Walking With God: 5 Things to Help us ‘Go For The Prize’

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]

At school we are taught that it was the taking part which mattered the most. [Thoughts like these surely only come from people who never won anything]. Yet right here in scripture we see Paul encouraging us to ‘go for the prize’, to ‘go for the win.’

Everybody can participate, yet only those with a certain set of characteristics actually win the prize

Jesus has set us up for the win already. Everything that could possibly hold us back as been nailed to the cross, the only restrictions are those we place on ourselves through lingering doubts and unbelief, or those spoken over us reminding us of our past, our shortcomings or the impossibility of success.

5 things which may just help us…

Know your race. We are not running for ourselves, we are running for Jesus. We are not running because we ‘have to’, instead this is a race we have ‘chosen’ to be part of.  When I was at school I was more a sprinter than a long distance runner so there was a difference when I ran the 100 metres as opposed to the one time I was asked to fill in for the 1500. One was my race and I ran thinking I could win, the other I ran thinking when will this be over, especially as I finished at least half a lap behind everyone else.

Run as if to win. Be determined. When you know you are running the right race for you then you can run as if to win. When it comes to the Christian faith, knowing what has been done for us, and the prize that awaits us, should give us enough motivation to run with the attitude of someone who already understands they are a winner.

Develop some self-control. Train hard, keep learning. This is the stuff we don’t like so much but its often in these small areas of discipline and hard work which influence the level of our success in any race. Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Reading the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Each one build our stamina and ability to run well for the entirety of our journey with God.

Focus. Run with purpose. Always keep the bigger picture in view. We don’t run for ourselves, we are running for our Saviour. We are not competing to win a prize for our own sense of accomplishment but rather for a prize of greater value and importance. To hear the words of Jesus when we enter glory. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.

Don’t disqualify yourself. Stay in the lanes. There may not be a need for any qualification to become a runner in this race but we can easily disqualify ourselves. Don’t run over people to get to your victory. The way we run is as important as the running itself.

Lets not be so focused on the finish line that we miss out on the opportunity to win along the way.

A better way to win is taking others across the finish line with you, which means always being on lookout for ways to help others join the race with us, as well helping those who are running alongside us to keep on running their race too.

How’s your attitude to the race? Still running ‘as if to win?’ Why not take some time out today and ask God to help you run your race well.

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6 Things that Help my Morning Prayer

I don’t want to misrepresent myself here and look like some kind of spiritual master- I am not. My prayer life is poor, a 3 or 4 out of 10. That might be a bit harsh, let’s just say that there is more than enough room for improvement. 

That’s possibly why I am writing this after getting up today and spending about 15-20 minutes praying. It brings some much needed accountability. 

This week I was reminded of the thought – pray like it depends on God but work like it depends on you – both parts of that sentence need some attention. I was also reminded to have some things that I want to see happen that ‘only God’ can do. 

So, refocused and repurposed, the prayer life gets a boost. Here are some things that help me…

  1. I try and pray at the same time every day. 
  2. I have specific things I pray for each day, which help to make it not all about me. 
  3. I journal my prayers. This helps keep my attention and I can look back to see what God has done. 
  4. I use the simple TSP approach when I pray – thank you, sorry, please. It maybe a little childish but it works for me. 
  5. I have some ‘only God’ stuff on the lists – for others and for me and my family. 
  6. I make sure I take some time to listen to and get a feel for what God is saying to me. That is the harder part but very important. 

I’m not saying this is the only way. The key is to find what works for you and then stick to it. Consistency in anything is usually the key to seeing success, I think the same can be said for most kingdom activities – like prayer, being in church, giving and serving others. 

What’s your prayer life like? I would love to hear how you keep your prayer life the strongest it can be

Do I Have a Willingness?

Following Jesus is the best decision I ever made. Following Jesus is also the toughest decision I ever made. Following Jesus isn’t easy. To live according to His words isn’t easy.

Here’s a bunch of questions I often ask myself, in one form or another. How about you?

Do I have a willingness to change?

Do I have a willingness to allow God to change me?

Do I have a willingness to participate?

Do I have a willingness to participate in the places where God wants me to?

Do I have a willingness to follow?

Do I have a willingness to go wherever knowing Jesus may take me?

Do I have a willingness to lay aside my plans?

Do I have a willingness to not try and fit God into my plans but trust Him instead?

Do I have a willingness to forego?

Do I have a willingness to forego my opinions?

Do I have a willingness to pray?

Do I have a willingness to pray without ceasing?

Do I have a willingness to forgive?

Do I have a willingness to forgive even though it hurts?

Do I have a willingness to be led?

Do I have a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit?

Do I have a willingness to be led by the leaders God has placed in their role?

Do I have a willingness to trust?

Do I have a willingness to trust God in ALL things?

I guess I could keep going. What would you add to the list?

Cultivate God-Confidence

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in pointed backwards reminding them of the mistakes that their ancestors had made. How even though they had experienced the incredible miracles with Moses, and the wonder and grace of God, they were still defeated by temptation during hard times.

He tells them…
‘We must be on our guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way…’ [1 Cor 10:6 Msg]

Isn’t that the daily challenge for most Christians? Or is that just me? Some days are easier than others. But when things are tough, that’s when our guard can fall, we give the devil a glimpse, an opportunity, then it becomes all about ‘ME’ and having my own way.

He reminds them…
‘We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him…we must be careful not to stir up discontent…’ [1 Cor 10:9&10 Msg]

He describes these things as MISTAKES that their ancestors made. These are self-centred attitudes. Paul describes them as WARNING MARKERS. Examples written down so that we don’t make the same mistakes. If we can keep our attitude right then we put ourselves in a better place to meet this challenge. How do we stay on our guard?

He tells them…
‘Don’t be naive
Don’t be self-confident (that’s useless)
Know that you are not exempt
Understand that we can fall flat on our faces as easily as anyone else
CULTIVATE GOD-CONFIDENCE
Remember that God will NEVER let you down’ [1 Cor 10:12-13 Msg]

I realise it sounds easier written down than it might be in reality. My prayer…’Keep me disciplined, keep me focused on the right things, help me put my confidence in you God, even when everything around me might be telling me otherwise. Thank you that you never let me down.’

How’s your GOD-CONFIDENCE today?

Integrity Job Style

Here’s my simple thought as I read the book of Job this week.

I don’t want what Job went through but I would like to think that whatever happens in my life I would hold on to my integrity like he did. Even when those closest to him encouraged him to blame God he refused to be persuaded. He maintained his integrity.
[Job 2:3 MSG: Then God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him, is there – honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil? He still has a firm grip on his integrity! You tried to trick me into destroying him, but it didn’t work.”]

Sometimes you have to fight for it.
Sometimes it isn’t easy.
Sometimes you can convince yourself that you deserve to ‘give your opinion’, ‘speak out’, ‘feel sorry for yourself’.

The challenge of standing by the non-negotiable standards in your life is what makes integrity.
Integrity isn’t easy.
Integrity can set you apart.
Integrity determines your response to things that happen.
Integrity is a leadership must.
Integrity is an overlooked spiritual discipline

You grow your integrity, then you fight hard to make sure you do not lose it.

How is your integrity looking?

Living an Unfashionable Lifestyle

Been a while since I posted but I was listening to Pastor Brian Houston the other day talking about this and it was a challenging reminder…

Jesus was the cornerstone that the builders rejected. He was unfashionable. He still is and he calls us to live an unfashionable lifestyle for him.

I don’t mean in what you wear or how you have your hair. No need to never wash, wear sandals and live like a hermit. Fashions come and go. Jesus is!! He calls us to demonstrate our walk with him by displaying some unfashionable lifestyle characteristics, things which are not about what you ‘do’, not about ‘image’ or about ‘fame’ or ‘recognition’.

They are about ‘who you are’ and ‘how you live life’, unfashionable stones that make a way for you to live a ‘significant’ life, one that impacts beyond yourself.

HumbleSacrificeHard WorkDevotionDisciplineLoyaltyHoliness

If you were to give yourself an honest assessment of how your life measures up how would you score?
Are you striving for prominence while missing out on becoming significant for God?

It’s a challenge but definitely one worth taking up…what do you think?

Feelings v Faith

I have written posts like these before. Everyone goes through stuff. This post is not designed to belittle what you may be going through but more as a challenge/reminder to make sure that you are going through it based on FAITH and not based on FEELINGS. Everyone faces tough times.

We don’t always FEEL like it…
We often FEEL like giving up…
We maybe FEEL life is hard

The truth is that there is nothing wrong with those FEELINGS.
The problem is when we allow the FEELINGS to dictate how we live life.

Having FAITH is always easier when life is going well. Then something happens…stress, sickness, job loss, relationship troubles, distractions, financial challenges…do you deal with these based on your FEELINGS or your FAITH. Can you truly display a life of FAITH in difficult times.

Many times people say stuff like…
…well, life’s hard, I need some time out
…I’m just working through it
…I can’t do Church at the moment

Those kind of comments are purely based on FEELINGS.
FAITH keeps you going, even through everything.
FEELINGS are normal but should never determine the actions of a Christian.
FEELINGS are fragile. FAITH shows strength.

Questions:
are you taking time out to get ready for the next challenge OR taking time out and becoming lazy?
are you maintaining your spiritual disciplines even when you don’t FEEL like it?

This post has been prompted by a new series I will be preaching from this Sunday…will the real ME please stand up! A culture creation series. Time to speak about how YOU (ME) are the biggest limiter on the YOU (ME) God wants YOU to become. Our willingness or otherwise to be REAL can make a difference.

FAITH is the difference.
When those around us live by their FEELINGS the reality of our FAITH will shine out in glorious fashion.

Are you living based on your FEELINGS or living according to FAITH in your God? Whichever…it will be evident to those you do life with!!

What To Do When Life Gets Tough

Here’s a revelation: LIFE HAPPENS!

Here’s the challenge: HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT?

Am I being naive to think that Christians should deal with stuff differently to how a non-believer might? Isn’t it in the difficult circumstances that the opportunity to be different, to be the faith-filled individual truly kicks in?

Choices – let our view of things dictate how we will deal with it OR keep God’s view of things always in our minds and realise that He is BIG enough to deal with it. Sounds easy and I know firsthand that it isn’t. Being distracted by stuff happens to us all. Be disciplined enough to not let those things distract you for too long.

Remember…that even when it looks wrong, it might be right
Remember…keep seeking God, especially when it feels like the last thing you want to do
Remember…He is able to more than we can ever ask or think
Remember…take captive every thought, bring it into line

These do not happen by chance.
These are accomplished by us making right choices.
These need to be held on to TIGHTLY.

When life is tough…get to Church, get into the Word of God, get on your knees, get God’s view in front of you ALL THE TIME! These are the things that make us a shining light, that have people saying ‘What is it about you?’

What’s tough in your life right now?
Be encouraged…God is on your side.
Get yourself surrounded by Him and I believe that you will come out stronger on the otherside of what you are going through.