“I DARE YOU DO IT AGAIN!”                                     By Pastor YAU

Text: Philippians 3:12-16                                                 March 5, 2006.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A story was told: A small church was having a reunion and a former member, who had later become a millionaire, attended the event. He testified about how God had blessed him over the years because of an incident from his childhood. He said when he earned his first dollar as a boy he decided to keep it the rest of his life. But a missionary preached about the urgent needs on the mission field he struggled about giving his dollar. “The Lord won,” he said. Then with a sense of pride he added, “I put my dollar in the plate. I am convinced that the reason God has blessed me so much is that I gave Him all I had as a boy.” The congregation was awestruck by the testimony---until an elderly lady in front piped up and said, “I dare you to do it again.”

2)   An important observation: The theme of the story is not about how the Lord blessed the man who gave Him all he had when he was a boy and had little. It is about the desire and determination to continue the practice of sacrifice, faith and the pursuit of a life to fulfill the call of God. Those who have been in the church long enough will observe the phenomena: it is relatively easier to see people committed so much, worked so much, gave so much, have so much faith and so on for a period of time. But it is much more difficult to see these same people continue keeping their loyalty, faithfulness, sacrifice and service when they have become older, richer busier and have so much more for their lives. It is not how we started to love the Lord but how we continue to love Him.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSISTENCE:

1)    It is what God is looking for: God loves to see His children being consistent in His relationship. He loves to see us continue to love Him, serve Him, obey His commands and being His faithful witnesses. The history of Israel and their inconsistency to God drew serious rebuke and punishment from Him. Jesus promised the church at Smyrna His reward the crown of life if they “remain faithful.” Remain means keep on, persist. In Hebrews 10:38, the Bible says, “I will not be happy with him if he shrinks back.”

2)    It is what God’s churches need: As organizations and businesses depend on faithful and consistent faithfulness of their staff and leadership, God’s church needs dependable, faithful and consistent leaders and members. Churches, like all other organizations and institutions, go through various stages of progress and changes. There will be times and things or people some of us may not like to see or to go through. But the commitment we have is to God and He deserves our uninterrupted commitment. As from surveys of the 100 fastest growing churches in the U. S. the average length of service of their pastors is 28 years. Dr. Adrian Rogers served Bellevue 34 years while the legendary Dr. W. A, Criswell served the First Baptist Church in Dallas for 42 years. Churches need people who are persistent through the thick and the thin. The same is true with lay leaders and faithful members.

3)    It is what builds Christian character: Most people can be good and faithful for a while during good days. But only those who are truly strong and committed can wear through the ups and downs of the years. Paul called himself a steward in 1 Corinth. 4:1and he said that what is required of all stewards is that they remain faithful. (4:2) This is important partly because it is a call of God on us and partly it is a demonstration of our character to prove that we are faithful. Never quit, unmoved, not waver, stand firm are elements of strong character.

4)    It is how others may follow: Christian service is never a single link of individualistic. It is always an unbroken chain from the beginning of church history. Generation after generation, Faithful Christians pick up the baton of serving God’s church, carrying the torch of missions and witnessing. People who set good examples for generation to come are great models. Paul encouraged the early believers to look at him, learn from him, model him, listen to him all the things he taught, things he did, words he said, etc. (Phil. 4:9) The future of God’s church rests heavily on good examples of those who remain faithful through the years.

 

WHY CAN’T ALL REMAIN FAITHFUL?

1)   It all begins from the foundation: In the parable of house building Jesus spoke of in Matt. 7:24-29, he stressed the importance of a strong foundation. If Christian life is as building a house, foundation is the most important part of success. This has to do with the commitment one might have in the initial stage of faith. The true reason of becoming a follower may serves as the measurement of a foundation. The stronger and more genuine the purpose was, the firmer the foundation may become and the chances of continued commitment may increase. If you feel that your fervency for the Lord is shaky, you may want to check what is in your foundation.

2)   It is about what we continue to invest: In 1 Corinth. 3:10-15, Paul illustrated the strength of a Christian life with the different kinds of material used in building a house. Those who invested real good material like silver, gold and precious stones will see their houses stand firm in time of storm. But those who invested only cheap material such as wood, hay and straw will see their build crumble in time of test. This has to do with what we give to God and His church year in and year out, what we give to Him our time, resources, energy and others we have. People who love themselves more than God can only offer Him cheap things or left over. Any test of problem of difficulty can sweep him away from his commitment to God and His church. If you feel your Christian life is empty, check on what you have invested in it.

3)   It is about distracted:  Do you still remember when you couldn’t finish your home work because someone called you and talked for 2 hours at night? You couldn’t finish your project because there was an exciting football game on TV? You know what you need to do but were distracted by other things and you were left undone. Many once dedicated good Christians couldn’t finish their call or tasks because they got distracted by unworthy, worldly and selfish things. If you are lagging behind and feeling dry, stop and find out what is or are distracting you from continue your commitment to God and His church.

4)   It is about the heat:  God never promised easy ride in serving Him whole heartedly. All His servants since Abraham to Moses, from Elijah to Paul had gone through many difficult days. Moses cried out to God to take his life so he won’t have to see his wretchedness. (Numbers 11:15) Elijah asked God to let him quit his job because he was not good enough. (I Kings 19:3-4) Paul listed the incidents how he went through those horrendous years when he was so dedicated to the high call. (2 Corinth. 11:23-33) In all God’s wisdom, He allows His faithful to go through many hardships and difficult times. Many once good and dedicated servants, pastors and members, had bowed out and quitted their once strong commitment. They are half finished products left undone and have not much use. Remember what Job said when God allowed him to go through fire, “when He has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

 

A TESTED AND PROVEN FORMULA: (Phil. 3:12:16, today’s text) This short passage details the strategies Paul employed to continue his commitment in finishing the call God had in him.

1) Recognizing that you haven’t done yet: (12-13) Many people quitted their call because they claimed they have done their part or enough but that is not what Paul had in his mind. We are called to serve the Lord our whole life not just part of it. As long as there are tasks left undone, we are to continue until either He comes back or we go to see Him. We can never finish a job well done when we have just finished it half way or 3 quarters. We need to continue no matter what. An incomplete commitment is not a commitment.

2) Don’t look back, look forward: (12-13) Looking back is a bad habit many of us have. Either looking back on our past victories and feel proud or past defeats and are intimidated is a bad thing that could hurt our intensity of pushing forward. Whatever in the by gone, let it be by gone. Each day is a new day, a fresh start to rededicate yourself to God. We have the future waiting for us to go and do something better for Him. Don’t stop and look back.

3) Paul can do it, so can we:  (15) The Bible never tries to portray anyone a superman or a hero. Paul encouraged the early Christians that “those who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, God will make it clear to you.” (3:15) Paul never claimed that only he can do it. He told us that God will make it clear so anyone who aims for maturity and do well for the Lord, God will help him to get there. Do not allow your past failures hinder you from get going. Don’t compare with anyone and get discouraged. Through God, all things are possible.

4) Restart from where you are: (16) No 2 people progress their spiritual journey in a same speed. We are all different in our pace of progress. No place is too low or too far away to start growing. No matter where you are in your commitment, you can start or restart and push forward that counts. God never allows His servant to stop or quit. He continued to use Moses and Elijah until their job was completed. What matters is you need to get up and get going.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Good to have a good history: Looking back to your life with good results is a great feeling. It is much better than to look back and have regrets whishing that you had done better. What you do today will be history for tomorrow. Do your best so you won’t have regrets.

2)   Better to continue faithful: Don’t let anyone challenges you dare do it again. Do not stop or come short of your dedication and faithfulness in your relationship and service to the Lord through His church. It is that persistence on which Paul was talking about when he recounted his life: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord will award to me on that day.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

3)   Dare you to accept the call: Jesus is calling you to believe in Him today and to receive from Him eternal life. He has a great plan for your life just like He had for Paul. All you need to do is ask Him to enter your life and become your Lord and Savior. Do it now.