"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, October 19, 2012


Philippians 3:13b-14 (NIV 1984)  "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." 

1 Corinthians 9:25 "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."

Anticipation filled the air as names were called.  Parents and friends clapped as students came forward to receive their certificates.  

One mom felt a tear trickle down her cheek as her boys came to the front to be recognized.  Pride and joy filled her heart as their commitment and perseverance were shown for their endeavors. This mother was me.

As my boys received their awards I began to reflect how it took them so long to complete what they did.  Their efforts were not a one-time event, like a math or grammar assignment.  It took months of strength, determination, commitment, and perseverance for them to attain what they finished.  

At times, tears were shed over the difficulty of the task at hand.  They wanted to give up a time or two, but they pushed forward, facing the difficulty head on. They were faithful to finish and their goal was accomplished.  In the end, the reward was worth their effort.

When I consider the here and now it forces me to ask some questions.  As Christians, what keeps us moving forward?  What encourages us to press on?  Let's face it, life is hard.  Tears can slide down our cheeks over the challenges each day unfolds.  Periodically, even giving up appears a viable option for some. 

Do we really believe in the end, that our reward is worth the effort?

Philippians 3:12-14 says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  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 the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  

There are several points to consider that Paul shows us through this passage:
  1. Paul persevered despite his circumstances.  He writes from prison in Rome, yet he was determined to obtain the goal for which God called him.  Paul didn't consider hardship a hindrance.  His hope was anchored in Christ and he was faithful to finish.  
  2. Paul wants to take hold of what Christ took hold of him.  Vs. 9-11 show Paul's understanding that his righteousness came through Christ and not the law.  He has not attained the resurrection of the dead, although this, and his perfection, is his future culmination when Christ returns.
  3. Paul had to forget the past so he could focus on the goal at hand.  Paul knew he couldn't have divided loyalties.  If he focused on the past, whether good or bad, it would inhibit his present.  He willfully chose to look ahead to the work God had for him. 
  4. Paul reveals the effort required in 'straining toward' this goal.  He exerted energy which reveals the need to be active in this pursuit of the prize.  Paul believed the race wasn't finished until his life expired so he continued to reach forward to the finish line.
  5. Paul believed the reward was worth the effort.  Paul's participation in the Christian life was to receive an eternal crown.  Because of Christ's sacrifice, he was motivated to progress forward in his faith.  He knew what awaited him, so he persisted to obtain it.
  6. Paul continually strived to advance God's Kingdom.  He eagerly pursued Kingdom living.  Instead of satisfying self, he sacrificed self to progress the furtherance of the Gospel.  His passion and mission was to do the work of God and his labor in the Lord was not in vain.
Several lessons lay before us from the life of Paul.  May his example encourage us to fight the good fight.  In his humanness he reveals key components to enduring the Christian life. 
  • Our hope overshadows our heartaches.  
  • Look ahead, not behind.  
  • Effort is expected if we are to finish well.
  • Our prize is worth our persistence.    
  • Focus on the furtherance of the Gospel.
When there's more month left than money . . . persist.  When your husband doesn't lead spiritually . . . persist.  When treated unfairly and false assumptions question your character . . . persist.  When your children make ungodly choices . . . persist.  When medical results test your courage . . . persist.  When job loss and pay cuts are recurring . . . persist.   

Olympic Gold Medals, Nobel Peace Prizes and the Pulitzer's will soon be forgotten. The Stanley Cup, NBA Championship, and World Cup will be insignificant.  Our reward is worth our effort.  Our heavenly crown lasts forever.  

Do not give up friends.  Finish well.  Persist!

Heart Work:

Ask God to strengthen you as you persevere through the each day.  Rely on His Holy Spirit to comfort you when discouraged and to motivate you forward.  Press On!!!

Heart Exam:
What is the greatest award or accomplishment you have ever received?  How does it compare to your heavenly crown awaiting you?  

When are you tempted to give up?  What pushes you forward?

Of the six points mentioned above, which one challenges you the most?

Heart Transforming Word:

Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

Hebrews 10:36 "You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

Hebrews 12:1 "Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."

James 1:3-4 "Because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."

Luke 8:15 "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2012.  All rights reserved.


  1. Hester,
    Thank you so much for these words. As you know we are not in Haiti and waiting to possibly go back. I have been asking God the last few days what He was doing. I know he put a call on my life and His gifts and callings are irrevocable, but I just have not been sure of His direction lately. These scriptures were a reminder to me to persevere no matter what the picture looks like. I have to trust Him and continue to run the race that God placed on my life 17 years ago. Your Friend, Cherie

    1. Cherie,

      Thank you for taking the time to share your heart with me. I know you are in a place of waiting and trusting in Him. As you follow Him may He lead you as a shepherd leads His sheep, with gentle confidence in the Shepherd's voice.

      Much love, Hester ;)

  2. Hester,
    I love this reminder...and your words protray the message beautifully. As I was thinking about your tears of joy when your son's received their reward, I couldn't help but think of God's tears when we receive ours. Blessings my friend, k.

    1. Kim,

      Thank you for sharing your comment with me today. You are an encouragement to me. Love, Hester ;)

  3. You and I are the same wavelengths lately...I posted a couple weeks ago about persistence, but a slightly different bend - the motivation behind why! :-) We'd make a great 2-part series! LOL
    Seriously, I love this post though. Such a great reminder to press on! Last night in Bible study, we were discussing the Israelites crossing of the Jordan river and how the leaders were instructed to take 12 stones from the middle of the river. Why the middle? Never caught that before. The middle of a task is always the hardest...those 12 stones would be a memorial that God had gotten them that far and that they were trusting him to finish the job!
    Over the last day, I've given a lot of thought to those places I have at one time believed God called me to, but I'm in the middle and wondering what the heck I'm doing! Time to go get a memorial stone to remind me that God has gotten me this far, and I need to persist!

    Great, timely post my dear...

    1. Wow! Sorry about all those typos...must be a sleep deprivation issue!

    2. Jeannette,

      You're so funny! No worries on the typos. I love your connection to the memorial stones - such a great application. Thank you. I remember your post - how funny how God orchestrates similar things in our hearts. :)

      God bless you sister, Hester :)

  4. Love your comments and application, Heather. Thank you for the reminder. With all the conflicts and struggles of life, I need to hear it often.

    1. Thank you for your comment Vonda! We all need this reminder don't we? :)
      God bless you, Hester ;)

  5. Hester, what a wonderful challenge!! Such a great reminder of why we do what we do and Who we should trust to help us do it!! And to persist...keeping our eyes on the prize!!

    Love and hugs!!

    1. Thank you Kristi for your comment. Keeping our eyes on the prize can help stay focused on Who we serve and why we do it - well said!

      Much love, Hester ;)

  6. Hester! You were called up to motivate on this one I see! Holding tightly to HIS truths along with you, and holding other things with an open hand. ~ Love from Maine, Amy

    1. Amy,

      Thank you for your sweet words of encouragement to me. I love your word picture. ;) God bless you, Hester ;)