Running After The Mark

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I PRESS toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14 KJV

One of the definitions of the word, “Press,” in the passage above means to run swiftly after, to pursue. That’s how Paul chased the mark for the prize. He didn’t walk towards it. He didn’t jog. He ran to it! When I read this something else came to mind, it was when David slew the giant Goliath. After young David boldly told him, ‘Today God will deliver you Philistines into our hands,’ he then RAN towards the giant with his sling and struck him down. (1 Samuel 17:45-50) I thought to myself, “Hmmm, this dude (David) was a man after God’s own heart. So was the apostle Paul. There’s something here.” And that my dear brothers and sisters I would like to share with you.

One of the things I love about Paul is he said he was not perfect, and he did not attain his goal yet. Paul wasn’t bigheaded. He was still reaching to obtain his goal. Paul well knew that we are saved by faith and not by works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) He wrote about this throughout his God inspired letters in the New Testament. But he also knew there was more work to be done​ in the Lord’s​ service. That should encourage us. I’m sure when we examine ourseives we sense that there’s more to be done too. That’s great. And God will help us to accomplish His will:

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”  John 15:4 NLT

Jesus’ next words are very encouraging too because He lets us know that WE WILL produce the kind of fruit God wants in our lives as long as we remain in Him:

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, WILL PRODUCE much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NLT

Because we continue to feed on the nutritious sap flowing from the vine which is Jesus, we branches will bear much fruit. It’s going to happen:

“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” Mark 4:20 KJV

HOW AM I GONNA DO THAT?

I remember when I first became a believer God showed me something he wanted me to do. It was and still is a very important task. Back then I remember thinking to myself, “How am I gonna do that?” because the job God showed me looked too big for me. I sometimes got discouraged thinking, “I can’t do it.” And God showed me that was the problem: I SAW MYSELF DOING IT, INSTEAD OF HIM DOING IT through me. When we focus on ourselves doing God’s work yes it is impossible. But when we put the focus where it should be, on God, all things are possible. It’s not really us doing anything anyway. It’s all God. We have the privilege of being used as His instruments and fellow workers.

The truth is we must leave our comfort zones. What I mean by that is we must be willing to stretch our muscles of faith and dare to believe in God’s promises like never before. Then action follows. Instead of walking or jogging towards our goal like the apostle Paul and David we find ourselves running towards it. We become excited about doing God’s will. We believe that God’s got it. We’re not looking to ourselves to do it anymore. We’re not afraid anymore. My brothers and sisters when we believe God like this He can use us to do anything!

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27 NIV

CONDUCTING BUSINESS FOR THE LORD

“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a man going on a long trip. He called together his servants and entrusted his money to them while he was gone. He gave five bags of silver to one, two bags of silver to another, and one bag of silver to the last-dividing it in proportion to their abilities. He then left on his trip. “The servant who received the five bags of silver began to invest the money and earned five more. The servant with two bags of silver also went to work and earned two more. But the servant who received the one bag of silver dug a hole in the ground and hid the master’s money. “After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money. The servant to whom he had entrusted the five bags of silver came forward with five more and said, ‘Master, you gave me five bags of silver to invest, and I have earned five more.’ “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “The servant who had received the two bags of silver came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two bags of silver to invest, and I have earned two more.’ “The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’ “But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ “Then he ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one with the ten bags of silver. To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Now throw this useless servant into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ ” Matthew 25:14-30 NLT

If you’re in Jesus Christ you’re a businessperson. I know we may not see ourselves that way but it’s the truth. The King has entrusted us with His goods, and has assigned tasks​ for all of us to do. These assignments are not too difficult. Jesus illustrates this in the passage above. Two servants produced for their master. But the servant who had been given the least responsibility did nothing at all. When asked why he didn’t produce the servant told his master that he was a harsh man and that he was afraid of him, then said, ‘Here, take your money back.’ This servant’s attitude toward his master affected his work ethic. And things did not go well for him. If the servant would have only analyzed himself instead of the faults of his master he could have produced. He would have seen that the king was not being hard or unreasonable with him. He gave him a job he was very capable of doing.

When I read where the servant said he was afraid it reminded me of something I’ve heard people say over the years. I thought about the many folks I heard say they knew that God was calling them but they were afraid that they would mess up. So they never answered the Lord’s call. But ironically they are messing up in the worse way by ignoring God. When we answer the Lord’s call and seek Him he covers all of our mess ups. We have forgiveness of all our sins.

If not careful we can make the same mistake as the wicked servant. Some of us may be harboring​ resentment towards God; thinking what he’s asked us to do is too hard or unfair. For example we may harbor feelings like, “Why do you want me to forgive that person Lord? You saw what they did to me?” “You’re telling me to love this man/woman? That’s impossible! I want a divorce!” “God, why are you pricking me to preach to people more? You know I’m shy?” “Lord I know I’m supposed to love my enemies but these enemies are ridiculous!” The human brain is expert when it comes to making excuses why not to obey God. Let’s hope and pray for ourselves and for one another that we won’t be that way.

WHAT’S MY JOB?

Sometimes we really do want to serve God but we just don’t know what to do. This next verse shows the very next thing we should do:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8 NIV

God says if we ask Him he will let us know what He wants us to do. All we have to do is ask and believe, and He will answer us.

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NLT

Please share this with a friend

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