Thursday, October 09, 2008

Sunday Sermon 10/5/2008 How to Keep Moving Forward When Life Wants to Hold You Back

Sunday October 5, 2008
Fr. Kevin Baker

• Postage stamps are getting more expensive, but at least they have one attribute that most of us could emulate: they stick to one thing until they get there.
• Today, my message is about how to stick with your faith and make it to heaven. It is a message about how to keep moving forward when life wants to hold you back.
• Our lesson is taught by one of the greatest teachers and encouragers whose message has never been forgotten—St. Paul the Apostle.
• Our lesson is found in a letter St. Paul wrote to a small discouraged church in W. Macedonia while he was a prisoner in Roman chains for preaching the Gospel.
• This church had small beginnings and took many years for it to grow. The people in this church were faithful to the call, yet they sacrificed much facing many obstacles that caused them to become discouraged at times.
• Paul’s message in his letter, which theologians call the Epistle of Joy--keep your eyes on the prize; keep pressing on toward your goals even when it seems they are so far from ever being attained.
• This discouraged in this church eventually flourished because they listened to Paul’s encouragement. Your life can also flourish if you will practice Paul’s lesson of persevering faith!
• I wonder this morning how many of you are going through tough times in your life?
• Paul was in jail for preaching the Gospel when he wrote this letter—tough times.
• The Church at Philippi believed in Jesus Christ and were struggling to establish a church in a part of the world where people hated what they stood for as Christians—tough times.
• We all face tough times in our lives. Paul’s message to us when we are down and discouraged is:


14I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

• St. Paul—wow! Imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, encouraging a small new church, Paul’s message is press on toward the goal. Keep perspective! This is an attitude of Christian maturity.
• Paul says in hard times, remember the ultimate goal-- our upward call. We are a heaven bound people. Heaven puts things in perspective. The hope of heaven motivates us to persevere.
• We will live in heaven for a lot longer than we live on earth. The tough times and hard things we are experiencing here will only be a faint memory when we have been with God in heaven for 10,000 years!
• The lesson here is when you face tough times, setbacks, losses, disappointments, and heartbreaks keep pressing on toward your goals. God is with you. He loves you. He supports you.
• Maybe you didn’t get the job promotion you hoped for. Maybe you didn’t get accepted to the college you always dreamed to attend. Maybe a relationship ended or a painful loss took you into a period of deep darkness. Maybe your hopes and dreams have been shattered.
• Paul says Keep pressing on toward the goal. Don’t give up.
• God will take a life that you have lived for Him with His priorities and work all things together for good.


15Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; 17Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

• St. Paul calls our life in Christ a "spiritual walk." In the midst of hardships, He calls us to maturity by making his walk with the Lord an example for us to follow
• He also exhorts us to take note of those who also have walked out their faith following Paul’s model —her saints or heroes of faith--they are our pattern; our example.
• Did you know some of the Church’s saints suffered from mental illness? Were alcoholics? Contemplated suicide? Were betrayed by friends? Yet they pressed on and overcame?
• I want to recommend that everyone read Ordinary Suffering of Extraordinary Saints by Vincent O’Malley.


• The saints through the ages have faced many tough times doing the will of God in their lives, but they pressed on toward the goals God gave them and are now a pattern for us to walk out our faith.
• Now Lets’ learn about walking out our faith.
• By definition--To walk is to advance by steps toward a destination.
• St. Paul is encouraging all of us that when we face tough times, keep walking.
• Step by step, keep advancing toward your goals and toward your destination. Keep trusting in Jesus. Keep believing. Keep following. Keep serving.
• Don’t trade in your born again birthright of heaven for a bowl of earthly pottage.
• As Christians, we often say we need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. We can say we love God, trust God, praise God—but what about when the going gets tough? Will our faith stand?
• Many of us will come to points in life where the tough challenges and trials of life can trip us up.
• Illness, grief, divorce, disability, unemployment, loneliness, poverty, and discrimination. All experiences that can trip us up in our spiritual walk.
• When we get tripped up, that is when we can stumble and fall—turn away from God in anger, disappointment, discouragement, and shattered dreams.
• Now let’s go back to St. Paul. Called by God to preach, he was constantly opposed and rejected.
• He could have looked at being in jail as unfair, why did this happened when I have done everything you asked? Why God? Where are you God?
• In his letter to the Philippians, from jail, Paul tells this church things like “Rejoice in the Lord always!” “Work our your salvation without complaining,” and forget the things that are behind and keep pressing on. Keep walking. Keep advancing step by step. Don’t let life get you down.
• Where did Paul and other overcomers get the strength to press on? From God’s Word.
• A promise I encourage all of to hold on to in tough times is found in

Psalm 37:3:
23 If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; 24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

• No matter what hardship, temptation, grief, or trial you face today that could trip up your spiritual walk, remember God calls us to keep walking; to press on toward the goal.
• His promise is if we will choose to keep the faith, he uphold us when we stumble so we will not fall.
I want to conclude with a record of perseverance from the diary of the great Anglican priest John Wesley. . .

Sunday, A.M., May 5 Preached in St. Anne's. Was asked not to come back anymore.
Sunday, P.M., May 5 Preached in St. John's. Deacons said "Get out and stay out."
Sunday, A.M., May 12 Preached in St. Jude's. Can't go back there, either.
Sunday, A.M., May 19 Preached in St. Somebody Else's. Deacons called special meeting and said I couldn't return.
Sunday, P.M., May 19 Preached on street. Kicked off street.
Sunday, A.M., May 26 Preached in meadow. Chased out of meadow as bull was turned loose during service.
Sunday, A.M., June 2 Preached out at the edge of town. Kicked off the highway.
Sunday, P.M., June 2 Afternoon, preached in a pasture. Ten thousand people came out to hear me.

• John Wesley kept pressing on toward his goal of reaching the world for Christ. He learned to persevere and keep advancing forward step by step.
• Behind the scenes, God was upholding him with his hand helping Wesley to not stumble or fall.
• Today, God is here to help you keep moving forward in faith even when life wants to hold you back. Call out to him. Bow your head and ask for strength to go on, and he will give it. Amen.

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