Friday, March 14, 2014

Lesson 5: Philippians 3 (“Moving Toward the Goal”)

This week-end the ladies of our Leadership Council had a time of fellowship as we attended the IMAX tour of Jerusalem. I heard that some of our CBS ladies went to Israel recently. We hope they may share some photos in an opening.
Thinking of a vacation? How about Rio de Janeiro?  Rio de Janeiro host the 2016 Olympic Games, depicts beautiful landscape and sandy beaches makes it the jewel of Brazil. As the largest Art Deco statue in the world, Christ the Redeemer beckons visitors to Corcovado Mountain. Rio’s Carnival parties are extravaganzas of feasting, music, dance, and costumed revelry.
However, this photo from March 8 may discourage you. The 15,000 street cleaners there staged a strike to coincide with the start of Carnival festivities last Friday. An eight-day strike has left tons of rubbish on the streets of the Brazilian city. Workers complained they were "being treated like rubbish" and even threatened to cause further disruptions during the football World Cup finals, due to start on 12 June. The local culture of littering had made the situation worse. Even Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, was caught on video throwing rubbish. Mayor Paes said he did not remember the event, but asked the authorities to fine him to serve as an example. Last year, his government announced a "zero tolerance" policy towards street littering.
In our memory verse Paul counts the things he lost as rubbish. Let’s look at those things in our life that we have counted lost for Christ.
Press on toward the goal.
Lesson 5: Philippians 3 (“Moving Toward the Goal”)
·  Warning
·  No Confidence in the flesh
·  Press Toward the Goal

“Rejoice in the Lord.”  Again Paul begins this chapter with serving the Lord with Joy. Then quickly adds a warning to the church against false teachers.

2Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers,
look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Now ladies the use of the word “dogs” in verse 2 is not our cuddly companions that we treat like children. Does anyone know “Biscuit”? He is the face of Lineberger Vet, has his bed in the reception area and is free to roam the lobby greeting guests. Bicuit has his own blog giving information on pet care. He has birthday parties with a doggie cake and dresses up at Halloween. I know some of you ladies are dog lovers and do not think this behavior strange.
But the slur Paul is using refers to wild dogs that roamed the city, scavengers. Our most vivid illustration would be the prophecy of Elijah upon King Ahab of Israel.1 Kings “You’ve made the Lord very angry by sinning and causing the Israelites to sin.23 And as for Jezebel, dogs will eat her body there in Jezreel.24 Dogs will also eat the bodies of your relatives who die in town, and vultures will eat the bodies of those who die in the country.”}
Paul was referring to false prophets, false preachers infecting the church with a perversion of the gospel.
Isaiah 56:11 The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all.

Revelation 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

·        No Confidence in the flesh

3For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh--- in the previous verse he warns against
those who mutilate the flesh” referring to forcing Gentile Christians  like Timothy to obey the Jewish ordinance of circumcision.
In the fall our study of Deuteronomy depicted another type of circumcision.

Deutronomy10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. 

But in Ch. 3 vv.5-6 Paul acknowledges that he above all others has bragging rights to family, culture, religious and educational achievements.
·  circumcised on the eighth day,
·  people of Israel, “Abraham is our father”
·  tribe of Benjamin, as was King Saul, (and Judah were the only pure bloodlines)
·  a Hebrew of Hebrews; language only spoken by scholars
·  as to the law, a Pharisee; separated ones
·  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church;
·  as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Warren Wiersbe writes, “Like most ’religious’ people today, Paul had enough morality to keep him out of trouble, but not enough righteousness to get him into heaven! It was not bad things that kept Paul away from Jesus—it was good things! He had to lose his ‘religion’ to find salvation.”17 His miraculous conversion on the Damascus Road lead to “his eyes being opened” to the futility of trying to achieve righteousness in our own strength.

In verse 7 and 8 Paul uses banker vocabulary in the terms of gains and losses.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
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.

Is your confidence in your heritage, your abilities, your achievements, or even your level of dedication to your beliefs—or is it in Christ’s atonement for you?

Press on toward the goal.
·        What is your goal?
·        How are you trying to attain your goal?
·        Have your goals changed?
“Once upon a time” (sounds like a fairy tale) My goal was to be a wife and mother and a teacher by profession.  “My religion” was working to be good enough for God.
My pride in all the positions I held and my level of dedication to the church, my fervor, and passion for justice and fairness was not a bad thing in itself, but as Jesus said to Martha. Mary has chosen the better thing. Luke 10:42 NIV My pride and achievements in the church and the educational field became a wedge in my marriage.
      I still have pockets of perfection: Some things I am really good at to the point of perfection and other area….not so much. Sometimes it is not that the good things are sinful it is we should choose the Better way. Being busy for the Lord can be just as distracting as worldly pleasures.

·  Moving Toward the Goal
Now like Paul I am press toward the goal that Christ Jesus has prepared for me. As a deer longs for water, I long for an intimate relationship with Jesus. To be in his presence , to sense the peace and acceptance only he can bring. The only righteousness I can ever claim is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God. I fully trust in my Father whose promises are true and whose timing is perfect.

12Not 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.
13    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,

14    I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Press on toward the goal.
Let me tell you of an illustration from a Patsy Clairmont. I cannot do it justice, but maybe you have read Chapter 2 of her book God can Use Cracked Pots.
It was a feel good and happy morning, when she got all dressed up and for once her hair was perfect. Patsy looked in the mirror and stated, “Lookin’ Good!” Going shopping in her small town she had to park 2 blocks from her favorite store. But it was such a beautiful she did not mind. Patsy talked of bouncing down the street and everyone was smiling and waving. As she went to the back of the store she caught herself in the reflection in a refrigerator door and looked with pride at her color coded outfit. Then in horror she exclaimed, “What is that on my foot?”
Patsy remembered that when she undressed the night before she had taken off her slacks and pantyhose in one swoop. Today as she dressed the pantyhose were pushed down and decided to immerge on her bounce down the street with local friends smiling back at her.  Standing in the store she was so embarrassed that she thought she would die.  Later she cried to the LORD from her humiliation and said “LORD you say to make beauty from ashes, what can you do with pantyhose?” The LORD spoke to her and reminded her of the other things she dragged through her life far worse, such as guilt, anger, fear and shame. These emotions were far less attractive to the LORD than a pair of pantyhose. “These things are the ones that rob you of the joy of living. These things keep you from fully knowing who I am. These things that you have been dragging around for years keep you from being that light that I desire in your life to have an influence. You keep displaying all these qualities that are so unattractive.”

Ladies tonight can I ask you… “What is it that you have been dragging around with you for all these years?” Are you ready to lay it down and choose the prize God has waiting for you?
Pressing on toward the goal for the prize
 I was regretting the past
            And fearing the future . . .
            Suddenly my Lord was speaking:
            “MY NAME IS I AM.”
He paused.
            I waited.
He continued,
            “When you live in the past,
            with its mistakes and regrets,
            It is hard.  I am not there.
            My name is not I was.
            When you live in the future,
            With its problems and fears,
            It is hard. I am not there.
            My name is not I will be.
            When you live in this moment,
            It is not hard.  I am here.
            My name is I AM.”     - Helen Mallicoat
Let us continue to press on toward the goal trusting in God for the moment.
If you’re a Christian, you are not a citizen of this world trying to get to heaven.
 You are a citizen of heaven making your way through this world.
20   But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Can you imagine? The paintings of heaven are done by Ron Dicianni from a book he collaborated on with Randy Alcorn “Tell me About Heaven.” You will be familiar with many other works if you can to Google him.

How can we keep our focus on God and hope of Heaven?
“The snow covered the ground, and three young boys were playing in it. A man said to them, ‘Would you like to try to race, with the promise of a prize for the winner?’
The boys agreed, and the man told them that his race was to be different. ‘I will go to the other side of the field,’ he said, ‘and when I give you the signal, you will start to run.
The one whose footsteps are the straightest in the snow will be the winner.’ As the race commenced, the first boy began looking at his feet to see if his steps were straight. The second lad kept looking at his companions to see what they were doing; but the third boy just ran on with his eyes fixed on the man on the other side of the field. The third boy was the winner, for his footsteps were straight in the snow. He had kept his eyes on the goal ahead of him.”
If, by the Spirit, like Paul, we fix our eyes on “the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus,” we won’t wander off course. What are you looking at?

Will you choose to Press on toward the goal of knowing Christ and His resurrection?