Saturday, February 25, 2012
1 Corinthians 9:24,25
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours."
~1 Corinthians 9:24~
Part IV and the final ministry in the perseverance series will be on enduring to the end and running a race that will be successful. A race where we as victors attain the prize of everlasting salvation as joint heirs in glory with Jesus Christ(Romans 8:17)
This ministry in Part 4 "running the race to it's finish" seems so fitting. Because we are in many ways enduring by faith as an athletic competitor would endure during a competitive race.
I can relate so much to this illustration used by Paul because I have competed in an event before. In fact as a youth I had a genuine passion for running and track.
I discovered "jogging" when I was 13 in 1975. I lived in a rural area then with lots of fields and open roads which was an ideal area for this sport. My friend at the time, Christine was a passionate runner and invited me to run with her one morning. What Christine didn't realize was that she had opened up a can of worms by doing this as the running bug caught on with a passion.
The first day I ran with Christine we "only" ran about a half a mile. Christine had an area all mapped out that was a "circular half mile". It involved various surfaces from dirt roads, fields to paved roads.
Christine normally would run 3 of those "circular half mile laps" but thought at first she would go easy on me and just do one.
But later on that day I went out with her yet again and this time ran the 3 laps with her.
Once Christine realized that I could run the distance with her, each day we would "jog" that distance twice a day. Which we did so for about a month before we both upped it to 2.5 mile laps (or 5 circular laps) twice a day for a 5 mile total.
As I grew to love running more, the 5 miles would eventually turn into 10 miles a day. That took me months before I was able to achieve this type of distance.
When I first started out, I noticed as a new runner that muscles ached that I didn't even realize I had. The shock from the various different pavements caused various frictions in the muscles. The more strain, the more the various muscles would tingle at first and then ache.
But the more I ran, the more my muscles became conditioned and toned. It took a lot of focus and self discipline on my part then to continue to run daily. I couldn't skip a day, because if I did, it would become easier to skip.
"Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither."
~1 Corinthians 9:25~
As I grew to love the sport I found myself competing in a small community based running event that Christine introduced me to. It was for a tri-county based "Junior Olympics" event held one weekend in mid 1976. I signed up for a couple smaller meets: a 200 meter sprint, a 1500 meter dash and also a shot put and won each of those placing first.
My final event I signed up for was a 5,000 meter long distance run which I ran against Christine and a few others. Christine ended up beating me. Literally by a nose. I placed second but in the end was proud of my finish as 5,000 meters is nothing to sneeze at.
I loved that period in my life yet sadly within 2 years I quit running as we moved to town and I met different friends and changed interests. But as I look back I can see the parallels to what the Apostle Paul means in using this as an illustration. It fits pretty well.
"Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us"
Having had this history in running and running an event competitively, I can fully appreciate Paul's admonition of keeping the faith is like running a long distance competition. From experience I can share that these track events take top conditioning of mental, physical and even spiritually motivated conditioning to succeed at. You can't just not train and condition yourselves then expect to succeed.
Comparison from a spiritual viewpoint -- for us to run a "successful" dash to obtain a reward of life everlasting it would require we condition ourselves daily in some way. With prayer and the word of God being the top of the list on our daily spiritual fitness planner. Spiritually if you "take a day off" it catches up to you. The strength in Christ should be a day to day thing or as in anything you weaken. The more you "run in Christ" the more "fit" you spiritually are.
Each day we "spiritually discipline" ourselves and there are many ways we can strive to become spiritually "fit". From Church based classes and groups to doing random acts of kindness. If you cam serve within your Church...bonus! Also one of the more vital areas : our home. Bringing Christ into our homes by either example or by sharing the Lord with our kids should be listed as a part of the daily "spiritually fit" planner. If you are a couple in Christ daily prayer and Bible study as a couple is a goal.
Daily worship in some form is a priority on any "spiritual fitness" planner. As how can we spiritually "run" without some "fuel" through the Spirit in our tanks?
As we grow into spiritually fit endurance, just as in the case of physical conditioning; it becomes easier for us to know how to handle the day to day challenges we face. We then grow to a full knowledge of Christ with our eyes based singularly on one goal. A goal that rewards us with true glory.
A goal met and achieved through perseverance.
To read the ministry series in progression please go to these links:
I Hebrews 10:36 Part 1 focuses on being faithful to God in all things. Utmost importance!
II. Proverbs 4:23 Part 2 is focused on the role your thoughts and heart play into your spiritual walk.
III. Ephesians 6:10-18 Part 3 examines the role spiritual warfare plays in your walk. It identifies various methods of spiritual warfare and how to be freed from the grip of the spiritual bondage.
IV. ! Corinthians 9:24,25 Part 4 focuses on being "spiritually fit" and running the race successfully to reap the reward of eternal salvation. I use my history in running as an illustration.
From The Inside Out - Hillsong
The Old Rugged Cross Made The Difference
Labels: 25 Running The Race Of Spiritual Endurance Self Discipline Perseverance Apostle Paul, Hebrews 12:1 1 Corinthians 9:24