July 25, 2016 by

Stop Staring at the Soup

Philippians 3:12-14

We are at the 15th year in this place with this group of people. What will we be in the next 15th year. How we feel when we think about tomorrow?

 “In America, worry about tomorrow has become part of our national culture.

We are worried about the possible collapse of the Euro, trouble in the Middle East, the conflict of China, the problem in Cambodia, and the possibility of a global recession

I can’t blame anyone for feeling a bit worried right now. But the Bible says in Matthew 6:34

“Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself”

You’ve got plenty of trouble right now. Why borrow trouble from tomorrow?

 

Our text helps us at the level of personal motivation by revealing the heart of our faith.

It begins with a very frank admission.  In which way we need continue our life with this church.  Each anniversary we can do this evaluation. We have vision and we need a measurement to check our direction and our achievement.

This year I also have more decision to make about my life for the next phase: my saving fund, my investment fund, my medical insurance, my life insurance, my critical illness insurance, my long term disability and long term care insurance, my activity, Medicare, money to live for the next 18 months with no income like before, my plant in my backyard to be self-watered and also may be my dog self-feeder, and last but not least my travel.

 

I.  A Humble Evaluation                          

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect (v. 12a).

Before we assess ourselves, we need to learn from apostle Paul. There is a refreshing honesty about these wordsIf anyone had reason to brag about his accomplishments, you would think it would be the Apostle Paul. But he doesn’t do that. Despite having met the Lord on the Damascus Road, despite having preached across the eastern Mediterranean region, despite being an apostle called by God, despite writing letters inspired by the Holy Spirit, despite all that he had endured, he does not brag about anything he has said or done. None of that matters to him.

He knows that he is a sinner saved by grace. In another place he even calls himself the “chief of sinners ខ្ញុំជាលេខ១ ក្នុងមនុស្សមានបាប” (1 Timothy 1:15). Despite all that he had done, he makes no claim of being perfect or having arrived in his own spiritual journey. There is no perfection in this life.

But God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinnersPaul was the chief of sinners then God made him to become the chief of saints.         

     

That fact is hard for some people to grasp. Whenever we face a difficulty in life, we must begin by saying, “It is what it is." That’s not easy to do. Often we would rather play games, make excuses, cover up, pretend, ignore the obvious, and live in fantasy land.

You can’t get better until you come to grips with reality. “It is what it is.”

It’s hard to admit your marriage is in trouble.
It’s hard to admit your career is on the rocks.
It’s hard to admit your dreams are smashed.
It’s hard to admit you’re broke.
It’s hard to admit you’re filled with anger.

It is hard to admit we are not growing as a congregation.

But there is no getting better until you say, “It is what it is.”  So it is with all the trials of life. First we begin by saying, “It is what it is.” And then by God’s grace we move on from there.

The only thing that keeps us going is this. Jesus is a wonderful Savior, and he is everything we are not.

 

II. A Holy Aspiration                                

But I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me(v. 12b).

Pause for a moment over that last phrase: Christ Jesus took hold of me." The whole Christian life can be found in those six words.

                        Christ found me.
                        Christ saved me.
                        Christ has a purpose for my life.

The supreme purpose of my life is to discover his purpose for me!

                        1.  It takes a lifetime.
                        2.  It involves hard work and concentration (I press on....).
                        3.  It leads to progressive growth in grace.
                        4.  It develops the character of Christ in me.

 

III. A Hearty Determination                     

“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead"(v. 13).

Note the fierce concentration implicit in the words “one thing I do.” Here is a secret that applies across the board. To excel in any area of life, a person must say, “This one thing I do,” not “These 20 things I do.” A single-minded focus in any endeavor generally wins a great reward.

Greatness in any arena comes to those who can say with the Apostle Paul, “One thing I do.” In his case, it meant looking to the heavenly goal of winning the prize. That phrase covers all that God has for us when we finally stand before Jesus Christ and hear him say, Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord."

Perhaps it would be good for each of us to look in the mirror and ask, “Do you know what you are doing?” We’re all good at making lists. I’m rather good at it myself. I can think that as long as I’ve got a list, I’ve got a clear purpose. But it’s not true. A list without a purpose is just a list. It keeps me busy (or at least looking busy) but what good is a list without a larger purpose?

Paul clarifies his purpose with two key phrases:

 

A.  Forgetting what lies behind.

Illustration: There was a time after the Civil War when General Robert E. Lee visited a woman who showed him the remains of a grand old tree in front of her home. There she cried bitterly that its limbs and trunk had been destroyed by Union artillery fire. She waited for Lee to condemn the North or at least sympathize with her loss. Lee paused and then said, “Cut it down, my dear madam, and forget it."

Surely this is a good word for the next phase of our congregation. What are we to forget?

Our worries. Our fears. Our failures. Our victories. Our defeats. The attacks of our enemies.
The praise of our friends.

Let us lay aside even the accomplishments of the past year, our claim to fame, our name in the lights, the good things we think we have done, the stuff we do to make the world glad that we get out of bed in the morning, all the things we brag about, all the medals and honors and all the awards.

As the football coaches like to say, “Last year means nothing." How right they are. If we lost, it means nothing. If we won the Super Bowl, it means nothing. Whatever happened in the past, you’ve got to let it go. As long as we’re looking back, we can’t move forward.

 

B. Pressing on to what lies ahead.

Illustration: When famed missionary Dr. David Livingstone returned from Africa to England, he was asked, “Where are you ready to go next?”I am ready to go anywhere,” he replied, “provided it be forward." This must be the attitude of the child of God every single day. When people ask about the “secret” of God’s will, I tell them it begins in the morning when you say, “Lord, let me take the next step with you today."

 

IV. A Heavenly Inclination                                                

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (v. 14).

In the spiritual life, direction makes all the differenceTrue believers aren’t in heaven yet, but they aim their steps in that direction. In Paul’s case that involved both a sanctified forgetting and a resolute pushing forward.

Paul said, “I haven’t arrived yet, but I’m still climbing!
If he were here today, he would say, “Press on!!!!”

It’s not enough to start well. You also have to end well.

Illustration: The Greeks had a race in their Olympic games that was unique. The winner was not the runner who finished first. It was the runner who finished with his torch still lit. I want to run all the way with the flame of my torch still lit for Him.

Someone has commented that the chief problem of the church today is that we have too many “amateur Christians." They are like the man who jumped on his horse and rode furiously in all directions and the no flame still lit on the torch.

Let me pose three questions for you to consider:

            1. What is the goal of your life?
            2. Why do you get up in the morning?
            3. Why are you still here?
 

We of all people ought to be optimistic with passion as we face another phase after this anniversaryWe have a great future because we have a great God. 

Conclusion:

So chin up, child of God. Stop staring in the soup. Pull those shoulders back. Put a smile on your face. Take your troubles, wrap them up, and give them all to the Lord. 

So we launch out with great faith into the next phase of our congregation. We’ll have our share of hard times, but overriding it all is the promise of God who said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

 

Lift up your head.  Be of good cheer. The Lord is with you. Fear not and Press on!

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