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Friday, January 24, 2020

McConnells Mill, Portersrville, PA (photo by Howard Blichfeldt)
McConnell's Mill
(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.

"Keep Pressing On"

Message summary: Stay faithful today and keep pressing on! Our greatest victory lies just ahead.

ListenListen 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).

Kansas City ChiefsHere 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;

"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 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

Praying 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.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Press On"  Video   Selah

"Drop Kick Me Jesus"   Video  Bobby Bare   Just for fun but has a good message!

Finally today: Yesterday I shared about a chaplain friend who was disappointed that there was no mention of "Sanctity Of Life" Sunday in his church. He followed up yesterday writing, "I did ask the pastor about this (pastor to pastor) and his response was, 'It gets too political'. So sad!"

Indeed, so very sad. So proclaiming Biblical truth about life is "political". By this logic teaching the Biblical position on marriage, sexuality and being male and female would be "political". This is the very essence of being conformed to this world. But God's Word says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).

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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 make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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