This is really an awesome time of the year isn’t it? I love the weather, being able to do yard work, ball games, and cook outs. Children all over the nation also love this time of year as the school year is coming to a close. Parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone that is around kids this time of the year will tell you that the children’s attitudes change.
They have what I refer to as “A Short Timers Attitude”. They know the year is almost up and they feel as if they have finally made it and all they can think about is getting out of school and enjoying the summer months. They are done with trying to do their school work, there are tired of listening to the teacher, and they are finished with trying. They may have started the school year off great and strong, focused and determined to have the best year ever. To make awesome grades and to make their mark in the school but unfortunately many, many students catch the “Short Timers Attitude”.
I have seen this over and over again throughout my life. I can remember seeing the Short Timers Attitude in soldiers as well. You could always tell when a soldier was getting close to his ETS date, (the date when his tour of duty was over). They would skip PT formations and when they were there for PT, they would barely do anything. They would go through the motions and wouldn’t put forth much effort. You could also notice their Short Timers Attitude with their work performance. Lazy and half done with most of their duties, they felt that they had served and their tour was over. No longer did they have to do the work, they were going home, and they had been there and done that. They were ready for a break from service.
The truth is, they stopped being soldiers long before their release from service.
The question this morning for each of us is: Have we gotten a Short Timers Attitude with our service to God? Have we gotten to the point in our Christian walk where we feel like we have done our part, we have been there and done that, we have been schooled and have made the grade, we know all thee is to know and now we are skating by with no desire, with no drive to be better servant for Christ.
We have an attitude of a short timer. We believe we have arrived and we no longer feel that we need to push ourselves. We no longer have to read the Bible every day; we no longer have to show up to church each week, we don’t even have to pray before our meals anymore because we are above all of that now. We know God Loves us, He knows we Love Him, and we know we are going to Heaven.
We have no goals as far as our Spiritual Maturity goes. Our only clear goals set before us was to Accept Jesus and to receive Salvation.
This is the big reason why so many believers are unmotivated in their walk with Jesus. If you want your relationship with Jesus to be motivating, if you want to get rid of that short timers attitude and make progress then you must set goals.
But what are some of the goals we need to set for our lives in order to move forward in our walk of faith? As we look at life of Paul this morning, he gives us a good place to start.
7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
I. First, we need to set the goal of total surrender!
A. In verses 7-9 of our text Paul says that whatever I thought was once important, whatever once gave me status and gain, I now count everything as loss of the sake of gaining Christ Jesus!
1. Surrender says, “I give up and I give in!” It is a voluntary choice to relinquish control and authority.
2. One of the big enemies of goal setting is we are not specific enough. In other words, the goal is so ambiguous and vague that it cannot be plotted or measured.
3. The goal of total surrender, though noble and right must have a plan of attack. And that plan of attack will be different for each one of us this morning. Every one of us needs to set the goal of surrender to God, but how we do that, how we accomplish that will be different for each one of us.
4. Be specific in your goal for surrender because to be any less is an invitation for the enemy to demoralize and defeat us because we don’t know how to attain our goal.
5. We must be able to tell whether we have reached our goals or not. What specifically do you want to accomplish and within what time frame?
Illustration: E. Stanley Jones, who was a great missionary to India once said, “The strangest thing on this planet is our fear of surrendering to the one safe place in the universe – God. We hug our present delusions, knowing deep down that they are delusions; but they are present, and we hug them for fear of the unknown. The earth, when it runs away from the sun simply runs into the dark. When we run away from God, refuse to surrender ourselves, then we get on thing – the dark.”
II. But Paul speaks of another goal besides surrender. There is the goal of right behavior.
A. In verses 9 -11 we are reminded that being a Christian and surrendering to Jesus brings a life style change, a change in behavior! No, the behavior is not what saves us or changes us, but the behavior does testify to the change in us!
1. Our ultimate goal is be like Jesus. To know Him and the power of His
resurrection! In Romans 8:29 we are admonished to become conformed to the image of His Son.” And in II Corth 3 :18 we are to be renewed according the image of Christ.
2. An essential goal of spiritual growth is to become more Christ-like, renewing our behavior to conform to the example of Jesus Christ.
3. Do you want to be the man or woman that God longs for you to be? Then set for yourself the goal of right behavior as a result of total surrender!
4. In Psalms 37: 4-5 we read “4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:
5. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, and then we commit our ways to him, He will bring our deepest needs and desires to pass. Why? Because of our love toward Him; we have surrendered our needs and desires to Him.
6. Could it be this morning, that some of us desire the rewards of heaven in eternity, without the habits of Godly living for today?
Illustration: Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
7. In goal-setting, priorities are of the utmost importance. If we get the order wrong, the results will be affected in a negative way. We cannot claim a surrendered life to Jesus if our life is no different than the one who makes no claim to Christianity at all.
8. Set a goal to live the way God would have us live. What changes do you need to make in your speech, in your actions, in your decisions in order to be Christ-like?
III. And Paul also gives us another goal for Godly living . The goal of perseverance!
A. In verses 12-16 we are reminded that though we may not be all that God wants of us right now, we will not give up.
1. Some days life is a breeze, but for many of us life is a race of perseverance!
2. Set a goal that no matter what, or how or when or why, you will not give up. That goal may be as practical as, when things are great and God is near I will journal what God is doing in my life, so that when difficult times come, I will get out my journal and dwell on my answer and not my anxiety.
3. The goal of perseverance requires a diligent, concentrated effort as well as a sustained effort. Such a goal does not come naturally. If we are not careful, we may revert back to our former conduct and character.
Have you ever seen the movie, “We Were Soldiers?” It is a true story of 400 American troops who in November of 1965 face off with 2,000 enemy troops. The backdrop is the Vietnam War and Cornel Moore, played by Mel Gibson has been training his group of new recruits to go fight. They are green and unprepared for what lies ahead of them.
They have left family and friends to go fight an enemy in a place most of them have never heard of and tragically where the majority of them will not come home from.
As they prepare to engage the enemy, their Cornel addresses them. His desire is to encourage and instill confidence in them and to share with them the goal he has as they enter the battle. Hear his words to the men under his command.
The Cornel did not promise that it would be easy. Some of the men would not make it, but he did state before his men his goal. “I will be the first to set foot on the field and I will be the last to step off and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me God.”
– Goals have the power to motivate us and to challenge us. What is your goal as a Christian? Is it focused, specific and able to be measured? Are you willing to die for it – die to self and to sin?
This morning God wants you to know that He is with you. You are not alone. Now is the time to ask Him to give you the spiritual goals needed to move you where He wants you to be. Take the step out of an aimless, drifting spiritual life and allow the Holy Spirit to point you in the right direction by giving you clear and measurable spiritual goals.
I don’t know what your spiritual goals need to be, but I know we need them. The battle, my friends is before us. The enemy it tough and determined and if we are to make it home, we need to know what we are doing – to set spiritual goals that enable us to move forward in our Christian life.