Can you remember the day you began your journey with Christ? For me, I was eighteen years old and at a crossroads in my life, sitting on my living room floor listening to an Amy Grant cassette tape. Yes, a cassette tape! If you are under the age of twenty you probably don’t even know what I am referring to. However, you older men and women can fully relate. I remember the day like it was yesterday. The title of the song was, It’s Gonna Be Alright and as I listened to the lyrics I actually felt Jesus say to me, “It’s gonna be alright, Jeneen.” Young, pregnant and uncertain of my future it was right there on the floor of my living room that I surrendered my life to Christ. I have never looked back!
So many Christians start well, but the prize shall be given to those who finish. Paul spoke to us about this very thing in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. “Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win. All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So, I run straight toward the goal with purpose in every step. I am not like a boxer who misses his punches. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do as it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
We must keep our eye on the prize of eternal life and lead a diligently,disciplined life because there are so many distractions.
1. Guard Your Mind - Proverbs 23:7 declares, “For as a man thinks, so is he.” What we subject our minds to (what we see, listen to, associate with, etc.) is crucial because the battle for a successful life is fought in the mind. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 reminds us that the weapons of our success are not found in the natural, physical, carnal realm, but in the mind. It is our responsibility to fill our minds with the Word of God and to be ready at all times to avenge that Word by casting down any thoughts or imaginations that speak against Truth. Everyone has a negative, contrary thought at one time or another, but it is our responsibility to recognize the error and bring that particular thought into captivity - rendering it powerless. Romans 12:2, “Be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” A renewed mind is a mind in agreement with God’s Word!
2. Guard your Influence - “Be not Deceived! Evil communications corrupt good manners!” We often underestimate the power of bad influence. While God does expect us to be His light of love to the entire world, He encourages us to fellowship with like-minded people of the faith. Jesus associated and ministered to the multitudes, but He chose to be in fellowship on a regular basis with only twelve. Christians often allow unbelievers into their inner circle of relationships believing they can both influence and change them, but God never intended this. Too often the sin, actions, beliefs and mindset of the unbeliever negatively impact the believer. This is why 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers: For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?” Most of the time we associate this verse with marriage, but in scripture it is not written to us in the context of marriage . It is a command for every tight-knit relationship we may develop,whether personal or business. A Christian is not to be “in fellowship” with unbelievers. Once again, understand the difference between association and fellowship. We can and should “associate” with unbelievers, sharing the Light of Truth and love with them. However, we are commanded NOT to be in constant fellowship with unbelievers. Galatians 5:7-9(NLT) “You were getting along so well. Who has interfered with you to hold you back from obeying the truth? It certainly isn’t God, for He is the One who called you to freedom. It only takes one wrong person among you to infect all the others- a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough!” Be wise and carefully guard the inner circle of your life. Surround yourself with like-minded men and women of the faith who share the ability to sharpen lives. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
3. Guard Your Heart - “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 hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on Whom our faith depends from start to finish...” Hebrews 12:1(NLT) How many of you know what I mean when I say SIN is a weighty matter? It is such a heavy burden to carry. Sin separates and serves only to weigh us down with guilt and condemnation, ultimately hindering our relationship with Christ. Take a few moments to evaluate your life today. Then, be willing to obey and lay aside any sin that is weighing you down and impeding your future progress. Practice self-discipline...press forward with determination...and never take your eyes off of Jesus and the goal of eternal life!
My earnest prayer for you today is that you would be whole in Christ and full of joy. I count it the greatest privilege to know Him and to also be known OF Him...