May 26, 2019

In this issue: Eye on the Prize by Roger Lindsey

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I had a dog one often have you heard that? Well, I had a dog one time who was the best fetcher I had ever seen. You could not distract him from looking directly at whatever it was that you were about to throw for him. Grown men have actually stood in my front yard exulting over the fact that they were able to get a ball past him just for a second or two. As the object left your hand his eyes were fixed on it until it was safely in his jaws.

Now this is not told just so you'll envy my dog's abilities, but because it makes a point about our goal, our prize.

Paul said, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

We have been called to receive a prize, and that prize is the glory of the Son of God, in eternity!

John tells us, "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is" 1 John 3:2.

Such a prize is not to be taken lightly. Nor should we allow anything to distract us from focusing on it.

But, we do.

How often in a day have we realized that we have not thanked God for his blessings, whether our food, life itself, strength to go about our day, or any of a zillion other things that he does for us minute by minute. But especially for the hope of the prize. The Lord complains about Israel "Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number." Jeremiah 2:32

One of the things that marks us as his children is thankfulness.

"giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light" Colossians 1:12.

"giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" Ephesians 5:20.

Without thankfulness, we cannot inherit that prize, but are like those who forget God and refuse to give him honor. "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:21

And sometimes even the things for which we should be thankful can take our focus off the prize.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus speaks of some this way: "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful." Matthew 13:22

Even our blessings can be a snare and make us forget our God and our prize. Not only do we forget to offer thanks, but we forget to pray at all when life swirls around us. Not only this, but we neglect reading God's word. The conversation with the God who holds our prize for us is a two way conversation, and we should never forget that it should be going on all the time. God speaks to us through his word, and we speak to him in our prayers through his son.

As we strive for this prize, the writer of Hebrews reminds us: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1

Sin is deceitful. It deceives us into believing the pleasure of it is worth the risk. It deceives us into thinking that we can continue in it without incurring the wrath of a righteous God.

Again, the writer of Hebrews admonishes: "But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Hebrews 3:13

In fact, sin is defined as "missing the mark." The Enhanced Strong's definition for the word adds "and so not share in the prize." In order to hit a mark our eyes must be on the target. We must know what God expects of us and fully appreciate the prize for which we aim.

It was said of Jesus that we should be "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

One of the things that saw the Lord Jesus through that awful misery of coming to earth as a man, living the life of one of his lowly creatures, suffering want and hardship, then the beating and scourging followed by a slow, agonizing death on the cross was the joy of that prize. In his case, it was not that he would attain to something he had never had before, but that he would be restored to the glory he had with the Father before the world was made (John 17:5), and bring many sons to glory. "For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering." Hebrews 2:10

Our prize is not a moving target; we know exactly where it is and how to obtain it by the grace of our God. It does not move, it does not deceive the eye, it is a clearly defined goal with sufficient directions as to how we may attain to it. The problem is that sometimes we forget that there is a goal, or allow other things to come between us and it. ~

Roger Lindsey

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