Press On

February 15th 2024

Press On

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:12–14).

Living on this planet can be tricky, even in the best circumstances. The pressures of life, the challenges of relationships, and the process of aging can weigh us down, discourage us, and even pull us into a depressive state. We can focus on our past and present to such an extent that we lose sight of our future. However, we must be diligent in reminding ourselves that we, as Christians, have the Word of God that guides us and fuels us to press on toward our ultimate hope: An eternity with the triune God.

We All Struggle

Anyone who tells you that they don't struggle emotionally, physically, or even spiritually, is not being truthful, which, ironically, means they struggle to speak the truth. I recently went through a season of struggle, doubting my suitability in my current ministry role. For clarity, I wasn't struggling or questioning my call; I have never been more affirmed or confident in that call, but more about my ability to lead in our ever-changing and growing ministry environment. Did I have what it took to lead a group of people I love to where I knew Jesus wanted me to take them? More specifically, had I followed Jesus to where He wanted me to go, that would indeed allow me to lead others to that same place?

The Warmth of Truth

My favorite time of year in Arizona is the Winter, when calm and sometimes cold nights allow me to sit outside by my firepit on my back patio, listen to music, consider the ministry tasks in front of me, and think about God's goodness. A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about my suitability to lead, and God reminded me of a few things that brought me to that awfully familiar, yet sweet place of repentance. On that calm night, the Lord reminded me of my why; why I serve in his local church and the why of my calling. Not shockingly, the why had nothing to do with me or my suitability, Only his. Here is my list of why I serve Jesus:

He Became Sin

"For our sake, he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor 5:21).

Jesus is the only perfect man that has ever lived. He did what Adam (or I) could not do; he lived an acceptable life to God—a life of perfect obedience and perfect worship. He didn't do that for his sake, but for me and you.

I serve Jesus because He became sin.

He Forgave Me

"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins" (Col 1:14).

If I were to stand before God, on my own merit and works in this life, I would be found guilty and sentenced to an eternity separated from his holiness. But I have been delivered from this fate through the life, blood, and resurrection of Jesus.

I serve Jesus because he forgave me.

He Adopted Me

"In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved" (Eph 1:5–6).

If I were only to have been forgiven of my sins and saved from an eternity separated from God, I would be content and thankful. However, after being pardoned for my sins in the criminal courtroom of God’s justice, Jesus walked me across the hall into the family court of Heaven, and he then petitioned the family court to adopt me as his son. I am forever a child of God because of what Jesus has done for me.

I serve Jesus because he adopted me.

He Called Me

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him" (1 Cor 7:17a).

All of us within the body of Christ have a unique and specific role. The Apostle Paul calls each of us to realize and function within our assigned roles (1 Cor 12). For me, that role is as a pastor. He has called me to protect and shepherd his sheep. He has both called me to lead and to follow.

I serve Jesus because he has called me.

He Guides Me

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you”  (Ps 32:8).

Before he ascended into Heaven, Jesus promised his disciples that he would not leave them alone. He assured them that after departing from them physically, he would indeed send the Helper, the Holy Spirt:

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

I serve Jesus because he guides me.

He Sustains Me

"Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved”  (Ps 55:22).

I have been a Christian now for almost 28 years. And the one continuous lesson I keep learning is that when I attempt to operate in my power, I end up tired, lost, and lonely. Sadly, I keep relearning this truth over and over again. Even though my faithfulness sometimes wanes, the faithfulness of Jesus in all his promises to me never has. The reality is that I am weaker than I realize, and prone to wander far too often, and yet he continues to remind me of his mission for me. He brings me back and fills me with clarity when I lose direction and focus.

I serve Jesus because he sustains me.

My Life is Forfeit

"Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’  (Matt 16:24–25).

As Christians, our lives no longer belong to us but to the One who purchased them. Paul states, "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6:22–23).

I serve Jesus because I am a slave.

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Author: Dale Thackrah

Dale Thackrah is the Executive Pastor at Redeemer Bible Church in Gilbert, Arizona. He is currently a D.Min student at Talbot School of Theology. He has been a pastor for eighteen years in California and in Arizona. Dale and his wife, Shawna, have two children: Noah and Kenna.