Be the Best!

Who likes ‘discipline?’ I am not talking about the kind that parents bring to their children. The discipline of which I write is about controlling how we eat, how we spend our resources, where we allow our mind to dwell, and how we use our time.  

One of the persistent myths among us is that experiencing a life of success requires being born into privilege or experiencing ‘luck.’  The truth is that two of the components of real achievement are within our control. *We can choose the road that is steep, though naturally we tend to seek the path of least resistance.  
*We can take the long view, planning and pursuing more than today’s reward.

Christians are often suspicious of teaching that encourages self-discipline. Rightly so, for it can lead to pride in those who gain a measure of success if they mistakenly believe that their ‘goodness’ is the sole cause of their achievement.  Pride will hinder our grasp of God’s grace, a gift, not a reward, that transforms us.

And yet, we cannot ignore the fact that the Scripture includes ‘self-control’ among the evidence of the life of the Spirit in us.  The Lord reminds us that “When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23, NLT)  

The more that we yield ourselves to the Spirit, letting Him reshape our attitudes, our values, our heart – the more we are able to choose that which brings life to the full.  In the letter to the Romans we read – “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God . . . be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV)

I am challenged by the example that is used for our Christian experience, one that draws on the image of a dedicated athlete’s passion for performance.  “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV) 

Whether you have been a disciple of Jesus for 10 minutes or 10 years remember that you are in a race; not a sprint, but a marathon. God’s calling us to grow in grace, to become mature, to love and forgive, to be generous of heart – and His will is not fully discovered in the choices of a single noble day.  It is a day-to-day life of ‘discipline.’  

Will you wander along, allow distractions to tempt you from His way; or will you run to win?  Plenty of things will come along that are not part of the race! The Proverb says “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest— and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11, NIV) 

The Spirit has provided us everything we need to be winners in the race for Life. Now, we take up the challenge and train. We run with our eyes on the prize. And, ultimately, we find the best life now as well one that pleases God.

At the end of his life, Paul wrote to a younger pastor, in reflection. In terms of money and acclaim, he had little in the way of success.  And yet, he was full of hope for the richest reward of a life well-lived. Mediate on his words, the last ones he penned before his ended. The word from the Word says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NIV)

No more excuses, OK? Stop envying those you see as ‘luckier’ than you are.  Learn to say “yes” to long-term goals over immediate gratification. The best life waits!

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

O Come To The Altar

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today there’s no reason to wait
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes a new life is born
Jesus is calling

Oh what a Savior
Isn’t he wonderful
Sing alleluia Christ is risen
Bow down before him
For he is Lord of all
Sing alleluia Christ is risen

Bear your cross as you wait for the crown
Tell the world of the treasure you’ve found


Chris Brown | Mack Brock | Steven Furtick | Wade Joye

© 2015 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing (Admin. by Essential Music Publishing LLC)

CCLI License # 810055

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