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Going For Gold Responding to the Call of God a devotional study by KEN CHANT Responding to the Call of God a devotional study by KEN CHANT
Text Philippians 3:12 ̶ I have not yet reached my goal, and I am far from perfect. But Christ has caught me! So I keep on running and pressing forward to seize the prize of God.
Background Paul was in prison in Rome. Yet he has only one thing on his mind (vs. 13) ̶ This one thing I do … Above all else he is resolved to win the prize set before him! He describes his determination, and his method, by using metaphors of the Olympic games (vs. 12-14).
We are Caught by Christ! I have not yet reached my goal, and I am far from perfect. But Christ has caught me! So I keep on running and pressing forward to seize the prize of God.
How could we ever measure the wonder of this! It is the fulfilment of Je 3:14, ̶ You have been unfaithful, says the Lord, but I am still married to you! So come home! I will take one from a city and two from a clan, and bring you to Zion!
Was it because we were especially virtuous, wise, meritorious? Hardly! Even Paul (in our text) had to admit that he had not yet reached (his goal), and that he was far from perfect. He repeats the idea in the next verse, with intense and personal passion: Dear friends, I myself have most certainly not yet arrived!
He was speaking against some who claimed either that Paul was an example of perfection, or that they themselves had achieved perfection. Paul would have none of it. He insisted that he had only what was given him by the grace of Christ. Like a runner in a race, his hands were empty!
Yet our apprehension by Christ is not aimless! Paul understood that Christ had caught him for a purpose, that the Lord had a vision of what his servant could be and do.
We are all part of the dream of Christ We have been caught by Christ so that we might catch the dream he has for each of us. It must be our first and highest aspiration to discover that dream and strive to fulfil it. But how can we achieve this wonderful purpose? ….
To Catch a Dream Dear friends, I cannot pretend that I have already arrived. Far from it! But there is one thing I will do: I will forget what lies in the past and keep pressing toward those things that lie ahead (vs.13).
1.Forget the Past We need to forget not just the bad, but also the good. Not in any absolute sense, of course, but rather by not allowing the past to govern our present choices.
Especially, we must not permit ourselves to be puffed up by recollection of our triumphs nor pressed under by recollection of our defeats. Think of Paul: how much he had of which to be ashamed (his ravaging of the church), and of how much he could have been proud!
2.Press on to the Future How fatal it is for any runner to keep on looking back! But what does the future actually offer us?
A Goal and a Prize I have not yet reached my goal, and I am far from perfect. But Christ has caught me! So I keep on running and pressing forward to seize the prize of God (vs.12).
He did not mean that he had not yet gained anything – He had certainly been converted; he had been raised up from the death of sin; he had been filled with the Holy Spirit; he had seen visions of heaven and Christ! But there was still a glorious object before him which he had not yet received ….
1.There is a Goal to Reach So, in the next verse, Paul declared – Dear friends, I cannot pretend that I have already arrived. Far from it! But this one thing I can do: forgetting what lies in the past, and stretching for those things that lie ahead, I press on toward the goal!
There are three parts to that goal – To reach greater maturity in Christ By using all the means of grace. To show more of the beauty of Christ In our attitudes, behaviour, and words. To effect the full purpose of Christ Whatever that purpose may be for each of us. We strive to reach the goal so that we might win the prize ….
2.There is a Prize to Gain The vestal robe Of righteousness that will clothe us in beauty for eternity. The victors crown Which is promised to everyone who overcomes in this life. … and ….
The veiled prize 1.To be like Christ – Dear friends, we are already children of God, but no one has yet seen what we will ultimately become. But we do know this, that when Christ is finally revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is! (1 Jn 3:2)
2.To be joint heirs with Christ – Co-possessors of all that belongs to Christ throughout the vast universe.
1.We are caught by Christ so that we may catch the dream he has for us. 2.To achieve this, we should forget the past and press on toward the future. 3.We should also focus on the goal to be reached and the prize to be gained. 4.But our race will be lost unless we recognise that …
The Key is Perseverance I have not yet reached my goal, and I am far from perfect. But Christ has caught me! So I keep on running and pressing forward to seize the prize of God.
According to the Roman poet Virgil, the founder of ancient Rome was Prince Aeneas, a Trojan who escaped the ruin of his city, and after many years of tumultuous adventures, finally landed in Italy.
During his journeys he had received many oracles declaring that his destiny was to survive all perils and to found a city and an empire that would far outstrip the glory of Troy. But in the face of endless dangers and obstacles, he often doubted that he could succeed.
At one low point, he encountered a Sybil, who repeated the prophecies he had already received from many sources, and then went on to say – I see wars, horrid wars, and the Tiber foaming with much blood … But yield thou not to adversity, but press on the more bravely!
This too was Pauls aim – he would allow nothing, either in the past or in the future, to deter him from pressing on to the goal and the prize. So he made two great affirmations –
I keep on running! – the race is lifelong! I keep on pressing! – he uses the imagery of a straining athlete, describing himself (vs. 14) aspressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. What is this upward call, and what is this prize?
THE UPWARD CALL In the ancient Olympics, when an event had ended, a trumpet sounded, and a herald invited the victor to ascend the steps of the platform where the judges sat. There his name was loudly proclaimed, his country, and his triumph. Then the prize would be given to him.
Notice that the call of God is everupward -- To a new life in Christ through water baptism To a place of victory through Holy Spirit baptism To a revelation of our enthronement with Christ in the heavenlies To a new and glorious body in the coming resurrection To the Judges dais, to receive his magnificent prize …
THE PRIZE For some 200 years the prize was usually a palm branch and a laurel wreath, but from around 600 B.C. it also included a large monetary reward, all future meals at public expense, and a front row seat in the theatre among the citys noblest citizens.
That was the image Paul had in mind when he spoke of the prize of the upward call of God!
conclusionconclusion Paul declared that he was focussed on just one great enterprise – to finish the race and to obtain the prize! Then he said (vs. 15) – If you reckon yourself to be a mature Christian, then you too should have the same goal!