Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: if we’re going to find fulfillment, peace, or satisfaction, it’s by aligning ourselves with God’s purposes and living intentionally that way.

Goal Line Stands

Philippians 3:10-16

October 7, 2007

I believe the apostle Paul would have been one of the biggest fans of ESPN if it was around in the days of the early church. There are a number of scriptures in which he uses sports analogies, and this is one of them. As I read this passage I thought about sports, and as you know, I love sports and watch ESPN as often as I can, and watch the same replays as many times as I can, and of course, I try to dissect them for Debbie and anyone who will listen to me explain why that particular play worked or didn’t work.

Since we’re in football season, I want to talk about one of the favorite situations in a game. It’s when the other team gets down to the other teams goal line - - and they must make a GOAL LINE STAND. They line up helmet to helmet, the crowd gets loud and the players dig their feet in on defense, and the offense is ready to catapult over the defense to score the touchdown. The crowd gets louder with each play, the players, especially on defense get more psyched up with each defensive stop.

Makes me want to put on the old uniform. Look at this picture of Jamal Lewis scoring a touchdown at the goal line. Notice what he’s doing? He is straining forward, leaning, jumping, doing everything he can to score that touchdown. He does not dance his way into the end zone, he charges into the end zone. And that is part of our lesson for today. We are called to learn from the past, and at the same time to let go of it, so that we may strain and strive to move forward and into the future.

Paul discovered an extraordinary purpose for his life. His life was focused on the future, not rooted in his past. His life gained purpose and intent when he began to discover what God intended for him, to live by God’s purposes in his life. For Paul to get up everyday and choose the things that God would have him choose.

Many of us have trouble ever really changing, or ever really living in the future, or the moment we’re in right now, because we’re so rooted in the past -- the stuff, the choices we’ve made, or the hurts that have happened to us, or the dreams that weren’t realized, or the disappointments that have come, those old patterns that keep replaying themselves. We catch ourselves saying, "Oh, I’ll never be any better. My life will always look like this," or "I’m never going to be able to change.” Or we compare ourselves to someone else and proclaim, “I will never like be like . . .”

Paul said he discovered in his relationship with God that the past just that . . . it was past — gone!! He could leave it behind. No matter how good or bad it was, it was yesterday’s news, and God was interested in what was going on right now. We can move beyond our past. It doesn’t have to be replayed for us and we don’t have to be stuck by it. We don’t have to hang on to that old bag of rocks that we’ve been lugging around.

You see, the beauty in the passage I read a few minutes ago, is that the Bible story is a story about transformation, new life, and new relationships. When we discover that story and live out God’s purposes in an intentional way, Paul says we can press on toward the life which God has in store for us.

The famous atheist Bertrand Russell made this statement about finding purpose in life, "Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless." In other words, unless there’s a God who sees things differently than we do — then the question of having a purpose in life is useless, because purpose would be whatever we chose. We could choose the wrong thing or the right thing and neither would be wrong or right. That there’s no real definition for us, unless somehow there’s a standard. For him there was no God — so life was meaningless.

Rick Warren, the author of Purpose Driven Life, wrote, "The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It is far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by His purpose and for His purpose."

I believe if we’re going to find fulfillment, peace, or satisfaction, it’s by aligning ourselves with God’s purposes and living intentionally that way. That is the purpose of our spiritual gifts class. We want to learn more about God’s purpose for us.

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