What’s Your Purpose?

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NLT)
26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

We talk a lot about purpose. We have purpose statements, purpose emphasis, and study about being purpose driven. Yet do we live our lives with purpose. The definition of purpose is “the reason for which something is done or created or for which it exists.” When we say we are living with purpose as Christian means that are lives are based or driven by our desire to be closer to God. It also means that we do not live haphazardly in our spiritual lives and that everything we do is geared toward reaching that goal. What Paul is saying is that he did not “run… aimlessly.” He kept God-given goals before him. He did not fight the battle against sin, evil, and unbelief by random human effort. He aimed where the Spirit directed him to (Horton, I & II Corinthians). Furthermore, he was not going to allow his physical desires to derail his spiritual progress. He disciplined his body so that it would fulfill his purpose to serve Christ. He didn’t want all his efforts to come to nothing because his physical desires over-ruled his spiritual purpose. He was aware that if he continually gave into his physical desires it would consistently lead him into sin. We need to see sin’s effects kind of like rust on a car; by the time we see it’s there it’s too late. Paul is very aware that if doesn’t live life with spiritual purpose he could lose everything he had worked for, including his own salvation. Let’s live our lives like we have purpose, and if we do, we will receive the prize we long for.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

Winning!

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 9:24 (NLT)
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

Anyone that knows me well can tell that I am a sports fanatic. Whether it is football, basketball, baseball, or whatever I have always been crazy about sports. This comes to me, quite honestly, from my Mom who never missed a game. That is perhaps one reason why I love the writings of Paul so much, because he talked a lot about sports. He often referred to the Christian life as a race. One of the concepts about sports that he touches on in this verse is that we play to win. Herman Edwards, former coach of the New York Jets, is famous for a press conference quote in which he said, “You play to win the game!” Well that is exactly what Paul is saying. We don’t come into the Christian life so that we can lose, we come into it with the idea of winning. No athlete enters a contest with the idea of “boy I sure hope I lose today.” On contrary, athletes go into an event thinking, “We are going to win!” Paul’s main point here is run to win. That may seem like an odd statement for his to make, and we might ask the question “well how else would we run? However, Paul’s statement is much more involved. We have to consider in order to run to win we have to be at our best. We have to train vigorously and push ourselves to do a little bit more today than we did yesterday. We have to make sure that we are eating the right things and getting an adequate amount of rest. Furthermore, we have to stay away from things that will prevent us from doing our best. So what does this have to do with being a Christian? The answer to that is plenty! We have to train ourselves to be righteous and holy people. This involves time in prayer, study or the Word, and involvement in Church. Just as an athlete cannot do whatever he wants and expect to be a good athlete, we cannot do whatever we want and expect to live a victorious Christian life. As Paul told his young apprentice Timothy, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). So do what it takes; run to win!

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

In Control

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

Should I or shouldn’t I? This is sometimes a difficult question to answer. The Corinthians also struggled with this question. Some of them insisted that since they were saved by grace, and since if we confess our sins God forgives us, then it is perfectly alright to do whatever we want, right? Paul answers this question with an emphatic “No!” His point is crystal clear: even though we are free in Christ that doesn’t mean that everything is permissible for us because not everything is good for us. Paul’s rationale is that “many things, even legitimate things, can enslave us. Paul refused to be “mastered by anything.” He was subject to the authority of God and Christ. He would not let things or human desire dominate him, not even things that were not sinful in them selves (Horotn, I & II Corinthians). If we have been set free, why would we want to start being enslaved again? As one ex-slave said after the Civil War, “if I ever thought I’d be a slave again I would just take a gun and end it all, because you’re nothing but a dog. Not a thing but a dog.” The same can be said of our spiritual lives. When we are slaves to sin, in actuality, we are slaves to the devil. So now that we have been set free from him why would we ever want to do something that would put us back under his control? It just doesn’t make any sense. If something is going to keep you in bondage leave it alone and get rid of it. Just because we are free doesn’t mean we should get into something that would enslave us all over again.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

 

 

Dysfunctional Christians

Greetings In the Name of the Lord:

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NLT)
1 Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in the Christian life. 2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, 3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?

Recently, I saw a commercial on TV that was advertising an upcoming program about people who had bizarre addictions. There was one addiction in particular that caught my attention, not because it intrigued me, but rather because I found it nauseating. There was a grown man who admitted to being addicted to dressing, acting, and being treated like a baby. Now I am sure that there are some who found this a bit humorous, but for most adult people we would say that any grown man wanting to act and be treated like a baby has some serious mental issues. We would say that it is time for this man to grow up. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who are like this man. Although they have been Christians for a lengthy period of time they act as if they are new born Christians. Years ago, in my first pastorate, there was one lady in the congregation who used this as an excuse not to grow up. She used to say, “Well, I’m just a baby Christian!” Well, yes she was, but she shouldn’t have been. The fact of the matter is that there are too many Christians who want to act like, and be treated like, spiritual babies, when they ought to be moving on to maturity. This was the problem that Paul had with the Corinthian church; they should have been mature but they were acting like babies. As Bible scholar Stanley Horton comments, “In his first visit Paul could not teach the Corinthian believers true spiritual wisdom. Though they were baptized in the Spirit and exercised gifts of the Spirit, Paul could not address them “as spiritual,” that is, as wholly possessed and directed by the Spirit. Like ordinary people, they were still too worldly (Gk. sarkinois, “fleshly”), dominated by desires of the human flesh and mind (Horton, I & II Corinthians). Is that how some Christian act today? Don’t some of act just like those who aren’t followers of Christ? Shouldn’t there be a marked difference between the way that people in the church act and the way those outside of it act? It seems to me that we should be striving toward maturity instead wanting to use our lack of maturity as an excuse. Let’s grow up in our faith and leave the elementary things behind us.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark