By: Jim Kaseman
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:1-4, NKJ).
I like verse one as it reads in The Word, a paraphrased version. “Since we have such a huge crowd of men of faith watching us from the grandstands, let us strip off anything that slows us down or holds us back and especially those sins that wrap themselves so tightly around our feet and trip us up and let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.”
Jesus is our example for running the race of life. He suffered more than anyone ever will suffer, yet He never quit nor did He entertain a thought of quitting!
The Apostle Paul was familiar with running. He compared the Christian life to that of running a race. “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.
Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
Preparation For The Race
Have you noticed that Olympic runners diligently prepare for their races? I mean, they watch their diet, they exercise, they drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep. The ones who are properly prepared walk off with the trophies. It’s the same in the race of life. In the last couple of years I’ve seen Christians drop out of the race of life like flies because of the pressure put on by the enemy.
I’ve had a taste of running in a race in the natural, because I was a miler both in high school and college. I sweat, puffed, and put everything I had into it to cross the finish line. Laps one and two weren’t so bad. (Each lap is a quarter mile.) But when I got to laps three and four, they became tougher. I’d see excellent runners drop out of the race during the fourth lap, falling into the grass with dry heaves. I mean, they quit. They just couldn’t make it. It’s the same in the Christian’s race spiritually, the last laps are more difficult.
When you’re first saved, it’s like you enter lap one. It’s not so bad. I remember when I first was saved. I came against the flu and it buzzed off real fast! I couldn’t understand why other Christians didn’t have the same success I had. Given time, I personally learned that each lap becomes much more difficult.
Some translations of Hebrews 12:1 say we’re to run the race with “patience.” Other translations say “perseverance” or “endurance. ” The word “patience ” in the Hebrew means “the determination to master something.” As a miler, I had the determination to master the race, to set a good record or to break an existing record.
When you hit the fourth lap, Satan fills you mind with lies (both in the natural and in the Christian walk). You know, “You just can’t make it. You’ll never last. You can’t hold out. It’s no use.” We must cast down imaginations and remember God’s directions for our race: “Hold fast. Don’t quit.”
Identifying The Weights
An itemized list of weights is found in Galatians 5:19-21. “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication (sexual immorality), uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery (witchcraft)…” I never saw so much witchcraft until I stepped into Spirit-filled circles. When you try to dominate someone, you’re practicing witchcraft.
“…hatred…” Any time you’re walking out of love, you’re walking in hatred. How do you know if you’re walking out of love? Check 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 in the Amplified, “Love is not touchy.” When you get touchy, you pick up another weight. “Love is not fretful or anxious or full of anxiety.” When you decide to worry and take on cares, you’ve disobeyed the Word of God, and you’ve taken on more weights.
Many times people don’t think they’re carrying weights, because they haven’t committed adultery or they’re not drinking. As far as God is concerned, witchcraft, hatred, and worry stink just as bad as adultery or drinking.
Gossip is another weight. If you’ve got a big mouth, you’re into sin. You’ve picked up more weights. It’s my opinion that more people have been destroyed with the tongue through cheap gossip than anything else.
“…contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies…” Heresy is a self-willed opinion, usually for your own benefit.
“…envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” “And the like” means there’s more! As Christians, we must throw off all of these weights. Simply pray, “Lord, I will to throw them off, for I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Ditched By Unfamiliar Terrain
Professional runners usually check out the course they’ll run on. They familiarize themselves with it. As Christians, we’re to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith to check out the terrain of our course!
Everything is outlined for us in the precious Word of God. The effectiveness of what we accomplish in the race will be in direct proportion to how well we know the Lord Jesus Christ.
Check out the terrain of the fellowship you’re keeping. Don’t hang around with losers. If you hang around with losers, you’ll soon become negative, full of poison, and defeated. You’ll take on the same spirit as those you hang around with. Follow someone with a track record of bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God.
When you hand around with losers, you’ll break the stride of your race and end in the ditch. You may think I’m narrow-minded, but I want to win. I want to finish the course. I don’t want to be tripped up by someone who doesn’t know how to run.
The Love Race
First of all, we’re running the race of love. When the people asked Jesus how many times they were to forgive, He said, “seven times seventy.” Sometimes people say, “Seven times seventy is 490. Okay, turkey. You’ve had 488. I forgive you” That’s not exactly what Jesus had in mind. We’re to forgive even as we’ve been forgiven.
There isn’t anyone in the Body of Christ who has perfected the love walk yet. I wish I could tell you I have it together 100 percent, but I’m still working at it.
I believe we’re coming in on the final lap of the race. It’s time we put everything into the love walk as if our very life depended on it, because it does. Things are very intense these days. Not only are we in the last days of the last hour, but we’re in the final minutes and final seconds. I believe Jesus is coming back soon.
It’s our love for one another which will cause the power and glory of God to be manifested in the earth. Love is the most powerful force on the face of the earth because love is God and God is love.
When we see people going through tests and trials, it’s time that the Christians in the grandstands in the natural inspire and encourage one another in the love of God. It’s no time to condemn, criticize, or judge. It’s time we encourage one another to finish the last lap in the race of love, holiness, prayer, commitment, and faith.
Jesus – Your Running Partner
You’re not alone in running the race. Jesus is running with you. “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16:20). In His sovereignty, God fixed it so He can’t do a thing without us, and we can’t do a thing without Him. Because we’re hooked up with God and He’s a winner, we’ll win every time. The minute you try to run the race in your own power, you’ll not make the first lap spiritually.
We’re to keep our eyes on Jesus, and we’re to love Him first. God never called anyone into the ministry to destroy their family, but we’re to love Him more than mother, father, wife, or children. If you lose your spouse through death or your children grow up and leave the nest, it’s not time to quit the race. It’s time to pour on the coals (no matter what obstacles you face), and run all the harder with your eyes on Jesus and the finish line!
There’s no way you can lose the race if you’ll run in the wisdom, power, might, and strength of God through Christ Jesus. Hallelujah!
(The above material is the May 1992 issue of Jim Kaseman Ministries newsletter.)
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