Friday, October 18, 2013

Understanding Purpose (Part 2)

Understanding Purpose
Understanding Purpose

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 someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave...” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV)

There is competition in all facets of life; one might even say all life is rooted in competition. Being competitive requires discipline. An undisciplined competitor, regardless of their talent, will not be successful. I have seen athletes with far less talent succeed where athletes with far greater talent have failed. Sports, business, technology, science, medicine, and education all require a level of discipline in order to succeed. Even societies require discipline to sustain success. When there is a fundamental breakdown of discipline, failure soon ensues. Please don’t misunderstand what I’m saying regarding societies. I do not refer to oppression as a form of discipline.

Last week, I spoke about the importance of knowing God’s word and applying it in my life. Additionally, I indicated how closely prayer is tied to knowing God’s word. The bible speaks of how God’s people are destroyed for their lack of knowledge. Jesus spoke of our spiritual enemy, referring to him as a “thief”, Jesus says, “The thief comes to rob, kill and destroy…” To rob me of God’s joy and peace, to kill all my love and desire to please God with my life, to destroy my hope of salvation; the thief is very disciplined. If I am to pick up my cross and follow Christ to Calvary, I’d better have a disciplined life to do it!

I can remember when, I struggled to pray. I would often go to the church and assemble with others, listening to the prayers offered to God. I was in awe of the men and women I heard praying prayers of intercession on behalf of others, our schools, teachers, students, families, political leaders, the nation, our economy. These were prayers which inspired me, encouraged me and taught me that this was an area of weakness in my life. Often, I would kneel, but not knowing what to say. I studied references to prayer in scripture, I bought books on prayer, but I failed to understand the fundamental principal of prayer; consistency.

I can memorize many scriptures so that I know what God says regarding His promises, how He has saved others, the power of His healing touch, and His divine grace; but without a disciplined, consistent prayer life I will never fully apply my faith in action. I had to learn, not to rely on the prayers of others (although it is good when others agree with me to pray), but to rely on my own will to come boldly before the throne of grace and plead to God on my behalf or on the behalf of others as an intercessor.

How do I establish discipline in my life as a Christian?

Pick up your cross daily and follow me.

These are more than the words of Christ; they are the instructions to every believer to maintain discipline in my life. Each day, I should eagerly seek God’s presence and call upon Him to guide me throughout the day; my thoughts, words and actions. Now I’ll be the first to admit that even with this thought in mind, I don’t always uphold my words. Like everyone else, I face trials; so in addition to discipline I need patience.

Patience will enable me to avoid the trap of discouragement. Every one of us have expectations; of ourselves and others. When these expectations aren’t met, we face discouragement. Discouragement plants the thought of giving up. Have you ever made the decision to lose weight, get healthier through diet and exercise? You begin with such good intentions, but soon, you find yourself craving that favorite food or you say, “I don’t feel like exercising today”. My thought gives way to lack of discipline and then I find myself discouraged. As I yield to this thought, I soon discover that I’ve given up totally with my goal and I am even more discouraged. Instead of acknowledging to God that I need Him even in this area of my life, I may blame it on my diet being too difficult, the exercises too hard, not having an exercise partner, or someone else.

Patience helps me recognize that although I failed, I must not give up; I must press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I don’t have to pray for hours, I can pray anywhere at any time! That’s the marvelous gift of prayer which God has given every believer; open access to Him. If you don’t have discipline in your life, start praying to God; practice daily prayer! Don’t focus on length or quantity of words but the quality of what you say to God. Open your heart up and genuinely speak frankly to Him. Do this every day and you will discover a powerful spiritual tool in your arsenal. You will also recognize a more disciplined life.

Next week, I will discuss the importance of obedience to understanding purpose.

A Note of Thanks: I would just like to say that I appreciate each of you who visit My Thought-filled Journey. Taking time out of your schedule to read a post on this blog is encouraging to me. Many of those who visit, will from time to time leave a comment. Whether a comment is left is not important. What is important, is that you came. I do hope you find encouragement and inspiration in these words. Please know I will pray with you regarding any circumstance you may be facing. Feel free to write me to say "Hello", request prayer, or share what God is doing in your life. I have not said it enough, but thank you for the light of Christ in your life which illuminates the way for us all.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte).