Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Running the Race

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  (Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)

There is a tendency in this world to get our eyes off of Jesus and onto our natural circumstances.  The devil would like to distract you, hinder you, interrupt you, and shake you up in this world.  He would like to keep you from being and doing all you were created and called to be and do for God's purpose and plan. 

Jesus did not allow the enemy to hinder, distract, interrupt, or shake Him up.  He did not allow the devil to keep Him from being and doing all He was created and called to be and do for His Father's purpose and plan.  We cannot allow the enemy to keep us from being and doing all we were created and called to be and do for our Father's purpose and plan (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

There is also a tendency in this world to compare our spiritual journey and life to the journeys and lives of others in the world, specifically within the body of Christ.  It is another tactic of the enemy though.  None of us have the exact same purpose and calling in God's plan.  None of our paths will look exactly alike.  Sure there may be some similarities, but we are all different.  We all have different purposes and callings in our creator's master plan. 

Let's briefly look at the journeys and lives of the Apostle Paul and Jesus' disciple, Peter.

Paul was called by God to be an apostle (Romans 1:1-5; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; 2 Corinthians 1:1-2).  He did not just decide for himself that he was an apostle.  God specifically created Paul to have that calling and purpose in His plan.  Therefore, Paul became all that God created him to be and do, but it was not Paul's own doing.  It was God's doing.  Paul said himself that he did not deserve to be an apostle because of his past (1 Corinthians 15:9).  "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them---yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10)."  God worked in and through Paul to accomplish His purpose (Philippians 2:12-13).  Paul went on to do much for God's Kingdom, because he knew who he was created and called to be in God's plan.  He suffered and endured much for the Gospel (Acts 16:16-40).  He boasted in all of his weaknesses and sufferings (2 Corinthians 11:23-30).  He boldly spoke and preached throughout the regions and land where God had called him.  He also wrote much of the New Testament. 

Peter was a disciple of Jesus Christ.  He was only one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ back then.  Despite the calling on his life, Peter denied Jesus three times (John 18:15-27).  Jesus did not hold that against him though.  He did not condemn Peter.  God had a great purpose and calling for Peter.  He knew Peter would eventually step up and be the bold and courageous man He had created him to be for His purpose.  God gave Peter more opportunities to prove himself.  Despite his past and previous weaknesses, Peter was used mightily and powerfully for God's purpose.  While with the other 11 disciples, Peter preached the Gospel to a crowd of thousands of people on the day of Pentecost.  Due to Peter's obedience that specific day, nearly three thousand people accepted Jesus and were baptized into the faith of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:14-41). 

Neither one of these men began their journeys or lives well, but they both finished well.  Neither Paul nor Peter had the exact same calling or purpose in God's plan.  Their spiritual journeys and lives did not look the same.  They did not have or take the exact same path.  They did not look at another man's path, calling, or purpose and wish they were in the other person's shoes so to speak.  They concentrated and focused on what God had created and called them to be and do for His purpose and plan.  They kept their eyes on the ultimate goal---running their individual races and winning the prize that God had for each one of them (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  They were both different men with different paths as well as different callings and purposes.  However, God powerfully used both of them to accomplish His purpose in His plan. 

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.