Philippians 3 Seek God

June 23, 2013   Philippians 3  

    Paul tells us in this chapter to be careful about other people.  It is a warning about false teachers.   What we believe is very important because it impacts our behavior.   Sometimes we try to change a person’s behavior and not what they believe.   Paul I believe is warning about the Judiazers.   They would follow Paul and seek to bring people back into the Jewish laws.   They were false teachers and even though we do not have issues with people trying to get us into the Jewish religion we do have issues with a lot of false teaching that is contrary to God and the Bible.  The whole new age movement and spirit guides are popular today.   The Muslin religion is making great in roads into America and the world.   Beware of false teaching.  In Christian circles there is the health and wealth gospel that makes its way around these days.   Paul says beware of teaching that is not centered in Jesus.  

      The guys in his day thought that because they were circumcised that made them acceptable to God.  It was interesting this week as I was reading Romans that I came across this verse.   This verse must have made many of the Jews angry.   Romans2:25 for circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law but if you break the law circumcision becomes uncircumcision.  That is pretty plain.   Circumcision does not save a person.   Many people today trust in their good deeds to save them.  Whatever is physical that we trust in is wrong.   We trust in Jesus only for righteousness.  It is not my works but it is Jesus work on the cross that saves me and his blood that forgives me.  God will bless me and is blessing me for ministering and sharing my life but that does not save me.   That does not make me better than you if you are following and obeying the Lord.   Some folks have the attitude that they are better because they are full time in Christian service.   I do not think they are better.   That just smacks of works to me.   Works are important and God desires us to be zealous of good works.  Paul writes that I glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.  People who have confidence in the flesh tend to glory in them self.    They boast about works and about their work and how good they are.   Paul gloried in Jesus.   I am not saved by being the in church for 100 years or by giving my money or by baptism.  Those things are good and I will be rewarded for doing those things but my works will not save me.   It does not make me righteous.   Isaiah says all our righteousness are like filthy rags.  Paul writes that he had no confidence in the flesh.   What does that mean to you?   

    Paul then mentions his fleshly achievements which were are very impressive.  He was a Pharisee and had tremendous zeal and followed the law perfectly.  That does not mean that he never sinned but he did what the law required when he did sin.  All that stuff put Paul on the wrong path.  Certainly it made him proud before Jesus.  On that road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him Paul found out he was spiritually bankrupt.   After his experience with Jesus he considered all his achievements as worthless and considered them a loss.   Those things did not point him to Jesus it pushed him away from Jesus.   Brothers and sisters we need to be aware of those things that push us away from Jesus and be aware of those things that point us to Jesus and embrace those things that point us to Jesus.   As a Pharisee Paul thought he was on the right path but he was not.   He thought he had the inside track to God but he didn’t.   He writes the Jews have a zeal but not according to knowledge.   We do not want to have misguided zeal.   They were very zealous for God but very wrong.   Beware of false teaching.   Beware of evil doers.   Be alert and watchful.   

    It is not just knowledge either.   The Jews knew the scriptures.    Paul says I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus my Lord.   People can have of pride of their knowledge of the scriptures.  Pride comes before a fall.   It is the knowledge of Jesus that counts.   It is the relationship with Jesus that is key.  It is that intimate personal relationship that is so important and so blessed. It is that knowledge that helps me when I feel down or discouraged.   It is the relationship that lifts me up.   It is the knowledge that Jesus loves me when I don’t feel his presence.  It is knowing him.   That knowledge helps me cope with life and with pain.   He says all that other stuff is rubbish or as one pastor said soiled diapers.   Paul found in his relationship with Jesus joy, he found hope, he found comfort, he found peace, he found purpose.   Paul found life in Jesus in day by day hour by hour and minute by minute communion with Jesus.  The song writer said my life is in you Lord and my strength is in you and my hope is in you Lord.  

     When Paul became a Christian it was not the end for him but the beginning.   I hope that is true for us today.    His experience with Jesus transformed his life.   The old had passed away and the new had come.   He was completely different.   Salvation was a personal experience for him.   Paul writes that I may know Him.  When Paul was living under the law all he had was a set of rules to live by but now he had a friend.   Paul turned from religion to Jesus.   Christianity is considered a religion but as Christians we see it as a relationship and not a religion.   It is not so much a system of beliefs or a code of ethics as a relationship.    Abraham was the friend of God.     Close friends are important.  There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and his name is Jesus.  Paul wrote I do not live but Christ lives in me.  

     Paul wanted to know Jesus.  That was not an easy knowledge.  Paul was not looking for mere knowledge.   He wanted heart knowledge.   He wanted the experience. It is not knowing about Jesus but knowing Him.   Not only head knowledge but something deeper.   Paul wanted to experience the pain and suffering that Jesus experienced.   He wanted to walk in Jesus shoes so to speak and not just for a mile or two but for the rest of his life.   This is real fellowship.  This like what soldiers experience when they are in battle together.  In chapter 2 he said Epaphroditus was a fellow soldier to him.   A lot of relationships are really shallow today folks.   They have not been tested and so the relationship is not deep.   Paul had set his face like a flint to obey God and to make Jesus known and to preach the gospel.   He followed hard after God.  

     If I were to ask everyone in this room today “What is your purpose in life?”   I would probably get several different answers. “Be a good spouse, be a good mother or father, do my job better, be a good business person, a good teacher, nurse, mechanic, salesperson, and so on.”    Those answers might just be secondary reasons.   What is the main drive of your life?   Is it self satisfaction?   Is it your comfort?   You can endure a lot of suffering when your heart is set on a purpose, but if your heart is set on comfort, you cannot endure any suffering at all.  Paul’s purpose in life was Jesus and ministry.   That is what consumed him and because of his commitment to it he endured suffering.     If you are a Christian living the Christian life then your purpose for living is nailed down for you.   These elements give us a reason for living and for getting out of bed in the morning.   They give us a reason for smiling and for stopping to smell the roses.  God made us to live on purpose and for a purpose.   People that live on purpose can handle difficulties, setbacks, and trouble without a great deal of disruption in their life that throws others into a tail spin.  They do not give up and they are steadfast.   

     Everything in creation has a primary purpose, or a reason for existing.   For anyone or anything to be successful, it must fulfill that purpose.   Paul knew where he was going.  He said I want to know Jesus and I want to preach the gospel.   He fulfilled his purpose here on earth.    Paul made a difference.  God has a purpose for you.   That purpose has eternal everlasting value.   Brothers and sisters pray for the lost and ask God to use you to win others to Jesus.  That is important.   That is God’s will for the church.  That is more important than a lot of other stuff that we do. 

   Paul writes I forget the past and press on to the future.  This one thing I do Paul writes I press on to Jesus.  Jesus told the rich young ruler there is one thing you lack.   Jesus told Martha one thing is needful.   The man who received his sight in John said one I thing I know.  The psalmist said there is one thing that I have desired of the Lord.    Paul pressed ahead.   The past can really hold you and me down.   It can hurt.   The enemy can bring unwanted memories to us that can halt us and bring us down.  I read that on New Year’s Day, 1929, Georgia Tech was playing California.   Late in the second quarter, Roy Regals recovered a fumble for California, and in his excitement became confused and began running in the wrong direction.   After racing 65 yards he was finally tackled by his own player at the California 2 yard line. California attempted to punt from deep in their own end zone, but the kick was blocked and Georgia Tech scored a safety.   In the locker room at half time, Roy Regals sat in the corner with his face buried in his hands, crying.  The room was silent.  The Coach didn’t make his usual half - time speech, but shortly before the team was to take the field for the second half, he said, “The starting team is going back onto the field to begin the second half.”   The whole team left the locker room except for Regals, who remained in the corner with his face in his hands. “I can’t do it Coach,” he said. “I can’t play.   I ruined the team.” 

     The Coach said, “Get up Regals.  The game is only half over.  You belong on the field.”  That is good advice.   The last chapter is not done.  The last page has not been written.  God can use that failure in your life for good.   Bury the old bone that hurts.   Give it to God and stand up and be counted.   All of us can find reasons to sit on the side line and cry.   There are always reasons to give up.   Paul wrote I am the chief of sinners.   He said I attacked Jesus by persecuting the church but Paul did not quit.  He did not give up.  He acknowledged his sin and incorrect zeal but moved ahead.  His best days were ahead of him.   Your best days can be ahead of you also as you seek to serve Jesus and follow hard after Jesus.  The best is yet to come.  Paul said I strain, I labor, and I push ahead.  I keep moving.  I am pressing for those things that God has for me.  I am going ahead and not back.  

      On the Australian coat of arms is a picture of an emu and a kangaroo. These animals were chosen because they share a characteristic that appealed to the forefathers.  Both the emu and kangaroo can move only forward, not back.  The emu’s three-toed foot causes it to fall if it tries to go backwards, and the kangaroo is prevented from moving in reverse by its large tail. Those who truly choose to follow Jesus become like the emu and kangaroo, moving only forward, never back (Luke 9:62).  Source is David Brown    Can you picture in your mind a kangaroo trying to hop backward.   For one thing his legs are just sort of aimed forward and of course his tail.   He is just a forward moving critter mammal.  

    Paul says there are enemies of Jesus.  There are people that hate Jesus.   I remember when I was attending San Diego State University in San Diego CA in the early 70’s that Dave Wilkerson had a vision or dream that hate Jesus groups would start up in the nation.   I sort of chuckled about that and had the attitude well we will see until such a group started on the campus.  There are many people who are angry at God.  Paul wrote I say that with tears in my eyes.  Paul cared about people.  Paul had a genuine passion for people.  Paul said I would be accursed if it would save my fellow Jews.   Paul loved his neighbor.  Paul loved the lost. He knew the result of their life.  Their glory is their shame he wrote.  They care about earthly things.  They are all wrapped up in this world.  Their god is their stomach.  They are without God and without hope in this world.  Their destiny is destruction.  They are going to ship wreck.   Everything they built their life on will crash.   The walls will tumble down and it hurt Paul.  

     Scripture tells that there is only one foundation and that is Jesus Christ.   If your passion is for Jesus and you are following after Jesus that is great.   If you are seeking your own and your own glory it will crash and burn someday.   If you are taking steps to walk closer to Jesus then God is pleased.  Moment by moment we can turn our life over to Jesus and ask Jesus to use us.