Sunday, January 27, 2019

sunday am screenTEXT: Phil 3:8-17

 INTRODUCTION: Are you like me? Do you find yourself losing your focus quite easily? In the midst of a very hectic and fast-paced life, if I’m not extremely careful, I completely lose my spiritual focus. It isn’t something that is done intentionally, but the prevention of this loss must be done intentionally.

Much can be learned from the Apostle Paul concerning this matter. He was a man that deliberately maintained his focus, and his focus was knowing Christ. In Philippians 3:8-17, we can learn much from this godly man’s example.

 YOU MUST IGNORE THE DISTRACTIONS

 Life is full of distractions. Sometimes they come in the way of trials. Sometimes they come in the way of victories. Paul had experienced both, but in our text, his attention was centered on the accomplishments of his life, not upon the setbacks. In Philippians 3:4-6, Paul recounts his impressive list of credentials.

In those verses, Paul refers to the traditions he had embraced, his compliance to the Law, his impressive heritage, his fervent religion and even his political alliance. To many in Paul’s day, his resume’ was truly admirable and one that could have been coveted. Yet, in Philippians 3:7, Paul writes, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” Paul refused to be distracted.

One of the greatest problems with our accomplishments, our positions, our heritage and our traditions is that they can come to occupy a place that should only be held by Christ. It is Jesus that should be our security, our sufficiency and our satisfaction, not our accomplishments. In order to remain focused on Him, we will have to ignore those “good” things that can so easily distract us.

YOU MUST INITIATE THE DECISION

 In Philippians 3:7 we read these words, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” Had Paul “gained” anything because of his accomplishments? Absolutely! He was well thought of by his peers. He was well respected in the community. The governmental leaders admired him. Yet, Paul had the integrity to realize that, although his credentials helped him with man, they were of no help to him and his relationship to His God.

The phrase “I counted” means to lead or to be a leader. In other words, Paul assumed responsibility for his choices. He made some very difficult decisions. He determined that all of those things that had gained him favor with man were distracting him from his pursuit of Christ.

What is it in your life that is distracting you from truly knowing Christ? It could be your job. Even my job, the pastorate, could be a distraction as I seek to know Him. Our families, as important as they are, can hinder our relationship with Jesus, if we allow them to. I don’t know what your distractions might be, and you don’t know mine. We must be honest with ourselves. Sometimes we have to step back from the life that consumes us, take a really honest look, and step up to make the really hard decisions.

YOU MUST INVALIDATE THE DOUBTS

Maybe there was a time in your life when you made those difficult decisions. Maybe God convicted your heart, and you surrendered to Him, those things that were interfering in your spiritual life. Maybe it was at an altar. Maybe it was in the privacy of your own heart. Maybe sometime later, after you had made those commitments, you began to doubt.

Many of us have entertained those types of doubts. Their pressure has overwhelmed us. In Paul’s case, he recognized this and wrote in Philippians 3:7-8, “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord…” Paul refused to undo in doubt, what he had done in faith. In verse 13 he gives us a glimpse of his secret when he describes, “…Forgetting those things which are behind…” May God give us grace to make these types of choices and then may He give us grace to follow through on them.

YOU WILL INSPIRE YOUR DESCENDANTS

When we eliminate the distractions in our lives, verse 10 indicates that we will begin to truly know Christ. Our knowledge will go beyond knowing Him as Saviour. We will begin to know Him intimately. We will learn of Him. We will better understand how He thinks, and we will even begin to think like Him. Our lives will change, and that change will be for the better.

Not only will this knowledge impact our lives, it will impact the lives of those who follow us. In Philippians 3:17, Paul writes, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” How do we expect our children to know a Christ that we don’t really know? How do we expect to ignite this passion in the hearts of those whom we lead in ministry, if the fire doesn’t burn in our own hearts? Are we leading, by example, in this critical area?

A couple of years ago, Adam LaRoche was offered a $13 million contract extension by the Chicago White Sox. This money would be added to over $72 million he had already made playing professional baseball. However, the offer was conditional, and the condition was, he had to “cut back” on the amount of time that his son spent in the clubhouse. Fourteen-year-old Drake LaRoche was a fixture in the Sox clubhouse. He came to work with his father every day. Although Drake was well received by Adam’s teammates, management feared that he had become a distraction.

Adam LaRoche declined the $13 million, and retired from playing professional baseball. The White Sox brass asked him to reconsider. As he thought and prayed about his decision, (LaRoche is a professing Christian), the words of one of his former chaplains resonated in his ear. “What do you want written on your tombstone? Do you want ‘Adam LaRoche: Gold Glove, batting average, hit so many homers, and has a million dollars in the bank account,’ or do you want, ‘Adam LaRoche, man of God, integrity, raised a great family, loving.’ Let’s be honest, I don’t know anyone who wants their stats.”

Adam LaRoche turned away from the distraction, playing baseball, to what he deemed most important, being a good father. It was most certainly a difficult decision, but one that LaRoche was willing to make. May we have that same willingness when it comes to our relationship with Jesus and our desire to know Him.S

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