Pressing on to the Prize

“So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:20-21)

As creatures of His creation we all have a call upon our lives. It is God’s plan and desire that all should be restored to an intimate relationship with Him. As you look at the order of His creation the crown of His creation was you. All was created that He may give it to man to have dominion over. It is an unfathomable privilege and a tremendous responsibility. As we look to His handiwork we cannot help but honor Him for what He has given to us. “I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)

We are called for the purpose of glorifying God the Father. This was the purpose that He sent His son into the world that through Him man might be reconciled unto God. Many a man rejects Jesus as their Savior and some reject God as their Creator. Many are called to be His disciples that His light may been seen through them. Through the witness of His disciples God can draw men unto Him that they may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This is how we can accomplish our chief end which is to glorify the Father. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (John 15:8)

In the book of Hebrews we see in chapter 11 a list of the many that God called and who responded in faith. There we read about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Samuel, and the prophets. There is but one difference between them and the rest of the world, they answered God’s call upon their life. If these men of long ago were called to lead mankind to God then God’s call is for all mankind. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) I cannot help but think that there were many called to do the good work but were not chosen because they were not willing to do the good work. It is unspeakable the price of their rejection. “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

Why are they not chosen, there may be many reasons but one most certainly is they are not willing to follow God’s plan and purpose for their life. It is a problem for all men that we become so involved in life in this world, that our love for it is so strong that we never grasp the truth of the eternity of the next world. Man is always searching for a better life but too many look no further that a dying world. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) God who knows the end from the beginning has a plan for each and every one of His creation which leads to eternal love in His Kingdom, but they are caught in the throes of this world. As we look at the creation of this world we can see the majesty and glory of the Creator. We also see that the world is passing away. For those who are trapped by something that is soon to pass away their sinful nature will lead to certain destruction. They are sick of heart and at a loss of certain hope. For this reason God sent His Son into the world to provide for their salvation. These are the ones whom Jesus came to save. “But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9″12-13)

To answer God’s call you must know God. If you were called to perform a specific task would go to a stranger and ask them to advise you, or would you seek one who was a master of that trade? When God has a task to be done He seeks one that He has a relationship with. He seeks one that He knows and one who will move forward in faith and will trust Him. He does not seek a stranger but a friend. God knows us as He created us and knows our strong points and our weak ones. God knows what we are capable of accomplishing. God knows us better than we know ourselves because everything He asks of us will stretch our abilities. God has a pan for each time in our life and at each juncture there is a purpose that He has for us to accomplish. If we know God, we know that He is our friend and will not lead us into defeat but to victory. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)

When we following Him we follow in faith because we trust His word. It is this faith that pleases Him. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6) It is our faith in Him that enables Him to work through us. It is by our faith in our Lord that we have the assurance that what is not yet seen will be seen and we will have the conviction to press on in the midst of doubters. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Though we walk by faith and not by sight it is not a blind leap. If our call is from God we can see it in our spirit. It is real, tangible, and a comfort for us to view in its completion. When we have faith we work to accomplish that which has been set before us. When that work manifests itself in the physical realm it is a full testimony to our faith in God’s Word. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.” (James 2:21-22)

Once you have begun the journey to live a life in God’s will and purpose there is no turning back. It is a worthy calling deserving of our all and to return from where we were is not an option. There was one crucifixion and there is one redemption and Jesus proclaimed from the cross “it is finished.” “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6) If one has truly forsaken their love affair with this world and are seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, (Matthew 6:33) then his salvation is assured. If one has placed their hand upon the plow of His good work then why would he forsake his journey to the Kingdom of God? “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 9:62)

There really is not place to turn back to as Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) If this is the desire of our heart to have a restored relationship with God the Creator, then the path is laid out before us following Jesus in faith. This is the only way for one to go that leads to eternal life. “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)

This is the call to let Jesus’ light shine through us that men might see and be drawn to Him and find the abundant life. “For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard.” (Acts 22:15) It is an adventure like none other that can be found. It is an adventure ordained by God set forth for you. It is the calling from God that only you have been equipped to do because you were created for its accomplishment. It is not easy, it is not a walk in the park, but it is climbing the holy mountain to Zion and an endeavor that we must press forward to. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) What you have been called to do I cannot as we all have been called as separate members of the body of Christ. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4″11-13)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, November 22, 2015

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