· Written by Paul.
· Starts as a “Thank You” note.
· The Spirit had more to say, not the least of which was UNITY.
· So Paul exhorts them to HUMILITY, teaching on the humility of Christ: Philippians 2:5-16.
· Chapter 3, Paul warns of people who present themselves as examples to follow, but are not, because they walk in the flesh and not in The Spirit.
· Paul was one of them at one time. By the power of his own will he pursued a path of self-perfection. Among his peers, Paul was almost blameless, recognized as THE EXAMPLE of Pharisaic Judaism.
· But then something happened that radically changed his life. Acts 9 tells us that on his way to persecute disciples of Christ, he had his own personal encounter with Jesus. The man who once was a persecutor, became one of Jesus’ most devoted followers.
At this point, Paul’s life became a B.C. – A.C. reality:
· Before Christ: He had many “religious” successes, especially in the eyes of men. Yet, when looked at through the lens of a personal relationship with Christ, all of his attainments were of no value at all – WORTHLESS. VS7
· After Christ – Paul had one single Goal… to know Christ and to be conformed to His image. VS8-10
To KNOW Christ and be CONFORMED to the image of His death to sin and resurrection to life, became His singular goal of living.
This context sheds light on the importance of today’s text, Philippians 3:12-15, ESV.
Like Paul, The Mission Church has a goal. We call it OUR MISSION & VISION:
OUR MISSION: Loving God, by loving others, helping them become fully functioning followers of Christ.
OUR VISION: To establish a growing body of believers in Urbandale Iowa, that embrace and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the end of making healthy, maturing followers of Jesus across generational, gender and racial lines.
Like Paul, the attainment of our GOAL is in no way automatic. He understood this and so must we: unless we are purposeful, intentional, focused and determined there are innumerable “good things” that can and will distract us, drawing us off course from our God given MISSION & VISION.
On this 1st Sunday as TMC, I want to lay before us the Holy Spirit Inspired principles that paved the way for Paul, and will pave the way for us, to continually make progress in our Goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Right Perspective of The Past
Everybody has a past and without exception that past is filled with both positive and negative things, successes and failures.
VS5-7: Paul listed some of his. What are some of your past successes and failures?You should take a moment to write a couple of them down.
Notice what Paul says about the past …forgetting what lies behind….
Whether we’re talking about success or failure, the right perspective of the past is that… it’s the past. We must NOT try to relive past glories or be defeated by past miseries.
The Gospel deals with both…
· Past failures are washed away in the blood of Christ. Romans 8:1
· Past successes were not our own, but that of God’s Spirit working through us. Philippians 2:13
o We must not allow past failures to chain us to what was.
o Nor can we allow past successes to prop us up for what must be done today.
TRUTH POINT: In Christ we find freedom from missed opportunities, and failures of the past, and strength to pursue new opportunities successfully in the present.
For Paul, the windshield, NOT the rear view mirror, was the place to fix his gaze.
Eyes front – forward march!
This leads to a second perspective necessary to progressively pursue THE GOAL… all energy focused forward.
When Paul came to faith in Christ, his eyes were opened to the reality that the greatest goal he could pursue was: Knowing Christ - being Conformed to His image.
Truth Point: Knowing Christ – being Conformed to His image is NOT a goal God calls us to complete, but to continually pursue.
For TMC, Knowing Christ and being Conformed To His Image means to walk in the steps of the GREAT COMMANDMENT & COMMISSION:
· …continually pursuing a love relationship with Jesus,
· …surrendering to The Spirit, pursuing discipleship for ourselves,
· …cooperating with Him, helping others become disciples also.
Know this: pursuing the goal requires our spiritual eyes be focused out the windshield and our foot applied to the gas moving into the future, not pining for or regretting the past.
Paul says …[I] strain forward to what lies ahead… I PRESS on toward the goal…
Truth Point: If TMC is to see disciples of Christ made across generational, gender and racial lines, we will have to be radically committed to keeping the main thing, the main thing.
For the Church of Jesus Christ, there is only ONE MAIN THING – JESUS, CRUCIFIED AND RISEN.
The Main Thing is THE GOSPEL of Christ!
This is “what lies ahead” for us. This is the goal we press toward from this day forward:
1. To pursue our own personal discipleship, becoming more and more like Christ.
2. Pursuing others… helping them grasp their sin condition before God, while continually holding before them the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection and how it changes everything, both now and eternally.
This is my challenge to US today… to commit ourselves to the ministry of seeing Christ formed in us and reaching the people of our community and world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
VS15: Let those of us who are mature think this way… Learning how to think and then actually doing it, is a process of spiritual growth.
· Immaturity always wants to wallow in what was… both the good and the bad.
· Maturity doesn’t “forget” the past, it places the past in the past, not allowing it to hold them there or dictate their future.
· Maturity gives its focus and energy on what lies ahead and purses it until Jesus says… “enough, your time on earth is through, join me for eternity where yesterday doesn’t exist and all of tomorrow exists in the NOW.”
Next Sunday: Return to Ephesians 5