Run, Christian, Run!—Philippians 2:12-14

INTRODUCTION

 

Most of us, at one time or the other, either come to the conclusion ourselves, or get told by our doctor or spouse, that we need to exercise more. And this time of year, after eating what we just ate for the last month, most of us are probably thinking that exercise would be good.

 

Our culture is now more of a sit-down to work than of a physical labor culture. Because of this and other reasons, like junk foods and passive activities like television, we have tended to become more and more complacent about the fitness of our body.

 

The same is true spiritually. We need spiritual exercise to stay in shape, but we tend to grow complacent, and avoid doing what would be good for us. We need a doctor to tell us to get back to it. 

 

Let’s let the apostle Paul be the one to give us the encouragement to exercise—spiritually.

 

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)

 

The picture that the apostle Paul paints in these verses is one of a race. 

 

Paul uses the image again in Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Galatians 5:7, 2 Timothy 2:5, 4:6-8. The race picture is also appears in Hebrew 12:1. So it’s a picture that we need to pay attention to—every Christian is in a spiritual race.

 

I can’t say that I am or was ever a runner, but the last time I ran in a competition, people clapped and cheered for me. I was seven or eight, running at a school track meet in Brockway. I fell down before I got to the finish line and crawled the rest of the way there—that’s why they clapped and cheered—that I had at least finished the race!

 

The apostle Paul seems to have been addicted to sports, and running in particular. We don’t know if he had ever ran in competition, but at the very least he knew enough about racing to know what he was talking about when he compared the Christian life to a grueling race.

 

Paul gives us, through his own personal testimony, three requirements to run the Christian race well.

 

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The Dark Side Of Christmas—Matthew 2:12-18

We normally, and rightfully, spend most of our time thinking about the joy that surrounds Christmas. After all, what did the angel say to the shepherds?

 

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10–11)

 

But there is a dark, sad side to Christmas also. A side that we don’t think about too often; a side that is not typically portrayed in Christmas plays—it’s the side recorded for us in Matthew 2:12-18. We pick up the story right after the wisemen had visited Jesus and Joseph and Mary—

 

Read: The Dark Side Of Christmas—Matthew 2:12-18

Why Is The Virgin Birth Important To A Christian?—Matthew 1:22-23

Christmas is a funny season for the church of Christ. We don’t have plays or gift-giving but one time a year, at Christmas time. We have a whole section of the hymnal that we don’t sing all year, and then, in four weeks we pack them in. 

 

Throughout the rest of the year, not much is mentioned about the birth of Jesus. It just sort of fades into the background. We don’t mention the virgin birth when we witness to people, even though the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is dwelt on.

 

This lack of attention is evident in the Bible as well. Only Matthew and Luke tell the story of the virgin birth. It’s not mentioned anywhere else (although it’s alluded to in a few places, e.g., Galatians 4:4). 

 

As you read through the history of the early church in the book of Acts, there’s nothing to indicate that Jesus was born of a virgin.

 

Critics of Biblical Christianity have seized on these things to denounce the virgin birth as a myth, a legend, or a folktale, something added to Christianity that is completely unnecessary.

 

Is this true? Is the virgin birth unnecessary for Christianity? Why is the virgin birth of Jesus Christ important? From these verses in Matthew, we can say that the virgin birth is important because, first…

 

Read:  Why Is The Virgin Birth Important To A Christian-Matthew 1:22-23

The Wall of Self-Control—Proverbs 25:28

Proverbs 25:28 He that hath no rule over his own spirit Is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

 

The first phrase here, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit” refers to a loss of self-control. In Proverbs, the loss of self-control is normally associated with anger (14:17, 29; 16:32). 

 

But self-control is important for us in all our emotions and attitudes—like self-pity, being suspicious of others, envy of possessions, desire to eat, etc.

 

The lack of self-control is compared here to “a city that is broken down, and without walls.” In those days, the walls of the city were as important as sewer lines and garbage routes are to cities today. 

 

Read: The Wall Of Self-Control-Proverbs 25.28

Jesus Is The Sweetest Name—Matthew 1:21

Our names are important to us, and in the Bible, names take on even more significance. Many Bible characters have names that tell us something about them. 

 

Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, means, “father of a great multitude.” David, known for his great intimacy with God, means, “Beloved.” Moses means “saved from the water,” a reference to how he was found by the Pharaoh’s daughter.

 

Jesus’ name also has special meaning—

 

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 

 

Read: Jesus Is The Sweetest Name-Matthew 1.21