I know this is not a normal blog, but wanted to share with you in more detail some of the basic disciplines I believe we need to build into our lives if we are going to run the race of life “to win.”
1. Follow the playbook. If your coach gives you a playbook and you read it casually, then tell the coach: “I’ve looked over it, but don’t intend to run any of these plays” you’d never play a key role on that team or help them win a championship. Our playbook is the Bible. The best posture for us to take as we come to the Bible is found in James 1:22-25. If we’re going to run to win, we must know the plays and run them (apply them) consistently. One thing that will help you follow the playbook – is to have a reading plan. If you don’t already have a plan for reading the Bible why not consider: a) reading a Proverb a day (there’s one for every day of the month), b) read a chapter a day from the NT and you’ll read the entire New Testament in less than a year, c) spend a year just reading the words in red – what Jesus said, d) etc.
2. Talk with the coach every day. God is our ultimate coach. As you read the Bible and allow God to speak to you, spend some time talking with God in prayer. God wants you to talk with Him about everything in your life. Learn to be honest and open your heart to Him. Hebrews 4:14-16 tells us we can come into His presence with confidence and receive His mercy and help because of what Jesus Christ has done for us. If prayer is something new for you, that’s okay – we all start at the same place learning together. One of the requests Jesus’ closest followers made of Him was “Lord, teach us to pray”. Jesus gave us a pattern for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13; He didn’t mean for us to just repeat the words He said, but use this as a model for how to pray. If you’d like even more information, I recently did a message on prayer called “Going Private”. We are still working on our podcast, so the only way to get messages right now are on CD. You can contact Randi Taylor at the church office to find out how to get a copy if you desire.
3. Be a team player. At Grace Fellowship this means get connected with a small group. Eccl. 4:9-12 reminds us that we are stronger as a group than we are alone. We all need the accountability, encouragement and care than comes through being actively involved in a small group.
4. Encourage your teammates by showing up. Have you ever been on a team where all the players didn’t show up for the game? It’s frustrating and hurts the team as a whole. If you’re going to run with discipline you must be consistent in attendance. Hebrews 10:24-25 says we should not get out of the habit of meeting together for worship, but make it our habit to encourage one another as we come together for worship.
5. Develop your skill in playing a position. In other words, get plugged in to a ministry and excell in serving in some way. You are an important and necessary part of our church body; we need you and you need us. 1 Corinthians 12 reminds us of this truth; take a moment to carefully read verses 5-7, and verse 27. We win together as a team; I you don’t do your part in serving, the whole team suffers.
6. Celebrate Victories. We love to do this at Grace Fellowship. Our 5th Anniversary Celebration on June 8th was an example of this as we recalled the great things God has done and talked about the great future we believe He has for us. The celebration was topped off with a wonderful baptism celebration where 50 people shared their public faith in Christ! In Mark 5:19, Jesus told a man He had just delivered to “go home to your family/friends and tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for you.” People aren’t going to line up for heaven merely by watching our lives; celebrate by telling them the wonderful things the Lord is doing in your life!
7. Focus on the one who’s in the game with you. When God told Joshua about the race set before him, God told Joshua: “I will be with you…I will not fail you or abandon you….be strong and courageous” (from Joshua 1:5-6). Hebrews 12 tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus as we run the race of life. Jesus has promised to help pace you as you run the race of life – but you have to keep your eyes (life) focused on Him and what He tells you to do.
In 1 Cor. 9, Paul said: “run to win” and “I run with purpose in every step”! Let’s do the same!
I’m excited about running the race with you!