Enemies of the Cross (part 2)

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, June 22, 2018

Philippians 3:18 – 20a (NIV) 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.  20But our citizenship is in heaven.

Yesterday we started digging into the five behaviors that are clearly NOT to be a part of a mature Christian’s life. Here are some more:

Hopeless living. Paul says, Their destiny is destruction.” People who are enemies of the cross live hopeless lives. Jesus described the road on which they travel this way: “For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”  (Matthew 7:13)

They appear to be successful and prosperous, but what good is it when they know in their hearts that their souls are being destroyed? How do they know, and why are they so hopeless? Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11, He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Every person has the capacity and the need to know and understand eternity, yet without Christ they cannot. They are hopeless. Mature Christians live with hope no matter what the circumstances of life are dictating.

Living to feed the appetites of the flesh. Enemies of the cross have fleshly appetities – their god is their stomach. They are people of pride, seeking to satisfy self. They are covetous, wanting for themselves what they believe has satisfied another. They follow after the lusts of the flesh to fulfill their sensual desires. They are gluttonous, seeking the pleasure of more and finer foods as a means of satisfying some craving for identity and worth. They are jealous of anyone getting attention and believe that through riches and success they can earn the favor of man and satisfy the deep longing in their heart for acceptance. For them, the meaning of life is found only in the satisfaction of the flesh.

Mature Christians live contented lives on earth because our satisfaction is in the acceptance of Jesus Christ, who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1:24 – 25)

Honoring self for what dishonors God – Enemies of the cross take pride in what is shameful to God – their glory is in their shame. Their opinion of themselves for what they believe in is over-inflated and brings shame to them. They proudly and publicly display their love for evil because it brings them some sense of fleshly fulfillment. They campaign for gay rights, killing babies, and removing Jesus Christ from culture. They believe they are serving the betterment of mankind. They take glory in what they are doing, but it is shameful in the eyes of God.

Mature Christians live God-honoring lives according to God’s principles no matter how politically incorrect society defines them.

Living with their minds set on earthly things. Enemies of the cross fix their thoughts on the ways of the world and how the world can satisfy them. They lay on their beds at night plotting their next pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment. The eyes of their minds have been darkened to spiritual things. David describes such a person this way in Psalms 10:4 – In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

Mature Christians live in constant connection with the mind of God. Yes, we can know the thoughts of God – He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the LORD God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:13

Take inventory of your life, and make sure you are living as a citizen of heaven, not as an enemy of the cross.

Pastor John

Enemies of the Cross

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Philippians 3:18 – 20a (NIV) 18For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.  20But our citizenship is in heaven.

 If we were to take a poll of a group of people and ask them about maturity, what do you think the number one response would be to the question, “How do you know someone is mature?” I think answers involving age would be numerous, but I think the number one response would involve behavior. The reason is that age cannot be regulated, but behavior can be. Age offers opportunity for maturity, but each individual has the freedom to choose whether or not to apply the principles being learned.

Paul describes the behavior of a spiritually mature person – behaving like a citizen of heaven. Paul does not say that citizenship itself is a mark of maturity. That would be like saying a newborn baby is mature, or that a 40-year old naturalized citizen of the United States who still lives with mommy, is unemployed, sits in a Lazy Boy all day watching television, and expects mommy to wait on him, is mature. Citizenship is a privilege primarily granted to those born in a particular country, and with it comes certain rights and responsibilities, which mature citizens take seriously.

Paul describes a contrast that should exist between citizens of the worldly kingdom and citizens of the heavenly kingdom. But that contrast will only be evident if the citizens of heaven are mature. In this case, maturity is clearly linked to behavior, and the spiritually mature citizen of heaven will not behave like a citizen of the world. Paul states five behaviors that are clearly NOT to be a part of a mature Christian’s life. We will deal with the first one today.

Living as an enemy of the cross. I don’t want to believe that any of you are being tempted right now to live as an enemy of Jesus. But then I also don’t have any reason to suspect my neighbors or co-workers of living as enemies of the United States either. Unfortunately, enemies of our country and our faith are living around us. We also, without realizing it, may be enemies of Jesus. We may not be standing on the corner condemning Christianity, but if we are not actively living our faith because we are ashamed or embarrassed to be identified as a follower of Jesus, are we not His enemy? Do you remember the words of Jesus about how we are to live in this world?

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34 – 38

Mature Christians live as friends of Jesus, and are proud to be called His disciples. They are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The mature Christian does not live under a spirit of fear, but rather a spirit of love that comes from a sound mind that knows the victory of the coming King and His kingdom. To the mature Christian, risk never overwhelms the coming rewards. Spiritual maturity corrects our focus from being culture-centered to Kingdom-centered. Risks and danger are minimized in the light of eternal glory. Living a public life for Christ to bring the Gospel to the world involves risk, but the risk never dictates behavior because we are not citizens of this world. Our spiritual citizenship dictates behavior.

Let’s all spend some time today evaluating our behavior, and ask these questions:

  • “What do my choices declare about my citizenship?”
  • “What do others see as the priorities of my life based on my behavior?”
  • “What does my fear level tell me about the placement of my hope?”

Let us not live as enemies of the cross.

Pastor John

Be An Example

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Philippians 3:15 – 17 (NIV) 15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.  16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

So far this week we have learned two things about being spiritually mature from what Paul writes in Philippians 3:15-16.

  1. Bring the pattern of your thinking into agreement with God’s Word, and then put it into practice by living up to what you already know; and
  2. Be patient to let God accomplish His work both in your own life and in the lives of others.

Let’s look at another mark of spiritual maturity in the next verse, which says, 17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.  This is a very rich verse. Here’s how it reads in a literal translation of the original Greek: Brothers and sisters, become imitators of me, and specifically take aim at those around you who have patterned their lives after my example. There are two very important lessons we can learn from this passage:

First, we are to humble ourselves and admit that God has surrounded us with brothers and sisters in Christ’s family that are more mature than we are, and that we can learn from them. When Paul says take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you, he uses terminology that clearly defines what should be our mindset in regard to maturity – take aim at it. Make maturity your mandate, and carefully observe and imitate those around you who are making obvious progress.

The body of Christ is so rich with people who have been through the wringer and survived, and they have so much to teach us. There are people who are filled with hope even when life seems hopeless. We have brothers and sisters who overflow with joy even in the toughest of times. We have been blessed with living examples of Christ’s love that continue to serve others even when they are persecuted. There are countless role models of people who sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of reaching people with the Gospel. It’s time for us to take note of them, and take aim at them.

Unfortunately, we have some within the church who have very good aim, but for the wrong reason – they intend to shoot them down. They are convicted of their own shortcomings, and rather than invest the energy into their own maturity, they seek to destroy the maturity of others so they themselves no longer feel inferior. But Paul says that God has specifically placed the mature around us so that we can take aim at them to be like them.

Second, we are to become an example to others. While we have our focus on those ahead of us so that we might grow in maturity, we are to be mindful of those who are behind us and be setting a good example for them to follow. Paul does not make exclusive claim to being the only example to follow. He challenges us to become examples as well. When he tells the Philippian people to take note of those who were following his example, he is stating that there are others who are worthy of imitating. There were those in the church who had patterned their lives after Paul’s example of Christ’s lifestyle. Paul says, I gave you a pattern to live by, and some of you are living the pattern. Let the rest of you take note of them and follow the pattern also. The Greek word translated as pattern is the word used to describe a die that has been cast. Think about the plates that are used to print money. Every bill that passes beneath the plate becomes an exact replica of the plate. Paul says that he is the die that has been cast. He is the printing plate. Let your life become an exact duplicate of mine, because mine is becoming an exact replica of Christ’s.

We should all be able to say that. Our deepest heart’s desire should be to become an exact replica of Jesus Christ, and to let Him use our lives as a printing plate to stamp others with His image.

Two things to remember: first, there are those ahead of you in becoming like Christ – follow them. And second, there are those behind you who are following you – may they find in you a pattern to imitate. Steve Green said it this way in a song:

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

Follow a good example and be a good example – then you are becoming spiritually mature.

Pastor John

Stop Comparing!

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Philippians 3:15  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

I have a tendency towards competitiveness. Some of you have just verbally addressed your screen and said, “That’s an understatement!” While there’s nothing inherently wrong with competition, there are times when it is wrong to be competitive. I have discovered the truth of that in grandchildren. I have eleven of them, and each one of them is the greatest grandchild in the world. It all depends on which one I am holding at the time I make my assessment. But each one of them is so different, and each one has developed skills and abilities at a different pace. Some crawled, and one never did. Some walked early, while one waited a long time. But that same one who wouldn’t crawl has an incredible ear for music and at age 2 could carry a tune. Each child is unique and gifted by God with certain skills and abilities that are not a competition with siblings or cousins, but are an expression of God’s great diversity. In His time, He will complete the work that was started at fertilization, and the timing will be for His glory.

We need to apply that principle to our relationships with people within God’s family. In Philippians 3:15, Paul urges all of us on to maturity, but then offers us the grace of God to grow at different paces. Notice I did not say to grow at our own pace. It would be tragic to turn over the ultimate control of our growth to ourselves. I know for myself it would be horrible. I know how easily distracted from long-term goals I get with the urgency of the immediate. If the process of spiritual maturity were left up to me, I would be equally distracted by the world’s influence. If not for the constant influence of God the Father on my life to push me toward the goal, and His loving discipline in my life when I get off track, I would be living the life of a junior high student all the time. The writer of Hebrews expressed it this way:

Hebrews 12:7 – 11 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons…God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness…it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

However, we don’t always recognize the hand of God shaping our lives. Think about it…God is constantly at work to complete the work He started in you when you were born again. You are growing, and God is shaping you and molding you into a vessel of His choosing to accomplish a glorious and eternal purpose. Praise God!

There are two lessons for us to grab a hold of in Paul’s incredible statement, “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.”

First, we are not to compare our growth with someone else’s growth. Our flesh seems to manifest itself in a competitive spirit which draws us into a comparison game with others. I see that sometimes in parents. When a child has accomplished something of significance, there is a tendency towards one-ups-man-ship with other parents. We can’t wait to tell a better story to bring more attention to our kids.

We tend to do the same with each other in the body of Christ, with an added deadly twist: we don’t just listen to their stories and then try to tell a better one, but we seem to have perfected the sin of finding fault with others to make our story better. It would be terrible to hear one of my children putting down one of their nieces or nephews just to make their child look better. How shameful that would be! Yet we do that to one another within the body of Christ. How shameful that is! When you want to know your current growth status, compare yourself to Christ, not to others.

Second, God is in control of each person’s growth. As a parent or grandparent, it is hurtful to require every child to learn new things at the same rate, and to judge their value based on their accomplishments. This especially applies to my ministry as a Pastor. I agonize at times over the people who just don’t seem to grow up and who don’t apply what they are learning. But then I remember Who’s in control of their growth. Just as each grandchild is developing different skills and developing some of the same skills on different timetables, so God has a unique skill set and timetable for each of His children, and He will not fail to complete His work. I know I need to let go and trust God with the outcome. How about you?

So, as mature believers, what can we do to help others grow?

  • First, surrender control of the outcome to God and acknowledge His control over their life.
  • Second, pray for them diligently.
  • Third, encourage them to listen to what God is saying.
  • Fourth, encourage them to observe what God is doing to shape their lives.
  • Fifth, keep encouraging them to grow.

It is the prize at the end of the race that motivates us. It is hope that makes us strong and gives us perseverance. All immature Christians need encouragement to press on towards the prize. Criticism and punishment don’t motivate. Be an encourager. God will make it clear to them in His time!

Pastor John

Maturity

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, June 18, 2018

Philippians 3:15  Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.

In the summer of 1980, one year after the birth of my second child, I was actively pursuing all my sporting interests. I was playing golf two to three times a week, I was playing center field for the local amateur baseball team, and I was spending all of my “spare” time in my boat fishing.

The baseball team required two nights per week for practice plus one game per week. I was at one of those practices when God used my wife to get my attention about my priorities. As I stood in center field while several guys took batting practice, I saw my wife walk through the stadium gate pushing a baby stroller while holding the hand of our oldest child. My first thought was that she had brought our daughter down to watch daddy practice, but I was soon to discover that was not the case. She motioned for me to come over to her, and she said something very scary to me: “If you don’t start to spend time with your family and come home right now, I will not be there when you get home.”

Talk about a wake-up call. I signaled to my coach that I had to leave, and I followed my family home and we had a long talk. I made some important decisions that day. I never played another baseball game.

I learned a valuable lesson about maturity. It is the lesson Paul gives us in today’s Scripture passage: true maturity is to see and do things God’s way. To see them God’s way is not enough. I had all the knowledge of what a good family was supposed to be like. I had stated my vows clearly to my wife on the day of our wedding. I had made all kinds of promises about putting my family first…but I wasn’t doing it. I was not serving them. I was serving myself. I had continued to pursue all the things I had valued about my life prior to marriage. I gave no indication to my wife that I considered everything rubbish compared to the greatness of knowing and loving her and my children. I was very immature.

True maturity comes when we bring our knowledge and our actions into agreement with God. Go back and review what Paul wrote and take notice of the balance between knowledge and action in the life of a true disciple of Jesus. All the references to knowledge are in green, and all the references to action are in red.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the 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. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

There’s perfect balance – there are seven of each. When Paul says, “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things,” he means that we understand that balance. For far too long I lived only on the mental side of marriage, and it was a perfect picture of my spiritual life as well. It may be of yours, also. We have lots of knowledge about God and Jesus and the Bible, but is there a mature balance of application? Are we really putting into practice what we know? How can we claim to be in agreement with God when we don’t live according to what He says?

We know in our hearts how true this is, because the Holy Spirit is convicting us. He is convincing us that it is time to live no longer under the tyrannical rule of the flesh. He is revealing to us the way to be free – free from the guilt and shame of a double standard. Surrender to His work in your heart. Bring peace to your mind by bringing your actions into agreement with God.

Be mature!

Pastor John

Start Running

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, June 15. 2018

Philippians 3:13 – 14  … straining forward to what lies ahead…

1 Corinthians 9:24- 27  25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.

Now that we have determined to be good runners in the spiritual race Christ has started, we’d better be committed to the training it takes to run well. There are two aspects to training that are vital: physical preparation and mental focus. Very few people attain perfection without practice, and even the best of athletes have bad days when their minds are not focused on the event.

In May of 2006, the father of professional golfer Tiger Woods died. After several weeks of absence from PGA tour events to mourn the loss of his best friend and mentor, Tiger attempted a comeback at arguably the toughest golf tournament in the world – the U.S. Open. For the first time ever, Tiger Woods failed to qualify for the last two days of play in a major tournament. His skills and abilities were hindered by an understandable change of focus.

Paul addresses both the physical and the mental aspects of training in his letter to the Corinthian church. You’ve already decided to be a runner, so put on your sweats and grab a water bottle – it’s time to exercise.

First, Paul says that everyone who wants to run to win goes into strict training. I can honestly say I have never physically done that. My natural tendency when it comes to physical exercise and sports is to do just enough to get by. I have some natural abilities, but I have never gone into strict training to perfect any of them, except maybe my golf game. I have probably treated my spiritual life the same.

In describing the type of training we should do for our spiritual race, Paul uses a specific Greek work that is translated “strict.” It means primarily to “exhibit self-government and self-restraint.” When it is used in relationship to athletics, it described a runner “who in preparing themselves for the games abstained from unwholesome food, wine, and sexual indulgence.”  (Thayer’s Greek Definitions – Third edition) Athletes are of the things that slow them down and keep them from running a perfect race. Paul says that we who are running the spiritual race should apply the same strict principles to our training. Paul is not specifically saying that we cannot eat junk food, have wine, or have sex (although all those things do have Scriptural limitations, regulations, and consequences), but he is saying that we must determine what things are hindering us from peak performance and then eliminate them. That is what the author of Hebrews stated when he wrote, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Strict means strict, and I think we have not been strict enough.

Paul says he beat his body and made the flesh his slave so that Christ’s Spirit was in control at all times. He could then run the race without fear of disqualification. We are not to live under a spirit of fear, but at the same time we must recognize the reality that any moral failure has serious consequences at the finish line. We are not talking about the loss of salvation, but it is clear that the rewards we receive and the glory we share will be affected by our choices today.

Paul laid that foundation of truth for the Corinthian church in chapter 3 when he said, If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. So be strict about your training and run the race well.

Second, Paul says that we must maintain a clear focus on our objective. Paul uses two metaphors: we are not to run aimlessly, nor are we to fight unless we have a clearly defined opponent. How silly it would be for a well-trained runner to line up at the starting line of the Boston Marathon facing the wrong direction, and then run aimlessly around the city for 3 hours hoping to find the finish line. No, he follows the designated course. And how foolish it is for a boxer to go into strict training and then do nothing with it except spar with a mirror.

So it is with our training for the spiritual race in which we have been entered by Christ. There is a designated course to follow, and no matter how hard we train, if we do not actually get in the race and start running or get in the ring and start fighting, we have accomplished nothing of value. I see so many Christians doing so much training and so little running. They attend numerous Bible Studies and are at every event the church sponsors. They have consistent daily devotions and have taken their training totally seriously. That’s great, but when are they going to get in the ring and start fighting the good fight of faith? When will their training result in new runners being recruited for the team? When will they actually begin to put into practice everything their training has taught them?

Let’s do a pre-race check. You’ve gotten rid of everything that hinders your training and your performance in the race, right? You have your mind and heart firmly focused on the finish line, right? OK – start running. The race is on!

Pastor John

Finish Strong

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Philippians 3:13 – 14  … straining forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27  24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

I enjoy watching other people run. I used to be very fast when I ran, and even won some races in high school, but I never had the driving desire to run. My best friend in high school did, and he would get up early every day and run 5 miles to school. I thought he was crazy. I had a coach in junior high tell me he thought I would be a great distance runner. I thought he was crazy too. But I do enjoy the thrill of a race involving others, especially the finish. I love to watch the short races, and see the guy who is in the middle of the pack suddenly turn on the afterburners and in a final burst of speed lean forward into the finish line and beat everybody else. He is not distracted by the other runners, the crowd, or the coaches beside the track, but intently keeps his eyes on the goal and determines to finish strong.

That’s the imagery Paul uses to describe our walk with Jesus Christ. Paul uses athletic terminology in several places, and the passages we posted above are two prime examples. Let’s see what they say about our commitment to running the spiritual race in which we are entered.

First, everyone competes for a prize, and we need to know what it is. Paul says in Philippians 3:14 that it is a “prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  In 2 Thessalonians 2:14 and in 1 Peter 5:10, we discover that the prize for which we are running is to share in the glory Jesus received for running the race perfectly. We run to receive glory as a winner as well. Just think, Jesus is the only one who is worthy of the prize because He ran perfectly and finished first. But He stands at the finish line and urges every one of us to keep running until we cross it, and when we do, he shares all the glory of winning with us.

Second, we all get the prize. In the Olympics, when they present the medals, the winner stands on the highest platform while the anthem of his nation is played. In an individual competition, only one person can stand on the platform. But we are not running in an individual competition – we are actually running a relay race. Jesus has finished His leg of the race and is already on the highest platform of heaven – the throne of God. The anthem of heaven is being sung by all the angels, giving glory to the One who was victorious. He has passed the baton to us, and when we cross that finish line, Jesus will invite us to join Him on the throne where all the attention of heaven will be on us as Jesus shares His glory with us. (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:4) All the other runners who have completed their portion of the race are already on the platform, and they are being cheered.

I am in awe of this truth. I have been recruited to join a spiritual relay team that is guaranteed victory. In most relay races, the fastest runner is saved for the last leg to try and insure victory. In our race, the Best Runner went first, and ran so well that when He crossed the finish line the Head Judge declared Him victorious. He then made another declaration – anyone who joins His team and runs the race will share in the glory of winning with Jesus.

So, I throw off everything that hinders, and the sin that so easily entangles, and I forget the past failures and successes, and I run with perseverance the race marked out for me. I fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith, and I follow His example by focusing on the joy of the finish line, and I endure any hardship as He did so that I will be invited to join Him at the right hand of the throne of God.  With our eyes so fixed on Jesus and our hearts determined to run His race, I will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

WOW! I am on Jesus’ team. I want to run well enough to be worthy of wearing His uniform and celebrating victory someday. I do not want to feel ashamed of receiving recognition as a member of the team when in my heart I know I did not do my best. I will train harder and run with greater determination. And the closer I get to the finish line, the more I will lean towards it, straining to cross it with full assurance that I gave it my all.

Pastor John