On Your Mark!

fullsizeoutput_314On Being an Over-comer

 

How do you reach the mark, the goal set for you by Jesus Christ (Philippians 3.14)? How do I not only end the race but win it? How do I not join the failures, the defeated millions who never come to realize the potential that could be theirs in Christ? How do I capitalize on the grace God has invested in me (Matthew 25 14- 30)? I want to be a winner! I don’t want to simply crawl unnoticed through the gates of heaven, I don’t want to just make it. I want a great, an abundant entrance! I want God to throw open wide the gates of his kingdom (2Peter 1:11), and welcome me, with well done! Imagine a scene at Westminster Abbey, in London, the Monarch is about to arrive, there’s the hub-bub of noise, people chatting, moving, the folk of no great importance coming and going. But then the royal car arrives, the doors are thrown wide open, and one by one people stop talking, a great hush falls upon the place, and then just as the royal figure steps up to the entrance, as one, all rise and a mighty crescendo, a fanfare of trumpets fills the whole abbey. A great, a super, abundant entrance! That’s the way we want to enter heaven, not crawl through the back door.

Overcoming the Obstacles

But how? Paul, the Apostle, speaks of straining towards the mark, to the end of the race that is (Philippians 3.14), it’s his goal, his mission statement. He wants to achieve the prize that is his from the God who is calling him up to heaven. But between us and that same goal lies so much, there are the accusations, other people, Christians included. There’s the condemnation of Satan, there’s trouble, calamity, so much disappointment, fears about today and worries about tomorrow. And then, after overcoming all these, there is death, ugh! Well God promises in his word, none of these things can ever separate us from his love in Jesus Christ (Romans 8.35-39). He has promised overwhelming victory. It is there for the taking. But taken it must be, by faith. Not a passive faith, but a working, doing faith. When Paul says he strains, that means he works at it. He says elsewhere “I labour, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1.29), I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ’s mighty power. Of course, Paul speaks there of his ministry, but the principle applies to every area of Christian living. As we work, strain toward the mark, depending on the power of Jesus, we get the grace, the power to overcome, to win, to reach the mark.

Secret Strength in the Seed

What were we given the Bible for? For some, it is no more than a textbook to be studied. For some, it is the gathering of, a quest for knowledge, information. For others, it’s to pass exams. No, listen up! God gave us his word, first of all,  to teach us how to be reconciled to Him and to live unto Him. This is how you do it, become like Christ Jesus, God says. But that mark will never be reached without the word of God, the Bible. And that is why these notes on Mark’s copy of the good news are so important. Not that you become more clever, or are able to teach and correct others, or can pass anyone’s test of knowledge. But that you may become a winner, know that you have the assurance of God’s overwhelming victory of love. As we put the effort into it, day by day, no matter how hard we find it, as we strain toward the mark, God’s grace flows toward us, encouraging, strengthening, giving us victory in the midst of our failures, disappointments, all the calamities that life can throw at us. So get ready, on your mark, get set. As we wind our way through Mark’s gospel we are going to have a life-changing encounter with God, he is going to speak to us, tell us things we never knew, experience things we never dreamed possible, at times it will be a strain, but at the end of those days we will not be the same people as before. That is guaranteed! Are you ready? On your mark!

Getting the Best Out of God’s Word

Perhaps a suggested method of use would help. A time of prayer asking God, the Holy Spirit to enlighten, to give you understanding. To sing a Psalm or Hymn of praise as you devote yourself to Jesus each day. You can be greatly enriched by reading other passages of the Bible too, maybe a chapter from the Old Testament and a chapter from the New Testament, and then to read the appropriate passage from Mark’s Gospel that we are studying, following with a careful reading and checking all the cross-references as you go. This could be followed by a time of serious and prayerful consideration of what has been read. This I believe can only enrich your soul and increase, heighten your spiritual life, thanking and praising God for his kindness to you. Of course, all this takes time, but any time set apart for God is imperative for the Christian life if you are to grow, stay healthy, be strong, overcome evil, practise good, serve the Lord in righteousness. Be strong in the Lord! But you can’t be that without the Word of God dwelling in you richly.

I hope I trust, I pray that God will bless you as you use study his word, that you may be inspired to closer walk with God, in the victory he has provided for you as you walk by faith in Jesus.

In Praise of God’s Word

Thy word O Lord, I love to keep,
To live and meditate;
It shows my sin, it makes me weep,
And all transgression hate.Thy word O God, it breaks my heart,
It causes me to yearn;
Something, Someone, a brand new start,
A way I cannot earn.

Thy word O Lord, it is my hope,
My peace, my joy, my all;
It points me to the Christ of God,
My Saviour and my all.

Thy word O Lord leads to the Lamb,
The bloodshed on the cross;
To guilt removed, to sin destroyed,
I cannot suffer loss.

Thy word O Lord, my lamp shall be,
Thou art the Holy Oil;
Thy light increase, my love to Thee,
To rest from all my toil.

Thy word O Lord will lead me home,
And never shall it fail;
It’s truth, it’s light, it’s always right,
That’s why I will prevail.

(©️James R Hamilton, May 2018)

 

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