(Photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
The gristmill in western Pennsylvania was one of the first rolling mills in the country, processing corn, oats, wheat and buckwheat for local customers.
Message summary: Stay faithful today and keep pressing on! Our greatest victory lies just ahead.
Listen to this message on your audio player.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Here in America we have been in the NFL playoff season with the two conference championship teams, the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers now poised to play in the Super Bowl. Being raised in the Kansas City area I am rooting for the Chiefs who last were in and won a Super Bowl 50 years ago when I was in high school. I went to the very first game played at Arrowhead Stadium on August 12, 1972 and although I tend to follow the teams in the region of the country where I have lived such as Pittsburgh, New England and now Philadelphia I have always been a Kansas City fan. Yesterday I spoke to my cousin, Dub, who lives in the Kansas City metro area and he told me how there was so much excitement in the city.
A football season’s success is a series of steps with the ultimate goal for each team of winning the Super Bowl. It’s preseason training, winning individual games throughout the season; getting yardage, first downs, scores, and the game win; then winning the playoffs, league championship and finally the Super Bowl. Each season is a long ordeal.
In numerous places the Bible uses sports analogies to illustrate a spiritual concept such as “running the race” (Hebrews 12:1) or “boxing” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). I believe Paul is using a sports analogy in our first daily text.
There is a similar pattern in the Christian life. Our ultimate goal, as we journey below, is “to win the prize” which is analogous to life’s Super Bowl. We live faithfully for Christ through many dangers, toils and snares by “press[ing] on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This victory is absolutely assured by the grace of God for those who faithfully believe, follow, and obey Jesus Christ.
Yet reaching this goal is a long series of “spiritual first downs.” In football the first down is an incremental step normally taken to reach the goal. Life’s “first downs” are the incremental overcomings that comprise the daily business of life.
Sometimes we get sacked, sometimes we may even get piled upon. We need to get up, shake it off, and press on. I shared this concept when I pastored in New England and Joyce Reid, a woman who had grown up in church, shared about a youth song she recalled from the fifties with a line that sure brings a smile, “Drop-kick me, Jesus, through the goal post of life.” (See below for video)
R. Kent Hughes shares a wonderful illustration of pressing on toward the goal immortalized in the movie, Chariots of Fire;
What would most runners have done? Most would have waved a fist, dusted themselves off, and watched the outcome. Perhaps there would have been a few words exchanged after the race. But the athlete in question was beyond the ordinary. It was as if he had been reading this passage—forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I focus all my energy on the race; and seeing the goal, I fly to the finish.”
Some of you are down today. Circumstances of life have sacked you. The forces of adversity have even piled up on you. In fact, as I type this message, I have some specific friends in mind who would respond, “Yeah, that’s me, alright”.
Get up, shake off, and press on! Paul wrote our daily verse from prison. He surely knew from personal experience what it meant to be sacked and even piled on (read 2 Corinthians 11:23-33). But in his last letter he confidently wrote, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:18).
David Livingstone, pioneer medical missionary to Africa upon returning to Great Britain was asked, “Where do you want to go now?” Without hesitation, like the good Christian racer he was, Livingstone replied, “I am ready to go anywhere provided it be forward.” (Amen!)
Stay faithful today and keep pressing on! Our greatest victory lies just ahead.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber