I love how young children, with expression, show their desires. Even behind the glass obstruction, while pressing their sweet, innocent hands and faces with the anticipation of some great prize. Their eyes are wide open in their “pressing”, knowing the prize on the other side of the barrier has become a necessity some how in their little lives. In their hoping and pressing on, the desire for the reward never fades, but increases as they continue to “press on”!.
As adults, have our obstructions, our barriers that are placed in front of us daily, preventing us from pressing our hands and faces to what’s available? The apostle Paul gives us a picture, a lesson to be learned about PRESSING On To What’s Available For You, to those of us who claim to be, “spiritually mature and full-grown“:
WHAT IS MY SPIRITUAL DESIRE?
“[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in the same way come to know the POWER outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually TRANSFORMED [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in hope]” (Philippians 3:10 AMP).
I love how the Amplified version starts out verse 10 with the bracketed phrase: “For my determined purpose is…” I was thinking this morning, while taking my seat in church–‘what is my determined purpose for being in this chair this morning?’ Is it to WORSHIP God almighty? Is it to listen to a wonderful message from pastor Andrew? SINGING; I love singing time in church? Is it to koinonia, to fellowship with other believers? Or, to take communion the first of every month; koinonia, as church doctrine determines? Well, it’s all of that and so much more. The answers to the questions are actually by-products from our communion; our koinonia with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
RESISTING THE URGE TO SETTLE:
“That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that LIFTS me] out from among the dead [even while in the body]” (Philippians 3:11 AMP).
Moving Closer to God’s Purpose For Your Life.
 “But arise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you.  Choosing you out [selecting you for Myself] and delivering you from among this [Jewish] people and the gentiles to whom I am sending you–  To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me.  Wherefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:16-19 AMP).
What has God called you to do? Maybe you didn’t receive a vision from heaven like Paul did. But what has God given you and how are you using it?
When God got a hold of you, what did He have in mind for you? FORGIVENESS? Yes, but more. A BETTER LIFE? Yes, but more. FOR YOU TO BECOME A RESPONSIBLE CITIZEN? Yes, and so much more!
Maybe you haven’t found your niche yet; your purpose in life that defines you yet and I’m not promoting The PURPOSE Driven Life book either. My advice, take it or not, is to relax—but not to much.
Don’t get uptight about “seeing the big picture.” Just start where you are right now, even if you have your face pressed against the glass, wanting what’s on the other side, but knowing how to get it. Do what you sense God is calling you to do. Get to know Jesus, relationally speaking here and it’s is just beginning steps:
–Read Your Bible.
–Talk to The Lord In Prayer.
–Listen to Him.
–Ask Him to Lead You, Teach you, to Hear His voice.
–Love People (God’s working on me here.).
–Take care of your family.
–Be A Good Neighbor (He’s working on me here too!).
MOVE BEYOND THE PAST:
“…I PRESS on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own. I do not consider brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:12b-13 AMP).
We can certainly learn by our failures and celebrate our successes, but Paul is saying in these verses, “What are you going to do with today and tomorrow?
NOT RESTING ON THE SATISFACTION OF PAST ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
George MacDonald once wrote, “Nothing is more ruinous to progress than supposed successes.”
It seems so easy for us to want to relax after some success in our lives. In February of 2011, I wrote my first blog for people to read worldwide. My past experience…? NONE! But I knew that God wanted me as a WORD Detective; to write the TRUTH as it was uncovered for me and for the encouragement others. But things weren’t going as I expected: 10 views for the month of February, that’s it! I was a little discouraged, but kept reading, studying, meditating and writing. But the month of March wasn’t much better. I kept on writing, kept pressing, and yet I was still not happy with the results. And then in November, the readers began to increase. So much so, that I put on Facebook the numbers given to me by WordPress. “WOW!” I thought. And then I received a comment from a fellow blogger in England: “Mel, are you writing for the numbers, the “views” or are you writing because this is God’s plan for you?” I didn’t think I was, but maybe…I had RELAXED just a bit too much. Maybe even lazy in my approach; in writing a blog for God; that it wasn’t about me. Was I at a point of no return? It was at that moment I was encouraged by the Holy Spirit to continue with passion. Here was the place that my Father had placed me for a season.
If anyone could have patted themselves on the back for a job well done and retired to Easy Street, the apostle Paul certainly could have. And yet, there was something behind that glass window that kept compelling him to do more than asked, to go farther than expected.
What kept Paul from just taking a deep breath in saying, “Wow! We’ve done a pretty good job this past year here at this church. Let’s sit back now and enjoy the fruits of our labor.”
IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO A LIVING RELATIONSHIP–A RELATIONSHIP with the risen Christ.
If we LOVE JESUS–listen to what He is telling us through His Holy Spirit; we will never become satisfied putting our faces against some glass window pane, looking in at what’s behind the barrier. God will help us see that we must press past the barriers in life; moving always forward and never just standing there looking in!
We Must Resist The URGE TO SETTLE FOR–
This world is NOT our home. We still have a mission to accomplish; there is much work to do. We must all work as if everything depended on YOU; PRAY as if everything depends of God and indeed it does!
The apostle Paul opens up his letter to the church at Philippi, writing from a jail cell in Rome. And we think that our lives are just too busy, to interferring in the world’s “Rate Race”?
“[I thank my god] for your fellowship (your sympathetic cooperation and contributions and partnership) in advancing the good news (the Gospel) from the first day [you heard it] until now. And I am convinced and sure of this thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you” (Philippians 1:5-6 AMP).
WHAT EXPECTATIONS DOES GOD HAVE FOR US?
Paul pictures the Christian life like a race: “I PRESS ON toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.” ~ Philippians 3:14 AMP.
In a RACE…there’s a METHOD to winning.
Have you ever heard of a “conqueror” in history losing? If so, they wouldn’t be called conquerors! They would be called as Charlie Sheen would call them as “losers.” As Christians, Scripture tells us in Romans that we are not just conquerors, we are MORE THAN conquerors:
“Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us.” (Rom. 8:37).
Literally, we are “hyper-conquerors”, i.e. we are pre-emininently victorious.
THE “GOAL” OF THE BELIEVER ON THIS EARTH:
Not all us are competitive “runners”, but we do know that there is a process of training the body to endure the trials of a race.
Before race-day, the runner trains with the race in mind. The greater the training, preparation and planning, the more serious the runner is about the race.
The writer of Hebrews uses the imagery of the race. While the spectators are watching and as the runners head toward the finish line. Only here, the spectators are those who have run before.
“THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us RUN with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the RACE that is set before us.”
The writer in Hebrews instructs the runner (the believer) to cast off weight and sin so we can endure the RACE.
The Christian life is an endurance run; a steeplechase event and we must train and prepare ourselves for the hazards (the barricades, water-hazards, etc.) for this race. It IS NOT a 100-meter sprint to the finish line.
After examining the lives on many “successful” saints in the Old Testament and the New Testament who were striving for personal holiness, I found they are not born with it, they choose to strive, to PRESS for holiness.
THE ONE THING TO REMEMBER WHILE IN TRAINING:
Like the child pressing her face against the glass, to do so, she must be leaning forward! The same is true in running a race: If you are leaning back at the finish line or left standing in the starting blocks, your participation won’t be validated or even noticed by others. And if you’re not being noticed (in humbleness), the good news won’t be seen. Remember…you might be the only bible that the observers have ever read.
We must keep growing, moving forward and gaining ground in everything that we do, for there are observers watching our moving, running, participating.
Now there may be a time when it is a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I have done this many times in my Christian experience. Whatever it takes! Don’t settle for where you are standing right now and make a commitment to run!
Move with Motivation to Win.
“Yeah, that’s easy for you to say, but I’m just not that type; I’m not competitive generally.”
STOP making excuses saying, “that’s not who you are in life.” So how do we NOT allow our growth to be stymied? How do we do it? How do we keep our motivation going–especially when things do not go well for us, and we get discouraged?
Those are all good questions and the apostle Paul addresses our preconceived notions in Philippians 3:13:
“I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but on thing I do [it is my one anticipation]: FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND AND STRAINING FORWARD TO WHAT LIES AHEAD.”
Paul is saying that with his pressing on, taking hold of that for which Christ Jesus took a hold of him at his salvation experience, he wants to grab onto Jesus, to know Him personally and intimately everyday.
But the one thing that kept Paul motivated, encouraged, was getting a hold of Christ, and the fact that Jesus had gotten a hold of him. Can you remember when Christ got a hold of you? For me, it was August 15th, 1972. Although I’ve certainly stumbled, fell down repeatedly and found myself completely ‘out of shape’, I never got out of the race.
The KJV uses the word “apprehended” in this verse which this is like the words arrested, seized, or grasped. The Amplified uses the word captured. Paul tells us he had not yet CAPTURED it as yet, but….
When Jesus got a hold of Paul on the road to Damascus, He got a hold of him and did not let go! That should make us think about our own RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. Does He have a hold on you? Have you experienced His presence and power in your life, in a way that has changed you forever?
All of this is so important to our own motivation
-to PRAY DAILY.
-to READ OUR BIBLES DAILY.
If we have not completely surrendered ourselves to Jesus by FAITH; allowed Him to get a hold of us, we are probably not going to bother with PRESSING FORWARD; to get a hold on Him and all that He has for us to be and do for Him.
“CLOSE ENCOUNTERS” TO BE CONTINUED:
“I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward” (verse 14).
It’s not a “one time thing”; our encounters with Jesus. We must keep pressing forward, to know Him daily and expressing our encounters to others around us. God can’t run the race for us but He has given His Holy Spirit after our first encounter; our born-again moment by ENCOURAGING US!
HELPING US TO LEAN ON JESUS–PRESSING FORWARD FOR THE PRIZE!
TRAINING US TO ‘KEEP FIT’
“[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight” (Philippians 2:13 AMP).
SO START MOVING, PRESSING FORWARD! FOR YOU ARE…A PARTICIPANT IN THE RACE WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT!