Summary: To be in shape for God means to accept ourselves for who we are while growing in Christian maturity.

This morning it’s time for a cartoon quiz! Ready? Here we go! (Winners win the satisfaction of knowing their cartoon trivia!)

Who says, “Yabba dabba do?” (Fred Flintstone)

Who concludes a certain cartoon series with “TTThat’s all folks!” (Porky Pig)

What two partners would rather eat than solve mysteries? (Shaggy and Scooby-Doo)

“Who lives in pineapple under the sea?” (Sponge Bob Square Pants!)

Who says, “To infinity and beyond!?” (Buzz Lightyear)

Who has been known to say, “I yam what I yam?” (Popeye)

Not only are we “maavelous” we are who we are! And this morning we continue our series getting in shape for God by learning and understanding that we accept ourselves for who we are while growing in Christian maturity.

Now we have spent the past three weeks looking at ways of getting in shape for God. (Overhead 1) We get in shape for God when we “believe, accept, and live out the truth that we are God’s workmanship, created anew in Christ Jesus to do good works that He planned for us to do long ago.”

Another way that we get in shape for God is by learning to serve and be a servant to/for others. Now being a servant takes time and money and faith. But it does not mean that we keep people from becoming responsible for their lives or allowing ourselves to become doormats.

Then last week we looked at a third way of getting in shape for God as discover and use our spiritual gifts and find our place on God’s team - the Church. This way requires us to embrace what God has given to us and accept our place and space of ministry and service.

This morning then we turn to a fourth way - accepting ourselves for who we are while still obeying the Holy Spirit as we mature as followers of Christ. Now what does this mean?

It means a couple of things:

1. It means that we begin to understand who we are and how we operate in life.

2. It means that we surrender to the Spirit who makes us more like Christ, and more like the person that God wants us to become.

Let’s turn to our scripture passage for this morning and take a look at what Paul said as it relates to our two points:

In this segment of scripture Paul is reminding the Philippian Christians that their place in Christ is not based on the issue of circumcision or any other “human effort” as he says in verse 3 but on the work of Christ for us and he uses his own life to make a point about what he is saying.

First of all he says, “I was a real Jew if there ever was one.” He had the right lineage, the right upbringing. He was, as he says in verse 5, “born into a pure-blooded Jewish family.”

And not only was he “real Jew” he was also a Pharisee – who demanded the “strictest obedience to the Jewish law.” And not only was he a Pharisee he was zealous in his efforts to be one! And such zealousness caused him to be a passionate persecutor of the church and to carefully obey the Jewish law so that he would never be accused of any fault. So what kind of a person was Paul?

He was a passionate person. He was a driven person. He was a disciplined person. He was an educated person. And God knew that quite well.

And one day, while he was acting like the passionate, driven, disciplined, and educated person that he was, God stood right in his path (as we read in Acts 9) and turned all of these characteristics in the direction of His purposes and plans. Paul was still Paul in many ways after his conversion experience. Yes, his name changed from Saul to Paul and his purpose in life changed as well from persecution of the Christian church to the proclamation of its faith. But, he was still Paul in many ways. But, God knew what he was doing when He stopped Paul in his tracks as he was going to Damascus to arrest Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial.

Paul wrote, or is credited with writing nearly half of the New Testament. He went on three separate trips to spread the gospel that took a total of nearly 9 years to accomplish. He traveled thousands of miles around Southern Europe and Western Asia on foot and ship and probably by camel, horse, and donkey. He was, as we read in 2 Corinthians 11, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, arrested, and jailed as he traveled to spread the Christian faith. What other kind of person could have done that? Paul was God’s person for the job, flaws and all.

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