1 Cor 9:24-27   Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may obtain it.  And everyone who competes is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.  Therefore I run thus:  not with uncertainty.  Thus I fight:  not as one beating the air.  But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
             –What value do we place upon our prize – our crown?  What are we willing to do in order to obtain it?
             –Paul was certain about his salvation, and because he knew God’s forgiveness, Paul loved Him greatly.
            –temperate (moderate) in food, drink, bodily exercise, sufficient sleep, controlling one’s eyes and tongue  

2 Tim 4:7-8   I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  Finally there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
             –Paul had been serving the Lord as an apostle for about 30 years
                 –remember Daniel, taken to Babylon as a teen, and thrown into lions’ den around age 80, still known as being a man in whom the Spirit of the Holy God dwelt
                     —the good fight; finished the race; kept the faith
                    –there is a beginning, a starting point in our life as a believer; there is an end to the trials of life
                   –expectation of return of Messiah Jesus
                       –“Our Father in Heaven, Thy Kingdom come!”; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of YHVH!”; “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”
                       –crown of righteousness (whatever tangible thing it may also be) is the resurrection of the righteous (Dan 12:2-3; Jn 5:21-30; Rev 20:6)
                       –it could be likened to the “icing on the cake”; “to top it all off”; “the best of it all”
                       –in any case, we lay it at the feet of Yeshua, who alone is truly worthy and without whom we would have nothing (Rev 4:9-11

2Tim 2:3-7   You must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.  And also, if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.  The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops.  Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things 

Do these verses trouble you, that we need to endure, to persevere in our life as a believer?  I believe that they should trouble us!  The fear of God is necessary for our spiritual health.  God is always urging us on to more and greater things than we ever thought possible in our struggles and challenges in life to attain the approval of a job well done, of a life well-lived for His sake.  A true believer will show that he/she is by persevering through to the end in the faith, in Messiah Jesus, no matter what happens during our life.  We will even sin, but a true believer will repent and return to righteousness, which is of faith in the salvation of God given through believing in Jesus who has loved us.  

Is 66:1-2   YHVH God looks upon him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at His word.
                  –Being a soldier, knowing that war is always possible and a reality, is a hard life.  He must know who the enemy is and why he is risking his life to fight and to defeat him.
                    –consider Hezbollah fighters and their single-mindedness to destroy Israel
                       –are we as aware of the enemy of Christ and of our souls and our call to overcome him by faith in the finished work of Messiah on the cross?
                       –to endure requires exercise and training, physically and mentally and emotionally
                       –A good soldier can not be distracted by the ordinary things of life, which could weaken his readiness as a loyal and and good soldier.
                       –reservists must be prepared for call-ups, even unexpected and on short notice
                       –even sexual abstinence required under the Law before going to war
                           –Uriah the Hittite refused King David’s efforts to have him have sex with Batsheva, his own wife
                              –contrast behavior of famous Brazilian soccer player whose girlfriend boasted about their sex life during the World Cup, in which he played poorly

                            –What choices do we make, and what do we believe God for in matters such as:
                              –jobs, and their days and hours
                                –do we ask God – and our bosses – for conditions which will enable us to be free to serve the Lord in the context of the local congregation:  to be free to attend essential meetings and services; to be available for ministry and for helping
                            –Are we exercising our conscience to know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong?  

                          –Being a God of righteousness, only those who compete by the rules are honored and rewarded.  No believer in Jesus can expect honor from our Father if we have added to or taken away from His Word regarding our conduct in life – from start to finish, as in a race.  We must remain in our (His) lane, and be found blameless in our training and in our competing.  (Our sin will surely find us out; witness the Italian soccer clubs being demoted because of attempts to influence matches.)  

                          –laziness is never rewarded, but the diligent and hardworking servant is entitled to enjoy the fruit of his/her labors
                            –Your labor is not in vain in the Lord!  

Remember, we are being conformed to the image of the Son of God.  Sonship indicates maturity, and participation in — with the Lord Jesus, our older Brother — in our Father’s plan and purpose. 


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