Read Philippians 3:12-16
I. Pressing On. Paul talks about not being where he wants to be. So he resolves to forget what is behind him and press towards his goal of fellowship with God. In our Sunday School material he urges his readers to live up to knowing and living by God’s will.
- Obeying the call. Notice in vs. 12 of our Sunday School material that God called Paul to a higher level of spiritual maturity. In like manner, God is calling every believer to grow to a higher level of spiritual maturity.
The measure of our spiritual maturity is our understanding of and obedience to the Word of God. Let’s work on obeying God’s call upon our lives to grow in knowledge and obedience.
At the core of God’s call is to love Him with all that we have and to love others, as we love ourselves.
- Forgetting and straining. Notice in vss. 13-14 of our Sunday School material that in order to reach the goals that God set before Paul, Paul had to forget what was behind him and strain for the goal. In like manner, in order to grow in the Lord, we have some forgetting to do.
We need to forget both past failures and past accomplishments. We need to forget anything that will distract us from running forward. And then we need to strain forward.
Too many only engage in a casual stroll. Let’s work on the forgetting and straining needed to reach the goals that God has for us.
- Different rates of learning. Notice in vss. 15-16 that it takes some people longer to understand God’s will. As with any family, some learn quickly and others learn rather slowly. This is the case in the church family.
In light of this, we would do well to work on the love and patience needed for the slower learners. And we should work on learning at a reasonable pace, instead of expecting everyone else to be so patient and understanding.
Let’s work on getting along with one another in the body of Christ, especially in light of our different rates of learning.
Read Philippians 3:17-4:1
II. Following An Example. In our Sunday School material Paul urges his readers to live by his and other godly examples. He reminds them that there are enemies of the cross trying to cause trouble.
The readers are referred to as citizens of Heaven and have hopes of new bodies with Christ. They are called to stand firm in the Lord.
- Godly examples. Notice in vs. 17 of our Sunday School material that Paul urges his readers to follow after godly people. On one hand, we should be careful about whose example we follow.
Everyone who sings and preaches well is not a great example of discipleship. We should follow the example of mature disciples. It would be nice, if the leaders of the church would be great examples to follow.
On the other hand, we should also strive to be examples of discipleship. We should be growing from being babies who need so much nurture to being mature disciples that babies emulate.
Studying, serving, and giving with a friendly attitude moves us in the right direction. Let’s work on following godly examples and being godly examples.
- Enemies of the cross. Notice in vss. 18-19 that there are some enemies of the cross of Christ. Obviously, all of those who out right fight against Christ are enemies of the cross. But it is also true that all of those who don’t obey God’s will are enemies of the cross.
Being in church for years and still not being a godly spouse, godly single, godly employee, etc. is sin just like cursing the name of God or worshiping false gods. It is sin to be a part of blocking what God is trying to do in your church, family, and community.
Let’s be aware of enemies of the cross and keep the devil from using us to be one.
- Citizenship and new bodies. Notice in vss. 20-21 the mention of citizenship and new bodies. First, it is good to know that, as believers, we are citizens of Heaven. There are times when we may be treated as second class citizens of our country and as illegitimate children by our loved ones.
But we are still citizens of Heaven through our acceptance of Christ as our savior by faith. In other words, we are somebody, no matter what the people of this world say.
Second, we all know that these earthly bodies of ours are passing away. No matter how we exercise and monitor our diet, these bodies will give out on us one day. But thank God, we have new and imperishable bodies waiting for us.
We don’t have to fear death, in light of Heaven and new bodies waiting on those who belong to Christ. Let’s live like we believe that we are citizens of Heaven with new bodies waiting for us. Such living should be known for joy, anticipation, and obedience.
- Standing firm in the Lord. Notice in vs. 1 the urging to stand firm in the Lord. Even though there are so many things fighting against us, we too are urged to stand firm in trusting and obeying the Lord.
We can help one another by being faithful in our discipleship and edifying one another in our worship services. We can help one another by giving ourselves to supportive and encouraging relationships among one another.
But then we can help ourselves by prayerfully studying and obeying God’s word with the support of others, when we can get it, or all by ourselves, when supportive friends are not around. Let’s work on standing firm in the Lord.
Conclusion: Let’s work on standing firm in the Lord. God has much for those who obey His will.
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