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Summary: The goal of finishing the race must be before us as Christians. Heaven awaits. Strive toward the victory of heaven by living out your faith every day.

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Sermon

Lanier Christian Church

August 14, 2016

David Simpson

Pressing on Toward the Goal

Philippians 3:13-14

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. - Philippians 3:13b-14

Unless you've been hiding under a rock somewhere you are probably very aware that the Olympics are taking place in Brazil right now. Faith and I have stayed up past our bedtime each night watching some of the events. Last Monday night (8/8/16), a 21 year old swimmer by the name of RYAN MURPHY, won the 100 meter backstroke event in swimming, setting a new Olympic Record. Something I found very interesting about him was that his mother was digging through some old papers last year and found a booklet he drew when he was eight years old, entitled: "My Swimming Life."

Here is what he wrote: "I hope my swimming life continues and I become an Olympian when I grow up. I hope I will break the world records. I want to be the best swimmer in the world." (This is a picture he drew of himself wearing the gold medal…see internet for photo). Amazingly he fulfilled his dream by winning the gold medal, not once but twice, when he won the 200 meter back stroke on Thursday night (8/11/16)

His older brother, Patrick wrote recently, "I will always be Ryan’s biggest fan. He showed me how to dream big."

Ryan Murphy has always had a goal in his young life. Now he's seeing it fulfilled. He has inspired countless others through his determined effort to excel in the sport of swimming.

What about you and me? Do you have any goals? What propels you to move forward on any given day? Are you one who says: "I just try to make it through the day...?" Do you find yourself aimless and bouncing around each day with no clear goal in sight?

The apostle Paul was very goal-oriented. He had witnessed the original Olympic races in Greece. He was no Olympic athlete, but neither are we! Yet, he wrote to the Philippians as a spiritual athlete running a race:

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. - Philippians 3:13b-14

Let’s learn how to press on toward the goal as we explore this powerful verse:

1. Each believer has a goal.

If you are a Christian here today, then you have a goal. The prize of heaven awaits. Paul used an interesting phrase to describe his spiritual life in Jesus. He said, "I press on." That phrase means to "vigorously pursue."

All of the Olympic athletes, whether they win a medal or not, have only gotten to the games because they vigourously pursued excellence in their sport. All went to Rio this year with the expectation of winning a medal. Why even the tiny nation of Fiji won gold in the Rugby team competition!

Would you describe your life as a Christian as vigourously pursuing...pressing on...to the goal of heaven and the reward that awaits?

I think that we as Christians often suffer from short-sightedness. We keep our heads down and never look ahead toward the prize. We shuffle our feet and never move with intention toward the goal. We just try to make it through the day with no clear direction, no pursuit, no goal in sight. When that happens, we have allowed the enemy, Satan, to win the day!

It's time to get focused. It's time to turn our eyes toward the prize. It's time to aim for the goal.

2. Each believer must be singularly focused.

It's interesting...when you watch the Olympics, you don't see an athlete trying to complete in several different sports. (Other than decathlon, etc – but they are not the best in each individual sport). For instance, Michael Phelps was not on the golf course, the archery range, the race track, AND the swimming pool. He focused on ONE THING...swimming.

I don't know about you, but I am rarely focused on just one thing. I do this and I do that and I run here and I run there and I try to tackle just one more thing and see how many different agendas I can balance in my life. In doing so, I am not impressing anyone, lease of all myself. That old phrase applies here: Many of us are a "jack of all trades, but a master of none." Is that a good thing?

Here is what should guide our lives as believers. We are Christians first. That should be our focus. In the Rio Olympics there are a good many Christians who happen to be olympic athletes. Notice I did not say, athletes who are Christians, but Christians who are athletes. The same applies to you and your career. You are not a teacher who is a Christian, you are a Christian who is a teacher. You are not an employee of a certain company who happens to be a Christian, you are a Christian who is an employee. You are not a retiree who happens to be a Christian, You are a Christian who happens to be retired. You and I are Christians first! That is our highest calling. Our focus on Christ is not something we do just one day of the week when we worship. It is a constant...a singular focus. One thing I do....I live for Christ no matter what I do in my career.

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