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Monday, February 3, 2014

Snowy tree 2/3/14
We are having a beautiful snow storm this morning with 4 to 8 inches projected!

"Press On Toward The Goal"

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"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14).
"So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it" (2 Corinthians 5:9).

Today's illustration may not connect with non-football fans or some international readers but it has an important spiritual application. Please don't click the close button just yet, read on! Here in America for many our national sports interest turns to football throughout the fall and early winter culminating in the "Super Bowl" played out last night. The game sure didn't turn out as many had projected! If you were for Seattle you're very happy today but if you are a Denver fan not so much!

A football season's success is a series of steps with the ultimate goal of qualifying for and winning the Super Bowl. This is really true of many sports. In football its 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.

In numerous places the Bible uses sport's 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 sport's analogy in our 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.

First downYet 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. In 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." (Video below)

R Kent Hughes shares a wonderful illustration of pressing on toward the goal
immortalized in the movie Chariots of Fire;

"The year was 1923, and the competing track teams of Scotland and France were neck and neck. But among the events remaining was the 440. As the runners, clad in traditional 1920s white, came to the first turn, they were bunched tight, shoulder to shoulder, when one of them (Eric Liddell) was pushed to the ground and off the track. For a second he was down—and then up again, running (though twenty meters behind), his knees high, his head back—flying. And as the leaders sprinted to the finish line, he emerged ahead to win!

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 I have some specific friends in mind who would respond, "Yeah, that's me, allright".

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 for ever 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! In the end we will look in triumph on our foes, as the greatest victory is just ahead.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Thankful manDaily prayer: Father, You bless those who revere Your name and delight in Your commands.  In the midst of inner turmoil or outer conflict I will not be shaken for my heart remains steadfast trusting in You and Your overall plan for my life.  As I meditate on Your Word and stand firm in the midst of trials and testings I know that I will not be shaken. I want to remain firmly grounded as I overcome the daily obstacles that come my way.  Help me to learn the valuable lessons along the way as I press on toward the goal for which You have called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Many prizes of earthly value are earned on this side, but the prize of greatest worth that offers eternal reward is heaven. I'm headed there and will leave all sorrow, sin, and sadness behind. That will be glory, be glory for me! Amen.

Following are a selection of the spiritual resolutions
written by Jonathan Edwards
before age 20.

"Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him, by His grace, to enable me to keep these resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to His will."

Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God, and my own good, profit, and pleasure... To do whatever I think to be my duty... for the good and advantage of mankind in general. "

Resolved, never to do any manner of thing, whether in soul or body less or more, but what tends to the glory of God...’

Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.

Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

Resolved, never, henceforward, till I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.

Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother.

Resolved, (That) there be something of benevolence in all I speak.

(Edwards resolved to read these resolutions over once a week!)

Home windmill in snow 2/3/14
Another view from our front window this morning

Dottie with goldfinch 2/3/14
As I prepared the message Dottie was carefully observing the goldfinch feeding on the other side of the window, who appeared oblivious to her.

Children singing "Jesus Loves Me" at Mount Pleasant 2/2/14
Yesterday our pastor preached on "Let The Children Come To Me; and at the conclusion invited the little ones up to sing, "Jesus Loves Me".

Coconut cake 2/3/14
Cream of Coconut Cake
(We nicknamed "Death by Coconut Cake" since it's loaded with
 cream of coconut, butter, cream cheese and eggs.)

 I made this 3 layer cake for the dinner following a funeral today of a dear senior in our church, Virgie Lauver. The snow continues to pile up so I will not be able to go but thankfully there are a number of women who live next to the church who will be providing today. So, I guess our neighbors will be in for a pleasant surprise as we share this indulgent cake with them. It's way too rich and calorie laden for our family to enjoy alone! Here's the recipe.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Press On"  Video  Selah  We both really enjoy this powerful song by Selah based on Philippians 3:14. Consider these thoughtful lyrics:

When the mountain is steep
when the valley is deep
when the body is weary
when we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
when we're battered and scarred
when we've spent our resource
when we've given our all

In Jesus name we press on
In Jesus name we press on
dear Lord, with the prize
clear before our eyes
we find the strength to press on

"Press On" 
Video  Building 429

"Higher Ground"  Video  Smucker Family This older hymn, although not necessarily using a sport's analogy came to mind in the course of preparation. This is a nice vocal version with lots of harmony.

"Marching On"  Video  Calvary Tengah Bible-Presbyterian Church (Singapore) Another song with the theme of pressing on!

"Drop Kick Me Jesus Through The Goalposts Of Life" Video  Blackwater Creek  This is the song Joyce shared with me in New England. The drop kick is so unusual many younger football fans may not have even heard of it but is still legal in the NFL.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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