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Philippians 3:13, 14
Date: May 13, 2006
Author: Pastor Pete Vossler
Location: Crosswinds Assembly of God, Sparks, NV
The poorest man in the world is not the one without money; he’s the one without a vision for his life. But vision requires focus. When you’re spread too thin you become mediocre at everything and excellent at nothing.
Failure always results from saying yes to too many things. Because something is good does not mean it is right for you. Staying focused sets us free from other peoples expectations and keeps us free to do what God wants us to do. Today we will see God’s cure for the “summertime blues.”
How many times have you ended a summer season and realized that you actually did not accomplish half of what you wanted to do? Today we want to discover how to have not only a great summer season, but also a great season in our personal lives as well.
Philippians 3:13, 14, "Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
So staying focused in anything is important.
I. Why we need to stay focused.
A. God has a plan for your life.
1. It is perfect.
So if God has a perfect plan for you, you have to ask yourself, "am I fulfilling God's perfect plan?" If not are you are getting off track?
B. He created you for a Purpose.
1. We are not a mistake.
The Bible says we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works at he prepared for us to do in advance. So God has a perfect work for you to do. He already laid it out. You are not a mistake. You’re here on purpose and you are great because God has called you.
C. We were created to be free.
We were not created to be bound. We were not created for any other reason but for freedom. "Stand fast in liberty were with Christ has made you free" Galatians says, "And be not in entangled again in the yolk of bondage." So you were created perfect, you were created with a plan, and you were created to be free.
1. The truth sets us free.
Freedom. And how do you know its freedom? The bible says you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. So everybody here who is in Christ Jesus, you know the truth. So the truth is going to set you free. You were created in God's image. He has a plan for you. The plan is perfect. You are not a mistake. You were created on purpose. And the truth sets you free. Because of that we need to learn how to focus on the freedoms and the purpose that God has for us.
II. We lose focus and give up our freedoms when:
A. We fight the wrong battle.
1. Wasted energy.
And people constantly fight battles that they shouldn't fight. Have you ever got yourself involved in something were you think, "What am I doing in the middle of this?" Yes. We all have. And you are in and you can't seem to get out. So when you are fighting the wrong battles. It is called wasted energy.
B. We fight at the wrong time.
There is a time to fight battles and there is not a time.
1. Learn to discern the seasons.
There are seasons when you fight and seasons when you rest. And you can't fight every battle because you don't have enough energy. So you pick you battles and you pick your seasons. And you know, I find it easier to pick battles that I know I am going to win. And it’s a biblical principle, which goes into battle without first seeing if he has enough army guys or warriors behind him? And if he sees he can't win, we will go and make peace before it gets into the battle.
We do that as individuals. Sometimes we are fighting things that we shouldn't. We are fighting at the wrong place, the wrong time, and we are wasting energy when God has said we are supposed to be free.
C. We fight for the wrong reasons.
1. Wasted time.
Every once in a while someone will try to get me into a political conversation. I don't like them. Because those are conversations that you can never win. Have you ever convinced anyone politically to change? That is not something that happens over night. That is wasted time, wasted energy, and arguing over the wrong reasons.
So one, we are made perfect, we have a plan, God has a season for us, and we are to be free. Two, we lose our focus, and we lose our freedom when we get into things that we shouldn't get into.
III. God has a prize for every person who focuses on His goals. v. 14
We read it in the scripture. Forgetting what is behind, for pressing on. Achieving the goal that God has called me to achieve. So everyone here has a goal in Christ. Do you believe that? You have a goal. God has set goals out for us that we are to achieve. We are the happiest and the freest when we do what God wants us to do.
A. The enemy cannot steal your life, but he can distract you.
The enemy cannot take your salvation. If you are in Christ, the Bible says that nobody can take you out of the hands of the Almighty God. Paul said, "I am convinced that neither height nor death nor angles nor demons..." and he goes on..."can separate me from the love of Christ."
So the devil can't take your soul. The devil can't take your salvation. If you have given your heart to Jesus Christ, you’re free. And the bible says, "He whom the son sets free will be free indeed."
There are many people who came up to be before the service and asked me what I was going to do with the watermelon that is sitting up here on the platform. Those who didn’t might have thought it. Well, I tell you that I am going to do. Absolutely nothing. I am going to eat it tomorrow after the third service. This has nothing to do with the sermon what so ever. But what happened was, you got distracted. You were sitting here thinking, "What’s he going to do with that watermelon?" "What does this watermelon have to do with the sermon?" "Should I sit in the front row?" "What is that knife?" "What if somebody gets that knife?" "Pastor, I don't know about this sermon but I am sure wondering about that watermelon."
Anybody think that way? Yes you did. And you know what that is, losing focus. We do that all the time. Why do we come to the house of God? To worship the Lord and what. Focus on Him. That is why we come. But when we get sidetracked and think about watermelons, knifes, what I am going to eat, were I am going, that argument I got into, etc. etc... We have lost focus and we can't do what we wanted to do.
B. If you continually look in the rearview mirror, you will drive into a ditch.
Think about it. Didn't the scripture say, "Forgetting what is?" But Paul says "one thing I know." Forget what is behind. When you think about your past, you are looking in the rearview mirror. And as long as you are looking in the rearview mirror, you will run into a ditch. Everybody who has failed in the past, raise you hand? All of us have. We have a tendency to judge today because of yesterday. And that is looking in the rearview mirror. And you can't drive right if you are looking in the rearview mirror all of the time.
Have you ever driven a block and you think to yourself, "how did I get here without killing someone because I didn't look at the road one time." It is the grace of God. Now, I will go further, there are times when I break out in a cold sweat, "Thank God no one walked out in front of me. Thank you Lord there wasn't a stop sign, or that someone didn’t pull out of their driveway. Thank the Lord that there wasn't a kid crossing the street." I would have killed them. That’s looking in the rearview mirror. I believe in guardian angles because of that reason. And I say, "okay Pete, never do that again." and three days later, there you are looking in the mirror and checking things out. Doing everything but looking at the road for a block.
Let me tell you this, God gives us grace when we look in the mirror because we all have human tendencies. But if you are looking in the mirror and it is controlling you and you are losing your focus, pressing on the goal which God has called you, you are only going to end up in a ditch. And I believe that there is a lot of people who will go to heaven that have driven their whole life landing in ditches...perhaps it is you. That is not what God has for you. Did you know that? God has freedom and victory.
C. God’s prize is abundant life. John 10:10
Forgetting what is behind. Looking forward. I press on to win the prize and to achieve the goal which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. So God's prize is abundant life. So we agree that God wants to give us abundant life. So we can also agree that if we are looking in the rearview mirror, we are stuck in a rut or out in a ditch, it is not God's will for us. We can also agree that if we are fighting issues that we should never fight with, that is not God's will for us. If we are bound in things we shouldn't be bound in, that is not God's will for us. If we are stuck in a rut, that is not God's will for us. Ruts are not God's will.
1. There are many great things to do this summer, but you cannot do them all.
I want to do a lot of things this summer, but I can't do them all because I have to work and it costs money. So what do you do? If you can't do them all, what do you really need to do? Prioritize and do the most important things in the summer. So in your personal life, if you are not experiencing abundant life, could it be that you are not prioritizing where you should prioritize.
Most of you probably never experienced abundant life and if you have it has probably been in just a flash and I am telling you as a fact, most people never experience the abundant life because they are not prioritizing. They are wasting their time on low priority items in life. They are not doing what God has called them to do. They are not achieving what God wants them to. They are not prioritizing their life. They experience the summertime blues all the time.
2. Keep as your number one priority, discovering God’s perfect plan for you.
In God's perfect plan you can achieve what you need to for freedom and abundant life and then your summers will be filled with greatness. The season of summer will be filled with greatness.
3. Extend your summer season and the season of life, staying focused.
In our walk with Christ, God says focus. Here is the plan. A perfect plan. We are free, a child of the living God. Here is the plan, keep it forward. Press on. Focus. God will give us abundant life. We can all agree with that. But for some reason, we don't do it. Why? Because I think in our human mind, we think, for me this time it is going to be different. Can I assure you that it is not going to be different? There is one way and one way alone to experience the abundant freedom of Christ and that is God's way. He wants you to experience abundant the summer time of your life.
Do you think the Heavenly Father is up there saying, "Boy, I hope Pete has a real doggy summer this year? In fact I have written in down in the book that Pete will be having a bad summer in 2006." Anybody believe that God said that? No. If God said that he wants to give me abundant life, if God wants me to be free, if God want me to focus on His goals, if God wants me to experience the fullness of Christ and the wonder of God, then that is not what is written for you either. Just because you have had bad summers before doesn't mean you have to have one this year.
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