This past Sunday I took a departure from our Soteriology series to give the High Schoolers some encouragement for the next year. This is a summary of what was said:
As we come to the next year, I wanted to let you know exactly what my desire is for each of you in the next year. As I read through Philippians 3, I tend to think that Paul echoes the mentality that we exhibit at the end of each year, namely setting goals for the next year in light of what has happened in his life up to this point. Paul presents his credentials and speaks of how they mean nothing compared to pursuing the knowledge of Christ. Then, in verses 13-14:
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of GOd in Christ Jesus.”
My desire is that you pursue a deeper, more intimate knowledge of Christ in this next year than you ever have in your life. I’m going to be sharing some verses that help summarize what this pursuit looks like. This is by no means a comprehensive summary, but is definitely a good start.
1. My first desire is that you “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and beieve in your heart that God raised him from the dead” and that you will be saved (Romans 10:9) . I do not fool myself into thinking that each of you are saved. I have been doing this long enough to know that some of you will move on from here and live your life completely in objection to what you confess to believe now. My first, and ultimate desire, is that you believe in Jesus Christ, rely on the grace available through his atoning death on the cross, confess and repent of you sins, and worship Him as the Lord of your life.
2. Once you have done that, it is my desire that you realize that this life automatically means your life should be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). This is the only logical outcome of salvation. It makes no sense for God to change a life and for that life to continue living only for itself. You are now a living sacrifice, and I pray that your priorities and pleasures reflect that.
3. That means that you will have to battle sin with your life (Romans 6:13-14). You will continue to sin, but you must never let it be your master, for you are now a slave to righteousness. You must continue to declare battle on your sin, learn to hold fast to good and abstain from evil (I Thess 5:21-22). This can be a painful pursuit, as it will call you to look at your life and declare war on the remaining sin in your life. We still find some pleasure in sin, and those cuts can be painful, but I guarantee that the pleasure found in Christ is more satisfying and exhilarating than any found in our own sin. Never stop abhoring what is evil and clinging to what is good!
4. Part of clinging to good is declaring that the Lord’s steadfast love is better than life, and the reaction you should have is praising Him with your lips (Psalm 63:3). Treasure Him with your whole being, and seek to bring Him glory with everything you have (Matthew 22:37). I pray that in this next year that each of you find a new passion for worship. Pray ‘n Praise is a very important staple event for us, and the frustrating thing for me is that it should be the base form of worship and response for us, but many of you refuse to make time for it. I pray that as we come back next year, that each of you will make worship and praise a priority in your life, and a natural outcome whenever you reflect on the goodness of the Lord and the glory of His Son.
5. Another part of clinging to good is treasuring His Word. I pray that you will be able to regard it as being more valuable that gold, and sweeter than the sweetest honey of the honeycomb (Psalm 19:10). I pray that the knowledge of Christ means everything to you and no other pursuit is worthwhile compared (Philippians 3:8). I cannot emphasize this enough. I pray that each of you love the Bible, God’s Word. That means bringing it with you to church, making it your textbook for live, marking it up, memorizing it, and speaking of it wherever you go (Deuteronomy 11). I would much rather have one of you come to me with a fascination of His Word or a question about something you read, than speak of any sporting event, movie, music, or current trend. I want this group to have a passion for His Word, and for us to be able to encourage each other in this pursuit. Let us contend for the truth (Jude 3) and pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away (Hebrews 2:1).
More to come later…