Summary: Discipleship, Obedience, Faith, Light
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO THE UNKNOWN - The Next Step
January 7, 2018
Philippians 3:12-14 (p. 819)
The letter to the Philippians, as well as Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were written by the Apostle Paul while he was in prison in Rome. He would spend two years stuck in this Roman dungeon.
He wasn’t in prison because he’d broken any laws…he was in prison because when he preached about Jesus and His resurrection it stirred up riots among the Jews…His claims that Jesus was the Messiah cause these riots and he was put in prison because of them.
He’d been beaten with Jewish lashes…He’d been struck with Roman rods. He’d been stoned and left for dead…and now he was imprisoned because of his faith.
He would write these words: “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 Corinthians 4:8-9)
He felt the stress…he didn’t understand why things were happening as they were. People insulted and criticized him…He got lonely and discouraged…But he would not stop. He would not quit…He kept moving forward with a purpose.
The Apostle Paul in our text makes it very clear that he believes he’s on a journey in Christ…a faith journey to become what God wants him to be and to accomplish what God’s called him to do. “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me.”
But he also makes it very clear that he isn’t there yet…He hasn’t attained it or completed the task God has for him….
?Here’s what that is…Listen to the motivation of his heart.
PHILIPPIANS 3:10-11 (p. 819)
Satan has done everything possible to stop this man of God, including a physical struggle. (Paul calls it “His thorn in the flesh” a messenger from Satan) But instead of stopping him…it humbles him and hardens his resolve to take the next step.
I wanted us here at Gardenside to start this New Year with a challenge…to follow Jesus into the unknown…and it’s my prayer that every single person that has anything to do with this family of believers is challenged to move closer to Christ and take their next step.
For some…it will be:
I. A FIRST STEP OF FAITH
[Dr. Hugh Morehead was born in a small town in Kentucky, but spent the majority of his life as the Chairman of the Philosophy Department at Northeastern Illinois University. While he was a philosophy grad student at the University of Chicago he began a project that would be one of his greatest accomplishments. Dr. Morehead loved books. So, he would sent noted authors one of their books and asked them to write on the dust flap “The Meaning of Life.” He wrote to 250 authors including satirist Erma Bombeck and psychiatrist Carl Jung.
The responses to his question varied from thoughtful to perturbed.
Jung wrote back, “Really, I don’t know what the meaning or purpose of life is, but it looks exactly as if something were meant by it.”
Novelist Joseph Heller said he had no answers to the meaning of life “and no longer wants to search for any.”
And through his secretary, T.S. Eliot responded that his “question is one which one spends one’s whole life in finding the answer for, and he is sorry he has not yet got to the point where he can sum it all up on a flyleaf.”
Many wrote back and said they had no idea what the meaning of life was…but if Dr. Morehead discovered it they would appreciate him sending them the answer.]
It’s the search of the human heart…what am I here for…what’s my purpose in life…It’s much more than just the occupation we chose or the college major we select…It goes way deeper…into the core of our souls.
Maybe you’ve been curious about spiritual stuff, or wonder if there’s more to your life than making money or making yourself happy. Maybe you believe in God or at least some higher power.
Well, if you’re in that place let me share with you what the Bible says…God has not left us to wonder about why we were made and for whom we were made. And if you want to find those answers for your life you will never discover them in a mirror. You and I were made by God and for God and until we realize that, life will never make sense…
COLOSSIANS 1:15-17 (p. 821)
If you want to discover who you are and what life is meant to be it’s found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s the foundation of creation…it’s the purpose for Him coming here, living and dying, and rising again…
The Apostle Paul understood it… “To know Christ and the power of His resurrection” and once he stepped toward Jesus that spark became an illuminating fire - it would not be extinguished by beatings, discouragements or prison.