Running the Race. 1 Corinthians Ch 9:v24 to 27

Sermon Notes: Running the Race. 1 Corinthians Ch 9:v24 to 27

How are you feeling at present?

Mentally and emotionally exhausted? Easily irritated? Completely unmotivated? Feeling empty?

There are so many obstacles that can be on the track of life as we run the Christian race, things that can derail us and sometimes even knock us out of the race, things which injure us and can cause so much pain in our lives.

The hardest bit in a marathon is usually around 19 to 21 miles, that’s the stage where the pain starts kicking in, the tiredness is really starting to increase and it can be more difficult to keep focused. And there can be a real temptation to slow up, to slow down, to take a rest, or even to stop.

The Apostle Paul said, ‘One thing I do, I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.’ ‘Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal.’

Do you need new energy in tired legs?

As a Christian do you need new fire in a tired soul?

Do you need new motivation in a weary spirit?

Do you need to be reminded again and challenged, not to quit?

Do you set your heart and mind to run the race, and have the determination to finish it?

It’s one thing to start the Christian life, but it’s another thing to keep on going, and it’s another thing to reach the end.

Someone has said this: ‘When times get tough and I get tired, I won’t back up, I won’t back off, I won’t back down, I won’t back out, or I won’t back slide.’

Hebrews Chapter 12:1-3, ‘Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, let us run the race with perseverance, the race marked out for us, and let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’

Jesus gave Himself fully, freely, unreservedly to finish and complete what He came to do, and it cost Him all. He finished the race set before Him and calls us to fix our eyes on Him as we run the race set before us in the Christian life.

The writer of Hebrews says that once we find our motivation and cast off our weights, we need to “run with endurance the race set before us.” Endurance implies that the Christian life is better compared to a marathon than a sprint. It is something that takes work, commitment, and stickability.

It can’t be completed without preparation or practice, otherwise we will burn out in no time at all. Think about it: you would not run a marathon without any preparation. You don’t just show up the day of the race and expect to do well. Rather, you sign up months ahead, sometimes a year ahead. You learn what kind of course it is, if it will be hilly or flat, hot or cold, and so on. So too in the Christian life we must prepare ourselves for what lies ahead. This is what it means to “count the cost” of following Christ. There’s a price to be paid. It won’t be easy. Discipleship requires endurance. Following Jesus will mean trials and tribulations, but we can’t allow those hindrances to cause us to give up. And indeed, if we are expecting them and are prepared for them, by the Spirit’s power we won’t give up.

Maybe you want to say this in your heart to God this morning: ‘I die to me, to self, and daily I want to renew my commitment to You.’ ‘Lord I lay down my life afresh before, I give up my life again and I want to run the race that You have called me into and set before me.’

Let us run toward heaven by keeping the eyes of our heart fixed on the One who is already there. The One who has already run the race and comes in first. The One who stands victorious in the Heavenly places and is waiting to share that victory with us. Let us keep our minds and hearts fixated on JESUS, who holds the prize at the finish line—and He is the prize.