Winning at Life – Weekly Sermon – June 2, 2019

Title: “Winning at Life”
Text: 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Date: June 2, 2019, Roseville Independent Chapel
Speaker:  John A. Thomas
Quote:   Someone once said,  “The three stages of life are youth,  middle age, and  “My, you’re looking well today!”

Life is so short.  That’s why it is important to live your life well.    The years have a way of whizzing right by.  Moses felt that way, and he prayed,  “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom”    (Ps. 90:12).

The Living Bible translates it like this: “Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should.”

Quote:   None of us know when death will come or how we will die, but if at some some time in the distant future you are lying in bed and know you only have a few more minutes to live, will you go out into eternity filled with regrets, or will you be able to smile and say, “I have lived my life well”???

You only get one shot at life, only one pass through.  There are no do-overs.

Quote:  Someone said that “Life is like a parachute jump.  You want to get it right the first time.”

Question:   So, how do you get to the point that you can look back and say, “I have lived my life well”???   –I want to be able to look back and feel like my life was a success – like I was a winner,  a winner at living, a winner at life.    –I want to be able to say with Paul,  “. . . I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.   7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:   8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”  (2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Question:   So, how do you get there?   How do you get to the point where you can look back and say,  “I have lived my life well.   I feel like I have been a winner at life!”

I. FIRST, TO BE A WINNER AT LIFE YOU HAVE TO DEVELOP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE:

A. Illustrate with . . .   An old-time preacher named C.M.Ward once preached a sermon entitled “Walking on the Sunny Side of the Street.”    It was about attitude.   It was about choosing how you are going to live.

B. Illustrate with . . . I’m an optimist (mostly).   I have to work at having a positive attitude, a good outlook on life.    I try to be the kind of guy that, when I find myself standing up to here in manure, I want to say, “Gee!  There must be a pony arounsd here someplace!

C. When you fail, don’t beat yourself up!   — Back in the 1980’s, John Lowenstein was a left-fielder for the Baltimore Orioles.  He came to bat in a late inning with the game on the line.   The ball was pitched, came right over the plate, and John  bunted.  The ball arced high into the air, then almost lazily floated down into the pitcher’s glove.  –A thousand groans filled the night.
Later, in the locker room, sportscasters surrounded him.   One of them said, “John, that was a terrible bunt!   How do you feel about it?”
He replied, “Any time I mess up like that, I think of China.”
The reporter said,  “China?   Why China?”
The ball player explained,  “Because there are over one billion Chinese.  And they don’t play baseball over there.   So, no matter how badly I bunt, I know I’m a better bunter than all of them!!!”

D. Sub-conclusion:   To be a winner at life you have to develop a positive attitude.

II. SECOND,  TO BE A WINNER AT LIFE YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT LIFE ISA GIFT FROM GOD, AND WE NEED TO LIVE IT JOYFULLY:

A. In the Bible, the word “live” never means just merely existing!!!   –For believers in Christ, living can have vitality and great energy.   Winning in life requires living  enthusiastically,   living joyfully!!!

1. Psalms 104:26 says of the sea,   “There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan [whale], which you formed to frolic there.”

2. This verse tells us why God created whales.   He “formed” them or created them “to frollic” [to play] in the oceans of the world.   God created the vast oceans of the world, then He created whales “frolic there”.  –For delight!  For the sheer joy of it!!!

B. OK,  Question:   Would God really create anything for the sole purpose of joy??

1. Illustrate with . . . Something called  The Westminster Catechism was written in 1646 for the purpose of teaching the basic tenants of the Christian faith to new converts.   It consisted of questions and answers.
The very first question in the Catechism was this:   “What is the chief end of man?”   The answer was this?    “Man’s chief end is to glorify God,1 and to enjoy him forever.”
–Wow!    To think that God not only created whales for the purpose of enjoying the sea,  but that He created you to enjoy Him forever!!!!!

C. And not only did God create you to enjoy Him forever,   He created you so that He might enjoy you forever!!!

1. Zephaniah 3:17 says,   “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

D. Sub-conclusion:   ➤ To be a winner at life you have to live life joyfully by finding your joy in Him that He might find joy in you!!!

E. Our daily prayer ought to be,  “Lord, help me to live in such a way that not only may I find joy in You, but that You will also find joy in me!!!”

III. TO BE A WINNER AT LIFE YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT GOD HAS A PLAN FOR EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US:

A. Paul said in Ephesians 2:10,   “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

But please know this:   These   “. . . good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” aren’t always the “big” things we see others doing for the Lord.

1. Illustrate with . . . If I compare my life and ministry to what Billy Graham accomplished during his life, I will begin to wonder if my life has been a complete failure!

B. That’s when I have to remember what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12,  the great  “Gift Chapter” of the Bible.     ➤ After going down through the list of the gifts of the Holy Spirit,  Paul says this:   “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

1. Fact #1:   “. . .in advance . . . God [has] prepared good things for us to do.”

2. Fact #2:   God Himself chooses which “gifts” (and how many) to give us.

3. Fact #3:   We can rightly assume that God will only hold us accountable for the gifts/abilities He has given us and how we use those gifts/abilities to do what He has called us to do.

C. Billy Graham was given the gift of evangelism.   When he preached, thousands came to Christ.

1. Illustrate with . . . God may gift one man to pastor a church of 10,000; another man, 1,000; another man, 100.   The important thing here is that I be faithful to the gifts God has given me.   Am I faithful to the people and the place He has called me to pastor?

2. Illustrate with . . . Billy Graham might not be gifted to sit at the bedside of a dying elderly woman, encouraging her in her faith in Christ as she faces death, giving comfort to her and to her family.

3. Illustrate with . . . Billy Graham might not be gifted to help a young couple to face the difficulties and hurdles they are facing in their marriage.

4. Illustrate with . . . Billy Graham might not be gifted to teach a children’s Sunday School class, or Children’s church, or head up a VBS.

5. Illustrate with . . . Billy Graham might not be gifted in helping a child with severe learning disability face life.

6. Illustrate with . . . Billy Graham might not be gifted in being faithful to and patient with the difficult person you are married to.   –And the list goes on!!!

Sub-conclusion:   Folks, to be a winner at life you have to be faithful to the gifts He has given you, and be faithful in the place He has planted you.   That is true success.

IV. TO BE A WINNER AT LIFE YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT YOU MIGHT NOT ALWAYS FEEL LIKE YOUR LIFE IS A SUCCESS,  AND THAT YOUR LIFE  MIGHT NOT LOOK LIKE A SUCCESS TO OTHER PEOPLE:

A. Illustrate with . . .  Moses didn’t look like he was winning at life when he got demoted from being a Prince of Egypt to become the leader of a rag-tag band of complaining, grumbling, backbiting people who couldn’t stay faithful to God for more than a few days in a row!!!   ➤ –But he was faithful to God who had prepared in advance good things for him to do, and also gifted him to do it.

B. Illustrate with . . . King David didn’t look like he was winning at life when he was deposed from Israel’s throne by his own deceitful son Absolam, and he had to flee into heathen Philistia for refuge.   –But he was faithful to God who had prepared in advance good things for him to do, and also gifted him to do it.

C. Illustrate with . . . Paul didn’t look like he was winning ay life as he sat in the jail cell in Rome, waiting for the executioner to come.   –But he was faithful to God who had prepared in advance good things for him to do, and also gifted him to do it.

D. Illustrate with . . . Jesus certainly didn’t look like He was winning at life as He hanged on the cross, his life’s blood dripping down into the dirt below while the crowds scoffed and jeered.    –But He was faithful to God who had prepared in advance this good thing for Him to do, and also gifted Him to do it.

Conclusion:

Now, last, but most important, there is no chance of you winning at life unless you have first confessed your sins to God in Jesus name, and have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.     At best, this life may last for 70, 80, 90 years.    But eternity is forever.

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