Press On

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION

We come to this sanctuary, God’s house, our home on earth to encounter the Holy Christ. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit of God to guide our thoughts …

The Lord God Almighty invites to receive a lavish welcome.  The Spirit of God restores our soul with the promise of new life; Fill this time and space with your Spirit: fill our hearts with your compassion, Not just in this time and place, but each day wherever we go. We celebrate the great things your revealed to us in Scripture and you have done for us, embody your love so we may share your grace with others. Amen.

 FIRST SCRIPTURE READING–   Philippians 3:4b-14             Breaking with the Past

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

May the Lord blessing this reading to our understanding.

 

SECOND SCRIPTURE READING–   Isaiah 43:16-21             The Redeemer of Israel

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

SERMON                   “Press On”

We come to near to the end of our Lenten Season. Next week, we begin Holy Week with Palm Sunday. In the culmination of three years of ministry, Jesus pressed on to the goal of dying on the cross for the sins of the world. Along with faithful Jews of every nation, Jesus and the Disciples set their sights on returning to Jerusalem and the Passover Celebration. They came from north and south, east and west to recline at the dinner table with family and friends in remembrance of the past. They recalled the God of History guiding the faithful through challenges and fulfilling the promise. Jesus would then call them to press on to God’s continued guidance with to new goals.

Jesus follows the Prophet Isaiah, who writes to faithful Jews still exiled in Babylon, encouraging God’s people to be faithful and move on with God. Isaiah inspires the exiles with God’s promise, “Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth…” The Prophet calls the people to forget the oppression of being punished by God for their unfaithfulness. They can blot out the struggles of being strangers in a foreign land. He invites them to press on for the Lord is about to do a new thing. They will return.

Likewise, after Jesus, the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians to press on toward their eternal goal. Paul writes with confidence from prison that God holds their future. His confidence comes not from his Hebrew heritage, nor his zealous pursuit of the law, nor even his blameless life. No, the Apostles assurance comes from his intense relationship with Christ as Savior and Lord. He puts his past behind him and presses on toward a heavenly goal.

So as we press on through Lent to Holy Week, I want you to think about your goals. You may set financial goals so that you can live comfortably in retirement or purchase a specific item without going into debt. You may identify goals for eating healthy and staying fit. You may consider goals for relationships with family and friends.

I believe in college a professor challenged us to set career goals, personal goals and financial goals. On a retreat weekend, I’ve been challenged to think about my spiritual goals. We can consider our goals for how we spend our time by looking at our calendars, our money by examining our checkbook, and our faith by the peace we possess because of our relationship with Christ.

I came across a smart way to look at setting realistic goals. Kevin Nuber wrote an article Setting Christ-Centered Goals identifies an acrostic  for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. He states goals need to be “specific (set a date -- not too soon, and not too late --but time constraints are helpful to bring about change).” Human nature tends to be more attentive when the goal has a deadline. “Remember to make your goals S.M.A.R.T. –

Specific (not just lose weight, but instead "lose 35 pounds") I’d be happy with 5 pounds and then when I’ve reached my first goal, I can with confidence set a new one.

Measurable (can you tangibly show you met the goal?)” It helps to demonstrate progress and when we’ve reached our goal. I can step on a scale, I can keep record and being able to measure progress.

Attainable ("bring about world peace" is WAY too lofty!)” getting along with our neighbors or being civil with a person who just gets under your skin.

Realistic ("never eat chocolate again" -- gallant thought, but better to say limit it to one day a week!)”

 “and Timely (set a date -- not too soon, and not too late -- but time constraints are helpful to bring about change)”

And then always remember that Jesus always gives us second chances to start again. When we miss the mark on meeting the goals set before us, Jesus invites us to press on. We are forgiven from the guilt of our past and setting goals to live into the promise of Christian living. We regularly fall short and know the Lord expects more from us. The Holy Spirit constantly nudges us to make adjustments in our life to be more like Jesus.

We Press on to the faithful Christian goals. I encourage you to think about your personal goals and if you were to write down goals for First Presbyterian how would you forget the past and press on to the future. I want us to develop goals that P.R.E.S.S. on toward the future that the Lord holds.

Practical goals –we can achieve mission and ministry with the people we have today.

Reasonable goals – We will be realistic in our plan to move forward inviting, welcoming, and caring.

Evangelical goals – We will reach out sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. We will spread the Lord’s love with others.

Spiritual goals – We will be the body of Christ. We will remain faithful to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Specific goals – We will make definite plans to serve the Lord as a faith community.

Kevin Nuber ends his article: "In agreement with God's Word that says God intends to give me 'a future and a hope,' I offer these goals and plans to Him as a gift from my heart. I challenge myself to see exploits done for His Kingdom through my life. I will 'redeem the time' during this next year. I fully understand that all goals are subject to change and to the perfect will of God. By His help these dreams of my heart shall become reality!" TGBTG. Amen.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH – Apostle’s Creed

**HYMN#92                      “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”

 

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