Repent and press on toward the prize

When the Apostle Paul was sharing with the first century church about the wonders and glories of heaven, as he pondered those things, his mind goes to his own life lived for God. He talks about living by faith, and being made righteous by Christ. Then he calls out the desire of his own heart.

Philippians 3:10-11, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."

Paul didn't know how it would all work out, but he did know that this resurrection power and fellowship in the sufferings of Jesus Christ was what he wanted. He also knew the result of that kind of intimate relationship with the Lord would culminate with being part of the resurrection. Life beyond this life, eternal life with God.

As Paul continues reflecting on his own personal life, he thinks about his faith and where it was going, then he pens out these words.

Philippians 3:13-14, "...but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Paul knew he had not obtained perfection, he knew that could not happen this side of heaven. He knew he did not have it all together and needed to grow in his faith. Yet Paul also knew that spiritual growth would come only with a right perspective. Growth would come by "keeping his eyes on the prize."

What a great lesson for a 21st century believer. Paul calls it one thing but like any good preacher he gives us two things. First, he forgets his past. Do you have things in your past you regret? Are there things you are ashamed of? Ask God to forgive you, then forget it. Paul had many things in his past that he was ashamed of " he persecuted Christians before he became one. Now he forgets what God has forgiven. No longer bound by his past he moves on.

That's the second thing, press on toward the prize. There is a prize, a reward, a crown, for all who by faith call upon the name of the Lord. When you trust in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the Bible declares that you are "called by God." Your life is no longer your own, you were purchased by Christ's blood, so now you are to live your life for him. Pressing on, straining toward what is ahead.

Are you bound by your past? Turn in repentance toward the God of all grace, and press on as you give to him your life, your deeds, your love.

n Pastor Rich Lammay of High Sierra Fellowship is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.


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