Pressing On Towards the Goal and Finishing the Course

written by B. Upton 
Our lesson today is concerning our Pressing on towards the Goal and Finishing the course.  When Paul wrote in Phil. 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the PRIZE of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” he was in chains, but those chains were only man made obstacles, physical encumbrances. He wrote on the eve of his departure, “I have finished the course…” He knew there was the crown of righteousness waiting for him and not for him only, but for all them that love His appearing. That’s us. Oh how I want a crown to lay at His precious feet.

 This year, we have studied the crowns. I don’t know a thing about Greek but I read  that there are two Greek words for Crown. The first word is DIADEMA, referring to the crown worn by a king. The second Greek word is STEPHANOS, the crown bestowed in the athletic games or on the battlefied. DIADEMA, the crown worn by a King is conferred by his BIRTHRIGHT. The STEPHANOS crown of the athletic is conferred by VICTORY.  Rev. 22:12 says “Behold I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give to every man ACCORDING AS HIS WORK SHALL BE.”

Here’s an interesting fact: The TOWER OF LONDON houses the CROWN JEWELS OF ENGLAND.
The QUEEN’S IMPERIAL STATE CROWN has 3,000 diamonds and 300 other precious jewels.
The IMPERIAL STATE CROWN has 6,000 diamonds and many other jewels. But those are just man made crowns.   Rev. 19:12 states “On His head were MANY crowns.” How exciting that day will be when we see our blessed Lord with His MANY crowns and they will not be made by man. That in itself will make us want to keep our eyes on the goal and finish the course with joy.

As we press onward toward the goal, running the race set before us, we have to rid ourselves of extra weight. (I don’t mean this extra weight I am carrying around) If I were asked to run in a race in uptown Shelby, I wouldn’t be able to get half a block without sitting down on the curb, panting for breath,  groaning and making a spectacle of myself. I am not in shape for a race. Runners have to work hard to get ready and be fit for racing. We will never see a runner wearing a heavy coat or boots and carrying anything in their arms. Runners are stripped down as much as possible to remove any encumbrance and with outstretched neck, pressing onward toward the goal.

To press something means to exert pressure AGAINST some object or force.  A little petite therapist this week told me that she was going to press against my hand and I should press against her hand and I shouldn’t let my arm move. What??? I’m much bigger than her and I just know I can hold my hand and arm still. But, since my shoulder is weak, guess what, that little petite thing  moved my arm. Little woman that she is, she knows my weak point and tries to see if it has improved.

Well, there’s one thing we need to keep in mind though,  we have an adversary who knows our spiritual  weak points.

As we press onward, finishing the course or race, we will find we are on an obstacle course. The obstacles placed there by our adversary, Satan, to try to trip us, make us fall, and injure us in such a way we will not go forward. One thing Satan does not want is for us to reach our goal, our Heavenly Home. Satan once lived there and tried to become the ruler. He wanted to sit on the throne and be worshiped in that beautiful place, but as we all know, he was thrown out, never to have the privilege to live there again, and he does not want us there for sure. He’ll do anything to stop us on our way HOME. As in Eph. 5:16 we need to “be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.”

He will attack us through  the ones we love, …our family, especially our children. He knows a mother’s heart and sometimes an incident in our family can become a stumbling block or an obstacle.

I remember the day came when something came up about one of my sons that made me so fearful and physically weak I could hardly get my breath or walk across the floor. My arms were so weak, I could hardly move them. I went to my bedroom and cried to the Lord. How can this happen when we have always taken our children to good Bible teaching churches, taught them at home, prayed with them and trained them in the right way. Doubts began to arise as to whether I should even continue to teach other children in Sunday School, children’s church, and at the Christian Kindergarten.  Satan was sending those fiery darts to my mind while I was at my weakest point. In a little while someone knocked on my door. I didn’t want to answer the door of course with swollen eyes, looking like I did, but something moved me to go.
It was the lady from the Dysartville, Mrs Tony, who sells fresh eggs in our neighborhood. She wanted me to see some pillows she had made and  I didn’t think I had the strength to walk out  to her truck, but I went. She told me that she made the pillows to sale so she could buy gas to drive up into the hills to shut-in and disabled persons not able to come to church. She went to several homes and taught the Sunday School lesson for them each week.
I felt so small, so humbled in her presence, and humbled in the presence of God that He cared so much for me and my family. Unknown to her,  He sent this precious little mountain lady to feed me, strengthen me, and lift me up. He already  knew what I would face that Saturday morning and had her on her way  just when I needed Him most. She was His hands that reached out to me, His face, His smile, His love that reached my heart and encouraged me to get up and get going. Do I still have the pillow? You can be sure that it will always remain in my home and heart to remind me of the day that Satan tried to keep me from pressing on.

I doubt if any of you are racing fans, but maybe some of your husbands like to watch the NASCAR races. After our grandson, Heath, got his engineering degree he started  working for one of the  racing teams.  I was surprised to know that even though you are not the big winner, such as the Earnhart or other big winners,  you win lots of money just by finishing the race. I think it’s because of the sponsors who advertise on the cars.

 I loved to have races with the kindergarten class at school. I would tell them to start by touching my hand then run to a large tree about 100 yards away, touch it and the first one to get back to me would be the winner.  Many times when they saw the other one getting ahead and going to reach  tree before them, they would turn around and run back, wanting to be the first one to get to me. I always tried to pair the runners with the ones with the same stride or running ability to make it more even, but some of them loved to take short cuts back to the goal.

We can’t take short cuts. God has our course mapped out within His plan for our lives. He sometimes has to cut away the weights and plane us down to make us fit for the race.

A blacksmith will take a piece of iron and place it in the fire to bring it to white heat. Then he strikes it once or twice. If it will take the TEMPER he puts it in cold water and then back into the fire, bringing it to white heat again. Then he places it on the anvil and strikes it over and over again to form it into a useful article.  If it can’t take the TEMPER, he throws it into the scrap heap.
TEMPER is the condition of the iron with regard to it’s toughness or hardness.

Mal. 3:3 states “He shall sit as a refiner.” A silversmith was asked if he sat while refining was going on. “Oh, yes indeed. I sit with my eyes fixed on the surface of the silver for if the time of refining is exceeded in the slightest degree the silver is damaged.  “How do you know when the refining is finished?” he was asked. “I know when the process is completed when I can see MY IMAGE REFLECTED ON THE SILVER.”

As the Lord refines us and makes us fit for the journey, we may feel the flame, but as the writer of “How Great A Foundation” wrote, “the flame shall not hurt thee, I only design thy dross to consume, thy gold to refine.”

When we are faced with obstacles in our path, pressures mount but think of Jeremy Lockhart as he was lost in the woods. I’m sure he must have wondered, “When am I going to get out of this?” Little did he know that day that God had someone with a hungry heart out on a little farm who would find salvation through Jeremy’s message.  Sometimes obstacles loom up ahead of us and problems arise but we should not say, “When am I going to get out of this? But say, “What am I going to get out of this?” There’s always a lesson to strengthen us on our path as we press on.

After Mrs. Tony left my house that morning, I determined to press on for the Lord, no matter what.

I want to read part of something that was written by an African native. This was found on his cot after he died.  He was determined to finish the course.

(Read pamphlet, “I Am Not Ashamed” )

Dear sisters in Christ, thank Him for the mountains, thank Him for the valleys, and the many obstacles that try to make us fail. Press on. A CROWN OF GLORY awaits us. The greatest part of finishing our race and getting Home is that we will actually SEE, HEAR, AND TOUCH our blessed Lord who loves us and to find that He was with us every step of the way on our journey even when we thought we were all alone. He held us when we stumbled and didn’t let us fall, keeping us on the track.

When we have finished our course, He will reward us with that day with crowns. He will give us white robes to wear, a ring for our finger (PURE GOLD) shoes for our feet (that won’t hurt anymore) We’ll walk on pure gold streets, live in mansions!  We’ll be with our loved ones. There is no night there, no sickness, little Justin won’t have headaches anymore,  no death, no anger, no storms, no more work, no more crying, no bills to pay, no more car and house repairs, nothing but joy, joy, joy!

There’s an old sang we used to sing “When the battle’s over, we shall wear a crown in the new Jerusalem.” And another song, “Then palms of victory, crowns of glory, palms of victory, I shall wear.”

I’m sure we will be so glad to lay our crowns at His precious feet as we hear Him say, “Welcome Home” so press on, “It will be worth it all when we see Christ.”

Note:  This devotional was written for our meetings that had a crown theme.  At this time I do not have more material regarding this theme.   You are welcome to use this devotional, but please do not claim it as your own.  Thank You.
Ellen

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