Peninsula Community Church
December 30, 2018
Philippians 3:12-16 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
For eleven years I worked for Grumman Aerospace as a business operations manager. I can remember that at the end of each year we had to produce our goals for the upcoming year. Also, we had to evaluate the previous year’s goals and accomplishments. The goal of this process was to assure that we were accomplishing the goals that we set. It also was a means to assure us that we were taking the necessary steps to accomplish what we had set out to do and to establish a new set of plans for the new year. In essence, this was a means to take an inventory of our department and to establish our plans for the future. The purpose of all of this was to build on our strengths and to strengthen our weaknesses.
As we come to the end of another year, this is a great time for us to take inventory of our life, our goals, and our accomplishments in the past year. This season affords us the opportunity to look at the blessing of God in our successes and in our failures. It is a great season to look at what God has done in us and through us. It allows us to ponder the difficult times and take inventory of how God has helped us navigate the difficulties. Sometimes, we do not see what God has done until we pause and do an inventory of our personal life. This is critical as sometimes we can miss what God has done because we are too busy doing life. We can be so busy that we fail to realize that we have been blessed abundantly in this life regardless of the circumstances we encounter.
As we consider this, I would like to take our time to suggest some lessons that encourage us to consider this kind of thinking today. I would suggest that there are at least four areas of inventory we must consider by way of Paul’s words in this passage. We should also note the circumstances that motivated Paul to write these words. As we review the details of this book, we find that Paul was in prison. It was from prison that he penned these words. He was not a free man. He was in chains. But while he had lost his physical freedom, he had not lost his spiritual freedom.
Paul wrote this letter to warn the Church of Philippi about those who would seek to discourage and hamper their growth in Christ. Paul did not want anything to get in the way of them being able to live in total and complete joy. Paul understood this and He knew that no matter the circumstances of one’s life they could live in joy.
So let me share a couple of thoughts from this passage with you. With each of these I will begin with a statement and then move to how we can use that statement to take inventory of our life. First, we are on a journey to obtain all that Christ has for us. We are on a journey to get to know Christ better. In this passage, Paul made this powerful statement. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. As Paul does so often, he uses an athletic term to express a spiritual truth. Paul is saying here I have not finished the race and I have more to go and I am not giving up. It may be hard at times, but I will never stop running and pressing forward to the goal.
I love the idea expressed by Paul in that he states that he presses in to make it his own. He does not stop no matter what happens. When running a race the one running a race pushes himself to the finish line. It has been said that the 26 mile marathon is one of the hardest races to finish. At the end of the race, the muscles are aching and the body is tired. But the true racer will push to the end. He will not give up.
The question here is what is it that Paul has not obtained? To find the answer to this question one must go back a few verses to see why he makes this challenging assertion about the goal of his life. Philippians 3:7-11 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Here is the deal. Paul wanted to know Christ not from some intellectual high ground or through his heritage or pedigree. He wanted to know Christ without any of the encumbrances of the world around him or the expectations that unbelievers and religious leaders were trying to press him into. He wanted the purity of a personal relationship that was based in a knowledge of who Christ was and not by any other means.
So here is the inventory question for us. Are we continuing to obtain all that God has to offer or are we settling for less than God’s best?
Second, we must be moving forward and not getting bogged down in past failures and mistakes. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead… Paul did not allow his past failures and mistakes to delay or hinder his growth in Christ. Paul realized something that we must realize as well. The enemy of our soul is good at getting us to look at the past and not to the future. There are three ideas to consider here. We cannot change the past. We cannot do much about the future because it is ahead of us, but we can affect the present and make decisions today that will positively impact the future.
Someone has said that we learn more from our failures than our successes. That may be true but we must be careful and not live in those past failures. The problem with constantly looking back and living in the past is that we will not move forward. If we are not careful, we will begin to be defined by our past rather than the potential of our future. When we live in the past we live by what I call the should have’s and could have’s. We begin to live by the “what ifs” and the difficulties more than the promises of a better day to come.
So the second inventory question for us today is where have you gotten bogged down with past failures, issues, and problems? Perhaps it is an issue of not forgiving someone who has hurt you. So, where are you bogged down? What do you need to do to get unstuck?
Third, we must be aware that God’s character does not change with the problems of life. I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. One of the things I love about God is that He does not move the goal post as we get closer to Him. He has a plan and that plan is for us to grow in our knowledge of Him so that we become more like Him.
I am reminded of the Peanuts comic strip. If you remember the cartoon, Lucy would pull the football away when Charlie Brown would run down the field to kick the football. Sometimes we can feel that way in life. We are pursuing our life goals and we feel the goal is moved. We feel that things are going well when something knocks us off course, but we continue to press toward the goal regardless of what happens in life.
Our third inventory question is this. Who has been moving the goals on you? Are there broken promises that you have to deal with? What do you need to change?
Fourth, the way we think determines where we go in life. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Rick Warren has stated that the way we think determines how we feel and how we feel determines how we act and react. What Paul is saying is that because we are maturing we do not think like others think. The way we think affects our attitude and our attitude determines where we go in life.
Now to fully understand this we must know this is not just a matter of positive thinking, it is so much more. It is to have our thinking and attitude firmly secured in what God has revealed to us and what we have already learned and understood about God.
In Proverbs 23:7 the King James Version tells us that how a man thinks is what he becomes. The promise however in Philippians is that if we are off track in our thinking, God will help us reestablish a new way of thinking. … and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to youI love this fact. Those of us that are mature should think in a way that pushes us and brings us closer to God and His ways. When we get off track God will reveal our inerrant ways and will help us to get on track again.
So, the fourth inventory question is how is your thinking? Where do you have thinking that is placing you on an alternative course that needs to change?
So, if you would take an inventory of your life where would you stand? What changes would you make? What would you do differently? I would suggest that you take some time and consider what you would do differently or what would you continue to do to grow in that area of your life. Now is the time!
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/messages.
Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom