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 9:25-27)
It is hard for us in America to understand “Running the Race” because we live in a prosperous and soft time. The Christians in Corinth were living under the Roman Empire. Jesus came to earth “in the fulness of time” to redeem them that were under the law and that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal.4:4).
He was crucified on a Roman cross by Roman soldiers. His followers were persecuted by the leaders of the Jewish Temple and soon the power of the Roman Empire came down on Christians. They were imprisoned, stoned, beheaded, fed to the lions in the arena in Rome, impaled on crosses and used as human torches to light the garden of one of the Emperors. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs tries to capture some of the price that has been paid by some Christians who “ran the race.”
When Saul (Paul) began arresting Christians and Stephen was stoned by the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem, Christians began leaving Jerusalem and scattered to safer territory. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. (Act 8:3-4)
There was a dedicated mindset in the early Christians that is almost impossible to duplicate in modern America. However, we see it today as Christians in the Islamic countries kneel in orange suits to have their heads cut off. In N. Korea, China and several Islamic nations, many Christians are being persecuted and put to death. They endure and die the death of martyrs, even as they did in the earliest days of Christianity. Hundreds of Christians are suffering in stinking prisons. Many of them could be released if they would renounce their faith in Christ. Only rarely does this happen in America.
Jesus knew what was going to happen and told those who listened to Him preach: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Luk 9:23-24)
The Bible standard of faithfulness to Christ in running the race, is: Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. (Rev 2:10)
I am reluctant to brag about what I would do if faced with some of the things Christians are facing today. Peter thought he was on solid ground and all the disciples joined him in declaring how brave and determined they were. We’re still talking about running the race. We may not be facing certain death for our faith in Christ, but what about the pressure to talk like the crowd at work or school?
When I was nine years old, I practiced profanity, and cursing so I would be accepted by the boys I wanted to be a part of. Of course, I was very much a lost sinner and had a wicked heart to do it. But, the night I called on the Lord to save me, all of that changed. My loyalty was to Christ. Pleasing Him meant more than pleasing wicked companions.
We are indeed running a race, a serious race and the rewards are high. We may not be called upon to lose our lives. But, we may be called upon to cut corners, to do things under the table, to please the ungodly. What then? If you are a genuine Christian, your first loyalty is to Christ and all the areas of your life that involves. Can you trust Him and follow Him when you know you or some member of your family may not get well? Pray to be healed. But if God has something better for you than being healed, can you run the race with what you have and praise the Lord for it? Read Through the Bible in a Year
MAY 26, 2017 – FRIDAY
A.M. 1Chron 17-19 P.M. John 10:1-21
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Memory Verse This Month:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. (Luke 24:44)
Song for Today: T
There Is A Fountain (4:39) (Gaither Group)
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