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Text: Phil 3:12-14

Title:  Striving! 

Introduction: The other day as I was going into one of my accounts, I see an old man walking with a cane heading to see the same doctor. As this slow moving elderly man approached the steps, I hurried passed him up the steps to hold the door for him. As When I opened the door at the top of the steps for this man well into to his senior years, and this man said to me from the bottom of the step landing, I can make it, you don’t wait for me. Usually, I would wait but this old man had look on his face and went inside. A minute or two later he comes inside and sits down then complained about how low his was going to wait.  When I looked at his old man and his persistence to reach his destiny, I thought about how faithful and determined the senior saints are in their walk with the Lord.  Unlike, some of us young people, the senior don’t let anything stop them from making it into the house of the Lord faithful. They don’t care about the rain. It they got pain or sickness that is not killing they will do their best to get to church. It because they been thru too much and God has been good to them so they kept striving no matter what to reach their goal of seeing the Lord! My beloved, we can learn something from our Senior saints i.e. to striving I got to do this from myself! Like that man did not want me to help him, there are something in your life you got to strive for yourself!

Here in the text, Paul is reminding the Philippian church that they should never stop striving to meet the goal of Christian maturity. It seems that there were some stagnant Christians there in midst who need a little kick start to continue to live a victorious life. Paul is encouraging them thru his own testimony not to be satisfied where they are but they can have greater if they keep on striving. But if it was anybody who had any reason to be complacent and just chill in their life it was Paul. In this chapter, Paul reminds us he really was. He tells to be like him and put no confident in the flesh. That he was circumcised on the 8th day, of the stock of Israel, from the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrew, knew the law, a Pharisee who had zeal and persecuted the church. Paul was somebody. But he didn’t let his status keep him from wanting more in his life thru Christ. Seniors, you may be at a certain age and did some things and been thru some things, don’t stop striving! Paul had a holy discontent which is our first point. 

I.              Discontent 12-13a

In order for you to want more in life you have to have a level of dissatisfaction where you are now.  You need to have a holy discontent. Holy discontent is when God is pricking your heart, pulling your strings to move you into your purpose and to a new level in Him. But some of you are getting it twisted. Your discontent is not only moving away from God it is moving you past God! You are and have abandoned his process because you are not willing to wait or be obedient or turn away from your sin. You are frustrated but it is not godly. Paul in the text is discontent in his present situation. He says “not that I have already, either were already made perfect (I haven’t arrived) but I follow after (pursue), if I may apprehend (grasp, acquire) which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus meaning Christ has grabbed him. That is good news! Paul doesn’t have it but he wants it. He is in hot pursuit of the very thing that grabbed him. His discontent left him with a desire for the Lord. The seniors can testify! Aren’t you glad the Lord grabbed you! Love snatched you. Your discontent should move you toward God. Don’t you dare settle! That is too many of our problem. But what is so bad it that church folk get complacent, stagnant and arrogant. That is why you stopped coming to pray and bible study. You lost your passion, you are no longer committed. You settle in bad relationships. You go thru the motion. And you go for the tricks of the devil. We got content and the enemy is winning because of the next point. We have lost what Paul had…

II.        Devotion to the Lord v. 13b

Verse 13b says, “one thing I do forgetting those things which are behind…” If you are going to strive to live victoriously, you have to be devoted to one thing. This is important phrase for us today. One thing! It points to singlemindedness. This one thing focus is necessary to be successful in anything. Jesus mentioned this phrase in scripture when he wanted redirect someone’s attention on what really mattered. One thing thou lackest,” said Jesus to the self-righteous rich young ruler (Mark 10:21). “One thing is needful,” He explained to busy Martha when she criticized her sister (Luke 10:42). If you are going to progress in any area of life you have to concentrate on the one thing. Too many Christians are involved in too many things. We are a jack of all trades and master of none when it comes to faith.  We spread our faith out thin instead of concentrating of Jesus. Our faith is on the numbers, our ability, in people and our job. Imagine how life would be if you put all your efforts on Jesus? For Paul, nothing else matter but Jesus. His hope was built…

This section of scripture in context is written in athletic terms as athlete in training. Professional athletes put in countless hours developing so they can compete at a high level. They don’t want to end up on the bench. I wish, we as Christians, adopt this same devotion in our walk with the Lord. In Christ, some of us are scrubs who will always be on the bench and not in the game because we got bad work ethics. We are losing because we are ineffective because we don’t train for the game of life.  Concentration on one thing is the secret to power. But there are things in your life that take you away from our concentration in life i.e. your past. Everybody got a past. It is bad enough that people want to always bring your past up as your try to move forward, but you do it to. You are the one who says that you are not good enough. You are the one who says my past or age is going to stop me. But here Paul gives you a reminder. He says that you have to forget about those things behind you…Tell your neighbor to forget about it! The Lord forgets so why don’t you. Forgetting breaks the power of you past. You may not change what happened but forgetting changes its meaning. Don’t look back at your past! An athlete can’t look back while running a race. If he does, he will lose speed, his direction and the race itself. Spiritually, you can’t look back if you are trying to move forward. Look at what happened to Lot’s wife! You got to forget about you past. I am here to encourage some senior that there are some things that happen along time ago to forget about it!

To forget means to no longer have influence. Your past has no more influence on you! The Greek word has an even stronger meaning, Paul says to put you past into oblivion. It is an active word. When thoughts pile up from you past, Paul tells us to immediately banish them from you mind into oblivion. You have to take every thought captive! Get rid of it! I know it is hard to do. But Paul tells us how in Rom 12 by renewing your mind! Put your goals in mind and to put everything and everybody that is keeping you from your goals out! Forget about them! No more stinking thinking! Don’t be old and cranky!

III.  Direction v.13c

Next in order to strive to live victoriously not only do you have to forget, you have to go in the right direction. Senior believers lived long enough to know to go in the right direction. Paul says in this clause “and reaching forward to those things that are ahead… The words reach forward in one word in the original meaning stretching, try hard to. Seniors know how to stretch… It is not going to be easy. It is going to take hard work and intensity. The problem is we want more in life but don’t want to work for it. Nothing good comes easy. Your faith has to stretch! But know that the Lord has given you power to reach anything that he has purposed for you to have. But the blessing is that it is in your reach. Now go get it! But make sure that you are reaching in the right direction. You are reaching out not grabbing anything and pulling back a nub! Make sure you are reaching toward God because when you reach out to him, He is stretching, striving and reaching out to you. 

IV.      Determination v.14

In striving to live victoriously, putting in the work is still not enough. You got to be determined to win. Paul says that I press toward the goal…Press means to run, to take flight, to follow after. You have to have an uncompromised desire to live in victory.  Also, be careful how you use phrases like let got and let God. Don’t use that as an excuse for not doing anything. It is cute but it doesn’t fully describe the Christian process. If we have a spiritual mind we must realize that God is working in us. As we apply to the things of God, He is able to mature and strengthen us for the race. You have to go for it!  As you go for it, the Lord will give you power to reach that goal! What is the goal? That’s your destiny!

V.            Destiny

Paul goes on to say, “…for the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus”. He is going to receive his reward! Just as an athlete gets reward for his performance so does a believer. Faithfulness has its rewards. Things get better when you are faithful. We know this. So why can’t we get it right in church. An athlete knows what faithfulness to his craft will get him, why does not the average Christian. We got more respect for worldly stuff than for the Lord. Try showing up and acting the way we act at our jobs as we do in church and see what will happens.

Paul tells us that there is a blessing in your pressing. Your destiny is not to retire on the board. There is a prize of the upward calling. Again, this written in athletic language his audience can have full understanding. The ultimate destiny of an athletic who has been training for the Olympics is the gold medal stepping up on the platform to receive this reward. His standing above those he beat out. In Paul’s times, they received a wreath. The athlete has achieved everything he set out to do and now is recognized for his efforts. He reached his goal, his destiny. My beloved senior, you have beat some odds and been to place you couldn’t even imagine. You worked hard to buy a house and did the hard work to raise those children. You worked hard to beat your addiction. You worked hard and received your degree. But that is not all. That is not your ultimate destiny. There is an upward calling of God you have yet to attain. So what is this prize Paul is talking about? To find it we have back up to vv.10-11.  It is here Paul tells us our ultimate destiny, “that I may know him”. You want to see Jesus face to face. All the great things that Paul has done for Christ doesn’t amount to anything when comes to knowing Christ. I don’t care you made that million make sure you know him. You may get that Mercedes but know him. Do you know him? And because you know Him you will experience his power. The text says and know the power of His resurrection. That is same power that raised Jesus from the dead. You will become quicken made alive becoming brand new! Some senior know that you may be old but Jesus love made you brand new. He will raise you up above your enemies. Lastly, by faith you will have the know fellowship of his suffering. Those who suffer for the cause of Christ have a promise coming your way! Senior some of you been suffering for Jesus for along time. If you suffer with Him (fellowship) you shall reign with him that means that you will get power and authority. My beloved, this is your destiny! You got assurance in Christ. You will experience the glory of the Father. But most importantly, you have overcome. Seniors, you are more than conqueror! I am here to encourage you that you may old but keep striving, keep pressing, keep running to reach you destiny. Go for the gold! Get your crown! Know Jesus! Love Jesus! Praise Jesus! Worship Jesus! And he will raise you up! Maybe you will understand it this way. Press on the upward way, new heights I gaining everyday, still praying as I’m onward bound, Lord plant my feet on higher ground. Lord lift me up and let me stand by faith on table’s land, a higher place than I have found, plant my feet on higher ground!!  If you want it press to it!!  Don’t stop going to you see Jesus!

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