The posts that follow all deal with the highs and lows of Ministry and ministry related topics. They follow my PRIME Experience in Minford Ohio and will hopefully continue afterwards.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Race that never ends.....

The devotional that I shared tonight at the church fellowship or at least what I had down on paper. When speaking I have a tendency to ad lib.

Philippians 3:13-19
English Standard Version (ESV)
13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

All my life I’ve grown up in a family of athletic people having anything from volleyball coaches and refs to baseball, cross country and track. That has made me a somewhat loyal high school sports fan. Over the years I have seen numerous races and have listened in on several conversations around the dinner table about what the coach is telling them to help them do their best and surprisingly, it spells CAR.

The first of these is Concentration on the goal in mind. As runners the coach and my parents tell my brothers not to look back for two reasons 1) you almost always slow down giving the person behind you chance to beat you and 2) you take your eyes off the main goal of the finish line. You lose the concentration and an accident is more likely to occur.

Romans 12:1-2
English Standard Version (ESV) 
I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]

As Christians it’s easy to look around you and see what everyone else is doing. Romans 12:2 tell us not to conform to the world around us. We are aliens to this world. Our bodies have been transformed to Christ by the renewal of our minds. If we take our minds off of this goal to be like Christ we are more likely to end up in places we don’t want to be. Accidents WILL occur. This can be as simple as writing a Bible truth on an index card and putting it in a location that will be seen repeatedly each day such as the car visor or even better on the middle of the steering wheel. Then as you go throughout your day meditate on that Bible truth and allow it to change you and renew your mind towards Christ. Thus bringing the goal back in mind.

The second word of advice heard around the table is to anticipate the end result. In 1968 Mexico City Olympic marathon the attention was not on the gold, silver and bronze, but the last man to enter the stadium. That man was John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania. He entered with an injured leg and a time well over an hour after the gold and a good half an hour after the man before him. When asked why he didn’t retire after the gold had been taken he stated that his country had not sent him 5000 miles to start the race, they sent him 5000 miles to finish the race. He anticipated the goal and completed it.

Paul at the end of his life stated in his second letter to Timothy

2 Timothy 4:7-8
English Standard Version (ESV)
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
We need to decide what we want the end result to be and do everything in our power to obtain that end. The ultimate goal for us as Christians should be to be with Christ when he comes back and the heavenly prize talked about in Philippians 3:14.

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

We can also anticipate that God will bring others to come alongside and cheer. I don’t think I have not been to a sporting event where no one cheered or offered some sort of encouragement. I’ve also noticed that the bleachers are almost always near the finish line so that others can cheer the competitors on as they reach the goal of the finish line.

The last word of advice that has come around the table is that of recognition. Not the recognition of others when you win or do well, but the recognition of your weak points. We all have them and no one is perfect. Paul uses himself as an example in both verses 14 and 17 of Philippians 3.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.

Yet at the same time he knows that not everyone has the endurance and diligence that Paul possessed and writes in verse 15 that God will point out areas that we need to work on and provide the means to do so. We may not always like the solution he provides, but we need to recognize that God wants us to draw near to him. When God points something out to you, ask him to show you how to fix it. Another way is to get feedback from other Christians who you know will give you an honest answer about areas that they see that could use work.

Now we are all running the race that is the Christian life. some are runners, others drive cars, Which if you put the three points together is what we get CAR. Concentrate, Anticipate and recognize. concentrate by never looking away from Christ. Anticipate receiving the prize, and recognize where our weak points are. Keep in mind this week that we are sent to the world not to start the race, but to finish it and in doing so bring other along for the journey to cheer, participate, and celebrate with us as we run with Christ.

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