As a chronic pain sufferer, when I am asked "how are you today?" my response is joyfully "I'm pressing!" There is not a day I am not in pain where some days are greater than others but I have learned to press on in spite of the pain, in spite of problems, in spite of panic. I have learned that peace, purpose, and potential are on the other side giving me something to press on for with joy.
I am reminded of Paul in the Book of Philippians who was experiencing a great deal of panic, problems, and pains at the hands of others but specifically in the name of Christ. He desired to encourage the saints at Philippi on how to live a life pleasing to God despite the things we go through. He opens chapter 3 with "rejoice in the Lord!" His focus on joy in the Lord will help us make it through. Our joy will not come from material wealth, as this will pass away. Our joy will not come from idolizing others, as man will let you down. It will not come from the many titles you carry because the greatest title is "chosen." He continues by providing examples of how to find that joy. I rejoice when he says, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14 NASB) He identifies that there's joy in pressing.
So, how do you experience joy in pressing?
1. There is joy in maturing – I often hear people say "I am not perfect." This is true as no matter how good we are we won't be perfect until, as Christians, we see Jesus face-to-face. In the bible, the word perfect means "mature, complete, bring to an end, finish, accomplish." I love the word mature, as each day, we are maturing drawing more and more like Christ. We should find joy in this maturity, striving to live a life pleasing to God. No, you're not perfect, yet, but you are maturing and growing to perfection, daily!
2. There is joy is forgetting – We all have a past but our past does not define us! Our past is only a tool to be used to teach us, not to hold us back. Paul tells us: Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, (Philippians 3:13 NASB). He is speaking of perfection. He confesses he's not there yet but he forgets those things behind him to reach the things in front of him. My pastor, Dr. John Adolph, often says, "we can't move forward while looking backwards." Have you tried walking full steam ahead while your head is turned backwards? It's virtually impossible. We have to learn to let go of our past. Forget what you couldn't do last year! Forget what people said about you! Forget about the mistakes you have made! The joy in forgetting is it allows you to see the dream and vision fully.
3. There is joy in pressing - Yes, we may experience pain! Yes, there may be problems along the way! Yes, it may not feel comfortable and we panic but imagine for a moment what you are missing out on. There is an ultimate goal that each of us must keep in perspective. Mine is ultimately to please God. I cannot do this if I succumb to pain or the things going on around me. The joy in pressing is that pleasing God brings us joy. (Art of Reciprocity). A few years ago, while in pain, I spent the day working my business side by side with my daughter. Watching her shine as she shared her business with others was worth the pain of getting out of bed and making the two hour drive. I share this because sometimes we never know what we are missing until we get up and keep pressing. Don't miss the mark of the higher calling! Keep pressing! There's joy in them there hills!
Remember the joy of the Lord is our strength! Even when we are tired He provides us the joy to keep pressing!
I encourage you to keep pressing in all you do knowing that there's joy! Propel Your Problems to Potential!
Never forget, As I Encourage You, I Encourage Myself!
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