Win the Prize

What we constantly think about is a sign of what we love. King David said, “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

David loved God’s Word. That’s why he thought about it day and night. It’s not that he had nothing better to do. He was the King of Israel and his day
was occupied with the business of the kingdom. Yet, notice benefits he received from spending time in God’s Word: “I have more understanding than all
my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalms 119:99).

When we begin a consistent routine of meditating the Word of God, light will shine on our path and we will receive understanding on how to walk in what
God is revealing to us.

In order to master our thoughts, we must make demands on ourselves. We have to become our own taskmasters. We become more demanding on ourselves than anyone
would dare. No one could require as much as we required of ourselves.

In First Corinthians 9:24-25 the Apostle Paul compares the discipline of the Christian life to that of an athlete:

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in
the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (NAS).

Athletes who want to win a race don’t have discipline imposed upon them; they enforce their own discipline. Others may indulge in a variety of pleasures,
but the athlete disciplines and restrains himself. Lance Armstrong’s autobiography, It’s Not About the Bike, reveals the discipline he imposed
upon himself. In order to compete at the highest level he rode his bike at least six hours daily through rain, sleet, or freezing temperatures. It
took tremendous self-discipline.

Notice Paul said those who compete, exercise self-control “in all things.” Not only does the athlete eat a very controlled diet, but he also denies himself
of many commonplace activities to prepare for the race. Regrettably, the self-imposed discipline of athletes often surpasses the discipline of many

Pastor Ezell, the man who trained us in ministry, was the most disciplined man we have ever known. The godly principles that governed his life marked our
lives so deeply that we have adopted most of these principles as our own. We were very young believers when we worked for him. While being trained
under Pastor Ezell, we were often confused by the undisciplined and self-indulgent lifestyle of some members of the church. But he always put us back
on track by calmly reciting an adage that he lived by: “Others may, but I may not.” This self-imposed discipline that he demonstrated taught us the
importance of personal restraint at a very early time in our Christian lives.

If we expect to win the prize at the end of the race of life, then we must keep our focus on the Word of God. It’s not our job to judge what others do,
or don’t do. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit. If we really want to honest about it, keeping ourselves on track with God’s plan for our individual
lives is a full-time job.

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