The Crown of Imperishability
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
1 Corinthians 9:24–25, ESV
Here the Apostle Paul creatively illustrates what it looks like to live the Christian life that’s well-lived. The picture is of an athlete. The Corinthians would have been familiar with the Greek Olympic Games. As well as their own local version of that. If an athlete is to win, he must train, he must dedicate himself in order to win. He would watch his diet, ensure his body would receive its proper rest. He would have to decline invitations to attend social gatherings in order to keep a training schedule. In doing so the athlete is giving up much of his or her life in order to compete and win.
Paul’s point is that if an athlete is willing to discipline and train themselves by mastering self-control over their bodies, to win an olive-leaf crown that’s perishable shouldn’t Christians apply a similar kind of discipline, in training and self-control towards the Christian life in order to win a crown that’s imperishable? He once stated… “while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (I Timothy 4:8)
Paul’s point is that the Christian who disciplines himself, trains, and practice self-control will be a winner in the Christian life. A Christian that can’t govern their desires is a reckless witness and usually does more damage than good for the cause of Christ. As an athlete knows, there are rules to compete by. God’s word is our rule book, and God’s Spirit gives us the power to live by it. Jesus is our referee. In order to win, we must put in the time to grow in our dedication to growing in Godliness. I will list three areas I believe are most important for our church in this season.
THE TOP THREE GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES FOR NVCC
#1 Our witness. In today’s time, we are scared to share our faith. We are scared to invite people to church or to tell others about what we believe. Stop acting like that! Be bold! God’s witness must not be silenced. Satan’s plan is to silence the church. Don’t shut up or let up. Speak up and stand up. People now more than ever need to hear about Jesus and his church. Please share your faith with family, friends, and invite them to church and we will teach them all about the Bible and Jesus!
#2 Our service. Most people in our church would likely prefer to write a check than to give their time. Especially in a time when there are so many at-home and not onsite. While I do think there is much room for grace in the area of on serving at a church service, it’s clear in God’s word. That faith without deeds is dead? (James 2:14-16 ) So my question to those that are not serving? Is simple. Where are your deeds? How are you fulfilling the call to serve others in the church? (I Peter 4:10 ) There are many options you can check out online. My suggestion is to fill out a Connect Card and let us know you are willing to serve.
#3 Our giving. In this time of being online. Some have slowed or stopped their giving. Some have stepped up and done great. More and more new people are joining our church and haven’t started regular giving yet. We all need a reminder of the importance of giving. Let’s first look at what Jesus had to say. You may recall? He said.. “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) As American Christians, we perhaps need more than many others around the world to be pried away from our self-interests and stuff! We have so much; we have cars, houses, cabins, rental properties, vacation homes, boats, ATVs, stereo, gaming systems, gear, and gadgets galore! Giving is the antidote to materialism.
In giving a tithe, (a tenth of one's income) it’s symbolic of the whole. Giving is an act of honor and worship to the LORD to acknowledge where it came from! The Bible says that everything that is good comes from Him. (James 1:17-19) It's important to recognize this. (1 Chronicles 29:12) He is to be praised and honored with the tithe, He not only provides the money to make ends meet, but He also provides the means in which to earn. As the scripture states, “But remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)
Giving is an opportunity for you to partner with God and the church in his world locally and globally. God’s plan is to change the world through the church. In giving we are partnering in ministry. Too many Christians are not partners in ministry but customers of ministry. They tip if the service is good, but don’t have any ownership in the ministry. God’s Word challenges us to be partners! This is what the Apostle Paul so greatly appreciated about the Church in Philippi when he said… “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel. (Philippians 1:3–5)
Look at the top three areas to grow in North Valley right now. Ask how you are doing in each area. Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is really bad and 10 being really good. Now make a plan to move that number closer towards a 10.
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