Summary: In running marathons I am trying to convey the message of Christ in a very unconventional way. 1) Life is like a marathon. 2) Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. 3) There is prize to win. 4) We are to help others along the way.
This message is an edited version of a sermon given at Loving God Fellowship. Copyright © 2007 Loving God Fellowship, Inc. http://www.LovingGodFellowship.org . You are encouraged to share this message with those you know that are hungry for God’s Word.
Winning the Prize
By Greg Johnson
The Apostle Paul said (Philippians 3:14 NIV) "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
In the last twelve months, I have run 3 marathons. I ran 2 marathons 4 weeks apart in running the Portland Marathon on 10/7/2007 and the Marshall University Marathon on 11/4/2007. I ran my first marathon on November 5, 2007. I am trying to convey the message of Christ in a very unconventional way. 1) Life is like a marathon. 2) Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. 3) There is prize to win. 4) We are to help others along the way.
LIFE IS LIKE A MARATHON
Life is like a marathon. There’s a start line. There’s a finish line. There is a lot of tough mileage in between.
I have learned in running marathons that the first 20 miles are not so bad. It’s the last 6.2 that gets you. Something if not all things in your body is hurting. Energy is depleted. Fatigue has set in and everything within you wants to stop. That’s when you have to press toward the finish line.
Most of life is not that bad, but there are things that happen that are not pleasant. Relationship problems. Failed marriages. Rebellious children. Sickness. Disease. Heartache. Depression. Energy gets depleted. Fatigue sets in and everything within you wants to stop. You have to keep pressing toward the finish line.
FIXING OUR EYES ON CHRIST
The answer to successfully finishing this marathon called life is keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ as we follow Him on our journey from earth to glory. You see, He has made the trip from the start to the finish. He knows how to run the race that is set before us. As long as we keep focused on Him, He will keep us from making wrong turns and He will keep us nourished and hydrated with His Word and His Spirit.
God’s Word says (Hebrews 12:2 NIV) "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Our help is found in Jesus Christ. He strengthens us for the journey. He sustains us. He helps us persevere as we yoke ourselves up with Him. He will even carry us when we seemingly can’t go another mile. Rest assured, He will get us across the finish line to receive our prize!
RUNNING THE RACE TO RECEIVE THE PRIZE
In each marathon that I have run, there is a finisher’s shirt and a medallion that are given for finishing. They are nice, but like the things of this world, they are temporary and nothing compared to the eternal reward given to Christ followers.
God’s Word says (James 1:12 NIV) "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." Wow! The prize for Christ followers persevering and pressing toward the finish line is eternal life! No award on this earth even comes close. Beloved, run the race to receive the prize. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He will get you to the finish line!
HELPING OTHERS ALONG THE WAY
At the Portland Marathon that I ran in October, there were three men in their 80’s that finished the 26.2 miles that day. That sounds amazing, but listen to this. The combined marathons completed of all three of these men are over 2,500 marathons. Amazing!
I had a reporter that is doing a story on my running ask me on Thursday if I worry about my health when running marathons since two have died in the past month while running marathons. No, I don’t worry about my health while running marathons. Yes, there are risks involved, but the benefits far outweigh the risks.
As long as God has me on this earth, I want to stay healthy through proper nutrition and exercise. I think running will always be a part of my fitness program. I’m in better condition at the age of 46 than I have ever been in my life and it’s because of running. As long as God enables, I will continue to do marathons, but I don’t ever want to do one without helping others along the way. That is what we are called to do as we follow Chirst.