On Purpose

I am writing this on New Year’s morning, with the understanding that by the time you read it, the outcomes will already be known. I am talking about the outcomes of the college football playoffs. I am positive that on the front side, each of the four teams would tell you that it was their intentional plan to arrive not only at the playoffs, but at the championship game. In other words, when the season started the goal was clear both among players and coaches. Game plans were designed and set in motion, decisions were made that aligned with the end goal, players were assigned positions, roles, and responsibilities to enable the team to achieve the ultimate college football crown… and then there are the practices. All the best laid plans fail without purposeful practice. Want to, wish to, and hope to are merely desires that never materialize without practicing the fundamentals and then putting them in motion on game day.

I remember coaches telling me and teammates in former days, “You play like you practice!” I don’t ever recall it being said of a team, “They never practice, they just show up and win.” It just doesn’t happen. While athletics is no stranger to luck and accidental outcomes, the fact is, in most cases the better team wins… better athletes, better fundamentals, better game plans, and better practice.

Now two sets of fans are anxiously awaiting the Championship game, again, as I write this, I have no idea who those two teams are, personally I am looking forward to watching whoever it is. Congratulations in advance to whoever is crowned the victor.

Having said that, and with my regrets to those who feel otherwise, I am fairly certain that heaven is not that interested in college football’s outcome. But I do know what Heaven is interested in… it’s you and how you prepare, practice, plan, and pursue the ultimate prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus. That is what Paul said he strived for… “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.” (Philippians 3:12–14) In other words Paul lived his life On Purpose for God and “practiced” living in a manner that was consistent with helping him achieve the highest honor—“the upward prize.”

With that in mind, I begin my new sermon series, On Purpose. For the weeks to come I will be talking with you about the disciplines and the duties (practices) that are required to live your life for God and the purpose for which you were created. Like a trained athlete, you and I must commit ourselves to the faithful daily rigors of spiritual growth and maturity. Intentional Living is demanded and is the subject of my first message to begin the New Year. I invite you to pledge your allegiance to the Lamb of God as you start this year. Withhold nothing from Him as you seek to grow and know His will. We are living at a crossroad in history. I believe that calls for us to be more serious than ever about living out our God given purpose in 2024.

Never Give Up
Our annual book study begins this Sunday (Jan. 7) at 5:00PM in the Worship Center. This outstanding book by Dr. Michael Youssef is a perfect study to help you make right choices at the beginning of this New Year. I look forward to leading us through it and hope you will join me. You can pick up your copy in the Welcome Center for the publisher’s discounted price of $10.

And remember, God is always trying to take us someplace new. I love being your Pastor!

For God’s Glory Alone,
Pastor Ray
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