Summary: Have you ever wondered - "What’s the secret of sticking with it spiritually?" An examination of Paul’s secrets of spiritual endurance, discovering how we can have the endurance of an "ultrarunner."

SCRIPTURE READING: "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

OPENING ILLUS.> It stands 105 feet tall and is 3,880 feet long, reaching a top speed of 57 miles per hour. One ride lasts a duration of 2 minutes. Six Flags America held a contest to see who could ride their wooden roller coaster The Great American Scream Machine the longest, 24 eager contestants showed up in line. The competitors, who had taken time off of work to participate in the contest, rode the roller coaster 14 hours a day, taking a five minute break every hour and two 45 minute breaks for lunch and dinner. The contestants slept for only 7 hours a night, in the roller coaster’s boarding area. One by one, the contestants dropped out, until just three were left. The judges finally declared all three of the contestants winners. Each took about 13,000 rides on the coaster. The contestants rode the coaster for 61 days, beating the old Guinness record of just 23 days. Each contestant won a Jeep Wrangler.

Anyone here interested in developing that kind of endurance? I doubt it! But whether it is roller coaster riding, head standing, flagpole sitting, or running, any time there is a record for endurance, someone -- SOMEWHERE -- will try to break it. A quick glance inside the Guinness Book of World records will show that some people place a premium on physical endurance that seems almost insane.

A new trend has begun developing in marathon running. A group of runners who call themselves "ultrarunners" don’t just run marathons…they see how many marathons they can run in a month.

At 6:05 a.m. one morning, five of these ultrarunners stepped up to the starting line on the sidewalk in Jamaica, to run a course just over a half mile long-- but they were going to do it 5,649 times, a distance of 3100 miles.

Suprabha Beckjord ran the 3100 miles in 50 days, two hours. She averaged 61.9 miles per day. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite good enough to earn her the distinction of world’s greatest ultrarunner.

Edward Kelley reached 3000 miles in a time of 46 days 6 hours, the first man to pass this milestone in a certified race. Despite temperatures over 90 at times and oppressive humidity, Edward just ran on. He ran on with a fever, his internal temperature at times reaching over 102 degrees. He became the first man to reach 3100 miles in 47 days 15 hours. Forty minutes after reaching 3100, he returned to the course to record 13 more laps, just so he could pass the magical 5000 km distance in 47 days 19 hours. He averaged 65+ miles per day for 47 days.

Are you interested in developing ultrarunner endurance? Not me! What about roller coasters or flagpole sitting endurance? No, afraid not. I promise I am not making these categories up! Marathon kissing? I’m not going to tell you what the record for that one is. . . I have to say "No, thank you!" to that one as well.

I think most of us would agree. We just aren’t interested in learning their secrets to enduring that kind of stress. Not that there’s anything wrong with having that kind of endurance, but it’s just not what we place our premiums on in life, is it?

But now let’s look at the words of my text in verse 16: "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." Now there’s something I am interested in!

Do any of us face the need for spiritual endurance? Once we are saved, doesn’t spiritual endurance just come automatically? Won’t we just automatically put spiritual things in their proper place? Will we ever need to get a fresh charge on our spiritual batteries?

Well, maybe I’m just different. Maybe I’m strange and abnormal, and no one else has ever faced the same things I face. But I do have to fight for endurance.

Sure, there are those days when it’s easy. It’s that way with all of us. Revival time at church or school comes, and all of a sudden, the spiritual side of everyone comes alive. Not too many kids backslide during revival. Most of the kids who fail spiritually do so in those stretches between revivals and camp meetings. Why? A lack of spiritual endurance.

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