April 1

Today's Bible readings
     Leviticus 4
     Psalms 1 & 2
     Proverbs 19
     Colossians 2
''Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, not sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night." (Psalms 1:1-2)
            The Psalmist introduces us to two paths, or two races.  God's specialty is changing losers into winners.  My desire is to be a winner. I don't just like to win, I live to win. If we are playing tennis together and you are anxious to go home, just let me win and we can go home. The great coach, Vince Lombard had a point when he said, ''winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  God wants you to be a winner.
            The first step is to make sure we are in the right race. Jesus mentions two paths you can follow here. In Matthew 7: 13-14, He again identifies these two races. He tells us about the narrow path, which is difficult, and the broad way which leads to destruction.
            When we talk about winning the race, we must realize that most people are not in the right race, they are in the rat race. The rat race is wide open, self-fulfilling, self-centered, and self-serving. There are few rules, few boundaries and there is tolerance of anything. The rat race is the counsel of the ungodly, the path of sinners, and the seat of the scornful. The lingo of the rat race is all about “me”, “my” and “mine” - the unholy trinity. This rat race is a treadmill. We run, but never arrive; we reach, but never obtain; we strive, but never succeed. This rat race is easily accessible. Jesus said it had a broad gate. It is wide open, crowded and deadly. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14: 12) Now God wants you in the right race.
            Now you need to realize the right race is never easy. When Jesus talked about the narrow path, He could have pointed to those narrow paths on the hillside overlooking the sea. I have been there and those are difficult paths to walk.   On one occasion, my wife and I climbed Mount LeConte in the Smoky Mountains National Park. In my very limited hiking experience, this was one of the most difficult climbs ever made, but the view from the top is unforgettable. The road is narrow, tight, secluded, lonely, hard to find and leads to an unforgettable experience -just like the Christian life. We discovered that this narrow path is almost empty and secluded. There were very few on this difficult trail up Mount LeConte. In this race of life, many times we will run alone. It is a lonely race. We find our strength not in numbers, but in the Lord. ''Then Jesus said to His disciples , ''If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'' (Matthew 16:24) You will also discover that the narrow gate is Jesus Himself. You must enter by Him.  “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. '' (John 10:9)
            Walking this path and winning this race involves commitment. Your first commitment is to the Lord Jesus Christ. This Godly person in Psalms 1 is a person of conviction, not consensus; of principle, not preference. When you win in God's race, it doesn't matter where else you lose. The rewards are great. The Psalmist says, ''you will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.''
Guadeloupe is our focus for prayer today. It is actually known as the Department of Guadeloupe, and is in Latin America. Guadeloupe was a French Colony since 1635; it became the Overseas Department of France in 1946; and has maintained that status since then. There is religious freedom in Guadeloupe, but with a strong secularist tendency. The grim legacy of the cruelty of slavery has left its mark in the lack of meaningful marriage relationships, and widespread occultism in the Afro-Caribbean, but it is among these that there is the greatest spiritual interest. Pray that the Gospel may transform and uplift these peoples. The French who live on the island show very little interest in spiritual things. Pray that God would give such spiritual awakening on the island among His people that this group, as well, would be brought to Christ.
''When Charlton Heston was starring in the movie Ben Hur, they were filming the famous chariot race. He said to director Cecil B. Demille, ''I may be able to drive the chariot, but I don't know if I can win." Demille replied, ''you just run the race, I'll make sure you win."  We must faithfully run the race; God will make sure we win."