6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: The Apostle Paul in the book of Philippians gives excellent counsel on how to develop a winning attitude in life.

Develop A Winning Attitude

Philippians 3:12-14

The Apostle Paul gives helpful counsel in the book of Philippians on how to develop a winning attitude.

Both of our boys and one daughter played little league baseball. When they were on Little League teams we were in Taylor, Michigan planting a new FMC. My experience in Little League is that parents want to win with a greater passion than their children.

This past week I read in the Mercury News that San Francisco put a moratorium on parents yelling at their children playing soccer. At the last week end soccer games mum was the word for parents or fans. Only coaches were allowed to say anything while the game was being played.

I tried to teach my kids that a winning attitude is being able to lose gracefully.

I have to admit that when I’m playing tennis I have more fun when I win but I have great fellowship and exercise when I lose. When I lose I feel like I’m in the ministry of encouragement.

The Apostle Paul is writing from prison to stay connected to the Philippian church while incarcerated. He gives wise counsel to the church. His words are inspired by the risen Lord.

1. Focus on the Future. (Philippians 3:12-14)

He counsels Christians to focus on the future. He says: “Not that I have already obtained all this (he is referring back to verse 10 where he says he wants to know Christ and the power of His resurrection) 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 what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Paul confessed that he had not arrived in his Christian life. “He had not become perfect.” As long as we live in a human body we will be limited by this body. In the power of the Holy Spirit you can have perfect love and perfect motives, but you will not achieve perfection until you reach heaven. In this life you will lack some wisdom, some strength, and make mistakes.

If Paul wanted to he could have boasted – he had started many new churches, influenced many to know Jesus, and traveled widely as a missionary. He was totally honest and live with integrity when he said: “I have not arrived spiritually.”

Here is a great lesson you can learn from Paul. He said, “This one thing I do. I forget all my past accomplishments and I press toward the future.” Prior to my transformation experience on the Damascus Road when I saw the risen Christ, I pursued with a passion Christians to put them in jail and cause havoc in the church. Now with that same passion I pursue Christ.”

Paul did not testify that when he accepted Jesus as his Messiah and Lord on the road to Damascus that he arrived. As long as he lived he would be on the stretch for God.

When you surrender your life to Jesus it is your beginning. It’s like stepping on the first step on a long stair case. You keep walking up the stairs until you walk into the arms of Jesus in heaven. The stairs are not an escalator that carries you up without any effort. You have to move up step by step.

Christians in the early church practiced basic spiritual disciplines to maintain spiritual health and growth. (Acts 2:42-27): The early Christians devoted themselves to: the Apostles Teaching, to worship, prayer, and Christian fellowship. As a consequence the Lord added new believers to the church day by day.

To focus on the future means that you do as Paul practiced in his life: “Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead…”

Paul had much to forget. He could have lived with regret his entire life. He regretted leading in the stoning of Stephan, a lay minister and devout follower of Jesus. He regretted causing havoc to the church of Jesus Christ.

Paul may have dealt with bitterness…Bitter for being lead astray by Pharisees and Jewish scholars. Bitterness is unresolved anger turned inward. Bitterness becomes hate. Hate toward someone that has wronged you. Bitterness is the opposite of sweetness. Instead of sweetening everything in life, it sours everything in life.

By the grace and love of God Paul could testify that he was forgetting all that was past.

It is only by the grace and mercy of god that you can forget the past. You may have had experiences in the past that caused you deep hurts. You may have been abused, experienced injustices, bitterness, hatred, and rejection by those you loved. Forgetting – healing of memories – only comes from the grace and love of God.

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