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When Jesus came and lived among us he demonstrated a whole new way of living, and his followers throughout history have always tried to embrace that lifestyle.  The people who wrote the New Testament were continually teaching new believers how to live this Jesus lifestyle, and their writings are with us today as an inspiration and an encouragement to live purposefully.

RUN FASTER

Running is often used in the Bible to speak of the attitude that describes a focused and purposeful life.

When God spoke to the OT prophet Habakkuk he said: "Write the vision down and make it clear to understand so that whoever hears and reads it may run with it."  HAB 2 : 2

Running with vision speaks of strenuous effort, focus, dedication and purpose.  Running implies urgency and energy in order to fulfil the purpose.  Running with vision means we won’t have time for some things that would just slow us down.

When Paul is writing to the believers at Corinth he compares this life of purposeful faith to the running of a race: “Run in such a way as to get the prize” he tells them.  1 COR 9 : 24

When writing to the Jewish Christians spread throughout the empire the Apostle uses the analogy of the great games in the Coliseum to make his point more forcefully.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  HEB 12 : 1 – 3

LIVE STRONGER

Many people are living with great weakness in their lives.  They can't put the top back on the bottle, they can't resist the opportunity for the next buzz, they can't hit the off button on their TV or computer.  They live with no discipline, no faith, the old nature in charge of their lives.  They set their own standards, often hide behind religious attitudes, are actually in serious bondage and are usually easily offended.

We are called to live strong lives - under the Spirit's control, doing everything from a perspective of faith, our new nature in control of our lives, following Christ's example and living in the freedom he has won for us.  We are called to live grace-filled lives.

Living strong is a recurring theme of the apostles as they write and preach to the New Testament believers.  Here are a few lines from Paul, writing to Titus about how to encourage the believers he’s looking after in Crete to live stronger.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.  These, then, are the things you should teach.  Encourage and rebuke with all authority.”  TITUS 2 : 7 - 8, 11 - 15   

Again writing to the Ephesians the Apostle emphasises the importance and value of living strong lives: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received” and then goes on to say this: “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light.

So let’s commit ourselves to run faster and live stronger as we seek to live purposeful lives and reach our nation of Wales with the good news of the One who transforms lives.

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