I Corinthians 9:24-27(NLT)
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.
I must run with purpose in every step. I must run to win. But Lord, I don’t even like to run. I am not very good at it and look completely ridiculous when I attempt to do it. Yet, I am compelled to climb on that exercise equipment every other night and run. It obviously is not taking me anywhere of true value or worth. There seems to be no purpose in the sweat pouring down my face covering my t-shirt. The music blaring through headphones takes me from the gym with all the other people, the sweaty smell, and many different personalities that quickly catch my attention taking me away from my objective. I want to finish 45 minutes of pure energy and endurance. I want to finish just as strong as I started. This is not a race against anyone else. This is a power struggle with myself. Every fiber of my being lacks motivation and my mind is filled with a hundred other things that I need to do besides wasting an hour at the gym. If you think about it, everyone runs a race. There are millions of people who got out of bed this morning just like you. They went to work…just like you. They raced home to prepare dinner and rush kids all over the city to various practices. When they got home they threw in a load of laundry and picked up around the house before collapsing in front of the television to escape the pressures of this world and release stress building up on the inside. Yesterday, they did the same thing. Tomorrow, they will do it all again. So you see we all run. For many years, I ran just like everyone else. But as this journey for a cure for our son’s cancer turned from a year to two now almost three, it became clear that it was taking a toll on my mind, soul and body. No longer would I be able to pick and choose my battles. This one did not come with a choice. Now I must run with purpose in every step. Losing is no longer an option in this race of faith that we are in. The prize is clear and my mind made up. We will win. But to say such a thing and plop down on the couch is nothing more than an empty threat to the enemy of our soul. He sees you sitting there. He knows just how close you are to giving up. In fact that is exactly what he is counting on. As a believer, I am an overcomer with the ability to win and be successful in everything that I do. But will I?
To run with purpose in every step means paying attention to every single one we take along life’s long and winding road. We must concentrate on where we are going and how we intend to get there. God created us with a mind capable of discernment and wisdom. He made us to be containers of His Holy Spirit that guides us to all Truth. This is not a natural tendency and requires human concentration and effort to fully be accomplished in our life. Discipline does not mean that God sits on the sidelines of life with a giant club waiting to hit us when we step out of line. He does not “teach us a lesson” like the world does but that is most often what we expect because we do not know the God we serve. Today as we get to know God’s Intentions for our life perhaps you will decide to pay attention to the steps you take each day.
Deuteronomy 2:6-7 (NLT)
If you need food to eat or water to drink, pay them for it. For the LORD your God has blessed you in everything you have done. He has watched your every step through this great wilderness. During these forty years, the LORD your God has been with you, and you have lacked nothing.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned in the relationship of God with the Children of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament, it is clear that the Father wanted His Children’s Attention but they were too distracted to see what God was doing. As the Israelites entered the Promised Land, the Lord told them to pay for whatever they needed to eat and drink because He had blessed them in everything they did in the wilderness and watched over every step they took along the way. If I am to find purpose in each step, I must be willing to find and use it in my life. If someone handed you $100 bill today is it safe to assume that you would know what to do with it? I may have $100 worth of change in my car tucked in the seats, in the console and under the floor mats but if I am not willing to go out there and scrounge around to get it then using it – what good is that $100 to me? God was showing that He was with them every step of the way AND that He had blessed them whether they knew it or not – they would know it now. What if I told you that God has a purpose for your life that includes a future and hope all written out on your heart for discovery? Would you look for it? What if I said that He has provided for you every step of the way but your lack of purpose has caused you to settle for second best? “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) Maybe just maybe instead of crying out to the Lord for prosperity – we should discipline ourselves to pursue His Purpose for our life instead? It’s just a thought…
Psalm 37:23-25 (NLT)
The LORD directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall for the LORD holds them by the hand. Once I was young, and now I am old. Yet I have never seen the godly abandoned or their children begging for bread.
Your purpose is the very reason that you exist. You have a right to know what that is. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every single detail of our life. We take that for granted due to ignorance assuming that the Lord just wants to punish us for our willful disobedience and rebellion against him. Having been in the situation where a child’s rebellion has caused them some harm, I can tell you that looking at your sick or injured child at that moment you are not mad or seeking to harm them. You love them. You want them to be okay. You may or may not discuss the consequences in the end but in that moment you just want everything to be okay. God is love. His primary purpose in creating mankind is to have a love affair with Him. We chose other lovers but this would not spurn His Unfailing Love but rather moves Him to draw us closer. Why would God go to such great lengths to save you if He just wanted to harm you, starve you and mistreat you? Seems like a waste of energy and effort when there are so many willing to call on His Name and hold tight to His Hand. God is perfect in all that He does. He never abandons the godly or causes them to beg. He supplies all that we need from His Riches in glory. God wants to raise your standard of living. It is up to you to have it. My life has purpose. It is built around the Plan of God who has provided everything I need for fulfillment. If I choose to walk in His Footsteps as He directs and look for that very thing that delights Him about my life, I will achieve my purpose. I will be satisfied with my life here until I step into Eternity to be with Him forever. All I need is to find purpose in my steps.
Daniel 3:25-27 (NLT)
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!” Then Nebuchadnezzar came as close as he could to the door of the flaming furnace and shouted: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego stepped out of the fire. Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!
Most of us would rather not go through the harsh trials of life, I would be the first to raise my hand in agreement. There are way too many disillusioned Christians who think that just because Jesus Christ is their Savior that they will not have to face tough times or endure difficult situations. To answer that I give you the three Hebrew men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They walked right in to the fire of King Nebuchadnezzar and did not even look back. They did not go kicking and screaming into the fiery furnace but calmly stepped in. This was not campfire but a raging furnace so hot it killed three men just trying to open the door. When the king looked in the fire, he did not see three men but four. The Lord met these men in the fire. When they came out of the furnace, their bodies unharmed and clothes undamaged – God was glorified. If we allow our circumstances and/or feelings to dictate what we do and where we go, we will never find our purpose let alone experience the promises only found by the uncompromisingly righteous. God doesn’t always move us forward. Sometimes its three or even ten paces back (Isaiah 38:7-8) but in every step and every season He delights in us and works diligently to get His Promises and Blessings to be discovered in our life. You can make your plans. In fact, I believe God likes it when we make goals and pursue greater things. But understand this… the Lord has predetermined our steps. (Proverbs 16:9) They always lead to prosperity and the fulfillment of purpose. We must simply look for purpose in every step. The forward ones, the backward strides, the fearful footfalls and the cautious treading every step in every season – God has placed purpose there for us to discover, provision there so we will lack no good thing, prosperity that will begin in our soul leading to full satisfaction.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NLT)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy[b] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
It is time to stop wandering and walk with purpose. Pursing God with a passion rather than passively. For many years, I walked around the neighborhood totaling about three miles. On a fluke, I visited the gym with my husband and found that the same three miles on the arc machine or elliptical would produce dramatic results so I decided to stop walking in circles and get serious about pursuing better health. There are many who will continue to walk around the block over and over again and be completely satisfied. They do this to say that they exercise but have no real goal in mind. I decided halfway through this journey that the extra baggage and weight of worry was holding me back from successfully running this race of faith. I was eating to comfort the concerns of this life. My body rebelled. It did not want to be inconvenienced with the time it took to go to the gym, the energy it took to run or step three miles pressed beyond the simple stride of my tired legs and so I went to war against my flesh. I wanted my mind, soul and body back from the weariness of a journey that I didn’t even want to take. As I walk I often pray and listen to praise music to condition my heart and mind as I force my body into submission. It is time to get serious about the race of faith and do something about it rather than calling ourselves Christians but do nothing with it. Every single step you take has purpose in it. God put it there for you to discover. Every single stride takes you one step closer to your next promise even it seemed fruitless along the way. God is working every single detail of our life for good (Romans 8:28) because it makes Him happy to do it. When we step out in faith and purpose to take each step the same way by faith in Jesus Christ – we do not only overcome but become champions. It all begins with a new thought or idea – it is when we decide to stop wandering and walk with purpose. Soon you will be running the race of faith wondering how you ever survived living the mundane and ordinary life that brought you here. Jesus Christ freed you from every single weight that might slow you down or hold you back so let it go and walk with purpose. (Galatians 5:6-8) Run from evil to pursue His Goodness and you will find more than you could even think to ask for. You were born to win the race of faith. God gave you enough faith to get started. Jesus finished the course so you would know the Way. His Spirit will guide you and encourage you as His Word leads you step by step to the finish line. (Psalm 119:133) The rest is up to you! Will you find your purpose in each step?
Philippians 2:16-17 (NLT)
Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.