Jeremy Thornton

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14)    

There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves. The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other. As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, “Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong. You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark.” Aaron didn’t say anything, but when the next pitch came, he hit it into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, “I didn’t come up here to read. 

As we begin this New Year, there are many that have taken the time to make certain goals (“resolutions”) they would like to reach during the course of the year Most will give up on these goals very quickly, some will continue in their attempts longer than others, and very few will actually reach those goals (statistically speaking) Do we have any goals for our lives? This year? This Month? This Week? Today? Have we let the “Yogi Berra’s” distract us from reaching our goals, or are we as determined as Hank Aaron to do what we set out to do? I want us to look at some goals that we should all work diligently to obtain, and also look at some goals we should have as a congregation and discuss some things we will begin this year.

If we are going to discuss a list of goals that for our lives, the goal that should be at the top of everyone’s list is “heaven.” If we were to take a poll, I imagine most people would tell us that they expect to go to heaven. Our goal in life should be to go to heaven and we should do all we can to meet that goal. The apostle Paul’s desire was to be in heaven (Phil. 3:14; Phil. 1:21; 2 Tim. 4:6-8). Our entrance into heaven is the reason that Jesus came to this earth and suffered on the cross (John 3:16-17; John 14:1-3; Matt. 26:28). Our residence in heaven is what God desires (2 Peter 3:9). In fact, God gave the best He could offer (Jesus) in order that we may be with Him eternally (1 John 3:1-3). Heaven should be our ultimate goal. 

We will not be able to reach heaven unless we have a goal of remaining faithful to God. We are commanded to remain faithful “unto death” (Rev. 2:10). As Paul is writing the church at Philippi, commanding them to press toward the mark, he is describing a runner in a race that has the finish line set as his goal. We should be like this runner having heaven set as our goal and continue to run or press on through life as we strive to reach our goal (Heb. 12:1-2; Rev. 3:5). Perhaps, being faithful to God is the hardest thing that a person can do. Satan is constantly seeking after those whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and we must do all we can to fight him by drawing closer to God (James 4:6-10), studying God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15), praying without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17); and abstaining from all appearances of evil (1 Thess. 5:22). 

Along with remaining faithful, we must have a goal of growing spiritually. Growing is something that takes place naturally in our physical lives and if an infant were not growing the parents would be alarmed and seek after medical help. The same should be true of each Christian. As we go through life, we should be on a continual process of growing spiritually. The Bible condemns those that do not grow (Hebrews 5:12) and commands that each Christian grow or “add to their faith” (2 Peter 1:5-8). Those that have recently obeyed the Gospel, putting Christ on in baptism, are referred to as “babes in Christ” and are told to be fed the Word in order that they may grow (1 Peter 2:2), and in order to continue to grow we must continue to feast upon the Word of God daily (Acts 17:11). We must continue to grow and seize every opportunity we can to do the will of God. 

Bear Bryant, Alabama's football coach for 25 years amassing an amazing record of 232 victories to only 46 losses and in the process winning 7 national titles, told of a time in his early days at Kentucky when his team fumbled the ball in front of the bench, and in the resulting scramble someone kicked over a box containing eight more footballs. A free-for-all ensued, with Tennessee recovering five balls and Kentucky four. The officials gave possession to Tennessee. He said we learned an important lesson, when the ball comes bouncing your way, grab it. Seize every opportunity.

We must set our goals now. We must do all we can to reach those goals. Remember that Satan wants to destroy us, therefore we must work harder than him in order to save ourselves and others. Make heaven our goal, and top priority in life, remain faithful to God, and do all we can to grow.


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