Summary: All of us want to be "winning Christians" and fulfill the purposes God has for us. What are the essentials for winning the race and one day receiving the reward that is promised?
WINNING THE RACE
Philippians – Be Joyful!
Paul’s heart for the Philippians.
1. I have you in my mind (1:3-6)
2. I have you in my heart (1:7-8)
3. I have you in my prayers (1:9-11)
Philippians 3:12-16 – Christian Growth/Spiritual Maturity (not salvation---santification)
In Chapter 3, Paul is gives us his spiritual biography, his past (3:1-11 Paul the accountant), his present (3:12-16 Paul the athlete), and his future (3:17-21 Paul the alien)
I love Paul because in all of his life, he looks at things on earth from God’s point of view. Because he does this, he’s not upset by the things behind him, around him, or before him- things do not rob him of his joy!
In this section, Paul is the athelete..We are unsure of the exact sport he’s referring to whether it’s a footrace or a chariot race.
All of us want to be "winning Christians" and fulfill the purposes God has for us. What are the essentials for winning the race and one day receiving the reward that is promised?
THE FIRST ESSENTIAL IS: Dissatisfaction (Look at 3:12-13a)
Paul never permitted himself to be satisfied with his spiritual attainments. He was satisfied with Jesus Christ (3:10), but not with his Christian life. A sanctified dissatisfaction is the first essential to progress in the Christian race.
Often we are tempted to compare ourselves with others...if we compare ourselves with those who are making little progress we can get proud and stop progressing.
ILL- The opposite is true as well; Jim Mosteller (read Bible everyday- discouraging)
The mature Christian honestly evaluates himself and strives to do better. Paul didn’t compare himself with other Christians; he compared himself with Jesus Christ!
Self evaluation can be a dangerous thing, because we can err in two directions: 1) making ourselves better then we are. or 2) making ourselves worse then we really are.
The best thing for us to do is to continue to press forward.
Ps. 42:1-2 – We need to continually thirst for God
I meet a lot of Christians who are satisfied with their Christian growth...
THE SECOND ESSENTIAL IS: Devotion (3:13b) “But one thing I do”
"One thing" is a phase that is important to the Christian life.
Ps. 27:4 "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek..."
Too many Christians are too involved in "many things" when the secret to progress is to concentrate on "one thing".
ILL- It was this decision, that was a turning point in D.L. Moody’s life. Before the tragedy of the Chicago fire in 1871, Moody was involved in Sunday school promotion, YMCA work, evangelistic meetings, and many other activities, but after the fire, he determined to devote himself exclusively to evangelism. "This one thing I do!" became a reality to him. As a result, millions of people heard the gospel!
The believer must devote himself to one thing: "running the Christian race"
No athlete succeeds by doing everything; he succeeds by specializing. The winners are those who concentrate, who keep their eyes on the goal and let nothing distract them.
Neh. 6:3 Neh. a wall-building governor
Concentration is the secret of power.
ILL- If a river is allowed to overflow its banks, the area around it become a swamp. If that river is dammed and controlled, it becomes a source of power.
It’s a matter of priorities...living for that which matters most!
ILL- Nijay – 3 Bible studies, discipled by 2 staff and one senior..OBF youth; CCC, Navs
Are you over-committed? What’s keeping you from making your spiritual growth a priority?
THE THIRD ESSENTIAL IS: Direction (3:13c) “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.”
Many people are controlled by the past, but the Christian running the race looks toward the future.
ILL- What would happen if runners started looking behind them during a race?
We say: past, present, future
But we should view time: future, present, past
"to forget" doesn’t mean to fail to remember...it means to no longer be influenced by or affected by.
Heb. 10:17 God doesn’t forget our sins, He no longer holds our sins against us...our sins no longer affect our standing with Him or influence His attitude toward us.
What "forgetting those things which are behind" means is that we break the power of the past by living for the future. We cannot change the past, but we can change the meaning of the past.
ILL- Gen. 45:1-15 Joseph interpreted the past from God’s point of view
Too many Christians are shackled by regrets of the past...they are trying to run the race looking backward! No wonder they stumble and fall and get in the way of other Christians.
We can be distracted by the successes of the past as well as failures and that’s just as bad.