Today’s Scripture: Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12‑14

The runners took their places behind the starting line. As the referee raised the starting pistol into the air, every set of eyes focused on the finish line ahead. With a loud bang and a flash of light, the race was underway.

I didn’t do much running in school (although I tell people singers run in my family—they have to). However, I’ve seen some races and can understand why Paul often used the running track to illustrate the Christian life.

A runner has a purpose—victory—which determines everything he does. From what he eats before the race, to the clothing and shoes he chooses for the race, to the way he runs during the race—he wants to have the best possible chance at victory.

Sadly, there are a lot of Christians who run the Christian race like they don’t even have a clue what they signed up for. They don’t train for the race by building a daily walk with God, and their running suffers for it. Without spiritual discipline and the right training, their lives are a miserable wreck.

If you want to finish well spiritually, you’ve got to train well. This requires purposeful planning. Maybe you have a goal to build a closer relationship with God this year. Figure out what it’s going to take to get it done. It may mean you have to get up an hour earlier to make time for personal devotions. Perhaps you might have to bring a notebook and pen to church so you can remember important points from each message. Be sure to pray about your goal. The key to winning is in your running. Get started today.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder