Summary: Staying faithful to the Lord in tough times

Staying the course and being faithful and focused

Philippians 3:13-14 I want to read it from the version called The Message Bible

When Paul wrote this passage he was focused on a goal of living for Christ.

Listen to what it says. I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running and I’m not turning back.

This is what Paul wrote and I think it makes great sense in the hour and day that we live right now.

There reason I believe this is because like no other time in history are there people who are overwhelmed and struggling with life. People are living on the very edge of their ability to cope today.

I see or interpret from these verses in God’s word this.

First: The apostle had his heart upon Christ as his righteousness. In other words he realized he was not good enough in his own righteousness to make heaven. He has come to understand that he is falling short of living the way he should and has a real need for a savior. He does not have it all together and that he is not good enough.

Second: The apostle knew the life that he lived would not bring him the happiness that was real and complete. He knew that this earth was not the place to try to find happiness.

And finally: The apostle’s aim is straight and focused in life. He says that he might not know everything, but this one thing he does know and that is he knows where he is headed in life and his aim or focus is in Christ.

Which leads me to say this to you this morning:

The poorest man in the world is not the one without money, fame, or glory; but it’s the man who has no vision for his life. The person that has not goal or desire to be someone or do something in life. They are just existing in life, that is a person who is truly the poorest in this life.

But I think God that when he calls us to himself, when we are saved and filled with God, then that can change if we want it to change.

Proverbs 21:5 The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Church, there is freedom and liberty in Christ. You have been set free from nothingness and desperation that sin brings. We have been touched by the Lord who gives us the ability to dream and believe and hope in great things. Amen!

Let me tell you something about vision. Vision requires a person to have a dream and a desire to what to do something with their life. That is what Christ gives. Christ frees us from the death of just existing and the death that follows people that have no desire to live for anything. Amen, church, the greatest thing that happened to me when I got saved was that Christ gave me a purpose for living and a vision to be somebody that I could not be on my own. He gave me choices that I could not give to myself and a hope that I could not make for myself. I owe everything that I am and everything that I will ever be to Christ because of his life changing power in my life.

But, when you’re spread too thin you become mediocre at everything and excellent at nothing.

Failure always results from saying yes to too many things. Because something is good does not mean it is right for you.

And that is what is happening in the Christian world today. We are so busy with so many things that we are stressed and distracted with what God’s plans for our lives are.

However, Staying focused on what God has for our lives sets us free from all of the distractions that the devil throws up at us and other peoples expectations and keeps us free to do what God wants us to do.

I. Why we need to stay focused.

A. God has a plan for your life.

1. It is perfect.

So if God has a perfect plan for you, you have to ask yourself, "am I fulfilling God's perfect plan?" If not are you are getting off track?

B. He created you for a Purpose.

1. We are not a mistake.

The Bible says we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works at he prepared for us to do in advance. So God has a perfect work for you to do. He already laid it out. You are not a mistake. You’re here on purpose and you are great because God has called you.

C. We were created to be free.

We were not created to be bound. We were not created for any other reason but for freedom. "Stand fast in liberty were with Christ has made you free" Galatians says, "And be not in entangled again in the yolk of bondage." So you were created perfect, you were created with a plan, and you were created to be free.

1. The truth sets us free.

Freedom. And how do you know its freedom? The bible says you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. So everybody here who is in Christ Jesus, you know the truth. So the truth is going to set you free. You were created in God's image. He has a plan for you. The plan is perfect. You are not a mistake. You were created on purpose. And the truth sets you free. Because of that we need to learn how to focus on the freedoms and the purpose that God has for us.

II. We lose focus and give up our freedoms when:

A. We fight the wrong battle.

1. Wasted energy.

And people constantly fight battles that they shouldn't fight. Have you ever got yourself involved in something were you think, "What am I doing in the middle of this?" Yes. We all have. And you are in and you can't seem to get out. So when you are fighting the wrong battles. It is called wasted energy.

B. We fight at the wrong time.

There is a time to fight battles and there is not a time.

1. Learn to discern the seasons.

There are seasons when you fight and seasons when you rest. And you can't fight every battle because you don't have enough energy. So you pick you battles and you pick your seasons. And you know, I find it easier to pick battles that I know I am going to win. And it’s a biblical principle, which goes into battle without first seeing if he has enough army guys or warriors behind him? And if he sees he can't win, we will go and make peace before it gets into the battle.

We do that as individuals. Sometimes we are fighting things that we shouldn't. We are fighting at the wrong place, the wrong time, and we are wasting energy when God has said we are supposed to be free.

C. We fight for the wrong reasons.

1. Wasted time.

Every once in a while someone will try to get me into a political conversation. I don't like them. Because those are conversations that you can never win. Have you ever convinced anyone politically to change? That is not something that happens over night. That is wasted time, wasted energy, and arguing over the wrong reasons.

So one, we are made perfect, we have a plan, God has a season for us, and we are to be free. Two, we lose our focus, and we lose our freedom when we get into things that we shouldn't get into.

III. God has a prize for every person who focuses on His goals. v. 14

We read it in the scripture. Forgetting what is behind, for pressing on. Achieving the goal that God has called me to achieve. So everyone here has a goal in Christ. Do you believe that? You have a goal. God has set goals out for us that we are to achieve. We are the happiest and the freest when we do what God wants us to do.

A. The enemy cannot steal your life, but he can distract you.

The enemy cannot take your salvation. If you are in Christ, the Bible says that nobody can take you out of the hands of the Almighty God. Paul said, "I am convinced that neither height nor death nor angles nor demons..." and he goes on..."can separate me from the love of Christ."

So the devil can't take your soul. The devil can't take your salvation. If you have given your heart to Jesus Christ, you’re free. And the bible says, "He whom the son sets free will be free indeed."

What the devil wants to do most of all in your life is to get you sidetracked.

B. If you continually look in the rearview mirror, you will drive into a ditch.

Think about it. Didn't the scripture say, "Forgetting what is?" But Paul says "one thing I know." Forget what is behind. When you think about your past, you are looking in the rearview mirror. And as long as you are looking in the rearview mirror, you will run into a ditch. Everybody who has failed in the past, raise you hand? All of us have. We have a tendency to judge today because of yesterday. And that is looking in the rearview mirror. And you can't drive right if you are looking in the rearview mirror all of the time.

Have you ever driven a block and you think to yourself, "how did I get here without killing someone because I didn't look at the road one time." It is the grace of God. Now, I will go further, there are times when I break out in a cold sweat, "Thank God no one walked out in front of me. Thank you Lord there wasn't a stop sign, or that someone didn’t pull out of their driveway. Thank the Lord that there wasn't a kid crossing the street." I would have killed them. That’s looking in the rearview mirror. I believe in guardian angles because of that reason. And I say, "okay Pete, never do that again." and three days later, there you are looking in the mirror and checking things out. Doing everything but looking at the road for a block.

Let me tell you this, God gives us grace when we look in the mirror because we all have human tendencies. But if you are looking in the mirror and it is controlling you and you are losing your focus, pressing on the goal which God has called you, you are only going to end up in a ditch. And I believe that there is a lot of people who will go to heaven that have driven their whole life landing in ditches...perhaps it is you. That is not what God has for you. Did you know that? God has freedom and victory.

C. God’s prize is abundant life.

John 10:10 Forgetting what is behind. Looking forward. I press on to win the prize and to achieve the goal which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. So God's prize is abundant life. So we agree that God wants to give us abundant life. So we can also agree that if we are looking in the rearview mirror, we are stuck in a rut or out in a ditch, it is not God's will for us. We can also agree that if we are fighting issues that we should never fight with, that is not God's will for us. If we are bound in things we shouldn't be bound in, that is not God's will for us. If we are stuck in a rut, that is not God's will for us. Ruts are not God's will.


Luke 19:37-40 says, “As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, shouting: BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, Teacher, rebuke Your disciples. But Jesus answered, I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”