Summary: As believers we are in a running race. Every race has a finish line and a prize. This sermon focuses on how reaching for the prize in Christ should be the priority for a believer. A powerful New Year sermon.
Complete list of New Year sermons at http://www.cityharvestagchurch.org/category/sermons-and-sermon-series/new-year-sermons/
A blessed New year to you. It is such a joy to have you back again this evening. God gave us a wonderful start to the new year and believe this year we are all going to go to the next level in our walk with the Lord.
A lot of people have died climbing the Alps, falling off of precipices. At the foot of one of the many mountains that has been attempted a number of times is a little grave, it’s the grave of a man who tried to climb to the pinnacle and fell off a precipice to his death. The tombstone there is very simple. It gives his name and then it says, “He died climbing.” That really should be the epitaph of the tomb of every Christian, “He died running.”
Reaching for the prize was the subject I was speaking to you at the Watch Night Service. We saw that as believers God has done has part in sending Jesus to die for us on the cross and now we have a great part in pursuing the prize that God has for us. We are how we can reach the prize.
4. Spiritual Motivation.
Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize.
So there is a goal and there is a prize. For an athlete goal is to come to the finish line, once you finish first you are given a prize. In a Christian race everyone who finishes is given a prize. So what is the goal? To be like Jesus. Then what is the prize? To be made like Jesus. Philippians 3:12 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
When am I going to become like Jesus? When that heavenward call happens? When rapture happens I will be like Jesus. The goal is to strive to be like Christ. I put all my effort and with maximum concentration run my race. The prize is as I continue to do so I will be one day made like him in the rapture.
So what motivates me? The heavenward call. We have to live in the light of being called out of this world in to presence of God and at that particular point we will be given an eternal reward, we will be made like Christ. And if God is so gracious to be willing to give us that prize, how committed should we be to run the race? Wretched. I don’t know about you but that motivates me to run toward the goal.
Paul saw it at the end of his life when he wrote his last letter and he said: 2 Timothy 4:7-8 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. What is the crown of righteousness? It’s the crown which is righteousness. What is righteousness? Jesus Christ.
So, reaching for the prize means realizing your need, means making a maximum effort, it means focused concentration and it means being motivated by the greatness of the prize itself.
5. Recognize divine resources.
In reaching for the prize we much recognize the divine recourses available for us to reach our prize. Philippians 3:15a All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things.
Paul is telling that if you think you are mature in Christ, you should have only one attitude. What is the attitude? Reaching out for the prize.
My prayer for you is that you’d have that attitude. That your desire would be to pursue the prize, that you’d see your own need, that you’d make maximum effort, that you’d have focused concentration, that you be motivated by the great prize and that you would pursue with all your might that prize.
So look what else he says. Philippians 3:15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
“But if in anything you have a different attitude.” The church is full of people who aren’t interested in pursuing the prize. They’re interested in looking at the past. They’re content with where they are. They do not want to grow. They are content being Sunday Christians. Instead of recognizing their need, instead of making a maximum effort with focused concentration and motivation, they just are content with where they are.
The different attitude is explained in: Philippians 3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.