Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eye on the Prize

Keeping your eye on the prize is a motivational maxim often used in sports. Enduring demanding training is made more palatable when one knows that hard work may lead to a championship. We are told to keep focused on achieving the end result, rather than the obstacles that get in the way of our goals. Each step taken brings one closer to that desired outcome. When reaching for that accomplishment that somehow we believe will define us, we will often deny ourselves the things that we think may be a hindrance to achieving that goal. We believe that keeping our eyes on the prize will make all our sacrifices worthwhile. Problem is that once we reach these supposedly lofty goals, we rejoice for a time, but there always seems to be an emptiness as time goes on. For every goal achieved, another presents itself. One can never make enough money, rise high enough in the corporate world, or win enough championships. No matter how much we accomplish in this life, it is never totally satisfying. When we finally realize that the ultimate prize is eternal life with our Father in Heaven, the importance of earthly rewards begins to fade away.

Philippians 3:13-14, “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, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We need not win the game to be awarded the ultimate prize. Open the door and welcome Jesus into your heart. Jesus is depicted by a number of artists, standing outside a door and knocking, and most have one thing in common. There is no doorknob on the outside of the door. Only the occupant can open the door to allow Him in. When, by faith, we believe in the one true Son of God, that He freely offered Himself as a sin offering for each and every one of us, that He suffered and died for us, and defeated death with His resurrection, we are granted, through the grace of God, our salvation. Scripture tells us that at that moment, we are made anew or become a new person and that we die to our sinful selves and become a new creation, lifted up by the love of our Lord and Savior. We realize that our former person is someone to be discarded and we pledge our lives to giving all the glory to God. You see that even if we fall short in this life, the life to come is far more important than anything that can happen here on earth.

Sin persists in this world and has infiltrated Christ’s church through the worldly ambitions of those who have pledged allegiance to God, but instead have chosen to betray Him. Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Twisting these words of the prophet Isaiah, leaders of the ELCA tell their membership that God is now telling them new things that fit in with their vision of an all accepting new religion. The prize they seek is not the kingdom of Heaven. It is to create a heaven here on earth promoting tolerance, diversity and justice. The leaders of the ELCA abdicate their responsibility to lead the lost to Christ and instead challenge the ageless truths of Christianity. Those that love Christ endeavor to please Him in all we do, the leaders of the ELCA entice their membership with the false gospel of bound conscience, allowing them to please themselves instead. Those foolish enough to embrace these false gospels perpetrated by the leaders of the ELCA take their eyes off the prize and jeopardize their very salvation.

Hebrews 8:10-13, “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” The intent of this passage is clear. When we belong to God, His law is written upon our hearts. Making the first covenant obsolete does not mean that God wants us to rewrite His laws. On the contrary, the first covenant condemned sin and was unable to offer forgiveness. The new covenant is Christ. His death and resurrection opened a door for us to be truly forgiven by our Father in Heaven. This new covenant pardons our sin and through the power of the Holy Spirit, gives us the ability to understand, the capacity to love, the courage to profess our faith, and the will to obey His laws.

We can do nothing to earn God’s mercy and grace. It is by our faith in the Risen Christ that opens that door. God’s mercy endures forever. His grace rains upon us without end. The prize is there for all who truly believe. Keep your eye on the prize that is the Risen Christ. Do not be deceived by those that would have you believe a gospel other than the one taught by Jesus. The enlightened leaders of the ELCA have fallen for the trap laid by the evil one. They remain not only in the world, but of the world and they truly love this world. 1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

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