Eyes on the prize

What is your hope in this world? What are you genuinely racing towards? This sermon reflects on the importance of fixing your eyes on Jesus, while having confidence in Him, drawing near to God, holding unswervingly to the hope, spurring one another on, and not giving up meeting.

Brendon McMinn


Transcript (Auto-generated)

Good morning. First of all have to apologize to Kim because not only is she converting what I say into sign but she's also got to translate it from like kiwi to Australian so she's doing two jobs at once this morning so thank you Kim oh she reminds me that she's a kiwi anyway so it's her native tongue let's just uh start the morning in prayer father you're a great God thank you for the gift of your son thank you for his willingness to follow your path and your uh design father thank you for his willingness to die on the cross for us to shed his blood and his and give his body as a perfect sacrifice for us as we open up your word this morning Lord may your Holy Spirit Come and uh just fall aresh on us and give us a new understanding of words that we might have read before and uh and uh give us an ability to apply it in our lives Lord may we truly understand what the praise is and may we have a deep desire to seek that with all of our hearts all of our minds and all of our strengths we ask that you go before these words in your name amen so if you were here last week uh our brother Steven spoke and it was uh and it was a really awesome message and uh it's just amazes me that uh God puts things together so well does everybody anybody else get blown away so often about how God puts stuff together uh just listening to what the the worship team shared this morning what David shared this morning what Steven shared last week and what God's put on my heart to share it all just ties in together and it's it's definitely not human it's it's God doing that and so it's it's exciting to stand here before you and acknowledge that God's hand is that work here so last week Stephen spoke about a Clear Vision if you were here and you remember uh and he spoke on Proverbs 29 uh 2918 and a few of the things that he said with it we need to be we need to have a Clear Vision we need to be looking up and we need to be looking forward today we're going to continue on the the theme of looking forward and you'll see that have entitled it eyes on the prize So today we're going to be looking at how we are encouraged in our daily walk to to aim for the price so I'm a I'm a bike rider or really anything with a motor on it to be honest I I like even the lar and the Whipper snipper so I even run racing fuel in my whipper snipper so when I'm running around the back lawn I'm sniffing it and I'm enjoying myself you know so as a bike Rider one of the things that we learn when we're riding on the road or in the dirt is that we have to look past the thing that is immediately in front of me so if I'm on the road and I'm leaning into a corner I'm not looking at the corner I'm looking at the road past the corner so I'm looking where I'm aiming to go and if you ride in the dirt we all know I know particularly well you don't look at the tree or the hole that is in front of you CU if you do where are you going to end up in the yeah in a hole or in my case in hospital normally yeah that's right yes so if you focus on the thing immediately in front of you nine times out of 10 that's where you're going to head so so when we ride bikes we we're taught to look in the distance and focus on the distance not the near that's what we're going to be talking about today and I was I I've got another little uh um uh practical view there but I was thinking most of us don't look at horses working today do we but if you're old like some of the people in the congregation not me but some of the other people um working horses or even race horses often have these things on the side of their halters don't they we I call them blinkers I think that's the proper name for them eh blinkers what are the purpose of blinkers take away distraction take away distraction so in the old days when the horses were pulling the carts and that they often had the blinkers on so that the stuff around them wouldn't scare them wouldn't distract them from their task of of pulling the cart race horses the nervous ones you'll see they often have the blinkers on so they're not looking to the left or the right they're looking straight ahead they're aiming at the goal so got some questions to start off with this morning where is our Focus David has said it's a new year and often we we set up New Year's resolutions so where is our Focus for this year I know most of us have been on holidays and hopefully most of us are feeling refreshed and ready for a new year and excited but my wife shared with me just last night or was it early this morning honey when you couldn't sleep she was thinking about the 121 emails in her inbox already for the year and she hasn't even started work yet 121 new emails are we bogged down with the Daily Grind like is this year going to be like last year where suddenly stuff gets piled on top of us and we just sort of start to go oh man you know like and if you're a list person how long is your Todo list this week how long is it all of these things that demand our attention all of the things that only we can do or maybe others expect or are relying on us to do they put pressures on us don't they they start to squeeze in my question is who puts the pressure pressure on us is it others is it God or is it us so when as we open up the scriptures today I want to encourage you to to re-evaluate where your focus is in life today so let's see what the scriptures say last week um Stephen went into Hebrews and and used a a scripture in Hebrews and I want to today we're going to be focusing in Hebrews again the first scripture in Hebrews is Hebrews 12 1 to three and I'm reading out of the NIV therefore since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us fixing our eyes on Jesus the Pioneer and the perfector of of our faith for the joy set before him he endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at theck right hand of the Throne of God consider him who endured such opposition from Sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart I wanted to start with that ver those verses today because they embody the idea of the sermon today but the the actual scripture that we're going to pull apart is back a couple of chapters in Hebrews 12 so I'm going to go straight and read that now so that's uh Hebrews 10 sorry and that's Hebrews 10 19-25 and it's titled A a call to persevere in faith so verse 19 starts out therefore brothers and sisters since we have confidence to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus by a New and Living Way opened up for us through the curtain that is his body and since we have a great priest over the house of God let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that brings that faith Faith brings having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from any guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess for he who promised is faithful and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and Good Deeds not giving up on meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the day approaching so this morning we're going to pull that bit of scripture apart and there's five five points that come out of that that bit of scripture that we're going to look at but just as a little bit of a review we're reading Hebrews 10 but if you go back to Paul's first nine chapters of Hebrews he talks about he's been leading us through God's plan and his desire to have fellowship with his creation and that's why we have the Old Testament covenants and through through the first nine chapters of Hebrews is's talking about the Old Testament covenants and then Christ comes as the Fulfillment of Prophecy and God's ultimate Covenant the New Covenant so in chapter 10 here we've moved from the Old Testament story of what what God was doing to put in place a way to commune with his his um of had fellowship with us now we're moving into the the New Testament the section with Christ so how do we do this there are five things that we're going to look at first have confidence the next one draw near to God the third one hold unswervingly to Hope spur one another on and do not give up meeting together have confidence I'm not always that confident sometimes when I'm sitting down there before coming up here my legs are almost shaking but God tells us to have confidence do you believe in the Bible I'm not going to ask you to put your hands up but you can nod your head so I know you're not asleep although some people do nod their heads in their sleep but anyway um do you believe in the Bible yes do you believe that Christ is the Son of God and part of the Trinity yes do you believe he died on the cross to pay for our past our present and our future sins yes do you believe that he's your personal savior yes then have faith in him yeah so I can sit down now it's all over it's really simple really isn't it when we think about those those key things of our belief system the Bible Christ as a Son of God has sacrificed for us on the cross him being our personal savior then it should be really easy and we should be confident to put faith in him shouldn't we it sounds quite easy but it's not always as easy to put into practice so Jesus is the New Covenant he provided a way for us to fellowship with God in a way that had never been able to be done before when we look through the Old Testament there were lots of different laws and rules that were put in place but with Christ he took away all of those old laws and he brought in a new way for us to Fellowship didn't he verse 19 tells us that it's by his blood that we have been redeemed so from the Old Testament isn't it great that we've got the Old Testament sometimes I struggle through it the readings can be quite hard but the Old Testament shows us who God is doesn't it and in the Old Testament we understand the role of blood and the importance of blood for the sacrificial importance of blood don't we when we understand right through the Old Testament the rules of the blood and the sacrifices and they had to be unblemished sacrifices blood plays a really important part but the thing is about all of the Old Testament sacrificing it was only ever temporary wasn't it they had to keep doing it over and over again but with the coming of Christ and the shedding of his blood that was a oneoff sacrifice for all time no more having to renew it it doesn't have to happen on a daily weekly monthly yearly basis Christ's oneoff sacrifice finished all of that then in verse 20 we're given a clear picture about the curtain and when hopefully all know what the curtain refers to again if we go back to the Old Testament the curtain of the Tabernacle was a really important part of the Tabernacle so if you remember the Tabernacle was the tent that the that the Israelites took through the desert with them before they could actually build a permanent Temple and when God designed a tabernacle he gave very very specific dimensions and how it was to be made really really detailed the curtain played in an important role because behind the curtain was the holy of holies no one was allowed past that curtain because that's where God presided within the Tabernacle or later on the temple God presided in the holy of holies once a year the high priest was allowed to enter through that curtain into the holy of holies once a year he was only one and he had to cleanse himself purify himself and go through there it was the one time in the year so the curtain played a really important part could it meant that that that the people could fellowship with God but they were still separated by that curtain why did the curtain have to be there because God is pure and God is Holy and we were still sinful God couldn't be in our presence that curtain defined the the separation that was between God and us in a physical way didn't it but we see that when Christ died di we hear that the curtain in the temple of the then day what happened to it it was torn from top to bottom not just ripped a little bit it was torn apart and that was a physical I love the way that God gives us physical evidence here that that curtain tore apart and broke down that barrier between God and us now that tearing of the curtain happened in a physical way on that day that Christ died but we know that it also happened in a spiritual way didn't it because Christ's sacrifice for us now means that we can face God because we are cleansed by his blood so therefore that spiritual curtain that separated us from God has now gone as well so here we have two things we hear about um Christ's role with his blood shedding and then also the tearing of the curtain so these two things now tell us that Our Savior has made a way for us to meet our creator face to face because we are cleansed by Christ's blood awesome but um sorry I'm lost my place I'm talking and not looking I'm a male I can only do one thing at a time so the curtain's been torn the price has been paid so now we fellowship with God does that mean we can put our trust in Christ yes it does should we have confidence in Christ yes we should Hebrews 111 and 1 and 6 say this now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and in assurance of what we do not see and then verse six says and without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek Him earnestly if we truly understand what the sacrifice Christ paid on the cross for us means in our lives then we have that confidence to come before God so the next one that's number one number two is draw near to God draw near to God so we've already learned that we can come into God's presence now thanks to Christ does that mean that it's going to be easy no it doesn't does it we're still ourselves aren't we I like that old saying that just because I'm sitting in mackers doesn't mean I'm a Big Mac I like that say and I don't like Big Macs so I don't really go to macas very often but just because we're in God's presence doesn't mean we're suddenly different to what we were before does it we've been cleaned but we still hold on as David said earlier we struggle to let go of the old and take on the new don't we it's not always that easy Christ made a way for us to come to the father but we have to act in our daily lives we have to live that out practically in our daily lives it's one thing to believe it in here it's another to get it out to the extremities of our body and actually physically live it isn't it it's another thing I want you to take a minute I'm stealing this again off my brother Steven cuz he did it last week and I thought it was a great idea let's do some visualization let's just visualize what it would be like to draw near to God so if you need to close your eyes or just focus on it however you do picture God in your mind's eye picture God picture what it's like for you as an individual walking up to God for me it might be a bit apprehensive maybe a bit shy maybe there's a bit of tre trepidation because after all he is God Almighty the Creator so as I'm creeping towards him he's this amazing being and I'm just a spec and I'm coming towards him and I'm a little bit apprehensive but you know what as I get to his feet and I look up at him i gaze up at him instead of being scared all I see in his eyes is the love that he has for me the love that he has for me the acceptance he has for me suddenly I'm wrapped in his enveloping love can you picture that as you walk towards your Creator and then suddenly arms however like you like to visualize them Reach Out And envelop you and suck you into his all powerful love his all enduring love The World Is Gone suddenly everything behind me is gone and all I can feel is that presence of being with God and you know the feeling that that is it's a feeling of being home the feeling of being home I am where I was designed to be I am with my father so I hope you could visualize that as much as I did when I was going through this because it put me in a in a really neat space with God this is what Drawing Near to God involves it's not instantaneous it's not a one-off thing it's actually a a continual thing the Drawing Near we don't just draw near to God at the beginning of the year and then forget it we do this continually and you know what it's got to be a bit of conditioning we need to teach ourselves on how to do that often the world tells us that we're not good enough to to to to be in God's presence pres that we often tell ourselves that but Christ tells us differently Christ tells us that we are designed exactly as he wanted us to be designed and we've been cleansed by him and that we have direct access to God so no matter what other things might tell you what no matter what other people might tell you the world might tell you or even your own minds I might tell you God is telling me you are enough you can come before me so we need to draw near to him this needs to be cons constant and consistent so verse 22 of that scripture that we read earlier said tells us that it involves a sincere heart with full Assurance so the Drawing Near let's try and unpack that and I'm not very good with English as you can tell it is my first language by the way or only language I just don't do it very well but so I like to look up words and find out what they mean so I looked up sincerity and the the Webster um meaning for sincerity is the absence of pretense deceit and hypocrisy the absence of pretense deceit or hyp hypocrisy you know the world's full of insincerity isn't it the world is full of insincerity every day we are encouraged by the world to put on different faces depending on who we are with or what situation we're in there might be expectations put on us that we try to live up to and we often perceive that there are expectations so therefore we act in a certain way don't we I know I find myself falling into that might be a work thing or a family thing or any different situation where suddenly I feel like I'm expected to be somebody or maybe I'm not so therefore I try to be that person that's not sincerity that is the world's version of sincerity or I like to say insincerity Christ version is us as we are no faces No masks just to Bear us are we afraid sometimes that we won't be accepted by people if we act as us do we think maybe that we're too boring that we're not good enough that we're not brainy enough that we don't use big enough words or not holy enough to be with these people that's what we the the world would tell us but that's not what Christ tells us Christ tells us come as you are when we draw near to God it involves being our inner s so I like the picture we get and we're going to look at the scripture in Matthew 23:25 but a change of outward behavior in other words our faces our outward behavior and our actions doesn't necessarily mean that we'll have an inward change however the other way works it's God's design an inward change will affect your outward actions do you get that we can't clothe ourselves with righteousness from the outside we have to clothe ourselves with righteousness from the inside and then the outside will glow naturally or should I say supernaturally we need to clothe ourselves from the inside so when we draw near to God it's not necessarily it's great to come here as we'll hear later it's not coming somewhere or doing something it's actually being in God's presence here in our hearts and our minds being in God's presence that's what the drawing their action is so Matthew 23:25 says this is a warning woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees you Hypocrites you clean the outside of the cup and the dish but inside they're full of greed and self-indulgence so when we talk about sincerity we're talking about the inside of the cup aren't we that's the bit that matters to God the outside is doesn't matter to him he's more concerned with the inside of the cup so as I said earlier Drawing Near to God is an action it's a process rather than a step we need to strip away ourselves and come before God understanding that acceptance has already been given so we don't have to try to be what we aren't God loves us as we are we need to understand that accept that and live that out in our lives so the third one is hold unswervingly to Hope hold unswervingly to hope it's a great verse and um the New Living Translation says let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm for God can be trusted to keep his promise hold unswervingly so I want us to do another visualization because uh I think that they really helps us see the situation as it is so just as just the warning if you're scared of heights this doesn't involve Heights it involves depths so don't think of it if you're a Heights persons don't think of it as Heights think of it as depths all right so I want you to picture a mile high I mean sorry a mile deep Cliff okay or sorry 1 kilm deep Cliff so just think of the sheer cliff and it's like as far as I can see down okay and at the bottom of that pit is the pit or the bottom of that Cliff is the pit of despair so Darkness nothingness emptiness down the bottom the good news is you're not at the bottom of the cliff you're up near the middle maybe close to the top of the cliff now this Cliff is so high you can't even see the top of it you're somewhere in the middle and it's a sheer Cliff there's no footholds so picture that but praise God there's an old rope dangling down an old hemp rope picture that rope it's a big thick rope like that hold a ship I want you to picture that big thick strong rope so even though it's old it's strong and here you are holding this rope so I hope you're picturing yourself my question to you is what sort of grip have you got on that rope is it a loose grip is it a firm grip are are your are your hands turning blue or is it a grip where you've actually wrapped your arms around that rope and then your hands are twied around that rope and you become part of the Rope picture that you're hanging on this cliff and you're holding the Rope okay you can keep your eyes open your eyes now I has it a guess that all of us in that picture we probably had our legs wrapped around the Rope as well didn't we cuz we didn't trust our hands and we didn't trust their arms we wanted every bit of us to hold on to that rope because we didn't want to slide down that rope we didn't want to fall into the pit as the spear that is the sort of grip that we're talking about here when the scripture says hold tightly without wavering to the hope we're talking about gripping hope not just a loose I've got a bit of Hope in my hands you know maybe toss it from hand to hand and you know I might put it in my back pocket and take it out occasionally this is a life-saving grip on hope you understand what I'm saying this is not woly newly this is everything to me grip on that rope on hope so we have to hold hope closely to our hearts and we have to understand that we need to keep that as the primary thing that we do the belief that Christ died for us on the cross and has made a place for us is the hope that we have and the outcome is that we will be face to face with God our Father and our maker the other exciting thing as we read scripture is that Christ said that he's gone before us he broke the curtain tore the curtain and he went before us and we hear in the scripture that we read that he is now there with the father beside the throne and in fact in John 141:4 we read do not let your heart be troubled believe in God believe also in me in my my father's house are many Dwelling Places if it were not so I would have told you for I go to prepare a place for you if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself that where I am there you may also be and you know the way where I am going he's saying there that each of us have got a room in that place isn't it exciting you've booked a room already if you're a planner it's already sorted okay you have a reservation if you have faith in God you have a reservation so when The Daily Grind gets tough and things don't go as we plann because it's When Faith and Hope really come in isn't it if life is cruising and easy our faith is not really stretched is it but when things get tough that's when Faith really hits the road that's when we have to start living it out so when the grind really kicks in are you going to have a hold on that rope that is a life-saving hold are you going to stay the course because this whole scripture is saying run the race stay the course see the finish line and get to the finish line that is the hope that we've got to have we've got to keep our eyes focused on the end goal not what's happening today tomorrow or at the end of the year but the end goal a life and Eternity with our maker a life and Eternity with our maker you know a bump in the road doesn't make the road impossible but as they say on TV if it's flooded forget it but if it's only a bump it doesn't make it impossible does it we've just got to slow down and get over that bump and we can continue our journey yet so often we let the a bump be a reason that we detour stop or we still stop rather than detour so remember that a bump in the road is not impossible it's only going to slow you down a bit scripture tells us to stay focused and don't be sidetracked hope allows us to let go of control and give it to God let go of control and give it to God okay the next one that was spur one another on I hope you didn't visualize and get a picture of a horse and a guy with big sharp things on his on his boots but sort of not a bad picture to have but spur one another on encourage one another encourage one another the gift of uh the gift of eternal life after all is worth fighting for isn't it it's something we are trying to attain it's a prize it's a goal the gift of eternal life surely it's something that we're excited about are we yeah yeah yeah yeah we're excited we're Baptists we're really excited don't raise your hands it's worth fighting for and if it's worth fighting for surely it's worth encouraging our brothers and sisters to fight for it too no yes that's right it is we need to Spur one another on we're encouraged in the scripture to actually get together and encourage one another so that when one person's down you can pull them up and when you're down they'll get beside you and help you along that's what sping one another on is sping one another on is saying hey I've heard this great thing or I've read this great scripture today this is what I got out of it what did you get out of it encouraging one another to get into the word that is spurring one another on it's important and we need to do it on a daily basis Paul refers to it as a race and in one of the earlier verses that we read he refers to it as a race and so often we think of a race as being a running race don't we with one with with individuals running a race maybe a Sprint race around a 400 meter track and then we think of the prize being the finish line and it's an individual race isn't it I think that this view is sometimes flawed because in the scripture here we're told to Spur one another on I like to think of it more as a team Race yes we have an individual relationship with God but we're also called to fellowship with one another and to encourage one another and to draw one another on so I like to visualize it as a team Race where we're working as a team so I want to get to the finish line but I also want my whole team to get to the finish line so I'm going to do everything in my power to encourage you to grow you to help you and to stir you on to the Finish Line even if it involves a kettle product you know get going sometimes You' got to be cruel to be kind you know like sometimes people need a filet under them we got to Spur them on so this verse is saying spur one another on this might change the way we walk our daily lives if we one of our main criteria every day is to encourage one another and to Spur one another on that might change what we do in our daily lives we need to encourage others to do what what are we trying to encourage people to do the scripture tells us we're trying to encourage one another to love others and do good deeds love others and do good deeds if you love someone you want the best for them don't you if you love someone you want the best for them we're encouraged to follow Christ's example just as he loved us and poured out his life for us so we're encouraged to do that to others around us so I have a question as Christians today in today's society are we a good picture of Christ's love are we a good picture of Christ's love I'm just putting it out there there's no judgment there but I'm just asking are we a good picture because if we aren't then we need to change what we're doing if we aren't we need to change what we're doing love must come first and then good deeds will follow okay last one last one do not give up meeting finally we're encouraged to continue meeting that's what we're doing here today isn't it thank you all for coming you know when you're preaching you do have this little back fear that no one will turn up but hey God calls you to preach anyway so you preach to the empty seats but thank you for coming this morning because we're encouraging the scripture to continue meeting and there's a reason for that because we were designed for Community First off to commune with God but second off to commune with one another because how can you spur one another on if you never see one another how can you spare one another on if you never SP uh never never see one another and just a little aside whether you like it or not you're all going to be my flatmates in eternity so we might as all get used to living together with one another now he think about that at the moment we all go to our homes and we have our space and there's plenty of space in heaven but we're told that we're all in the same building we all have a room each we we we we're flatmates some people will love that idea and some people will cringe at that idea but that's it's going to happen by meeting together we support one another we encourage one another we learn from one another and we grow with one another that's why God's given us the gift of Fellowship here and now so that we have the ability to to to continue through life where we're waiting for Christ's return so in finishing if the uh worship team want to come up I just want to read 1 Corinthians 9:24 and 25 do you not know that in a race or runners run but only one gets a prize run in such a way as to get the prize everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training they do it to get a crown that will not last but we do it to get a crown that will last forever we do it to do a crown that will last forever is that your goal is that your focus point I want to encourage us today to think about this year and think about what we are putting as the number one goal of this year I want to encourage you with your journey in God to make sure that that becomes your number one focal point keep your eyes on the price I like to think of if you've had kids or got grandkids and you're going on a trip and you're in the car and the car's packed up and it's been a hectic busy busy time just to get ready for the trip and you're pretty frazzled aren't you and you're in the car and you're just starting to relax you've driven down the road maybe 10 kilm and you're starting to go I can relax into this trip it's been such a busy time to get here and then what do you hear from the back seat are we there yet and you know you've got six more hours of driving and you know that but your kids don't know that now why are they saying Are We There Yet they are saying that because they know where they're going and they are so excited to get there that they don't want to wait they want it to happen now and you're the one that's stuck in the car with them for 6 hours but we are called Christ encourages us to be those children to be those ones that are excited about life and excited about where we're going with Christ and with God and to make that the goal and we need to be the ones saying to others are we there yet are we there yet I'm so excited I can't wait I want it to happen now so I just want you to focus on that that um picture there with the scripture up if you look at that picture on the side I had to squish it up have a look at the path and if you don't like heights you'll notice that on the side of that it's very steep my wife would be holding the Bush on the right and like hugging the cliff hone can you go to the last slide hun no that one look at that now does that look scary at all no because you know where the focus is the focus is the sun the light in the middle not the path if you focus on the Sun the path will fade away everything else will not matter focus on the son. Thank you.