Friday, July 17, 2015

In It to Win

Proving that they are the very best in their field, four of America’s top chefs take a bold stance in the opposition to outshine, out-cook and out-dazzle their worthy competitors. 

The long running program to present such a race to the plate is appropriately called “Chopped.” 

Each challenger is more than ready to go to war for their favorite charity, by battling with their opponents at their own game as Master Chefs. With three cook-off rounds, they are provided with a “mystery” basket of ingredients that must be used for each course. 

Time waits for no one! With the 30 minute clock ticking away, the tension builds as the individuals design and present a culinary delight that will wow the judges. 

The menu will be critiqued by other famous chefs. If the contestant chef’s dish doesn’t tickle the taste buds with their creativity, they will be “chopped” from the competition leaving only one winner and one $10,000 prize. 

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To Each His Own 

Cooking championships are interesting to watch, but thankfully spending time in the kitchen hasn’t been a main ingredient in my marriage.  My husband loves to cook and I’m a good wife who lets him.  Why squash his ego, right? (Food pun intended.) 

There are other things that peak my interests when it comes to creativity in the house, such as items that pertain to design.  If hubby had his way, he’d be happy in a big old barn somewhere in the wilderness, with lots of animals surrounding him.  So I am grateful that he doesn’t mind the way I decorate the house and yard.  He does his thing and I do mine … to each his own, and we’re both winners. 

However, when it comes to being competitive, the spirit of winning takes on an entirely different meaning. 

In it to win it … 

Ever since I was a young girl I’ve been of a competitive nature, which sometimes makes it difficult with a husband of the opposite personality.  In some ways it’s good to keep me grounded, but in other ways his “it doesn’t matter who wins” attitude isn’t what I need when I’m in the middle of a competition.   

Some of my favorite memories of my family is gathering on holidays and playing games with my siblings. It didn’t really matter what game it was, we always have fun and laughed.  There was one underlying element that we all shared though, and that was we were in it to win. 

Wanting to be a winner is something mankind shares, but wanting to win isn’t always the same thing.  That’s where another life lesson led me this week.

Up Against Me 

Besides December I think the June/July months are always the busiest for me.  Of course this is self-inflicted busyness based on competitions.  I prepare for the county fair all year, but become a bit intense when it comes down to the last weeks before the entries have to be submitted. 

One of the ways I compete is in challenging myself to enter a new category each year. Sounds strange, but it’s true.  Even though I am competing with hundreds of people in different divisions, my main competitor is me in doing better than last year. 

Unfortunately in wanting to improve my record by entering more articles, my husband always gets sucked into my cycle of events.  The final item count ended up being a total of thirty-nine entries in three divisions.  Although it was half the amount as previous years (due to bad weather for crops), the types of things I made took twice as long to prepare.   

It was during a thunder storm that I took a good look at why I felt I needed to win.  What prize was I really after?  Was I being honest with my motives for entering each contest? 

… and the winner is… 

Like any earthly competition, there can be only one first place winner.  The cook-off program awarded one prize for the best in the show, and so did the judges in the divisions I entered in the fair.   

Walking around the grounds my husband and I checked to see if any of my first day’s entries had won that cherished “best in competition” ribbon.  To say I wasn’t disappointed when the winner wasn’t me would be a falsehood.  

I entered to win, and wanted to be the winner. I didn’t want to win though so that the others would lose.  However, there would be more losers, because that’s the way the competition was designed.  Anyone entering the race to win understands those are the rules. 

In a perfect world everyone could earn that top prize based on their individual achievements like the Apostle Paul talked about in the scriptures. 

Press toward the Heavenly Goal 

Wanting to be a winner is perfectly normal, after all God put it in our spirit to be overcomers and high achievers in life.  What we must not forget in competing is that we are to remain focused on the real goal Christ has laid before us. 

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (When He died on the cross for my sins.) 

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past (my sins where I failed the Lord) and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the Heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)
Paul used running a race as a metaphor the people of his time could understand.  Being a Roman citizen, he was very much informed with the sports competitions of his nation and the Greeks and related the discipline it took to compete.   

The lesson the Apostle was teaching is that each believer has a plan that God has set before them.  That plan is like a race that has a finish line of completion, with a huge difference.  In an earthly race the challengers are looking at a prize only one can win.  As a child of God, we all can win. 

Expect to Win the Race of One 

When the Lord created you and me, He made us individually goal oriented.  Each of us are to run our course of life expecting to win the race that we are called to finish.  If we follow what others are doing we will habitually fail at what we were meant to do and become in life.   

When I enter a competition to improve on my own skills, I’m not looking at my competitors.  Where they finish isn’t my main focus, but whether or not I achieved what I set out to do for that particular course of activity. 

God has not called us to run a race of thousands or millions, but to run a race of one.  We are to run our own race, not someone else’s.  He also expects us to win and achieve, becoming more like Christ as we stay on course toward our goal.  

Stop trying to please others or be what they are.  You are the blessing God wanted in His life, and He is the only one who can help you become all you are meant to be. 

Favor to Win My Race 

I may not have won the big prize at the fair on that day, but that doesn’t mean God’s hand wasn’t on what I was doing.  I did win, but not in the way I thought I would. 

The Lord has placed a gift for designing things in my spirit and that helps me walk out my calling for Him.  He allowed me to win in several areas using my talents.  Those gifts are His favor on my life to achieve my life plan that He created for me for His glory. 

When I have a desire to do something that involves my gifts or talents, I ask the Lord according to His will to let favor shine on this project giving me wisdom and understanding on my part. In doing this I am drawing closer to the real prize of knowing Christ. 

Moses made this request of the Lord so that others would know he walked in the favor of God continually.  He was bold in his prayer because he knew God in a more personal way from spending time with Him. 

“If it is true that You (GOD) look favorably on me, let me know
Your ways so that I may understand You more fully and
continue to enjoy your favor… (Exodus 33:13a NLT) 

You can see that God was not offended by what Moses asked of Him and was pleased to grant the request of favor based on their personal relationship. 

“The LORD replied to Moses, I will indeed do what You have
asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”
(Exodus 33:17 NLT)  

When I finished signing in on the entries, the co-chairwoman thanked me for entering.  The competition helps the community, which in turn encourages families to do more with their children.  Having more people participate allows the programs to continue. 

Using a gift of God put me in position to receive His favor throughout the entire process.  The coveted blue ribbon wasn’t the real prize. With each thing that I needed for the competition God made it possible for us to bless others.  I shared many of those times with you over the years in my writing or in person. 

As each event comes to an end, I put those things behind me and look forward to what the Lord will open up for me in my journey the coming year.  Like Paul, I press on to the high calling of how God will draw me closer to Him along my path.  

One thing I know is that His plan for me will always be accompanied with favor when I run to win, for Him.

This Week’s Challenge:
Run to Win 

We only get one chance to live our life, and run our race.  What things are distracting you from doing what you are called to do for Christ?   

Don’t get confused thinking just because you like doing something doesn’t mean it’s not of God.  The Lord won’t have you in a race that you couldn’t win. Those gifts and talents are His favor on your life; they will lead you on a course into His winner’s circle.   

Whatever our race, it must be one that has God standing at the finish line.  Will He say, “Well done my child?”

“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 trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”  (Hebrews 12:1 NLT)
Even though we suffer trials and tribulation along the way, God wants us to enjoy the journey.  We are in it to win.  Doing things we love are part of the race as long as we keep our eye on Him as the prize.  

So run with perseverance … run to win! 
Bible Theater: 1 Corinthians - Running to Win the Prize 

Until next time, your talents are God’s favor on you!

“I look favorably on you.”
Jesus Christ

Note: The words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives.
Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

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by Kenneth E Hagin

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy.
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Bible Gateway.
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Image:  Chopped  In It to Win It  Winner Is  Zig Ziglar Quote  God's Gift
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