Get Into the Word:
"Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]." (1 Corinthians 9:25, AMP)
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:10-12, NIV '84)
Ponder the Word:
Shortly before New Year's my much younger and much healthier sister gave me a stern pep talk about the importance of prioritizing physical activity. As I pondered potential New Year's resolutions and investments — a gym membership, dusting off the workout DVD's, or signing up for a fitness class, I realized that none of those by themselves was the answer for me. In past seasons where fitness was a priority, there was always a common thread: a clear gold.
Years ago, when my friend convinced me to sign up for a half marathon, fitness was no longer optional. It was obliged to get and stay in shape to achieve my gold— running 21.1 km in under 2:10:00. After signing up for Betty's Run for ALS in 2013, I was bound and determined to get my gold: to run the race 24-weeks pregnant, faster than my postpartum self the previous year.
A clear "gold" guides us towards clear goals.
So, what is our gold? As we are running our own races, in our own lanes, at our own pace, do we know why we are running? If not, it's unlikely that you and I will stay the course with the same discipline and self-control of a competing athlete. Paul (the inspired writer of both of today's passages), says our gold is the imperishable crown, and in his letter to the Philippians he further explained his gold was knowing Christ.
My dad once explained that his passion to share the good news of Jesus Christ was because in 1986, he came to know Jesus Christ in the way Paul was describing here— not simply knowing about Jesus but personally knowing Him through experience. My dad experienced Jesus' power to forgive sin, His presence and peace with God that only Jesus can bring.
Wherever you are — spectating, warming up, running in rhythm, or nearing the finish line, you can personally experience more of Jesus Christ than you have before. After all, if Paul, the super Apostle, had not yet completely reached the goal of knowing Jesus, it's probably safe to say, neither have we. He had a radical testimony of transformation. He boldly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever he went. He wrote 13 books of the New Testament. It's not that he hadn't experienced Jesus but he recognized that he hadn't experienced all there was to Jesus. He knew there was more.
His gold was personally knowing Jesus and his goal was not perfection but continually pressing on with the One who had already taken hold of him.
Are you currently experiencing Jesus Christ? His love, acceptance, forgiveness and redemption?
HE: Father in Heaven, you are rich in mercy. Thank you for giving me the gold — the Person of Jesus Christ when I was spiritually dead and completely separated from you, as a gift I can receive by a simple step of faith.
ME: Give me a clear sense of your presence in the leg of the race. Fix my eyes on you. Give me faith to believe there's more of you that I have not yet experienced. Forgive me Jesus for forgetting about you. Deliver me from distractions that take my eyes off Jesus.
WE: Fill me with your Spirit so I can believe that you want to reveal yourself to me. Do in my life what I cannot do for myself. M
Tune in next week as we unpack verse 26, and the goals to the Gold, and the Raw Materials of Your Race.
Praying for you as you fix your eyes on the gold this week, the Person of Jesus Christ!
Only by grace,
Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing," so we don't need to try! Deepen your dialogue with God over Scripture you read today, and any other day. Let it be the first conversation of your day, but not the only. If you need a place to begin, start with Philippians 3:10-12.
"With Him: HE/ME/WE Guide"(Click to download)
Click here for Part 1: The Road to Gold