Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lesson 16 - Pressing Toward God's Purpose

Lesson 16 -
Pressing Toward God’s Purpose

Retirement….something that we all seem to work towards our entire life.

Sadly, many are also retiring from active Christian life and service to God’s people.

This is not in God’s plan!  Look through the scriptures…you won’t find one saint who quit, even though they may have wanted to, instead they kept pressing on toward God’s purpose for their lives.

People in the Bible Who Focused to the End
In one sentence, what do you find most striking about the following individuals who pressed toward the finish in their journey of faith?

Star the one that gives you encouragement or direction for this week.

          Abraham (Hebrews 11:8 - 16, 39):  Throughout his life, he responded to God’s 
 command to move continually.  He could have quit, but he pressedon until he died.

          Moses (Numbers 27:12-23; Deuteronomy 31:7-8):  Aged and weary, he kept on serving the Lord.  He could have quit, but he didn’t, he pressed on and spent the rest of his days teaching the law, preparing the priests, and encouraging Joshua to lead
                     God’s people into the land his feet would never touch.

          Samuel (1 Samuel 8:1-5; 12:1, 23):  He was called by God to be His prophet.  He could have quit after the people of Israel rejected his leadership, but he didn’t he kept on praying and preaching and spent the rest of his life helping Saul, the man who took his place as the leader of the nation.

          David (1 Chronicles 17:1-4; 22:5, 8-11):  He passionately yearned to build a temple to God, But God wouldn’t let him (1 Chronicles 22:8).  He could have quit, but he didn’t he kept on pressing on for the Lord.  He spent his last days making plans and gathering materials so that his son Solomon could build the temple (1 Chronicles 22:5-19)

          Paul (Ephesians 6:19-20; Philippians 1:13; Philemon 1,9):  In prison, Paul spent his final days writing letters that would guide the church of Jesus Christ in the future. He could have quit in his impending death, but he kept on pressing on to the end of  his life by offering encouragement, exhortation, and comfort through his pen.

          John (Revelation 1:9,19):  Exhiled in his old age to the island of Patmos, he could have quit, but he pressed on and served out his purpose as prophet with words that still speak to us today.

          Christ (Luke 9:51; John 19:30; Hebrews 12:2):  God’s Son knew about the cross, he could have quit, but He pressed on toward it.  When it was time, He endured it to the end (Hebrews 12:2).  As He hung dying on that cruel instrument of torture to save us from our sins.

Each one of these people listed had a valid reason to quit.  People told them “no”, God told them “no”, circumstances told them “no”….yet not one of them quit, resigned, or retired. 

The race wasn’t finished and they pressed on.

People in Our Time Who Focused to the End
Name a few people you know or know of who focused on giving their all for Christ to the end.  What impressed you most about them?

Perseverance always impresses me about people, as well as commitment and loyalty to the cause.

Christians who are focused on “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” know that the prize awaits them at the end of the race.  While we may enjoy minor rewards that come along the way, the highest honor doesn’t come until we’ve run the entire race.

Acting on our love for God…we are to press on and serve Him every day of our lives.  We will receive the ultimate prize when we are face-to-face with our Lord, who himself endured to the end.

Running Unencumbered
Read Hebrews 12:1.

What habits, thought patterns, goals, or activities are holding you back, slowing you down, or keeping the pursuit of God from being the most important activity in your life?

What goals are keeping your pursuit of God from being the most important activity in your life?

What messages from the world are drowning out God’s call to you?

What do you need to lay aside so that you can better serve God, so that you can be in better running condition?

A Look in the Mirror
Look one last time at Philippians 3:13-14.  These are the words of a man who knows the purpose of his life and who is focused on that goal.

Paul’s “one thing I do” was pressing toward the prize.  Then look at Hebrews 12:1-4.  Note the verbs in each of the following phrases and share something you must do immediately.

          Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us…”

          Run with patience the race that is set before us…”

          Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”

          Consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be 
            wearied and faint in your minds…”

Have you, like Paul, determined your purpose in Christ?
If so, are you doing your best to serve God and achieve that goal?
Are you experiencing His grace as you try?
Are you keeping your eyes on Jesus and letting Him inspire you along the way?
Are you committed to press on to the end of your life?
And are you laying aside whatever entangles you?

We who name Christ our Lord and Savior are called to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.  This command gives our lives purpose, richness, and a significance that enhances our walk with the Savior.  May we seek nothing other than to follow Him to the end, to exhibit His radiance along the way, and to accomplish His purposes for us.

Loving God…Even More

Read this section in your book again.  As you consider the contents of this chapter and God’s amazing love for you, what can you do this week, in obedience to Christ…

          …to press for the prize?
          …to remember to forget?
          …to love God with all your mind?

With the goal in view, I press on..

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