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Lest You Fall

19 Sep

Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12 NASB

It was a beautiful morning.  The air was warm and still with just enough cloud cover to keep the burning sun off my skin.  As I rolled my bicycle out of the garage, I noticed that the air pressure in my tires was a little low – perfect for taking on obstacles.  Though I usually fled from road hazards, on this day, I found myself seeking them out.  Gravel.  Sand.  Mud.  I handled each one as though I had been born to ride trails.  And the more of them I encountered, the more confident I became.

Rolling back into town several hours later, I felt like a champion and it was with this thought in mind that I pulled up to the crosswalk.  Leaning to my right, I reached for the “walk” button… and fell over.  I had managed the trails, but now as I lay bleeding on the sidewalk trying to detangle myself from my bicycle, I knew that my confidence had gotten the better of me.

I won’t pretend that I haven’t had similar experiences during the course of my Christian walk.  Confident in my ability to deal with major trials and temptations, I lose sight of God as the source of my strength and get taken down by the “little” sins which I thought were beyond me.  Humiliating?  Yes.  Perhaps that’s why Scripture goes to such lengths to remind us that “pride goes before the fall”.  Only when we approach life with an attitude of humility can we be guaranteed to succeed!

Challenge:  Today, pay special attention to the areas in which you feel most confident.  Then, take the time to thank God for your success and ask His blessing upon your future endeavors.

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Run with Endurance

12 Sep

Read: Hebrews 11:39-12:2

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”  – 1 John 4:4 NASB

My thighs are burning, my pulse rate is high, and sweat is dripping unhindered down my face.  I don’t know much, but what I do know is that I’m ready to quit.  Glancing down at my timer I note, much to my dismay, that I’m only ten minutes into the designated workout.  Cautiously, I look around the room.  None of the other ladies seem to notice me off in a corner by myself.  No one will know if I quit.  No one would blame me if I did – after all, endurance exercise just isn’t my thing.  I reach for the “end” button, but pause as I notice the words scrawled across the white board tucked behind a treadmill near the window, “What is inside you is greater than any obstacle.”  Looking once more at the clock, my hand falls to my side… and I finish the run.

More than once, I’ve felt a similar desire to give up on my Christian race.  Conflicts with friends and at church, trials at work, and frustrations with family can all pile up so quickly that they seem to be more than I can bear.  Yet it is at that very moment when I feel most ready to throw in the towel that God’s Spirit quietly reminds me that “He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world.”  The obstacles before me may seem overwhelming, but the God who is in me is greater.  Victory has been assured.

Challenge: Today, be on the lookout for those who may be struggling to stay in the race.  Then do something special to encourage them to keep running!

Forgetting the Past

15 Aug

Read: Philippians 3:3-14

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.  Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19

The call was unfair.  You could see it in his eyes as he approached the referee.  It was the middle of the 2012 London Olympics men’s beach volleyball qualifiers and a point had just been scored against his partner and himself… an over-the-net block in which the competition had touched the ball before his team had been given the opportunity to defend.  According to the rules, the point should have belonged to him, but the ref disagreed.  The score stood.  Nodding his head, he returned to the court, his composure calm and controlled.  The ball was served, his partner set, and he slammed it over the net and evened the score.  His decision to focus on the present instead of the past had made the difference between success and failure.

I had to admit that my own performance in similar circumstances has not always been so stellar.  Frustrated by the unfairness of the circumstances in which I find myself, I often focus more on what is past than upon what lies ahead.  The result is always the same: instead of moving forward to glory, I end up tangled in a mess of further failure.

The Apostle Paul was aware of this and, in the book of Philippians, reminds the young church that whatever has gone before (good or evil) is past – and should be left in the past.  God had something new planned for Israel and He has something new planned for us as well.  Our duty is to keep our heads in the game.

Thought for the Day:  Am I looking towards the future with expectation or am I allowing prior failures to distract me from God’s plan?

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