United Church of God

Letter From William Bradford - August 4, 2023

Letter From William Bradford

August 4, 2023

Run With Endurance 

When we are baptized, we make a commitment to God and set out on a new journey toward the Kingdom of God and eternal life. The apostle Paul likens this journey to a race, where we must train and focus like athletes in order to emerge victorious at the finish line.

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. (1 Corinthians 9:24 -25, NKJV)

Paul admires the dedication of athletes who compete in games and races to win a temporary crown and short-lived glory. He believes that if they are willing to put in so much effort, we should also strive for an imperishable crown with great effort.

When we are baptized, we accept God's invitation to receive an everlasting crown that endures for all time. Those who have committed to this race understand that God has called us to run a marathon, not a sprint. Long-distance race presents challenges along the way that require perseverance and determination.

As we move forward in our race, we may wonder the purpose of the challenges, difficulties, and trials that we experience. The book of Romans, specifically chapter 5, sheds light on this aspect.

3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. (Romans 5:3-4, NKJV)

During challenging times in our spiritual race, we see certain qualities produced, including character.   The godly character becomes developed, strengthened, tested, and perfected.  Character for eternity is being created in these times.

In our congregations, we see those who have been running their race faithfully for four and five decades, and the finish line is coming in sight.  These are those we can look to as being in our personal cloud of witnesses of faith in following and trusting God in their race.  Hebrews 11 is a list of those in the cloud of witnesses who ran the race to the end and have a crown of righteousness waiting at Christ's appearing.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2, NKJV)

In our race, we run with endurance, relying on the author and finisher of our faith, providing us the strength to keep moving forward and being victorious in our race,

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:57, NKJV)

For those whom we have known who have run their race and now are part of the cloud of witnesses of those who have faithfully followed God, we are thankful for their example.  The Apostle Paul expressed to Timothy his anticipation of receiving a crown of righteousness that awaited him for running a faithful race to the end.

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 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 4:7, NKJV)

Let's keep on running as we look forward to that Day and the return of Christ.

Have a spiritually rejuvenating Sabbath.

Bill Bradford - Beloit, Chicago, Northwest Indiana