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Summary: It doesn't matter where you finish, just that you finish the race set before you

RUNNING THE RACE

Hebrews 12:1-4 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Do Not Grow Weary

3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Two gas company servicemen, a senior training supervisor and a young

trainee, were out checking meters in a suburban neighborhood.

>They parked their truck at the end of the alley and

worked their way to the other end. At the last house, a woman looking out

her kitchen window watched the two men as they checked her gas meter

>Finishing the meter check, the senior supervisor

challenged his younger coworker to a foot race down the alley back to the

truck to prove that an older guy could outrun a younger one.

As they came running up to the truck, they realized

the lady from that last house was huffing and puffing right behind them.

They stopped and asked her what was wrong.

Gasping for breath, she replied, "When I see two gas

men running as hard as you two are, I figured I'd better run too!"

This lady was running , as if her life depended on it.

As christians, we are running a spiritual race.

In 1968, the Olympics were held in Mexico City. The last runner to finish the marathon was a guy from Tanzania. During the race, he had broken a leg. He'd stumbled, he'd been hurt badly, he was bruised, beaten up, and he was bloodied. Long after everybody else had finished the race, and in fact as the stadium quickly emptied - there were only 7,000 people left - around 7:00 in the evening, as it was getting dark, he entered to do his last lap and finish the marathon. The crowd gave him a standing ovation. Later on he was asked, "Why didn't you quit when you were hurt and bruised, bloody, discouraged Why didn't you quit?" He gave a classic answer. He said, "My country did not send me 7,000 miles around the world to start the race, but to finish it."

The Bible teaches very clearly that life is a race. Unfortunately, most people never finish it. Some people don't know it's a race. I meet people all the time that don't know that they have a purpose for living. They think they're alive so they can take a stroll.

The secret for running the race, is to live Christlike.

. The need for the race

Returning to the notion of running a marathon in the next Olympics, you begin working out; you quickly understand the need for intentional training. The Olympic Committee enlisted you to run, not a sprint, but a 26.2-mile endurance competition. In a sprint, you run a short distance as fast as you can. Speed is of utmost importance. But in a long distance contest such as a marathon, endurance is the key. You want to make it to the end.

I'm told that two critical times exist in a marathon race. The first one is at the beginning. As you leave the starting line, you feel so good that you believe that you can keep up this pace throughout the race. The temptation is to run too fast too soon. Energy is expended and none is left for the end of the race. The second critical time in a marathon is at the halfway point. You suddenly realize that you still have as far to go as you've already run and you're already very tired. Runners call it "hitting the wall." You've come to the end of your stamina and you're not sure you can put one foot in front of the other anymore.

Races are not always won by the fastest. But rather by the one that keeps hanging on, who refuses to give up. Those who persist prevail.

D.H. Groberg in his poem "The Race" describes a young boy who ran a race, falling many times, yet finishing. He wrote in one stanza

And to his dad he sadly said,

"I didn't do too well."

"To me, you won," his father said.

"You rose each time you fell."

Likewise, the great need for spiritual races is persistence. Time and time again The Scripture exhort us to persist and endure.

The apostle Paul prayed for the Colossians "May you be strengthened with all power . . . for all endurance and patience" (Col. 1:11 HCSB).

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