The Discipline to Begin and the Perseverance to Finish

The Discipline to Begin and the Perseverance to Finish

Reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
–Philippians 3:13-14

To succeed in the Christian life, it takes the discipline to begin and the perseverance to finish. Paul described the process in this way: “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

You may be thinking, “I’ve had too many failures. It’s too late for me to hear the words, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” No, it’s never too late to start doing the right thing! The message of the gospel is this: no matter what you’ve done, you can begin anew today. But it takes more than just the desire. You need to have a game plan to live above your circumstances and succeed in the Christian life. When it comes to earthly things, you can’t just say, “I wish I were in shape” and expect to accomplish your goal. You need a plan to get into shape. Similarly, you need a game plan to accomplish your goal in the spiritual life. Paul said in 1 Timothy 4:7, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.”

I’d like to share three practical ways you can get into shape spiritually and begin anew in your relationship with God. First, read the Bible. Commit to spending twenty minutes a day, five days a week, reading your Bible and praying before nine o’clock in the morning. Second, get a good Christian book. Then commit to read a chapter of that book once a day, five days a week. We all need positive input from Christian literature to help us grow in our relationship with God. Third, commit to being in Sunday school and church every Sunday you possibly can. To grow in your Christian life, you need the instruction from your pastor and the encouragement that comes from other Christians.

If you want to live above your circumstances, you not only need the discipline to begin but also the perseverance to finish. If you’re going to succeed in your relationship with God, you’ve got to say, “Regardless of any slipups, regardless of whether other people applaud me or jeer me, regardless of whether I can see any progress, every day I commit to keep moving forward.” Even if you stumble in your relationship with God, as long as you are still straining, as long as you’re still reaching forward, you’re still in the race. Do you want to experience outrageous joy and live above your circumstances? Then press on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Holy Sweat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.