THE HOLY BIBLE – 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ~ New Living Translation (NLT)
THOUGHTS: Imagine an athlete running down the track, and every time a friend shouts his name he runs off to the right to see who it is calling his name. Similarly, if a fan of his opponent calls his name, he steps off the track to check his running shoes, thinking that something is wrong. Do you think that athlete will ever reach the finish line in time to qualify? Paul drew an illustration similar to this in our scripture today. First, I believe you should settle this in your mind. Just as an athlete must meet certain qualifications to run a race, you will want to know that you have accepted Jesus as Lord of your life in order to enter the race that Paul is referring to. In other words, only Christians identify with the goal of seeing Christ face to face at the end of our race (the race of life itself), so you may consider that a prequalifier. Now when Paul refers to conditioning his body in order to run the race and endure to the end, he is referring to things like: strengthening our walk with Jesus daily so that we might know the Way, the Truth and the Life. Imagine running an athletic race without knowing the way to the finish line, or believing everything a coach tells you, or knowing for sure that the finish line exists on the other side of the track because you can’t see it from the starting line. Friends, we must remember that just as the athlete can’t purchase a ticket that will automatically take him to the finish line when the starting gun fires, so it is with the Christian life. When you invite Jesus into your life, you invite Him to save you, yes, but you also invite Him to guide your daily walk and talk so that as you travel this track (daily life here on earth) towards the goal (eternity in heaven with Jesus and the Father) so that you will look, sound and act like the athlete in competition – like a Christian ought to look – like Jesus. Friends, this is a very personal experience/relationship, so Paul reminds us that if we learn how to do this by the book, and we teach others, or preach to many, and don’t live like an athlete – a child of God, then we stand to be disqualified personally at the end of the race/life. I’m sure that you have found in life that in earthly relationships, way too many experiences arise, to possibly refer to a manual on the subject. However, if we live daily in close communion with the other party, we learn a lot about them and can generally handle the ups and downs as they arise. In our relationship with God, we must learn to communicate with Him – in prayer, Bible Study; church; fellowship with other believers; etc. so that we may condition ourselves daily to reach the goal, even if God called us home today? Think about it friend.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for making this life worth living by providing a promise for those of us that know You, to one-day reach out to grasp Your precious hand and hear You welcome us home to glory! What joy that brings to my heart today, even though I understand that the challenges of today may be even more challenging than the ones from yesterday. Lord, thank You for the assurance that You are by our side, guiding us, protecting us, encouraging us and loving us as we travel this challenging track, known as everyday life. Please continue to emphasize the importance of relationship with You, because that reminds us that it was You who took care of us and watched over us that day or that circumstance – something we really can’t attribute to happen-chance. Please speak to, and challenge my readers and I today about the need for daily conditioning, so that we may stay strong and determined to stay on course and stay the course right to the very day that You calls us home – our goal! I long to see that Day oh Lord, so I rejoice in the knowledge and expectation of that Day, yet plead for Your strong hand to be consistently upon me as I run this race. All these things I rejoice in, and ask for, in and through the precious name of Jesus, AMEN!
FOOTNOTE: If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com so that we can pray with you and give you help and or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Any words underlined above will indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to blogger.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, Sebring, FL! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!