Strict training

Do you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last forever, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.

Every. Single. One.

And if we’re also in a race, we need strict training with a strict diet along a strict exercise plan. Sounds challenging, right?

Our spiritual diet should consist of things: the bread of life and the living water.  Our physical hunger and our spiritual hunger aren’t so different. We have to be careful and remember that the Word of God is not the only thing that we can feed ourselves with. The world offers a lot more appealing junk food than the bread of life. Quick to eat, and easy on the eyes.

Eve fell for the first junk food the world has put on offer. In Genesis 3, it says that she saw that the fruit was “good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom”

The problem is – “quick and easy” may satisfy, but it will not sustain.

Only God can satisfy and sustain.

Yes, the Word of God is not quick and easy. I know that sometimes it’s too deep or too confusing. But we have our personal coach, our personal trainer, the Holy Spirit to guide, teach, convict, and sanctify us. You can ask questions. You can tell God you have no idea what He’s talking about. He knows the Word, because He is the Word. In other words, He can explain Himself.

He knows best how to reveal Himself to you.

The revelations you have are the revelations you need.

Our coach doesn’t want you to fail. Every coach wants their athlete to win. That’s why they are trained the way they are trained. Trust your coach.

The Word of God is meant to be chewed. Slowly. It’s meant to be savoured and enjoyed, so that you and I can know what the psalmist meant when he said, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” It is meant to be chewed because it needs enough time to course through your heart, your mind and your actions.

It has to completely sink in.

Until it’s all you think about.

Until we are filled with the Spirit.

Until we no longer look like ourselves.

Until we start to bear His image.

The Bible says in Deuteronomy 6 that we should “love the Lord your God with all [our hearts] and with all [our] soul and with all [our] strength.”(6:5) You can only fully love someone if you get to know them. We get to know God better by being immersed in His word.

To be able to run the race until the finish line, we need to eat the right thing. We need to be feeding ourselves with the Word of God.

To be able to run the race, you also need to practice …running.

There are two ways to run. You’re either running from something, or you’re running to something. And in our case, we are running to someone, and that someone is Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:22 says “FLEE the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

We should be running away from sin and idols, and running to God. But sometimes, we flip it. We run away from God, and we run to sin and idols. An idol isn’t just a golden statue of something. An idol is something or someone that takes the place of the Lord. It can be relationships, social media (yes, social media. How many people have liked/viewed/commented on my post?), career, and even your own calling. We are all prone to idolatry because we’re made to worship. But sometimes, we worship the creation rather than the creator.

Sin is enticing but it entangles.

It looks good. It feels good. But sin is cheap. Remember Genesis 3 with Eve? The serpent told Eve, “God knows that when you it, your eyes will be opened.” And Eve saw that the fruit was “good for food, pleasing to the eye, and desirable for gaining wisdom”.

The enemy wants you to think that God is hiding something good, something desirable from you. He wants you to doubt God’s love for you, because as soon as you doubt God’s love, you start to focus on the “blessings” that you do not have. You focus on God’s gifts instead of God himself. You start to focus on someone else’s race. Instead of looking ahead and pressing towards the goal, we look everywhere BUT the goal.

And that’s when we start to take things for ourselves, instead of asking God, and letting God give it. That’s when we give in to temptation, because we think God is hiding something good from us. That’s when we start to take control, instead of letting God be in control.

But as the song by Bethel goes …there is no good thing that he withholds.

So we need a constant heart-check: Am I running from God or am I running to God? Am I being led by the Spirit? Where (or who) am I running to?

Galatians 5:16-17 commands us to “live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of sinful nature. The sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.”

You can’t serve two masters.

But He would rather you run to Him than away from Him.

Running gave me stretch marks (I probably was doing something wrong, to be honest). Running the good race will also give you “stretch marks”. There will be aspects in your life that you can point to and say, “He stretched me there. He is stretching me there.”

But, you don’t need to fear or be ashamed of your personal stretch marks because the stretching of Jesus’ arms marks our victory.

If you ever start to feel like you can’t run anymore, that’s okay (I feel ya).

Walk by faith.

And if you get tired of walking by faith, you need to know who is in your “medical team”.

Have you heard of the story of the paralytic? Luke 5:17-25 tells the story of paralytic man with four friends. These friends tried to get him to Jesus by tearing down the roof of a building because they can’t go through the crowd. Nothing beats quality friends, right? Long story short, the paralytic man was able to walk again.

You need to know who is in your medical team. They are the ones who will put you on a stretcher, tear down the roof for you, just so they can get you in front of Jesus.

Finally, to be able to run and finish the race, you need to gear up.

There is no greater gear in the armour of God.

Ephesians 6 tells us to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Six “weapons”. I used to think that was it. But now I believe that the seventh “weapon” is prayer. Prayer glues the entire armour together.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Prayer will keep you from running away from Jesus because prayer is a sure sign that you are running to Jesus.

I want you to remember that he has gone before you. He is for you, not against you. He ran the race and He is waiting for you at the finish line. The prize is not heaven – heaven is nothing but a wrapping paper for the the actual gift. Heaven is not the prize. He is the prize. He paid the price so we can win the prize.

So run.

Run to Him.

Keep your eyes on Him.


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