Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Eye on the Prize
The sports world showers prizes on those who excel – trophies, money, public exposure, and more. Participants are encouraged to be winners by persevering and performing their best. Those who finish first gain fame and fortune as they win events such as the World Series, the Super Bowl, the Stanley Cup, the Tour de France, prize fights, golf tournaments, and Olympic gold. These achievements are viewed as the ultimate prizes.
The concept of winning the ultimate prize filled the heart of the Apostle Paul. He tells us, “Do you 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.” (1 Corinthians 9:24). In Paul’s mind, however, the prize was eternal life and salvation through Jesus Christ, which allows us to spend our eternity in peace with God. Whereas he uses an athletic analogy, the race he wants us to run refers to our spiritual struggle while living our lives for Christ.
Paul also recognizes there is more to running the race than just the race itself. He reminds us, “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.” (1 Corinthians 9:25a). Paul knows an athlete who expects to win the race does not simply show up at the appointed time and run. Rather, the competitor must invest in daily training so he is prepared physically and mentally to perform well. Without daily effort, the prize will be lost.
Paul’s training alludes to our necessity to train ourselves each and every day for the race we run for Christ. We must be in God’s Word, the Holy Bible, every day. This training and discipline is essential if we are to win the prize God wants for us. We need to train ourselves to know the Truth of God’s Word so we can recognize the lies of the world. A key element of sports victories is mental toughness. We must toughen our minds to deal with Satan’s onslaughts.
No athlete with an eye on the prize would show up at the Super Bowl without having trained and expect to win. He would not know the plays, the execution, or have the timing necessary to execute the plays, nor would he have the physical endurance required to complete the contest. Intense practice the day or week before the game will not suffice. Instead, a lifetime of physical exercise and a daily routine over many months focusing on the contest is necessary to succeed.
Paul also knew Satan is plotting to distract us from our daily Bible study and training in living a Christian life. Satan is always lurking, ready to feed us his lies. He tells us that skipping a day or two is no big deal. He suggests over and over that you have already learned the Bible stories sufficiently and there is no reason to read or study them again. However, his only purpose is to detour us from the good race God wants us to run so he can lead us down the path to sinful living.
The race we run as Christians is often a long one, more like a marathon than a sprint. We need training and endurance to finish the race well, not just an initial burst of speed or energy. As every marathoner knows, the course is not level. Hills and valleys are part of every course. Sometimes we struggle to summit the spiritual hills during our Christian race and look to God to give us strength. At other times, we coast comfortably downhill, prideful in our knowledge and abilities. Pride is a sin and sin always takes us downhill and the valleys can be dark and lonely. Unless we reconnect with God, we risk sinking lower and lower, eventually crashing when we reach the bottom of our spiritual slide.
It is normal for those who win the race to keep their eyes on the prize. It is only through focusing on daily training in and execution of our Christian values that we can win the prize of hearing our LORD say “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Satan and the world are out to divert your eyes from the prize. Be sure you are training every day. It’s the normal thing to do.
In His love and service,
A servant of Jesus Christ
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