Great Advice for the New Year (Part 4)

Philippians 3:15-16

Having already admonished us to “GO ON” and to “GIVE OUR ALL,” Paul now teaches us to “GROW UP.” In order to be grownup and mature believers in 2011 we need to do three things, two of which Paul has already addressed in this passage (vs. 12-14) and another that he addresses in our two verses today (vs. 15-16).

First, we need to live up to our present spiritual potential (vs. 15-16). We need to do all that we know to do, as well as all that we are capable of doing. By doing so, our service of Christ will be both commemorated and commended by Him (Mark 14:8-9).

Next, as we learned Sunday, we need to be perpetually dissatisfied with our spiritual progress (vs. 12-13a). It is often said that “Satisfaction is the graveyard of progress.” When we’re through learning and growing we’re through. Mature Christians, like the Apostle Paul, realize that they will never arrive spiritually in this life. No matter how far they’ve come there is still farther for them to go. No matter what they know there is still much more for them to learn.

Finally, and most importantly, to grow up in 2011 we need a single spiritual purpose. Notice, Paul said, “…but this one thing I do…” (v.13).  The “one thing” of which Paul spoke was his sole focus in life; namely, his conformity to Christ through his communion with Christ (see verses 7-11).

Our single focus in 2011 ought to be our imitation of Christ through our intimacy with Christ. In other words, we should live everyday of the New Year wanting to become more Christ-like by getting to know Christ better than we ever have before. Contrary to popular opinion, the mature pulpit is not filled with a man wanting a bigger church; nor is the mature pew filled with people wanting a better life. Instead, both the mature pulpit and pew are filled with those seeking conformity to Christ through intimacy with Him.

“But how about all of those other important things in life,” you protest. Well, according to Jesus, they’ll take care of themselves if we’ll only “seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). If we’ll GO ON, GIVE OUR ALL, and GROW UP in 2011, God will take care of everything else.

Great Advice for the New Year (Part 3)

Philippians 3:14

In Philippians 3:14, Paul admonishes us to GIVE OUR ALL—“press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Paul paints a picture here of a runner running a race zeroed in on the finish line and putting every ounce of his strength and every fiber of his being into crossing it victoriously.

Nothing apart from our very best is worthy of God. Anything less is both insulting to God and an ignominy to us. Although many may feel that giving our all is an unreasonable request for God to make of us, Paul teaches us that it is really the only “reasonable” thing for us to do (Romans 12:1-2). Since Christ gave His all on the cross when He was dying for us, how can we give anything less than our all while we’re living for Him?

IS YOUR ALL ON THE ALTAR? (Elisha A. Hoffman)

You have longed for sweet peace,

And for faith to increase,

And have earnestly, fervently prayed;

But you cannot have rest,

Or be perfectly blest,

Until all on the altar is laid.

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?

Your heart does the Spirit control?

You can only be blest,

And have peace and sweet rest,

As you yield Him your body and soul.

Great Advice for the New Year (Part 2)

Philippians 3:13

In Philippians 3:13, the Apostle Paul instructs us to GO ON; that is, to “forget those things which are behind.” No Christian should live in their past memories. Living in the past only serves to rob us of our present and to ruin our future.

Another common mistake of many Christians is to live today with past transgressions. Too many of us have fallen in the past and we can’t get up. We’re haunted by our past mistakes. In this New Year, exorcise all the ghosts from your past. If God has forgiven you and forgotten your sins, what right do you have to keep bringing them up against you and bludgeoning yourself with them?

In addition to refusing to live any longer in our memories and with our past mistakes, we should also refuse to live on our past merits. Past performance never justifies present action. Many laggards and lowlifes attempt to justify their present lives on the basis of their past laurels. However, what matters today is not what you’ve done, but what you’re doing. It’s not how you’ve lived, but how you’re living.

In order to go on with our lives in 2011, we must also adhere to the Apostle Paul’s additional admonition to “reach forth unto those things which are before” us. While there is nothing wrong with learning from the past and planning for the future, we must live in the present. As someone has astutely observed: “Yesterday is but a memory and tomorrow but a dream; today is all we’re promised.”

Great Advice for the New Year (Part 1)

Philippians 3:12

In Philippians 3:12-16, the Apostle Paul offers us some great advice for the New Year. Over the next few days we’ll spiritually dissect it in order to come to an appreciation of it. More important than coming to an appreciation of it, however, will be our attempt to make application of it to our lives in 2011. As D. L. Moody once said, “Every Bible should be bound in shoe leather.”

The Apostle Paul is arguably the greatest Christian who ever lived. Yet, he admits in this most transparent text that he was far from having arrived at the goal of the Christian life. Although one would think that Paul’s self-realization of such shortcoming would have discouraged the great apostle, it actually had the opposite effect. It encouraged him to press on toward the goal with renewed and even greater vigor.

Have you ever considered the fact that self-satisfaction marks the end of one’s spiritual journey. When we become satisfied where we are, we’ll lose all incentive to go any further. We’ll sit down in complacency and spend the rest of our lives patting ourselves on the back.

I pray that God will spare you from the horrible fate of self-satisfaction in 2011. May you stay spiritually hungry; after all, no matter how far you’ve come, you’ve still got a long way to go!

To stay alive and vibrant,

for one’s hopes and dreams not to die,

does not necessitate that you be brilliant,

but merely that you stay dissatisfied.