SERMON SUBJECT: “PRESS ON”
SERMON TEXT: “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Jesus Christ”(Phil. 3:12).
SERMON THESIS: The Christian life is linear and not circular.
INTRODUCTION: Can you say in the words of this old hymn, “I’m pressing on the upward way ... new heights I’m gaining every day ... Lord lead me on to higher ground ...” Can you say that you are gaining new heights everyday in your Christian life? Or is it more like two steps forward and three steps backwards? Is it more downward than upward? If so, be admonished and encouraged by these words from the Apostle Paul in Philippians.
Pressing on means...
I. KEEPING YOUR EYE ON THE GOAL. Paul said...
“Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).
What is your goal in life? Is it attainable? Is it a worthy goal? Not all goals are worthy goals. Since Paul was seeking a worthy goal, he could invite others to follow him. He said, “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you”(v. 17). What was the pattern he had given them?
“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (I Tim. 4:12).
Some, however, had lost sight of the goal and had gone down the wrong path as described in verses 18-19 ...
“For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things” (Phil. 3:18-19).
Peterson paraphrases it like this, “There are many out there taking wrong paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross. But easy street is a dead end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise, all they can think of is their appetites.” -The Message
Pressing on toward “ ... the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” means keeping your eye on the goal.
Pressing on means ...
II. NO TURNING BACK
Paul said ...
“Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,...”(Phil. 3:13).
1. “Forgetting what is behind”(v. 13). Forgetting what is behind means following Jesus fully. As recorded in Luke’s gospel, it is costly to follow Jesus.
“And as they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go” And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Permit me first to go and bury my father.” But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” And another also said, I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:57-62).
One writer said, “Work in God’s kingdom requires total devotion and absolute attention. Even devotion to family must not keep us from God’s will.”
Forgetting what is behind means keeping our priorities in order. As one writer put it, “Family relationships are given a high priority in the Bible, but the ultimate loyalty of ever believer is to Jesus Christ as Lord.” I like that hymn we often sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus ... no turning back, no turning back ... though none go with me still I will follow ... my cross I’ll carry till I see Jesus ... no turning back no turning back.” I like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrases it in The Message. “ ... 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.”
In his book, Spurgeon on Leadership, author Dr. Larry J. Michael, quotes these words of Spurgeon, “ . . . the man of God
must go against the current. He is not to be swept back-but he is always pressing forward, ever seeking to make and advance, contending for every inch, and making up his mind that, come what may, he cannot go back. That is not his way–he must go forward, ever pressing on toward the city that has foundations.”
2. “Straining toward what is ahead”(v. 13). Instead of turning back, Paul kept his eye on the goal. Like a runner in a race, we must not look back, but rather keep straining toward the goal ahead. Dr. Charles Stanley said, “You can’t keep your eyes focused on the rearview mirror while driving down the interstate.”
Yes, my friends, pressing on means no turning back, but on the positive side ...
Pressing on means ...
III. GOING FOR EVERYTHING GOD HAS FOR US. Going for everything God has for us, means among other things, claiming His promises. Paul said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”(v.14).
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win” (1 Cor. 9:24).
What has God promised us?
“So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you, and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God” (I Cor. 3:21-23).
I am reading a daily devotional book Carolyn bought me for Christmas by the late great Charles H. Spurgeon, titled: Morning by Morning, in which he wrote concerning God’s promises these words...
God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as wastepaper. He intended that they should be used. God’s gold is not miser’s money, but is minted to be traded with. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see promises put in circulation. He loves to see His children bring them up to Him, and say, ‘Lord, do as you have said.’ We glorify God when we plead His promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for giving you the riches He has promised?
Pressing on means going for everything that God has for us. I believe that Paul was determined to gain everything that God had for Him in Jesus. In his final word to young Timothy, just prior to his martyrdom, he said ...
“In the future there is laid up 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 loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).
Pressing on for everything that God has for us is not a name it and claim it philosophy. When God names it, we can claim it.
Pressing on not only means going for everything God has for us...
Pressing on means ...
IV. STAYING ON THE RIGHT TRACK ONCE YOUR ON IT. Paul said ...
“Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (Phil. 3:15-16).
Peterson paraphrases it like this, “Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”
The railroad workers in our church know just how important it is to keep the train on the tracks. In life, many have made ship wrecks of their lives by getting off track. Paul would say, “Don’t let the things of this world derail you as some have!” Get on track with Jesus and stay on Him. When you find yourself slipping, reach out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for you.
How does one get on the right track in the first place? By trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord. That is what Paul did on the road to Damascus.
Concerning keeping our lives on track, Paul said, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained”(v. 16). In other words, do not give up valuable territory to the enemy once you have possessed it.
CONCLUSION: Therefore, my friends, in light of this message I encourage you to Press On. Press on by keeping your eyes on the goal; do not turn back, go for everything God has for you, and stay on track once you are on it. If you don’t know Jesus now is the time!