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Thursday, March 17, 2005

DAILY ENCOURAGEMENT - THURSDAY: Three Principles For A Victorious Life In Christ

"The reason why many fail in battle is because they wait until the hour of battle. The reason why others succeed is because they have gained their victory on their knees long before the battle came... Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees before temptation comes, and you will always have victory.” -- R.A. Torrey
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. -- Phil 3:12-14

Consider the third principle that will enable us to have a victorious life in Christ…

Focus Your Eye on the Goal
None of us are truly free to be victorious in Christ, until we lay down everything that hinders our commitment to Him.

Past affections must be abandoned, because they bind us to that which is passing away.

History provides an incident illustrating this important principle. When Julius Caesar landed on the shores of England with his Roman legions, he took a bold and decisive step to ensure the success of his military venture. Ordering his men to halt on the edge of the Cliffs of Dover, he commanded them to look down at the water below. To their amazement, they saw every ship in which they had crossed the channel engulfed in flames. Caesar had deliberately cut off any possibility of retreat! Now that his soldiers were unable to return to the continent, there was nothing left for them to do but to advance and conquer! And that is exactly what they did.

A similar psychology for discipleship is suggested by Christ… "Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. -- Matt 10:37-39

Jesus boldly stated that in order to be His followers, we must break all ties that weaken our commitment to Him. Jesus didn't mean we should literally hate our loved ones or renounce all material possessions. But He was using “coined expressions,” well known by the Jewish people of His day, to make it crystal-clear that no person or thing should be considered more important than the Son of God!

To attain our goal, we must concentrate all our efforts on that which we have adopted as our purpose in life.

Paul says… I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. -- Phil 3:14. A goal is an object that the eye is focused on for the purpose of attaining it through constant attention and effort.

The prize referred to here is like an award that is given to a winner in an athletic competition. Paul compares his attainment of the victorious fellowship with Christ and his reward in Heaven to a trophy such as an athlete might win.

There is a fable about a dog who loved to chase other animals. He bragged about his great running skill and said he could catch anything. Well, it wasn't long until his boastful claims were put to the test by a certain rabbit. With ease the little creature outran his barking pursuer. The other animals, watching with glee, began to laugh. The dog excused himself, however, by saying, "You forget, I was only running for fun. He was running for his life!"

That does make a difference! Motivation is the most important factor in everything we do to achieve a victorious life in Christ! Friends, do you really desire this heavenly prize Paul is talking about?.. or do you prefer the decaying award of this world.

Paul has described the award as the prize of the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus. The term “heavenwards” is everything about our service to the Lord; it leads us… heavenwards in service to others, heavenwards in kindness, heavenwards in joy, heavenwards in helpfulness, heavenwards in love to the Lord and others, heavenwards to the victorious life in Christ!

Loving Father, Help me by the power of the Holy Spirit to stay focused as I strive for that victorious life in Christ, help me to reach my goal, to attain the prize that you have called me heavenwards in Christ. I ask this in the wonderful and majestic name of Jesus! Amen!

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