But one thing I do . . .

Vol. 4, No. 8 

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward theg oal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. –Philippians3:13-14

Some people almost overdose on the Olympics. It is difficult to watch the many events over a 2-week period and not be impressed with the commitment and dedication world-class athletes give to their respective sports.

There is sacrificed time, sacrificed relationships, sacrificed careers, sacrificed educational opportunities – because the required training requires an everyday regimen for several years in order to participate in an event. Some events last mere seconds.

People who watch often see tears and agony when the hope of wearing an Olympic metal is dashed behind someone else’s swift feet, or buried in a splash in the long swim.

Is it wrong to want something so deeply that everything else takes a distant second or fourth in priority?

Perhaps zeal and sacrifice are not the problem. Maybe it is the goal! Is it worth giving whole-hearted dedication to gain an award or hear the applause of the crowd? How long does the applause last? How long does the honor of the award last?

Paul was a man who understood zeal. In fact, he admits that he was giving whole-hearted commitment to one thing. He was not dabbling in the many things, just one.

Notice his mental attitude in verses 12-14:

  1. He is determined: pressing on
  2. He is focused: forgetting what lies behind
  3. He is sold out: straining forward to what is ahead

Certainly, he is after something. What is it?

It is something that is eternal. It is something that lasts long after the Facebook or Instagram sessions. Something that will never be forgotten or simply recorded in a pile of statistics.

One thing I do kind of zeal is to be reserved for only one kind of prize. It is that for which God has called us heaven-ward. That of knowing Christ and being found in Christ.

It begs the question, does it not?

What is your #1 priority – the sole focus of your heart – that burning passion that so drives you that all else is but a distant second (or fourth)?

When you came to Christ did you determine to be focused, sold out to know Him?

How is it going for you?

I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. –Philippians 3:14 NLB

My righteousness … or His

Vol. 4, No. 7 

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own . . . –Philippians 3:8-9

It is not an exceptionally long flight – from Salt Lake UT to Albany NY, but there was plenty of time to discuss with a member of the Mormon Church the underpinnings of his belief – he vested his righteousness in the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. Since he felt his righteousness depended upon what he believed through his church, he was not interested in what the Bible had to say about righteousness.

He said that he had a good family, his church (stake), activities, and missionary endeavors;  his financial giving proved his righteousness.

The question: “How good do I have to be to go to Heaven?” is a popular question – and many interject their own presuppositions (read opinions).  

I was traveling with a seminary professor on this trip, and the Mormon gentleman sat between us. When one of us spoke, the other prayed.

So, I could not help myself, I asked the question: “How good must a good Mormon be to go to Heaven?

He made some comments; but I remember qualifying the question:

  1. Who determines your qualifying goodness?
  2. If God determines it, what is it essentially?
  3. How can a man tie up with Jesus Christ and so share His goodness (righteousness) and be made fit for heaven?

You see, there is a problem. Humankind wants to have their own way. Biblically it is called self-righteousness. So, people offer their own goodness based on their presuppositions of character. And because there is a “little” good in every person, the work is to restrain whatever evil might tender its presence. Attainable in the mind of the self-righteous. Thus, it is up to us to fit ourselves for the presence of God.

Piece of cake! Right? No!

God must have His way. God has provided a goodness that will fit us for heaven. Read about it in His Word. It is called “imputed righteousness” (imputed goodness). A simple word, imputed; it just means charge to my account. Who deposits this – the Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ became what He was, not sinful, so that I might become what I was not (righteous). All God’s righteousness is vested in Christ, and that now, in turn, is placed in my account. How long is His righteousness imputed to my account? Forever! For all of eternity.

What a deal!

God has made Jesus Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him  –2 Corinthians 5:21

In Christ’s righteousness you can be good enough for heaven!/

His list . . . your list

Vol. 4, No. 6

Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.–Philippians 3:7

Are you a “list-maker”? Do you mentally make lists, or write lists out – things to do, things to remember, things that have priority, grocery lists, etc.? [Or, do you do this on your smart phone?]

The Bible has some lists (actually quite a few lists).

Our culture seems consumed with lists – not so much in paper lists, but electronic lists (on computers, smart phones, not so smart phones, and on and on). Resumes are lists; classes occur to discuss how to put this list together, books are written on the process, one-day seminars and conferences cover resume writing. People are instructed on how to tell others how terrific you are. Even churches conduct these training sessions. The difference between failure and success, mediocrity, and greatness, fruitlessness and fruitfulness and whether you have a good return or not “depends upon your ability to project yourself” (they say).

One’s pedigree. One’s assets. One’s accomplishments.

Paul writes about this under a rubric called spiritual accountancy. He lists his investments of equity. Four items in his list were personal possessions from involuntary heredity; the other three items were his by personal choice and conviction.

  1. A traditional religionist from infancy, Paul never forgot his Jewish nationality. He was proud of his initial rite of Jewishness (Circumcised the eighth day)
  2. His roots went all the way back to Jacob. He was a blue-blood-born Jew of the original religious aristocracy. He was proud of his birth (of the stock of Israel)
  3. He was born into a tribe that spoke for integrity and faithfulness; the Holy City was within his tribe’s boarders. He was proud of his position (of the tribe of Benjamin)
  4. He had no heathen blood in his veins. He was a Rabbi early, proud of his Hebraic background (a Hebrew of Hebrews)
  5. He opposed the rationalistic Sadducees, the political Herodian’s, and the fanatical Zealots. He was proud of being an orthodox defender of the Mosaic Law (as teaching the Law, a Pharisee)
  6. He was a “bull in the China Shop” toward the heretical Jesus movement. He made havoc of Christians (People of the Way), and was proud of that reputation (concerning zeal, persecuting the church)
  7. He was a Jew who was ritually, respectably, racially, religiously, reputably, and righteously correct in the eyes of all his fellow Pharisees and fellow conservative Jews. However, something happened. He is no longer proud of his pedigree (touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless)

Paul changes one day and he was never ever the same again.

Have you?

It took a trip to Damascus, and blinded eyes, to see how worthless it all was. The very credentials he waved around, his resume, as being something special, he tore up and threw out with the common trash . . . along with whatever else he took credit for.

Why? Because of Christ!

What is your resume like – what does it say? How current is it? What difference does it make to a person around you that is lost?

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