1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  If you’ve ever competed in a track meet you probably remember the feeling of your heart pounding prior to the start of the race in anticipation of that moment when you are set free from your static position at the starting line.  I remember the starter saying, “Runners on your marks, get set…..” and with the blast of the starter’s pistol the race would begin. All runners would jolt forward with one purpose in mind, to win the race. As you run around the track your focus is looking straight ahead with the strategy to move past those in front of you or to maintain the lead. I ran the 800 meter dash in high school which is two circuits around the track. My strategy was always to run a comfortable pace throughout the race which would allow me enough energy to sprint the last 200 meters. Hopefully my strategy would keep me close to the front of the pack but at some point during the race some runners would start to lose pace and there would be separation among the top runners and the slower ones. Then there were a few who couldn’t even finish the race and would forfeit any opportunity to receive a prize. Finally as the leaders headed toward the finish line, you could see the tape stretched across the track and it was a sprint to the end. As the leaders were at the tape they would lean forward with arms back and lunging to break the tape first.
The Apostle Paul references the Christian life to a track meet comparing life to running a race with the goal of finishing and receiving a prize.  In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NLT) writes, “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise I fear that after preaching to others, I myself might be disqualified.”
Winning a race takes purpose, discipline, and an eye ever focused on the goal…… win the prize. The Christian life was never promised as an easy way to live. Paul reminds us in this scripture that we must have a plan and a purpose because times will be difficult and the Enemy of our souls stalks like a roaring lion searching out those to rob, steal, and destroy.  So we must persevere always keeping our eyes on the eternal prize; running toward our eternal reward. Train diligently in the essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, worship, and service to others so we may run with vigor and stamina. Are you ready to run the race? Are you ready to put the work in to reach the goal? Are you ready to focus your attention on the prize and hear the Lord speak your name and say, “Well done good and faithful servant”?  If you are then…….. Ready-Set-Go!

David Carey

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