- What do you want most?
- What is something you are choosing now that is actively working against what you want most?
- Have you asked for accountability in reaching your goal? If not, who can you identify that will encourage you to stay on track?
- Are you able to identify a goal you’ve had before that you didn’t reach? How did that feel? What motivation can you take from that experience?
Good morning Hope City! Man it is so good to see you all. I hope this past week you cleared up the white noise a bit in your world by giving up the things that you are trying to control… If you missed last week, you’re going to want to jump back and listen to that message. I’ve had lots of you share with me, THAT WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED TO HEAR. And then you tried to tell me what I should preach on today… CONTROL FREAKS! 😉 I love you. Cause I’m one of you.
But we are in a series called White Noise where we are removing distractions from our life in order to better hear God. Here’s what we know. We are busy people who bounce from one thing to another. Our days are filled with all kinds of noise. It may be audible, it may be your schedule, your finances, your relationships, your kids soccer team. Whatever it may be we know that we keep filling our lives with so much and it can easily leave little room for our brain to be able to hear the voice of God.
I’ve said this for a long time, and I will say it as long as I live, I think that CHURCH SHOULD BE ENJOYED, NOT ENDURED. This is why we love to laugh, we love to ensure that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We take God seriously, but not ourselves too much. Typically, I love to get us started by laughing together, and talking about something ridiculous that has happened in my life…
But honestly, I had a conversation this past week and the question came up, why is the book of Job in the Bible? And immediately one of the first thoughts I had was, the book of Job is in the Bible because it shows us that God is in the midst of our pain. That PAIN IS A PART OF LIFE, and it doesn’t meant that you are being punished by God. Pain is not always a Punishment.
In fact, I can tell you that there are moments when you are going to experience pain. But don’t just take my word for it…. Listen to what Jesus says about this…
In the world you will have tribulation. John 16:33
Well, that’s encouraging, right? Do you know what Jesus meant by tribulation? It means, TROUBLE, or SUFFERING. You will experience pain.
A lot of times the pain is beyond your control. You have a friend who has betrayed you, a spouse who cheated on you, you were stopped at a red light and someone slammed in the back of you. Or your kid brings home a kitten, and now you’re stuck with a CAT!
Don’t you love it though when people say, EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON… Well, that may be true… but, maybe it’s because of this sign.
The reality is, though, that some pain is within your control. In other words, you will have a choice between one type of pain or another. You can choose your pain. Think of it this way. You can choose the pain of obeying your parents today or face the pain of the consequences later. All the parents said amen, right? You can choose the pain of living within your means today or choose the pain of battling a mountain of debt tomorrow. You can choose the pain of studying for the exam today or experience the pain of retaking the class later. You can choose your pain.
It seems to me that there are times when PAIN adds to the noise in our life. And if we don’t put pain in proper perspective, it will prevent you from hearing God. It is possible to be so focused on our pain that we can’t see or hear anything else.
As you know we’ve been talking about 4 big decisions that we can make to help declutter the noise, to help us slow down and hear God. And today we are going to talk about the decision of DISCIPLINE over REGRET. We’re going to choose a certain type of pain today. We all have pain, but if we want to eliminate some of the white noise, we will learn that we need to choose the pain of discipline over the pain of regret. So what does it mean to be disciplined?
DISCIPLINE IS CHOOSING BETWEEN WHAT YOU WANT NOW AND WHAT YOU WANT MOST.
This morning we are going to look at some of the words of the apostle Paul in Romans chapter 7. I got to be honest. It makes me feel so good to see Paul say what he says. He almost sounds crazy when he’s saying it. Now, if you’re new to church, maybe you’re not a Christian you may not know much about the apostle Paul. Let me just give you a little context. This was the guy who met the risen Christ. Christ was already dead, rose again. Paul experiences this glorified Christ. He’s healed of blindness. Paul was caught up in this place called the third heaven. Paul wrote almost a third of the New Testament. If there’s anybody who had a spiritual edge, Paul had it. If there’s anybody who should have been able to get it right, it was Paul. In Roman’s chapter 7 Paul talks about how difficult it was to do the right thing. His struggle to get it right makes me feel so good. Cause I often mess it up so big! This is what he says in Roman’s 7:15.
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 18I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
What’s he saying? I want to do the right thing. I can’t do it. I’m often ashamed that I didn’t get it right.
This is how I feel every time I go to Blaze Pizza. I tell myself, “I will not eat the whole pizza. I will take home a few slices.” And then what happens? I EAT THE WHOLE PIZZA! My stomach says… DO IT! And my waist line says KNOCK IT OFF!
It’s about Discipline. Paul is saying the same thing. He says, I feel so down on myself. I feel so embarrassed. You would think that by now I could get this right. I don’t get it right. Who can ever help me? He says, “Thank God. The answer is not in me being better. It’s not in me being stronger. The answer is in Jesus Christ my Lord.”
The only way to choose discipline over regret is with the help of Christ and by the example of Jesus!
This morning we are going to be following the journey of Paul as it relates to discipline. It’s amazing to watch how Paul changes… This is the guy that says I can’t get it right and watch how he progresses. 1 Corinthians 9:24. He uses the imagery or the metaphor of a race and I love the way he says it. He says,
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? 1 Corinthians 9:24
Everyone runs but only one person wins. We’ve watched the Olympics. We know how this works. We know that the fastest man always wins… and His name is Usain Bolt! He wins. So what does Paul say to do?
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24
When you’re running, we’re not running for second place. When you’re running you’re running with every bit of focus, intensity, power that you have. You are running to win. There is a goal in your mind.
One of the things that I have realized about myself is that I am a goal driven, goal oriented person. I don’t do well if there isn’t a goal in mind. Why, because without a goal, there is no reason to get up and do it. I’m gonna chase after this goal even if it means crushing my son in pool basketball. Get out of the pool THIS IS MY HOUSE! RIGHT? DAD’s Can I GET AN AMEN?
If you’re going to win what do you have to do? You have to choose what you want most over what you want now. Right? What I want most is to be in tip top shape. What I want now is to sleep in and eat Blaze pizza. You have to choose what you want most over what you want now. We’re disciplined in our training.
The root word for discipline is the same word where we get our word disciples. What are we? We are disciples of Jesus. We are following Christ, okay? We are disciplined as disciples. He goes on to say,
25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  1 Corinthians 9:25
Just over a week ago, 7 of us completed an Edurance Challenge event called The Go Ruck Challenge. We spent 12 hours on the move throughout Tampa completing physical challenges all while carrying 40+ pounds on our back. We trained for this event. We’ve been putting some miles on the shoes, and shoulders for the past 4 months or more. And do you know what we came home with after it was all said and done? THIS PATCH right here. Now, don’t get me wrong, this patch means a lot to me. I can sit down and share stories with you about what it means to me. But let’s be real… it’s just a piece of cloth with some stitching on it. Paul is reminding us that yes, discipline is like that of an athlete… but only of far more worth. What are we doing this for? We are disciplining ourselves for an ETERNAL PRIZE. We’re disciplining ourselves in order to bring God glory, and see Christ honored in our lives. We aren’t doing this in order to please coaches, spouses, or impress college recruiters. This is because we know that there is something significant going on in our lives. And in order to experience that eternal reward, and honor God in the process, we must discipline ourselves. We must choose what we want MORE over what we want NOW. Paul finishes this thought by saying,
26 Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:26
I don’t run aimlessly… no! I run to win. I run to accomplish the goal, finish the race. Complete the course. When you run to win, you are saying that I will CHOOSE the PAIN OF DISCIPLINE for the prize. I’m going to do now, what will help me achieve what I want most.
Which brings us to the first of two questions that we need to answer today.
- What do you want most?
Go ahead and write it down. But hold up… Let me just give you a hint…. Don’t write something dumb down. Don’t write, I want to win the Lottery. Or I want to divorce my husband and Marry Kevin Hart. You’d be too tall for him anyway. Come on. Bring it in. What is it that you want most?
Maybe you want to be closer to God. That’s an awesome desire.
Maybe you want to lose 20 pounds, and honor God with your body. You know you’ve been living in an unhealthy way.
Maybe you want to improve the intimacy in your marriage.
Or you want to be free from addiction. Those are healthy and good desires. Honestly, these desires honor God and are patterned after the life He intended for you to live. But you have to identify the goal. When we don’t identify the goal, we end up running aimlessly, purposefully running with no purpose. WHO WANTS TO DO THAT? Identify your goal. Identify what you want.
So, Now that you’ve written down what you want most, it leads us to one last question… What do you need to choose NOW to achieve what you want most?
So we know what you want… now what do you need to do? If you wrote down that you want to Get close to God than join a connect group. Click over in Youversion and find a reading plan. Commit to coming to church. Better yet, jump on the Dream Team and make a difference with your life. In your program we’ve put a card there for you to get more information about serving on the deam team. This is a real step in growing in your faith and getting closer to God. Disciplining yourself, and joining the dream team. Fill this card out and bring it out to the NEXT STEPS BOOTH IN THE LOBBY.
Maybe you said you want to loose 20 pounds. Well, what do you need to do now to achieve what you want most? Quit eating the whole BLAZE PIZZA. Get to the gym. Hire a trainer. Sign up for the next GORuck challenge. J Speak to a nutritionist.
Or if you wrote down that you want to have a healthier marriage. Plan a consistent date night. Get it on the calendar… Go to speak with a counselor. Join a couples connect group.
If you want to get free from addiction. Admit that it’s a problem. Ask for help. Find a counselor and join a support group. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Whatever is worth doing is always going to take hard work. We really just have to chose our pain. This is why Paul closes out this thought with this.
26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 NLT
Some versions say, I beat my body… I discipline myself… I don’t run aimlessly. So that I train my body to do what it should. Not what comes natural.
Do you know what comes natural for me? Dipping a piece of cinnamon roll in a cup of hot coffee. That’s natural. Do you know what else come natural for me? Eating an entire bag of Tortilla chips with Queso. That’s natural. You’re just weird if you can’t do that. 😉
Maybe for you it’s chocolate donuts. Or Sleeping in late. You know what you’re naturally good at. Maybe your kids are fighting and you’re like… UGH I don’t want to parent right now. How about we just give them boxing gloves and see who is still standing at the end. J I just don’t want to deal with it.
You know what your secret vices are. But we are choosing to put purpose in our steps. In other words we have to say everyday, Jesus I need you. I need you right here, right now. I need you in this moment, or I need you in this situation. I need you Jesus!
What I hope you’ll understand is there is never a moment where I don’t need Jesus. I need him all the time. Without him I’m like Paul. I want to do what’s right and I do what’s wrong. I don’t want to do what’s wrong and I do what’s wrong. Why? I need him every moment of everyday. I need his power. I need His strength. I need him with me when I am weak. I need him to be what I can not be for myself. I have accountability in my life, why? Because I need accountability in my life. I have structure in my life, why? Because I need structure in my life. I have people who pray for me and ask me hard questions, why? Because I need people to pray for me and ask me hard questions.
Do you know what happens when we shortcut what we want most with what we want now? We mess up our brains. When we do something that we’ve chosen not to do, or told ourselves we wouldn’t do, our brain releases a little chemical called DOPAMINE. These Dopamine’s give you a legal high. And for a bit you feel awesome! But do you know what happens? You start chasing after that DOPAMINE high and before you know it you need to do more, see more, taste more in order to get the same high.
Do you know where I struggle most with this? SODA. I have told myself that I won’t drink soda. It’s just a thing for me. It’s my thing. I know that makes me weird… whatever. I’m a pretty weird dude to begin with. But Here’s what I know. If I drink one soda, man it tastes good. It’s not that I don’t like Soda…. NAH, I LOVE SODA. But I know that one won’t be enough. I’ll have to drink another one, and then another one. Okay, who cares, it’s just Soda, right? Well true, but I’m filling my body with sugar and calories that is not contributing to my goal of being healthy, strong and fit. I’ve decided to put purpose in my steps. It takes discipline. Because what happens when you go to the movie theater. What do you get? A 5 gallon bucket of Popcorn and a keg of soda, right? I’ve got to tell myself NO! Your brain gets rewired if we’re not careful.
Now here’s what’s really important, and don’t miss this. What did you write down or what is in the front of your mind about what you want most? Think about it. What do you want most? What do you want most? What do you need to choose now to achieve or experience what you want most? Here’s the thing. A LACK OF DISCIPLINE TODAY RESULTS IN LOADS OF REGRET TOMORROW. Let me say it again so we feel it. If you do not do something now about that which you want most that will very likely become your greatest regret.
I refuse to live with regrets. I will not be the father who says, I give anything to go back and have time with my kids but I was too busy blah blah blah. And I missed it. I will not be the husband who says, oh my gosh if I’d only checked those lusts I wouldn’t have lost my marriage. I will not be that man.
I will not be the one late in my life and says, man, if I’d only taken care of my body I wouldn’t be dealing with this right now.
Listen, you talk to anybody at the end of their life who’s battling with regrets, it will change everything. I refuse to be the one who lives with those regrets.
Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me. The bottom line is this. We all have a choice. That’s why for some of you today’s the day it all changes. Today you are going to choose to trust God and trust the process of discipline in order to experience the life that God intended for you to live. Make a choice today to refuse to be shortsighted. Refuse to be plagued by regrets. RUN TO WIN AN ETERNAL PRIZE. WE WILL CHOOSE DISCIPLINE OVER REGRET.
Maybe today you’re saying.. you know what… I’ve tried my best to do things right, and I still do things wrong. You can really relate to Paul. Hey, I’m trying to get it right. I’m trying not to do bad things. I’m trying to do good but when I try to do good I end up doing bad. When I try not to do bad, I still do it. Who can help me? Who can help me?
Here’s the problem. Let me just tell you plainly and this is not popular and a lot of people would argue today, but quite frankly, there dead wrong. The truth is we are all sinners. We’re all sinners by nature. We are sinful people. You never have to bring a kid in and say today we’re having sin lessons. Today I’m going to teach you to be selfish. We are naturally selfish. It’s mine. We’re self centered sinful beings. No matter how hard you try to get it right, guess what? You can not get it right on your own because we are bent towards sin. That’s why the grace of God is so amazing and that’s why it’s called good news. God sent Jesus who was without sin. Jesus became sin for us on the cross. He died for our sins, rose again. Why?
So that, anyone who calls on him would be forgiven. Anyone no matter what you’ve done, no matter how dark your life is. No matter how messed up you are. When you call on him, he hears your prayer. He forgives you. He transforms you. He makes you new. There are some of you, you’re on a path. You’re taking one step off of your path on to his path. This morning you can pray and speak to Jesus, and say, “Jesus today, I give my life to you. I need your grace. I surrender, Jesus. Take my life and make me new” that’s your prayer.
This morning, we are going to close out our service by remembering what Jesus did for us, so that we could be made new. So that we could be forgiven. Here at Hope City, one of the ways that we draw on Christ’s strength is by receiving communion. Communion, or sometimes called the Eucharist, has been a source of spiritual strength for Christ followers through the ages.
Every time we take the bread and the cup we remember what Jesus went through to complete his Mission of salvation for us. He faced great opposition, He was threatened, ridiculed, attacked by the enemy, and ultimately He gave His life for His enemies by dying on the Cross.
And everyone who puts their turst in Jesus, in His death on a cross as a substitute for our sin, in His resurrection from the grave, showing his power over Satan-Sin-Death and His ability to offer eternal life, all who put their trust in Christ are saved by His blood.
SO today, we are going to come to the communion table and remember what Jesus did for us. How he chose what mattered most over what he wanted to do in that moment.
If you’re a follower of Jesus, you are welcome to come forward and receive communion today. You can see the room is set up with communion stations. I want to invite you to take a rice cracker and dip, not sip, in the cup. And then return to your seat.