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From the Pastor's Pen

The Trophy

Sunday, February 5th, was the Super Bowl.  For those not aware (and I realize there are some that aren't, nor do they care) was the championship game for professional football.  Beginning in early September there are sixteen weeks of "regular" season games (actually seventeen weeks, with each team having a "bye" week...but we won't get into those complexities).  Then the playoffs begin, with a total of twelve teams...eight division winners, plus four "wild card" teams.  Over three weekends those twelve teams are pared down to two...and those two teams then play in the Super Bowl to determine that year's champion.  The winner receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy...a symbol of their victory.  

Please note: there is only one trophy.  Thirty-two teams begin the season in September, hoping they can be good enough, so that five months later they can hoist that trophy over their heads.  Only one team can. 

I am thinking of another trophy.  Let me state at this point, any believer can win this is not just for one.  To further clarify: a believer is one who has agreed with God that they are a sinner (Romans 3:23) and believed in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to save them from their sin (Romans 6:23). 

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul speaks of his own regimen for life and service.  He uses the example of the "Olympics" of his day (Isthmian Games held in Corinth) in verses 24 and 25, and then applies it to life and service for himself and the believer.  Let me briefly state the three things he emphasizes.

1) Aim v. 26.  To win a race of 1,500 meters, it is not enough to run ANY 1,500 meters you want.  To win, you must run the course that is set, and then cross the selected finish line.  Imagine a race that includes ten runners.  When the starter's gun sounds, nine of them begin running the counter-clockwise course, according to the rules.  The other runner decides to run the course clockwise.  He or she could have a faster time than any of the rest, but would be disqualified because he or she did not run the prescribed course, according to the rules.  Aim includes among several things, following the "course rules" of the Savior.  

2) Impact v. 26.  I used to watch boxing (I'm going back over 40 years ago).  Sometimes one boxer would come out in round one throwing almost non-stop punches.  They would "look" impressive.  His opponent would be more "selective", making sure to just throw punches that would actually land on the other boxer.  If the first boxer continues his non-stop punching...he'll lose...because of expending so much energy throwing punches that do not reach their mark.  His opponent, by focusing on landing punches (not just throwing them) will win the fight.  Allow me to put it this way: Paul didn't want to just expend energy, in the appearance of hyper-active service.  He wanted to focus as much as possible on effective service.  Effective service: think on that one for a while.

3) Discipline v. 27.  We are all aware that if someone is going to excel in something, it takes personal the point of willingly forgoing things that are enjoyed.  Paul did not want his body to master him (its desires, lusts, longings, appetites, etc.), but rather for him to master it.  More accurately stated, he wanted the Lord to be Master, of both him and it. 

There is a reason Paul focused on aim, impact, and discipline.  The reason is stated in v. 27, "not wanting to be disqualified."  He did not want to live and serve to pacify his conscience that he was "doing something", or to try to impress others.  He longed to receive from his Savior, if I might paraphrase, the trophy, with the words, "well done."  How about you?

Pastor Don Reese (2/2/17)