Category Archives: Endurance

Are You Running the Race in Vain?

raceChristianity has often been referred to as a marathon.  Compared to sprints, marathons are longer and require that you pace yourself so that you have enough endurance and stamina to last throughout the whole race.  If you plan on being a Christian until you die, you most certainly have to pace yourself for the next 30, 40, or 50 years! In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul said that he wanted to make sure that he was not running his race in vain (Galatians 2:2).  How do you know you’re running in vain?  We can learn a few lessons from our ancestors:

“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as [the Israelites] did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not combine it with faith.” Hebrews 4:2

The only way to not run in vain is to turn away from your evil ways despite everything you’ve already done.  As Samuel said to Saul, “Do not be afraid…You have done all this evil yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20).

Saul Didn’t Want to Wait (1 Samuel 13:1-15)

Samuel instructed Saul to wait for him.  Saul waited seven days but when Samuel didn’t come “on time,” Saul jumped the gun and did what he wanted.  Even after God took the kingdom away from Saul (1 Samuel 13:14), Saul was given a second chance to repent when he was instructed to destroy all the Amalekites, but instead of following every instruction to the tee, Saul did what he felt best.  He even justified his actions and was thoroughly convinced that he was obeying God (1 Samuel 15:19-23).

It is totally possible to believe you are obeying God with all your heart yet still not be right with God.  Scary, right??  We are living in the New Testament times and Jesus’s blood has cleansed us of our sins if we put faith in His sacrifice.  The scriptures also say that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  There is nothing we can do to earn salvation but Jesus’s expectation of our obedience is just the same as it was for the Israelites, our forefathers of the faith, in the Old Testament.

The Israelites who never made it to the Promised Land did not combine the message with faith.  Today, you can look at the Bible and think that it’s a bunch of fairy tales written by man, or you can put faith in the scriptures and believe it to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16), thereby backing up your faith with action (obedience).

 What Lack of Faith Can Do

  • You can amaze Jesus with your lack of faith (Mark 6:6)
  • You can be your own miracle-stopper (Matthew 13:58)
  • You can make it impossible for yourself to please God (Hebrews 11:6)
  • Lack of faith gives way to fear (Mark 4:40; Matthew 8:26)

Warning against Drifting Away

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?” Hebrews 2:1-3

No one is perfect.  Nobody’s going to run this race without injuries, pain or obstacles.  However, we have plenty of examples in the Bible that teach us so we don’t have to repeat their mistakes.  As long as we cling to Christ and allow the Word to cut our hearts, put our sins behind us and press forward to drawing closer to God, everything will be all right.  The biggest clue that will tip you off is when you want to manipulate the scriptures to justify personal gain instead of wholeheartedly obeying God with no ulterior motive.  If you obey God from a sincere heart, you then are not running this race in vain.

#integrity #sincerity #obedience #race #marathon #Christrianrace #musingz4life

Lifted out of Insignificance

strong“Think of what you were when you were called…” 1 Corinthians 1:26

Gideon’s Story

When God called Gideon, Gideon did not think very highly of his origins: “…but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15). Talk about low self-esteem!  When you think about your family, are you proud of where you came from? When you were growing up, were you ever ashamed to bring your friends around your parents because of how you were living? What kind of foundation did your parents (or guardians) lay for you?

I think it’s safe to say that Gideon came from a “broken home.” He certainly was not proud of his heritage and not only that, he felt like he was the WORST person in his family. The black sheep. Have you ever felt like you stood out — but in a bad way — in your “clan”?

Your Story

No matter what kind of upbringing you had, God has amazing plans for your life. I love the phrase “against all hope, Abraham in hope believed” (Romans 4).  As you read on in Judges 6, you will see how God used Gideon powerfully despite the odds that Gideon had to face.

As the saying goes, “It’s not how you start but how you finish.” When God called you, maybe you were not influential or born into wealth or a great family. Maybe you were born with a set of hardships such as congenital health issues, poverty or an impossible relationship with a parent or sibling. You may look at the statistics and wonder, “Is that going to be my future?” However, if you stay close to God and allow Him to mold and shape you as He sees fit (Jeremiah 18), He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn (Psalm 37:6).

It’s natural to feel inferior when you feel like you were singled out to have all the odds stacked up against you. However, your success would bring more glory to God than someone who was equipped with the right parents, the right financial resources and social support.

The longer you stay a Christian, the more you will see how God has been working in your life so that others may stand in awe of your triumph over the odds. How will your story end?

“Your beginnings will seem humble; so prosperous will your future be.” Job 8:7

#God #significance #insignificance #Gideon #selfesteem #musingz4life #perseverance #humblebeginnings #glory #Godsglory #YourStory

Still in the Fight

joe louis“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called…” 1 Timothy 6:12

“Do you not know that in a race, all runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

It’s interesting how the Bible alludes to sports in reference to walking with God.  Any professional athlete will tell you that preparing for the match, marathon or game takes hours of training, and if you want to win, you have to outdo all the other competitors who have spent equal or more hours than you have in preparation for that moment.

Do athletes compete in privacy? Do runners run so that they can stop just before they reach the finish line?  Of course not!  They’re in it to win it, and they want to win in the presence of thousands of witnesses in the stadium and millions on TV.

In some sports like boxing, your stamina and endurance are especially crucial. If you have fallen to the floor and you don’t get back up before the count is over, your opponent wins.

When you profess your faith in Christ publicly, people are watching you.  They may watch for different reasons – some wait to watch you fall, others watch so they can point fingers and criticize you from their high horse, and others may see your example and try to find an excuse to not go to church because of “hypocrites like you.”

But you see, my friend, you don’t proclaim Christ so you can live outwardly to “show others what a good Christian you are.”  As soon as you proclaim Jesus not only to be your Savior but also your Lord – Lord over your decisions, your emotions, behavior, goals and ambition – Satan is watching you. People should not be your concern; Satan is your true enemy who will do everything in his power to take you down.

“Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  1 Peter 5:8

The battle we wage as Christians is a spiritual battle.  The forces we are fighting against are unseen by the naked eye:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have the divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (emphasis added)

The next time you feel defeated by circumstances, difficult people, or your own negative self-talk, remember that you are the fighter in this boxing match between you and Satan.  Don’t give up!  The Christian race is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.  It’s not swimming; it’s a boxing match!  And when you reach the end of your life, may you be able to say these words:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

#perseverance #endurance #fighter #winner #GoodFightoftheFaith #musingz4life #InItToWinIt #FinishTheRace