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! Hope you are inspired as you exercise your faith!
But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:30 (NKJV)
Have you heard of a dead heat? In the sports world, it’s when two or more athletes cross the finish line at exactly the same time, making determining the winner a challenging task.
There have been many famous dead heats over the years, from high school sports to the Olympics Games. Just Google “Dead Heat finishes in track and field” and you will find a proliferation of examples. One cool finish I found was of the 100 m final race at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. If you’d like to watch it, check this out…A Dead Heat.
But why do I bring this up today? Because recently I was reading Jesus’ Parable of the Laborers in Matthew 20. Jesus told the story of a landowner who goes out early one morning to hire workers for his field. They agree on a wage for the day and get to work. At 9 a.m. the landowner goes out to hire more workers for the day for the same wages. At noon and 3 p.m. he again hires workers for the same wages. And at 5 p.m. he hires the last group. When evening comes, all the workers come for their pay and receive exactly the same wage, one denarius.
Of course, the workers who began early in the day grumble about this. Author John MacArthur in his study Bible explains this amazing story, how the landowner choose to be generous, just as God is compassionate and merciful on His people. In response to verse 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first last…” MacArthur explains, “In other words, everyone finishes in a dead heat.” As Christians, we will all finish in a dead heat when we get to heaven, the thief on the cross, Rev. Billy Graham, the baby born yesterday and you!
The crowds (angels) in the stadium will cheer and glorify God as crowns are awarded to every finisher. And if it’s anything like the one time I ran a marathon, we will collapse into the arms of Jesus in thanksgiving.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:4 (NKJV)
The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Read the Parable of the Laborers in Matthew 20:1-16. Celebrate that we will all cross the finish line together in a dead heat. Who can you tell about Jesus today, so they can join you in crossing the finish line?
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Revelation 3:11 (NKJV)
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)
Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.