New Year’s Devotional - 2011By John MacArthur & Kayce Reed!!!Key Verses...Philippians 3:12-1612Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.13Brethren, 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,14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;16however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
- Not to mention going to Houston to celebrate Alec's birthday, Family trip to Disney World, and the cruise with Bailey, Mom, and Cadie!!!I love the verse in Lamentations 3...”The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is His faithfulness.” And I am all about fresh starts!!!I am also a thinker...reflector....regretter - lol!!!I invite you all to think a minute about this past year for YOU - the blessings, the trials, the changes, the opportunities....and spend some time in reflection tonight when you go home.I have been reflecting for a while now and I am amazed and the changes that one year can make in my life and the people in my life...This year I...-quit work-began homeschooling....again...that caused a huge remodel...two other students besides Bailey and Alec and now this year I am back to just my people-Mom’s cancer and healing!!...and Mrs. Carolyn-the economy- for everybody-the new families the Lord has brought to Friendship-Bailey being saved and baptized....medicine free
- weddings and a birth
- the babies that we found out we’ll have next year and the changes the Lord is making in these families lives
- wrecks of family members of close friends
- new jobs, new houses,
- Mom retiring
and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head.We have so much to be thankful for even when we see that some of the stuff we named doesn’t seem like blessings. The blessings come from God’s faithfulness in the good and the bad and as much as I am appreciative of the blessings and the good stuff, I can’t help but want to spend some time focusing on what I want to do differently next year, how I want to be better, the growth I desire....That being said, the Lord laid this verse on my heart a few weeks ago and it is a verse I want to embrace for this nest year....my ONLY New Year’s resolution and it is a doosey!!!
Paul is writing this letter to the Philippians and he is all about these running analogies...running a race...the race of the Christian life. I guess I can relate so much to this because I always feel like in a race...just trying to get to the next thing. Plus I’ve ran a real race before so I truly get his examples!!!Now it is easy to see that the theme of these verses is pursuing the prize. The analogy is that the runner is running to win in order that he might gain the prize.But it is the spiritual point that is my whole focus for this lesson and my commitment for 2011...GROWTH...spiritual growth and my desire for it and for you.Quick explanation of this chapter...Paul is warning the Philippians of false teachers....the Judizers who think they are good but who clearly don’t get it...then in verses 4-11 he gives his own conversion testimony and just how wrong he was....vs. 8-11 show what he gained in Christ....vs. 4-7 what was loss...and what he gained FAR outweighed the loss because what he gained was Christ - knowledge, righteousness, power, fellowship, and glory of Christ.But what I want us to focus on is the fact that even though we gain all those when we give our lives to Christ...we are still no where near perfect...we have a long way to go...morally and spiritually...Even though we are new creatures, with a new heart, a new disposition, a new mind, and a new standing before God,... even though we have the Holy Spirit living in us...WE ARE STILL NO WHERE NEAR PERFECT! We are still tempted, we still sin, we are still in our unredeemed flesh!!!! and we all need to continually grow. That’s what I want our commitment to be for 2011 - to grow, to pursue the goal, to run the race.2 Peter 3:18 says, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We receive the knowledge, the righteousness...i.e. justification - it’s just as if I never sinned, His power, His fellowship, but not perfection which is why these must be growth.Reasons why we need to grow:
- We should want to grow!!!!
- Growth glorifies God - which is our whole purpose!
- Growth verifies your salvation - as you grow, you change...your different!
- Growth gives you assurance - you can see Christ working in your own life.
- Growth helps you with your Plan Bs - growth brings understanding of where Christ has you.
- Growth produces joy in your life.
- Growth helps you to minister...gives you a desire to serve.
- heartedly - RUN ALL OUT!! Run intentionally!!!Six principles for pursuing “the prize” = spiritual perfection
- Seeking perfections makes us very aware of our need for a Savior....our need to be better. Realizing we are not what we should be, not what we can be, not what we will be when we see the Lord. And we realize we never will be perfect in this life...one area we should never be content.
vs. 12 “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect.” That is where we need to start - an awareness that we are not there yet.Side-note - Paul is saying he’s not there - after 30 years of being possibly the most committed Christian to have ever lived - he’s not there so that should help keep me running...and humble!!!! (I have been a Christian for 30 years too).So for 2011 let’s all be aware that we need to grow....we are not there, we have not arrived, we have a lot to learn and a long way to go.Whatever we did last year, we need to do more this year - more Bible study, more prayer, more Christian fellowship, more church!!!!John MacArthur calls it blessed dissatisfaction - wanting more of Jesus!!!
2. If you are going to pursue the prize effectively you must give it maximum effort.
This is fighting the good fight (1 Timothy 6:12, 2 Timothy 4:7).vs. 12 also says “I press on in order that I may lay hold of that which also I laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”I press on, I run, chase...running after this thing with all my might.
Running the race to win...Hebrews 12:1-21Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Are you tired??? Did 2010 just do you in???
Well let me tell you where this maximum effort is going to come from - GRACE, GRACE, GOD’S GRACE, GRACE THAT WILL PARDON AND CLEANSE WITHIN...
What’s our goal for the Christian life? What needs to be our main focus of 2011???and with that grace will come an understanding of what we’re running after...what we’re trying to get hold of....vs. 12 again.....I press on in order that I may lay hold of what?????? I’m after that which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.We’re pursuing God’s purpose for our lives...the whole reason He saved us in the first place. What is that??...Romans 8:28-2928And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.29For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son,...
a life-long pursuit of Christ’s likeness!!!
Why did God pursue Paul and slam his face into the dirt on the Damascus Road and save him?? To make him like Christ.His goal for us should be our goal as well - is it a worthy goal? Does it require a commitment??So far we see that we need an awareness that there is a better condition , we need effort (all of me) to move toward that better condition and...3. In pursuing the prize there needs to be focused concentration. And what should we be concentrating on???
vs. 13 says Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet but one thing I do, I press on toward the goal for the prize.No need for a bunch of resolutions, things you want to change, do differently, want a better relationship with your husband, kids, want to be a better steward, serve more, love more, have more patience, self-control..... just do this ONE THING - seek Christ’s likeness!!“When your life has one driving compulsion and that is to be like Christ, you’re moving in the right direction.” Johnny MacAs you think about 2011 and what you are going to do, where you’re gonna go, how your gonna live, etc., keep being Christ like on the forefront of your mind. Keep asking yourself - is what I’m doing making me more like Christ, what I’m watching, who I’m with, the decisions I’m making??? Are my choices making me more like Jesus???And in order to focus on that one thing, we have to “Forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead”.Don’t look back on 2010, 2009, etc with regret and let it hold you back for pursuing the prize in 2011.That being said, don’t look at the good things of 2010 and think that should tie you over for awhile.Forget all the things that are behind - the good, the bad, and the ugly - good things, bad things, great accomplishments, as well as sins, failures, disasters. Let it go!! Guilt is a brutal thing and Satan wants nothing more than to keep us in the past. But our future should be our focus!!!What God is interested in is what you are doing right now!! and what you are going to do in the future.-so we need awareness, effort, concentration....and4. Spiritual motivation - and what’s our motivation - “the prize” and what’s the prize?? to be made like Christ!!! the upward call when we stand before our Heavenly Father and hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Paul saw this at the end of his life we he wrote this letter to Timothy....2 Timothy 4:7-9 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.What is the crown of righteousness??? Perfection5. In pursuing the prize we must recognize our divine resources to pursue that better condition....vs. 15 “Let us therefore as many as are perfect (positionally through Christ not practically) have this attitude and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you.”What attitude should we have?? - a desire to be like Christ, to think this way, set one’s mind on this...But do we sometimes have a different attitude??? guilt, regret, contentment - thinking you’re good, the past, etc.We think about anything but the prize sometimes, but guess what. God says, “Then He will reveal that also to you.”How???? Plan Bs - trials, suffering, chastening, things that cause us to be dependent on Christ, reminders of the big picture...and we should want that... WE SHOULD WANT GOD TO BRING INTO OUR LIVES WHATEVER IT TAKES TO MOVE US ON THE PATH OF PURSUING THE PRIZE!!!What does it take? Recognition of need, effort, concentration, motivation, and divine help for those time when we fail to have the right attitude and lastly...6. Conformity or better yet consistency....vs. 16 “However, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.”In other words, keep running, stay on the path that got you this far!!! What are the ingredients that help us do that?-It takes consistent time in the Word -keep reading the Word...in fact read MORE!
-It takes consistent time in prayer...pray more!!!!
-It takes consistently following a godly example - Look at Philippians 3:17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
Find somebody to model your life after...someone who points you to Christ no matter what!-It takes trials - God bringing sufficient trials to shape my life. - 1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
For 2011 my prayer for us all is that we pursuing the prize...that we grow!!!I read a story about how many people try to climb the Alps. Some are successful...some are not... and for one who was not, there is a tiny grave at the bottom of the mountain. On the tombstone it simply has the person's name and the words "He died climbing."
May we all climb our hearts out in 2011!!!
Happy New Year,Philippians 3 vs. 12-14 – Pressing On Toward The GoalNot that I have already attained or am already perfected, but I press onThat I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold for meI know that I have much to learn, I need to sit at the feet of God’s SonTo comprehend what it is He has laid hold for me, to understand and seeI need to seek the Lord with all I am, and in life make Him number oneFor He is who I seek, I am not perfect, far from it, I can’t like him sinless beYet with His helper the Spirit I can seek to do his will, to in him press onLooking to Christ seeking His face, holding in to all He has planned for meBrethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but one thing I doForgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forwardThere is so much more I need to understand, at times life’s a zooIt becomes so busy, that I lose sight of God... time with Him goes overboardI am far from perfect, yet God loves me unconditionally even when I feel blueHe calls me to be one with Him, to seek His face, and to move forwardForgetting those things which are behind, seeking healing, pushing thruFor He knows His plans for me, His voice saying Christian soldier onward!To those things which are ahead, I press toward the goalOf the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.I desire to march forward in time with Him, with all my soulFor I have the hope that one day in heaven I’ll be with JesusUntil that day I desire to serve and grow in him whatever the roleNothing the world can offer compares to being one with Jesus