TODAY'S WORD FOR Monday, May 14, 2018:
Any contest or competition to achieve superiority.
Do you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
I Corinthians 9:24.
KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE:
Paul’s missionary journeys took him to different countries with varied cultures. When preaching the gospel he often used illustrations that related to the culture of those he was speaking to. In his letter to the Corinthians he knew the Greeks loved athletic competitions. The Olympic Games were begun by the Greeks. The illustration of running a race that Paul used in I Corinthians 9:24 and the analogy of running to win was well understood by the Corinthians.
In 1896 when the Olympics were revived in Athens after many years of no Olympics, the first ever marathon was run. Seventeen athletes competed and ran 40 kilometers (24.8 miles). The race was won by a common laborer, but winning was so significant to the Greeks that he was considered a national hero and honored as such by the King. In those days the winners of races were awarded with a crown made of leaves symbolizing victory.
We were privileged several years ago to stand on the exact location where the ending of the first marathon race occurred. Being there and seeing the site for ourselves helped us to picture even more vividly what Paul was talking about centuries before.
In the verse we have put above Paul relates the illustration of running a race to the Christian life. Athletic competitions require hard work and dedication. Likewise, living the Christian life requires hard work and dedication. As Christians we are not running for an earthly crown of leaves or a gold medal or to be a national hero. We are running for a heavenly reward which we will receive from our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul challenges us not just to run the race but to win the race so that we may obtain an imperishable crown. Paul not only taught this but lived it out.
In II Timothy 4:7 Paul shares with us that, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul joyfully anticipated receiving his victory crown from his King in Heaven. The victory crown that that first marathon runner received in the ancient Greek games was perishable. The victory crown that the Christian will receive in heaven will last forever.
Christians need to understand that in order to receive their victory crown they must be willing to run the race of life that God has set before them. In any race there are set rules that must be followed. God has set down rules that we need to honor in order for us to live a victorious life. God’s rules are given to us in God’s Word and the way we can know what the rules are is to read His Word. You need to begin by reading and memorizing the Ten Commandments found in Exodus chapter 20.
Jesus says the most important thing each and every believer must do is, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment” John 22:37.
It is not good enough just to read the rules but we must train ourselves to follow these rules and live by them. It means that we need to spend time reading God’s Word and most important take the time to study His Word and obediently apply it to our life. We also must take the time to pray to God and to worship Him. This is essential to being victorious in our Christian life. It all requires time and effort and giving up whatever keeps us from being what God wants us to be.
Our memory verse for this week is found in Philippians 4:6.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Help me to run a “race’ that will honor and glorify Your name. Help me to challenge my family, through my words and deeds to run our daily races with the goal of receiving our crown of victory that You will give to those who live a consistent life honoring You.
These Family Devotional thoughts are written by Dr. Ken Phillips, Executive Director of America's Hunger
Solution, and his wife Dottie. Ken has had ministry positions
with The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, World Vision, Youth For Christ, World Opportunities International,
and World Bible Society. He also has consulted for more than 30 Christian ministries in management and stewardship
development. They have published a book called No Problems Only Situations that discusses the journey of their family.
Ken and Dottie have been married for 60 years, and have 6 children, 20 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren. Their
second book, TODAY'S WORD, includes 365 daily
devotionals and is now available for only $10.
Ken & Dottie Phillips
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