Weekly Uplift - Press On - The Best Is Still Ahead
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Press On - The Best Is Still Ahead

 

pastor michael

 

 

 

 

By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London 

 

 

 

Foundation Scripture: Philippians 3:1-14 

Sunday 11th December 2016

 

 

As we round up the year, let me encourage you with this sermon, titled: ‘Press On! – the Best Is Still Ahead’.

 

Here is the foundation scripture for this message from Philippians 3:1-14: “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.   But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.  Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.."

 

Irrespective of what individual experiences we may have had this year – exceptional or forgettable, I have been sent by God to remind us all to press on. Apostle Paul writes of his experiences in Philippians 3 as outlined in our foundation scriptures today. His profound wisdom and knowledge base shines through in this letter which we must all pay attention to. As we draw this year to a close and begin another one in the next few weeks, today’s foundation scriptures should inform our attitude towards the New Year and life as a whole. 

 

Each of us has expectations and desires for our lives – that’s what purposeful living is all about. St Paul reminds us of this profound truth in today’s foundation scriptures. He lived purposefully, even though he was locked behind bars while writing this epistle. Yet, the desire to encourage this first church plant congregation energised him to look beyond his circumstances. His ultimate desire for them was to attain God best for their lives. 

 

Let’s zero in for a while on St Paul. He had expectations for his ministry – He desired to attain them all. However, from verse 12 of our foundation scriptures, he wrote that he had not yet experienced the satisfaction of seeing those desires fulfilled. That year could be described as fairly forgettable for him. Yet, St Paul was still upbeat and full of expectations about the future. Besides, his challenge to the Philippian church and to us by inference is this: Do not rest on your laurels, don’t give up instead press on. Here is verse 12 once more: ‘Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me’. So, here is the challenge for us today: ‘Don’t be discouraged, give up hope, or stop trusting God. There are better days ahead of you!

 

Remember that, this year is not all there is, there is another year about to be ushered in. It’s called the New Year. Every New Year is loaded with opportunities, which has the potential to take you beyond. Each opportunity is a vehicle to the next level. Indeed, your best years are not behind you, but ahead of you. So approach the New Year with excitement. 

Approach the New Year with expectation, anticipation and hope. In God’s agenda, He takes us from glory to glory. That’s what 2 Corinthians 3:18 talks about. ‘But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord’. God plans to increase each of us. Psalm 115:14 put it this way: ‘May the Lord give you increase more and more, you and your children’. Jeremiah 29:11 speaks about God’s intention for each of us: ‘I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for’ (GNT). I declare that your final outcome will be glorious, marvelous and full of success. 

 

Now, you cannot afford to look at the New Year, with the pain of the previous year. Don’t focus on the circumstances, rather focus on God and the finished work of Christ. Abraham was admonished to look to God in Genesis 13:14-15: ‘And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever’. Do not allow the challenges of this year deprive you of the joy of the New Year. Instead, let your attitude reflect that of the sons of Issachar. 1 Chronicles 12:33 reads: ‘of the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command’.

 

The story of Ananias in Acts 9 is a good reminder of how important it is for each of us to move beyond the past into the present of what God is working on. Saul of Tarsus had met Christ and was at the point of conversion. Ananias was being summoned by God to play the human guide towards this miracle. Ananias responds this way in verses 13-14. ‘Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” Once Ananias obeyed God, the response to Saul’s conversion is recorded in verse 20-22: ‘Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?”  But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.’

 

Here are some questions to ponder on as we step into the New Year: ‘What do you see in the New Year? What does it mean to you? What do you believe God is about to do for you in the New Year? How do you engage with it? Where do you believe you are heading towards in the New Year? St Paul believed that there was still a whole lot left that God intended to do through his life; hence there was no reason to give up yet. He recognised that grace and the finished work of Christ gave him the assurance of a glorious destiny. So must we. 

 

In rounding up, let me share with you three things that “press on” means: 

 

(a) It is not over, don’t settle for less: Keep trusting and believing in God. Here is God’s invitation to continue reaching forward and discovering new places that you have never been before. 

(b) Your best days are not behind you, but ahead of you: There is hope in your future, so keep looking toward the days ahead. Irrespective of your past achievements or disappointments, the days ahead promises to be better. God has more in store for you. 

(c) You have what it takes to go beyond, where you are: You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Ignore the negative thoughts that may be lurking within to discourage you. God would not expect you to reach out for things He has not already prepared you for – so be confident that He has bestowed on you, the grace to handle the new things He is bringing your way.

 

 

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As we continue the on-going series ‘Experiencing the Power of Multiplication’ today, here is a brief summary of the message: ‘Empowering the Next Generation’ from a fortnight ago. We agreed that God is generational in His thinking and deals with us from that standpoint. All God gives to us is meant to be passed on to upcoming generation. Our lives are a channel, a means by which God reaches out to our young ones.

God’s word, the bible is full of accounts of people who lived, thinking of the young and the unborn. Abraham in Genesis 17 aptly fits this description, with God reminding him of this truth. Bearing this in mind, Abraham was able to prepare adequately for Isaac’s future as we discovered from these seven points, namely: (1) He dedication Isaac to God, by circumcision (2) He celebrated Isaac (3) The bond woman and her child were sent away (4) He taught Isaac to obey God (5) He set the stage for Isaac’s future (6) He empowered Isaac (7) He sent away the children of His concubines.

Today as we examine this message, titled ‘Make Your Life Count for a Divine Purpose’, it is the crux of this series. Let me start by reminding us that it is vital that life flows from us to the next generation, and I intend to encourage us in this message to embrace a purpose beyond our personal life’s goals and aspirations. Within the timeframe that we have been given by God, it is important that we use it wisely and intentionally, serving His purpose on earth.

I have often wondered if coming to church, and engaging in the various forms of spiritual exercises – giving, praying, studying the scriptures and so forth, and having our needs met are an end in themselves? All these are good but they are simply a means to an end – and not an end in themselves. We’ve been created for a purpose bigger than the meeting of our needs. We experience healing, empowerment, and blessings for a purpose beyond us. Hence, life ought not to end with us. Ephesians 1:1 reads, ‘This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus’. Being chosen is not an end, but the choices made after the calling of God is more important. Unfortunately, the present day church has made the means, an end and disregarded the real end. Our personal victories, blessings and successes are meant to encourage us towards that end.

The essence of our faith is wrapped up in the first statement made by God to mankind in Genesis, and the last words of Jesus to his disciples before His ascension. Here they are, Genesis 1:28 reads thus: Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  Matthew 28:18-19 reads: ‘And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’. Here is the reason why God has created us to live on earth; to make disciples of all nations. Our desires for comfort and pleasures are delightful, but they must not impede us from fulfilling God’s mandate for our lives.