
3. Also notice the removal loads in Hebrews 12:1
a. One load that too many carry is their past - Philippians 3:13-15
b. Concentrate on where you are going, not where you were.
c. Don’t look at others, don’t worry about your position in the race
d. Don’t get comfortable with how far you’ve come
4. I fought the fight - II Timothy 4:7-8
B. Temperate in all things
1. When a runner is in training, excesses are bad.
2. Temperate means to exercise self-control - II Peter 1:5-6
3. Not as the world runs - I Peter 4:1-4
C. Run with confidence and purpose
1. I can make it – just like the child’s story of the Little Engine that Could
2. Not confidence in myself, but in my Lord - Ephesians 3:11-12
3. We can boldly ask God for help - Hebrews 4:16
4. The root of our confidence is found in our love for God - I John 4:17-18
1. An athlete works out. He trains hard to build his strength
2. You can’t do your best work without practice, training, and strength building
3. Neither can a Christian.
4. But an athlete doesn’t start with heavy weights or long distances. He builds up to them and Christians need to realize they need to grow spiritually
5. A diligent workman - II Timothy 2:15
6. Notice how Paul strived in his labors - Colossians 1:28-29
7. Many will not be able to enter because they put in no effort - Luke 13:23-27
8. We don’t want to come short of the goal and not be able to finish - Hebrews 4:1-2
IV. Encourage each other
A. Athletes find they can put out a bit more, knowing that there are people cheering them on
B. We need to cheer each other on - Hebrews 3:12-14
C. That is why we meet together – to provide encouragement - Hebrews 10:23-25
V. Remain faithful. Do burn yourself out - Revelation 2:10
A. The way won’t always be easy, but we should be expecting that.
B. We are in this race to reach the finish, whatever it takes and however long it takes