Are you experiencing the presence of Jesus and the fullness of life that He intends? In John 10:10 Jesus declared "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." If we are going to experience the fullness of joy and peace Jesus desires for us we will have to do our part. In 1Tim. 4:7, 8, Paul writes “train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Corinthians 9 states “in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” (Vv 24, 25) The analogy comparing Christian’s lives to those of athletes in training provides a clear picture of what is required to train ourselves in Christlikeness. Athletes must exercise strict discipline during training, forcing themselves beyond earlier limitations to develop the strength and endurance necessary to compete successfully. Skills are developed and honed with constant practice; refusing to be deterred by failures. Additionally, as Disciples of Jesus, we must exercise self-control and labor to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb. 12:1 - 3)

To become increasingly like Jesus, we must train ourselves to that end. This training will continue throughout our lives and setbacks can be expected. As with successful athletes, we must not be deterred by failures but continue to practice to increase the strength and endurance needed to continue on an upward path. We must be watchful, however, as discouragement opens the door to becoming lazy in our spiritual training. We must beware of the temptation to give up, remembering “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.”  (Jas. 1:14, 15) All Christians are fallible and if we get off course the solution is simple. We must confess our failure to our loving and gracious God and then begin our training anew. Our Father in Heaven is not so much concerned with our failings, but with any unwillingness to repent and continue our training. 

We often hear in Christian circles the need to discover our personal calling from God. We have indeed each been uniquely called by God for a task given specifically for us and we are all called to run the race as Paul references in 1 Corinthians 9. In fact, it can be argued that if we do not run the race we are all called to as Christians we may never discover our unique calling. No one is exempt from God’s requirement to be trained in godliness. Consider the example of the athlete. If the athlete does not train in a disciplined manner he will never be qualified to enter the games. Likewise, God cannot put us in the game if we have not trained. Our race is not a dash but a marathon to be run with persistence for the rest of our lives. It is marked out and revealed, step by step, in God’s Word; by the examples set for us by Jesus during His time on earth and by faithful Disciples of Christ, both past and present.

How are we to begin our training? Our foundation in Christlikeness is formed by time spent with our Personal Trainer, none other than Jesus Himself. How do we do this? First, we must devote ourselves to the prayerful reading, studying and memorizing of the Scriptures, storing up what we learn and acting upon what is revealed throughout each day. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Mark 13:31) The power and importance of the scriptures cannot be overstated. Therefore, continual practice with the Bible will slowly build strength and endurance to combat the repeated attacks of the enemy and will help us to grow in godliness. In addition, make every effort to meet and associate with faithful Christians and develop accountability partners who become familiar with you and can recognize tendencies you have to stray from the path. Remember, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, (The Bible) and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Ps. 1:1, 2)

Let us go now and take an honest look at our lives to see how dedicated we are to developing the skills and endurance necessary to run the race that has been marked out for us. We each have our own race to run and we must run it to win our full reward. All who faithfully run their race will receive the winner’s prize. Follow the example of Moses who “chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin…because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Heb 11:25, 26) However, do not make the mistake of assuming the joy of our reward is reserved only for the next life. Just as well-conditioned athletes enjoy the benefit of greater health, well-conditioned and trained Disciples of Jesus enjoy an even greater benefit of joy, power and peace in this life. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (John 10:10) Do you want this increasing fullness of joy, power and peace? Make the decision today to get off your spiritual couch and begin exercising. Don't wait! A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The Four Streams Team

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities, in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from past sins. (II Peter 1:5-9)
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