March 11, 2012
Text: Philippians 3:12-21
Subject: Looking to Eternity
Title: Spring Forward – Living the Intentional Christian Life
We had a great night with our youth on Thursday evening. It was so good that I really felt the Lord telling me that I needed to continue with the same theme today that I had Thursday. That theme was that the Christian life doesn’t happen by accident. So our young people don’t have to listen today right? I don’t think so… It is intentional and purposeful. That is a truth that every Christian must learn. Somebody once said that those who are going nowhere are certain to reach their destination.
If you are going about your life without a plan or a purpose – if you think that walking in the Spirit means that you don’t have to have any kind of plan for your faith life – then you probably don’t have purpose and are not living the intentional Christian life. But that is not the kind of life that God has in store for you. God’s plan for you is that you have a plan and that you intentionally walk according to the will of God in reaching your goal.
There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, "Henry, you're holding the bat wrong. You're supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark." Aaron didn't say anything, but when the next pitch came he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, "I didn't come up here to read."
J. M. Boice, Learning to Lead, Revell, 1990, p. 38.
Last night you set your clocks ahead one hour – spring forward. Many will complain that you have lost an hour and that it takes a long time to recover from that loss. Many approach their faith life that way also. You have lost some time and some opportunities and you can never make them up.
Today I want to show you that God’s purpose for your life is to never look back, but to always be looking for the finish line with your eyes on living intentionally for Jesus today.
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
And I appropriate it to my life today…
God wants all of you to live an intentional life.
I. LIVING AN INTENTIONAL LIFE BY LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE… In the passage immediately prior to this one Paul talked about his desire to know Jesus to the fullest. He recognizes that this is an intentional process. Now he adds in verse 12, Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Paul confesses that his salvation is not the end but just the beginning. He hasn’t finished a race but is in the middle of it. How many times have we seen in the past someone come forward at the invitation for salvation to make a confession of faith and the next thing you know they are out of church living like they did before? Or how many times have we baptized someone only to have them act like that was all they needed to reach that final goal? But Paul said, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me…” I’m going to intentionally stay steadfast in my faith. I’m not going to turn away. As a matter of fact, the word translated “take hold” means “to take possession or seize for oneself”… To think that you have already acquired all that God has for you denies the truth of other scripture. 2 Corinthians 3:18, And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. This transformation is not accidental. It is not something that just happens to us. We must be seeking Him and desiring to be more like Him. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Look at the steps Paul writes about in the intentional walk of a Christian. 1) Recognize that it is a process… I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. 2) Don’t dwell on your failures… Forgetting what is behind… the word “forgetting” = “to lose out of your mind” Even if you wanted to you couldn’t remember because it’s not there. ..3) Keep your focus on eternity… straining toward what is ahead… I don’t like the word “straining” in the NIV. It makes it sound like living intentionally for the Lord is a burden. The word means, “to stretch one’s self forward.” It is talking about the challenge of being and intentional Christian and not the difficulty of it. 4) Move forward intentionally…14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. The word “press” means, “to pursue”… Are you chasing after, pursuing the things of God for your life? It isn’t something that just happens. You must be intentional…