by Pastor Joshua Pfeiffer
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I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
‘Praise the Lord and press on!’ These are words I’ve heard several times from a much-loved Christian brother in the LCA circles. Some of you probably know of whom I speak. No matter the conversation or circumstances, he almost always leaves on this note: ‘Praise the Lord and press on!’ I find it a simple yet profound Christian encouragement. The temptation is always to look back and dwell on past hurts, sufferings, wrongs, failures and sins. But Christ would have us look forward in hope. He is the goal and prize of our Christian life, so we can confidently ‘praise the Lord and press on’.
This little motto is seemingly drawn from – and inspired by – the Apostle Paul’s words in the verse above. It’s worth remembering in that context that on his Christian journey, the Apostle Paul knew hardship, suffering and obstacles. You can read the full list of these experiences in 2 Corinthians 11:23–12:10. It even appears that as he wrote this very letter to the Philippian Christians, he was, in fact, imprisoned and perhaps literally in chains. Even in these circumstances, he maintains what could be called his ‘holy optimism’, saying not once but twice: I press on.
Paul was under no illusion that he could persevere and gain eternal life by his own strength. He says he can ‘press on to make it his own because Christ Jesus has made me his own’ (verse 12). The ‘goal’ and ‘prize’ he is striving toward is, in fact, a call of God in Chris Jesus. In other words, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is drawing him graciously to himself. Yet, in the mysterious interaction between the grace of the Almighty God and the redeemed will of the Christian believer, the Apostle Paul does ‘strain forward’ and ‘press on’.
You may be facing situations in your life that hold you back, weigh you down, and even tempt you to give up. Be encouraged: Christ Jesus has made you his own, so whatever you face, you can press on.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the prize of your heavenly call in Christ Jesus. When I am downhearted, encourage me by your Spirit to press on. In Jesus’ name, Amen.