Life is all about climbing monkey bars. Yes, monkey bars. We have seasons of life. We navigate through life by navigating through the seasons. Each season is to bring us to where God wants us for the next season. Each season prepares us for the next one. Paul notes that he wasn’t where he was meant to be when he wrote to the Philippians. He didn’t achieve the perfection. He was still running the race. But he was prepared to reach the end of the race and receive the prize. He understood that the prize was a heavenly one.
Paul made it clear that part of getting to the end of the race was letting go of the past and laying hold of the future. Monkey bars! When you are passing across the monkey bars from one side to the next, you have to let go of the one bar to move your hand to the next. If you don’t let go and grasp a hold to the next bar, you will end up hanging on the bars going nowhere. In time your dangling weight will cause you to let go completely.
Today, let go of the past. Forget what once was and lay hold to what God is doing right now, and what He has promised for the future. Keep pressing forward. Keep running the race. You too can reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize.
“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” – Philippians 3:12-14 [NLT]
My daughter’s run today was different than all the others. She placed better than ever before and she had her fastest time to date. It was such a great moment to watch the outcome of all of her hard work. But I noticed something else different. There were lots of loud cheers coming from the sidelines. She had an entire cheering squad.
People need encouragement. People need to hear kind and supportive words. What was Moses supposed to do with Joshua? Encourage him (Deuteronomy 1:38). What did Barnabas do to Paul by taking a chance on him? Encourage and support him (Acts 9:27). Paul wrote, “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV). Paul sends Tychicus to the church in Colossae to “encourage (their) hearts” (4:8 NIV). In Hebrews 3 we read of this importance – to “encourage one another daily” (v.13 NIV). In 2 Timothy 4:2, it states: “encourage your people with great teaching” (NLT).
Encouragement matters. Today I encourage you to encourage others. Make a point to encourage someone. Do you see someone doing something awesome? Tell them you have taken notice. Compliment them. Give them a word of encouragement. Do you know someone who is struggling and could use some kind words? Take the time and share them. You never know how much a little encouragement can do in a person’s life. Plant those seeds of encouragement.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” – Ephesians 4:29 [NIV]
Recently I shared a message on passionate patience. I was reading about the church in Philadelphia and I came across this verse. The people kept God’s command to endure patiently. There are many times in this phrase “endure patiently” or “passionate patience” or “enduring patience” is mentioned in the Bible. John, Luke, Peter, and Paul all use the same word to mean this phrase.
We each can have passionate patience. Hebrews 12 tells us to remove the hindrances around us and fix our eyes on Jesus. The only way you can endure—the only way you can persevere is to keep yourself on the path Jesus has for your life by keeping your eyes fixed on Him.
The world will continue to tell you otherwise. The world will continue to try to pull you in different directions. I pray you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. May you press forward in the race He has for you, not swerving or slowing down for the roadblocks of the world.
“Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.” – Revelation 3:10 [MSG]
On a recent trip I drove from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. The drive did not seem so long except when we were in Virginia. It seemed like Virginia went on forever. When I compared the time we spent in Maryland and West Virginia, it was very apparent that the journey as longer. I started to feel exhausted. I started to doubt if we would ever get out of Virginia and reach our destination. The trip did not look like this on Google Maps.
As we understand our journeys in life, we usually have some sort of perception of what to expect. We use our knowledge, our experiences, and even other experiences to help prepare us for what lies ahead with the current road we are traveling. The problem arises when reality is very different from what we expected. We start to lose momentum, to get exhausted, to even have doubts.
Don’t give up. If God has called you to do something, you will reach the finish line. The road is not always going to be quick or smooth, but He is faithful. Focus on God, not on your expectations of the situation. We cannot know 100% what the situation will bring our way, but we can trust our unchanging God. I eventually made it to North Carolina and you will eventually reach your destination as well. Keep pressing forward. We each have a long road ahead of us, but it promises us a beautiful future.
“Do 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.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24
Not long ago, a professor and I were having a discussion about having confidence in the Lord rather than in ourselves. We then moved our thoughts to competitions. Within the discussion, the professor challenged me with 1 Corinthians 9:24, where Paul wrote, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (NASB). This passage is telling us that running is not the same as winning. We need to win the race. We need to finish the race to win. However, it is not a race where there is only one winner. We each can receive our crowns if we finish the race. It is all about running the race to the finish line. As 2 Timothy 4:7 states, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (ESV). At the end of the race, it’s all about keeping the faith; it’s all about trusting in God to the finish.
The big problem that we have with running our own race is that which deters us and moves us away from our walk with Christ. The writer of Hebrews wrote, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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” (Hebrews 12:1 NIV). This passage warns us that there are things that will hinder us in this race. In John Bunyan’s book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” this man name Christian is on his journey to salvation and the Celestial City, only to meet up with a wide array of people who tell him to turn around or try to give him another way to travel. Each person tries to hinder his race, some more purposeful than others. Paul says this in Galatians, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (5:7 NIV).
You see, this race to the finish is not a race where we are competing against others. We are competing against ourselves and our own sin nature. We are to be running forward, trusting God, running in the way of Christ, obeying the Truth. There are many runners on the course with us, some running right alongside us, others trying to get us to turn around, others falling asleep on the course, and others trying to get us to attempt taking a “short cut” which really isn’t a short cut to the finish line, but a derailment. Then there are those runners who make it a competition in hopes of getting a better position in heaven or to draw attention to themselves here on earth, and these runners have somewhat derailed themselves too.
Philippians 2:6 of the NLT says, “Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.” Paul encourages us to follow the Word of God, to run the race that is set before us as Christ ran the race, following the Word of God. So keep running. Keep following the course set before us. Many will try to hinder us whether purposely or not, but if we cling to the Word of God and trust in Him who is faithful, we will have victory.
I had just dropped my two children off to the bus stop and was walking the dog for our daily adventure. I was enjoying the warm sun and the fresh air. I looked ahead to see another group of children gathered together at a second bus stop. They entered the bus and as the bus pulled away and the group of remaining parents walked away, I noticed a man and a young boy.
The young boy was probably four years old, and he looked at his father with glowing eyes. I was too far away to hear what he said to his dad, but I knew by their actions, that the son had just challenged his dad to a race. And they were off. I could hear the laughter as they both ran down the path. The father was sure to not run at full speed so that he could keep a watchful eye on his son, and keep his son enjoying the race. They ran together till they reached their home. It was such a small moment that I witnessed during my morning trip, but it was such a special time– and probably not only for myself.
God tells us to be mindful of how we interact with other people. When it comes to parenting, we are not supposed to raise our children to be filled with anger and bitterness. We are to raise our children in the Lord. We are to be ready to offer grace and love. We are freely to give and sacrifice. God has gave us such great examples of how we can be a good parent, and a good friend, child, sibling, teacher, etc. We simply need to love like Him, to show grace like Him, to sacrifice like Him. We simply must seek Him.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
– Ephesians 6:4 [NASB]