Thursday, January 19, 2006

Straining Towards the Finish Line

Many of us believe that we are living in the last days. Not only are we living in the last days, I think we are in the last part of the last days when time is very, very short. Paul describes our Christian experience as a race when he says:

1 Corinthians 9
24Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Visualizing our life as Christians like running a race has been helpful to me. Anyone who has run for distance knows that it takes mental focus to finish. It takes something deep down in the gut to press a body that wants to stop across the finish line. It takes endurance and the will to win in order to finish a long race. A person REALLY has to want it. These same things can be said of our Christianity. As we turn the last corner and we head toward the finish line, our committment to the Lord will be tested like never before. In order to finish this race, we will have to REALLY want it, we will have to be totally committed. Thinking along these lines has helped me to understand this better:

Matthew 25
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6"At midnight the cry rang out: 'Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!'
7"Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.'
9" 'No,' they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.'
10"But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11"Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The bottom line for the foolish virgins was they were not prepared and they ran out of oil. In the same way a foolish runner does not prepare for the long race but instead shows up to start the race but cannot finish it, just like the foolish virgins showed up to meet the bridegroom but ran out of oil. We have to throw away all the feel good that the world's religious leaders have throw at the masses and get a serious reality check if we expect to make it into the kingdom of heaven. As I posted earlier, most people are not going to make it into heaven, a few will make it in. Matthew 7:13[ The Narrow and Wide Gates ] "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

If only a few will make it into heaven, what kind of lives should we be living? What kind of purity should the Lord see in our hearts? If a person views life from the perspective that only a few will be saved they will think radically different than someone who believes that most/many people will be saved. We've been fed the lie that we just have to trust this world's religious leaders to feed us and everything will be okay. Nothing could be farther from the truth and the time to wake up to the truth is not the moment you are standing before the Lord to answer for your life....

As we strain toward the finish line we have to run with the prize of winning and the penalty of losing in the forefront of our minds. We have to renew our committment, renew our minds, remove every snare that has impeded or stopped our progress toward the finish line. We live in trying days but when the Lord looks down on your heart and sees that you are REALLY committed, that you really want to do things His way but you need help, then He will help. Those that are not totally committed are like the foolish virgins, they showed up to meet the Lord but had no oil when it counted and ended up paying the ultimate price: the loss of their souls. It does'nt get any more serious than this, time is so short but there's still time to get things right, don't let the clock run out on you~brother Dave

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