Those who are serious cyclists use a technique that helps them get more out of their ride. “Drafting” happens when two or more bikes align themselves in a close group. The lead bike produces a slipstream that reduces the overall effect of drag, especially when high speeds are involved. Drafting can reduce the average energy expenditure required to maintain a certain speed. Staying in close formation can help you go farther than if you were facing the headwinds all by yourself.
The benefits of drafting can go beyond a bicycle ride. Drafting happens among the people of God. God tells us in Heb. 10:24,25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching”. Jesus also told us that where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20). We can learn from the teaching of others, we can be encouraged by their example, and we can be lifted by their love. Ecclesiastes 4:9,10 tells us: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up”. Our Lord knows that if we face the headwinds of the world, the flesh, and the Devil alone we will have a more difficult time making progress in our spiritual lives. Facing the heartache of losing a loved one, or navigating a comeback from a spiritual blowout is much easier if you have the nurturing environment of a family of believers. The early church turned the world upside down by drafting together with other believers.
Have you been riding alone, trying to live for God all by yourself? Seek out a family of Bible believing Christians and ride along in the spiritual slipstream of that environment. One day you may be the one who will create a draft for others.
Do you remember the flavored taffy-like candy called “Now and Later”? Originally developed in Brooklyn New York it has been around a long time. The candy derives its name from the fact that you can enjoy some of the taffy squares now and save the rest for later.
God is so good to those who are His children. He promises us a fulfilling now and a glorious later. His Word encourages us with both truths in several places. Col. 3:4 tells us: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory”. Paul tells us that Christ is our life now. He is our reason for living, He is our joy, and He is our supreme ambition in this life. Yet the verse also relates the wonderful expectation of later appearing with Him in glory. Paul describes this double joy also in Phil. 1:21 when he said: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. He thoroughly enjoyed the task that God called him to of preaching the gospel and investing in the lives of people. He experienced the great joy of the now, but tells every one of us the later is: “far better” (Phil. 1:23). I am also reminded of the words of Jesus in John 10:10: “…I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly”. We have eternal life that results in heaven and abundant life here below.
I wonder if we are fully enjoying the “now” that God has given us? He promises us His Spirit, His peace, His joy, and His never failing presence in our lives now. He has created us to fulfill a glorious purpose while we are in this world. I see so many people who are missing out on an abundant life of serving Jesus now. But we must always keep before us the later; our never fading hope of heaven.
Now and later is not just a flavorful taffy candy. It is a wonderful promise to every child of God.
You are special! You are beautiful! You are a winner! The teachings of this philosophy are everywhere. It is as old as the Garden of Eden and as current as yesterday’s talk show. It is not a formal religion with houses of worship but its followers are very devoted. Its adherents come from the elite class of society as well as from those who have very little. You hear its doctrines taught in the public schools, broadcasted on television ads, and preached from church pulpits. What is this philosophy? It is the dangerous doctrine of “self”. Mankind’s first temptation occurred in the Garden of Eden when the Devil tempted Eve with a feeling of deserving more than God had given her. He told her that if she ate of this forbidden fruit she would become special, more like God (Gen. 3:5). I believe that we are still eating that forbidden fruit today. It is the cult of self-esteem. The thinking that everyone is special or beautiful regardless of character or performance is a dangerous thinking. I see a whole generation weaned on this teaching that is overconfident yet underachieving. In a society where no one loses, does anyone win?
We need to counter this heady, addicting doctrine with some common sense Bible teaching. First of all we are not special as much as we are sinners (Rom. 3:23). We come into this world as lost, missing the mark of God’s righteousness. Only through the sacrifice of Christ can we ever hope to be saved and spared from wrath. Instead of special God calls us servants. We find our worth in our relationship with and our active service to Jesus Christ. Instead of saying: “I am special” God’s Word instructs us that Jesus Christ is special. He is the creator and the sustainer of the universe. He is the fullness of God and the preeminent One. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess to Him.
Instead of singing the songs of our worth, why not join the angels in the book of Revelation who sing: “Thou art Worthy”?
The pioneers who explored our country left their mark by blazing trails. Blazing means to hack trees or mark stones in some way to leave a semi-permanent mark. Those who would follow later could then find their way.
People try to leave their mark in this world in various ways. Some leave money to institutions and even get their names engraved on buildings. Some leave their mark by setting athletic records. Others leave behind creative inventions, great accomplishments, or personal involvement in their communities.
The believers in Thessalonica left their mark in a different way. They were examples of what a genuine Christian is all about. Paul gives testimony to this fact in 1 Thess. 1:7: “So that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe”. The word “examples” is the Greek word “typon”. We get our word type from it. It means to make a mark. It was used to describe a stamp that minted coins. Those believers left their mark for others to see the way to live a genuine Christian life. They left their idols and turned to serve the living and true God. They boldly sounded forth the word of God. They were examples also by eagerly expecting Christ to return. Paul points us to follow their trail.
Are we leaving a clear mark for those who come behind us to find their way to Christ and to follow Him closely? Does the way that we live and the words that we use leave a mark for those who do not know Christ? The world that we live in can resemble a wilderness of twists and turns, truth and error, and good and bad choices. Are we marking a clear path to God for others? Are we blazing a trail for our children and grandchildren? I recently read a definition of success that I have adopted for my own life. My desire is to live in such a way that the people who know me the best respect me the most. Be a pioneer, leave your mark for those who come behind you to see a clear path to God.
What are your priorities? What screams out to you demanding attention? Some people are rabid sports fans and must watch every game possible. Some are all about computer games, others spend hours on social media. Still others are consumed with their clubs or hobbies. I can imagine that there are as many various priorities as there are people who have them.
As we stand at the beginning of a new year, we as God’s people need to be captivated with the preeminence of Christ and make Him the priority of our life. Paul reveals the exalted position of Christ in Col. 1:15-18: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence”.
Since our Lord is presented as first over all creation in heaven and in earth He ought to be first in our life. Paul gave his personal testimony in Phil. 1:21 when he said: “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. If Jesus really is our priority we will make sure we spend time with Him each day in prayer and in reading His Word. If Christ is our priority we will do our best to follow His teachings and live the life He patterned for us. Making the Lord our priority also can be seen in our worship of Him, our giving to Him, and our fellowship with His people. If He is first we will serve Him faithfully and seek His will passionately.
It is easy to say that Christ is our priority but it must show in our lives. He has the preeminence over all that is in the universe, may He have the preeminence in our lives.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation