Winners

Everyone loves a winner.
So the old saying goes and the truth remains with us to this day. Then, consider the losers—competition demands that those who do not win, lose. It doesn’t matter how well the players played, if the team comes up on the short end of the score, they are all losers. At the same time, some players on the other side never got into the game and they are all winners. Competition, like life, isn’t fair. The game, any game, always has rules everybody knows and subtleties known only to the coaches and students of the game.

“The Breaks”
In addition to rules and subtleties, the game also has luck—the “breaks:”

  • The undisciplined bounce of the ball or the unpredictable player who was suddenly great
  • the foul that wasn’t called or the no-foul that was,
  • The mistake that became a miracle or the miracle that almost happened, and
  • The game plan that worked like a dream or the game plan set aside because of an injury.

There is more than offence and defense to winning and losing; there is chance. Still when the final gun/buzzer/bell sounds one team wins and the other one doesn’t.

The Bible often refers to the spiritual life as an athletic competition.
Most often it is called a race where only one person can win. The race is to be run with patience, a seemingly oxymoronic suggestion: run indicates haste while patience speaks of more deliberate pace—two contrasting speeds.

Clearly, the race of life is not a sprint—it is a long distance race, one that must be run with patience. There is no luck involved; there is only faith and faithfulness. In faith we run with our eyes fixed on Jesus, not on the finish line! Faithfulness reminds us that running this race is a matter of discipline, holy habits that empower us daily and careful pacing that keeps us in the race to finish.

Against whom does the Christian compete?
In the race analogy there will be only one winner. How does this apply to God’s team? Will only a few of us break the tape at the finish line?

Of course not.

This is a race that each of us can win. It is not about finishing first. It is about finishing well.

Scriptures:
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
NIV
Do 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. Everyone 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. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, 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.
Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
2 Timothy 4:7-8 NIV
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store 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 longed for his appearing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I want to win my race! I want to hear You say, “Well done!” I want to wear the victor’s crown at the end of my race. Lord help me cast aside every weight and sin that would slow me to a stop. Clear my vision of all hindrances to the right or to the left. Holy Spirit, keep my eyes fixed on Jesus! Lord, You ran Your race to the finish, proving sin does not win. Holiness and righteousness triumph at the end. Today Your old, defeated foes will endeavor to distract me as I run, to discourage me as I tire, and to defeat me, throwing me to the ground in pain. But You, Lord Jesus have defeated them, casting them down in shame. You clear the lane in front of me and make each step secure. I may not see the finish line today, but I will see You all the way until today’s race is done. You are the Victor, Lord Jesus, and in you I am a winner. Thank You, Lord. Amen.

Song:
Victory Ahead
Words and Music: William Grum

1. When the hosts of Israel, led by God,
Round the walls of Jericho softly trod;
Trusting in the Lord, They felt the conquo’ror’s tread,
By faith they saw the victory ahead.

Refrain:
Victory ahead! Victory ahead!
Through the blood of Jesus, Victory ahead!
Trusting in the Lord I hear the sonqu’ror’s tread,
By faith they saw the victory ahead.

2. David with a shepherd’s sling and five stones,
Met the giant on the field all alone;
Trusting in the Lord, He knew what God had saidm
By faith he saw the victory ahead.

Refrain

3. Daniel prayed unto the Lord thrice each day,
Then into the lion’s den led the way;
Trusting in the Lord, he did not fear or dread.
By faith he saw the victory ahead.

Refrain

5. When like those who’ve gone before to that land,
By death’s river cold and dark I shall stand.
Trusting in the Lord, I will not fear or dread.
By faith I see the victory ahead.

Refrain

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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