PRAYER PARTNERS AROUND THE WORLD (PPATW) - FOR THOSE WHO PASSIONATELY SEEK




















1 Corinthians 9:24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one received the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.1 Corinthians 9:24-27Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Isaiah 40:31But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
2 Timothy 4:7-9 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. Do your best to come to me soon.


1.To run the Christian marathon with endurance, faith focuses on Jesus, who endured the cross and received the reward.

1. The Christian life is a difficult marathon that we must run.

The Christian life is a lifelong, grueling race that entails some long hills to climb and some swampy marshes to plod through. To make it to the end, you need self-discipline to get into good shape, you will need to maintain your motivation, and you will need sustained effort. No one enters a marathon with the thought of dropping out after a mile. Finishing well is everything. In this race, you are not competing with other believers. We’re all on the same team. We’re competing against the enemy of our souls, who opposes God’s kingdom and wants us to drop out.

2. To run the Christian marathon, we must get into shape and stay in shape

The primary thing, as I said, is self-discipline motivated by the goal of finishing well. But it specifically involves two things:
 
A. WE MUST LAY ASIDE EVERY ENCUMBRANCE.
 

The word means weight. It can refer to physical weight (obesity), or to unnecessary baggage. Olympic athletes in our day wear some pretty skimpy outfits. They don’t want anything to slow them down or drain their energy.

B. WE MUST LAY ASIDE EVERY SIN THAT SO EASILY ENTANGLES US.

In biblical times people wore long robes. You can’t run with a long robe entangling your legs. You must either pull it up and tuck it in your belt or cast it totally aside. In the case of sin, you must totally get rid of it if you want to run the Christian race.
 
This doesn’t refer only to certain besetting sins, but to all sins. Sin always begins in the mind, and so we must judge all sin at the thought level. Pride, lust, envy, greed, anger, grumbling, selfishness—all of these things originate in our thought life. If you cut it off there, it goes no farther. If you entertain these things, they incubate and develop into sinful words and actions (James 1:14-15). But the author’s point is, you can’t run the Christian race if you keep tripping over your sins.
 

3. To run the Christian marathon, we must run with endurance the course set before us.

Note two things:

A. GOD SETS THE COURSE.
 
If you’re running a marathon, you can’t make up your own course. If you stray from the course, you’ll be disqualified. The race is “set before us,” just as Jesus had “the joy set before Him.” God is the Sovereign One who sets the course for each of us, just as He set the course of the cross for Jesus.
 

To finish the Christian marathon, it’s important to keep in mind at all times that the Sovereign God sets the course. You may not like parts of the course. You may be prone to grumble, “Why did the course have to go over this hill, or through this swamp?” The answer is, “Because the Sovereign God planned it this way.” You won’t be able to run by faith unless you submit your will to His will.

B. WE MUST RUN WITH ENDURANCE

Running with endurance requires adopting a certain mindset. If you have in mind that you’re running a 400-meter race, you’re not going to do well when the pack keeps going after 400 meters. When you learn that the race has barely begun, you’re going to quit with a bad attitude.
 
This is what Jesus meant when He talked about counting the cost of following Him (Luke 14:28-33). Before you make a glib commitment to be a Christian, think it through. Are you willing to put out the effort, the sweat, the endurance, and the pain of going the distance? If not, don’t start the race, because you’re going to look pretty silly when you drop out after 400 meters!
 

Obviously, one key to running the whole distance is motivation. But where do you get the motivation to run the Christian marathon? Our author suggests two sources, both valuable, but the second is incomparably greater than the first.The encouragement to keep running comes from those who have run before us, but primarily from Jesus Himself.

A. THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES ENCOURAGES US TO KEEP RUNNING

B. JESUS HIMSELF IS THE MAIN MOTIVATION TO KEEP RUNNING


The main way to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” is, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (12:2-3).

The name “Jesus” deliberately focuses on His humanity. As a man, Jesus showed us exactly how to live by faith in God in this world. He trusted God at the beginning of His ministry when Satan tempted Him. He relied on God to such a degree that He could claim, “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing” (John 5:19). He claimed to speak the very words that He heard from the Father (John 8:38). He trusted the Father in the Garden and He went to the cross entrusting His soul to the Father. His final words included, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit” (Luke 23:46). So from start to finish, but especially on the cross, Jesus showed us how to walk by faith. The text reveals five things about Jesus:

(1). JESUS IS THE AUTHOR OR CAPTAIN OF FAITH.

We encountered this word in Hebrews 2:10, which stated that God perfected the author (or, captain) of our salvation through sufferings. It is also used in Acts 3:15 (you “put to death the Prince of life”) and Acts 5:31 (“whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and Savior”). It can mean author or originator, in the sense that Jesus is the source of life, salvation, and faith. It also refers to the leader or captain, the one who goes before the troops, showing them the way.
 

All of these senses of the word apply to Jesus with regard to our faith. No sinner is capable of believing in Christ for salvation unless He grants it (Acts 5:31; 11:18; Eph. 2:8, 9; Phil. 1:29). But, also, He blazes the trail of faith for all who follow Him. He goes before us, showing us how to live by faith in God alone.


(2). JESUS IS THE PERFECTER OF FAITH

This means that He finished the course of faith perfectly, showing us how to finish well. But also, He brings our faith to completion, as Paul states (Phil. 1:6), “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

(3). JESUS SHOWS US THE MOTIVATION TO ENDURE BY FAITH.
 
“Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross.” The reason that Jesus could endure the horrible prospect of bearing our sin was that He focused on the joy set before Him. This joy included the joy of “bringing many sons to glory” (2:10; see also, Isa. 53:10-11). But also, the greatest joy was that of glorifying the Father by completing the work that the Father gave Him to do (John 17). When Jesus returned to heaven, triumphant over Satan, sin, death, and hell, the angels rejoiced. The marriage supper of the Lamb will be a time for us to “rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him” (Rev. 19:7). Keeping that glorious joy in view enabled Jesus to endure the agony of the cross.

 
(4). JESUS SHOWS US THE GREATEST EXAMPLE OF ENDURANCE BY FAITH THROUGH THE MOST DIFFICULT TRIAL EVER.


“He endured the cross, despising the shame.” He “endured such hostility by sinners against Himself.” No one has ever endured a greater trial than the cross. Others have been crucified and others have been tortured in indescribably horrible ways. But only Jesus knew the glory and joy of perfect fellowship with the Father in heaven before coming to this earth. Only Jesus knew the perfect holiness of His divine nature. To leave heaven and take on the form of a servant and be obedient to His death on the cross as the substitute for our sins, is unmatched in human history.

 5). JESUS SHOWS US THE FINAL REWARD OF FAITH.

He “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” He is in the most exalted place in the universe, the place of all rule and authority. The holy angels bow before Him in adoration and reverence. While Jesus is unique, His exaltation to the right hand of the throne of God shows us a glimpse of His glory that we will share throughout eternity, if by faith we run with endurance.
 
5. We run with endurance by fixing our eyes on Jesus.


Note four things:


A.FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS REQUIRES TAKING OUR EYES OFF OF OURSELVES
B.B. FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS REQUIRES TRUSTING ALL THAT HE IS FOR US.
C.C. FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS MEANS TRUSTING HIM WHEN SINNERS WRONG US.
D.
D. FIXING OUR EYES ON JESUS IS THE KEY TO NOT GROW WEARY AND LOSE HEART

CONCLUSION


If you’re weary in the race, maybe you need to cast off some encumbrances or entangling sins. Someone has pointed out that gold is just as heavy a weight as lead. If you’re trying to carry the world’s treasures while you run the race of faith, you’re going to get tired. Throw off whatever hinders your growth in godliness.
 
Perhaps you’re grumbling about the course that God has set for you. You look at others who are putting foreign armies to flight and receiving back their dead by resurrection, but you’re wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground (11:34-35, 38). You think, “It’s not fair!” You need to submit to the sovereign hand of God, who sets different courses for His children according to His purpose.
 
Perhaps you need to refocus on Jesus and the joy of receiving the crown of righteousness that He has promised to all who finish the course (2 Tim. 4:7, 8).
 
You can’t run the race if you’ve never entered it. If you’ve never put your faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, you aren’t even in the race. If you don’t 
enter the race and run with endurance, you won’t get the prize.