Summary: Growing, Self examination and th echallenge to move forward
THE NEXT STEP: FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE UNKNOWN
Phil. 3:12-14 (P832) Jan. 9, 2011
Philippians, as well as Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison in Rome. He would spend 2 years stuck in this Roman dungeon.
He wasn't in prison because he'd broken any law…he was in prison because of his allegiance to Jesus….His claims of Jesus as the messiah, his preaching about the resurrection and that Jesus was the only way stirred up riots among the Jews…and in turn he was arrested for causing them.
He'd been beaten with Jewish lasher, he'd been stuck with Roman rods, he'd been stoned and left for dead, and now he was imprisoned for his faith.
He wrote these words to the Corinthians
"We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, struck down but not destroyed." (2 Cor. 4:8,9)
He felt stress, he didn't understand what was happening at times, insulted and abused by people, lonely and discouraged.
But he would not stop…He would not quit, even while locked in prison he kept moving forward with purpose.
Right before our text in Philippians, Paul writes these words…they are the motivations of his heart.
"I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection." (Phil 4:10)
and our text makes it very clear he doesn't believe he's there yet…He hasn't attained it, been made perfect, completed the task that God has called him to do.
Satan has done everything possible to stop this man of God, including a physical--struggle (Paul calls a "thorn in the flesh")----and instead of stopping this man of faith its hardened his resolve…he presses on.
Our theme for this next year at Fern Creek Christian Church is "The Next Step: Following Jesus into the unknown" and it is my prayer that every single person that has anything to do with this body of believers is challenged to take their next step in Christ.
For some of you it will be.
I THE FIRST STEP OF FAITH
Maybe you’ve been curious about spiritual stuff, or wondered if there is more to life than making yourself happy. Maybe you believe in God, or at least some higher being than yourself. 1.
Well if your in that place please let me share with you an important truth…God created you for a relationship with him.
He has placed within the human heart a desire for Him…It's a spark he wants to ignite into a flame and it’s a spark Satan wants to extinguish at all costs.
Proverbs 11:28 says "A life devoted to things is a dead life, a stump; a God shaped life is a flourishing tree.
If you want to find the answers for your life you will never discover them in a mirror. You were made by God and for God and until you understand that life will never make sense.
[Dr. Hugh Moorehead, a philosophy professor at Northeastern Ill. university wrote to 2 of the best known philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals in the world asking them "what is the meaning of life?" He then published their responds in a book…some offered their best guesses, some offered that they just made up a purpose for life---and others were honest and said they had no clue. In just a number of the intellectuals asking Prof. Moorehead to write back and tell them if he discovered the purpose of life.}
God has not left us to wonder and guess about what step we should take to discover what life is all about. He's planned it with purpose. He will not force us to step towards Him.. but He will draw us…call us…pull our hearts.
Ephesians 1:11 says "In Him, we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in the conformity with the purpose of his will"
If you want to discover who you are and your purpose in life it’s a relationship with Jesus Christ.
God was thinking about you long before you thought about him. His plan for your life predicts your conception…you may get to choose your mate, your career, your hobbies, your friends, but you don't get to choose your purpose. God's already done that and is calling you to fulfill it in Christ.
The Apostle Paul caught it "To know Christ and the power of his resurrection"
And once he stepped towards Jesus that spark became an illuminating fire---it would not be extinguished by beatings, discouragements or prison.
[Andrei Bitov, a Russian Novelist grew up under an atheistic communist regime. But God got his attention one dreary day. He recalls, "In my 27th year while riding the Metro in Leningrad now St. Petersburg) I was overcome with despair so great that life seemed to stop at once, preempting the future entirely let alone any meaning. Suddenly, all by