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A New Start for the New Year, part 4
Dead churches have the tendency to sit on former accomplishments. Self-satisfied, without desire or burden for the work of the Lord today. They are just glad for the time, or times, God has used them to touch someone in the past. I pray, with all that is in me, that that is not us and that it never becomes us.
We absolutely ought to LEARN from our past, however we should not YEARN for it.
Secondly, not only should you forget those things behind you, but, you must also focus on the things before you.
Listen to it again as the Apostle says: “… straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul is alluding to the Olympic athlete who races in competition with others for a prize. She runs with all her strength and endurance. And as she approaches the finish line, she stretches, or leans forward at the last possible second in order to be the FIRST to cross the finish line. At that moment, she’s not thinking about past successes or failures. Her entire focus is on winning the race at hand. Two things need to be remembered here:
First, this spiritual race we are in demands my whole self, everything I am, everything I have, to serving the Lord right now. Whenever I talk to people about ministry, I enjoy hearing about what they’ve done – but I LOVE hearing what they ARE DOING right now.
What are YOU doing right now??? As Christians, it ought to be our passion to serve the Lord with excellence! Solomon tells us in the book of Ecclesiastes; that whatever we put our hands to, ought to be done with all our might. We ought to NEVER be satisfied with giving it less than our very best… especially when it comes to serving the Lord. If you are a teacher, then you ought to strive to be the very best. If you are a nursery worker, or a youth leader, you ought to devote yourself to that thing. Singing? Giving? Soul-winning? Whatever God puts in your heart to do for Him, do it with all your heart, do it to the best of your ability! Don’t be one of those who skirts by with as little preparation or effort as possible; give yourself fully to the thing – just like an athlete preparing for competition.
Secondly, keep the goal in sight. What IS the goal, you might ask? In a word, the goal is Proximity… drawing ever closer to the Lord. The Apostle Paul explains this way… “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” The person who trains for athletic competition doesn’t sacrifice and spend all those hours working and training because they want to come in second place. The goal is to WIN! In the Olympics, and if you’re like me, you’ll be watching them come February. Anyway, in the Olympics, there is a three-tiered platform that is always on the athlete’s mind. From the time they qualify through the opening ceremony to the time of their event – front and center in their minds is that three-tiered platform. They desire to hear their name called to come up to stand above their peers… as the Olympic Judge places the gold medal over their head.
That was Paul’s goal too. He understood that one day he would stand before the JUDGE of this universe – and he wanted to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” It was not about the applause of people: but the approval of God was really what Paul desired. In light of ALL that Jesus had done for him, Paul wanted to give his very best to the Lord.
I’ve heard a good number of well-meaning Christians say, “I don’t care anything about rewards – making it to heaven will be good enough for me.” I am convinced: They don’t realize what they are saying. Serving the Lord with all our might is the greatest way we have of worshiping Him. All the crowns we will receive in heaven; we will cast at His feet as an offering of praise for all that Jesus means to us – as if to say – “I would never have accomplished anything without YOU.” And I for one don’t want to be found empty handed on that day. The ultimate goal, for any Christian ought to be, honoring the Lord.
Medication: A Merry Heart: SURVIVAL TIPS FROM MOM
- If you are lavishly praised, enjoy the taste but don't swallow it whole.
- After a certain age, if you say something outrageous, everyone will think it's cute. Take advantage of this.
- Your children may leave home, but their stuff will be in your attic and basement forever.
- If you wouldn’t want to see it in a newspaper or on the evening news, don’t do it.
- Don’t let a child with the stomach flu sleep on the top bunk.
- If you humiliate yourself, be consoled with the thought that you probably made someone else’s day . . . maybe even their week. Think of your humiliation as an act of charity.
- Avoid marrying anyone who deliberately flushes the toilet when you're taking a shower.
- It’s a proven fact that zipping up a small child’s snowsuit will cause her to wet her pants. There is no known cure for this.
- If you want to hide candy bars so you can eat them after the kids are in bed, put the candy in the freezer in a paper bag labeled “Fish.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Philippians 3:13-14 ESV
Today’s readings: Job 1 – 5