03 January 2017

A PASTOR'S PRAYER FOR HIS CHURCH


Phil 3:12-16

The one desire that Paul had for the church is the same desire I have for each and every one of you as we depart ways this morning. What is that desire? To press on for the glory of His name by exemplifying His grace through our lives. What does an exemplified Christian Life look like? It’s a Christian life that is not an imitator or actor playing a role but the mind and heart of Christ. It’s a Christian life that is sensitive to the family of God and to those lost people outside the church. It’s a Christian life that displays Christ as their greatest treasure. It’s a Christian life that will never compromise for the sake of fitting into this generations mold.

As Eric Liddell a Scottish Athlete did during the summer of 1924. The Olympics were hosted by the city of Paris. Liddell was a committed Christian and refused to race on Sunday, with the consequence that he was forced to withdraw from the 100 metres race, his best event. The schedule had been published several months earlier, and his decision was made well before the Games began. Liddell spent the intervening months training for the 400 meter, an event in which he had previously excelled. Even so, his success in the 400m was largely unexpected. The day of 400 meters race came, and as Liddell went to the starting blocks, an American masseur slipped a piece of paper in his hand with a quotation from 1 Samuel 2:30, "Those who honor me I will honor." Liddell ran with that piece of paper in his hand. He not only won the race but broke the existing world record with a time of 47.6 seconds.

This is a prime example of what a Christian looks like when they are faced with a choice. This is a prime example of someone who wasn’t going to compromise for the sake of a Gold Medal because his goal in life was to make Christ first in his life.
Just as Eric Liddell wanted to exalt Christ. Paul wanted more of the Lord and less of Paul and this should be our desire and pursuit of life as well as we press on as a church family. Look what Paul says in (v12) “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect”

What does he mean? Paul is saying he hasn’t reached that point in life where he knows everything.... or he is like his Lord yet! This is a very humbling statement....especially coming from a godly man like Paul. Paul is saying “I’m still learning as I progress in my sanctification” Are you still learning or do you think you know enough; and are you satisfied with that? As Kent Hughes wrote in his commentary “There is nothing in Scripture quite like this explosion of spiritual longing. And Paul’s passion longing is meant to serve as an example for all Christians. We are called to make his passion for Christ our own. Dare we ask of this? Will we pray for it? That remains the great question for every Christian.”

I guess it comes to this question! What are you striving for? .................................What is your ultimate goal in this life as you press on each and every day? If it’s to make yourself feel fulfilled and satisfied and important, then you’re on the wrong road! And you truly don’t understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ! The Christian life is to walk worthy.....count the cost.......self-sacrifice as a drink offering.....a life that honors our Lord and to seek the interest of others first.

The goal of my life and your life should be like Christ! 
All our service
All our dedication
All our actions
All our relationships

All our praise is to be directed towards Christ and displaying His character in our lives. Everything we do should spin off of being like Christ Jesus and to exemplify His name. This is my prayer for you! WHY?

IF I’M TO BE LIKE CHRIST, I WILL SERVE GOD IN THE WAY HE SERVED GOD.

“So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.” John 13:12-15
  
IF I’M TO BE LIKE CHRIST, I WILL RELATE TO PEOPLE IN THE LOVE IN WHICH HE RELATED TO PEOPLE.

“But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” Matt 9:36
  
IF I’M TO BE LIKE CHRIST, I WILL PRAISE HIM AS HE PRAISES.

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” Psalm 150:6

All living things in the air, the earth, the waters. Let there be one universal burst of praise. The simple focus of my life is to be like Christ!! THAT IS WHY “I must let the word of Christ dwell in me richly in all wisdom...”  Col 3:16. THAT IS WHY “If I say I abide in Him I must walk the way He walked,”1 John 2. I'm to be like Christ. This is the goal of my life and yours. This is a life that exemplifies the Lord Jesus Christ to a broken and fallen generation. Kay Arthur says “The will of God for your life is simply that you submit yourself to Him each day and say, "Father, Your will for today is mine. Your pleasure for today is mine. Your work for today is mine. I trust You to be God. You lead me today and I will follow." Again look back to (v12) we’re to “press on” which means to run...follow after, this speaks of an aggressive passion for something! As Paul said to the church at Corinth “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” 1 Cor 9:24

We have been taken, possessed by a God who loves us through Jesus Christ. We have been brought into a relationship with the Father through His precious Son. We have been given eternal life and forgiveness of sins by Jesus Christ. We are secure in the hands of a Holy God by the finishing work of Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul said what he said in (v7-9) It is our obligation [OUR PASSION] as Christian’s to follow, to press forward, and to be like Christ...NOT to be Christ but to be like our MasterOur pursuit in life should involve laying hold of Christ in every aspect of our lives (v12b)

As the Hymn song goes… I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee..”

 See to “Lay hold” means to make one’s own possession. I need Christ for every hour so that I can lay hold, to press on for that upward call in Christ Jesus. Christ chose Paul for the ultimate purpose of conforming Paul to His glorious image and that was the very goal Paul pursed to attain, to lay hold of Christ. Is this your ultimate goal in life this morning? Is it your passion and desire to grow more into the image of the Son? Or is this too overwhelming for you because it makes you feel defeated like doubting Thomas or pessimist Phillip? Is this you? “if we’re going to die let’s go get it over with?”…..or “There is no way I will ever be like my LORD” Your right I will never be like my Lord! But we must take hold of it and pursue to our dying breath.....Paul knew this as well. Paul says I haven’t reached Christ-likeness yet nor will I ever on this earth but while I’m here on this earth I will pursue it none the less! (v13-v14)
  
What is Paul saying here!! Do we live in the past? No! We are not to look at our past virtuous or deeds or achievements or dwell on our sins and failures.... Paul looked at his assets and accomplishment and saw them as manure remember. Paul says we (Christians) are to run towards what lies ahead........which is Christ likeness. We are to run towards the prize........which is Christ likeness in Heaven. All our pursuits should be to glorify our father who is Heaven and to make much of Christ on this earth as lights to fallen generation.

HOW DO I DO THAT? 

BY SATURATING MY LIFE IN HIS WRITTEN WORD 

“Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation” 1 Peter 2:2

BY SATURATING YOU LIFE IN A DEVOTION TO PRAYER (PERSONALLY AND CORPORATELY).

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Eph 6:18


BY FOLLOWING AFTER THE GODLY EXAMPLE OF GENUINE PEOPLE WHO ARE RUNNING THE RACE, NOT THE ONES WHO SLOW DOWN OR GIVE UP HALFWAY THROUGH.

“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” 1 Cor 4:15-16

And this same truth can be found here (v15-16) Find those who are spiritually mature.....not by age but by the intimate relationship they have with Christ. Remember what I said before! “it’s not how long you have been a Christian, it’s how in love you’re in with Christ that really demonstrates your true heart.” Find people who are in that same pursuit as you are and strive together to grow closer into the image of the Son. Encourage lift up one another as you make this journey home. That’s what Paul is referring too here!! Those who have a passion and a fire for the Gospel and Jesus Christ. Not passive, on the fence, complacent…but on fire for the glory of God and the truth of His word.

HOW DO I RECOGNISE A PERSON LIKE THIS?

They will always have a passion about the saving grace in their own lives and they will always treat their salvation as the greatest gift they could ever have. They never waste their time on personal pursuits; or make excuses! They’re always seeking the interest of those around them. They are honest in their dealings with others because it’s their passion to please Christ above all things. They walk as a light in a fallen world with the Gospel that saves to the uttermost and they display that by making much of Jesus Christ.
  
Remember what the Hebrew writer wrote…..“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:1-2

Believers are to have the attitude of pursing the prize of Christ likeness. Paul says if you think that’s not possible.......he writes “God will reveal (uncover or unveil) even this to you” (v15b). If you’re a person who dwells on the past and looks back at his life then you are a person who is not pursuing the prize of Christ likeness and God is still is working on you in this area of your life. Whether He does this through conviction or He will soften your heart to understanding. I don’t know! But according to what Paul writes here in (v15) God will show you that it’s possible to walk.....run....press on.....look ahead to a life that exemplifies Christ likeness. Listen to what John MacArthur said “at the foot of one the Swiss Alps is a marker honouring a man who fell to his death attempting the ascent. The marker gives his name and this brief note: “he died climbing.” The note of every Christian should be that they died climbing the upward path toward the prize of Christ likeness.”

What does the marker say about your life........today? What does the mark say about your life in a year, ten years from now? I hope it will say “they died climbing the upward path toward the prize of Christ likeness.”

No comments: