This is the fourth in a four-part series we are calling “Slaying the Dragon,” where we will explore God’s destination for us. All men have dragons standing in their way, preventing them from being closer with God. We are going to look at how to slay the dragon. To slay your dragon you have to have a sharp blade and a clear aim. Along our dragon slaying journey, we’ll talk about some dragon slayers. Finally, we’ll give you spiritual solutions to slaying your dragons and allowing you to get to your physical destinations, health destinations, professional destinations, personal destinations and emotional destinations. Sin is the dragon that we all have to slay.

What are you sacrificing today in your life? What’s the pain that you are enduring to know Christ?

Let me boil that down. If you love your wife and you want to honor God in your marriage, you’ll suffer counseling to win intimacy. That’s the kind of pain I’m talking about. If you love Christ and you want to be one with Him and you struggle with lust, porn and fantasy, you will suffer the pain of confessing that to a brother who will help you win that battle. If there is a habit that you have that is not in alignment with God’s will, it hurts you and your relationships with other people. 

That’s what Paul is talking about in Philippians 10 when he says, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…”

Why go through all this effort?

Paul says in verse 11-14: “and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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.”

You see the picture:  the striving, the sacrifice, the energy, the critical moment where I have to press through my adversity in order to gain Christ. The character of Christ isn’t free. I have to strive and say no to certain things, and say yes to Him and work through them.

Forgetting what is behind and straining to what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. God is calling you to meet Christ Jesus, to become like Jesus, and ultimately to be found in Christ Jesus in Heaven. He is pushing you to a loving act that no one else could ever have done for you, and Heaven is pulling you. You have the push of the cross, and the pull of Heaven.

We do not have to look for the motivation to become like Jesus. We have it. It’s the bloody cross. We honor His sacrifice first, and then we have something to look forward to. We look back and forward. There is the prize. I’m headed toward Him.

Here’s the question that I want you to think about: What is the dragon that stands between you and reaching your spiritual goals?

Let me clarify, I don’t want you to talk about some other person. I want you to make this personal, internal.

For some of you the dragon is not something material; it’s something intangible like the fact that you’re always in a hurry. You’re always moving from one thing to another. Your dragon might just be your pace. You can’t take the time to open God’s love letter to you. He sends you a love letter, and you can’t slow down long enough because other things are more important.

Remember when Paul says: “I count everything else loss in view of knowing the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. When I talk about what dragon stands in your way, think about what gets in the way of your relationship with God. It could be an attitude, an action, or a perspective. Maybe you’re in a hurry.

It is a daily preoccupation. Become like Christ to filter your life. Everything that is happening to you right now, all the events leading up to now, God is using to forge character in you.

That’s what the Bible talks about in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

You know your destination. The dragon you have to slay is sin in every form. Anything that hurts your relationship with God and other people, God says amputate it. If not, it will be a drain on your life. Help yourself out. Don’t experience a living hell. The picture is we are running a marathon and we don’t need any extra weight on us.

What’s our motivation?

The push of the cross and the pull of Heaven; this is what Paul and Jesus are talking about.

Listen to the red letters of your Bible in John 15:13, when Jesus is pushing His guys. He is seeding their motivation for what they are going to have to endure when He’s gone. 

In John 15:13, it says: “Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friend.” 

That’s the push of the cross in every follower of Jesus. Paul says in Philippians 3:10, “That I may know Him, and the fellowship of His sufferings.”

What does that mean? If I’m willing to become like Him, then I have to be willing to sacrifice in order for God’s purposes to be realized in my life. That’s the life of God’s man.

It’s not a very comfortable life, because you’re making decisions against comfort, feeling, and culture to win God’s purposes manifested in your life. As you do that, as you win each consecutive battle oftenon a daily basis you begin to become more like Christ.

There is also the pull of Heaven and that’s what Paul talks about in verse 14 of Phil. 3. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God, through Jesus Christ, is calling us.”

When we get to heaven, there are words that we want to hear. We find them in Luke 19:17, “Well done my good servant.”

Why do you think we celebrate communion? We have the pull of Heaven and that is why Paul says: “…and may be found in Him.”

When our heart stops, the Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. You don’t know how much time you have left, but you want to hear those words when your time is done.

What does “well done” mean?

You became like Jesus. You slayed the dragon. You conquered the dragon ruining your relationships. You conquered the dragon of immaturity. You followed His will. You made the sacrifice. You went to the counselor. You confessed your sin. You believed He was working even in your failure. You listened to the word of God and the Holy Spirit, and you sacrificed and became like Christ. That’s the journey. All of us are on this quest.

We are going to talk to God. I asked you a question earlier in this series, to ask yourself what is the dragon that you need to slay? All of us have dragons. Some are big. Some are small. Some are obvious.

Whatever it is, God is calling you to slay it today.

Some of you heard me talk about the hurry in your life. You are in such a hurry that you can’t slow down to have a relationship with God or a quality relationship with people. That’s the dragon you need to slay, and you need to slay it by slowing down for a minute. You need to trust that your schedule is not as urgent as your need to be with God. Quietly, humbly, and eagerly, expect Him to meet you in His word. That’s a dragon that most of us need to slay.

Some of you need to start pulling out your blade and slicing up your schedule to fit God in, not for the scraps of your time, but as the main course. Taste and see that He is good.

Certainly marriage is at the top of most guys’ lists. Your wife is wondering when the guy she married is going to realize that she’s the girl you married, to love and to cherish. Some of you need to make a sacrifice and see a counselor. You need to confess something. Get some help. Christ is calling you to become a different person, to become like Him.

Some of you have given up. The challenges and dragons are too big. That is because you’ve let God become too small. Look up and see the size of your God once again. God created you. He loves you so much. You need to get your eyes focused back on Him.

Lord, we’re all running this race. Not all of us run it the same way, but for all of us who call you Lord, King and Savior, help us to remember the cross, and then help us to remember Heaven, the push and the pull of our lives, that makes us press through and persevere to slay the dragon.

Lastly, we ask that you would slay Satan’s efforts in our lives against our relationship with you right now. That you would come against and rebuke and repel any evil coming against us, in our relationship with you or in our family, and in our purpose on Earth, that we might deliver the Kingdom of God to those around us and that your character would manifest inside of us, and all God’s men said, Amen.

Watch Slaying the Dragon Series where men’s expert and pastor Kenny Luck helps you to learn how God’s men are developing the character that slays the dragons in their lives.” 

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Kenny Luckis the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men’s pastor at Saddleback Church.  His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God - is the proven blueprint for men’s ministries, and was recently released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny’s teaching here at EveryManMinistries.com

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*This article first published 3/8/2013