Pressing Toward The Prize With Paul—Philippians 3:10-14

INTRODUCTION

 

Isn’t it great that the performers we enjoy watching—whether it be in sports or music or whatever—practice hard at what they do? 

 

What would a football game be like if the players only suited up on Sunday, ate whatever they wanted, and only occasionally worked out at the gym?

 

What if you went to see a concert pianist who practiced only a couple hours a week? (Instead of at least a couple hours per day)

 

A few years ago, an author named Malcom Gladwell wrote a book in which he identified the traits of highly successful people. One thing that he noticed was that anyone who is really good at something will have spent at least 10,000 hours practicing it before becoming great (that amounts to about a decade). It makes sense when you think that a NFL football player will have been playing football since middle school. Great athletes, musicians, authors, and so forth take their craft seriously and work hard at it. As a result, it’s fun for us to go and see them perform.

 

Who do you know that is really good at being a Christian? I know that might be a strange question to some of you, and my aim is to show you from the Bible that it shouldn’t be strange.

 

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Don’t Waste Your Life…Or Your Death—Philippians 1:20-26

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Levi Durfey 

 

20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. 

 

21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 

 

25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; 26 That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again. (Philippians 1:20–26)

 

This is a great testimony from the apostle Paul. He was in prison in Rome, under a house arrest, with limited freedom. His court date was coming up. After that, he might going on living or he might die. But either option is just hunky-dory with Paul. 

 

To him, living would be gain and dying would be gain. It was a win-win situation for him.

 

I want to ask two main questions of this passage: First, how is living gain? Second, how is dying gain? Continue reading

Worthless Trophies—Philippians 3:4-9

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Levi Durfey

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Despite the rise of atheism, most Americans still think that there is a God and an afterlife. A recent poll showed that almost 80% of Americans believe that, because we exist, someone must have created us (even 48% of nonreligious Americans believe that). 

 

Of course, that’s a long way from salvation—no one is saved by believing that there is a Creator somewhere. Most of those people would probably say that they could be saved because they’ve been a good person or they’ve followed certain religious rituals. 

 

Even in conservative Baptist circles, there are those who believe that they are saved because of their baptism, or that they went forward during an altar call, or because they prayed the Sinner’s Prayer. Those things, while not wrong in themselves, can and often become a mistaken source of confidence for many people.

 

What it all comes back to is the issue of taking pride in our own righteousness. A person may claim that they are going to Heaven because, “I prayed the Sinner’s Prayer,” or “I was baptized,” or “I’ve been a decent person.” Those things become like trophies for them.

 

If anyone in history could have made it to Heaven through his own righteousness and goodness, it would have been the apostle Paul. The apostle Paul didn’t just have one or two trophies, he had…

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Run, Christian, Run!—Philippians 2:12-14

INTRODUCTION

 

Most of us, at one time or the other, either come to the conclusion ourselves, or get told by our doctor or spouse, that we need to exercise more. And this time of year, after eating what we just ate for the last month, most of us are probably thinking that exercise would be good.

 

Our culture is now more of a sit-down to work than of a physical labor culture. Because of this and other reasons, like junk foods and passive activities like television, we have tended to become more and more complacent about the fitness of our body.

 

The same is true spiritually. We need spiritual exercise to stay in shape, but we tend to grow complacent, and avoid doing what would be good for us. We need a doctor to tell us to get back to it. 

 

Let’s let the apostle Paul be the one to give us the encouragement to exercise—spiritually.

 

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14)

 

The picture that the apostle Paul paints in these verses is one of a race. 

 

Paul uses the image again in Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Galatians 5:7, 2 Timothy 2:5, 4:6-8. The race picture is also appears in Hebrew 12:1. So it’s a picture that we need to pay attention to—every Christian is in a spiritual race.

 

I can’t say that I am or was ever a runner, but the last time I ran in a competition, people clapped and cheered for me. I was seven or eight, running at a school track meet in Brockway. I fell down before I got to the finish line and crawled the rest of the way there—that’s why they clapped and cheered—that I had at least finished the race!

 

The apostle Paul seems to have been addicted to sports, and running in particular. We don’t know if he had ever ran in competition, but at the very least he knew enough about racing to know what he was talking about when he compared the Christian life to a grueling race.

 

Paul gives us, through his own personal testimony, three requirements to run the Christian race well.

 

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Sermon: That I May Know Him

Philippians 3:10 has been a fascinating verse for me for years, because in it you get to see the apostle Paul’s desire for his own spiritual walk.

In fact, one paraphrase I read of this verse long ago inserted the words at the beginning of the verse, “For my determined purpose is…” because that is what Paul is explaining here—what his determined purpose was.

He said that his determined purpose was…

Read That I May Know Him