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April 18, 2012

Produce cart at the Mount Joy Country Store
This morning following some chaplain visitation we stopped by the Mount Joy Country Store where I always enjoy seeing the old-fashioned produce cart!

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"Strict Training"
(Lessons from Life's Marathon Part 3)

"Do you not know that 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. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize" (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). "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 Timothy 4:7b, 8).

Old running shoesThis week we are preparing lessons regarding spiritual principles we can apply from the marathon, since in many ways the Christian life is like a marathon. The study is prompted by the running of the 116th Boston Marathon on Monday. Today let us consider the strict training that goes into preparing for the Marathon.

The first daily Scripture portion is an allusion to sports, specifically running and boxing. Paul writes of the "strict training" involved for those entering competition. The NASV uses the phrase "exercises self-control in all things".  Running in the marathon requires an astounding degree of training and self-control.

Bill Preston
Yesterday I spoke to Bill Preston, a friend and a college track and cross country coach, who has run in marathons including Boston.  He shared of the intensive and ongoing training required for such a race; how he arose early in the morning to run and then again after work, running some 10 miles daily!  I don't know about you folks, but that's quite a hike for me.  I think twice before I even make a 10 mile drive in my car.

The daily Scripture portion says, "Physical training is of some value."  Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit and certainly properly caring for our physical nature is a means of glorifying God.

But comparatively speaking physical training is of little value in relation to spiritual training expressed in the phrase, "Godliness has value for all things." Godliness impacts every area of our personal life; our family, our church, our work and our society at large. And this godliness holds "promise for both the present life and the life to come." 

That's why we need to "train ourselves to be godly."  The NASV uses an expression that has blessed me over the years, "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness."

Race to runSurely the apostle Paul is speaking here of the spiritual development and disciplines we volitionally participate in that contribute to a growth in godliness such as Bible reading and study, Scripture memorization, prayer and praise, church participation, Christian service and other forms of spiritual discipline.

"Train" translates the Greek word (gumnaze) from which we get the English word "gym". It indicates a present, ongoing action we participate in and is strongly enjoined upon us.

A linguistic resource I use has a powerful thought on this point: "It is not the self-centered ascetic struggle of the individual for his own moral and religious perfection, but the training necessary for the unhindered pursuit of God's purposes. This exercise was a vigorous development and application of all Paul's strength and ability that he might bring glory to God with every thought and action." *

Today I encourage you as a fellow participant in life's marathon to "exercise self-control in all things" and "train yourself to be godly!" A foundational component of this training is the implementation of God's Word to our hearts so that it is carried out in our actions. Remember, in regard to the pursuit of godliness we are always in training!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, we know there is a deeper work within our soul which cannot be accomplished by mere physical exercise. Just as we train our bodies to submit to a rigorous routine of endurance, abstinence, and sacrifice, we must apply the same training tools to bring our spirits into submission to Your will for our lives. We must train ourselves to be godly. Though physical training is of value in this life, godliness has value for all things, and holds promise not only for the present life but also the life to come. Help us to pursue this noble task in Jesus name we pray. Amen.

This week our series will be on lessons from life's marathon.
Monday: "Running In The Path Of His Commands"
Tuesday: "The Start of Life's Marathon"
Today: "The Disciplines of Life's Marathon"
Thursday: "The Trials
of Life's Marathon"
Friday: "The Finish of Life's Marathon"

* Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament

I am not sure where this comes from but it's worth sharing for a smile. You may be getting more exercise then you realized! (I don't know the source of this list. It came to me as an email forward many years ago).   Enjoy and smile!


"Physical training is of some value" (1 Timothy 4:8)

Physical exercise is good for you. This unique training program recognizes and utilizes the exercise value of routine daily tasks.

1) Beating around the bush
2) Jumping to conclusions
3) Climbing the walls
4) Swallowing my pride
5) Passing the buck
6) Throwing my weight around
7) Dragging my heels
8) Pushing my luck
9) Making mountains out of molehills
10) Hitting the nail on the head
11) Wading through paperwork
12) Bending over backwards
13) Jumping on the bandwagon
14) Balancing the books
15) Running around in circles
16) Eating crow
17) Tooting my own horn
18) Climbing the ladder of success
19) Pulling out the stops
20) Adding fuel to the fire
21) Opening a can of worms
22) Putting my foot in my mouth
23) Starting the ball rolling
24) Going over the edge
25) Picking up the pieces.

If you have a sense of humor you may enjoy this satire blog post with a great spoof on today's verse. It also illustrates how not to interpret the Scriptures!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Take Time To Be Holy"  Video  Choir

"The Hour I First Believed"  Video  Karen Peck and New River

"He Who Began A Good Work In You"
 Video  Steve Green

"A New Name In Glory"  Video  Gaither Homecoming singers

"Find Us Faithful"  Video  Let There be Praise Singers

I chose this song recalling these lines,

We're pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road
And those who've gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God's sustaining grace.

Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who've gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

"It Will Be Worth It All"  Video  A group of Canadian young adults at a camp in Nova Scotia.  This song has a line I recalled in the message that states "so bravely run the race till we see Christ".

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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