Grace race or rat race?

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Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

What if we were to approach our Christian walk as an athlete? Would we lose some weight, get some lighter running shoes, schedule hours each day to work on our technique and form? Christians are athletes to a certain extent. Some of us are balance beam experts. We have one foot on the world’s beam and one in the air towards heaven.

I don’t know about you, but my technique needs some work. I’m running the race, but sometimes, it’s the rat-race instead of the grace race.

Keith and I are going through the Your Sacred Yes Workbook and DVD by Susie Larson, and I’m learning to get rid of the weights that aren’t on God’s plan for me. It’s difficult, but as an athlete adjusts her diet, focuses upon the end result, the medal or prize, I am trying to look towards Jesus and the prize, eternal life with Him, the joy set before me.

Jesus focused on the joy that was set before Him, looking at the cross and shame to His place seated at the right hand of the throne of God. That joy was χαρά, gladness, calm delight, blessedness.

Matthew Henry writes of the joy of Jesus:

He had something in view under all his sufferings, which was pleasant to him; he rejoiced to see that by his sufferings he should make satisfaction to the injured justice of God and give security to his honour and government, that he should make peace between God and man, that he should seal the covenant of grace and be the Mediator of it, that he should open a way of salvation to the chief of sinners, and that he should effectually save all those whom the Father had given him, and himself be the first-born among many brethren. This was the joy that was set before him.

Suffering was part of the race of Jesus. Although He prayed that there was another way to accomplish the joy that was set before Him, there was no other way, and he accepted the pain of the cross, the shame, the isolation for an eternal moment. He knew what was waiting for Him, and it was worth it. It was joy unspeakable.

Imagine, the Author and Finisher of our faith, our Creator, our Comforter, our Savior, loved us so much that He set aside His glory, and suffered pain, shame and His Father turning away from Him for an eternal moment, all for us!

Let’s rid ourselves of anything that holds us back from the race that God has planned for us, and let’s train like we’ve never trained before. We have the joy of the Lord set before us.

My prayer

Jesus, thank You for Your great love, for Your endurance, for Your focus upon the joy that was set before You. Teach us how to be so focused that we will run the race You have given us with endurance, looking to You and the joy set before us. We love You, Jesus.

Tell us about your grace race

Are you abiding in Jesus?

Grapes - prosecco

I [Jesus] am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing … If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11

When we gave our lives to Jesus, we became one with Jesus. We were cut from the wild vine and grafted into the true vine, Jesus. True nourishment flowed into our branches, and people began to see a difference in our lives like sweet clusters of grapes.

We still had a bit of wildness in our branches, and the Father cut the wild parts out. Sometimes, it was painful … old habits, friends, possessions. Once those wild parts were pruned, more changes, more opportunities to serve the Lord occurred … more fruit.

The key: abiding in the true vine even during the pruning. Abiding, menō, can mean “remaining,” “waiting for,” or “remaing as one.”

Jesus tells us how to abide in Him

  • His Words must be deep within us. They are the nourishment that brings “much fruit.” If His Word is planted deep within us, we will ask according to His will, and we will receive our wishes, so that we can bear much fruit.
  • His love will dwell in us if we keep His commandments.

The promise

If we abide in Jesus, His joy will dwell in us, and it will be full.

Please share with us how Jesus has filled you with joy today.

My prayer

Father, thank You for cutting us from the wild vine and grafting us into the true vine. It hurts when You prune us, but oh, how we love the sweet fruit it produces! Thank You for the words of Jesus. Teach us how to meditate upon these Words of Life day and night. Empower us to abide in Jesus and His love. Thank You for supplying all we need to produce fruit as we rest in Jesus.

This was a meditation spurred from Chapter 3 of the Your Sacred Yes workbook by Susie Larson. You can download the free workbook at her site.