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James Merritt - Eye on the Prize

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    James Merritt - Eye on the Prize
TOPICS: Joy Ride, Philippians, Perseverance, Persistence

Well, good morning to those who are watching online, those who are watching by television, those who at our Mill Creek campus, and those of course at our Sugarloaf campus, thanks for being a part of the service today. As always, I'm so excited about the message. In 2019, US news looked at 85 different attributes of different countries around the world, from heritage to adventure, and they determine that the number one best country in the world was Switzerland. Now, I've been to Switzerland several times and it's a beautiful country, and I mean no disrespect to the Swiss, but I respectfully disagree with that assessment. In fact, I don't think it's even close, I believe that we live in the greatest country in the world. We have the world's largest economy, we have the world's strongest military, we are the world's richest country, we have the world's best transportation system, and those are just a few of the things that we lead in.

Now, before some of you kind of gave, oh boy, here we go with this nationalistic, jingoistic, you know, arrogant American stuff. Let me stop you and let me just kind of turn something around because before we get a big head, there's another first place trophy that we hold. We are the most wasteful country in the world. We produce more garbage per capita than any other nation. Even though we have 4% of the world's population, we produce 12% of the world's waste and garbage. The average American is responsible for 1700 pounds of garbage a year, and that's not just trash talk. That's a joke, okay, alright? My grandkids produce that in a week. Think about that, average American, we produce 1700 pounds of garbage a year. It gets worse, we waste more food than any other nation in the world. When you take into account all the food that homes, and restaurants, and various companies, and corporations produce, listen to this, we throw away 40% of our food.

Now I want you to imagine, you go to the grocery store this afternoon, after churche's over, and you buy two bags of groceries. In effect, what we do is we walk outta that grocery store, take one bag of groceries and pour almost all of it on the ground. It will never go to feed a homeless person, it will never go to feed a child stuck in poverty, it's just wasted. The richest country in the world waste the most money. The average America, the average, if you're just average, we spend $18,000 a year on stuff that nobody needs. You don't need it, I don't need it, he doesn't need it, she doesn't need it, nobody needs it. $18,000. But I believe there's a far greater waste going on, not just in America, but around the world, that breaks the heart of God more than any other type of waste.

And I think the one thing that just breaks God's heart is a wasted life. It's just, life is so precious. Life is so wonderful, life is so brief, life is so short, and it's too precious to waste. And let me tell you, if you waste food, you can buy more food. If you waste money, you can make more money. But if you waste your life, you'll never get it back. It's just a wasted life. And I cannot think of a greater tragedy that can happen to anybody than to take their last breath, and when they wake up in eternity, realize all of a sudden, I wasted my life. I don't want that for you. I don't want it for me. Today I hope this will bless you, 'cause I'm gonna share with you one principle, not two, not three, not four.

I'm gonna share with you one principle, straight from the word of God, on how to make sure that you don't just not waste your life, but you give to your life and get out of your life, the one surefire way to make sure that you achieve the potential of your life and live your life to the fullest. It's not hard, comes right outta God's word. And I will guarantee you, you will not waste your life if you will keep this one principle. Here it is, keep your eyes on the prize. That's it. Not 8 rules, not 12 rules, not 15 rules, just one thing, keep your eyes on the prize. Let me tell you what I mean by that, life is like a race. From the time you're born till the time you die, you are running a race. And the one goal in every race is to cross the finish line.

It doesn't matter what else you do in a race, you know this, doesn't matter what else you do. It doesn't matter how hard you run, it doesn't matter how fast you run, it doesn't matter how far you run, if you don't cross the finish line, you don't win. And in life, the key to winning is very simple. Here it is, you must have the right goal and then you gotta keep your eye on that goal. That's all you gotta do, have the right goal and keep your eye on that goal. I love philosophy, I love to read philosophy, and the greatest, deepest thinking philosopher I've ever read is Yogi Berra. Yogi Berra said, "Be careful, if you don't know where you're going, you might not get there".

That's a profound statement, because in fact, I wanna kind of tweak what Yogi said, I wanna say it this way. Be careful that you're headed to the right goal, because if you're really headed to the wrong goal, you'd be better off not getting there. So keep your eyes on the goal and make sure it's the right goal. I look back at my own life, and the things that are most meaningful to me, the things I take the most joy in are the goals that I set in my own life that I realize were helping me achieve the purpose that God put me here for. And lemme tell you, goals are great things. Goals give you direction, goals give you drive, goals give you determination and the desire to achieve, and to produce, and to be better. I'm all for goal setting, JC Penney, who when he died, was on the richest men in the world, JC Penney said this, he said, "Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal, I'll give you a stock clerk".

That's true. We're in a series, if you're a visitor today or a guest of ours, we're in a series in the book of Philippians, we're calling Joy Ride. And one of the surefire ways you can get joy in the life that you're living is to set God given goals and then live your life every day, given your life to reaching those goals. And there was a man by the name of Paul who gives us a formula on exactly how to do that. And he gives us three simple steps that I promise you, you can use at the beginning of every year, every month, every week, and every day to make that year, that month, that week, and that day, the best year, the best month, the best week, and the best day of your entire life. They are so simple, they are so easy, and they help you keep your eyes on the prize.

If you have a disciplership booklet, it's on page 48 in your booklet, or if you have a Bible, we're in the book of Philippians, chapter 3. And Paul says, hey, you don't wanna waste your life? No I don't. You wanna get the biggest bang for your book? Yes, I do. Then he says, there are three things you gotta do every single day if you're going to keep your eyes on the prize, and I promise you, one of these three are really gonna hit home with some of you this morning. You ready? Here we go, number one, Paul says, you've gotta forget what is behind you. If you're gonna get to where you need to go in life, you've gotta forget what is behind you. Now, let me just say this. I don't know where you are in your life. I don't know how much you've achieved. You may think, man, I've kind of done what I need to do and I've kind of gotten what I need to get, but lemme just say this, you will never achieve all of your goals.

One of the hard things about growing older is when you finally realize, you know, there's some things I wanted to do, I'm not gonna be able to do. I don't have enough runway, my time is too short, the clock's running out. You will never achieve all the goals that you wanted to, but let me just tell you this, I don't care how old you are, I don't care if you've "retired", and by the way, we're gonna talk about that in just a little bit. But I don't care if you've "retired", you should always have goals you've not achieved. There's still things in my life I've not been able to do that I want to do. So Paul begins by saying this. He says, "Not that I have already obtained all this". In other words, he says, I'm not yet arrived, I know some people think I'm a pretty big shot, but I'm not. "Or have already arrived at my goal, but I pressed to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me".

Now, every time I read that about Paul, I kind of shake my head, and I wanna say to myself, you don't really mean that. When you say, Paul, you've not already obtained all this, you know, you haven't already arrived at your goal. I want to say, now wait a minute. Dude, when you wrote that, you were considered the world's greatest theologian, you were considered the world's greatest church planter, you were considered the world's greatest missionary, some would've said you were the world's greatest Christian. And yet Paul says, that may be true, but I don't have it all together. There are still a lot of places I want to go. There are still a lot of things I want to do. There are still a lot of goals I wanna reach.

And though Paul had reached a lot of his potential, he has not reached all of his potential. So let me give you some good news. I don't care where you are in your life, as long as you are drawing a breath, there will always be more lessons to learn, there will always be more principles to apply, there will always be more room to grow. However, Paul said, the first step you gotta take in your life if you wanna move forward, you have got to quit looking backward. So he says this, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do", he says, "Forgetting what is behind". Now I'm gonna touch some nerves right now. Too many people never get to where they need to go today, and too many people will never get to where they need to go tomorrow because they're still living in yesterday. Now let me just say this, do do you need to learn from your past? Sure.

Do you need to process the events of the past and kind of find out where you missed it and how you can be better? Yes, but you can't live there, you can't stay there. The truth is, you can't realize where you're going until you release where you've been. It's just an impossibility. No runner that I've ever known has ever run a race looking backwards. You can't do it. If you're gonna run, you've gotta be looking forward. You cannot sail the ship of your life into the seas of the future if your anchor is stuck in the mud of the past. You can't run forward if you're looking backwards.

And by the way, it's easy to do that. Let me be very transparent. I've been a pastor, this past December was my 43rd year of being a pastor. I mean, I started pastoring when I was three. But seriously, 43 years I was a pastor. Let me tell you something. I see Scott back there, my buddy, Scott, there's a lot of things I wish I could do over as a pastor, a lot. Boy, did I mess up. Boy, did I make some mistakes. Dear Lord, did I make some mistakes. Man, I wish I could go back, knowing now what I knew. Two of my sons attend our church, one's listening to me right now. Boy, there's a lot of things I wish I could do over as a dad. Two months, well, about six weeks from now, we'll celebrate 44 years together. I love her more than I've ever loved her.

But boy, honey, I wish there were things I could do over again as a husband. There are things I've said, man, I wish I could take 'em back. There's some things I've done, I wish I could undo them. There are things I didn't do that I wish I had done. But I'm not gonna be any good to you, me, or anybody else if I say stuck to where I was. Winston Churchill said it best, He said, "If the past quarrels with the present, there can be no future. We must learn to accept the past as unalterable and move on".

Now don't misunderstand what that word forget means. 'Cause I know what some of you're thinking right now, and I agree with you, I know some of you say, you're saying, are you kidding me? You don't even know what my past is, you don't know how bad I've hurt somebody. You don't know how much I've blown it. You don't know how much I've screwed up and how much I've messed up. There is no way I can totally erase that. You're right, and that's not what I'm saying. I get it, I understand it. What that word forget literally means is not to be influenced by it, not to be affected by it. Let me give you an example. God says in the book of Isaiah, "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins know more no more".

Now that doesn't mean that all of a sudden God gets spiritual amnesia. I mean, that doesn't mean that all of a sudden God develops a bad memory. What God means is, yeah, I know what you did in the past, I know how you messed up, I know how you wish you could do things over, I know all the regrets you have. But here's what God says, I am not gonna allow that to affect our relationship in the present. And I'm not going to allow that to affect our fellowship in the future. I read about a guy that went see his doctor, he'd been going to his doctorate for a long time and they were big friends, good buddies, and he walked in, the doctor could tell immediately, man, he's very concerned, he said, John, what's wrong? He said, doc, he said, you gotta help me, I'm worried sick. He said, what's the matter? He said, I'm suffering from amnesia. What do you think I ought to do about it? The doctor patted him on the shoulder said, man, just go home and forget about it.

Now there's some things we need to forget about. Can I just tell you two things we need to forget? One I've already mentioned, We need to forget our past failures, our past mistakes. Okay, there are things you didn't do you wish you'd have done, I get it. Okay, there are things you did that you wish you had not done, and things you didn't do you wish you had. I get it, okay. Look, confess them, repent of them, learn from them, make amend for them, but then move on. Don't stay stuck in the mire and the quick sand of the past. But I think there's some of you, you got a bigger problem. It's not that you haven't forgotten your past failures. Some of us need to forget our past successes, 'cause it doesn't matter how well you did yesterday, today's another day. Most preachers, we preachers have a saying, Sunday's coming.

You know what I know about you, those of you here last week, I hope you enjoyed the sermon. I know what you're saying, I don't remember what you preached. That's okay, neither do I, But I know some of you were touched, I got a lot of emails, and texts, and I had one lady tell me, I've been her pastor since she was a little girl. She's in probably her mid to late 30s, she told me today, I was at the dentist office, she said, I believe last Sunday is the greatest sermon I've ever heard you preach. And I appreciate that, and that's all well and that's all good, but you know what? I better bring it today. If I'd gotten up here today and said, you know what? Last Sunday sermon was so good, we're gonna watch a rerun. You wouldn't be too happy about that. You didn't come for last Sunday, you came for the day. I've gotta forget past victories, I gotta get over that.

You know, yesterday's victory doesn't mean anything for today's gain. Three of the saddest words I hear people say, and I've heard 'em say it all my ministry. Can I tell you the three saddest words? Is when people say this, I use to. I use to regularly attend worship. I use to serve in my church. I use to go on mission trips. I use to share my faith. I use to support my church financially. I use to read my Bible. I use to spend time with the Lord in prayer. I use to do all those things. And you know what a used up person is? A used up person is a person who says I use to. And what we must all learn is this, we learn from the past, we live in the present, but we look to the future. And that's exactly what Paul said. He says, which leads, by the way, to the next step. If you wanna keep your eyes on the prize, if you wanna make every day count maximal, you wanna get the biggest bang for your buck, Paul says, okay, number one, you gotta forget what is behind you. Then he says, number two, you gotta focus on what is before you. You gotta focus on what is before you.

Now Paul has put his past where it belongs, in the rear view mirror. He has put his present where it belongs, it belongs on the windshield. And then Paul gives us the secret to what we've gotta do every day if we're gonna get the most out of that day, and that day's going to get the most out of us. So listen to what he says, he says, "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken a hold of it, but", now listen to these four words, this is big. "One thing I do". Two words, Paul says, hey, you wanna be ordinary or you wanna be super ordinary? You wanna be average or you wanna be way above average? Paul says, okay, two words make all the difference, those two words are one thing. Have you ever thought about how important those two words are in the Bible? You ever thought about it?

You may remember this story, there was a rich young ruler that came to Jesus and he asked the greatest question anybody could ever ask, because if there's a God, and if there's a heaven, then the most important question anybody will ever ask is how can I make sure I get there? How can I make sure this is not the end for me? So this man comes to Jesus, this young guy, very sincere, very honest. And he says, master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Give the guy kudos, give him a standing ovation. Buddy, you have asked the right question. Well, before he can even answer the question, Jesus, that is, the man says, oh, by the way, I've kept the commandments. I've kept that commandment, this commandment, that commandment, this commandment, that commandment. Remember what Jesus said? Jesus said, you've done well, but, and then Jesus said four words, remember what he said? One thing you lack, just one thing.

Jesus loved to hang out at a little place called Bethany, I've been to Bethany many times. There was a family there named Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, and he loved to hang out, that was kind of his go-to family. Whenever Jesus wanted to get away from everything, he knew that was one place he could go and let his hair down, he could take his sandals off, and he could just chill. So Luke tells the story one time that Jesus is in the home of Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus, and Martha was in the kitchen cooking biscuits, gravy, eggs, no, no bacon, they're Jewish. So she's fixing breakfast. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, Jesus's teaching a Bible lesson, and she and Lazarus, they're soaking it up. Martha gets ticked off. She comes into the living room, she says, Mary, get up off of your rear end and get in here in this kitchen and help me cook.

You remember what Jesus said to Martha? He said, Martha, one thing is necessary, it always comes back to one thing. The greatest king who ever lived, David, a man after God's own heart, a man who could have asked God for anything he wanted and God would've given it to him. Do you know what David asked of God? Do you know what David said is the one thing he wanted to make sure God would give him? Listen to this, David said, "One thing I asked from the Lord", not two, not three, not five, not 10, Lord I just want one thing. "This only do I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple".

We've adopted a mission statement in our church, we said to our church, we wanna build everything we do around just one thing, just one. Point people to Jesus and inspire them to live the cross-shaped life. That's all, that's it. Point people to Jesus, inspire them to live the cross-shaped life. If you could come to our church regularly, you know I'm gonna do this at the end of every service, I will always ask you one question, you know what it is, right? Who is your? Yeah, not your two, not your 3, not your 8 not your 10, I just say, who is your 1? And you say, well, why is one thing such a big, big deal? Because anybody knows the secret to power is concentration. You can take a swamp, you can take a bog, but if you can concentrate, if you can channel that swamp in one direction into a river that's flowing, it can become a tremendous source of electric energy.

Decades ago we discovered something about light. If you can take the power of just light and concentrate that power in such a way, it becomes a laser beam, you can cut through steel. It's just concentration. So the point of the matter is the key to making sure that you're making a difference and the key to make sure that your life is really counting is you gotta set at least one goal. However, listen now, it has to be the right goal, it has to be the right one. I read the other day about a football coach and he wanted his six year old boy to play football. So he thought, I'm gonna teach my little boy, six years old, I wanted him to be a place kicker. That's what I want him to do. You know, you can't get hurt if you're a place kicker, and you know, a good way to play football. He says, I'm gonna teach my kid to be a place kicker. So he brought his kid out into the front yard and he had a football, put his kid to his side and he said, now, son, put that ball down, had that ball on his finger, and he said, son, when I nod my head, you kick it. And that's how he lost his two front teeth.

See, you gotta have the right goal. You gotta make sure you're going in the right direction. I remember when I was a kid, I lived in Tampa, Florida, and it was back in the day you know, they now gone defunct, but it was back when the Ringling Brothers Circus would come to town. I was four years old, maybe close to five years old, and I still remember, my mom and dad took me and my two brothers, and we went to Ringling Barnum and Bailey's Circus. It was tremendous. You know, certain things you stick in your mind. I can still remember the cage with a lion in it. And I can still remember this guy getting into that cage, and all he had was a whip and a stool, that's all he had, was a whip and a stool, even though I'm only four or five years old, I'm thinking, you know, this guy, he's got some room to run upstairs unfurnished, this is just not the way you ought be doing this. And that guy goes into this cage with that lion, and all he has is a whip and a stool, and boy, that lion, he's snarling, he's you know, go tiger.

You know, he's snarling, that was a Coach O joke. So he's snarling and all this kind, and that guy, that lion tamer, he takes this stool and he just points it to the lion, just points it at the lion. And when he pointed that stool to the lion, that lion got as quiet as a mouth, his eyes almost glazed over, he didn't even move. Now later on, I learned the secret. You know what the secret is, right? Because that stool has four legs. The lion is trying to focus on all four legs at the same time, and when he does that, he just gets paralyzed, he can't do anything, 'cause he is not looking at just one thing. God has put all of us on this planet to focus on one thing, and one thing only, and you can do more than one thing, you can do more than one thing, but you can only focus on one thing if you wanna be what God wants you to be. So now we get to the question. So what was the one thing Paul was seeking? What was that one thing? Well, he tells us. "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus".

Now the Greek word there for goal is the word skopos. We get the word telescope from that, it literally means to fix your eyes on a very small target. Paul said, I get up every day and I focus, like that laser beam I talked about, I'm focusing like a laser beam on this one single thing, this one prize. Well, what was that? He says, it's what God has called me heavenward to do. Well, what is that? Well, it's easy. God has called every one of us to accomplish a primary goal. One primary goal, and if you will accomplish this one goal in your life on a daily basis, let me tell you what will happen, you will maximize your influence in your home, in your family, in your business, with your friends, in your neighborhood, and in every other area of your life. This is the one thing Paul says we've got to see, this is the goal, this is the prize, here it is, to know God and glorify him.

That's the goal, to know God and to glorify him. No matter what other goals you achieve in life, it doesn't matter how many ladders you climb, it doesn't matter how high you climb them, if you leave this life and you don't know God, if you leave this life and you did not live for the glory of God in everything you did, in everything you were, your life was a waste. And you achieved the wrong purpose and you reached the wrong goal. That means that every waking moment, that every day you have on this earth, you're not to dwell on the past, you're not to dread the future, you devote yourself to the present, and you just say, every day when you get outta your bed, no matter what else I do today, Lord, I'm gonna know you, I'm gonna glorify you. And when people talk to me, I want them to know I know you. When people watch how I live, I want them to see your glory in my life. That's what you've gotta do. Forget what is behind you, focus on what is before you. And then Paul said, when you do that, then you can face what is beyond you. Then you can face what is beyond you. Paul uses the word twice in this passage to tell us how to face the future.

Now remember, when Paul wrote these words, he wasn't in the beach, you know, in Hawaii, he wasn't on a Disney cruise, he wasn't in a pent house making a million dollars year as a CEO of a big company. When Paul wrote these words, he was in prison. I mean, he didn't even know what kind of future he had, if he even had one, he didn't even know if there would be a tomorrow for him. But here's what he says, if there is a tomorrow for me, if there is, no matter what my circumstances, I know what I'm going to be doing. I'm going to press on to take hold for that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. So he repeats in verse 14, I press on, I love that word, I press on toward the goal to win the prize. That word for press on means to relentlessly pursue, you don't give up. 'Cause remember I've told you, life is like a race.

One of the reasons why I love to read the apostle Paul, it's pretty obvious when you read Paul, he loves sports, he loved athletics. I loved sports, he was probably athletic, I was pretty athletic when I was growing up, and I've always loved sports, I've always loved athletics. And so here's what Paul is saying, no matter how dark tomorrow may look, no matter how dire my circumstances may be, no matter how discouraging things may appear, you know what I'm going to do? I'm gonna keep running. I'm gonna keep heading toward that finish line. I'm going to keep going toward that goal. I will not be deterred, I will not be detoured, I will not be distracted. I'm going to keep my eyes on the prize of knowing God and glorifying him until I hit the finish line of my life.

Now let me just say something here, and I don't mean to offend anybody, a don't mean to make you feel guilty or anything like that at all, and I wanna be very careful how I say what I'm about to say, but this is something that we all face sooner or later, I'll be facing it, you know, one of these days, and so I just wanna say a word here, 'cause I've got to say it. I meet too many people, and they're kind of past mid age, and I'll say to them, so what are you thinking about? What do you wanna do with your future? And they say four words, I want to retire. That's it? I wanna retire. What they mean by that, it's kind of the way we sugarcoat to say, yeah, you know what I want to do? I wanna quit and do nothing Or they'll say it like this, I want to finally be able to do what I want to do.

Read my lips, we ought to be spending every day doing what we want to do, because what we want to do is what God wants us to do. So I spend every day in my life doing what I want to do, I don't have to retire to do what I want to do, and see, for most people, and I'm just being honest, their relationship with God never shows up in their retirement plan. And I wanna tell you, if you are a follower of Jesus, you should never retire from being actively involved in your church. You should never ever retire from being involved in a small group. You should never ever retire from being discipled and discipling other people. You should never ever retire from serving your church some way, somehow. You should never ever retire from being sent to the neighbors and being sent to the nations.

Paul said, in effect here, I am not going to retire, I may retool, but I'm not going to retire. I'm not going to die sitting and soaking. I'm going to die standing and serving. So that brings me to kind of the climax of the message. Here's my question to you, to all of us, we don't know how much life we're gonna have left, right, we don't know you. You guys may have seen the famous drummer that just died, some of you know what I'm talking about? I wasn't into that stuff, but you know, he died, right? Guy's my age. I read that more and more, I mean, it wakes me up. We don't know when life's going to end. We don't know when the spot's gonna be on the lung. We don't know when the drunk driver's gonna, we don't know.

So my question is real simple, what one thing are you gonna focus on the rest of your life? What one thing you gonna focus on? At the end of every day, let's just be honest, every single day we're gonna focus on one or two things, what we want or what God wants, not hard to figure that out. Well, folks, want we want or what God wants. And too many people spend their life making things instead of making things count. So here's my question, get real practical. What would it mean for you if today you made a decision, beginning today, I'm gonna focus my life on this one thing? I'm gonna focus my life, I'm gonna make it the drive of my life, the desire of my life, the determination of my life, I'm gonna know God, know God more than I've ever known him, know God better than I knew him yesterday and less than I know him tomorrow. I'm gonna know God and I'm gonna glorify him.

What would that mean? Can I tell you what for some of you? For some of you it may mean, for the first time in your life you're gonna read this book every day. Or for some of you, it may mean I'm not gonna read it every day, I'm gonna do something I never done, I'm gonna read the whole thing. One of my goals I've had, I have it this year, I'm reading my Bible through this year. Not because I'm pastor, I did it way before I became a pastor. 'Cause I know if I wanna know God, I've got to read this book. And I know if I wanna glorify God, he'll tell me how to do it. So I'm gonna do that. For some of you, here's what it would mean for you when you get your eyes on the prize, you're gonna start managing your money God's way. You're gonna quit robbing God, you're gonna start being faithful in investing in God's work.

For some of you, you're gonna wake up and say, you know, God, didn't put me here to be served, God put me here to serve. I'm gonna find a way to serve, I'm gonna find a place to serve God's church and God's people. For some of you, it would mean, I'm no longer going to practice lone ranger Christianity, I'm gonna get involved in a group, a life group, a community group, a small group, where I can help others grow and they can help me grow, For some of you it's gonna mean, you know what, I'm getting serious about this one business you keep talking about. I'm gonna write down a name of a one, I'm gonna have a one in my life. And I'm gonna ask God this year to use me to bring that one to a saving knowledge of Christ. You're gonna say, this is the prize, this is what I'm going for.

So I wanna close with this, y'all been great. My book's coming out, and I'll talk about my book, and I'm so excited, my new book's coming out on, "Character Still Counts", it's coming out next month. So I had to drive downtown to Atlanta, Thursday and Friday, to do the audio version of my book. You know what the difference is between sitting in a soundproof booth and reading every word of something you've written all day for seven hours and you can't miss anything, 'cause then you gotta go back and do it again? Do you know what the difference is between that and a Chinese water torture? Nothing. But you know I had to experience what some of you have to experience every Monday, I had to experience that traffic, going and coming.

And I thought to myself, most of these people don't realize God did not put us here to run the rat race, God put us here to run the real race. And the real race is his race. And the real prize is his prize. And he didn't put us here to run for the approval of this world, he put us here to run for his glory. And the prize that we're after is not the goal of this world, it is the glory of God.

And here's what Paul was saying, when you get your eyes on the prize and you have that one goal every day, I'm gonna know God, and I'm going to give God glory. I promise you, this will be true, every other piece of the puzzle of your life will fall into place. So I urge you, my wonderful brothers and sisters, that I love as a shepherd loves his sheep, life is too precious, it's too short, it is too brief, to get to the end of your life, and you're kind of like Rocky, and I've been there, and I ran those steps, and I did that deal, and you get to the top of the steps and you're jumping, and you got your hands, and you say, I made it to the top of the ladder, only to realize too late, it was leaning against the wrong wall. Keep your eyes on the prize.
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