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Posts Tagged ‘prize’

Direction, Distractions, and Diversions

September 8th, 2017

Distractions create diversions to a course not envisioned.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2 KJV.

My thoughts and comments today are about, “Direction, Distractions, and Diversions.”

Life needs direction – a worthy goal to reach and a path to reach that goal. For that direction, you need God. ”Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT. And life can be full of distractions. Even God cannot direct your path if you allow yourself to become distracted.

A firm and clear direction minimizes distractions. David’s direction was unequivocal, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life.” Psalm 27:4 NKJV. That is a Holy direction that can last a lifetime, and reaches into eternity. Most of the time distractions are usually of little or no lasting consequence, just a small matter of extra time. But what if the original intention was one of personal urgency and importance? Distractions, even those that are small and brief, lead to diversions that can set your life on an unintended path. Distractions create diversions toward a course not envisioned.

The sincerest decision and most vital direction can be supplanted by even a minor distraction. Because there is so much that you should do, and so much that you could do, there will always be moments that misdirect you along another path, away from the task at hand. Diversions are inevitable. Be prepared for them. Something more attracting and enticing will beckon your attention. All too easily, the best of  intentions can be displaced.

Later in life, individuals find themselves in a far different place than they planned. Where did they take a wrong turn? What decision changed their destination? Or maybe it was a curiosity that became a fascination indulging experimentation, which slowly became a habit and eventually an addiction from which you could not break free. Paul was wise when he wrote, “Everything is permissible for me – but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me – but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV. Permissible does not mean advisable.

There is no diversion that is more important than your decision to pursue God earnestly. Writing to the Christians in Philippi, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do,” then consolidated three necessities of that singular passion. “One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Read Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV. Similarly, the Bible offers multiple, practical characteristics for your single-minded pursuit of God.

Be earnest about eternity. “Earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from Heaven.” 2 Corinthians 5:2 NKJVHeaven is real and eternity is sure.

Be earnest about the Christian faith. Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to all saints.” Jude 3 NKJV.  Hold fast to the faith that in difficult times will hold you fast.

Be earnest about prayer. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.James 5:17 NKJV. Effective fervent prayer has the power to change anything.

Be earnest about spiritual giftedness. “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way, [the way of love].” 1 Corinthians 12:31 NKJV.

Be earnest about living for Jesus. “According to my earnest expectation that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now Christ may be magnified in my body.” Philippians 1:20 NKJV.

The world, with its deceitful pleasures, is full of distractions. If you then are risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 KJV. Love Jesus with earnest devotion. Live in such a way that others will see Jesus’ life and love in you. May this worthy goal be yours and mine. “We conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and Godly sincerity.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to be earnest about all aspects of spiritual life.

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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Achievement and Success

September 20th, 2010

“You were loyal with small things; I will let you care for greater things.” Mathew 25:23 NCV

“Achievement requires that you prepare for it; success comes when you are ready for it.”

My thoughts today are about “achievement and success.”

Everyone thinks they should start at the top. That’s where success brings you, not where it finds you. You might hope for the big and important opportunities first, but that is not how life works best. You may look at the apparent ease with which someone does their job and gains recognition and promotion, and the things they enjoy as reward, and assume that you could do it just as well. But do you know all that prepared them for the success you observe and admire?

How long did they work to develop the necessary skills? What were their struggles along the way, and the mistakes and resulting lessons they learned from those? What smaller responsibilities allowed them to prove themselves and earn trust for their opportunities? All that and more contributes to being ready when opportunity arises. “Overnight success” frequently takes a long time coming.

More often than not, people who experience advancement too quickly and easily are ill prepared to handle it very well, or enjoy it very long. Success can engender differing emotions – pride of gaining it, fear of losing it, or humble gratefulness for achieving it.

People ultimately fail when they begin to proudly “believe their press,” thinking it is all about them and what they have done instead of what really happens for any of us. Some eventually sabotage themselves when they know they are over their head, and live with fear that will be found out. A person’s success can be as much the product of the kindness of generous people along the way, who saw talent and potential and gave an opportunity not yet earned. Be very grateful, and share every success benevolently!

People who understand real success are humble and thankful. As I look back across my life, anything I have been allowed to do or become has been the result of the grace of God shown to me, and the generosity of people toward me. I may have given the effort, but they gave their help.

Be careful that you do not confuse success and achievement. Everyone wants the benefits, privileges, and rewards they see others enjoy from their success. The prevailing culture glorifies the prize more than the process. As success is the product of meaningful achievements, achievement is the product of diligence and hard work, not every one is willing to give. Achievement requires that you prepare for it with single-mindedness, diligence, sacrifice and much effort; then success will come when you are ready for it. As every Boy Scout knows: ”Be prepared!”

Be wise with the success you enjoy, or it can result in failure for which you were not prepared. Too much success too easily gained can corrupt values and cloud good judgment, making you proud when you should be humble, greedy when you should be generous. Hold success gratefully when it is shared with you; use it wisely to glorify God and benefit others. 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV.

Success is better measured by who you have become than by what you have or have done. That begins right now, right where you are, with what God has already given you. Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much . . if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:10-12 NIV.

My prayer for you today is that you will graced by God with all that makes life best.

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