Running the Race: Focus on What Matters

Thursday:Running the Race: Focus on What Matters
Story Passage: Matthew 19:16-30
Other Passages: Hebrews 12:1-3, Philippians 3:8, Mark 10:17-31, Luke 18:18-30
Objective: We need to be dedicated to God, not to other things.
Memory Verse: Matthew 19:29, And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
Introduction: Marathon
Who knows what a Marathon is? (A very long race: twenty-six miles long.) That's as far as from here to the mall in Ontario and back. If you were running that race, would you want to carry lots of things with you? A backpack? Shopping bags? Library books? You'd finish the race better if you left those things behind, because those things aren't important for your race.
In the race of life, there are some things that aren't important, things we can leave behind, so that we can do our best job running for Jesus.
Story: The Rich Young Man
In the book of Matthew, a young man came to ask Jesus a question. The young man was very rich. He had great wealth, and it was important to him. He probably would have had servants and a lot of stuff. The question he came to ask Jesus was, What do I have to do to get eternal life?
Now, he wasn't asking Jesus how to be saved. He was asking what he needed to do. He didn't understand that it's not anything you do that saves you; it's what you believe, and what's important to you. But he had a problem: his money was more important to him. So Jesus told him, Go, sell your stuff, and give the money to poor people, and come and follow me. Jesus knew that he needed to make God more important in his life than money. What do you suppose the young man did?
He went away, sad, because he couldn't do it. His money was too important to him, and he couldn't give it up, even for eternal life.
Transition: Things That Entangle
The rich young man's money had him trapped. He was trying to run the race, and he wanted to win the prize, but he was carrying all that stuff, and he wasn't getting where he needed to go. The rich young man needed to understand that he couldn't take all that stuff with him. The problem wasn't that he had money; the problem was that he couldn't make God more important, because he didn't just have the money. The money had him. He was living his life for the wrong things.
Application: What Matters for Eternity
Today, a lot of people want to follow God, but they have things in their life that slow them down on their race and keep them from getting to the goal. Some people really like sports, and that's fine, but if you never get to church because you're always playing sports, then you've made sports more important than God, and that's wrong. Some people really like computer games, and computer games aren't bad (at least, most computer games aren't bad), but if you're too busy playing computer games to share Jesus with your friends or go to church or read your Bible, then the computer games are more important to you than God. They're weighing you down, holding you back, keeping you from running your race.
The Bible says in Hebrews 12 that we need to throw off those things that hold us back and get in the way, throw them off, so that we can run the race set out for us. It says we should fix our eyes on Jesus, because he's like the finish line, and when the race seems to be getting long, if you think about Jesus, it'll help you to make it to the end.
Invitation: Throw it Off
If any of you are asking the same question as the rich young man – you want to know how to get into the race, to get the prize of eternal life and spend forever in heaven with God, you can stay after the lesson and talk to the teacher or [one of these other counsellors] about it.

No comments: