January 23, 2024
- By Ed Powell
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"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2
Dr. Bill Coker gives us some thoughts that are so applicable and heart-searching. Paul speaks of our spiritual journey as an athlete who is running a race. The Greek word for race is "agoon," from which we derive the word agony. The idea is one of struggle, a contest, and a conflict. The Bible does not say, "If you will only believe, everything will be sunshine; no more sorrow, pain, or heartache; all will be easy." Rather, Paul says there is a race before us--a road paved with difficulty, conflict, struggle, adversity, and trial. And we are continually surrounded with battles. You will find the roadside strewn with fallen disciples who had good intentions but became casualties in the fight.
The challenge is to "run with patience, with perseverance, with a steadfast faith in Christ." The hymn "Am I A Soldier of the Cross? by Isaac Watts is one we should read again and again, asking its challenging questions:
Am I a soldier of the Cross?
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies
On flow'ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?
Is this vile world a friend to grace,
To help me on to God?
Sure I must fight if I would reign--
Increase my courage, Lord!
I'll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word!
There are no prerequisites to be a disciple, but there are requisites to "run the race." There is complete commitment. Lay aside every weight...every sin. Someone asked the late Bear Bryant, the ultra-successful head football coach at the University of Alabama, "What makes your players so determined to win?" His answer was simple, but one he had instilled into their hearts: "Because there's nothing else." A winning attitude demands commitment to excellence.
On a flight from New York City to San Francisco, I was seated next to a 75-year-old Taiwanese man who ran in the 1936 Olympics. He was returning home, having just finished running in the Southeastern Masters Track Meet for seniors in Raleigh, North Carolina. Then he showed me the three medals he had won: a gold medal for 3,000 meters, another gold for 1,500 meters, and a silver for 800 meters.
I asked him, "How does a man your age train to endure such a challenge?" He said, "I get up at six every morning and run five miles. I've been doing that for 50 years! I have a commitment TO BE THE BEST! This is the focus of my athletic life. I must maintain a balanced diet, a structure of physical exercise, and a determination to run the race with one objective in mind, TO WIN. If I compromise in my discipline, I will simply be another runner, not a winner."
I thought...how determined are we to be God's best? How willing are we "to lay aside every weight, every sin, that doth so easily beset us, and run with patience [perseverance] the race that is set before us?" How can we? BY LOOKING TO JESUS, our consummate goal!
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://litmin.org/dare.php?date=2024-01-23
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