Scriptures: Philippians 3:12-14 “ Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
For the past three Sundays sermon we heard about how our lives was transformed and renewed in Christ Jesus. How we crossed over from death (transcendental) to life when we heard and believed Jesus words – John 5:24, having received Jesus to our hearts making us a new creation, the new you!, created to do good works in Christ Jesus. And being indwelt and baptized with the Holy Spirit, we can now worship God in Spirit and in Truth that we may be able to relate to Him, a connection (bond) that made it possible because Jesus paved the way and reconciled us to God. It was mentioned last Sunday too, these are just the starting point and we should move from this point of Salvation (Justification, Saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus) to a life set-apart (Sanctifications) to Glorification (Divine Nature, incorruptible bodies).
Paul wrote this scriptures to the Philippians, while he was still in prison. Unlike many of Paul’s epistles to churches, he wrote them this letter not because of problems or conflicts he heard but rather it is a “letter of joy” and an encouragement to press on and continually living for Christ.
As he himself doing, amidst the hardship he experiencing, to live in freedom though he was in captivity, because of his “chains” does not stop him from preaching the Gospel but it even encouraged others to speak boldly and courageously share God’s words. (Philippians 1:13-14)
Upon reading these scriptures, I can see two things about Paul’s character, his passion and his perseverance which are an essential elements in achieving whatever set of goals in our life.
First, to anyone who does not know who Paul is? He is a zealous Pharisee who persecuted all believers, on his way to Damascus he had a personal encounter with Jesus, a powerful life changing experience. For three days he was blinded until the Lord sent Ananias to pray over him and restore his eyesight. (Acts 10) The Lord set apart Paul as his chosen vessel to carry His Name, to be His witness before the Gentile nations and its kings. (Acts 9) and after that he went through a lot of painful, life-threatening experiences but he kept on running the race that was set before him by the Lord. In Acts 20:24 Paul boldly declare “I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Though Paul is fully aware that wherever he go hardship and prison awaits him, yet none of these thing scares him away, even said in Philippians 1:21 “ For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
So what causes Paul to keep pressing on? I believed it is because he already saw the end of it in faith, in Christ Jesus. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Paul’s very own word in the first chapter of Philippians (1:6) “being confident of this, That He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
And this is the Apostle who only met and known Jesus after his death. He was not a follower or a disciple of Jesus who witnessed all His miracles and healing power during His life on Earth, he did not see the “live” Jesus but the resurrected Jesus!
I can only imagine, perhaps each time Paul is experiencing perilous and life-threatening situations in preaching the Gospel whether he was beaten, flogged and be thrown into prison he kept reminding himself “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day. (2 Timothy 4:7-8) for He believed that God is faithful and able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20).
It’s the year 2024, perhaps this new year and new you (us) is also a new year and new goals for you (us) and many of us are making plans in how are we going to achieved it. Whether it is small or big goals, it is always good to have it. It is something that we are all hoping for the better future and good changes. Perhaps some of us are thinking of travel goals, fitness goals, career goals, relationship and family goals, financial and expansion goals. These are all good but am hoping and praying we are not neglecting our spiritual growth goals too and that includes our reading God’s words, prayer life, fellowship and serving, to be continually conformed in the image and likeness of Christ Jesus.
Achieving Goals like Apostle Paul wrote “, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” In these verses Paul understood and capture the elements of time; the past, the present and the future. And how these time-frames though are in different seasons are connected and have its determining cause and effect to each other.
If we are going to put Paul’s word in a contemporary manner this probably the closest ones “I see the Past, Present & Future existing all at once before me.” And to differentiate them from each other is depends on how should we respond to it, our attitude and perspective into it.
How to successfully achieve our goals in life?
- G- God first! Proverbs 3:6 “In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.
Seek God first and His kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. (Psalm 16:8)
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21) The Bible is filled with successful lives of man and woman of God, and the secret to that success is that they acknowledge God’s will and purpose in their lives, so no matter how personal our goals to us, or how mundane or trivial our goals, let us not forgot to let God be part of it.
- O- Onward and Upward direction – But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Paul reminded us to let go of the past accept it without regrets, to handle your present with confidence and face the future without fear. I know in some instances in our lives, there are past things that we can just simply shake it off especially those of painful and traumatic ones. But it is also not helpful to cling on those things, it can either weight us down or grips us in doubts and fears.
“No one having laid the hand upon the plow, and looking on the things behind, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62) In case the plowman starts to look back, his plow line would become crooked. If that happens, the field he is plowing will not yield a full harvest.
Kick off the old and bad habits! Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Let us be reminded and understand, the past gives us experiences and lessons and anyone who are continually living in the past limits its potential and possibilities. The present help us to explore and experiment new things but anyone whose concerns is limited to the present happenings only is unwise and short-sighted, that person do not think of the consequences of his present choices at the chance of present circumstances. As Galatians 6:7 says ”Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” So what you sow today (present) you will reap it tomorrow (future). The future teaches us to prepare now and gives us motivations to aim high, and a person who thinks and lives for the future continually equipped and built himself up!
- A- And trust the process – Pressing ON “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
When a man died, we placed a tombstone on his grave and there are commonly four things of written information on it. Those things are the name of the person, the epitaph, the birth date and death date, And you will notice the birthdate and death date is written and separated with a short dash, and that short dash symbolizes how short and fleeting our life is, no matter how many longer years or old ages we live, the birth and death is separated by a short dash.
The process in that short dash is a summarize event of our adventures, adversaries and achievements in other words our “deeds” the work we did. And it includes even our failures and mistakes. Because sometime we have to go through failures before finally completing our goals in life. Remember failure is just an event or a moment but not a person.
Thomas Edison, the inventor of a light bulb made a thousand bulb mistakes before, he finally able to make the one successful bulb.
- L-Live in the Light and in the Love of God.
1 Corinthians 16:14 Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.
Let Love be your good motivation, the fuel that ignites the passion and the power behind its driving force to achieved and finish the goal no matter what it is. “Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do. Why? Because Love never fails…..
Let God’s truth be our light to guide us in making decisions in our lives. Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
- S- Sacrifices – Success does not simply just happens, it is a combination of 1% inspiration (goal) and 99% perspiration (hard work and perseverance) a lot of discipline and self-control. “Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty. (Proverbs 28:19)
Are you and your goals Heavenward or Earthbound?
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3