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Race For the Prize

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In our younger days, my wife and I used talk about the different sports that we both participated in while growing up. Speed is a necessity in every sport one can think of. The sometimes overly competitive spirit that we both have would often bring up the subject of who was faster or quicker. Eva played softball and basketball while I ran track and was a swimmer. While speed in running pertained to both of us, we realized that the differences between running up and down a court and running an 800 meter race were many. The training for endurance as well as speed were worlds apart. But as we have grown older one harsh reality has set in; we are no longer those athletes. It has now been more than half our lives since we were in good enough physical shape to perform that way. Amazing how eighteen years of not training really diminishes ability. 

Our life and relationship with Christ is similar in that when we are not seeking him on a regular basis, the "muscles" and connections begin to lessen. I often find that when prayer, bible reading and service are not on the top of my priority list the things that don't really matter in life take over. That is why we need to consistently reassess and reflect on our lives and  readjust our gaze to Jesus. We are not merely training for an upcoming event, but seeking an everlasting relationship with the creator. Essentially, it is a marathon not a sprint. We will not receive the prize in full until we meet Jesus face to face but we will get to experience the benefits of the training and sacrifice along the way. The legacy that we leave among the lives that we touch in this life is a prize in and of itself. Our children learn from our service to others, our prayers and our studies. They see the devotion and what it entails and if we are so blessed they begin the long race marathon with Christ themselves.

Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run,

but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a

perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I 

do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control..".

We must always be training and involved in the race that Christ has given us. There may be times in life where it seems like we are not moving forward or we are moving too slowly, but we must keep running. We must not disengage. The legacy that we leave behind is worth it. The prize of Christ is worth it.  

Posted by Chris Taylor with 1 Comments

He Dwells Here

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The Holy Spirit. The all too forgotten component of the Christian life. Maybe because it’s the unseen. Maybe because grasping the concept feels a lot like an adult trying to understand Minecraft. Maybe because as earthly beings we feel a bit whackadoo talking about a spirit or other dimension to this life. But oh how real it is. If we, as believers, could understand and embrace the Holy Spirit, I believe our world would be blessed in abundance. When we operate from the place of the Holy Spirit in us, instead of our own desires, urges, needs…we look like Jesus. He is present in us. He changes things. Not us.

 2 Corinthians 4:6-7  “ For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.

 We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.  This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”

It is a common rhetoric to hear that God is being removed from our schools, our government buildings, our social climate. If that is the case, it is our fault. They cannot remove God from me. He is God with us. We are promised the power of the Holy Spirit. At all times. So if God isn’t present in my school, at my work, in the grocery checkout line, it is because I did not allow Him to work through me. It is because of my own disobedience or lack of knowledge that He is within me. I understand the comfort that seeing the Ten Commandments may bring or a cross on a Christmas tree or the outrage it stirs in your heart if someone wants to take it down, but do not mistake a symbol of Christianity for the ever present love of Jesus. And if the love of Jesus is absent from the life around us, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions and quit pointing fingers.

“If we’re going to impact our world in the name of Jesus, it will be because people like you and me took action in the power of the Spirit. Ever since the mission and ministry of Jesus, God has never stopped calling for a movement of “Little Jesuses” to follow him in to the world and unleash the remarkable redemptive genius that lies in the very message we carry. Given the situation of the Church in the West, much will now depend on whether we are willing to break out of a stifling herd instinct and find God again in the context of the advancing of the Kingdom of God.”  Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways

My husband works in manufacturing facility and when he started his career there 14 years ago, he was amazed at the crass language he commonly heard and how generally people spoke to and about one another. I have been with my husband for over 23 years and have never heard him say a cross word about a single person and never heard him curse. Never. In 23 years. Stubbed toe? Nope. Idiot in traffic? Nope. Nail to the thumb? Not then either. Not that I think everyone cusses but I do think most people have let one fly here or there once in their life. Anyway, I digress. We would pray that He could represent Christ in the way he carried himself. That the Holy Spirit would work through him. And he did. Gradually the conversations around him began to change. When his staff would come to him to complain about another he would ask if they had spoken to that person about it first. When another manager started cussing in frustration over a project, my husband told him that he was happy to talk with him when he calmed down and was respectful. Then he simply walked off.  Sometimes my husband is blissfully naïve to the reactions around him. When he told me what he’d done, the reactions played like a short film in my head. Some ending in tragedy and other’s comedic. He would ask his employees about their family, encourage and support them. He treated them like they mattered to him. The point is, the way my husband carried himself, with the presence of the Holy Spirit, led by the Holy Spirit, in those instances and others changed the environment around him. Each of us have that power. Each of us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, have the ability to impact the world around us.

I am the mother of 5. My mood sets the tone in my family. Sometimes it doesn’t feel fair and is burdensome but what a responsibility God has entrusted to me. The days I allow the Holy Spirit to lead me are the days we work well. The days there is joy in my home, love, patience, goodness.  The days I do things on my own, out of my emotion, mind, my own free will…the result is what some might call #momfail. I cannot love my family well depending on my own faculties. I have to tap in to the power of the Holy Spirit. I have to be in prayer and tuned in.  My children will not have a relationship with God because they saw their Dad study the Bible or because we forced them to church every Sunday. They will not love God because of the lecture we give or because they aren’t allowed to watch R movies. They will love God, they will know God because they felt Him in our home. Because they saw the Holy Spirit filter in forgiveness, redemption, mercy, grace, love.  Not because their parents are good. Because God is good.   “In a very real and sobering way, we must actually become the Gospel to the people around us-an expression of the real Jesus through the quality of our lives.”   Alan Hirsch,  The Forgotten Ways  

It is impossible to watch the news and not feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and absence of Jesus. Don’t even start to read comments on social media to any news article or you will lose faith in humanity for sure.  It may scare you or even anger you. I get that. But friends, we are the answer. We are God’s plan. Christ in us is the hope of the world. It is up to us. If we want Jesus in our world, we better bring Him. Colossians 1:27 “ To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The Holy Spirit is alive in you. He dwells here. Allow Him to get to work. Our world depends on it.

 

~Jen Harris

Other scripture studied:

Galatians 2:20  My old self has been crucified with Christ.[a] It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Ephesians 3:17  Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

Posted by Jen Harris with 0 Comments