Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. There is reserved for me in the future the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that day, and not only to me, but to all those who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7,8)
Understanding the Race
In the 1st century, the Romans celebrated the Olympic Games. Competitors would spend months in arduous physical training. Because the Corinthians were very familiar with these events, Paul used the games as an analogy for a believer’s life of faithfulness. Paul’s exhortation to the church in Corinth is that believers should be as focused and dedicated as those runners in the games. Our motivation in serving Christ is much higher; we “run” not for a temporary crown, but for an eternal one.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul is not commending himself, rather, he is simply describing what the grace of God had enabled him to do. In the book of Acts, Paul says these powerful words: “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).
So, by declaring “I have finished the race,” Paul is telling Timothy that he had put every effort into the work of proclaiming to all the gospel of salvation. He had completed the course set before him; he had left nothing undone. He was ready to cross the finish line into heaven.
In a race, only one runner wins. However, in the Christian “race,” everyone who pays the price of vigilant training for the cause of Christ can win. We are not competing against one other, as in athletic games, but against the struggles, physical and spiritual, that stand in the way of our reaching the prize (Philippians 3:14).
Every believer runs his own race (1 Corinthians 9:24). Each of us is enabled to be a winner. Paul exhorts us to “run in such a way as to get the prize,” and to do this we must set aside anything that might hinder us from living and teaching the gospel of Christ. The writer of Hebrews echoes the words of Paul: “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
May we be diligent in our “race,” may we keep our eyes on the goal, and may we, like Paul, race to the end.
What can we do on a daily basis to insure that we finish the race?
* Read the Holy Bible
Daily Bible reading is an excellent habit that can benefit every Christian in many ways. When we read the Bible, we’re fed by God’s Word and supplied for our Christian life. Jesus mentioned this in Matthew 4:4 when He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out through the mouth of God.”
When we eat physical food, we’re supplied with the nutrients we need to live and be healthy. We get the energy to go to work, exercise, and spend time with family and friends. Conversely, when we skip a meal, we feel weak, tired, and even grumpy. And if we keep missing meals, we become susceptible to even greater problems, like illness.
Similarly, when we eat spiritual food we’re supplied to live our Christian life. But when we’re away from God’s Word for a while, we can become spiritually weak, tired, and “grumpy,” or, unable to handle difficulties well. We become more susceptible to temptation, doubts, and other kinds of spiritual sickness. We simply don’t have the means to cope with the many challenges that come into our lives as believers.
What if we don’t understand what we’re reading? We may wonder whether we should keep reading the Bible. Or maybe we’re discouraged because by the afternoon we’ve forgotten what we read in the morning. Should we keep on reading, even when we don’t remember much?
The answer is, yes, definitely. This is because a great benefit of reading God’s Word is that it washes us.
We may understand that we need the washing of our sins by the Lord’s blood, but we also need to realize that we need the washing away of our natural life by His life. How do we get this washing of life? The washing water of life is in God’s Word. So even if we don’t remember or fully understand what we read, our daily Bible reading still washes us from so many negative things.
Our faith is based not on our imaginations or concepts but on the Word of God, so it’s critical that we as Christians all know what God’s Word says. By reading the Word regularly, we’ll eventually read through the entire Bible and gain a basic knowledge of God and the things of God.
* Pray using the Model Prayer as a guide
He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “Whenever you pray, say:
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves also forgive everyone
in debt to us.
And do not bring us into temptation.
But deliver us from the evil one” (Luke 11:1-4)
Father: This signifies approaching God on the basis of intimate relationship. Only children can call the master “Father”.
Your name be honored as holy: This is worship. Our prayer must include worship. Though children of God, we must devote ourselves to worship, service and praise of His name. To worship means to submit yourself to God’s will and His plan.
Your kingdom come: Jesus before His ascension said to His disciples, “the Kingdom is within you” (Luk.17:21). He was referring to the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of those who believe. There is a work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit (2 Thess.2:13).
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven: God’s will is that everyone becomes saved and comes to the knowledge of truth (1 Tim.2:4, 2 Pet.3:9). Heaven is a perfect place, and God desires that the earth be perfect just like heaven. Every good thing that is in heaven he desires for His people on earth.
Give us each day our daily bread: After you have put God first in worship, devotion to His kingdom, and saving of souls, then you can ask for your own daily bread. This refers to your daily needs. God is committed to providing our needs, but we need to put His will and His desires first. When we make God’s desires our desires, He will in turn give us the desires of our heart.
And forgive us our sins: When a person becomes saved, God wipes away all their sins of the past. Sin breaks the fellowship of God with man. Following salvation, it is not expected that there be any sins in your life.
If there has been opportunity for sin, either by commission or omission, we can trust God’s Holy Spirit to reveal this sin to us so we can confess it and make the necessary amends.
…for we ourselves also forgive everyone in debt to us: God expects that there be no grudge in your heart as you approach Him in prayer. We are instructed by Scriptures to love one another as the mark of the new life we have in Christ Jesus (Joh.13:35). Unforgiveness is deadly.
And do not bring us into temptation. But deliver us from the evil one: God is the one who keeps us from the afflictions of the evil one. James 4:7 says “submit yourselves to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. Your submission to God’s authority in the place of prayer will commit Him to protecting you.
* Be in Christian Fellowship
In order to understand the importance of Christian fellowship, we must first understand what Christian fellowship is and what it isn’t. The Greek words translated “fellowship” in the New Testament mean essentially a partnership to the mutual benefit of those involved. Christian fellowship, then, is the mutually beneficial relationship between Christians, who can’t have the identical relationship with those outside the faith.
The mystery and privilege that is Christian fellowship is that it exists because God has enabled it by His grace. Those who believe the gospel are united in the Spirit through Christ to the Father, and that unity is the basis of fellowship. This relationship is described by Jesus in His high-priestly prayer for His followers: “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:23).
This relationship must be the basis of Christian fellowship. We can have friendships and relationships with unbelievers, but true Christian fellowship can only occur within the body of Christ. We are united to one another by common beliefs, purposes, and goals. Our hearts and minds are “other-worldly” because we follow Jesus Christ, who said that His kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). We know that we are strangers in this world, and we long for the time when we will be in our true home, heaven.
* The Message from the Lord
On February 6, 1999 I was sitting on my bed praying and the Lord spoke to me in a loud voice. He said, “Tell them that I love them. Tell them that I care. Tell them that I am coming for them. Prepare, like a man who has been told he has just a short time to live. Heal, forgive, and perform those acts of charity that you have been putting off. Tell everyone that I am coming soon for My bride.”
In this message, the Lord gave us clues for practical steps in our race to the end:
* Prepare, like a man who has been told he has just a short time to live
“Lord, reveal to me the end of my life
and the number of my days.
Let me know how short-lived I am.
You, indeed, have made my days short in length,
and my life span as nothing in Your sight.
Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor. (Psalm 39:4-5)
My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, living is Christ and dying is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21)
Be ready for service and have your lamps lit. You must be like people waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet so that when he comes and knocks, they can open the door for him at once. (Luke 12:35-36)
* Heal, forgive, and perform those acts of charity that you have been putting off
The prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect. (James 5:15-16)
For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. (Matthew 6:15)
…if you offer yourself to the hungry,
and satisfy the afflicted one,
then your light will shine in the darkness,
and your night will be like noonday.
The Lord will always lead you,
satisfy you in a parched land,
and strengthen your bones.
You will be like a watered garden
and like a spring whose waters never run dry. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
When praying for the sick, allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. The words we use, the commands we give, and the authoritarian actions we take are infused with much greater power if the Holy Spirit directs them. Seek specific insight from the Holy Spirit on what and how to pray. Perhaps there are ‘hidden’ causes to the person’s condition, and without the Holy Spirit’s insight, those ‘hidden’ causes may never be addressed. If the sick person is an unbeliever, healing can provide you with an evangelistic entry point into their lives.
Forgiveness is not a mystical, unattainable thing. If you are holding a grudge against anyone for anything, then admit that you are hurt or angry. Take your decision to forgive to God, and through the Holy Spirit, let go of the offense. When past offenses come to your mind, say, “No, in the name of Jesus, I forgive that person.” All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Practical acts of charity can include holding open a door for someone, offering assistance, and helping someone trying to get a stroller down the steps. Every small interaction with another is an opportunity to have a positive impact on both of your lives. When you look, you’ll find opportunities to perform random acts of kindness:
- Donating to your favorite charity
- Letting someone else go first in a line
- Giving someone a compliment, and spread encouragement online
- Lending a hand to a neighbor or coworker
- Volunteering at a local charity or church
- Paying for the person behind you
- Giving a big tip to someone who served you
One of the most important and fulfilling parts of being a follower of Christ is leading someone to receive salvation and start a relationship with the Lord. Leading a non-believer towards Christ is an extremely rewarding experience. As you operate in a selfless mode, the ways to help others is endless!
We must heed the warning that James, the brother of Jesus, gave to us:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him?
If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.
Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected. So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26)
Based on the gift each one has received, use it to serve others, as good managers of the varied grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)
If you knew the Rapture would happen next week, what would you do differently now?
Remember one thing. Left to ourselves, we can’t just work at it to become like Jesus. However, we’re not left to ourselves. The Holy Spirit is given to any child of God, so that Christ can be formed in us (Galatians 4:19). So it should come as no surprise that in Paul’s great chapter on the Spirit we read, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). God will see His work completed in us. We just need to have faith.
To have child-like faith is to see that you really are God’s child, loved into existence through creation – and then loved back into his arms through His crucifixion and resurrection.
As God’s children, the Lord reveals more and more details of His Word to us. These are the secret things of God:
But as it is written:
What eye did not see and ear did not hear,
and what never entered the human mind—
God prepared this for those who love Him.
Now God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit, for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
We are the Bride. Faithfully to Jesus Only! The New Jerusalem is the wedding gift!!! After the supper, He will roll back the veil!!!
But, Jesus issued this warning:
Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
“Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
“But they paid no attention and went off-one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.
“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
“For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:1-14)
The reason the guest was not accepted was that his was soiled from sin. The garment you need to wear is a robe of righteousness with humility. You receive it by repenting, turning from your sin nature, and accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life. “Redeemed” is what the Father sees when He looks at you when you have done this.
Our time of Rapture can literally happen at any moment. It probably will not be when you expect, like your favorite Jewish Holiday: You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40)
If you are not a Christian, your first priority in life, no matter what your age or circumstances, should be to get to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and start living faithfully for Him.
Your heart must not be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. (John 14:1-3)
If you are not sure that you are saved, you can accept Christ into your life right now, by praying:
“Lord Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you in to my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior.”
Spread the Word:
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While I don’t profess to know when the Rapture will occur, I am however persuaded to believe that a study of the Israelites exodus from Egypt gives us a clue about how it may unfold. Anonymous, February 28, 2021
Excellent message, I look forward to more. GospelGail, March 1, 2021
I firmly believe that all prophesy pertaining to Israel must come to pass before Jesus return….
Also, God told me to keep my eyes on Israel…..all events concerning Israel are leading us to His return…
I read last week where Israel was bombing Damascus…this prophesy must come to pass…Damascus will become a ruinous heap and be a city no more…never to be rebuilt again.
Isn’t it ironic that Damascus is the oldest city still standing since the OT times….it has been destroyed but was rebuilt. This time is different. Heart2Soul, March 2, 2021
Very good article. I totally agree about a generation being 70-80 years according to Psalm 90:10. I believe we’re right on the brink of the Lord’s return. Chronicler of the King, March 2, 2021
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One thought on “The Race to the End”
Nicely done article! God said He is giving us a little more time under Trump (who will be back in office soon for four more years) to help bring in the harvest before the Rapture. The UN wants everyone microchipped by 2030, so it is more likely the Rapture will occur sometime by or before 2030.