What is it that you will have accomplished in this life that will make you feel you’ve achieved your best goal? Is there a finish line you see in front of you that will make you feel successful? Some want to die old. Some want to gain riches or fame or some other earthly prosperity.
In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden, we’ll read about pressing toward the right goals.
Press Toward the Goal
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
God has a purpose for the universe: that in all things Christ would have the preeminence. This is the Heavenly Bullseye. Since you, dear reader, are part of the universe, you are one of those “all things.” So this purpose includes you.
Actually, this is the same purpose He had in mind for Adam: that Christ would have the preeminence in him. But Adam chose an independent path and failed to give Christ the preeminence. He took the preeminence for himself. Adam missed the mark, which is a life submitted to, and totally dependent upon, God.
Source: The Irresistible Kingdom by Chip Brogden
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You know what your finish line is by what you focus on each day. For example, do you focus on where you are now with a steady look at where you are going, or do you fill your thoughts with sentences that start with “if only”? If only my ship would come in. If only I’d win the lottery. If only my health were perfect. If only I’d been discovered when I was young, so I could be famous now. If only we had bigger, better, more, etc.
Like the author says, Adam (and Eve) chose the personal finish line. They had those sentences like:
- “If only we could eat from the Tree of Knowledge,”
- “If only we knew what that tree tastes like,” and
- “If only we could be wise and know good and evil.”
Paul would have told them to change their sentences to something like:
- “We have the promise of being able to eat from the Tree of Life,”
- “Thankfully, we have the best flavors from all the wonderful trees we get to eat from,” and
- “It’s so peaceful to just trust God and not have to know everything.”
Paul’s finish line was to become more and more like the Christ he loved and served. He sought to draw closer to Him each day regardless of what it took for him to get there. He learned how to be content in all things by focusing on the steps that were drawing him nearer to Yeshua and Heaven than on anything he was missing here on earth. His finish line was to become less and less attached to earth and its pleasures and more attached to Christ and the promises of eternity with God.
We all have finish lines, little ones and big ones. We all have to set goals in order to know how to run in this life. The big goal, however, should be the same for all of us, and it should run us on the race of faith Paul speaks of in Hebrews 12:1…
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
Pray, read God’s word, and offer praise up to The Lord, and then when you are in His holy presence, as yourself: What’s my finish line? Comment below if you’d like to share what you discover.
Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (Proverbs 29:18 KJV)
Vision gives us reason to go forward like a finish line gives a runner purpose to keep running. Vision tells us where we should be headed and helps us establish our purpose in life. Without reason, life is simply chaotic. It has no destination, no purpose, and no finish line. How can we know which way to go without a destination? And how can we reach our destination without a map that shows us how to get there?
In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 30:15 through Deuteronomy 30:20, we complete another week and another portion of Torah. As we conclude the chapters for this week’s portion, we find Moses presenting Israel with a choice. First, he tells them to look at him, so I’m guessing he’ll be animating his hands to signify the two choices he will present. “On one hand,” says Moses, “there is life and good. On the other hand, there is death and evil.” Since they are likely between the two mountains and within hours of the shouts of blessings and curses, he may even be pointing to each mountain as he illustrates that Israel must choose one hand or the other.
As Moses continues, he tells them it’s not really a choice in what they do but a choice in what end they will achieve. Because he wants them to achieve life (just as God wants for them and for us), he orders them to follow God and His ways. He tells them that if they obey God’s commandments, laws, and rulings; God will extend their lives, increase their numbers, and bless them in the land they are about to enter. He lays out the direction, the finish line, and the prize.
Moses then shows the “prize” if Israel chooses the other option. He tells them that if their hearts turn away from Yahveh Almighty, they refuse to listen, and they prostrate themselves before false gods; they will perish, and they will not live long on the other side of Jordan. Verses 19 and 20 offer a summary with some familiar words for us…
“I call on heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have presented you with life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore, choose life, so that you will live, you and your descendants, loving Adonai your God, paying attention to what he says and clinging to him — for that is the purpose of your life!”
At the end of the last verse, Moses tells them that their decision is the foundation that will determine how long they live in the land promised to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
While vision is necessary to move forward, God’s vision is what we need to move forward in the right direction. Without God’s vision, we are forced to choose from among innumerable ideals, thoughts, and destinations. Some may move us in a general direction of good; some may only look good but lead straight to destruction. To guarantee that we are not blind followers of blind leaders, we must make certain our vision is directly from God. Without His vision, we are certain to perish.
God has set before us His finish line, His destination, and His prize. Unlike most of the races people run in this life, the prize isn’t reserved only for the fastest or the first to cross. All we must do to obtain God’s prize is get across the finish line. If we stay on the path God has chosen for us and mapped out in His holy word, we will reach the destination He has prepared: an eternity in His presence and glory. We may falter, but we can get back up. We may fail, but we can repent. But, no matter what, if we keep God’s goal and vision in mind, if we don’t quit, and if we just keep running to the end, we will have achieved the purpose for our life.
Shabbat Shalom (Sabbath Peace) to you, my readers, and may you walk humbly before God Almighty today and always. In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful classic poem (video with narration) called The Race…
As we continue into today’s reading from Genesis 32:14 through Genesis 32:30, we read the rest of Jacob’s plan for meeting with Esau and trying to appease his anger. He chooses a bunch of animals and then puts them into groups heading toward Esau. He tells the men who head up each group of animals to tell Esau that they are a gift for him and that Jacob is nearby in the next group. Jacob’s intention is to watch and then move backward a group at a time until he is sure Esau will accept him without killing him. At the same time, he sends his two wives, two slave girls, and his eleven children across a stream with his possessions.
With the gifts in front of him and his family across the stream, Jacob is alone for the night. Suddenly there was a man wrestling with him. Jacob refused to give up and continued to wrestle until morning. Scripture says that when it appeared the man would not prevail against Jacob, He touched him in his hip socket so that his hip was dislocated as he wrestled. And then Jacob said the words that gave away that he knew exactly who he was wrestling with. The man had asked Jacob to let him go because it was morning, but Jacob said to Him, “I won’t let You go until You bless me.”
Now, I love what God does here. He asks Jacob what his name is. Remember way back when Jacob was born, when Jacob stole the birthright, and when Jacob deceived his father? In all those things, Jacob lived up to the meaning of his name; supplanter. He tried to come out first, he stole the birthright, and he falsely gained his father’s blessing. Esau even pointed out how the name was fitting for him. Now God is asking Jacob to admit that he is as his name, one who steals what he wants–one who wrestles for his blessings. Like the first of the “12 Steps” in Alcoholics Anonymous (and related programs), God is telling Jacob that He will not bless him until he admits who and what he is. It works the same in repentance when we finally admit that we are sinners in need of God’s salvation. And I am certain I am not the only one who has wrestled to get to that point, but it is worth the wrestling if you fight until you subdue the flesh and press through to obtain God’s blessing. Paul mentions in Philippians 3 that he is pressing on and forward to a goal of something that lies ahead of what he has now. It’s a finish line where everyone who crosses, and not just the first one, is a winner.
So, after he said his name was Jacob, everything changed for him. After we admit we are in need of God (and not just at our first repentance but each time we wrestle with something that we need to let go of), everything can change for us as well. AFTER Jacob confessed the absence of God in his efforts and admitted that he was trying to do everything on his own, THEN God not only blessed him, but his blessing came with a name change. God changed the name of Jacob (supplanter) to the name of Israel (wrestled/contended with God). He put His title, EL, right into Jacob’s new name. Jacob was no longer one who had to steal positions and possessions or birthrights and blessings. He was now one who was blessed of God because He sought God’s blessing face to face.
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