Each year, I take one week off from writing to help me refresh and reset. This is that week. To help you stay faithful to your daily devotional time, I’m bringing back a series I wrote a few years ago on disciplines we as Christians need to have. Enjoy and I’ll be back next week with all new devotions.
Once you can do everything that we discussed this week, it’s time to really start training. Training is about pushing yourself beyond your limits. Jesse Owens, the Olympic sprinter, talked about how he learned to push beyond the pain. We must too. We can’t let life’s pains stop us from our training and running our race. We can’t let other people’s faults interrupt us from reaching our goal. It’s time to start really putting our faith into practice daily. Each day I ask God to allow me to be His hands and feet to at least one person. I ask that He would use me to speak His words to someone.
Training is hard work. Hebrews 12:2 in the Message says, “It means we better get on with it. Strip down, start running – and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how He did it. Because He never lost sight of where He was headed – that exhilarating finish in and with God – He could put up with anything.” Start running and never stop. Keep your mind on things above and look to what awaits those who finish the race.
Keep your mind on the prize. Paul said it like this in Philippians 3:14, “Friends, now don’t get me wrong; by no means do I consider myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus.” Just like in a marathon, you need to keep your mind on your goal of completing the race and hearing Jesus say, “Well done.” Hebrews 12:1 says that there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on! We aren’t alone in this race. We have others who are out there to help us complete it. Find a running buddy and challenge each other daily to keep going further than you ever thought possible.
There are many similarities in training for a marathon and training for godliness. Both require mental strength and endurance. One is for temporary gain and the other is for eternal gain. Set your mind on the things that are above and remember that this world is not our home. We should be working towards our eternal home. Spend time each day working on getting there. Philippians 2:12 says, “Work hard to show the results of your salvation.” Keep working. Keep pushing. Don’t let set backs discourage you. You are not running this race alone. You’re in it to win it!
There was a period in my life where I fell like I had it worse than Job. I was losing everything in my life, and I was helpless to stop it. I felt like a knife had been put in my chest, pulled down to my waist and all my guts had fallen out. I was knocked down and didn’t want to get back up. I couldn’t see the future or any path forward. It was easier to just stay there and deal with the pain than it was to get back up and to keep moving.
As Christians, quitting shouldn’t be in our vocabulary. Giving up shouldn’t be considered. If we get knocked down six times, we get up seven. I had to remind myself of these things in those dark moments. I had to tell myself that others had it worse than I did and that I needed to start moving forward even if it wasn’t much. Between putting God’s Word in my mind and spending time in prayer, I was able to get back up and move forward. Doing the same, I believe you can find the strength you need to move forward as well.
Here are some Bible verses about not giving up.
1. The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.
Job 17:9 NLT
2. But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.
2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV
3. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.
Galatians 6:9 NLT
4. No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet, while the wicked end up flat on their faces.
Proverbs 24:16 MSG
5. The Lord guides us in the way we should go and protects those who please him. If they fall, they will not stay down, because the Lord will help them up.
Psalm 37:23-24 GNT
I grew up in the woods. We had trails for miles back there. We had also built forts all over the place too because we were always playing war games. We had named the forts instead of the trails because there were fewer of them. If my friend told me to meet him at such and such fort, I knew which trails to take to get there the quickest. I probably could have done it blindfolded because we were back there so much. I never questioned where I was or what trail to take to get where I was going. We could get to any fort from anywhere back there.
Fast forward to today, and life is full of trails or roads to take. I’m not so sure anymore which one is the right one. Taking the wrong turn can have much different consequences than it did back then. I don’t want to mess up so I analyze all the possible outcomes before I take step in any direction. My fears create a paralysis through analysis situation quite often. Instead of choosing a path at a fork in the road, often I’ll camp there instead of moving forward.
David must have felt the same way at times. I know he was an outdoorsman from growing up as a shepherd. He fought lions and bears, and led his sheep to green pastures throughout the territory. He wasn’t scared of anything until he became king. His decisions all of a sudden had great consequences and he fell into the paralysis through analysis too. His cure came in Psalm 25:4. He prayed, “Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow” (NLT). He trusted God to help him make the right decisions.
You and I can do that too. God will show us the right path to take. Even if we take the wrong one, verse 8 says, “The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray.” He has a way to get us back to where we need to be. We just have to trust Him enough to keep going when we come to those forks in the road. He’s big enough to correct our mistakes and get us where we need to go if we are willing to keep moving. If you’ve been camping because you’re not sure which way to go, take a step of faith and trust God to show you the right path.