October 13, 2004
Encouragement for Today

The Race of Faith
Ramona Davis - member P31 Speaker Team, P31 Certified Speaker

Key Verse:

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NKJV)


Devotion:

My family has enjoyed the excitement of the Summer Olympic Games on TV. We were fascinated to learn more of the origin of the games from a newscaster covering the events and from a little research of our own.

The first written record of the Olympic games dates to 776 B.C. but many believe they began some 500 years earlier. The games were linked to religious events in which ancient Greek gods and heroes were honored. Wars ceased while a truce applied during the games.

All competitions honored the skills found in mighty warriors of the time. The original marathon race commemorated the victory of the Athenians in their war against the Persians. The war occurred on the plain of Marathon, about 25 miles north of Athens. The messenger, Philippides, ran to Athens to tell of the victory in battle and now the athletic tradition lives on.

Athletes displayed their skill and competitive spirit. They competed for the glory of achievement. Winners received olive branches and were hailed as heroes. Any athlete caught cheating was condemned as a disgrace and had to pay heavy fines. The money was then used to make bronze statues inscribed with their names and their offenses. This was an impressive reminder as athletes walked by the statues on their way to the stadium.

In the Bible, we find encouragement to live our lives as though we were running a race. We are called to run with endurance looking unto Jesus with faith. He is the source of all we need to live. Once we receive Jesus by faith, we must continue in faith. Just as athletes train to win a race, we have to continue to grow in our relationship with Jesus.

Athletes compete against one another but Christians compete with one another. Christians have been equipped with spiritual gifts to strengthen and encourage others in the race. Just as the former athletes ran their races naked, we must lay aside every weight and sin which so easily ensnares us. Athletes focus their attention on the marker at the end of the race. We must fasten our eyes on Jesus.

We were dead in our sins when Jesus died for us. When we ask, He forgives our sins and washes us clean. He forgets them and removes them as far as the east is from the west. The enemy would have us resurrect statues of shame and guilt inscribed with our names to remind us daily of our past sins, failures and weaknesses. 

We are not competing in this race for the glory of achievement but for the glory of God. Our prize is not an olive branch, gold, silver or bronze medals. Our prize is an imperishable crown.

Faith is not easy but we can hang our faith on the reality of an awesome God who is good and powerful. The more we believe and trust, the easier we will discount doubts and overcome temptations. Be a champion - run the race of faith with endurance.


My Prayer for Today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I doubt. I thank You for dying for me while I was a sinner. I am so grateful that You forget my sins and do not want me to re-live them over and over. Please remove the shame and guilt and help me focus on You. Train and discipline me to run the race. Show me what I need to do. I am so grateful that You love me and are faithful. Amen


Application Steps:

Are you struggling with shame and guilt? On a blank sheet of paper, draw pictures of statues for each sin that causes shame and guilt. Write your name on each one. Pray over each one, asking Jesus to help you believe that He has forgiven and forgotten. Now paint over each statue with red paint or write "forgiven" in red marker, symbolizing the blood of Christ that covers your sins.


Reflection Points:

Read 2 Peter 1: 5 - 9

What does Peter tell us to add to our faith?

How well are you obeying the Holy Spirit so that your growth is evident?


Power Verses:

Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV)

I do not mean that I am already as God wants me to be. I have not yet reached the goal, but I continue trying to reach it and to make it mine. Christ wants me to do that, which is the reason He made me His.  Philippians 3:12 (NCV)

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.  1 Corinthians 9:25 (NLT)


Additional Resources:

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/womanlistens.html

How to Live a Life of Victory by Mary Southerland
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/victoryset.html

Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst
http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/radical.html