Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. I Corinthians 9:24
This one hurts. One of the favorite lines of a preacher is: “As I speak and point my finger to you, three fingers are simultaneously pointing back towards me!”. So, there you have it. As this blogger types this post, two thumbs are pointing back at him.
Let’s be real a minute. Satan is not backing down in his tactical execution of schemes and ploys to destroy the soul of man (i.e., humanity). We read the news headlines on any given day of the week and easily see that satan is not running a “mediocre” operation. He is very diligent and highly skilled in warfare. This adversary detests everything pertaining to God or the things of God.
His machinery of inflicting the most heinous and merciless campaigns against humankind are well-oiled and time-proven to the highest levels of perfection. Observing his forte of destruction, it appears Satan runs a tight shop. Mediocrity? Not a chance.
Can we name a few? Okay, here is a short-list (you can add your own); war, terrorism, political unrest, child pornography, sexual exploitation (sex trafficking), child sexual abuse by family members (and lest we forget, their school teachers), teen murder, addiction (drug, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, more, and more, and more, …..), immorality, marital infidelity, gang violence, gun violence, prostitution, racism, hatred, robbery, theft, and Internet crime. The list goes on.
Dead, But Still Running
Is it possible for a living creature to be dead yet appear to be alive? Yes, it is. Hunters will tell you it is a known fact that deer can continue to run long after being shot dead. The adrenaline running through their body can propel them for a distance even though they are dead from a physiological standpoint. This no doubt applies to other animals (think chickens).
How about humans, speaking from a spiritual dimension? Oh, yes most definitely. And the phenomenon goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden to our ancestors Adam and Eve. They essentially died spiritually when sin separated them from God. Upon leaving the Garden, Adam and Eve were dead, but still running.
And the phenomenon continues with us today. And if we really face it in all honesty, without being regenerated by God’s power through the New Birth experience, and the continual refreshing thereafter, we miserably fall short in God’s original design – for our spirit to be controlled by His Spirit and Word, which in turn rule our soul. Otherwise, our soul (mind, will and emotions) sits at the master mixing board that controls our body, all the while being married to a spirit that is dead as far as the Lord is concerned.
So, Lord You Mean To Tell Me There Are Some Rules To Follow?
Is it possible to be disqualified in our walk with God? What does God’s word have to say about following His rules? A lot in fact. Let’s start with Jesus himself:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:22-23
Jesus is not speaking to lost people here. He is talking to the church, people supposedly part of the Bride of Christ. These followers somehow and somewhere became disqualified from the race. How does an athlete become disqualified? By not following the rules of the sport.
It is almost inconceivable there are those in “the church” who disparage anyone who espouses the notion that there are “rules” (Rules? Really?) to follow in living for God. These rule “purists” are seen as legalistic, old school, out-of-touch or pharisaical.
Yet, those very dear anti-rule thinking folk will watch countless hours of football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, etc. and argue when a referee or umpire uses bad judgment or in sports parlance “makes a bad call” against a player on their team.
Please don’t tune out just yet. We are just about to have fun.
Let’s look at some rule stats on just three mainstream U.S. sports – baseball, football and basketball.
The Major League Baseball 2017 Rulebook contains 284 pages. The National Football League 2017 Rulebook contains 93 pages. And the Official 2017 Rules of the NBA contains 68 pages (including an official 114 page Case Book accompaniment to help explain the rules).
But, page numbers are deceptive. Just looking at the NFL Rulebook there are actually 107 individual sections further refined by a total of 315 articles buried within those sections. The bottom line is there are a lot of rules an athlete follows in professional sports.
A typical Bible contains about 825 pages devoted to the Old Testament writings and around 250 pages allocated to the New Testament. In essence, the MLB 2017 Rulebook contains a little more text than the New Testament. And some wonder that it is not fair God would require His people to follow guidelines on their journey toward eternal life?
Am I Running On Empty?
In his writings to the church at Ephesus, Paul instructed the church on some matters concerning the spiritual fuel tank:
And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Ephesians 5:18
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Psalm 23:5
What is the problem in not being completely filled with the spirit? If not, then something else is taking its place. And that something else is not from God. And since only God is good (Luke 18:19), then what remains is either weak at best (Mat 26:41, I Peter 1:24), or not good at worst (Gal 5:19-21).
The enemy of our soul will see to it that we fall short in this endeavor of staying filled with the spirit. Years ago the sincere man of God spoke words of wisdom:
“You have to live a balanced life before God. Keep the Word of God and the Spirit of God in equilibrium”.
Being filled with the Spirit maintains equilibrium. Granted it is not all about the Spirit. We have to have both.
Things get rocky when moved off-center. My washing machine can say an “Amen” to that. Have you ever heard the washing machine sound like someone with a jack hammer just decided to bore a hole through the laundry room floor? The sound is from the pounding and beating caused by a load of wet laundry thrashing around in an unbalanced washer drum.
Come To The Water And Drink
There was a time when King David, weary from battle fatigue, pondered some deep thoughts. His mind retraced events to an earlier time when life’s dramas were dialed down several notches and reflections of God’s presence and goodness became more vivid:
And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate! II Samuel 23:15
There is nothing like drinking fresh, cool, pure spring water, especially in the heat of battle. The waters of Bethlehem are still available. We don’t have to run on empty.
Jesus is alive! His spirit moves like in the beginning of Creation. Not upon the “face of the waters”, rather upon the face of human hearts. Love has come. Hope has come. Salvation has come. HEALING has come. Come to the waters and drink for yourself:
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39
Jesus sends the invitation to all who will seek his well of living water and freely drink. And we will never run on empty again.