A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Daily Encouragement on
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Message summary: Life's most important decision is whether you have made your spiritual beginning by believing in Christ, confessing your sin and choosing to follow Him.
Listen to our message on your audio player."For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
This week we are studying lessons we can learn from the race since in several instances the Bible describes the Christian life as a race. We have input from an 81 year old friend of ours, Coach Bill, who coached track and field for over 50 years.
During the nineties we went into Boston twice to watch the Boston Marathon; the first time at the finish line on Boylston Street in the heart of downtown, the second time at "Heartbreak Hill" in Newton. But I never made it to see the race begin at the starting line in Hopkinton, MA which is visible on Google Maps. I heard that it's very interesting. What a place of excitement mixed with suspense as to who will win, who will place, who will finish and who will drop out!
Here's the metal figure Coach Bill has to represent the start of a race. (Runners will realize this stance is used only for shorter races like sprints. In long distance the runner starts from a standing position.)
We have a lot of starts in life. Our first start was at conception when we became a distinct human being and of course our birth. We started walking, we started talking and we started kindergarten. The many different types of starts in life are far too numerous to mention.
Starts can be joyful or grievous. Some we look forward to with joyous anticipation, others with sorrow, coupled with fear of the new start. Many of these "starts" become a defining moment on our timeline. So many are good, but others like "started using cocaine", or "started a prison term" are certainly not desirable!
But God is with us in all the starts of life, both planned and unplanned, desirable and even the undesirable.
The Christian race must have a start. Spiritual beginnings are also exciting and if we are a genuine Christian we all have one. Jesus called it being "born again" (see John 3). We are not in the race by default regardless of our upbringing. This start begins when we place our faith in Christ and accept Him as our Lord and Saviour. For many the spiritual new birth experience is a memorable event, especially if they had rejected Christ prior to their conversion. The apostle Paul certainly had a memorable and demonstrative salvation experience!
Paul wrote, "For now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11). For all of us there is a time when we "first believed". For some, when they first believed, it's a very distinct memory; for others not so much, particularly if they came to faith early in life. I have seen believers in this category who deal with some questions regarding the validity of their salvation experience because their memory is faint or nonexistent regarding this matter.
The real issue is present belief and a desire to follow the Lord and walk in His ways. You are not in the race unless you've started and if you haven't done so we encourage you to accept Christ as Your Savior today, and begin your starting point! May we also joyfully proclaim, like songwriter John Newton, "How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed."
Coach Bill wrote, New Christians, can't wait to get in the blocks and get started not realizing just how long the race is. Get into the blocks, get set and now wait for the gun. A false start on the track brings a disqualification, one and done, but in the Christian life we get as many starts as we need. Gun goes off, then with perseverance we run the long race through the finish line.
Life's most important decision is whether you have made your spiritual start by believing in Christ, confessing your sin and choosing to follow Him. We encourage you to do that today. Our daily prayer will be a common format for this "starting the race" prayer.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner. There is nothing good in me, and there is nothing in You but good. I choose to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ who died for my sins so that I can receive forgiveness. I confess my sins, for they separate me from You. How thankful I am that Your blood covers all my sins, for Your Word indicates that even the vilest of sinners who truly believes that moment from Jesus a pardon receives. I have determined that I will run this race with the Lord and follow His Word all the days of my life. Each day I want to pray this in faith through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
This prayer is the ABC's of my salvation prayer.
This week our series will be on lessons from life's race:
Monday: "Running The Race Set Before Us"
Today: "The Start"
Wednesday: "The Hurdles"
Thursday: "The Relay"
Friday: "The Finish"
Last week between chaplain visits in Lebanon County we took a 16 mile bike ride along the Swatara Rail Trail through Swatara State Park.
The same rapeseed field seen in our lead photo. We just started noticing this beautiful crop the last several years. Indeed that's the name (see here) and it's related to Canola Oil.
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Scenic pond along Swatara Rail Trail
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Aycrigg’s Falls from the inside looking out Bordner cabin window, Lebanon County. The sound of the falls makes the experience even more delightful.
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Swatara Creek and with the Waterville Bridge just ahead over which the Appalachian Trail goes.
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Swatara Gap is created by the Swatara Creek. The rail trail runs through this gap as well the Appalachian Trail on the other side of the Creek. The I-81 bridges are above.
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Abandoned highway in Swatara State Park, Lebanon County. The rail trail follows part of this road. I assume the highway was rerouted to go around the state park.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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