Summary: The road to heaven is uphill the whole way.
Intro: Door prize at K.A.R.M thrift store.
Text: Philippians 3:13-16
I. Flee complacency
a. Don’t count yourself to have already attained
i. Examples of Paul’s glorious past
1. v. 5,6
2. Equal with greatest apostles (2 Cor. 11:5)
3. Gifts of the Spirit
a. Prophecy (I Cor. 13:2)
b. Faith “”
c. Gifts of healing (Acts 14:10)
d. Working of miracles (Acts 19:11)
e. Discerning of spirits (Acts 16:18)
f. Tongues (I Cor. 14:18)
4. Received visions/thorn in flesh
ii. It is said of one of the famous composers that he had a rebellious son who used to come in late at night after his father and mother had gone to bed. And before going to his own room, he would go to his father’s piano and slowly, as well as loudly, play a simple scale, all but the final note. Then leaving the scale uncompleted, he would retire to his room. Meanwhile the father, hearing the scale minus the final note, would writhe on his bed, his mind unable to relax because the scale was unresolved. Finally, in consternation, he would stumble down the stairs and hit the previously unstruck note.
b. Forward look necessary (those who run to win don’t look back)
i. Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
ii. Don’t look back and compare yourself with others
1. A runner in a race doesn’t look back
iii. No time for self-congratulation
1. The day after victory is more dangerous than the day before
iv. No time for discouraging regrets
II. Follow the upward calling
a. Pressing toward the mark for the prize
i. Our prize is Heaven
ii. If we don’t press forward we drift backward
1. The flesh and the world are currents tending earthward
b. The “upward” calling
i. God will place goals in our hearts
1. Illustration: focusing on our goal: The snow covered the ground, and three young boys were playing in it. A man said to them, "Would you like to try to race, with the promise of a prize for the winner?” "I will go to the other side of the field," he said, "and when I give you the signal, you will start to run. The one whose footsteps are the straightest in the snow will be the winner." As the race commenced, the first boy began looking at his feet. The second lad kept looking at his companions; but the third boy just ran on with his eyes fixed on the man on the other side of the field. The third boy was the winner. He had kept his eyes on the goal ahead of him.
ii. There will always be a higher goal available
1. You’ll be promoted to a more difficult duty
2. Illustration: little girl says, “I’m as big as it is.”
c. PRESS! Heaven is uphill the whole way
III. Finish Strong
a. Paul admonishes those who are perfect or mature to “be thus minded”.
b. The apostle Paul served God with a clear conscience.
i. During that his life he tormented Christians!
ii. God was faithful to reveal Himself to Paul
c. God’s grace is sufficient. His standard for our race is perfection. But He knows what we are made of. He remembers that we are dust. He has not called any of us to do what He will not enable us to do.
d. We must keep applying all that God has taught us
Visualization: The onward and upward life never looks back. It is always looking forward to the ground that must be gained, to the goal that must be reached, and to the prize that must be won.
Reiteration: The Holy Spirit is speaking today through the word to inspire us to continue to progress in the things of the Spirit until the day in which Christ will appear. When can you rest from progression in the things of the Spirit? We must continue to progress in the things of the Spirit until the day in which Christ shall appear! We do this by: Fleeing complacency; Following the upward calling; and Finishing strong.
Action: I challenge you to choose Paul’s attitude of dissatisfaction with present spiritual progress. Examine your life and ask yourself: “Have I been complacent?” “Have I been looking back?” “Am I living for something other than today?” “Am I seeking to enter heaven?” “Would I accept new truth from the Lord concerning what He wants me to do…or not do?” “Am I still making decisions that reflect the truth God has revealed to me in the past?”
Appeal: I ask you to make a commitment to God today. Make a conscious choice to flee complacency, follow the upward calling and finish strong. Choose today to be completely obedient to God.