Today... You Only Have it Once

I Corinthians 9:24-27, Matthew 6:33, Philippians 3:12-16, Romans 12:1-2

For each of us, days slip by basically unnoticed, or we make the most of our days in order to live effective and beneficial lives for impact. A common temptation in life is to drift into the mode of unconcern and undisciplined living, which leads to trouble, regret and heartache.

The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:24-27 about the runner who practices self-control, diligence and persistence in order to win a corruptible crown.  Stories are told of outstanding athletes, and how they trained for great lengths of time in order to compete in athletic events.  But Paul goes on to remind us of our need to strive and run with purpose, persistence and self-control.

The athlete who is devoted and determined to win an earthly crown often brings us to shame when compared to our diligence, persistence, effort and self-control to be more like Christ and to live in obedience to the Word of God. Often believers devote a few moments to Bible reading and prayer, and as a result, they are content and even boast in that fact.  Yet athletes spend strenuous hours in training and preparation for the “corruptible crown,” and believers grab a few moments for spiritual intake.  Considering these moments are often jammed into a hectic schedule, believers go forth in a hurried fashion into a world of temptations, pressure, immoral exposure, decisions and problems with little or no preparation for the events of life that happen each day.

We would do well to take some lessons from the Word

1. Practice self-control 
2. Be temperate in all things 
3. Deepen our spiritual knowledge in the Word
4. Meditate in the Scriptures day and night
5. Examine our lives daily
6. Pray for strength and wisdom daily
7. Take all of the filthiness out of our lives
8. Keep under our body
9. Live in the fear of the Lord daily
10. Be light and salt in this dark world.

It would be good for us to keep the words of Johnson Oatman Jr. in our hearts and minds each day.  One of the 3,000 songs that he wrote is Higher Ground. The words are:

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I’m onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where those abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

I want to live above the world,
Though Satan’s darts at me are hurled;
For faith has caught the joyful sound,
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright;
But still I’ll pray till heav’n I’ve found,
“Lord plant my feet on higher ground.”

Chorus: Lord, lift me up and let me stand,
By faith, on heaven’s tableland,
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord plant my feet on higher ground.

(From 366 Inspiring Hymn Stories for daily devotions, by Kenneth Osbeck, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Mi.)

A challenge for all of us is to press on to higher ground to be more of who and what God desires us to be today.  Why press on? If God should tarry, and we live another year, we will be a more disciplined, prepared and effective tool in the hand of Almighty God.  He desires to do extraordinary things with ordinary people, empowered by Him and under His control.

Have a GREAT day, but remember! You only have it once.