4:7 AGAIN

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)

Today I continue my series of running devotions for My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal. I pray these will be a blessing to you and you will be encouraged to PRESS ON!

Has God put a dream and passion in your heart? Is there something you really feel called to do or achieve that can bring Him glory? I had a dream like that. When I was 18, God gave me the dream to run a marathon, but then life happened and I forgot that dream for a time. But God didn’t forget, He let me live out the dream over 34 years later!

I ran my first marathon with God’s help in Bozeman, Montana last fall. My goal was to run it in 4 hours.  After 8 miles my legs were hurting, at 18 miles I was ready to stop, but I pressed on. At 22 miles some fellow hollered that I could break 4 hours if I kept going, so I kept going, but crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 7 minutes. 

I was so thankful to Jesus to be done, thankful to be close to 4 hours, yet a bit disappointed to not have made my goal.  But later, when sharing a meal with my family, I asked my college son Kevin to look up the reference for “I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.”  He found it in his smartphone BIBLE.  The verse comes from 2 Timothy 4:7, 4:7 just like my time, 4 hours and 7 minutes. It was then I knew that God had His hand in the entire race, I was in His will.  

My times are in Your hand… Psalm 31:15 (NKJV)

A week after my marathon, I visited my daughter in Wisconsin and heard the joyful news that she was expecting again. After two miscarriages, this was a miracle from God. We prayed for my daughter and her baby all winter and made plans to visit as her due date of March 31st approached. We arrived on March 22, ready to help in any way we could. March 31 came and went with no baby. A week later, we were still waiting for Baby Robin to arrive.

In the wee hours of April 7th, my daughter went into labor. Around breakfast time, she and her husband headed to the hospital. I thought this baby would surely be here by lunchtime. With big sister Kennedy off to her appointment with her Nana, I headed out for a run. As I was running, this verse from Second Timothy came into my head. I realized that the date was April 7, 4/7. I also realized what the verse said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And as I was running I screamed out to God, “No! My daughter’s race is not over! Help her deliver this baby! Bring them both home healthy and strong!”

Dinnertime arrived and there was still no baby. Baby Robin was just too big at 10 pounds, 15 ounces. The doctors decided to do a C-section and finally Baby Robin was born. My daughter finished the race of delivering her baby. Praise God!

I’ve often thought that running is much easier than delivering a baby. If I wanted to, I could stop running at any time (though I rarely do that, but it’s nice to know I have that option). But when you go into labor to deliver a baby, there is no stopping or turning back. This baby is on the way!

Today’s TEA CUPP: Praise Jesus for babies! Praise Jesus for being our strength for running races and delivering babies! Praise Jesus for His Word, as in 2 Timothy 4:7, that encourages us to finish the race, keeping our faith in Him. Keep fighting the good fight, dear runners. Read your Bible, say your prayers, and run your workouts. Keep the faith!

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)

Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Philippians 2:16 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

The Starting Line

Today marks the beginning of a series of running devotions for My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal. As our country continues to pull out of the coronavirus quarantines, walking and running are some of the sports we can always enjoy. I pray these will be a blessing to you and you will be encouraged to PRESS ON!

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Where does every race begin? At the starting line! Where are you right now in your race? Are you still standing at the starting line?

Our pastor had a great sermon about this last spring. He challenged us not to just stand on the line, but to run to Jesus.

How many of us have said, “Yes” to Jesus, but then stayed on the line? We haven’t changed, we still live as the rest of the world lives. What happened? That “yes” was the starting gun! We need to run forward into Jesus’ waiting arms and follow the call He has for our lives!

Our pastor gave the example of Peter who was out sailing in his boat with the other disciples. One morning after Jesus’ death and resurrection and after fishing all night, they neared shore and saw a Man standing there. When John said “It is the Lord!” Peter immediately jumped in the sea and swam to Jesus. He did not hesitate. He did not stand on the line. Peter flew as fast as he could to Jesus (John 21).

That is what we are to do, too. And like Peter, who denied Jesus three times, we come in our guilt and shame, but that is okay. For Jesus loves us and forgives us and welcomes us with open arms.

I love the verse from John 21:4, “Jesus stood on the shore.” Jesus is standing there waiting for all of us. When we cross from this world into eternity, Jesus will be waiting on the shore to greet us. And each day until that day, Jesus is standing on the shore with open arms, ready to help us through whatever trial we are facing.

The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Read John 21 for the story of Peter today. Don’t just stand on the starting line, run to Jesus with all your might! Discipline yourself in Bible reading and prayer, the same way you discipline yourself to do your workouts each day.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14-15 (NKJV)

Thank you to Pastor Kyle Zigweid for his inspiring sermon at Big Timber Evangelical Church on April 19, 2020.

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission.

Sports in the Bible

And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5 (NKJV)

This summer was to be the summer of the 2020 Olympics. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the Olympics were rescheduled for 2021. I imagine some athletes were grateful for another year to practice or to heal from an injury, while others had prepared for a peak performance this August.

Sports give us an outlet to funnel our energy, a way to keep our bodies healthy for serving Jesus, and a venue to live out our faith. Our sad country has been without sports this spring because of the pandemic. Yet now it is plagued again by riots and racism, perhaps in part from being quarantined for months. Let’s bring back sports as a positive place for competition and good health, allowing people to root for their teams, rather than people groups. Let us cheer on all Races as they run the races!

In honor of the Olympics that might have been, and in preparation for next year’s competitions, I offer a round of athletic devotions this summer. This kicks off My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal, coming next year to a bookstore near you! It is amazing to see how many sports are mentioned in the Bible…

Running

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Swimming

And He will spread out His hands in their midst
As a swimmer reaches out to swim,
And He will bring down their pride
Together with the trickery of their hands.
Isaiah 25:11 (NKJV)

Wrestling

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

Play Ball!

He will surely turn violently and toss you like a ball
Into a large country…
Isaiah 22:18 (NKJV)

Boxing

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  1 Corinthians 9:26 (NKJV)

Fighting

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 (NKJV)

Archery

Then I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target. 1 Samuel 20:20 (NKJV)

Walking

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear Ladies, we don’t have to be Olympic athletes. But even the Proverbs 31 woman was called to strengthen her arms. After your quiet time each morning, why not make a point to get outside and exercise, taking a Bible verse with you to memorize as you go. It will cheer you up to be out under the big blue sky talking to our Lord.

She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
Proverbs 31:17 (NKJV)

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Isaiah 40:29 (NKJV)

Extra Note: To you dear ones who have been praying for my granddaughter…we have another miracle! This past weekend, Kennedy started walking again, after not walking since her chemo began in February! This grandma can’t stop crying tears of joy and thanksgiving. We are walking and leaping and praising God! (Acts 3:8)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.