Run with Endurance

THE PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We approach seek the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds as we hear God’s Holy Word. Join me in a spirit of prayer.

Lord Jesus, crown us again with your acceptance and care. Through Your Spirit, satisfy the real thirst of our soul with living water. Renew us with the strength that only you can give through Scripture. Reveal yourself to us again as a God of grace, so that we may learn to faithfully follow Jesus. Today, Lord, and together, Lord, we declare our affection, our adoration and our praise for you. In the holy and loving name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

SCRIPTURE READING                 Romans 5:1-11              Developing Patience

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

We pray that the Lord will bless us with these Holy Words.

TIME WITH GOD’S CHILDREN# RED 494   “Step by Step”

 

THE MESSAGE            “Run with Endurance”

Almost 800 years (776 BCE) before the birth of Christ, the Greek city-states held the Ancient Olympic Games for almost 1200 years. Every 4 years they ceased conflicts for competition, including religious and athletic festivals at the temple of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. The athletic events featured combat skills, including speed, strength, agility, and endurance. Representatives from city-states ran about 200 meters, wrestled, raced chariots and threw the javelin. After the legend of Philippides ran 26.1 miles from the battle field in Marathon to Athens to announce Greek victory over the Persians in 490 BCE, they added the long endurance race.

After Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821, interest grew to revive the Olympic games. In 1856, Evangelos Zappas, a wealthy Greek-Romanian philanthropist, offered to fund a permanent revival of the Olympic Games. These games happened in Athens city square in 1859. In addition Zappas paid to restore the ancient Panathenaic Stadium to host the Olympic Games of 1870 and 1875. In 1890 the International Olympic Committee was formed and they hosted the first games of the modern era in 1896, again in Athens.

The marathon is the ultimate test of endurance. That not everyone does well. In the inaugural Olympics, Spiridon Belokas attempted a short cut in the marathon riding in a chariot for a few miles during the race. He was not a very good cheater as he only crossed the finish line for a bronze metal, until his hoax was discovered stripping the host of a sweep of all the medals.

Eight years later, in 1904 American Fred Lorz entered the St. Louis stadium to an enthusiastic crowd crossed the finish line first after experiencing cramps earlier in the race. He then road ten miles in an automobile until it broke down and he ran the final 5 miles. Also discovered, his fellow countryman Thomas Hicks, received a performance enhancing concoction of —strychnine, sulfate in egg whites and a swig of brandy, which is potentially lethal and quite legal in 1904.

http://www.history.com/news/shortcuts-to-the-gold-9-cheaters-in-olympic-history

The Christian faith requires endurance. We discover peace with God, when through faith, we accept God’s grace. We become justified, not by our efforts, but through the Lord’s gift of forgiveness and our faith in Christ’s death that opens our access to heavenly glory. We stand with confidence in our eternal destination even as we take strides to share in the glory of God on earth. We still experience hurdles, challenges, and even suffering in this life that make our daily living a marathon not a sprint.

The Christians in Rome needed the words of encouragement to keep running the course of life. The Apostle Paul, long winded cheer, “no pain, no gain.” He encouraged the Romans to endure the suffering of the present age as that would produce Christian character. We can demonstrate our faith through the characteristics of Christ as the Holy Spirit molds our life through life’s challenges.  When we accomplish endurance to overcome one hurdle, we gain confidence and nurture hope that with the Lord, we can hurdle over other problems. We will not be disappointed if we trust the Lord to help us overcome the sin in our life. God’s love continues to be poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit to give us an abundant life, full of blessings. Christ died so that we may reconciled to God and live a blessed life.

Eugene H. Peterson in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society writes this “Hoping does not mean doing nothing. It is not fatalistic resignation. It means going about our assigned tasks, confident that God will provide the meaning and the conclusions. It is not compelled to work away at keeping up appearances with a bogus spirituality. It is the opposite of desperate and panicky manipulations, of scurrying and worrying.

And hoping is not dreaming. It is not spinning an illusion or fantasy to protect us from our boredom or our pain. It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he said he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is a willingness to let God do it his way and in his time. It is the opposite of making plans that we demand that God put into effect, telling him both how and when to do it. That is not hoping in God but bullying God. "I pray to GOD-my life a prayer-and wait for what he'll say and do. My life's on the line before God, my Lord, waiting and watching till morning, waiting and watching till morning.” –Eugene Peterson

https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/565927-a-long-obedience-in-the-same-direction-discipleship-in-an-instant-socie

The Christian marathon requires us to train our lives through spiritual disciplines that build endurance through suffering, shaping our character, and inspiring deep hope that we will experience God’s glory. We must not take short cuts or performance enhancing drugs. These only cheapen God’s gift of grace and the empowerment for living as a Child of God, an Olympic Spiritual Champion which is a reward of heavenly proportions. We can run with endurance if we train with Christ every day. TGBTG. Amen.

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