Editor's Note: This week, the home of noted author and Crosswalk devotional provider and contributor Cecil Murphey burned to the ground. Mr. Murphey's son-in-law was killed in the blaze. With God's help, much prayer, and the contributions of people everywhere - including some very special friends and neighbors - the Murpheys are persevering. "Cec" is a true winner, who we honor today by printing these excerpts from his book, Devotionals for Winners.
A Winner Is...
Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice! --Philippians 4:4, TLB
The first time I met Martin, he came to our writers’ group. We were all novices, and none of us had published more than one or two articles. I’ll always remember how Martin introduced himself. He said, “I am a writer.”
He went on to say, “I have never published anything, but I am a writer.” Something about his self-confidence in asserting his talent, even though the world had not yet seen it, impressed me.
This event happened at a time when I wanted to think of myself as a writer, but had neither the confidence nor the courage to use those words about myself. Martin encouraged me to say, “I’m a writer.”
That’s also the way it is about being a winner. I’m a winner. That doesn’t mean I win every victory. That does not mean that I never lose. It means that I’m a winner and I know it.
I still have ups and downs in my life and probably will always have some. I can’t say that I’m on top every minute of the day. But I’m still a winner.
A few months ago I read that Babe Ruth, who next to Hank Aaron hit more home runs than anyone in the history of baseball, struck out 1,770 times during his career!
One can be a winner and still fail. The difference lies in an attitude. I know that I’m a winner. Because I know I’m a winner, I know I’m going to overcome my problems and the tough situations that face me.
In all the years that I have been a Christian and especially in the years since I have thought of myself as a winner, one verse has helped me most of all: “Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 TLV). For me, the secret of being a winner is that I can constantly rejoice in Jesus Christ, who does so much for me. I’m a winner because Jesus Christ makes me a winner. You are a winner, too.
Lord Jesus, You became the great winner through Your Resurrection. Teach me that because I am Yours I’m a winner, too. Help me rejoice in that fact. Amen.
Compliment the Winners
...fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. --Philippians 4:8, TEV
Philip is a member of Toastmasters, Incorporated. The other day he was telling me about the organization. In the midst of our conversation he said, “I’m a good speaker and I’m getting better.”
I like that attitude. We need more people who can honestly say things like “I’m good and getting better.” Honest self-appreciation isn’t bragging. But such people are winners. Winners know themselves, their talents and abilities, and they can honestly talk about them.
On the other hand, many of us come from a kind of Christian culture that’s always putting us down, as though we’re of no value. On the contrary, we’re God’s servants. We’re the people whom He has chosen to carry out His mission on earth. That makes us both special and unique. That makes us winners.
As we know more about ourselves and feel good about ourselves, we can recognize that we’re winners. One way we can acknowledge that we’re winners is by giving ourselves compliments.
Try this from the negative. I can remember in school when math class came along. Math has always been my poorest subject. Often when I made a mistake, I muttered to myself, “You dummy.” Throughout life I have tended to do that when I’ve done something that common sense or a little foresight could have prevented. I’ve said to myself, “You stupid jerk.” That didn’t help my self-image. Nor did it help my effectiveness with Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul exhorts in Philippians 4:8 to think on good things. One thing we can think on is the good things we say about ourselves. We can do this because we realize we have not given ourselves goodness, but we have derived our value through the love of God and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit which operate in our lives.
Let’s start complimenting ourselves. We know our strong points, so let’s acknowledge them. “Cec,” I can say, “you write well.”
I’m convinced that we believe the words we hear. Why not look at ourselves every morning in the mirror and say out loud, “I’m a winner.” Or, “I’m a good worker.” Or, “I have a lovely smile.” Or, “I’m bright and articulate.” One day we’ll believe our own words—and they’re true, too!
One characteristic of winners is that we know that we are of value to ourselves, to God, and to the world. Let’s think about the admirable qualities in our lives. We have them because we’re winners and because we try to follow Jesus Christ and want to be more like Him.
When we read the Gospels, we notice the way Jesus talked about Himself. He never made put-down pronouncements about Himself. He knew who He was. Jesus was a winner!
God, thank You for making me a winner. Thank You that I am a person. You’ve made me into a winner and I thank You. Amen.
A New Me Coming
But the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. There is no law against such things as these. --Galatians 5:22-23, TEV
On three different occasions in my life friends have said something like this: “You’re different, Cec. You’ve changed.”
Joanne said it the first time. I was in the military service and had been a Christian only a few months. Even though I had said nothing to her, my co-worker, about my faith (I hardly knew how to talk about my experience), she recognized a change in me.
Jerry and I were classmates in seminary. Eight years after seminary, we were both pastors and Jerry visited me. During our conversation I remember he cocked his head slightly and looked at me. “You’re different. You’ve changed, and I like what I see.”
A third occasion happened a few months ago. I was visiting relatives that I had not seen for two years. One of my nieces, a lovely Christian girl, said to me, “I’ve always loved you, Uncle Cec, and I’ve thought of you as a good Christian. But you’ve changed, and now I like you even more.”
I have changed! I’m going to keep on changing. None of us is going to stay the same. We’re going to get better or worse. The choice is ours.
I visited an office a few months ago. The man had a sign printed behind him which said:
You are not the same person that you were yesterday.
I asked him about it and he said to me, “It’s my way of reminding myself that I am not only changing—I can assist in that change. I can improve myself and I can build confidence. I can become a better Christian.”
We have the power to choose. We can change for the better. As Christians, we change not by our own strength, but by our willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to help us.
The Apostle Paul in Galatians says there’s a war going on in every one of us. He calls it the war of the flesh against the Spirit. The flesh, as defined by Paul, is our old nature, the part of us that constantly rebels against God. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit with whom our Spirit should cooperate. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God is trying to perfect us, and he mentions nine types of fruit growing in us. This is the work of the Spirit. As we give ourselves to Him, the Spirit matures this fruit in us.
As we give ourselves more and more to God, we realize we’re not the same person we started out as. We’re always becoming a newer person. Each one of us can say, “There’s a new me coming.” We’re winners. We’re changing. We’re becoming more of what Jesus Christ created us to be.
Wonderful Lord, thank You that there’s always a new me coming. Thank You that You’re the One who’s helping me make these changes. Amen.
Cecil Murphey has written dozens of books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, and Caregiving. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. Cec loves meeting the people who have benefited from reading his books, saying that interacting with them stimulates his mind and nourishes his soul. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wife Shirley, a wonderful woman and former editor. They have three grown children.
Excerpts from Devotionals for Winners used with permission from the author.