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Kathy Bernard - Publisher

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"I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus.  Let us then, who are "perfectly mature" adopt this attitude.  And if you have a different attitude, this too God will reveal to you.  Only, with regard to what we have attained, continue on the same course".           
Philippians 3: 14-17

 The most important decision we Christians can make is choosing to run the race for Christ.  The Christian can be compared to an Olympic runner who strives for the gold medal in face of fierce competition.  He runs the race and wins the treasured trophy by dogged persistence to his talent.  This is his reward for achievement. 

As Christians, we must be ready for the race much as an athlete prepares himself for the run.  We take off the clothing of sin and put on the robe of perseverance, intent and purpose to live for Christ, laying aside the things of this earth, running with great determination and vigor toward our promised eternity.  In the forefront of our minds is the price Christ paid for our salvation, for through Him our faith is born and in Him we are fulfilled.  He is our only hope for the final reward.  Hebrews12:1 tells us to “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race has set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”.  With our eyes on the goal of eternal life, not allowing distractions to cloud our spirit and slow our pace, we maintain total obedience to Christ, using every means to aggressively run that final mile. 

God has promised that our prize will be greater than the gold, silver, and bronze medals of the Olympic athlete.  It will be greater than the largest sum of money offered or the adulation of a million adoring fans.  Saint Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27  “ Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.  No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified”.

WE can only begin the race once our salvation is in place.  Ephesians 2: 8-10 says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  For we are His workmanship. Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” 

Eternity must be our mindset.  As Christians we are in a war of good versus evil.  We have taken our places at the starting gate of our journey with total commitment, girding ourselves with God’s truth, Jesus’ teachings, and the Holy Spirit.  There will be times when we will wonder if we are running in the right direction, for there will be many forks in the road with signs leading to all manner of temporary joys.  There will be snares along the way; temptations to distract, jeers from the sidelines.  But as Christians on a chosen path we will not pay heed to these things for our sole focus will be on the final victory.  We will not falter but will run harder in the face of adversity.  We will not slow our feet and say we are tired because we know tomorrow might be too late.

Many Christians are satisfied with the dubious knowledge that all is well and the battle already finished.   We really don’t want to work so hard at being the best we can be for God.  Halfway through the course some of us may grow discouraged, uncertain, and just want to enjoy the only life we know.  Along the way we may stop pursuing a deep, loving relationship with Christ, walk off His path of righteousness, to sit down and rest in our own "SELF- RIGHTEOUSNESS" and the ease of worldly things. Some may start the race with strength and vigor only to lag behind as the way becomes tedious.  Sadly, many of us are like that. We get discouraged.  But none of us can reach that place of perfection without continuing the journey. Allegiance and love of Christ demands a lifelong commitment.  Jesus, in Luke 9: 62 states, “ If we persist in dragging our feet on the pathway of the Lord, we are not fit for the kingdom of God”.

Paul, the apostle understood what was required of him.  His relationship to Christ was the passion of his life: "that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from among the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11). Your spiritual race must have that same sense of wanting to be like Christ for without it there's no reason to even run or compete. In fact, there are several principles we need to apply as we pursue Him.

To run the race successfully, you and I must put on the armor of Christ so we are set apart from unbelievers. We must accept the hardships and tribulations that come with that chosen life and our behavior must be acceptable to the Lord.  We have to love our neighbors and be Christ-like in our actions.  We must follow the teachings Jesus taught and strive to win souls for Him.  If we want to make heaven our final destination, if you and I want to know the peace and the love of God, we will have to press on and finish the course in order to be with Him in His kingdom. 

One day we will all stand at the beautiful banks of peace and tranquility when this race is over.  We will throw off the shroud of humanity, trouble and that final tribulation of death to be in perfect glory forever.  No more tears or sorrow and no more pain.  All our loved ones who have gone before will be there to greet us.  The angels will blow the trumpet of triumph when we arrive; a royal carpet will unfold before us in welcome as we finish the race and stand before Almighty God to receive our crowns of honor.  Jesus will enfold us within His sacred arms and say “Well done, my good and faithful servants.   Well done.  Come and meet the Father.” 

All who are faithful will finally be able to say,  “I have fought the good fight.  I have won the battle against sin and tribulations.  I have finished the course.   I have run the good race.”

"It is not that I have already taken hold of it (the prize of eternal life) or have already attained perfect maturity,   but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of   by Christ (Jesus).    Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession.   Just one thing:  forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,  I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling,  in Christ Jesus."         
Philippians 3: 12-14

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