The Northfield

  2535 Shore Road

  Northfield, NJ 08225

  (609)646-1181

Church of Christ

07/20/2009

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The Marathon


"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race that is marked out for us" (Heb. 12:1).

In 490 B.C., the Persian army was about to do what it had been trying and failed to do many times. That was to defeat the Greek army. It was the ancient days clash of superpowers. Darius, the Persian commander, was smart and ruthless, and on the cusp of victory. The once proud Greek army was reduced to a small force, and that smaller force was the only obstacle between them and the capitol city. Out numbered by about 3-1, the Greeks fought with desperation and beat the Persians back to the sea where they would never be a threat to Greece again. As the battle was decided, a Greek officer grabbed a soldier named Pheidippides and ordered him to run to Athens to tell the council of their victory. Already tired from battle, legend has it that Pheidippides left and ran along the mountain road that led to Athens. Without stopping, he ran all the way to the council room, shouted "We have won," and dropped dead.

Today close to 1,000 races of this length, (26.2 miles, the distance from the plain of Marathon to Athens) are run each year to commemorate Pheidippides feat. Though many think that the marathon is the greatest race a person can undertake and complete, it pales by comparison to the race mentioned in today's verse. Whether we have ever run a race or not, (even a marathon) THIS RACE is one in which we are already participating. I would like to write to you about this race for the next few days. If you happen to be, or have ever been a runner, many of the aspects will ring true with you. If not, I think they will still make sense, for the writer of the book of Hebrews is a very wise and inspired person.

As we begin, we find that the race is one of endurance, and must be run that way. How would we prepare for such a race? Is there anything we must buy? Running clothes and shoes should be on our lists. Distance runners do not wear baggy clothes, heavy coats, or shoes that weigh them down. As they race, they wear only what is necessary. ("throw off everything that hinders?") In our lives, what may "weigh us down?" In what ways does "sin entangle us?" What are some of the ways we can "throw off everything that hinders us?" These are thought provoking questions we must ask ourselves as we run the marathon race of life.

Lastly....If you have ever watched the Boston Marathon on TV, there are thousands of runners, and even more spectators lining the streets to cheer them on. (a "great cloud of witnesses?") Even if you are not a runner, have you ever found yourself in a situation where the encouragement of others helped you to reach your goal? Encouragement can help us, and our encouraging can help others to reach out to the goal. More on the race tomorrow....

Have a great beginning to your week....Make a difference... Love mark Phil. 4:11

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