Monday, September 26, 2011

Run After The Prize

If we are to observe body builders or athletes, we can easily see perseverance, discipline to their schedule or diet, and following orders is vital to their success.  The prize doesn’t come without sacrifice or dedication to training but it does keep it in perspective.  Yet, what is the prize before you?   If athletes have to train their bodies to be disciplined, why doesn’t the Christian have to train their lives?  Athletes have to remove unhealthy diet habits, work long hours at the gym or run to train them for victory.  Many Olympic athletes have to begin their schedule extremely early, so they adjust their lives to get the proper rest.
      Most athletes desire to gain the prize, recognitions, or achieve personal success for the wrong reasons.  We have seen the terrible effects of what fame can do some athletes, it has destroyed their lives. Within our nation, many people idolize these athletes for their talent or skills but overlook the damaging morals to our children.  Sadly, we have lost what’s truly important in life-knowing Christ.  If knowing Christ is what drives us, we should be disciplined within our lives.  Discipline isn’t exciting topic but it does produce the character we need to develop. 
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

       Within the body of Christ, I am astonished to see how weak some Christians are within their lives.  So many Christians neglect the important of prayer, Bible study, and attending church without any remorse or conviction for their soul.  Also, do not desire to be accountable to another godly elder within the church.  All of the great patriarchs of the faith were trained by another godly person.  Regardless of whom you study in Scripture, either someone invested in one’s life or followed the life of another: Elijah taught Elisha, Moses taught Joshua, Paul taught Timothy, Paul was trained by Priscilla and Aquila; Jesus followed the Father, Jesus trained the twelve disciples to follow His teachings.In other words, we are not called to “Lone Rangers”, we are to teach, rebuke, train, and invest in others.  Being a disciple of Christ means we follow the teachings of Christ even if it means death.  Am I referring to physical death?  Not necessarily but it could be called for.  Paul, Peter, Stephen and many missionaries, pastors, and teachers have lost their lives for the Gospel.  All of their deaths were not in vain; an award awaits these precious saints.
      However, I am referring to a spiritual discipline needed to overcome our weaknesses or ability to be strong in Christ.  It’s frustrating to see believers still on “spiritual milk” when they should be eating the “meat” of the Word.  So, many Christians desire to keep drinking the milk to be satisfied with their salvation, so they never mature in their walk.  So, they become frustrated with themselves or God.  All the spiritual disciplines are important; they keep us focused on the prize-knowing Christ.  The tests and trials of this life don’t happen to cause pain but to bring maturity in our walk.  Faith never tested, isn’t real faith.  No student is greater than their teacher, so if Christ had to learn obedience through suffering, so should I. (Hebrews 5:8)
     What’s your eternal soul worth?  If Christ paid with His life, it’s worth a lot.  So, we should guard our hearts with all diligence, there is a prize awaiting us.  One day, we will bring a crown at the feet of Jesus; I want mine to shine with my love.  Never do I want to bring a reproach to the name of Christ, so I will accept conviction from the Spirit, rebuke from my elders, and stay submissive to the Word.  All of the disciplines of this life should be producing a disciple-one who follows the Word.  It’s important to grow healthy, so we need to use the proper disciplines to make it a success.  It’s time to let go of the past and embrace God’s future with passion, determination, and discipline.  So, what are you running after?  What is the prize?  If it isn’t to develop your walk with Christ, it is meaningless.  Run after the prize-to know Christ.
I Corinthians 9:24, “Do you not know that in a race all of the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.”