In the Race

In the Race

Did you realize that we are born into a race?  We all run in the “race of life” which not only involves this life but eternal life, as well.

And, as you would expect, every race has its own rules and guidelines as well as its rewards.  The same is true in the “race of life.”

The Bible reveals everything to us about life and godliness. (2 Pet 1:3)  It tells about the guidelines for our lives, and discloses the nature and power of our weapons.  (2 Cor 10:4)  Here are some of truths that we all need to understand about the race in which we are engaged.

Training

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 Cor 9:25 NIV)

A prize

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  (1 Cor 9:24 NKJV)

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.  (2 Tim 4:8)

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (Jas 1:2)

. . . and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.  (1 Pet 5:4)

Rules

And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.  (2 Tim 2:5)

Perseverance Needed

Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  (Rev 2:10)

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Rev 3:11)

Application

Think about the nature of your own race, and how you can run it with more wisdom and power.  Blessings upon you!

You, Alone, Lord

You, Alone, Lord

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.  (Ps 4:8 NIV, emphasis added)

According to the verse above, ONLY the Lord causes us to live in safety.  If we only realized it, everything in life depends upon the goodness of God, alone.

How do I know?  Consider these passages from the Bible.

  • Only God knows the hearts of all men (1 Kgs 8:39; 2 Chron 6:30)
  • Only God created the heavens and the earth (2 Kgs 19:15; Neh 9:6; Job 9:8; Isa 44:24)
  • The Bible tells us to wait for God, alone, with expectation (Ps 62:5)
  • God, alone, is the Most High God over the earth (Ps 83:18; 148:13)
  • He, alone, is God (Ps 86:10; Isa 37:16, 20)
  • God, alone, does great wonders—signs and miracles (Ps 136:4; Ac 2:22; Heb 2:4)
  • Only God has the authority to forgive sin (Mk 2:7; Lk 5:21)
  • God, alone, deserves glory, honor and praise (Rom 16:27; 1 Tim 1;17, 6:16; Ju 1:25; Rev 15:4)
  • We should boast only of the Lord (Ps 34:2; 44:8; Gal 6:14)

As we go about our daily lives, serving the Lord and His people, it would be good to meditate upon the truths noted above.  As we rely upon God and upon the leading of His Holy Spirit, He will help us to understand the hearts of men.  He will give us a revelation of His creation, as well as what to expect in our own lives and circumstances.

He, the great miracle-working Savior, will preserve us and deliver us by His power.  He will continue to forgive us and to pour out His mercy and grace upon us.  He surrounds us with His love.

Therefore, let us give Him all the glory, praise and honor; and boast only in Him.

The Inexorable Force

The Inexorable Force

Our God is the Inexorable Force of the universe.  What He says always, ALWAYS comes to pass.  When we become born again, He places His hand upon us in such a way that we must share His Truth and His Word.  These verses illustrate what I’m saying:

But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Ac 4:19-20 NIV, underlining added)

But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.  (Jer 20:9 NIV)

 “Well, I have come to you now,” Balaam replied. “But I can’t say whatever I please. I must speak only what God puts in my mouth.”  (Num 22:38 NIV)

In our hearts, we feel that force within us that compels us to testify that Jesus is the Redeemer of all mankind—the hope of all the world.  If we are not aware of an inner inducement to share the Good News with others, then it is time to renew our commitment to the Lord and to rededicate ourselves to His purposes.

In Acts 17:16-17, we read that Paul was provoked to share the gospel message with the people in Athens.  Jesus addressed His followers in Acts 1:8 to tell them that they would be His witnesses in this world.

We must confess, along with 2 Samuel 23:2:  “The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue.”  Let us lift our voices and testify to the loving goodness and kindness of our God and Savior.  The Holy Spirit (The Inexorable Force) within each one of us lovingly requires it of us all.

Strength for the Weary

Strength for the Weary

God reminds us in His Word that He will strengthen us when we are weak, and even increase our vigor.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  (Isa 40:29 NIV) 

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (Isa 40:31 NKJV)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  (2 Cor 12:9 NKJV)

A significant point to remember is that we need to turn to the Lord, and seek His help.  We need to focus on Him and His love and goodness in order to access the strength that He is able to give. 

When our goal is to live for Jesus and to extend His loving message of forgiveness and salvation to others, we are assured that He is our ever present help.  (Ps 46:1)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  (Eph 6:10)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (Phil 4:13)

It’s good for us to turn to the Lord in times of stress, challenge, or difficulty.  When we’re feeling weak, fragile or defenseless, the Lord promises that He is our strength.  He will empower and strengthen His beloved, causing us to soar above our circumstances.  (Isa 40:31)  What a blessed promise!

 

Testing the Spirits

Testing the Spirits

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God.  (1 Joh 4:1-3a)

Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.  (1 Thes 5:20-21)

Only the Bible (the Word of God) is inspired and incapable of being wrong (inerrant).  Therefore, the way to test any spirit is to see if what is being shared or taught is in agreement with the clear teachings of God’s Word. 

In Acts 17:10-11 the Berean Jews were praised because, after they heard the teachings of Paul and Silas, they “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” The Bereans were called “noble” for their desire to search the Scriptures for truth.  Notice that they searched DAILY for the truth; this shows the level of their hunger for spiritual reality, as well as their desire to use the Bible as their measuring rod. 

The idea in these passages (about testing the spirits) is to establish several truths:

  • That whoever is speaking confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior;
  • That the person (or spirit) acknowledges that Jesus came to earth in the flesh;
  • That everything that is shared or taught is based upon and agrees with the inerrant Word of God—the Bible. 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  (2 Tim 2:15)

The reason for testing the spirits, for testing all religious teaching, is to see if it is truly from God or if it is a lie from Satan, the enemy of our souls.  The Word of God is to be “a lamp” and “a light” to our path (Ps 119:105). We must allow its light to shine on every teaching and doctrine to be sure that we remain on the path of righteousness.. 

The Bible alone is the standard by which all truth should be judged.  Be discerning and diligent about measuring what you hear (or read) against the Word of God.

Pressing On

Pressing On

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  (Phil 3:12-14 NIV)

The definition of press on is:  to continue moving forward in a forceful or steady way; to continue to do something especially in a determined way.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians (passage shown above) encourages all believers to continue moving forward in their Christian life.  He especially wants us to have a sense of determination because there is a definite prize ahead of us that we long to receive.  Our hearts must be resolved so that we will stay the course.

Our prize is eternal life with Jesus Christ in heaven.  There is no arriving at the destination without understanding that Jesus is the Way.  Eternal life is truly the gift of God which we obtain through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

And we will encounter road blocks, challenges, tribulations, and trials along the way.  At these points we need to seek the Lord, and to change whatever is necessary in our lives in order to continue on our way.

In a very real, spiritual sense, we need to pursue Christ with fortitude because in doing so we show our resolve to claim Him as our own Savior and Lord.  We surrender all and follow His example, His footsteps, and His teachings in order to attain eternal fellowship with Christ.  Glory to God!

Seek the Well Being of Others

Seek the Well Being of Others

As children of God, our actions will naturally imitate the actions of our Heavenly Father.  God cares for each and every person.  He is pleased when—instead of being selfish—we look for opportunities to help and to bless other people.

Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.  (1 Cor 10:24)

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus  . . . (Phil 2:4-5)

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth . . . (1 Cor 13:4-6, underscoring added)

God is love (1 Joh 4:8) so the passage of Scripture above outlining the nature of love gives us a very good picture of the nature of the God whom we serve.  This reveals how the Lord deals with each person individually, and helps us to understand His love for mankind.

In these verses from the Bible, we can see that working on behalf of other people in order to bless their lives will also result in bringing glory to God.  This is what we who serve the Good Shepherd are called to do.  We’re called to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ; to bring glory to God; and to spread the Good News.  In so doing, the very works of God will be revealed in us.  (Joh 9:3) Have a blessed day!