Posts Tagged ‘effort’


January 25th, 2017

A worthy goal is beyond your present abilities and fears

My thoughts and comments today are about, “goals.”

“I press on toward the goal . . for which God has called me.” Philippians 3:14 NIV

What could your life be if you cast aside the self-imposed limits? Never settle for a life too small. Life is an adventure for those with God alive within. It is better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try. But be sure your goals are God’s goals for you. A God-sized goal will be further than your reach, greater than your abilities, and bigger than your fears. In those, your personal satisfaction and success will be found.

You will never achieve your best without noble goals. Don’t waste time or resource with things that give you no pride of achievement. You will always have more potential than you have yet achieved. Yet goals alone do not insure success. Extraordinary achievement requires enthusiasm, energy, and exertion.

Joseph embraced goals that preceded his life and would extend well beyond it. He understood his unique place in history as well as destiny. As he prepared to die, he avowed, “God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land He promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . then you must carry my bones up from this place.” See Genesis 50:24-26/Exodus13:18-19 NIV. Joseph’s heart held a goal surpassing his ability to achieve and extending beyond his lifetime. In comparison, some of our miniscule goals seem embarrassingly small for God.

Reaching all your goals is not the highest achievement of success. If and when you have done that, life is sad rather than satisfying. That dubious accomplishment indicates that your goal was too small, yet you neglected to replace it with challenges grand enough to reach beyond your earlier successes. A goal should be like the horizon, envisioned in the distance, urging you onward, yet never becoming a settled destination.

In my earlier years, Kenny, a dear friend and encourager in my life and ministry, often challenged me, “Allen, it is better to aim for the stars and hit the top of a mountain, than to aim for a telephone pole and hit the top of a fence post.” His life-long conviction of that truth empowered him to believe God for blessing according to his efforts and beyond his abilities. Goals should be worthy of your supreme commitment, diligent effort, singular focus, and beyond what you can achieve without God and others. Godly goals encourage and empower you to accomplish more than you otherwise could.

Paul was neither impressed by his successes nor intimidated by failures. He learned from his past, but refused to live there. His singular goal was always before him. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of His resurrection, to share in His sufferings and become like Him in His death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life . . The one thing I do is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So, I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.” Philippians 3:10-14 TEV. A God-sized goal is not achievable apart from God.

Today, I pray for you to dream big, plan well, and work hard to achieve your potential.

Christian Communications 2017

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Marathon Runners

February 22nd, 2012

“Let us run . . the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT

“The life of faith demands the effort and endurance of a marathon, not the enthusiasm of a sprint.”

My thoughts and comments today are about “marathon runners.”

Amy, our daughter-in-law, mother of four and avid runner the last several years, decided she wanted to run a marathon. She has now successfully concluded two marathons in San Antonio and Houston in recent months; that’s 26.2 miles of sheer determination, endurance, and mind-numbing physical and emotional anguish. I cannot imagine the regimen of training, mental strength, and physical stamina that requires. It is safe to say that not just anyone is able to accomplish such a physical achievement.

Like other serious runners, she must have grown weary with the discipline of training. She experienced soreness, strains, and exhaustion during relentless hours of training. She sacrificed precious hours she could have used in a busy family, and expenses for proper clothing and equipment. There were some things she gave up in order to achieve a greater goal.

Along the 26.2 miles every runner stares down the possibility of failure, times of struggling with their own limits as faster runners pass with more strength and experience, moments when others quit along the way raising doubts of their own ability to finish, and a weariness to the core of one’s being – until seeing the finish line requiring just a few more steps and last ounces of strength. A runner’s success does not come easily nor without sacrifice; real success in any demanding effort never does! Your best effort must endure until you cross the finish line.

Finishing the race requires stringent training, settled determination, physical stamina, mental toughness, demanding perseverance, and a superseding goal that inspires and empowers your best effort. I am reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words, “I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18 TEV.

I would suggest that every follower of Jesus is in a marathon of even greater importance, one of eternal consequence. The life of faith demands the effort and endurance of a marathon, not the brief enthusiasm of a sprint. Dare we expect minimal demands or marginal sacrifices to be sufficient? There are mile markers along the way, but the journey is measured in days, months, and years rather than miles. Anything short of the finish line is too soon.

Following the most amazing histories of faith and perseverance (Hebrews 11), the writer speaks to us, “Therefore, since (you) are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, strip off every weight that slows (you) down, especially the sin that so easily hinders(your) progress. And run with endurance the race that God has set before (you) . . do this by keeping (Your) eyes on Jesus, on Whom (your) faith depends from start to finish . . so that you don’t become weary and give up.” Hebrews 12:1-4 NLT.

My helpful reminder is this: “Remember in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win . . They do it to win a prize that will fade away; we do it for an eternal prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NLT. See Acts 14:22 NKJV. Run to win; the finish line is in sight. May you be as confident as Paul as he faced his impending death, “I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness.” Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8 NLT.

My prayer for you today is that you never lose heart or hope short of hearing God say, “Well done!”

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Opting Out

April 28th, 2010

“You must run in such a way that you will win.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 NLT

“Winning in life is not about being first; it is about finishing.”

My thoughts today are about opting out.”

It is easy to choose to opt out when things are not as you would like, or the cost is more than you planned, or a friendship becomes difficult. Life rarely succeeds if you reserve the right to opt out along the way. Collegians opt out of classes, when studies are demanding. People opt out of promises made, when that becomes inconvenient. Husbands and wives opt out of marriages and families too quickly, when they become difficult. Were you ever tempted to opt out of something?

Success in life is much more determined by your will than by your abilities. Paul often used athletic competitions as a metaphor for spiritual life. In today’s verse he envisions an ancient track and field event, the long distance race in particular. This race required discipline, effort, agility, strategy, speed, but most of all endurance . . not required so much if you simply enjoy running, but definitely required if you enjoy winning.

The very first thing a runner must have is an unchanging will to win. All of the other things required will follow, because they are birthed from your passionate goal to win. Success comes when you run to achieve your goal of winning, not just for the fun of running. “Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24 TEV. You must run in a way that gives you the best chance to win.

Once you are clear about your goal, you run with that clearly fixed in your heart and mind. Your will to win determines your focus, marshals your full effort, pushes you past weariness or pain, and refuses to let you opt out. Your spiritual life is very much like that.

Success will require extreme effort, unrelenting perseverance, and a willingness to make needed sacrifices. Living for Jesus is not a casual stroll that allows complacency or self indulgence. Live as the Apostle Paul with a clear goal for your life, “so that (you) may win Christ and be found in Him, having . . the righteousness from God based on faith.” Philippians 3:8-9.

Your spiritual life must have a clear and firm goal that can be achieved only by daily embracing a growing Christ-likeness. There is a price to pay. Becoming more like Jesus will demand single-mindedness and the sacrifice of anything that would lessen that. “Jesus finished the race . . because He never lost sight of where he was headed.“ Hebrews 12:2.  You can do the same. Winning is the result of not giving up before crossing the finish line. It is not about being first; it is about finishing. At the end of life you want to honestly say, “I have fought the good fight; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 NIV. You can hardly imagine what awaits you!

My prayer for you today is that you give up any option to quit short of that goal.

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