Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Co 9:24-27)
The Bible tells us how to get to Heaven and how to live on the way to Heaven. I daresay that more is said in the Bible about how to live on our way to Heaven than is said about how to get to Heaven. The book of James is supposedly the first book written in the New Testament. And yet, James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote the “Proverbs of the New Testament;” that is, the practical directions for living the Christian life while on the earth.
Paul wrote the above directions on how to live the Christian life on the way to Heaven. As you can see, it’s much more than keeping rules of right-living. It’s about an attitude of winning heavenly rewards for strong striving. The goal of the strong striving is good, disciplined, holy living. The word “holy” does not appear in the text, but that’s what it’s talking about. We are being urged to give it our all.
The Olympic games are believed to have begun in 776 B.C. in honor of Zeus, king of the gods. The games were held every four years in Olympia. People from all over the Greek world came to watch and take part. It was revived in 1894. Paul picks up on this great part of the world at that time and says that Christians are to give themselves to living the Christian life like these zealous athletes. We are running a serious race. We should give ourselves to it. There are rewards to be given for those who strive in their dedication and running.
The Bible is an awesome book, so awesome that only God could have written it. He wants us to understand what He is saying and to succeed at serving Him. He will liken living the Christian life to one thing and then another. If we don’t understand it with one set of words, then he will explain it in other terms. Jesus said (Luke 9:23) that if we were going to follow Him, we must take up our cross and follow Him. Paul said, I die daily.
But, today, Paul is not talking about taking up their cross. He is talking about running a race. The Corinthians would understand running a race better than they would understand carrying a cross. The people of that day played games and they understood his message about running. When the games were over, the winners lined up at a special stand or booth of dignitaries. The judges handed out rewards to the winners. The rewards were not silver and gold, but often no more than a wreath woven of flowers that would be wilted within a day or so. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. (2Co 5:10-11)
“To obtain a corruptible crown - A garland, diadem, or civic wreath, that must soon fade away. The garland bestowed on the victor was made of olive, pine, apple, laurel, or parsley. That would soon lose its beauty and fade; of course, it could be of little value. Yet we see how eagerly they sought it; how much self-denial those who entered the lists would practice to obtain it; how long they would deny themselves of the common pleasures of life that they might be successful. So much “temperance” would pagans practice to obtain a fading wreath of laurel, pine, or parsley.” (Barnes)
“This is the judgment seat, literally, the bema. There is still a bema in Corinth, and when we were there on tour, we took pictures of the ruins of it. This was the place where the judges of the city would meet the citizens and would judge them for certain things--there was no question of life or death. At the judgment seat of Christ only believers will appear. It is not a judgment of the believer's sins, which Christ fully atoned for on the Cross. The judgment is to see whether you are going to receive a reward or not.
“When Paul says, "We must all appear," remember that he is writing to believers. All we believers will be judged, that we may receive the things done in the body. We will be judged on the way we lived the Christian life, how we have lived in these bodies down here. When we go into His presence, we will be finished with these old bodies. The question He will ask is how we used these bodies. How did we live down here?” (McGee)
Living the Christian life in church is one thing. Living at home, in school, at work and the community. These are all arenas where we are running the race of living the Christian life.
A college professor (not far from here) told his students: “I realize that most of you believe the Bible and the Christian way of life and I’m not asking you to go against your Christian convictions. But in this class, we have a text book given to us that were written by other people. On your tests, you will be tested on what the book says. I must grade you on what the book says.” The teacher was believed to be a Christian and he knew that many of his class were Christians.
So, they skirted the atheistic grip of the State and “played the game” of “what the textbook says.” This has become an escape route at the college level when a professor will allow it. Sometimes a professor will not allow students to say "the book says." That's an admission that a view other than the atheist view may be valid and lets the student go through the system as a Christian. But, some professors don't want Christians going through the educational system and may not allow a student to say: "the book says." In that case, it may require a lawsuit to force the professor to back down. That, too, would be part of playing the game.
In today’s world of academia, many systems are set up to identify and purge out the students who do not believe in evolution. This is especially true in students who want to become medical doctors or who may want to teach in State universities and colleges. There is a determined effort to force the academic world of teaching and national leadership to bend in the direction of atheism.
Many stories confirm the arrogant determination of some professors who use their teaching positions as a bully pulpit of atheism. Their weapon is intimidation and persecution by selection of students who are allowed to take higher level courses or to advance toward degrees of advantage.
So, how are you playing the game in your home; in your work; in your community? How are you pressing the battle? Sometimes a professing Christian may hope no one will notice they are a Christian. Peter did that when he was warming his hands by the fire of Jesus's persecutors. It doesn't have to be that way. In this day, all Christians are needed to play the game. Ω
READ THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR
FEBRUARY 15, 2017 – WEDNESDAY
A.M. Leviticus 20-21 P.M. Matthew 28
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MEMORY VERSE THIS MONTH: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame. (Hos 4:6-7)
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Karen Peck & Riverview (4:25): Four Days Late (Gaither Group) CLICK HERE
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Eat enough fat in your diet. There was a time when so many people were in a state of panic over fat that they worked hard at cutting fat to zero in their diet. Some died of their mistake. We must have fat in our diet to live, along with protein and carbohydrates and minerals and water. Fat is a good servant and a bad master. Fats that can be heated some without damage are Olive oil, coconut oil, peanut oil, butter, and hog lard. Other foods can be cooked in these fats. All other fats should not be heated until scientific proof is presented to the contrary. Oils for salads can be polyunsaturated fats if they are not heated and they are not rancid. Oxygen molecules bond with unsaturated links in these fats and is like a bull in a china shop in your body.
Flax seed oil is a winner if kept refrigerated, in the dark, and sealed away from oxygen. Buy in small, black bottles and keep refrigerated. (8 oz). CANOLA oil is a made-up name (Canadian Oil) and is made from Rape seeds, which have a connection with cancer. We eat some in Nabisco Whole Wheat crackers (Hint of Salt) but in nothing else. There are a few other polyunsaturated oils, such as safflower, that are good on salads if the oils are not processed.
A bit of fat in a meal will slow down digestion and help your carbohydrates to give off a slow, steady stream of sugar for fuel. Farmers and other people doing heavy manual labor like to have a breakfast heavy in hog lard to promote energy until lunch time. They call it: "a breakfast that will stick to your ribs." Without the fat in the meal, you will be hungry in two hours and in some people a drop in blood sugar will give them the trembles and weakness.
At that point, they will reach for a sugary donut and coffee to restore their energy. It will restore your energy (for a while) and trigger a flood of insulin into your blood to save your life. After several years of that, you may develop insulin resistance and you are on your way to adult onset diabetes. That will hasten the clogging of your arteries and heart disease. We want to avoid that the best we can.