Hey Girls! Happy New Year!

Here we are with another year behind us and a brand new year ahead. I’m still in the midst of trying to catch my breath from all the Christmas festivities! I feel like I’ve been running in the annual Christmas marathonJ and ready for a short-lived break. I remember when I was in high school, waaay back in 1968, and I signed up to be on the varsity track team. I was never one to run long distances but I actually loved running short sprints and… I could run really fast back then. There were hours and hours of practicing and more practicing. My friends (not on the track team) were all out playing and having fun while I was huffing and puffing running hard. I knew to be a winner and win my race, it would take a lot of effort to run, but it would take much more effort - and a lot of discipline and training - to run to finish and win the race. Even though it was a short sprint, I wanted to cross the finish line. What a thrill and adrenaline rush it was and I even won some ribbons, too!

The Christian life is likened to running a race. As believers in Christ you and I have been chosen by God to run and press toward the goal of the upward call in God. This race is NOT a sprint - - it’s a marathon. It’s the race of a lifetime. And like a marathon run, there are no time outs or intermissions. We are instructed to run our race with endurance, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, who is the author and finisher of our faith. We can get so tripped up and distracted when we start looking around at each other and comparing ourselves to other runners in the race. Can I remind you that we’re not racing against each other? Let that truth sink in. We are racing against ourselves! The competition is the inward conflict between the flesh and the spirit at war within you + within me. My natural bent is toward sinfulness and laziness. And I know that yours is, too! 

Paul instructs us here in 1 Cor. 9:24 and exhorts us to run in such a way that we win! Winning is not beating other runners. Remember - no competition here. The Christian race is daily progress towards Christ-likeness. Our goal is to look more like Jesus day by day. Are you running in such a way as to win? Is your character more like Jesus today than you were yesterday? OUCH! If you asked my husband that question about me, I’m sure he’d say I need much improvement here J

Just because you’re in the race and running, doesn’t mean you’ll win. Winning your spiritual race doesn’t depend on how fast you run. Speed isn’t our friend; Endurance is! Our race is determined by the WAY we run. There is a way to run in order to lose and there is a way to run in order to win! I really like this translation from the Message Bible from 1 Cor. 9:24-27:

“You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”

Let’s not be found napping in 2019. Remember the story of the Tortious and the Hare? The Hare, who was fast and so sure of himself, assumed he had plenty of time to win so he laid down to rest and take a nap. The turtle, on the other hand, was very slow but steady, and he won the race. If you’re anything like me after reading a devotion of this type I’m tempted to think to myself… ‘I’ve got to try harder this next year to be a better Christian. I can do this!’ Bottom-line you can’t! Not in your own strength and not without the power of the Holy Spirit within.

So how do I apply this to my life in 2019? How do I run in such a way that I finish & win this race I’m in? Like the athlete, it’s going to take discipline; I’m going to have to say NO to certain things (distractions, energy consumers), in order to provide time to say YES to the things that will help me grow (discipline, prayer, reading my Bible, worship, fellowship & sharing my faith). Let’s run to win empowered by the Holy Spirit.

BTW - Feb. 12th we will begin a new 10-week evening Bible study at my house called ‘God of Creation’ by Jen Wilkins. This is an excellent verse-by-verse study, diving into Genesis chapters 1-11. Revisit familiar stories and historical figures and challenge your basic knowledge by using the method: comprehension, interpretation and application. Hope you will join us.

Sign-ups coming soon…workbook needed is 15$.

God bless you, Karen